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Embers curse prime wolf, p.15
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       Ember's Curse (Prime Wolf), p.15

           Gena D. Lutz
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  "These wards have extinguished, just like the other ones the Fire Witch spun, when she died."

  "What about the iron in the door? Is it enough to drain your power?" I questioned.

  We all had our weaknesses. Werewolves are deathly allergic to silver. Vampires’ weaknesses included holy water, religious totems, and sunlight. When it came to the fey and witches, who were considered close cousins in the opinion of all supernatural beings as a whole, their power was weakened by iron. I never had to worry about a vampire’s bane before; my wolf side had always been the dominant gene. But I couldn't be too sure about that now. The bonding left everything up in the air. I was going to have to start over. Relearn everything I have come to know, magically, about myself. I didn't even want to think about the whole ‘Cannon’ thing. I just wanted to find Collin, kill Tyson, find out where my friends were, and then beat the living shit out of my cousin, Tommy.

  "My wolf magic bolsters my witch given magic, so I still have resources to tap into. It just might take a bit longer to get us in there." She closed her eyes and shifted her body into a sturdier position; hands out, legs apart. "Time isn't currently our friend right now. The Sleeping Beauty spell will be wearing off any moment," Tegan said. She then began her familiar chanting and I watched as her body began to slowly vibrate, reminding me of a tuning fork. Her voice got louder and the vibrating more intense. Then after a few seconds and a loud "crunch," the door folded in on itself like a taco.

  "Remind me not to ever piss you off," I said, kicking the door out of the way.

  Tegan cleared her throat and shook herself. After cracking her neck, she gifted me with a smile. "From what Mojo has told me, I should be saying the same about you."

  "You and the pooch can actually hold a real conversation with each other?" I asked with genuine curiosity. I still couldn't picture the little white fur ball as a powerful witch, imprisoned within the confines of a dog's anatomy. That had to suck.

  "It's not like she can speak actual words to me, but yes; we can communicate through our thoughts just fine."

  A curt laugh escaped her lips and she shook her head. "She's actually a bit of a bitch, but I guess I can't blame the poor girl. I just wish I wasn't the only one she had to complain about life and Milo to. She gripes mostly about that idiot."

  I was tempted to ask her more about her obvious, less than favorable opinion of Milo, but there wasn't time. So I just kept my mouth shut.

  We rushed into the dark room, my feet slipping over broken glass and spilled liquids scattered all across the floor. Someone sure had left in a hurry. Security lights kicked on as soon as we breached the archway. "Collin!" my voice echoed throughout the large space. My eyes flung to a table against the back wall. It was empty. Silver chains hung loosely over the railing. They were the same ones used to confine my mate. I knew this because I could smell his musky scent everywhere.

  "Where is he?" I demanded over heavy breaths. "He is supposed to be here!"

  "Uh, Ember, take a look at your arms."

  I looked down and watched as silver hair pushed through my skin. It cascaded down my limbs and covered my hands. Instead of fighting her, I embraced my wolf and went with it. As soon as my paws hit the floor, I was off and running. Tegan’s footfalls echoed behind me. She must have shifted as well. Good thing, because only another wolf would be able to keep up with me. Now that I was in wolf form, my awareness of Collin encompassed me. I could feel his heart beat as if it was my own. It was pumping very slowly, too slow for my liking. Another dose of that red shit would probably stop it all together. I wasn't about to let that happen.

  I rounded the next corner and was finally able to see Collin. He was being dragged by his arms, by two vampire guards. They were running at a breakneck speed, but I was gradually catching up to them, Collin’s dead weight was slowing them down. I growled out a warning, one that boomed off the walls and down the hall, the sound reaching them a few seconds before I could. But their steps didn't falter; they just pushed themselves harder, trying to outrun me. The first guard screamed and punched at my head when I landed on his back. His collarbone splintered under the weight of my jaw and he fell, bleeding to the floor. Tegan had attacked the second vampire. She wasn't fairing as well. I heard a yelp from her direction. I had to finish mine off fast so I could help her. I aimed my next attack at his throat. He threw his hands up to stop me, but it wasn't any use, he was a young vampire with limited strength and subsequently, no match for me. I ripped at his neck until it was reduced to nothing but a flap of skin barely hanging from a severed head. I sprang off the dead vampire and landed next to Tegan.

  She was panting heavily and was dripping blood from a couple deep gashes at her neck and stomach. I rushed the vampire as he was readying himself for another go at her. Instead of ripping into her face with his sharp claws, as he had first intended, he found his wrist caught inside my mouth, trapped inbetween my teeth. I shook my head and chomped down several times, snapping the bone. Within seconds, I had gnawed it right off. The vampire jumped back, landing several feet away from us. Terror flashed through his black eyes and he screamed when he looked at his bloody stump. I opened my mouth, and he watched, as it dropped with a sickening "plop" to the floor. I never thought it was possible, but the vampire’s face turned even whiter than before, almost translucent.

  "Fuck this!" he yelled. Backing up, he turned and ran.

  I padded over to Collin. The guards had dropped him during the fight and he lay still on the floor. I nudged his head with my nose but it just fell back to the ground. Tegan walked up behind me. She must have shifted back when I wasn't looking.

  She leaned over him, "Collin. Wake up," she said, shaking him by the shoulder.

  "What they gave him was pretty strong. He’s had two doses just from my knowledge. Who knows if they gave him more," I relayed to her after shifting myself. I placed his head on my lap and stroked his clammy forehead. I tried to think of a way to rouse him but my thoughts were a mess and I was having a hard time forming a coherent thought.

  "Do you have a spell that might help?" I asked, reaching for any shred of hope. “One that can rid him of the sleeping one?”

  "Most magic doesn't work that way unfortunately, but," she said standing over him, "let me try this." She placed her hands, one on top of the other, and formed a disconnected circle with them. She shifted them back and forth, one going left, one going right, over and over again, until a small humming emanated from the movement.

  "You might want to move," she warned me. Her tongue stuck out a little and rested on her bottom lip. She was focusing that hard, and her efforts soon paid off. A ball of water formed in the space between her hands, swirling in a perfect circle.

  I shook my head and just watched her; I wasn't going to move from Collin’s side. We had been apart long enough.

  "Suit yourself," she said with a shrug. Her arm flung back and she threw the water orb directly at us. It smacked him straight in the face, the splash soaking my sheet as well. Collin's head jerked up and he coughed hard and choked out some of the water.

  "What's going on?" he asked looking, around in a daze. "Where am I?"

  I threw myself at him. My lips covered his before he could ask anymore questions. He immediately kissed me back. I languished in the way his lips massaged mine. They slid over me like cool velvet.

  "I love you," I said, pulling briefly away. He rolled me over and laid his body on top of mine. His hand snaked under my head to cushion it from the hard floor.

  "You're mine," he purred. "I will never let anyone touch you," he said possessively.

  "No one touched me. I'd die before I let that happen," I said in return to his strong sentiment. This sudden need to protect me wasn't a huge surprise. The last thing he heard, before he was knocked out, was Tyson's plan to give me to the Darkin. No, it didn't come as a surprise to me in the least. So I planned to do anything I could to relieve his instincts. I would let him claim my body a million times over to calm his beast.
I counted myself a winner either way in that equation.

  "Um… Hi, Uncle Collin," Tegan said loudly clearing her throat.

  "I'm glad you're happy to see each other and all, but we are kind of in the middle of something here."

  Collin stopped his tongue in mid-stroke. It was mere inches from the top of my breast. He looked up at me with glossed over eyes and his forehead creased in a frown.

  "Please tell me that my niece isn't standing right behind us," he commented, already knowing the answer. I giggled and pushed him off me.

  "I'm afraid I can't, my randy wolf...your busted."

  He smacked his face with his hand and shook his head. "Hi Tegan," he said between clenched teeth.

  "What are the chances of us pretending this never happened?” Tegan’s eyes sparkled with mischief and an evil grin spread across her face. "With an appropriate bribe... I'd say the chances are pretty good.”

  Chapter 18

  I poked my head around the corner and scanned the hall for vampires. We had been walking the underground compound for at least twenty minutes now and we still hadn't run into anyone. Tegan said that the spell she cast would have worn off by now, so one would think the place would be littered with Gatherers.

  "This is too easy," I said over my shoulder. Collin and Tegan were walking behind me keeping an eye out, making sure that no pesky vampires were sneaking up on us from behind.

  "Let's get out of here," Tegan said, walking faster. "This place is giving me the creeps."

  "I smell vampires," Collin said sniffing the air. He grabbed my wrist and pulled me to a stop. "Tegan, you've got to go now. Blink out or whatever you do, but go."

  Tegan snorted and shook her head. “Do you think I'd just leave you guys here to battle a whole Kiss of Vamps. All by yourselves? You're nuts."

  Collin turned and rubbed his face. "Look, your wound is still bleeding from earlier and you've used way too much magic today. Please. For the love of God, can you do as I ask you this one time?"

  She stared at Collin for a moment, conflicted. "Ah, hell. Fine. But if I don't hear from you guys soon, I'm going to "blink" my ass right back here. That’s a promise."

  "Fair enough," he said, giving her a peck on the cheek. "And, Tegan... thanks for everything. You really came through for us. Consider your admittance papers to the final training class, approved."

  Her face beamed at the news. She jumped up and punched the air. "Yes!" and then she disappeared in mid fist pump.

  "That was easier than I thought it would be," he admitted.

  "I think she was more exhausted than she let on. We all are."

  We continued to stalk the halls. I was relieved when things began to look familiar. We were getting close to the holding cells. The air still held a heavy dampness from Tegan’s fight and small drops of water dripped from the ceiling.

  "The smell of vampire is stronger. I don't know how many of them are down here, but they are waiting for us behind those doors."

  I inhaled a deep breath, testing the air. Collin was right. Behind the closed doors, there were several vampires waiting for us. If we could sense them in there then they sure as hell had no problem detecting us.

  "We have to shift, Collin."

  His chin tipped up and he took in a breath. "We are very powerful wolves, Ember, even more so now that we have bonded. But there are over a dozen vampires in that room." He left the comment there. He knew I understood that we were vastly outnumbered and our chances of getting out of this compound alive were slim.

  "We can do this," I said. The reassurance was more for me than him, I think.

  He turned toward the wall and leaned into it, his ear paused an inch from the wooden panel. "There is no movement, but I can still hear someone whispering orders. It's a kill order. They no longer want us taken in alive."

  I shrugged off the fear that was trying its damnedest to settle in my gut. I was becoming an expert at masking that annoying emotion. I was in need of a clear mind so I was thankful for that.

  "We will make killing us hard to almost impossible to manage then."

  He turned to face me. "I know what you're thinking," he said, brushing his fingertips over my cheek. "But every time we become our hybrid beast, the change happens on its own. I have no clue how to do it myself. Do you?"

  I thought back to each shift. The only thing they had in common was that every time it did happen, I was filled with an intense anger. That anger had to be the catalyst.

  Collin cracked a smile. "You thought of something, didn't you?"

  "I guess you can say that," I answered, still deep in thought. "It's going to take a lot of faith in our new, darker beast, but as I see it, we have no choice."

  We shared a tense moment while he read what was on my mind. He nodded his head soberly when he figured out my simple plan.

  "So we just open that door and see what happens then?"

  I nodded. "Unless you can think of a better way to get our adrenaline pumping hard enough, this is the only way to induce our hybrid beast."

  Collin sighed. "I can’t, unfortunately. If the worst case scenario happens after we go in there, I just want you to know," he wrapped his fingers around the base of my neck and with a gentle tug, pulled my face inches from his. “I belong to you just as much as you are mine. If we can't be together in this life, I will find you in the next. I love you, Ember." His whispered confession was cut off with the softest of kisses. We held each other tight, the embrace brief but in those few seconds, in each other’s arms, we lived another lifetime.

  "Are you ready?" the question rolled of his tongue with regret.

  I absently reached up, mesmerized by his words of love, and touched my damp lips.

  With a nod I said, "Yes, I'm ready."

  He stood in front of the doorway and with a swift kick, the door crashed in. He had kicked it so hard that it flew across the room, taking a very surprised vampire with it. The fates must have been on our side because when the vampire crashed into the wall on the other side of the room, a broken piece of wood protruded out of his chest. It had killed the bloodsucker instantly.

  Oh well, one less leach to worry about. I jumped into the room behind Collin. I did a quick scan of our enemies and counted ten of them; Tyson was nowhere to be found. What a shame, I was aching to tear out that particular person’s heart. That, and the guards forming a circle around us, worked my anger up just enough to bring upon the change. It was easier this time. The magic slipped over me like a well-worn pair of jeans. I let myself absorb every bit of extra strength it gave me. I gazed over at Collin through my new red vision. He had already gone through the change as well. His muscles bulged with the extra boost and he swung his head around to make sure I was okay. My eyes skimmed the cut of his body. A sexual charge all but zapped through me and I felt a familiar ache begin to build deep inside of me.

  As soon as he saw that I was ready to fight, he gave a quick nod. I moved with caution into a better fighting position, pushing my back up against Collin’s. I turned my right side to my opponents, trying to give them the smallest target possible. I had one clawed hand at my side and the other fanned out in front of me. Then I waited for any signs of attack. The five guards in front and off to the side of me looked confused. Their eyes searched our bodies with creased brows. I assumed it was because they had never seen creatures like us before. I planned to make this the last thing that they would ever see again. I roared out a challenge, the beast in me taking over, and then I pounced. My claws sliced through the first exposed neck I could reach, the skin gave way like butter. Blood gushed out, splattering my sheet. I reached down and tore it off. It would only impede my movements if I left it on. My bare breast slammed against the silver bars but this time my skin didn't burn on contact. My arm was wrenched up behind me and a hand fisted into my hair pulling my head back.

  "I'm going to enjoy killing you, freak bitch."

  I laughed in response to the vampire’s threat. It must have pissed him off because he pul
led my head back even farther. With my free hand, I reached between us and then up in-between his legs. I grabbed ahold of his crotch and squeezed. His cry of pain was music to my ears. He released my hair and dropped to his knees. I let go, letting him fall.

  I grabbed a piece of the broken door off the floor and stabbed it straight into his heart. "It's going to be pretty hard to kill me from hell," I said, pulling the stake back out to use on the next vampire running at me. He was coming from behind so I fell to one knee, the blood soaked floor making it easy for me to turn around. All I had to do was hold the stake out in front of me; he tried to stop himself, but the slippery floor sent him right to his death. I pushed him to the side and set my sights on another vamp.

  This one was smarter. He didn’t try to rush me or get close enough for me to score him with my claws. Instead, he circled me, he took his time. He motioned for two more guards to join him. I guess the odds of three against one boosted his confidence because he looked at me with a cocky grin. It was going to be a pleasure to wipe that smirk of his face. He wasn't as smart as I had initially thought. The only thing that separated him from the other vampires that lay dead and bleeding on the cold, stone floor was that he had patience and an extra thirty seconds left of his pathetic life. A cool tingle coursed through my veins, my fingertips twitched. My body was pushing me to attack. Collin stepped up beside me. Blood dripped from his claws. A low and steady growl vibrated from his heaving chest. For a brief moment his strong, alpha male presence made me feel calm. The calmness almost made me lose the edge given to me by my beast, but it only lasted for that moment. The calm was replaced by rage, focused solely on the threat standing before us.

  Collin was the first to move. The guards had to be twenty feet in front of us but the distance didn't matter. He reached them with one long jump. His muscled arm flashed out, lightening quick and grabbed the cocky vampire around the neck. With one hard push off the ground, Collin jumped straight up, still holding tight to his neck. The vampire’s head slammed into the ceiling with a sickening crunch.

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