Deadly Desire
Page 4

 Keri Arthur

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It was the last thing I actually wanted to do, but I owed Jack more than a few favors. Besides, friends that old were surely rare, even in the long-lived world of vampires.
Jack hesitated. "No, it should be all right. Armel thinks it may be a ghost of some kind. Things have been moved around or gone missing. Nothing major-just small things. He's just curious as to what is going on."
Hence the reason Jack had called me. He might be good at many things, but the one thing he couldn't do was see ghosts and souls.
Unfortunately, I could.
"Why did he call you rather than a clairvoyant or someone like that?"
"Because we're old friends, and I owe him a few favors."
Calling in the Directorate still seemed like overkill. But maybe that was why he was a long-lived vampire. "No one's broken in, I gather?"
"He believes not. He's got good security and he doesn't sleep all that much. He'd hear anyone entering his house."
Outside, a car pulled up, but the scents of wolf and bird were suddenly strong on the still air. I recognized both.
"Cole and his team have just arrived."
"Good. Once the situation there is sorted, go home and get some rest. I told Armel you'd be there at nine."
"Gee, thanks for letting me sleep in, boss."
"He wanted you there at six," Jack said dryly, "so be thankful for small mercies."
"Why so damn early?"
"He doesn't believe in wasting good daylight."
"He's a vampire. There's no such thing as good daylight, is there?"
"There is when you're old enough to enjoy it."
"Which neither you nor he is, so why the hurry?"
"Just because we can't play in it doesn't mean we can't enjoy it." Jack's voice was amused. "And be careful when you're there. Armel will flirt with anything that breathes, but he's partial to redheads."
"I've already got two old vampires in my life. I don't need another."
He laughed and signed off. I touched my ear to turn off the voice part of the com-unit, then pushed open one of the doors and said, "Cole, I'm down this way."
A second later, he appeared.
"So much for me hoping to save your pretty ass," he said dryly. His gray overalls were still blood-splattered from the previous crime scene and his silvery hair was darkened with sweat. "You just love spoiling my fun, don't you?"
I grinned. "Totally. Especially if it means me not laying somewhere half dead."
I looked beyond him as the similarly garbed Dobbs came into view. Like Cole, he was armed, his laser humming softly in the silence. Unlike Cole, he wasn't relaxing; his gaze constantly moved through the shadows. I was betting Dobbs could fight every bit as well as Cole. It was evident in the quiet way he moved. He reminded me of a predator about to strike.
I met Cole's gaze, noticing the sweat staining the collar of his overalls and the quick puff of his breath on the night air. "What, did you run here rather than taking the car or something?"
"Basically, yes." He stopped and swiped a hand at the sweat running down his cheek. "Well, I ran and Dobbs flew. Dusty collected the gear and car first."
Jack must have been worried to impart that sort of urgency. "Sorry to put you through that hassle for no good reason."
"I think you owe us a beer." He studied me for a minute, nostrils flaring, then said, "I smell another wolf."
He didn't actually say he could smell him on me, but that's what he meant. I smiled. "You know what us werewolves are like-we can find a man in the oddest places."
"Then he's not here now?"
"No." I stepped back, giving him room to enter. "But we have zombie remains-well, zombie blood and little else, really-sitting in a destroyed pentagram."
"The wolf did the pentagram?"
"No, he was hunting the woman who did. She had a couple of hellhound helpers, which proved a bit of a problem for both me and the wolf."
"So you know him?"
"Had a run-in with him last year. I won."
"But not this time." He paused, his gaze amused. "I gather he drugged you."
"Yeah." I stopped as we reached the smudged pentagram. "Might be worth getting one of the magi out here to look at this. They might be able to tell us what she was using it for."
"Something black would be my guess."
That went without saying. I mean, surely witches on the side of good didn't employ hellhounds or zombies to do their bidding. Our magi didn't-well, not as far as I knew, anyway.
"Our witch took the form of a crow and flew off, but while she was here, she was perched on the gantry above the pentagram." And her human scent still lingered-it was faint, but there, and I'd recognize it if I smelled it again.
Cole nodded. "We'll check it, and see if we can find any droppings or feathers."
"Might be worth doing the same at the crime scene-unless you've already checked the trees?"
"We had no reason to do so." He hesitated again. "Are you feeling all right? Your eyes are very bloodshot."
"Combination of the drug and shadowing, I think."
"I've seen you come out of shadow. It doesn't usually cause this reaction."
"I was shadowing two of us." I shrugged. "Maybe it's just plain tiredness. You'll send me the report ASAP?"
"As usual." He glanced around as Dobbs finished his perimeter check and approached. "You want to get a kit up to that gantry? We probably have shifter traces up there."
Dobbs nodded, gave me a half-smile, then walked away, reholstering his weapon as he went.
"He's a believer in the old adage that it's better to say nothing, isn't he?" I asked, amused.
"Totally," he agreed, a smile crinkling the corners of his blue eyes. "Unlike some guardians who just love to hear the sound of their own voice."
"And this is wrong because...?"
He made what sounded like a disgusted snort and shook his head. "You can leave anytime you want."
"You know, the amusement that still lingers on your lips is spoiling the whole stern effect you're trying for there."
"Riley, stop being a pain and go."
I went.
It didn't take all that long to drive back to Quinn's, but finding parking anywhere near the hotel, even at this hour, was a pain. I eventually gave up and just dragged out my Directorate parking tag. They might be for use only in emergencies, but hey, this was.
There was no one in the lobby, though I could hear voices in the office near the desk. I took the elevator up to Quinn's suite and walked down the plush, carpeted hallway to his door, dragging my key out of my pocket and swiping it through the reader.
The door clicked open. "You're back early," Quinn said, the rich Irish lilt in his voice sending shivers of delight down my spine.
He came out of the bedroom as I closed the front door, as naked as the day he was born. I couldn't help smiling. I'd once thought of this vampire as staid, but I'd learned over the past few weeks that staid only applied to new relationships. Once he knew-and, I suspected, trusted-his partner, he was as adventurous as any wolf could want.
He was also gorgeous.
It wasn't a term I often used to describe men, but with Quinn, it just fit. With his thick, black hair, sinfully dark eyes set in a face that would make angels envious, and an athlete's body, he was so easy on the eye it was dangerous.
And he was mine to play with. The thought made me want to dance.
"I thought you'd be gone most of the night."
"Thank God I wasn't."
He raised an eyebrow, dark eyes glittering with amusement and awareness. "Oh? Why's that?"
He was an empath, so he knew exactly what I was feeling, even if he was playing dumb. "Because of this."
I pressed a hand against his chest and pushed him back against the wall. Then I claimed his lips, kissing him like my life depended on it. Kissing him hard and urgently, until the taste of Kye was erased and my skin burned with the need for vampire rather than wolf.
"My, my," he murmured, when he could. "Chasing bad guys doesn't usually generate this sort of reaction. Not that I'm complaining, mind you."
"It wasn't chasing the bad guys, it was meeting another wolf. Now shut up and get down to business."
He grinned and did as he was bid.
And oh, it was good. Not just the way his hands caressed me as he stripped off my clothes, but the smell of him, the feel of him, the press of flesh against flesh. The way his body shuddered as I caressed and nipped him, the taste of his sweat on my tongue.
Then he was in me, filling me, liquefying me. I groaned in sheer pleasure and wrapped my body around his, holding us both still, enjoying the feel of his body pressed against mine and the heat of him deep inside. There was something so very perfect about the way we fit together, something magical. And it went beyond the physical-it was almost as if we were matched body and soul.
As his lips claimed mine again, he began to move, gently at first but quickly becoming faster, until it was all heat and desperate need. The rich ache blossomed, becoming a kaleidoscope of delicious sensations that washed through every corner of my mind. I gasped, holding onto him tighter, wanting it faster, needing it harder. Needing him, and all he could give me. Then everything broke and I was unraveling, and there was no thought, only waves of glorious sensation that went on and on.
He came with me, and as his seed poured into me, his teeth grazed my neck and broke through flesh. A second orgasm hit, the intensity of it stealing my breath and my sanity for too many seconds, the power of it rolling on and on.
I rested my forehead against his and blew out a breath. "That was fantastic."
"That's one way of describing it," he said, voice amused as he lowered me back to the ground. "So, who's the wolf I should thank for this sudden rush of enthusiasm?"
I grinned as I stepped over my clothes and headed toward the coffee machine. Once upon a time, Quinn's voice would have held more than a hint of annoyance while asking such a question, but he seemed to have relaxed a little in recent weeks. Part of this might have been because while I hadn't entirely given up my werewolf ways, I'd willingly restricted them. But I also think the mere fact that we were spending real time together out of the bedroom had helped our understanding of each other.
"The wolf's name is Kye Murphy. He's a bounty hunter, and he's after the witch who's raising the zombies."
"It takes heavy-duty dark magic to reanimate flesh, and that means not only that she's a sorcerer rather than a witch, but that she's extremely powerful. You be careful hunting her."
"That goes without saying." I poured myself a coffee, sucking in the rich hazelnut aroma-a scent almost as tantalizing as the man behind me. "You've met Kye-he was the wolf playing bodyguard to Patrin."
"Ah, yes." He wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me back against him, then dropped a kiss on the side of my neck, sending little shivers of delight down my spine. "There was something odd about that one. And he could move as fast as a vampire."
He also kissed as good as a vampire... but I shook the thought from my mind and took a sip of coffee before answering. "According to his records, he's all wolf. But he seems to have a few very different gifts that aren't on file."
"So you're investigating him?"
"We did when he was guarding Patrin. Right now, I've simply warned him away from the case."
"He probably won't listen. Most wolves tend not to."
I grinned and turned around in his arms. "That's a very cutting remark from someone who's planning to have more sex with a werewolf."
"I'm not planning sex. I'm planning a long night of hot and heated lovemaking."
I arched an eyebrow and said in low voice, "So what the hell are you waiting for?"
Amusement crinkled the corners of his dark eyes. "You're holding coffee, and you tend to get vicious when it's taken away."
I immediately put the cup down. "Only when there's nothing better being offered. You, my darling vampire, are certainly that."
"I'm glad you think so." He swept me up into his arms then walked toward the bedroom. "Because I intend to ravish you senseless for the next four hours."
"Only four? Age must be affecting your stamina."
"There's nothing wrong with my stamina, trust me."
A point he deliciously proved over the next four hours.
Traffic was hell the next morning, so I arrived at Armel's ten minutes late. Which I figured was pretty damn good, considering, but Jack hated tardiness and he'd probably chew me out once he found out. Of course, I could fly, and therefore could avoid the whole morning traffic situation if I wanted to, but I still preferred to drive. Shifting into my seagull shape had an even worse effect on my clothes than shifting into my wolf, and I wasn't about to face a randy old vampire flashing bits of flesh through torn clothing.
I climbed out of the car and looked up at Armel's house. It didn't exactly follow the expected conventions when it came to the abode of a very old vampire. It was as big as any other house situated in the millionaires-only suburb known as Toorak, but it was also a place of stark white concrete, odd angles, metal monoliths, and huge glass windows. And the garden had the same angular, sparse outlook. There was no grass, just harsh white pebbles, and sharply angled garden beds that were filled with carefully shaped plants.