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Embers curse prime wolf, p.17
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       Ember's Curse (Prime Wolf), p.17

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  "Open wider," he demanded. For a brief second, a feeling of shyness shot through me. The position would leave my sex completely exposed to him, but, after another delicious lick to my folds, I obliged his command without another thought. My knees wobbled and he wrapped his arms around my waist, shifting, taking us both to the floor. He grabbed my legs and settled them around his shoulders, all the while never taking his lips from my pink flesh. His pace never wavered and I found myself in the midst of an orgasm, bracing my fingers in his hair, yelling my pleasure to the Gods above. Collin inched his way up my body and settled in next to me.

  "I have something for you," he said watching the rise and fall of my bared breasts. I couldn't help but chuckle.

  "You're going to be hard pressed to top what you just gave me," I said, teasing him.

  He brought his hand from behind his back and placed a square, black box on my stomach. The box’s lid was opened and nestled securely in a bed of velvet sat an exquisite ring. A single, emerald cut diamond gleamed from its perch. I just stared at it, then like an idiot, stuttered out a couple incoherent words. He gazed into my eyes and smiled warmly, a little dimple popped out on his left cheek and I watched his lips part before he spoke.

  "Ember Dawn Stilwell," he began. His facial expressions were now completely serious. Collin looked me square in the eyes. His stare pierced all the way through me, straight into my soul. "Will you make me the happiest werewolf in existence and be my wife, my mate?"

  His words melted into one another in my mind but I still understood their meaning. He wanted to make our bonding official. I would not only be his mate but also his wife. The thought sent a flood of shivers over my already sensitive body.

  "Yes, Collin." Those two words were the only ones I dared to speak over the immense lump in my throat, and somehow, they came out crisp and clear. He drew me into his arms and kissed me hard, then gentle, drawing it out like he was savoring the very taste of me.

  "If it's okay, I'd like to wait before announcing our engagement to everyone. At least until we find Nathan," I murmured, snuggling into the warmth of my, now fiancé's, chest.

  He nodded in agreement. "I think that's a good idea. I wouldn't want him hearing the good news from anyone but us." Collin paused and stared into the nothingness above him, deep in thought. "We will find him my love, I promise you that."

  I could tell that Collin meant every word of that promise, but I still couldn't stop my stubborn brain from conjuring up a million different horrifying scenarios about what might be happening to Nathan.

  "I hope so."

  ***

  "Where is everybody?" I asked Sadie, who was sitting at the bottom step peeling an apple. She stood up, and with care, put her pocketknife away in her back pocket.

  "I was waiting for you," she said, waving me to follow her. "They are all in the War Room."

  I stared at her for a moment, my expression neutral. "Did I miss something?" Collin had left the room before me. I refused to budge before I gave my achy body a good soaking in the jetted tub.

  "Your friend showed up about an hour ago," she said.

  I took a few steps forward. "Which one?" I asked anxiously. I was too afraid to hope for the best. Nathan and Brady just showing up here with no further drama seemed too easy.

  "Your girlfriend, Harper," she said, leading me down one of the many halls that ran throughout the giant house. "The group of men that arrived with her were carrying an unconscious man... he didn't look so good. They said he was a vamp."

  The vamp must be Brady. But if they found him then where was Nathan?

  "We need to get to that War Room," I said.

  "We’re almost there, follow me."

  I was quick to understand why this area was aptly named The War Room. The walls, ceiling, and floor, were built out of pure iron. There wasn't a witch alive strong enough to cast a spell on anyone hunkered down in this place. A bank of computers sat whirring softly on one side of the rectangular room, while on the other side there stood several lockers lined up next to one another. Men dressed in black combat fatigues were standing in front of a few of them, unloading their weapons. The air was saturated with the scent of gunpowder and metal. The smell spurred on the fighter in me, and my fingers tingled with want of grabbing one of the rifles hanging, with a family of others, on the very back wall of the room.

  I liked this frame of mind better than the one from earlier. I needed to shake this regret that had been gnawing on my conscience ever since I upped my body count. I had to be realistic. There was a good chance there would be several more notches to add to my belt, before it was all said and done. Did that make me a monster? I didn't know. That was a hard question to answer. My conflicting feelings didn’t help the problem either.

  Collin was across the room, leaning over a shaggy haired guy with a headset resting around his neck. The man was seated at one of the computer stations, typing away like a madman. Collin rubbed his stubbly chin. His eyes shifted rapidly, trying to read something off the monitor. "If we follow the obvious pattern," he said pointing at something on the screen, "it would indicate that they are most likely still in the area."

  "Hello, Collin," I said, entering into the room. His head turned and a sexy glint entered his eyes at the sight of me.

  "Hi, Beautiful," he said, abandoning what he was doing to walk over and hug me. "You smell delicious."

  I squeezed my eyes closed. I wanted to savor every moment I had with my mate. He was a precious gift that was never meant to be taken advantage of.

  "Sadie told me that Harper is back now."

  Collin took me by the hand and led me over to the computer. "Who is Sadie?" he asked absently, typing in a few words.

  Sadie popped her hand up from where she was standing by the door. She was leaning next to a water cooler with a paper cup in her hand. "That would be me." She swigged back the water and tossed the crumpled cup in the wastebasket. "We came here to find out about the unconscious vamp your men brought in earlier."

  Collin raised one brow. "We?" he asked, looking at her confused.

  "I told her she could help us. I didn't see any harm in it. Besides, she's a cop," I explained.

  Collin shrugged and turned back to his task.

  "Well?" I said, crossing my arms.

  "Well what?"

  "Are you going to tell me about the vamp and Harper?" I huffed.

  Collin tore his eyes from the screen and glanced at me. "I'm sorry, Love. I'm a bit distracted," he gave me a peck on the lips. "Harper is in the other room with Brady. He is pretty bad off."

  I was relieved to hear that they found Brady. Even if he was injured, it was a better fate than the alternative. Injured we could work with.

  "Can you point me in their general direction?" I heard a gasp from behind. I turned to see Harper standing like a zombie in between the doorframe. In her arms, Brady hung limply. She was covered in blood and so was he. I couldn't tell which one it was coming from, but it was apparent that one of the two vampires had lost a lot of blood.

  Sadie cautiously took several steps away while keeping her eyes trained on them. Her cop instincts had kicked in.

  "I tried," Harper stammered. She looked frantic. Her once blonde hair was now pink from the saturation of blood. Her eyes bulged. There were tiny blue veins fanned out underneath them. "No matter how much I fed him," she said shaking her head, "he still fell into the death sleep."

  I could hear what she was saying, and inside my clattered mind, I rushed to put all the information together. It would be almost impossible to save him from the death sleep. It would take procuring his Sire’s blood to do it.

  "Oh, shit," I said.

  "What?" Collin asked me. He was in the process of instructing the shaggy haired guy, whom he referred to as Barnes, to relieve Harper of her burden.

  "How in Hades’ fire are we going to get some of Tyson's blood?"

  "May I make a suggestion?" Sadie asked, jumping into the conversation.

  I gave
her a slow nod. "Be my guest."

  She pulled out a piece of gum and popped the stick in her mouth. I looked at her and shook my head. "Sorry. I do my best thinking when I'm chewing gum," she tossed the wrapper and looked at me. "Rule one. In any investigation, is that you always start from the beginning. Harper," Sadie turned and looked at my friend who was now sitting down drinking her own cup of water and asked, "where did you guys find Brady?"

  Harper licked her lips. I didn't have to guess where she had gotten the blood to feed Brady. The cracked and almost blistered state of her mouth told the tale vividly. I made a mental note to get her some blood a.s.a.p.

  "We found him while searching Nathan's. I wanted to try his place one more time before returning here. The house didn't seem any different except for the addition of Brady. He was tied to a kitchen chair with ropes soaked in holy water."

  "That's where we need to start then," Sadie said confidently. "Who's coming with us?"

  Collin was now seated in front of the computer. He signaled for me to look at what he was working on. "We have already intercepted four missing person calls from Emergency dispatch," he explained to me as he pointed out the pictures of the people that had been taken. Two of whom happened to belong to my pack. "Tyson is still in the area, and from what I can tell, he is already replacing the wolves we saved."

  "Then we have no time to waste." I gestured to Sadie and then a couple of the Adelphi. I purposefully skipped over Harper. She was in no condition to join us on this mission. "You guys can come with me."

  Collin shook his head, "I'm not letting you go over there without me."

  I was in no mood to argue. It was probably best if he went with us at any rate. "Of course," I said, giving him a playful look, "I could use a big bad wolf protecting my back."

  He flashed me a toothy grin. "Consider you're backside well-guarded."

  "I have no doubt," I said. Heat blushed my cheeks and I turned to leave before he caught a glimpse of it. That man didn't need any more encouragement. I had a hell of a time keeping him off me as it was.

  Chapter 21

  It was like walking into a well-preserved shrine when I entered Nathan's living room. The feeling of dreariness that stemmed from his absence was an immediate smack to the face. All of his crystal dragon eggs and miniature weapons sat displayed in their designated spots undisturbed, but it was the blunt silence that saddened me the most. There were no signs of a struggle or evidence of anything else out of the ordinary going down here. That was until I entered the kitchen. Collin appeared from the back door. He had decided to check all around the back of the house for any surprises that the Gatherers might have left for us. He gave me a thumbs up and entered the room.

  "Where is everybody?" he asked, walking up to inspect a chair that was turned over and lying in a pool of blood. Collin’s leg muscles bulged as he bent down to get a better look and I had to force my eyes from staring at a very tempting ass. I swallowed hard and focused my wanton eyes on the ropes on the floor instead of my new fiancé's delectable body. Oh man, I liked the way that sounded...fiancé.

  "I left two of your men to guard the front and Sadie and your shaggy friend are busy checking the basement."

  Collin chuckled and gave me a gentle smile. "How are you holding up? I know being here under these circumstances can't be easy for you."

  My guilt reared up on me, chasing away the warmth that lingered inside of me from my thoughts of marriage, and I answered him honestly. "I'm scared for Nathan." I shoved my hands in the front pockets of my jeans and cast my glance to the floor, ashamed to look him in the eyes. "What makes this situation worse is that none of this would have happened if I just trusted my instincts and dealt with Tommy sooner."

  Collin took me by the arms and pulled me to him. I sunk into his embrace even though I didn't feel as though I deserved his comfort.

  "You're the only one that believes that. If blame falls on anyone’s shoulders, Tommy is the one to bear that burden."

  "I appreciate your words Collin. I do," I said, straightening myself out from his hold, "but the only thing that will make anything feel better, be better, is finding Nathan."

  "The place is clear," Sadie said, entering the room. "Oh, did I interrupt something?" She turned, then turned back, threw her arms in the air. "I've never been good at awkward moments." She went to leave but I reached out and stopped her.

  "No need, we're good." I released her arm and studied the bloody scene in front of me. My guilty thoughts would just have to wait.

  "There aren’t very many footprints," I said, following three trails of them that led to and out of the back door. One set was smeared in-between the others. I leaned over to take a better look. I ran my finger through one of the smudged tracks and lifted the blood-smeared tip to my nose. It wasn't Nathan's blood, it was just more of Brady's.

  "Looks like two men forcibly took someone out the back, and judging by the blood evidence, and the fact Brady is back at the compound, my guess is that it was Nathan."

  They both nodded their heads and watched me with curious eyes.

  "What?" I asked. "Why are you two staring at me like that?

  The two looked down at the floor then to me and finally at each other like they knew something I was yet to catch up on. "You guys are pissing me off," I said, crossing my arms, and they really were. Collin opened his mouth to speak but Sadie beat him to it.

  "There's no blood in here," she said gesturing all around the kitchen. "The only thing out of place is that knocked over chair and those sliced ropes lying on the floor."

  Now I was the one who looked confused. "You're telling me you can't see all of this?" I asked, waving my hand around. How could they not see it? There was blood everywhere. Smudged across the fridge, hand prints on the counter. There was a large pool of it in front of the breakfast table, the chair they mentioned and ropes were lying on the floor, coated in the stuff.

  "I believe that you can see it," he said with squinted eyes. He was trying really hard to see for himself what I could. I loved him even more for that.

  "For some reason, this new ability belongs to you and you alone. It's the first one we haven't developed together."

  "You have got to be kidding me!" I yelled throughout the kitchen. I had had just about enough of these weird things popping up on me. What was going to happen next? Was I going to be able to fly as well?

  "Wait a minute," I said, taking a good look at the tracks again. "I think I know how we're going to find Nathan."

  ***

  It was a couple hours until dawn. Our small company of wolves had to be careful not to expose ourselves to any humans that might be out for a jog or leaving for work around this time of day. The sky was lighting up, making that harder to accomplish.

  Even in this form, I could still see the fresh trail of blood that I'd been following since we left the house. Fortunately, and for the sake of my sanity, everyone else could now see the remnants of Brady's blood too. Whoever cleaned up the kitchen forgot one simple thing. Werewolves are excellent trackers and they should have masked their trail leading away from the house better. The fact that the trail was so obvious, nagged at me a little.

  It's leading us towards Haven, I sent to Collin.

  Harper and my men said they went over every inch of that place, his smooth voice entered my mind and I relished in the intimate bond we shared. He ran up next to me, filling a hollow space between us that I didn't even realize was there, making it more evident that we were born to be next to each other. He slowed his steps to match mine, our casual pace made it easier to follow the vampires we were tracking. Haven was just around the block from where we were being led. I picked up my pace, running full out, but when I reached the front of the bar there was nothing left of the blood trail.

  They're not here. I turned to look at Collin, but he wasn't behind me. He was sniffing around the front door of the Venus Café.

  The trail leads here, he said. He turned and growled orders to the other wolv
es. Three of them yipped back at him and took off around the side of the building. Considering how difficult it was to communicate with another wolf without the use of human vocal cords, the display was an impressive one.

  They are going to check the perimeter. It's up to us to secure the front, he relayed to me.

  Three of my wolves are in there, I can smell them, I said. My body trembled and I flashed back into my human form. I ran my hands over my hips and down my legs to make sure that all my weapons were in place. I flipped the snap off the holster of my Ruger snub nose revolver and rested my hand on the grip. The gun was loaded with special made bullets. Pure silver casings with holy water inserted in the tip. One shot to the heart would kill a vampire instantly. They were much more effective than a wooden stake, and a lot less messy. The artillery I wore was part of the array of weapons I'd found earlier on the bed, an engagement present from Collin. He knew me so well.

  Collin shifted and did a similar weapons check. We were both ready to enter the café.

 
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