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Paranormal hunter box se.., p.11
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       Paranormal Hunter Box Set, Books 1-3: Sonnet Vale, Phantom City, & Demon Touched, p.11

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  A shiver slid over her at the power she felt emanating from him. He was bigger up close, easily six feet four, with a body bulging with muscles. Deep down, she knew what this man was. He was like her…a hunter.

  Sonnet’s gaze swung between the werewolf and the hunter. Gore covered Emely’s fur, blood dripped down her jaw. The vampire was ripped to shreds, his head gone and out of sight, his body still twitching. Low to the ground, the wolf growled at the man who had her cornered by the front door. He half turned to throw a look over his shoulder at Sonnet as she walked into the room, cautious enough not to turn completely around for fear of putting the wolf at his back.

  Holding her hands up, Sonnet made the universal signal for “everyone calm the fuck down”. Then she heard Emely’s rumbles cut off.

  The hunter stepped back a few paces, putting both Emely and Sonnet within eyesight. In his outstretched hand, he gripped a gun. He dropped it to his side, “What the fuck is going on in here?”

  The wolf growled as the space around her suddenly began to shimmer and flash a brilliant white, leaving the image of woman and wolf superimposed until only Emely’s human form was left. She stood naked from a crouch and both she and Sonnet’s gazes zeroed in on the stranger.

  Sonnet tilted her head and smiled. “You’re in my town, big guy. I’ll be asking the questions here.”

  The man tangled a hand through his thick auburn hair. Up close, his eyes were dual-colored, a medium blue with cobalt circling his irises. Even though his build was imposing, he seemed more like a confused virgin in bed with a porn star than he did a dangerous killer. That fact helped Sonnet relax a little as he began to explain.

  “The predator database showed a lot of suspicious activity in this neck of the woods that had vampire stamped all over it. So me and a few buddies of mine decided to investigate.” He gave her a curious look. “Everyone calls me Savage on the hunter site. What’s your handle?”

  Emely reached out and yanked an Army jacket from a clothes rack next to them. She hefted it over her shoulders. The thick camo swallowed her petite body, the bottom reaching just past her knees. “Yeah, Vale, what’s your handle?” she snickered.

  Sonnet ignored Emely’s jab and blinked at him, confused. “What?”

  His eyes darted to the dead vamp at her feet. Then his brows furrowed. “You’re a hunter, right? I sensed your energy earlier, when you passed me by on the street.”

  “Yeah, I’m a hunter.”

  “And you hunt alone?”

  Emely cleared her throat. “She’s not alone, dip shit. What’s your real name?”

  “It’s Galvin.”

  “Well, Galvin. She obviously hunts with me. You got a problem with that?”

  The man stared at her and shook his head. “Interesting.” He eyed Sonnet. “So you’re the only hunter in Vanier?”

  Sonnet watched him, trying to figure out what in the hell his deal was, but soon gave up. Pressed for time and remembering that she still had a dead-vamp mess to clean up, with a body in the backroom that wasn’t getting any fresher, she crossed her arms over her chest and said, “As you can clearly see, I’m a bit busy here. You can either help us get rid of the vampire, or you can leave. Either way, this interrogation is over.”

  Galvin took a deep breath that seemed to come from a place of complete calm, which was the opposite of what Bane had told her about her species. He’d claimed that hunters were out-of-control berserkers. This hunter looked more inclined to start singing Kumbaya than murdering. But then she remembered how looks could be deceiving.

  “I’ll leave you to your business. But can we get together later? I can tell you a little bit more about the database, and you can explain to me why a hunter is running around like bosom buddies with a werewolf.”

  “Sure. I don’t why not.”

  Emely’s top lip curled back and with a low growl, she pushed out of the front door, her voice trailing. “I’ll grab the clean-up gear.”

  Sonnet nodded once. “Thanks, Em.”

  Galvin holstered his gun and fished for something in the front pocket of his jeans. “Here is my number. Feel free to use it when you have time to talk.”

  Sonnet looked down at the black glossy card that read Savage on the top line with a number underneath it. She nodded and he pivoted to leave—but she had one quick question to ask.

  “Are there a lot of us? I mean hunters?”

  “No. We are, for lack of better words, an endangered species.” He gave her a soft smile. “Just give me a call when you can.”

  At a clipped pace, he left.

  Endangered?

  She thought about it. That did make a lot of sense. Her kind chased after and fought the strongest, deadliest creatures in existent. To say it was an easy job would be like saying sharks were cuddly.

  Chapter Three

  The vampire’s body flopped around like a fish. He’d been tossed on top of a black tarp and then doused liberally with holy water, which was now devouring him whole. Once they were finished with him, all that would be left of the murderous scumbag would be a muddy puddle of ashes.

  Sonnet searched the floor near the body and asked, “Oh, shit. Where’s his head?”

  Emely hooked a thumb over her shoulder toward the gun case in the back right of the shop. “It went flying that way.”

  Sonnet groaned and strode over to the case, giving a completely new meaning to the term headhunting.

  After the head was located and added to the remains, they both stayed quiet as they finished up. And once the folded tarp full of soupy vamp guts was thrown into the Dumpster in the back of the pawn shop, Sonnet pulled out her cell phone and dialed Detective Riley’s number. He picked up on the second ring.

  “Vale, is everything okay?”

  Sonnet wasn’t surprised by the detective’s straight-to-the-point greeting. She rarely ever spoke with him directly, that was Dana’s job, but when she had to, it was never with any good news.

  She turned her head to the side and watched Emely steer the car down the alleyway. She pulled up between the busted-out lamppost and the Dumpster where Sonnet was standing.

  “We have a problem,” she said.

  “That not surprising,” he muttered back.

  Sonnet balanced the phone between her cheek and shoulder while reaching to open the passenger-side door. “Crap,” she hissed, staring down at her jeans. They were covered in gore, blood, and God knew what else. Damn it Ryker! She was no good at the cleanup part of the hunt, and the evidence of that was left all over the kill scene and apparently her clothes.

  She paused to kick off her shoes, tossing them into the backseat, and then she stripped off her jeans, chucking them in the back as well. After she was rid of the filthy clothes, she hopped inside the car.

  “There’s a dead body at Bishop and 4th, backroom of the Barrowed Time pawn shop,” she continued.

  There was a tense stretch of silence.

  Sighing, she pulled the door closed. “Can you handle it, or not?”

  She sure hoped so, because she’d never had to get rid of a human corpse before, and hadn’t a clue where to begin.

  “I’ll take care of it,” he finally answered.

  Relieved, Sonnet released a pent-up breath. “Thanks, detective.”

  Less than five minutes later, the car pulled back up in front of Fang Squad Inc.

  The stench of vampire remains wafted from Sonnet’s skin, her bra was drenched with goo. Her nose crinkled up in disgust. “I’m going to run inside and grab a quick shower and burn these clothes. Are you going to stick around or have you had your fill of excitement for the night?”

  Emely shrugged and killed the ignition. “That depends, do you need me?”

  Sonnet shook her head. “I don’t think so.”

  “I’ll be heading out then. I have some pack business to take care of.” Barefoot and wearing only the army jacket she’d swiped from the pawn shop, Emely hopped out of the car and tossed Sonnet the keys. After three short stri
des, her bare legs were straddling her baby…her Harley. “See you around, Vale.”

  ***

  As Sonnet sprinted down the hallway of her office building to the gym, she thought about all the crap she still needed to do. Dana had texted her Cory Knight’s address and he was expecting her to arrive at his house soon. That was unfortunate, because she absolutely refused to smell like a pig that had played in an open, muddy grave for one second longer. He’d just have to wait.

  Stepping into the hot shower, she let the world melt away as she ran a bar of soap down her thighs. Nothing else existed, other than the sweet smell of cleanliness and the velvety froth of shampoo that she’d lathered into her hair.

  But her moment of serenity was quickly ruined by the sound of a male voice echoing throughout the room, along with the acrid smell of cigarette smoke.

  “Vale! Is that you in there?”

  She recognized the voice immediately.

  With frustrated scrapes of her fingers, she rinsed out her hair. “What do you want, Ryker?” she demanded.

  What the hell was he doing here?

  A long exhale sounded, along with more puffs of smoke. “Damn woman, settle down. I was just checking on you.”

  Sonnet’s hunter instincts stirred to life, but at a very low level. If she were to trust what her gut was telling her, then she would be jumping out of the shower, killing things. But Ryker wasn’t a vampire, so she chalked it up to residual magic leftover from her recent slay.

  “I’m fine, thanks. Now leave.”

  One second later, Ryker was throwing open the curtain. In the next, Sonnet found herself pinned against the wall. His nose pressed up against her ear as he slurred, “Do you only fool around with vamps, or are werewolves on the menu too?”

  Her hands clenched into fists at her sides and she closed her eyes in silent prayer, wiling herself not to strike out at him. He deserved his ass kicked just for invading her space. But her instincts made her hold off from castrating the son of a bitch on the spot for what he was doing, and saying.

  When they reopened, Ryker was staring straight at her. He looked confused, remorse trying to push through a cloud of confusion that overshadowed his brown eyes, which were almost slits. His normally sharp features were lethargic, as if he was drunk or maybe something even worse.

  She’d never seen him act this way. Something was wrong—very wrong.

  She pushed at his chest, making him slump forward. “Get your damn hands off of me, you drunken idiot!” She wanted to start pummeling his face in, but in Ryker’s current condition, she feared she’d end up hurting him. “What the hell has come over you?”

  Ryker’s unfocused gaze raked up and down her body. “I don’t know, but it feels pretty good.” His voice wasn’t heated with lust, but hollow—thin, as if he wasn’t mentally aware of his words and what they meant.

  His hand cupped a breast.

  Motherfucker didn’t!

  That was enough to firmly push her kill button—there was no excuse for this. Just how much did the wolf have to drink? She shook off the thought. Doesn’t matter.

  Her hands shot up between them and she shoved at his chest, hard. Ryker was barely able to keep his footing for more than a second before he toppled to the tile, where the asshole started to laugh.

  “Lighten up, prude. I just want to have a little fun.”

  Sonnet pointed a finger at him. “It looks like you’ve had enough fun. Go home and sleep it off before I’m unable to forget what happened here tonight.”

  She walked around the lunatic werewolf, carefully, and reached for a towel on the counter next to the sink. He didn’t move, just sat in the same spot, giggling at his hand. He had it raised in front of him; the nails were gone and in their place, claws curved to sharp ends.

  Sonnet wrapped the towel around her damp body and shot Ryker a perturbed look. “What the hell are ya on, anyway?”

  She couldn’t believe she hadn’t killed him for what he’d just done. Or at least beat his face to a bloody pulp. Normally she would of. But as she stared down at him she realized it would be like beating up a baby cub instead of a ferocious werewolf.

  His head tipped up, unsteady on his neck, and he used his clawed hand to shade his eyes from the fluorescent glare coming from the ceiling. “Huh?” His arm fell and, after an awkward moment, his entire body tipped over.

  The smell hit her then—bloodsucker. It was so faint that it’d been easy to miss amongst the commotion.

  Following the scent, she went to her knees, sight focusing in on the front pocket of Ryker’s jeans. Her eyes jumped to his face—features now slack, mouth wide open. He was definitely out cold. Her gaze fell back to where the smell was strongest. She shook her head, unable to think straight with her innate hunter instincts battling to take over, wanting her to kill something. Would it be wrong to go through his pockets?

  It didn’t matter—right or wrong, she had to. She needed to find out why Ryker was acting like such a dickhead, and besides, she couldn’t ignore the compulsion to find out what that vampy smell was all about.

  She took a deep breath. Here goes nothing.

  She stuffed her hand down his pants pocket and felt around. In her fast search, her hand brushed up against something hard, a lengthy bulge that jumped when she grazed it. Cursing low, she hissed, “Fuck me.” And then her fingers wrapped around something square, made out of tin, like a lozenge container. She yanked it out and sat back on the floor.

  Despite the lack of vampires running around the building, Sonnet could suddenly feel low levels of several of them resonating from the container that rested in the palm of her hand. Something was wonky.

  Fisting the container, she reached over and pulled her silver-tipped stake from the duffle bag she’d tossed next to the bathroom door when she’d first arrived, and placed it in her lap. Just in case.

  Sonnet’s eyes darted back to the tin. Nervous, she wet her lips. The lid to the container lifted easily. She didn’t know what to expect as she peeked inside—and what she saw was a bunch of clear, light blue…gel capsules?

  Her dark brows drew together.

  The entire situation had her completely perplexed. She was beginning to doubt her gifts. Unless…

  She hopped up and set the pills on the counter. Even though her inner honing device needled at her something fierce, confirming the fact that the pills were the main source of paranormal activity, she wanted more proof. She stepped away to kneel beside Ryker. He would have answers. It was time to rouse the wolf…but how?

  She could try bloodshed, not his, but her own. Werewolves were predators, spurred on by fresh blood.

  Sonnet lifted her arm. Staring, she tipped her head. There was a problem—she didn’t have fangs to cut through her skin.

  I don’t need fangs to slice open my flesh. There’s always a knife. Her thoughts lingered as her gaze dropped to the weapon in her lap. Or the pointy end of a stake.

  She gripped the wood and poised the tip of it at a spot just between her hand and wrist before pressing down. Applying little pressure at first, her skin barely dimpled, so she pressed down much, much harder until the silver tip popped through. She let out a soft moan of pain as blood pooled around the tip to run in red streams down her arm.

  She moved her wrist over Ryker’s mouth. Blood trickled down onto his slightly parted lips, but even after a decent amount made it into his mouth, he showed no response. Not one muscle flinched around his jaw.

  She stood and walked over to the sink to take care of the gash in her wrist, while at the same time, trying to ignore her vamp instincts. She snatched up and opened the first-aid kit she had stuffed underneath the counter for emergencies. After smearing antibiotic ointment over the cut, she wrapped it tight with gauze.

  Because she was a hunter, her wounds healed faster than those of normal humans, so the dressing and antibiotics was only an added precaution to keep the wound from scarring. Her dark eyes dropped to the puckered white and pink gashes that wrappe
d around her hands and forearms like spider webs. She’d amassed enough scars from fending off fangy foes; she didn’t need to add anymore to the collection.

  Thud.

  In the mirror’s reflection, Sonnet watched as Ryker tried to sit up. Leaning most of his weight on his hands, he was barely able to lift his head.

  She bit her bottom lip, a nervous habit she hadn’t been able to break, as she realized that Ryker was more than drunk or high as a kite on pills. A werewolf’s metabolism ran high, and for a young, fit specimen such as Ryker, he should easily be able to burn off the effects of any altering substances within several minutes of ingesting them. Judging by the sluggish state he was in, he seemed to be getting worse, not better.

  That’s when she realized that something was dreadfully wrong with the werewolf.

  She hurriedly threw on a fresh pair of jeans and a shirt. Not knowing what else to do, she shot to his side, threw his arm around her shoulder, took a deep, fortifying breathe, and hefted him up. If she could only get him standing, and then into the shower long enough, maybe the cold water would help stir him.

  “Kiss me.” Ryker puckered his lips and tried to kiss her.

  Even though he couldn’t lift his head up long enough to do any real damage, Sonnet batted his mouth away from her neck. “Stop it. You’re acting like a creep.”

  Eyes unfocused, he shot her a sluggish smirk. “You’re a real bummer.”

  Sonnet ground her back teeth together, fighting the urge to drop him.

  “I have a hot boyfriend waiting for me and an ongoing case to check on. Sorry if I’m not up for a make-out session.”

  The shower curtain whooshed all the way open as Sonnet yanked on it, and she struggled with Ryker to get him inside. Once that was accomplished, she pushed him up against the wall, where he managed to situate himself in a semi-seated position on the floor, but other than that small feat of strength, he tucked in his head and slumped forward, sagging onto his knees.

 
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