Bound by the Night

      part 4 of Bound series by Lauren DeStefano / Fantasy / Romance & Love

Bound by the Night
Page 1
Chapter One

He hadn’t expected her to be dead.

Jamie O’Connell narrowed his eyes as he studied the still woman before him. Her body had been placed—very carefully, he had no doubt of that—in the middle of a large bed. White, gossamer curtains billowed around the bed, looking like thin spider webs that had been spun to shield her body.

“This is a bad idea,” Sean Whelen, Jamie’s first in command, muttered as he grabbed Jamie’s arm. “There’s a reason she’s under, man. The woman is evil. ”

She didn’t look evil. She looked…beautiful.

Jamie shook off Sean’s hold. The guy swore but stepped back as Jamie shoved away those too-thin curtains and let his gaze sweep over the prize he’d sought for so long.

The woman was pale, but that was expected of her kind. It wasn’t like she would have been a fan of sunbathing even before she’d succumbed to the curse that had locked her body. Her hair was long and dark, lustrous and gleaming against the bedding. A silken, white dress covered her, skimming over what he could see were ample breasts and the kind of hips he’d always enjoyed holding tight.

“We’re going to die,” Sean told him, voice definite. “Probably in the next five minutes. Some horrible, painful death. ”

Jamie tossed him a glare. “Not helping. ”

Sean rocked back on his heels.

“And it’s not like we have a choice,” Jamie muttered. Hell. He didn’t want to do this. Waking the woman known as the Blood Queen wasn’t exactly something that Jamie had ever thought he’d do.

But sometimes, a werewolf could sure get desperate. Especially when the lives of his remaining packmates were on the line.

So he put his hands on her body. Ice cold. Figured.

“She’s not breathing, is she?” As usual, Sean kept talking.

But this time, the guy was right. “No. ” That was why she looked…dead. When he’d first heard the story about the Blood Queen, he’d just thought it was bullshit.

He wasn’t staring at bullshit.

He’d had to kill his way through half a dozen paranormal bastards in order to get to her. Their blood still stained his clothes. But if the woman before him could really do what he thought, then the hell he’d walked through would be worth it.

His fingers skimmed down the delicate curve of her cheek. She certainly didn’t look like the walking nightmare rumors whispered about in the dark. Her chin was a little pointed, her lips sensual and full—and red. Long lashes cast faint shadows on her cheeks, and Jamie wondered what color her eyes would be.

Since he planned on waking her up real soon, Jamie knew he was about to find out.

He lifted his hand away from her face and claws ripped from his fingertips. “Go outside,” Jamie ordered Sean. “Guard the door, just in case…”

“Uh, yeah, in case the crazy bitch gets loose and kills you?”

No. He wasn’t worried about that. Jamie had this, her. “In case we’ve been tracked. I don’t want anyone stopping me. Not until I’ve put the bond in place. ”

Silence.

Then Sean gave a low whistle. “You’re…really going to do it?”

What, did Sean think he’d gone to all this trouble for the hell of it? Shits and grins?

“You know…you know what will happen to her if you do this, Jamie. ”

Now Sean almost sounded sorry for the “crazy bitch” in question. Jamie forced a shrug. “And I know what will happen to me. ” He turned his head and met Sean’s dark stare. “I’ll make my pack stronger. ”

The pack was all that mattered.

He’d returned to the pack just one year before and found them under attack. An attack that had come from within. Men, women—they’d been brutally killed. The pack had dwindled down to just six—six—werewolves.

There would be no more deaths in the O’Connell pack. But the pack…oh, yes, the pack would have its vengeance.

His gaze turned back to the woman. Hello, vengeance.

She didn’t stir.

“Go outside,” Jamie ordered again.

This time, Sean obeyed. Jamie heard the shuffle of Sean’s boots over the dusty floor and the creak of the old door as it slid closed.

Then he was alone with the prey that he’d sought for the last six months. The instrument of his revenge.

He raised his right hand, and his claws slashed across his left wrist. Blood welled, dripped. Clenching his teeth, Jamie put his hand over the woman’s mouth and he waited.

The seconds ticked by as his heartbeat thundered in his ears.

And nothing happened.

Jamie lifted his hand. Blood had smeared over her lips. He leaned toward her. His index finger pushed lightly inside her mouth as he searched for the fangs that should have been there.

Only they weren’t. The woman had perfectly normal, human teeth. No fangs.

He pulled back. The wound he’d made on his wrist throbbed with a dull ache, but he ignored it. Pain didn’t matter. Never had, to him. Frowning, he put his hand on her chest. He didn’t feel a heartbeat. Despite what humans believed, the hearts of vampires actually did beat.

Only her heart was ominously still.

His back teeth ground together. “Maybe you are dead,” he gritted out.

The Blood Queen had been under a spell for the last fifteen years. A spell, a curse, same damn thing to him.

The blood of a werewolf had put her under—that blood had frozen her body and locked the spell’s magic in place.

And the blood of a werewolf was supposed to wake her. Only she wasn’t waking up.

Hell. So much for his big, secret weapon. Jamie would just have to find another way to destroy Latham and—

She had golden eyes. Dark, deep golden eyes.

“I’m not…dead,” she said, her voice a husky purr that actually seemed to roll through him, “but you…are. ” And her hand flashed up. The woman was strong—far stronger than he’d expected—and she grabbed him by the shoulder and yanked him toward her.

Then her mouth, her very sharp teeth, bit into his throat.

Instead of being afraid, Jamie smiled and let the Blood Queen taste him.

Drink up, baby. It’s your funeral. Because with every drop of blood that she took in these first moments, she was just locking herself to him ever more deeply. Bonding them, body to body, blood to blood, until there would be no escape. Not for either of them.

His claws dug into the sheets as he held his body perfectly still.

Revenge would sure be one bloody bitch.

Latham, get ready to die.

***

Don’t kill him.

The whisper slid through the shattered remains of Iona’s mind. His blood was in her mouth, flowing like rich bliss over her tongue. His hot, strong body was against hers, and…

Her heart was beating. Hard, pounding beats that seemed to tremble through her. She could feel and hear every single beat.

Her teeth pressed into him. She was probably hurting this man, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself. She was starving. Had been starving, for so very long.

Pull back. Don’t kill.

But it was so hard to keep her control.

Her heart beat was growing faster. She could feel the power of his blood sliding through her body. Giving her strength when before there had been only weakness. There’d been…nothing.

“I think that’s enough. ” His voice was low, deep, and tinged with the faintest brush of an Irish accent.

She ignored his words. Iona hadn’t enjoyed her fill of him yet and—

“I said…enough. ” His hands, big, powerful, caught her shoulders and shoved her away. Her back hit the wooden headboard of the bed, and she blinked up at him.

“If you drain me, then this little deal isn’t going to work. ”

She licked her lips and still tasted him. Maybe it was because she’d gone without blood for so long, but the man—he’d tasted incredible. Fresh. Wild. Spicy.

She’d like more.

When Iona tried to lunge forward, his hands just tightened around her shoulders, and he kept her pinned against the bed’s head-board. “Not so fast, baby. ”

Baby? Her eyes narrowed and she actually managed to focus and look up at his face.

Hard angles. Brutal cheekbones. A sharp nose. Lips that were…sexy.

Her breath whispered out.

There were faint scars on his left cheek. Old. Little ridges that raised the flesh and gave him a tough, dangerous appearance.

She’d always enjoyed danger.

Until that lust for danger sent me to hell.

His hair was dark, even darker than her own. Light drifted through the window on the far right. Light. Actual light! And with that light, she saw only pure black in his hair. His eyes—a sharp, intense green—were a bright contrast to that thick darkness.

“You settlin’ down?” he demanded and that faint Irish burr rolled beneath his words. Some might not have even noticed that slight accent.

Iona wasn’t some.

She was also hardly settling down.

But…how did he hold her back so easily? She’d taken a lot of blood from him during that frenzied feeding. He should be weak.

If he were human, he would be unconscious.

Just what type of creature was he?

His gaze flickered over her. Blood—his—had dripped onto her dress.

Her heart beat had finally dimmed. Her heart still raced just as frantically in her chest, but the thunderous booms didn’t threaten to burst her ears any longer. Her heartbeat had been the first sound she’d stopped hearing.

Listen, Iona…listen to these last, desperate beats.

Thud.

Thud.

Do you hear them? They’re slowing. Soon, they’ll stop.

Thud.

And you’ll never hear your heart beat again.

As that memory whispered through her mind, a scream broke from her and Iona lunged upward as she battled the ghost from her past. Her nails turned into claws, and she attacked the man before her. She swiped out, catching him across the chest and then tossing him aside.

In the next instant, she was on her feet. The long dress tangled around her legs and she ripped the fabric away from her thighs as she lunged for the door and sweet, sweet freedom.

Get out. The walls wouldn’t hold her prisoner any longer. She wouldn’t hear the rustle of insects or the scuttle of rats or the whisper of the wind or—

Iona yanked open the heavy metal door, nearly tearing it right from its hinges.

Another man whirled to face her. His handsome face tightened when he saw her and claws broke from his nails. Long, razor-sharp claws that could have passed for knives. Claws that were much bigger and shaper than the talon-like ones that she possessed.

Werewolf.

Rage filled her, blocking all other thought. The room faded in focus around her. She could only see him. The beast. The monster.

Just like the one who’d imprisoned her.

“Die. ” Her whisper. Her voice was broken. She was broken. But killing the wolf could help to make her whole. This man—this werewolf—he hadn’t been the one to save her. Not like the other one. He hadn’t brought her back. So there was no remorse in her, no phantom urge to protect him as she grabbed his head and twisted his neck to the side.

Then she felt claws circle her own throat.

“He can be an asshole sometimes, but I can’t let you kill him. ”

The other man. Irish. And had he said asshole or arsehole? With the Irish thickening in his voice, she couldn’t tell for sure. Not that it mattered. What mattered was…

Her rescuer had…claws, too. Werewolf. Two werewolves.

She freed the fool at the door even as she began to plan her next attack.

“Get out of here, Sean,” Irish said.

The one called Sean scrambled back and jerked the door closed as he left.

Her captor kept his claws at her throat and slowly forced her to turn and face him. Blood soaked his shirt and that sweet scent tempted her. Iona’s fangs were out, and her body, so long starved for nourishment, shuddered with longing.

Another taste.

If he didn’t kill her, she’d get that taste. As weak as she was, even a mangy wolf might be able to take her out.

Maybe.

“I want my taste, too. ”

She had no idea what he was talking about.

His green eyes seemed to burn into hers. “I bled for you, and now it’s your turn. ”

The claws at her neck slid across her skin. The pain was brief, a prick that she almost didn’t even feel, but then he was pulling her closer. Wrapping his arms around her, and because the man was huge—towering far over six feet—he lifted her up against him so that her toes barely touched the ground.

Then he put his mouth on her throat and he…he licked her skin. Her breath shuddered out of her. Iona knew she should fight, but her legs were still weak. She ached. She…

Liked the feel of his mouth on her.

“Mmmm…didn’t expect that,” the man murmured against her skin.

Her eyes were wide open, staring behind him at the bed that had been her jail cell.

How long had she been there? So long that she’d gone crazy enough to let a wolf put his paws on her.

“Re…lease me…” Her voice was hushed, so raspy. Her throat ached when she spoke, but the blood would heal her. Soon enough. “Or…die. ”

His tongue slid over her skin. Did he—did he press a kiss to her throat before his head lifted? It felt as if he had. “Easy. I barely took a sip from you. ” One dark brow rose as he offered her a half-smile that flashed a dimple in his cheek. “While you guzzled me like a frat boy with a new keg. ”

A frat…? Her eyes slit and she forced herself to speak again, “Re…lease…”
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