Full Moon Rising
Chapter Fifteen

 Keri Arthur

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Awareness snuck in slowly, and with it came a sense of dej vu. Voices surrounded me, some that were tinny and some guttural. Lights as bright as the sun burned into my closed eyes. The air was a cool caress and yet my skin burned
As awareness sharpened, it formed a picture of rising pleasure and lingering pain. My arms were raised above my head, the pins and needles in my fingers suggesting they'd been that way for some time
Sweat stung the air, mingling with the heady aroma of sex and lust. The moon fever seared through my system, the sheer strength of it a warning that the time of changing was near
My back was pressed against something cold and hard, my stomach against flesh as hot as the sun. My skin was on fire and every muscle quivered
Hands were on me, bruising and familiar. Heat filled me, thrusting deep, pushing me toward the crescendo I both wanted and hated
As before, it wasn't a dream. Talon was in me, and I was responding as strongly as I ever had
Pleasure spiraled, until it became a force that would not be denied. I came at the same time he did, but bit my lip against the strangled gasp rising up my throat. My body might be conditioned to respond to his touch and his smell, but I wasn't a willing participant in this mating, and I'd be damned if I'd give him the satisfaction of knowing he could still make me come
He gave one last thrust, then withdrew and stepped back. The room behind him was narrow and long, the wall opposite all glass. Comfy chairs followed the curve of the glass, and behind these, several sofas. It reminded me of the private boxes often seen in sporting venues. The only thing that differed was the long control panel and desk to my left
My gaze finally met Talon's. Amusement shone in his golden eyes and his expression was all arrogance. My fingers clenched, but with my hands chained above my head there was little leeway to swing a punch
"I guess this means you've decided it's still okay to fuck a half-breed, huh?" I said dryly
He sauntered over to the sofa and sat on the back of it, one leg swinging idly. "Fuck, yes. Have a child with, no. I am the pinnacle of the werewolf race. I can breed with nothing less than similar perfection."
I raised an eyebrow at that. He was perfection, but only in body. The heart and soul left a lot to be desired. "Then you're going to die childless."
A smile played about his lips. "Perhaps."
I didn't trust that smile or the glint in his eyes. They bode me no good. I shifted slightly, testing the chains around my legs. They were as tight as those on my hands, but the brush of leather against my thigh said I still had my boots on. Though the knives were a fat lot of good if I couldn't get to them. Still, there was one good thing. The chains weren't silver
"So why bring me here at all?"
"Because you are a dhampire, and one with few problems, which is extremely rare. Examining your genes will greatly enhance my research."
"I thought you were breeding clones?"
"I am. But I'm also exploring the DNA of different races in the hope it'll explain why my clones are dying."
"Here's a news flash. You want to create dhampires, all you have to do is wait by the grave of an undead. Grab him when he rises and milk away. His seed is viable for up to twenty-four hours."
"The newly risen are extremely violent, and I have not the resources to waste just yet."
"Yet you can keep throwing them at Quinn." And me
He shrugged. "He was getting dangerous."
"Because he was getting close?"
"And where is he now?"
His eyes glinted at me. "Do you care?"
I rolled my eyes. "He's a vampire, for God's sake."
Talon snorted. "At least you have some taste left. He's downstairs, in a cell. He'll prove a good test for my latest batch."
"He's not a guardian." It was a guess, but a fairly certain one
His smile flashed. "No. He is something better - an extremely old vampire."
Part of me ached to ask about Kelly, but I didn't. Mostly because I needed to be strong at that moment, and if I knew for sure she was dead, strong was the one thing I wouldn't be. "And is that what you plan for me as well?"
"Oh no, little wolf. You will spend your days in my labs here in Genoveve and your nights in my bed."
His voice was a low and familiar caress I felt deep inside. Given the fast-approaching full moon, desire was almost automatic, but it was accompanied by a churning in my gut. I really didn't want him to touch me, but if push came to shove, there might be little choice
"Tell me, did you send those sickos in the van after me?"
Anger flickered in his eyes. "No."
"Then who did?"
"Someone who is of no consequence to you now."
Meaning he expected me to stay here like some good little puppy? The man was an idiot. An insane idiot. "Then why were they bringing me here first?"
"Because those guards were mine, and obey my orders first."
I raised an eyebrow. Dissension in the ranks had to be good for us. "And your orders were?"
"To bring you here so I could claim what I wanted first." He paused. "It was before I realized you had tainted blood, remember."
Tainted blood? That was almost as bad as Quinn asking me if I needed "relief."
"So was the man giving orders Misha?"
Talon snorted. "Misha is a fool who plays a dangerous game."
"Then who is in charge?"
His golden eyes twinkled with amusement. "Someone you know, little wolf. Someone you've had dealings with for some time now."
Well, gee, that narrowed down the field. It could be a past lover, or a friend, or the guy I bought coffee off most lunchtimes. "I don't suppose you can be a little more specific?"
"I don't suppose I can."
My fists clenched, but it was pretty much a useless gesture of irritation. "Do you really think the Directorate is going to let you grab one of their people and not do anything about it?"
"You're a secretary, not a guardian. I hardly think they'll miss you."
"Rhoan will."
His smile reminded me of a shark. A conceited one at that. "Neither Rhoan nor the Directorate knows anything about Genoveve or this facility. They concentrate their efforts on Moneisha and I'm quite happy for them to continue to do so."
His arrogance would be his downfall - and I hoped like hell I would be there at the end to witness it
He rose and sauntered over to the window, staring out. I closed my eyes, imagining that dark plain and the door I'd created
Talon's voice made me start
"My father started this research a long time ago, and I have every intention of finishing it."
"So your father was as mad as you?" My comment was absent, my concentration on opening that door. Sweat trickled down my forehead
"My father was a genius. He saw the potential in the werewolf race, a potential that was not being realized simply because breeding was not being selective enough."
The dark plain rolled before me, the red wall shimmering brightly. I grasped the door handle and thrust my weight against the door. It still felt like I was trying to move a mountain, and I wondered if it would get better with time - and usage - or whether this sort of mental stiffness was natural
Talon droned on. "He spent his life studying the DNA sequences of the genes within an adult werewolf, how the proteins are made, and how they are used to construct the adult body. I am the result of his research."
My eyes flew open. "You're a clone?"
He glanced over his shoulder. "I prefer to call myself a natural creation of the lab. I am everything my father and the werewolf race is not."
I stared at him, dumbfounded. And yet it explained his size. And the overwhelming power of his aura. It wasn't natural. "But... why then do all your clones reek of death if your father perfected the research?"
"Because much of the research was lost in a fire that took my father's life. And because I use an accelerant so I have fully functioning adults to test. Vampire genes are more elusive than werewolf."
"So why are you working on vampire clones if your father saw the potential of werewolves?"
"Because the vampire is faster than the wolf and has the gift of shadowing. Pinpoint the sequences that give birth to this difference, add them to the werewolf, and you have a creature of unstoppable power."
"And yet you're rejecting me because I'm not full were. That really doesn't make sense, even for a madman."
His smile was condescending. "My creations will be all wolf - they will just have a few extra sequences that will give them greater skills."
"Then they are not wolf."
He snorted. "Like I am not a wolf, just because my DNA has been enhanced? No, my creations will be weres, and they will be all-powerful."
And he planned to be the force behind that power. God only knew what he intended to do with it. "Is Misha working with you in this? His company is certainly working to pinpoint the vampire genes."
Mirth played about his mouth. "Misha refuses to see the benefits in cloning."
So Misha had been telling the truth in that respect, but could I trust the truth of everything else he'd said? Somehow, I suspected not. "So he's your partner?"
"Not in Genoveve."
So, again, Misha had been telling the truth. Question was, why, when he was obviously involved not only with Talon in other ventures, but also with the man who controlled them both?
A light flashed on the panel to my left. Talon sauntered over and picked up the phone. The voice on the other end of the phone was guttural and edged with some sort of accent, making it difficult to pick up any words from where I stood
Talon hung up, then walked over to me and grabbed my face with one hand, his fingers digging into my cheeks. This close his aura was smothering, all heat and longing and need. "Business to attend to," he said, then kissed me hard
God help me, the fever rose, and it was all I could do not to arch into his body. But when he stepped back, I spat in his face. He laughed and wiped the spittle away with an arm. "We shall see how feisty you are once that fever has had time to burn."
He walked out. I closed my eyes and conjured the psi door again, pushing with all my might. This time it opened, and I didn't fall on my face
Are you all right?
Quinn's mind voice was flat and soft, yet his anger and concern seemed to resound through every fiber, providing both warmth and strength
Yes. You?
Nothing worse than bruised ribs. I'm currently locked in a cell, but I have all the hidden weapons.
As have I. I'm chained in what looks like a control room over what I'm presuming is an arena.
Is Talon with you?
Just left.
And the fever?
Burns. Right then the force of fear made me able to ignore it, but I had a suspicion Talon only needed to walk into the room and that would be the end of any pretense of control
Can you escape?
I tugged experimentally on the chains. Concrete dust sprinkled downward, making me sneeze. Probably take me a while, but yes
Then start trying. This cell has laser bars, and I can't get out until they're down.
So you're not holding out hope that Rhoan and Jack are going to come rushing to the rescue any minute now?
It's five in the afternoon. If they're rushing, they've got a strange way of showing it.
Something has gone wrong.
Obviously. He hesitated, then added. They'll be here, of that I have no doubt. I just don't think we can afford to sit around and wait for them
Not when Talon plans to use you as a punching bag for his latest batch of clones.
Shifting my right foot, I began turning and twisting and tugging at the chain, until the skin around my ankle was raw and pain burned up my leg. The ring in the wall began to move, the small puffs of dust providing hope
It came away suddenly, the chain lashing out across the carpet, then snapping back like a pissed-off snake
I started on the ring holding my other leg captive and was slick with sweat and trembling by the time it came loose. I edged the chains behind my legs just in case Talon came back in, then started work on the chains pinning my arms together
Maybe it was the fact that the ring was higher and I was able to hang more weight off it, but that one came out quicker. Even so, my wrists were red and raw
I'm free. Still wearing chains, but free. I rattled past the long control panel and began going through the drawers of the desk
Great. Now comes the more difficult part - finding me.
Unfortunately, Talon has not been considerate enough to leave floor plans lying about.
Quinn's amusement shimmered through my mind, momentarily dulling the ache in my wrists and ankles. I'll have a word with him when I meet him
The third drawer down was locked. I forced it open, and found several keys. The fourth key opened the locks around my wrists, the seventh the ones around my ankles. I had no idea what the rest opened, but I wasn't about to leave them behind
I puddled the chains under the desk and walked back to the control panel. Any idea where you are?
No. There are no signs and no movement whatsoever.
I scanned the many screens and eventually found what looked like pictures from security cams. I pressed a button, and the picture jumped to a different setting. I kept pressing. The first person I found was Talon. He was in a lab, peering into a microscope, and just the way he stood suggested he was far from happy. And that made me extremely happy
I moved on, eventually finding what looked to be a series of crisscrossed red lights. Those lasers bars... are they red and on all four sides?
Then I think I've found where you are. I glanced at the top of the screen. Sublevel three. All I have to do now is find how to get there
Be careful.
No... really? And here I was all set to go running down the halls.
His laughter reminded me of a summer breeze - so warm and rich. Anyone would think you did this for a living
My clothes were nowhere to be found, so I walked over to what looked like a cupboard. Inside, there were several leather jackets and Talon-sized pants, as well as a white lab coat. I put on the coat, rolled up the sleeves, then undid my hair to retrieve the finger laser. The knives I left where they were
On my way. Hopefully
I opened the door and peered out. The corridor was long and curved around to the right. I glanced up. Two security cams, one just above me, another right on the curve
Shoot them out.
I do that and it'll raise the alarm.
The mere act of walking out could do that. You have no idea who's watching.
I slipped the laser onto my fingers, adjusted the trigger, then raised my hand and fired. Black glass shattered, falling to the floor as softly as snow. I did the same to the second camera, then listened for any sound that might indicate the alarm had been raised
I edged out. The silence was eerie, the air cold. Shivering, wishing I had more than a thin coat on, I edged down the corridor
As I moved around the corner, a slight hum filled the silence. I froze. Sweat trickled down my back, and my finger trembled against the laser's trigger. The humming stopped. I let loose the breath I'd been holding, but in that instant, footsteps echoed, coming down the hall toward me
I swore under my breath and looked around quickly. No doors and nowhere to go but back to that room. I might not have gotten far, but I wasn't about to retreat. I sniffed the air. Pine and coffee. Not Talon, then
Taking a deep breath, I pushed away from the wall and walked down the hall, the rap of my bootheels as loud as the beat of my heart. His scent got sharper, and a second later I saw him - a small brown man clutching a clipboard and wearing a furtive expression
He stopped when he saw me. "Who the hell are you?"
"Research." I continued walking toward him
His frown increased. "What division?"
"This one." I popped the buttons on my lab coat and flashed him
The clipboard dropped to the floor and his jaw just about did the same. That's when I hit him. His head snapped back and he hit the floor with a crack that made me wince. I dragged him to the side and checked that he still had a pulse
He did. I grabbed the pass from around his neck, wrapped the coat around me as best I could, picked up the clipboard, and continued on. Elevator doors came into view. So too did another camera
I kept my head down and kept on walking. The doors slid open. I walked in, pressed sublevel three, then stepped back and waited
And waited
Heart thumping, fingers trembling, I pressed the button a second time
Still nothing
Then I saw the keycard slot beside the panel. Cursing under my breath, I swiped the stolen pass through the slot and the elevator doors slid closed
I flopped back against the wall and took several deep breaths. Until I saw the camera. The whole place was worse than the damn Directorate for spying on people. But I didn't move, hoping my disheveled and sweaty state would have any watchers thinking I was nothing more than another of Talon's floozies. Which I guess I was
The lift stopped at sublevel three and the doors opened. I peered out. Darkness crisscrossed by red lines greeted me. I switched to infrared and scanned the room. Heat fluttered down the far end of the room. There was nothing - or no one - else near
Hurry, Quinn said
"Like I'm not," I muttered, and heard the distant ring of amusement, felt it wash through my mind as sweetly as a kiss
It seemed to take forever to weave through the web of lasers. Hurrying wasn't a priority when the slightest wrong move could result in body parts being sliced off
Eventually, I reached his cell, and the sheer relief of seeing him again had me shaking. I retrieved the keys from the pocket of the coat, found one that looked right, and slid it into the lock. The lasers withdrew, and Quinn was free
He didn't move, just studied me in a detached sort of way. Though I wanted nothing more than to lose myself in the safety and warmth of his arms, it was a risk I couldn't take. The fever was knife-edged
"And if we meet Talon?"
He was reading my thoughts better than I was his. But then, he'd had more practice. I shrugged. "I'll deal with it."
He nodded, accepting my answer though we both knew there was only one way to deal with the heat that burned through my bloodstream
"Let's go."
He led the way back through the maze of lights. A soft humming filled the silence. The elevator was on the move again
"You hide left, I'll hide right. If it stops here, we'll attack," Quinn said
Mouth dry, I wrapped the shadows around my body and pressed back against the wall. The movements of the elevator vibrated into my spine, and I closed my eyes, hoping against hope it didn't stop
It did
Eight people walked out and began moving toward the laser cells. They smelled of death, and a sliver of relief ran through me. A single werewolf in the mix could have spelled trouble
The elevator door closed and cut off any immediate retreat
Go, Quinn said, and I did
I might be vampire-fast but my heels still rapped against the floor and gave the game away. There was a shout and the last vampire in line spun, his fist flying in a blur. I ducked, then punched, my blow smashing into his ribs with enough force to elicit a groan
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the flash of movement. I swung, kicked the first vampire in the head, then twisted away from the hands grabbing at me. Only to fall into the grasp of another. His arm snaked around my neck and I cursed, mule-kicking. I hit nothing but air and he laughed, his breath foul as it brushed past my cheek. I twisted and grabbed his balls, squeezing hard. He made a strangled sound, his grip around my neck loosening. I tore free and thrust him into the path of another. They went down in a tangle of arms and legs
Another vampire lunged for me. I backpedaled fast, barely avoiding his fist. I ducked a second blow, then pivoted and kicked him in the gut. The blow bounced off the vampire's flesh and jarred my whole leg. The bastard obviously had bricks in place of stomach muscles
I danced away from another blow, then lashed out at the vampire's jaw. Though his head snapped back, he snarled - or smiled. It was hard to tell when all I saw was the flash of teeth. I hit him again, but he caught the blow in his fist and twisted hard. Pain burned white-hot up my arm, and a scream tore up my throat - a scream that became more intense as his teeth slashed into my arm. The sound of his greedy sucking churned my gut
Shuddering, I twisted, sweeping the creature off its feet again. Pain twisted up my arm as his teeth were ripped from my flesh, and he roared in frustration. I lashed out, the blow catching the side of his face and sending him staggering
He didn't get far. There was a blur of red heat, then Quinn was in front of me, his fury so great it scorched both skin and mind
He wrapped his fingers around the vampire's neck and pulled him close. "Where is the man who is being used to produce the clones?"
The vampire cursed him, but the words abruptly cut off. Silence fell. No conversation, no movement from either vampire. But I knew what was happening. Quinn was raiding the other's mind
I thrust up the coat's sleeve and checked the wound. It was as bad as it felt but before I could shift shape, there was a crack of bone and Quinn's hand was on mine. The vampire lay limp behind him
"Let me," he said softly
He raised my wrist to his mouth and flicked his tongue across the wound. The sweet bliss of the caress made me jump, a whimper escaping my lips. His dark gaze burned into mine, his breath fiery against my skin. He licked at the wound as a cat might, washing away the blood, cleaning and healing the wound. It was erotic and sensual and undeniably exquisite
My breath caught somewhere in my throat and the fever battered the walls of control. "Quinn, don't."
It was a soft and breathy plea, but one he ignored. Sensations tumbled through me. I quivered under the gentle eroticism of his touch, clenching my thighs as the pressure built and built, until I felt so tightly strung everything would surely snap. Then it did, and I was unraveling, groaning, with the intensity of the orgasm flowing through me
It had only taken a few minutes, and as I opened my eyes and met his dark gaze, I knew it had been deliberate. He'd lifted the lid off the pressure cooker inside me, giving me more of a chance to control it a little longer
"Thank you."
"Blood as sweet as yours should never be wasted." He kissed my fingers, his lips warm against my skin, then released my hand and stepped away. "We have to get going."
At that moment, I would have I followed him anywhere, but I settled for the elevator. "Did you get anything from the vampire before you killed him?"
"The location of Henri and the nearest exit."
"So we get Henri first, then retreat?"
"No. I get Henri and you get the hell out of here."
"Quinn - "
The doors opened. He pressed a hand into my back, guiding me inside. "It's for the best. There's an exit not far from the elevator. The alarm doesn't appear to have gone out yet, but it soon will. That's when it'll get dangerous."
"You can't fight all these creatures alone."
He took the pass from me, swiping it through the slot before hitting the first-floor button. "I can fight a whole lot better knowing you are safe. Please, do what is sensible."
I took a deep, shuddering breath. Part of me wanted to stay and fight by his side, but the rest knew he was right. I wasn't trained for this sort of work. I could fight, but I didn't want to kill, and that could get dangerous for not only me but Quinn as well
A smile tugged his lush lips. "You are the most surprising woman I have ever met."
I raised an eyebrow. "Because I do what is sensible?"
"Because you do so without arguing first."
"I do not have a death wish, and this is not a situation I'm enjoying." Besides, though there were no windows and clocks to be seen in this place, I knew night was falling. The full moon was close to rising, and the force of it had my whole body tingling. Soon I would be wolf, and while teeth were a good weapon against one, against many they would be useless
I lightly touched his cheek. "Please be careful."
He caught my hand and kissed my palm. "I'm a very old vampire, and I didn't get this way by being careless. And one crazy young werewolf with Hitler delusions will not take me out."
Maybe. But that crazy young werewolf had an army of dysfunctional clones at his back, and they very well might
The elevator stopped, and the doors opened. Quinn released me and peered out. I retrieved a couple of knives from my boots and put them in the coat's pockets
"Clear." He tugged me out. "Go left and take the first corridor on the right. The exit is at the very end."
I didn't move, etching his face in my mind, just in case something happened and I never saw him again
"Go," he said softly and released my hand
I stepped forward, brushed a quick kiss across his lips, then turned and walked away. But I'd barely gone ten steps when a strident ringing cut through the silence. I froze, my heart sitting somewhere in my throat and beating ten to the dozen
Run, Quinn said
I ran. The ringing was deafening, echoing through my ears, but hopefully overwhelming the loud tattoo of my footsteps. The corridor was long, curving around to the left, affording no vision of what was coming the other way. I hadn't seen many people walking the halls, and hoped like hell it stayed that way until I got out
Should have known my luck was never likely to hold
Somewhere behind me a door opened, and the sound of heavy footsteps seemed to boom in time with the alarm. They were running toward me, not away
From ahead, there were more footsteps. I swore softly and checked the laser. Half-charged. I could mow down a few more people before I was reduced to fighting with knife and fist
The curve of the corridor came to an end, and so, too, did freedom. Talon stood under the exit sign, as naked as when he'd left me earlier, his brawny arms crossed and an arrogant expression on his face. Six clones were at his back
I slid to a stop and clenched my right hand, my finger against the laser's trigger, ready to fire it should any of them make the slightest move
"Planning to go somewhere?" he drawled
My other hand was around a knife. "I've decided I'm not keen on this resort. Don't suppose you'd be kind enough to move so I can get to the exit?"
He raised an eyebrow. "I don't suppose you'd be kind enough to tell me where your vampire lover is?"
"What makes you think I'd know or care?"
"The fact you helped him escape."
"If I helped him escape, he'd be with me, wouldn't he?"
His smile made my skin crawl. "He will never find his friend, you know. This place is a maze, and the corridors bright. No shadows for a vampire to hide in, I'm afraid."
Quinn didn't need shadows and he didn't need to hide. All he had to do was touch the minds of all those he passed and make them see nothing. Far better than shadows
"So all this racket is because a wolf and a vampire escaped your net? A bit over the top, don't you think?"
He shrugged. "The alarm is automatic when a door is breached."
My heart began to race a little faster. Neither Quinn nor I had breached a door. Did that mean Rhoan and Jack were on the way?
Though surely Talon wouldn't just presume it was us. Surely he would check with security first
His next words answered my question. "Mark, grab her, will you? Security is paging me."
Footsteps echoed behind me. I swung and dropped, sweeping the laser's light across the legs of three men who approached, cutting through flesh and bone as sweetly as a knife through butter. The smell of burned flesh stung the air, and the three of them hit the floor, screaming and grabbing at legs that were no longer a part of their bodies
Nausea rose. I swallowed heavily, allowing myself no time to dwell on what I'd done
Though what I'd done was, in many ways, worse than killing them
Talon's curse was lost to the sound of more footsteps. I swung back round, cutting down three more clones before the laser petered out. I grabbed the second knife out of my pocket, then lunged forward, the paper-thin weapons glinting like diamonds under the harsh lighting. Two more clones went down, the blades lodged deep in their chests
Then the last one was on me. I ducked the first few blows, then dropped and swept with my leg, knocking him over. He grabbed at me as he went down, but I broke his hold and punched as hard as I could. My fist mashed flesh, and the ripe warmth of blood spilled into the air. I swung around, grabbed his leg, and twisted it. Bone cracked, and the clone screamed
My chest heaved as I battled to catch my breath, and sweat trickled down my back. I stepped back from the clone, ignored the bile that rose in my throat, and met Talon's gaze
My actions might have angered him, but they'd also aroused him
"Now it's just you and me," I said softly
"Not really. I have a hundred such creations at my beck and call."
"Then I guess you're not such a perfect specimen of wolfhood after all, are you?"
He raised an eyebrow, a confident smile touching his lips. "You want a fight, little wolf?"
I flexed my fingers. "You think I'm afraid to?"
"I think you're very afraid."
And he'd be right. But it wasn't so much his physical strength but rather his aura. Even from where I stood I could feel it. It was a blanket that was almost smothering, a heat that crawled across my skin like some insidious, insistent demon. Close up, it might be too strong to ignore for any length of time
He uncrossed his arms, then pressed the band on his wrist. "Security, I have a problem here that needs to be attended to. Use whatever force you deem necessary to deal with the breach."
Security obviously weren't happy about this, because I heard their squawk from where I stood. Talon cut them off with a curt "Do it," then looked back at me
"And that," he said, shaking his arms and flexing his fingers, "should be the end of your lover."
"Don't underestimate him." I balanced lightly on my toes, ready to jump out of the way the minute he sprang
"Oh, I'm not, but even the greatest fighter in the world can be blown to smithereens by the force of a laser - as you've so aptly shown."
"Damn shame the thing ran out of power when it did. I would have enjoyed blasting that smug smile off your face." Taunting him probably wasn't the brightest move, but I just couldn't help it
His gaze slid down me, a warmth that made me cold inside. "Darkness has fallen outside, little wolf. The moon is only minutes from rising. I shall enjoy beating you into submission, and then I shall enjoy fucking you in wolf form."
Bile rose in my throat. Forcing yourself on someone while both were in wolf form was not only the act of a bastard, it was the ultimate form of degradation and humiliation for a werewolf. It had nothing to do with the power of the moon or the needs of a wolf, because the moon heat ended when the change swept over us. It was an act of rape, of domination, of power. It said you cared nothing for the person you were with, that in your eyes, he or she was no better than the animal whose shape you both wore
I knew of no wolves who made love on this night. Most took to the hills, enjoying the freedom of the forests, rejoicing in the rise of the moon
"You can try," was all I said
But I knew, like he knew, that I would have to beat him before the change came on. Because in wolf form, he would be stronger. That was the way of nature and something even my vampire genes couldn't get around
His smile stretched his lips even farther, then he came at me. I waited until he was close, then pivoted, smacking him in the face with a fist before ducking out of his way. His fingers glided down the coat, catching the end and jerking me to an abrupt halt. I cursed him and jerked out of it, spinning away
He chuckled. "I can smell your arousal, little wolf. And I can see it."
This close his aura was smothering. Yet I was resisting and for the moment, that was all that mattered
And maybe, just maybe, I could use his desire against him
I slid my hands up my body and cupped my breasts, brushing my thumbs across my nipples. "But do you see anything you like?"
Lust shone brighter in his eyes. He threw the coat to one side, then charged. I sidestepped. The tingling in my body was fiercer. I had to get this over with soon
He slid to a stop, cursing as he swung around. "You can't have what you can't catch," I taunted
He charged again. Not thinking, just reacting. His aura snatched my breath and made me dizzy, but somehow, lust remained fenced. Though barely
I caught his wrist and swung him around, thrusting him back against the wall. Wrapping a hand around his neck, I pinned him in place, then slid my free hand down his body and caressed his thick erection. He thrust into my touch, his body quivering, skin sheened with sweat
"You want something from me, you ask. Taking is never appreciated."
"You've appreciated it in the past." His words were a pant of air, his quivering growing
"That was then, this is now."
I kept caressing him, watching the desire grow in his eyes, fighting that part of me that wanted to take him inside and ride him to the end. As he drew closer and closer to the edge, I slid my hand away from his neck and retrieved the last knife from my boot. His orgasm hit, his body jerking and thrusting as his seed spilled out across my hand. I raised the silver-threaded knife and punched it hard into his shoulder
His eyes flew open, shock registering. Then the blood hit the knife and smoke began to rise from the wound. He screamed and punched me. The force of the blow flung me across the corridor. I hit the wall with a grunt and slid down to the floor, seeing stars and tasting blood for the second time that day
Then there was no time to do anything more than try to protect myself, because Talon was on me, a whirlwind of fists and anger from which there was no escape
But it barely lasted more than a few minutes, because the tingling in my body became a power that would not be denied. It swept around me, through me, blurring my vision, blurring my pain. Screaming filling my ears, screaming unlike anything I'd ever heard before. Then, suddenly, there was a blur of red fur, and Talon's weight was gone
"Rhoan, no!"
Jack's voice, sharp with command
I scrambled upright, my claws scrabbling against the steel floor. Rhoan, in wolf form, stood above Talon, his deep-throated growl making his whole body quiver, his bared teeth a hairsbreadth away from Talon's neck
Talon was beyond caring. His eyes were wide and glassy, and he still screamed. His body was aflame with the flicker of golden energy, which usually signaled the change from one shape to the other, but the sliver of silver I'd forced into his shoulder had him trapped in human form
I'd always wondered just how bad that would be
Now I knew
Jack strode forward and grabbed Rhoan by the scruff of the neck, hauling him off. "He's no use to us dead," he snapped, then glanced at me. "You all right?"
I nodded. There was little else I could do. Rhoan walked over and nuzzled me. I licked his nose and wished I was in human form so he could just hug me
"Then I suggest," Jack continued tartly, "you two go find our missing vampire."
We went
But Quinn had disappeared
And so, too, had the body of his friend