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       Creed, p.1

           Laurann Dohner
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Creed


  Creed

  VLG – Book Eight

  Vampires, Lycans, Gargoyles

  By Laurann Dohner

  Creed by Laurann Dohner

  Angel was whisked away from a life of abuse as a child when a guardian angel flew her in his arms and gave her to a Lycan couple to raise and love as their own. It was inevitable that she developed feelings for her elusive savior, the GarLycan who protects her pack. As she matured, those feelings deepened to something more after spending time with him, only to be rebuffed by her hero. Dejected, Angel left the pack, moving away to distance herself from the pain. Now, years later, her mother has called her home. Their pack guardian is in need…

  Creed is emotionally distant and cold. He’s had to become that way to survive his harsh life. His one weakness is Angel. She deserves a happy life, something that he can’t give her. He was born into servitude and isn’t allowed to take a mate. But, every thirty years he goes into one night of heat. The ravage is upon him, and Angel is determined to be there for him. He’ll take her to his lair, chain her down, and finally be able to touch her…

  Creed and Angel soon discover their one night of bliss has dangerous consequences.

  VLG Series List

  Drantos

  Kraven

  Lorn

  Veso

  Lavos

  Wen

  Aveoth

  Creed

  Creed by Laurann Dohner

  Copyright © August 2017

  Editor: Kelli Collins

  Cover Art: Dar Albert

  eBook ISBN: 978-1-944526-86-3

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal, except for the case of brief quotations in reviews and articles.

  Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

  All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is coincidental.

  Prologue

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Creed - VLG – Book Eight

  By Laurann Dohner

  Prologue

  Rage burned inside Creed as the drunk woman chased the child too close to the burning fire pit. The girl appeared about five years old, and terrified. She tripped, barely avoiding falling into the flames. The woman leaned down, grabbed her hair, and viciously yanked her up, forcing her to stand. The sound of her striking the child with her hand was loud even from fifty yards away. He winced.

  “Do you see what I have to put up with? You’re not even mine,” the woman yelled. “That son of a bitch you call daddy went into town drinking and whoring again, leaving me to take care of your worthless ass. I should drown you in the river and do myself a favor. That bitch who birthed you had the right idea when she took off and left you both.”

  Creed dropped down from the low branch and stalked closer to the decrepit cabin. The stench of piled-up garbage, wood rot, and an outhouse couldn’t even be diminished by the sooty smell of burning logs inside the fire pit.

  The woman shook the child, and then threw her on the ground. She wasn’t done. She kicked the little girl as she attempted to get up and run away again, sending her rolling in the dirt. “That’s exactly what I should do. It’s not as if that piece of shit gives a damn about you either. You’re useless. You’re nothing but a whiney little brat and I—”

  Creed walked up behind her, swung out his arm, and the back of his hand struck the woman hard enough to send her flying. It wasn’t a killing blow but he knew she’d be hurt.

  She hit the ground and stayed there, unmoving, but he picked up the sound of her breathing.

  He crouched down, staring into tear-filled blue eyes. The little girl had bruises already marring the pale skin of her face and one glance down her body revealed more on her too-thin arms and legs. Her tears had left tracks through the layer of dirt covering her cheeks. He studied her hair. It was a ratted blonde mess that probably hadn’t been brushed or washed in at least a week.

  “Hello.” He softened his usually brusque tone.

  Her little lips quivered but she didn’t say a word. She just peered at him with a look of resigned terror that made him wish he’d hit the woman harder.

  “I’m Creed. What’s your name?”

  She didn’t move, reminding him of a frightened deer trapped by a predator. He didn’t blame her for being afraid of him. He kept still, giving her a chance to adjust to his presence.

  “I’m not going to hurt you. Do you know what a guardian angel is?”

  She gave a slight nod of her head.

  “That’s what I am tonight.” He let his gaze wander over the yard. Two broken-down vehicles rusted away next to the cabin. The roof sagged and the porch had only one remaining post, the others already on the ground. Vegetation had grown over them, revealing they’d been in that sad shape for a long time. The adults had just tossed trash bags out the door until a pile had grown eight feet high and almost the length of the side of the cabin. The outhouse didn’t even have a door.

  He tried to hide his anger. He wouldn’t allow a dog to live in those kinds of deplorable conditions. His attention fixed on the little girl.

  “Do you live here with just her and your daddy?”

  She nodded again, moving more of her head. Some of her fear had eased.

  He forced a smile. “Do you have any other family?”

  “My mommy went away. I don’t remember her. I was a baby.”

  She had missing teeth, and he smelled blood when she spoke. The woman who had struck her had probably caused damage inside her cheek. Her sweet little voice and her words made his chest hurt. Her mother had abandoned her to a father who left her with an unfit drunk. Children should be protected, not neglected and abused.

  “Does your daddy hit you?”

  She lowered her gaze and moved her arms, hugging her waist.

  Creed clenched his teeth, wishing the father were there to hit too. He knew the answer by the way she responded. Both adults were pieces of shit. He hid his emotions and kept his tone soft. “What’s your name?”

  She looked up at him. “Anna.”

  “How would you like a mother and father who love you? They’d never hit you or make you live like this.”

  Uncertainty crossed her features. He knew it wasn’t fair to place that kind of burden on a child, but he still felt the need to ask.

  She said nothing.

  He made the decision for her.

  “Is there anything here that you want? A favorite stuffed animal?”

  “I have my pink blankie on my bed.”

  “Stay still. I’ll be right back.”

  He rose up but moved slow so he wouldn’t spook the child. The woman remained on the ground where she’d landed. She was breathing but unconscious. He didn’t give a damn if she died.

  He entered the house and had to hold his breath. It stank of unwashed bodies, dirty dishes, rotting food. And he quickly found out why the stench of mold filled the area—the roof leaked. The floors weren’t even fit to walk on.

  He found where the child slept. It was just a large pillow with her pink blanket, which had faded sheep all over it. They made her sleep in a corner of the kitchen, next to an overflowi
ng trashcan and a hole the size of a man’s boot where the floor had rotted through. He growled low and fisted the blanket, storming out of the house. He masked his features when he reached Anna. He crouched down and offered it to her.

  “This one?”

  She timidly took it, as if she were afraid he’d hit her. She had reason for that fear; he glanced down at her body again. She only wore a dirty and worn thin nightgown with short sleeves. Most of her skin he could see held bruises from past attacks. She cradled the blanket to her chest as if it were a shield.

  “I’m going to take you someplace where it’s happy and good. I know a couple who wants a child more than anything. They will love you.” He reached out with slow movements to avoid frightening her but she didn’t flinch away when he gently lifted her into his arms. “I’m going to make you two promises you can count on. One is that you’ll never live like this again. The second one is that you’re going to have a loving set of parents who will make sure you are safe and happy.”

  He could feel every one of her fragile bones and her lack of weight was alarming. It meant they probably didn’t feed the girl often. He rose up, holding her in the cradle of his arms.

  “Do you know what guardian angels can do?”

  She tipped up her chin, her blue eyes wary but the tears gone. “What?”

  “We can fly.” He walked away from the fire and the hellish home she’d known. “Have you ever wanted to soar into the sky? It’s safe with me. I won’t let you fall.”

  “I don’t have wings.”

  “I do.” He adjusted her a little in his arms, wrapping some of the sorry excuse for a blanket around her thin limbs to keep her warm. “Do you want to see them?”

  She nodded.

  He stepped into a clearing. It was a full moon, so he figured she would be able to watch. He closed his eyes to focus, allowing his wings to ease out. He didn’t want to alarm her, so he spread them wide, taking his time. Creed opened his eyes, watching her expression.

  She grinned, showing off the lack of her two front teeth, and her blue eyes lit up with joy.

  “You’re a bird man!”

  She looked like a dirty little cherub with that smile and the life that flared in her eyes. “And you’re an angel in disguise. That’s what I’m going to call you from now on. Okay?”

  She nodded.

  “Put your arms around my neck and hold on tight. We’re going to fly, Angel.”

  She wrapped her arms around his neck, the weakness in them making him hold on to her a little tighter as he took a few steps and leapt, flapping his wings. They flew above the treetops. He just hoped she didn’t become terrified.

  Her laughter was a welcome surprise. It was also a sweet sound.

  “We’re flying!”

  “We are.” He increased the pace. He’d ventured far from his post that night, needing to visit his clan for a meeting. It was just by chance that he’d spotted that fire and seen what was happening to the child. “It’s fun, isn’t it?”

  “Yes!” Pure joy radiated in her voice.

  He pulled her a little closer against his chest. He just didn’t breathe through his nose. She needed a bath and clean clothes. He hadn’t seen running water in the home, either, which meant they probably only had the river to use. He felt no regret over taking the child. He’d have rescued an abused animal from that dire situation.

  It took nearly an hour for him to spot the lights of the village. It wasn’t so late that everyone had gone to bed. He knew the child had drifted off to sleep a few times but she stirred when he landed next to the fire pit where the elders sat talking. They all grew quiet, staring at him in surprise. The cause was probably what Creed held in his arms, rather than him being in their midst. That wasn’t uncommon.

  “Get Rava and Undo,” he demanded.

  One of the elders rose from his chair and nodded, hurrying off toward one of the cabins nestled nearby. Alpha Picoz came out of the darkness a few minutes later, a grim expression on his face.

  “Creed, what’s going on?” He glanced at the child, then back at him. “Who is she? Where does she come from?”

  Footsteps sounded and Creed turned his head. Rava and Undo wore robes, their feet bare, and looked as if they’d been roused from bed. He ignored the alpha, turning toward them. They stopped a few feet away, both of them looking confused and a bit alarmed. Rava’s attention fixed on the child.

  “I brought you a gift. I know you weren’t able to have a baby.”

  He saw worry in Rava’s eyes, and then a flare of hope when his words and their meaning must have sunk in. He decided he’d made the right decision.

  “Rava, Undo, this little girl is named Angel. She needs good parents. I promised her you would give her love and keep her safe.”

  Rava’s mouth parted and tears filled her eyes. She took a shaky step forward, her arms raising to take the child.

  Her mate gripped her shoulder, halting her. He frowned.

  “It’s okay,” Creed assured him. “She comes from a bad place. Do you understand? You will when you get a better look at her. You’re saving her life.”

  Rava broke free of her mate’s hold when Undo eased his grip. She opened her arms and Creed placed the child in them.

  Angel turned her head, a frantic look in her eyes as she met Creed’s.

  He reached out and touched her dirty cheek with a gentle finger. “This is your new mother and father. They will never hit you or threaten to drown you in the river.” He said those words for everyone present, as much as for her. “What did I promise you? Do you remember?”

  She nodded.

  “I always keep my promises. They will love you and keep you safe. You will have a happy life with them.”

  He turned around to glare at the alpha of the pack. “She’s under my protection now. She stays.” It was an order that brooked no argument. The pack would accept the human child.

  He leapt and flew straight up, knowing the girl was in a better place. He might get into a little trouble when he made his report to Kelzeb. Lord Aveoth would be notified, but he’d take whatever punishment he may face. It wouldn’t be severe. It was rare that he broke rules by interfering in the lives of others. But those tear-filled blue eyes had somehow left a mark inside him. He’d felt something for once. It might have been pity but it meant he was alive. He normally didn’t care about much.

  He returned to his lair across the river from the village and landed on the cliff ledge. Silence greeted him as he entered the cave he lived in.

  A part of him wished someone had saved him as a child from the fate he’d been handed. He sighed, stripping out of his clothing to take a shower. “Wishing is for fools.”

  Chapter One

  Twenty-four years later

  Angel parked the rental SUV next to her parents’ home and turned off the engine. It had been only four months since her last visit but she still wished she could see them more often. It was tough finding work in the middle of Nowhere, Alaska, so she’d moved to Washington state. She’d already used up her two weeks of annual vacation, but she’d gotten an unexpected call that had sent her rushing home.

  She removed the keys from the ignition and slid out the driver’s side door. Her gaze instantly turned toward the cliff that overlooked their valley.

  Was he up there watching her?

  She glanced at her watch, seeing the time. It was just past noon. She’d managed to snag an early flight, catch a bush plane, and the drive was only three hours from the small airport. He was probably still sleeping, since he kept guard at night.

  The front door of the cabin opened and a grin split Angel’s face. “Mom!”

  The woman with waist-length black hair ran down the steps and grinned back, her arms opening. They hugged. “My baby.”

  Angel closed her eyes and held on tight. “What’s wrong? I got here as fast as possible. Is Dad okay?”

  “Yes. He’s great. He’s out hunting with the men. I told you we were fine on the phone.” He
r mom eased her hold around her middle and leaned back, still smiling. “Thank you for dropping everything.”

  “You called and said it was important. My boss isn’t happy but he’ll survive. I put in enough overtime to deserve an emergency family visit. I told him I had an uncle who died. And I reminded him that I have a bunch of unused sick days.”

  Her mother shook her head but looked amused. “Lies are bad.”

  “So is getting fired. You have to play their games when one is in the human world.”

  “I wish you lived closer.”

  “Me too but I love my job. The winters are way better there than here. That’s an upside. So what’s wrong?” She glanced around. “Where is everyone?”

  “The younger ones are hunting and the older ones are all at Joe’s, enjoying his air conditioning and satellite television. I think they are watching some kind of sports game.”

  That amused Angel. She forgot how out of touch with the world everyone in the village could be. “A sports game? Any hint of what kind?”

  “Who cares?” Her mother reached up and touched her hair. “When did you stop dying it black?”

  She’d been so worried when she’d gotten that call that she’d forgotten. “Um…”

  “It’s beautiful blonde. I’m not complaining. It’s just that you’ve kept it black since you came to us.”

  Angel decided to be honest. She hated to lie to her mom. “I only darken it when I come home. The rest of the year, I let it be natural.”

  “Why?”

  “Um…”

  Her mother arched her eyebrows.

  “I know we had to dye it when I was a kid so no one became suspicious of a blonde little girl living here with black-haired parents. But I got tired of keeping it up and decided to just let it be. I didn’t want to hurt you or Dad’s feelings, so I use temporary coloring that lasts a few weeks before I visit every summer.”

 
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