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Embers curse prime wolf, p.5
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       Ember's Curse (Prime Wolf), p.5

           Gena D. Lutz
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  And me, Collin corrected.

  What did I say about poking around?

  This classifies as an emergency so sorry, Beautiful...the rules are null and void. I shot Collin an irritated look. He just smiled wolfishly back at me, no pun intended. Man, this was going to take some getting used to.

  "I'm even more convinced that it's the Gatherers now, Collin. Everything adds up to it," Nathan said. He took a seat over by the window and let out a tired sigh.

  "Who are the Gatherers?" Harper and I asked at the same time.

  She looked over at me. Her eyes then shifted to Collin. He had grabbed hold of my hand as he came over to stand by my side.

  "And more importantly, who is the hot guy hanging all over Ember?" she asked, batting her now perfectly clear, gorgeous green eyes at him.

  "Pump your brakes, girl. This man belongs to me."

  I like this jealous side of you, Collin said, rubbing his arm against the side of my breast. God help me, but his touch made me want to strip off my clothes and jump him.

  Instead, I just responded to his teasing with a resounding, Shut up.

  He chuckled low and squeezed my hand gently.

  I never thought I could ever leave Harper speechless. She was my friend who was always equipped with about a million or so smart-ass remarks, but my last statement accomplished it. As it turned out, it was only momentarily.

  "Well, it's about time you loosened up a little," Harper said with a shrug. "I thought for sure your legs were going to start creaking like a rusty hinge from lack of use." She pierced Collin with a deadly glare and dropped fang. "You mess with her heart and you mess with me," she said, letting her stare linger for a few more seconds, making her point. Two very sharp points to be exact. After she was satisfied, her fangs disappeared and it was back to business.

  "Now, Nathan. What about these Gatherers?"

  Collin tipped his head respectfully at Harper to signal he understood.

  "Before we start jumping to conclusions, I suggest we gather some Intel," Collin said before Nathan could answer Harper’s question.

  "What do you suggest we do?" Nathan asked.

  Collin pulled out his cell phone. It was one of those fancy numbers with a huge screen. I never wasted my money on expensive gadgets like the one he held in his hand. I'd either break them or lose them. And really, what was the point; unless you had never-ending disposable income, how could someone keep up with all 'the next best versions’ anyway? Phones nowadays have more sequels than the Saw movies.

  "I already have one of my guys at the crime scene. He left me a message earlier requesting debriefing. He should be here soon," Collin relayed to us.

  "Then that's that," I said, closing the subject for now. "Let's give Harper some privacy to freshen up." I gazed over at Nathan. He looked really tired, but who could blame him? He had been busy taking care of everything. I walked over and gave him a big hug.

  Are you trying to get the twerp thrown out of the window? Collin growled through our link.

  Take it easy, Handsome, Nathan's been through a lot...and mostly because of me.

  "Thanks for everything, but it's time for you to get some rest," I said to my tired friend.

  He gave me a tight squeeze back and pulled away. "I'm okay. I will rest after we talk to Milo."

  Milo? That must be the Adelphi agent Collin had mentioned. How long ‘til Milo gets here? I asked. I was starting to like this new form of communication. It was so much easier.

  I'd say any minute. Your place isn't too far from here.

  Thanks, Collin.

  You’re very welcome, Kitten.

  I punched him in the shoulder and scowled. Don't call me that.

  Collin reached over and grabbed my waist. Would you rather I call you my little puppy then?

  Nathan and Harper were looking at us like we had just sprouted horns. "What?" I asked them.

  "What was all that about?" Harper said.

  "What was all what about?" I asked.

  She started to flail her hands at the both of us. "All that staring off into space like fucking zombies and then out of nowhere, whack," she said while hitting the pillow, “you smack him."

  I huffed petulantly and crossed my arms. "He called me Kitten." Nathan and Harper started laughing uncontrollably. The traitors.

  "You called a prime werewolf a kitten?" Nathan asked Collin in between breaths. "And you’re still alive?"

  Collin chuckled, and then took a few steps away from me, presumably to gain a safe distance from me and my mean left hook, before he said, "I called her a puppy, too."

  And with that statement, everyone including myself, shared in a good laugh. Considering all the bullshit we were knee deep in, it was well needed. I might not like to be called kitten or puppy, or any cutesy name for that matter, but if anyone could get away with it, it would be Collin. A man I've known for less than twelve hours stole my heart away and turned me into a softy. I'd have to make sure he paid for that later.

  Only if I get to name the currency, my luscious lollipop.

  Ugh, you’re impossible!

  "You’re doing it again," Harper said, throwing her hands up. "What gives?"

  "We can communicate telepathically with each other. It's one of the side effects of breaking the curse."

  I had explained to her one night over a bottle of Tequila, and about a gallon of Cherry Garcia, the origins of my family’s curse. She was surprisingly very supportive and believed me immediately. I knew then I had a great friend in her. Who else would put up with a werewolf-vampire spawn that was also burdened with a curse? She thought it was pretty cool, and actually loved the fact I was part vamp.

  "'re now having incredible sex and intimate mind melds," she said thoughtfully. She jumped out of bed and walked over to me. "I couldn't be happier for you," she said in a rare moment of seriousness. After giving me a quick hug she turned me around and pushed me towards the door with a slap on the ass. It was certainly taking a beating today. "Everyone out," she ordered. "There’s only so much I can take before my morning coffee and putting on my face. See you guys after I'm decent."

  The door slammed behind us. I was used to Harper's routine and her brashness when it came down to getting in between her and her caffeine, but the guys weren't. They were still standing there like idiots, staring blindly at the closed door. They didn't know what hit them.

  "She doesn't hold back, does she?" Collin said.

  "Not in the least," I answered honestly.

  I heard the grumbling exhaust of a custom Harley plod its way up Nathan's driveway. The sound immediately made me think of my father. I grinned at the remembered rides he used to take me on. Those were always my favorite times with him. He would tell me that the wind in his hair and the open road was his idea of heaven. So now, when it's storming out and the thunder is shaking up the stratosphere, I imagine that it’s my father riding his hog across the open sky.

  "I really wish you could have met my father," I said, getting up from my comfortable perch on Collin’s lap. "I think he would have really liked you."

  "From what I've seen from the memories you have of him, I'm positive that I would have liked him too."

  Collin stood up from the couch we had been snuggling on just moments before, and pulled me to him. After a long, tasty kiss that didn't last nearly long enough, he went to answer the knock on the door.

  "I'm going to round everyone up. Just bring Milo down to the basement. There’s more room there," I said.

  "Your every wish is my command," Collin replied with a sexy crooked smile.

  The house seemed too quiet. I made my way to the back where Nathan's room was and peeked into the cracked door. He was passed out, sprawled sideways on his bed. I debated on if I should wake him or not and decided against it. His rest was well deserved.

  When I turned to go find Harper, my face smashed up against something hard. I inhaled leather and my fingers came to rest on a nest of long blonde hair.

"Is Nathan in there?" an unfamiliar voice asked me as I pushed myself off and away from him.

  "You must be Milo," I said, twitching my sour nose.

  He grinned and peeked around me through the door.

  "The one and only. I'm guessing you’re the little lady that stole our fearless leader’s heart?"

  I ignored his question. How was I supposed to answer that? How did he already know about me anyways?

  "Nathan is passed out."

  Milo tipped his black cowboy hat at me. I spotted a white puffball out of the corner of my eye. It poked its pink little nose and hair covered eyes out from behind Milo's legs.

  "Does this little guy belong to you?" I asked, kneeling in front of the adorable mop of fur.

  "She's a girl actually. Mojo, can you say hello to Ember?" The tiny dog poked its head a little farther around Milo's leg shyly, and let out a shrill, "Yip,yip."

  "I see that you've already met my second in command," Collin said, strolling down the hall. "And his side kick, Mojo."

  I stood and walked up beside him. My arm slid around his trim waist and I tippy toed so I could peck him on the cheek. "Yes, I did have the pleasure."

  As long as it wasn't too pleasurable.

  And if it was? I joked back at him.

  My third in command will be up for promotion, he said halfway serious.

  Well it's a good thing I was talking mostly about Mojo then, I replied with a wink.

  I took hold of his hand and looked at the intricate pattern that was wrapped around it. The same design as mine. The tattoo represented our new bond and all the new feelings we held for each other. Feelings I would cherish now that I was lucky enough to have them. I thought about my cousin, Stacy. At two hundred years old, she was my oldest living relative...well, besides Grandma Naomi. She was over five hundred. They both didn't look a day over 30. Were-Vamp blood running through our veins was the best miracle cure for wrinkles.

  Stacy lived at the pack house with the rest of the wolves that decided to call the island compound their home. She has yet to find her heartmate. It made me overwhelmingly sad for her now that I knew what it meant to have a heart with a true beat. Thank God, she couldn't miss what she never had. I headed toward the living room, dragging Collin behind me. Milo leaned over and scooped up Mojo. He opened up his leather jacket and tucked her into a large side pocket. She snuggled right in against his chest and fell asleep.

  "What breed is she?" I asked him as he fell in behind us.

  "This beautiful pooch," he said scratching her head gently, "is a Havanese."

  We were just about to turn the corner that would lead us into the kitchen when glass started shattering everywhere. Sharp heat pelted my body. Whatever was hitting me felt like tiny bees were stinging me. I watched as blood blossomed on Collin’s shirt. It spread out over his abdominal area. Milo pushed us from behind and we landed face down. My head smacked against the kitchen floor with a loud crack. Then the oddest thing happened. My gums began to sting and long, sharp, fangs sliced through my tender skin. The fangs were so big I could barely close my mouth over them. Everything around me turned a strange shade of red. The bullets flying by me were traveling slowly enough for me to pluck out of the air. I could hear everything. There were three heartbeats outside. Three fingers pulling the trigger on guns pointed at Nathan's house. I tried to shift, but nothing happened. Rage swept over me and my nails grew into sharp claws. I jumped up onto bare feet, easily dodging the silver gunfire. Collin lifted his head and I gasped. His eyes were red and he also had a pair of huge, sharp fangs. I delved into his thoughts. Protect my mate was the only thing repeating in his mind. We both sprung towards the living room window at the same time. I could hear Harper dragging Milo into the basement and I yelled at her to stay down.

  The first body I landed on was clad in all black. I smelled the delicious aroma of blood coursing through his veins. My fangs sunk effortlessly into his neck. His terror fueled my hunger and made his heart beat rapidly. With its increased speed, the flowing blood gushed even faster. I feasted. Collin had already made short work of one of the other shooters. The lifeless body of his victim slumped over Nathan's rosebushes like a macabre lawn ornament.

  As soon as the last attacker lay dead on the ground, the world sped up to its normal pace. I ran over to Collin who was kneeling on the ground staring at his hands.

  "What just happened to us?" Collin asked, dumbfounded. I couldn't have answered him if I wanted to. When everything else went back to normal, so did the pain from my wounds. Smoke billowed out of the bullet holes in my body, and then I blacked out.


  I groggily opened my eyes to the sound of metal clinking against metal. A bright light pierced my retinas and I quickly shut them again.

  "She’s coming around, Nathan. We have to get the last of the silver out before the damage becomes permanent." Harpers voice sounded frantic. I wondered what was wrong.

  Footsteps echoed off the hardwood floor and I heard a door open and then close.

  "How are they doing?" Milo asked, entering the room.

  "Collin only had a couple bullets in him. The retrieval was easy. We're just waiting for him to wake up. Ember on the other hand was covered in holes," Nathan answered.

  I could feel something long and cold dig into my arm. I struggled not to yell out. The pain was almost unbearable. Imagine being stabbed and burned all at once and then maybe, just maybe, you'd understand what it felt like. As soon as the silver was pulled clear of the wound, the relief was instant.

  "That was the last of them," said Nathan. He dropped the final bullet into the bowl and sighed. He sounded exhausted. It seemed to be a trend for him when he was around me.

  I tried to open my eyes again and my second attempt was successful. I was lying on the pool table on my back. Harper was bandaging up my arm and Nathan was cleaning up bloody rags and instruments.

  "Where's Collin?" I asked through a dry throat. Harper lifted my head and brought a cup to my lips.

  "Here Hun...drink. Collin's in the other room. He is doing fine."

  I took a small sip of the room temperature water and coughed it back up. I pushed the cup away from me and sat up. I was relieved to hear about Collin. His stomach wound had looked pretty bad. The fear and rage that engulfed me when I saw him shot was a feeling that would haunt me forever.

  "Why couldn't I shift earlier?" I thought aloud. I ran my fingers over my gums. Everything was coming back to me and I began to panic. There was no evidence of the fangs that were there earlier. I jumped off the table in mid shift. Silver fur spilled over my entire body and I landed on all fours next to Milo. I paced the room for a short time, just to feel my wolf again, before I shifted back. I didn't lose her. I could still become my wolf. With that assurance, my panic began to recede.

  I shifted back into human form and said, “As soon as Collin wakes up, we all have to talk." I looked around the room at confused and worried faces. I had a feeling that this latest attack had everything to do with the missing werewolves from the apartment building. Milo must have stumbled upon something. That something must be pretty important to warrant a full out attack in public. The one thing every supernatural being knows is that our survival depended on anonymity. Obviously, someone wanted one or all of us dead bad enough to risk outing us. Bring it on asshole...whoever you are. Challenge accepted.

  Ember. Are you okay? The sound of Collin’s voice caressed the inside of my head. He was awake.

  Yes, I'm okay, I reassured him. Our link went quiet for a few moments then he whispered.

  I was so scared that I would lose you. There was blood everywhere... I drank those men dry, Ember. What's happening to us? I thought about it and without hard answers from my vampire ancestor, Naomi, all I could come up with was one thing.

  Somehow, we became vampires, I waited for him to blow up on me. I expected him to yell, say, or do something to show how pissed off he was for having the misfortune of being bonded to me; to have to go throug
h all the crap that comes with it. But for some reason, he didn't. What he did do though was walk into the room with nothing but love and understanding in his searching eyes. He took my hand after a lingering hug and kiss, then sat me down next to him on the couch.

  I would turn into a little white mouse if it meant being able to kiss your lips, he said, doing just that. I would rend the flesh from a million men if it meant keeping you safe. He followed the kiss up with a slow lick of my earlobe. And I will grow fangs if it means that I get to keep nibbling on you. And yes, you guessed it, he began nibbling my neck. I giggled...did I just giggle? And then I playfully pushed him off me. "There's no time for this, Collin."

  I sat up and straightened my clothes. I looked at everyone in the room and waved them over to sit with us around the coffee table. Harper took a seat directly across from me on the other couch. Nathan sat next to her. Milo pulled a barstool over and, instead of sitting on it, he rested his boot on the stool’s base. It was finally time to figure out a game plan.

  "I guess I will start," Harper said. "I was able to remember a couple more things about the attack." She rubbed her neck. The nasty wound that was once there was now completely healed, but she touched it as if she could still feel it. "I decided to stop by the apartment before I went to see my blood guy. I had gotten him something for his birthday but forgotten to grab it." Her face went slack and she blankly went on. "I noticed something wrong right away. I rushed up the stairs to find out what was happening and was overwhelmed by the smell of freshly spilled blood." Harper looked at me. "I knew that I had just left you at the café, but I had to be sure you were okay. The blood and the bodies lying on the floor disoriented me."

  I leaned over the coffee table and gave her hand a little squeeze. I wasn't used to seeing her frazzled. I didn't like it. Those bastards would pay for this.

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