Jane was bleeding. Aidan could smell her blood and that scent pissed him off. The car had been shoved far across the street on impact, and he was trapped in a twisted mass of metal and glass.
He was trapped. Jane was trapped. And some dumb sonofabitch was about to die.
“Get her!” He heard the voice—a man’s voice—that sounded from right outside of the wreckage. “Get the woman, now! Before she wakes up.”
Wakes up? Jane was unconscious. Jane was hurt—bleeding.
And someone was trying to take her from him.
He growled again, the animalistic sound bursting from him. It was daylight. He was in the middle of the city. This was not the place for a full-on shift.
Apparently, it was the place for fools to try and ambush him.
I make the rules. I can fucking break them, too.
Glass shattered again. He heard the groan of metal. The fool outside was trying to get Jane out of the wreckage.
Aidan’s hands were still behind his back. Still cuffed. He yanked hard, harder, and the cuffs snapped apart.
“Got her!” The soon-to-be-dead bastard yelled excitedly.
“Hurry!” Someone else called. “We need to move before—”
Aidan kicked open the car door—a door that had been barely hanging on. He jumped out of the car and stood there, chest heaving, fury boiling within him, his claws out, and more than ready to attack.
The man who’d taken Jane froze, standing just a few feet away. He had Jane slung over his shoulder and her arms hung down limply. The smell of her blood was even stronger.
“Hurry!” That other voice called out. A woman’s voice. Tight. Angry. “I’ll stop him!”
Then there was a bang. A sharp pain burned in his shoulder. Aidan looked down—he’d been shot. And the burn he felt told him that, unlike the bullets in Jane’s gun…I just got hit with silver.
One hit wasn’t enough to stop him. Not even close. He lowered his head and he ran—not for the shooter, though, but for the man who was carrying Jane toward a black van that waited near the curb.
The van hadn’t hit them. Some piece of shit pickup truck had plowed into Jane’s car—and that truck had been abandoned. The van had come up after the wreck. A getaway vehicle. The attack had been well planned.
Just not well enough.
Another silver bullet blasted at him, but he was moving fast and the bullet just grazed his arm. “Jane!” Aidan roared. The scent of her blood was driving him mad.
Another bullet came flying at him. This one hit him on the right side, a fast, deep burn.
He didn’t look at the shooter. He couldn’t take his eyes off Jane. He reached out and grabbed the fool who’d taken her.
The guy screamed and let go of Jane. She started to fall to the ground.
Aidan caught her. He grabbed her and pulled her into his arms just as her gaze flew open. He saw her fear. Her panic and—
Another bullet hit him. His body jerked.
“Aidan?” Her eyes doubled in size. “Did someone just shoot at you?”
Hell, yes, someone had. And now that Jane was safe, that someone was about to pay. He pushed Jane behind him. The man who’d tried to take her had jumped into the van. The driver of that van was yelling as the van flew toward Aidan and Jane.
“Shit!” Jane said from behind him. “Shit!” She grabbed his hand and yanked Aidan to the side. That yank wasn’t going to do it. He grabbed her and jumped for safety, making absolutely sure they cleared the street.
When they fell back down, he rolled his body, cushioning her. The scent of burning rubber filled his nostrils, and he saw that the van had braked, just long enough for the shooter to jump in the back. Aidan pushed Jane to the side and sprang to his feet but—
The shooter fired again. The bullet missed but it sent both him and Jane diving for cover.
Someone is playing with the wrong wolf.
The van careened down the street. Giving chase wasn’t an option—not with silver burning him and Jane’s car a crumpled mess beside him. Aidan rose, glaring at the van. He had Jane’s would-be-abductor’s scent—a scent that he wouldn’t be forgetting—and he’d find the guy.
The fool would pay.
“What just happened?” Jane’s fingers curled around his shoulder and she spun him to face her. “And jeez—you’re bleeding! They shot you!”
He pulled away from her. “It’s just the silver.” Silver that was burning like a bitch. He drove his claws into his side and Jane blanched.
“Are you crazy? Stop that!” She reached for his hand.
He dropped the silver bullet onto the concrete. It had burned his fingers when he pulled it out. “Got to get the other…” Aidan gritted. He was starting to get weak. Silver did that to his kind. The longer it was in the blood…the more it drained. His claws sliced into his shoulder, but the bullet there had splintered into at least three parts. It was so hard to get it all.
His knees buckled.
He heard the sound of a siren. Shit. This day was truly just an all-around pisser.
“I’ll get help for you!” She squeezed his hand. “I’ll get an ambulance and some doctors will stitch you right back up.”
He didn’t need a damn ambulance. Aidan’s fumbling fingers found the last chunk of the bullet. He yanked it out, ignoring the burning pain in his fingers and the faint tendril of smoke that drifted into the air. Silver is such a bitch. Aidan tossed the silver bullet fragment. Blood coated his fingertips. “No ambulance. No doctors.”
Blood slid down her cheek. She’d been cut just above her eye.
“Someone tried to take you. I wasn’t the target. You were.” The sirens were closer. Maybe some good, upstanding citizen had seen the crash and called the cops.
“Why would someone try to take me?”
That was a damn good question. And he intended to find out the answer. He could feel his wounds closing. That was good. Very good.
He saw the flash of blue lights as a cop car rushed toward him.
“You going to tell them that I’m…”
“Yes.” She nodded.
His hand rose. His fingers hovered over her cheek. “They’ll think you’re crazy.”
A second cop car raced up to the scene.
“You killed that woman. You killed Melanie,” Jane mumbled, her expression so stark.
She didn’t understand. “When a vamp comes at you with the bloodlust riding hard…you have two options. Stop the vamp or die.”
His fingers fell away from her. “If you’d ever had a vamp come at you, you’d understand. They live only to kill. To destroy. Melanie Wagner…someone else killed her outside of Hell’s Gate. They left her body out there for me as a message.” He had to talk fast.
“That the vamps are coming into my city. A war is about to happen. My kind against theirs. It’s been a long time coming, and I have to make sure that I keep these streets safe. If the vamps take over, the city will flow with blood. The humans won’t have a chance.”
Uniformed cops had jumped from the patrol cars.
“Just what is your kind?” Jane whispered.
He offered her a grim smile.
But he didn’t get to answer her. The uniforms were right on them. And they were demanding that Aidan raise his hands. Hmmm…maybe that Good Samaritan had reported that shots were fired. Or maybe they thought he’d been the one driving the pick-up. Either way, he slowly lifted his hands, making sure that his claws didn’t show.
“I’m a detective!” Jane said and yelled out her badge number even as she lifted her hands, too. “This was a hit and run! Someone…I think someone was trying to abduct me.”
Only that someone had failed.
Would they try again? We’ll just see about that shit.
Jane glanced over at him, suspicion in her eyes. He’d saved her sweet ass. Did that count for anything? Or was she still about to throw him into a cage? Wolves didn’t like to be caged.
He waited, vaguely curious about how this would play out. Call me a monster, sweetheart, I dare you. Call me…
“This man saved me.” She stepped in front of him. “He needs medical attention.”
No, he didn’t.
“He saved me,” she repeated again. Jane glanced over her shoulder at him. The blood still dripped down her cheek. “So we need to help him.”
That had been a freaking disaster. The van careened down the road, a van that didn’t contain Detective Jane Hart.
Dammit. Talk about a major screw-up. And now Jane would have cops looking for the van.
“She saw me!” Eugene Woods ranted as he ran a hand through his hair. “I know she did—she’s going to have my face on all the TVs in town!”
Yes, the cop probably would…and that was unfortunate. Virginia Malone looked down at the gun in her shaking hands. They were nearing the warehouse area. An area deserted on a Sunday morning. Sighing, feeling actual regret, she lifted the gun, pointed it at Eugene’s panicked body, and fired.
Eugene screamed, but the cry came too late. And in the back of the van, he didn’t exactly have room to dodge the bullet.
The driver swore and slammed on the brakes. “Warn me when you’re doing that shit!” he yelled back to her.
Eugene had grabbed his chest. He was gasping, struggling to live. He wouldn’t be living long.
The driver jumped out of the vehicle, rushed around, and yanked open the van’s side door. When he opened that door, she shoved Eugene out. He hit the ground.
He didn’t get up.
“Locke is going to follow his scent here. He’ll find the body.” She looked at the driver. He would understand that they had to get away. It’s always us against the world. “Can you make sure Locke doesn’t find us?” Because she couldn’t let Locke mess up this job. Too much was riding on it. Too many lives were at stake.
They’d been hired for one reason. The payout—the payout was going to be freaking huge.
The driver stepped closer. Only…he wasn’t just the driver. John “Johnny” Smith was her lover. The only person in this whole world that she cared about. The light glinted off his hair. A mix of brown and blond. A little too long. Rough around the edges.
Just like we both are.
Behind him, Eugene was still gasping.
“No one will find you, baby,” Johnny promised her. He caught her hand in his, squeezed. She gave him a weak smile.
“H-help…” Eugene. Still talking. Still living.
She’d put the gun down, but her lover reached for it. He turned, aimed at Eugene and said, “Sorry. Nothing personal, but we can’t have you pulling us down.”
She jerked at the blast. She shouldn’t have been startled. She’d known it was coming. If her lover hadn’t done it, she would have pulled that trigger herself. It was just…
He won’t ever do that to me. And I won’t do it to him. We’ll protect each other, always. It’s what we do.
Johnny glanced back at her, flashing her a wide smile. “We’re gonna have to strike fast. Before the detective has a chance to prepare for us.”
Yes, yes, they would.
He pulled the door shut again. She crawled toward the front seat.
When he cranked the van, she found herself looking out toward Eugene. He wasn’t moving anymore.
“We’ll move fast,” Johnny said. “And make sure that wolf doesn’t screw things up for us. Hell, even with silver in him, the guy didn’t stop.”
Because Locke was too strong. Not an average wolf at all.
“We have to make sure he isn’t around next time,” Johnny said, voice thoughtful. “Get the cop alone, and we have her.”
Right. Another job done. And what happened to the female cop once they turned her over to their client—that wasn’t Virginia’s business. She’d get paid, with more than enough cash to get the hell out of Louisiana. She was sick of the swamps. Sick of that town.
Time for someplace new.
After this last job…
Maybe she could take a break from blood and death for a while.