Authors: A. L. Kessler
Tags: #vampires, #werewolves, #shifters, #Magic, #demons, #dark fantasy
He reached for her as she started to go down to her knees. “Control, Kassity, fight her back.”
“Can’t,” she gasped, the pressure in her chest started moving through her body. Her blood boiled as her bones cracked. “I can’t.” She couldn’t figure out what had happened to the block in her as the beast tried to climb its way through her.
He knelt by her, placing a hand on her shoulder, but pulled away when she cried out and doubled over.
“Get away. She doesn’t like you.” Her spine bowed as the heat consumed her body and her bones started shifting. “Fuck.”
Derrik moved away from her as her body continued to shift.
Kass cried out in pain as her body fought against the panther trying to take her over, she could feel the fur pushing out. It would flood over her body if she stopped fighting. The bones creaked and cracked under the strain; shifting into strange forms. She could see the movement under her skin that told her the inevitable change was coming. “I’m sorry.” She glanced up at Derrik, who dropped into a fighting stance. “Can’t stop her.”
Jax looked up from his phone when he felt a thrill go through the air, hitting his beast hard. Kassity
His chair clattered to the ground as he jumped up and ran to the bar area. Her back bowed as she growled, her hands shifting right before his eyes. He could hear the wet sound of the bones moving under her skin. He sprinted to her and knelt by her side. Derrik started to protest, but Jax shot him a dangerous look to shut him up.
“Kassity, listen to me.”
She looked up at him, her eyes yellow and her face starting to form into that of her panther, but just his touch seemed to have stopped further changes. “Get away.” Her voice was a snarl through the half formed muzzle.
“Focus on my voice.” He whispered and put his forehead against hers. “Breathe in and out, visualize the panther going back to where she belongs. It is not a full moon. You have the power here.” He locked his gaze with hers and after a few moments she closed her eyes and followed his count for breathing. The fur slid back in, bones shifted without the sickening pop and crackle display and when she opened her eyes they were her normal, human, blue. “Now we’re going outside to get you some air. I think Derrik can handle cleaning up.” He glanced back at the wolf in question.
Derrik nodded. “Yeah, you and I can chat later, kitty.” He stared pointedly at Kass.
Jax helped her up and put a hand at the small of her back, leading her to the parking lot. Once they were outside Kass pulled away from him, her gaze distant. “You okay?”
She looked at him, the question catching her off guard. Her mind went back to when he touched her. His touch cooled the burning and the pain, like he had poured water on the fire, and now she felt nothing but calm. Thanks to him. Rubbing her eyes, she couldn’t believe that she had told him to get away or that the panther had made it past the block. “Yeah, I’m just tired.” She shrugged and started towards her car, rolling her eyes when she heard him behind her.
She didn’t know what came over her, but she spun, grabbed a handful of his shirt, shoved him against the car, and kissed him. Probing with her tongue, she coaxed him to part his lips. When he did their tongues danced together and he tangled his hands in her hair, holding her head to his. A moan escaped her mouth as she pressed her body up against him. Feeling him grow hard between them made her panther start craving him. “Thank you.”
Jax blinked at her when she pulled back. “Um, of course, anytime?” He gave a soft laugh and brushed a hand down her cheek. “I’m sorry that your panther reacted that way, but I’m glad I was there to stop it.”
“What were you doing there after closing?” She nuzzled his head, and then pulled back when she realized what she was doing.
He gave her a chaste kiss and she pushed to make it more. Leaning into him she ran her tongue over his bottom lip; he pulled back to speak. “I needed to talk to Derrik.” When he captured her lips he tugged on the bottom one and groaned into her mouth as her hands snaked around his waist. “Kass, not here.”
“Only place Lucius doesn’t watch.” She whispered against his neck and then nipped at his ear. Feeling the shiver slither down his body, she did it again.
His hands skimmed the curves of her, settling on her hips. “Damn that stupid little bloodsucker.” He whispered as he kissed down her neck. Nuzzling the crook of her neck, he wiggled his hands under her shirt.
She gasped at the bare skin contact. “Even my panther likes you.”
“Cause mine can calm yours, we talked about this.” He flipped so he pressed her up against the car. “I love feeling you against me.” He whispered in her ear, tugging her hair just a little.
She gave another small gasp and leaned in to kiss him, but he avoided her peck. He kissed behind her ear, sending shivers up her spine. Pulling her well-loved black shirt over her head in a quick motion, he continued his assault of warm kisses down to the swell of her breasts. Kass leaned her head back and moaned. Heat followed his lips. His hands smoothed over her waist, to her ribs, until he cupped her breasts. His thumbs brushed against her nipples through the thin purple lace of her bra. Her breath caught as heat rose in her, a different heat than her beast caused. Her eyes met his, but a figure moved behind him, coming out of the door of the club.
“C’mon you two, not in my parking lot!” Derrik waved a hand at them.
Kass flushed as she pushed Jax away and bent down to swoop up her shirt. “So not cool.”
“You enjoyed it and you know it.” Jax kissed her cheek and moved to his own car. “I’ll see you later.”
Kass closed her eyes and leaned her forehead against the freezing car. The cold helped clear her mind, but fire ran through her again when she thought about what just happened. “Fuck.”
Kass stumbled into the mansion a couple hours before dawn and shoved the door closed behind her, bolting it in place. Even for a shifter the solid wood doors with the stripes of metal bolted down them provided a small challenge. “Stupid medieval door.”
“Don’t like my door?” Lucius asked from the corner, his arms crossed as he leaned against the wall. “Or was your first night at the club not fun?”
“I don’t like the crowds there, neither does my stupid cat.”
“Derrik called saying you almost shifted in front of him. Your cat is getting stronger and better at getting past the block.”
“Well, that’s nice of him. You should have known that I would have been wound up after a night there.” She moved passed him, hanging her coat by the door.
Lucius put a hand on her shoulder then shoved her face first into the wall. His massive hand pressed against the back of her head.
“If you want a meal, all you have to do is ask.” She snapped and trying to push off, but he didn’t give. Instead, he sniffed up her neck. She held still, scared of what he would smell.
He frowned. “A panther, not your little Romeo either.” He released her.
She balked and turned to face him. Her heartbeat sped up at the idea of another panther near her. “I didn’t scent another panther in there, and one certainly didn’t –” She paused. “Anyone in there could have been a panther, a lot of people rubbed up against me when I walked through the dance floor.” She tried to swallow the fear climbing her throat. “I didn’t see any of them there.”
“But that doesn’t mean that they weren’t there. They can blend in and it’s been a while since you’ve seen any of them.” Lucius adjusted her hair so that it was behind her shoulder. “I won’t let them get you, and if they do, you know I’ll fight like hell to get you back.”
“Just so you can have your prized killer.” She mumbled. “But you’re right, I’m safest with you. You know how fucked up that is?”
He chuckled. “Very. Has Garret tried to get at you again?”
“No, I think Mae scared him off for a while. No one would expect me to be paired up with another vampire.” She ran her fingers through her hair and put it back in front her shoulder. “I don’t even know how he found me, since I’m supposed to be dead and all.”
He shrugged. “With Mae snooping around who knows how many people found out you are alive. It’s possible she told someone. Granted, the human police force barely admits to your existence, so I doubt they said something to their higher ups.”
“So what now? If they were at the club then they might be able to trace me back here.”
“Don’t panic, it’s not going to help the situation. You go about things as normal, if need be I will step in. They are in my territory without permission.” He pushed her against the wall again. “Now bare your neck.”
She resisted rolling her eyes as she pulled her hair away from her neck and tilted her head to the side. “What happened to Tegan feeding you?”
He kissed her pulse before sinking his fangs into her skin. She tensed and made a small noise, not ready for him. Without his power, no pleasure came from the feeding and Kass closed her eyes as he continued to pull from her vein. She curled her hands into fists and tried not to fight against him as the pain grew. When he pulled away he wiped the dripping blood off. “Tegan is still...ill because of what happened.”
“What exactly happened, you said another vampire got in her mind. I’ve never seen her so...distraught before.”
“Essentially, he mind fucked her, forcing her to do things that were against my orders. Something that is extremely painful for her. They left lasting damage when she is questioned about her actions.” He rubbed his face and sighed. “She’s a mess, and I can’t do anything about it.”
Something crossed his face that she didn’t see too often, compassion that only seemed to show when he talked about his human. “How did they get to her?”
“I don’t know, she can’t say.” He sighed. “Don’t worry about her though, we’ll find the stone and find out who touched her, and then I’m going to kill them.”
“Strong words for someone who doesn’t care about their human.” She snorted and he glared at her.
“If you want to keep your free run today, I suggest you keep your thoughts to yourself and go.” He growled. “Or, if you want, I’ll force your change so that you remember I am your master.”
She bowed her head in apology and then walked past him so she could make her way to the back of the property and to the woods.
Jax waited until Kass sped out of the parking lot. Derrik walked over to him chuckling. “You damn near mated in my parking lot. I know this is a safe place, but c’mon...keep it in your pants.”
With a shrug Jax turned to him. “She was the one who jumped me. Know much about her? Or did you just borrow her from Lucius?”
“I don’t know her story. Not beyond the pieces that I can put together.” Derrik started towards the other end of the parking lot and Jax joined him. He needed more information on Kass and he’d use any resource he could to get it.
“The typical stuff that most people already know. Rumors that she’s from the Black Moon Clan, the fact Lucius stripped her of her control, things like that. We know that she works for Lucius, we’re just not sure doing what.” Derrik glanced at him. “Is there a reason you’re so interested in her?”
Jax laughed. “My beast likes her.”
“Right. I’m sure there’s more to it. Let me remind you again, this is a safe place.” Derrik snapped.
“I get that, I really do, and I don’t plan on harming her.” His thoughts traveled back to his job to bring Kassity back to her family. Did he really intend her no harm? “I’m working on something for Lucius and Kass just caught my attention. That’s it.”
Derrik raised a brow. “You’re working for Lucius too?”
“Trying to locate a stone that he lost. Know anything about it?”
A growl trickled from Derrik’s lips and Jax knew he’d found a sore spot. “I know that he’s hiding something from his allies about it. He sent my wolves to protect some type of grave. It was a blood bath. I know he mentioned something about a stone and a soul, but I never got the whole story.”
“Never got the whole story on that either.” Derrik shook his head. “Look, do the job and get out of the territory. I know that sounds harsh, but Lucius has a habit of killing mercenaries that work for him. Especially ones that show interest in his people.”
Jax stiffened. “This has happened before?”
“Lucius doesn’t allow his people to get close to others. He believes it makes them weak. He has a problem with us letting our members mate.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t get attached to her.”
Derrik snorted. “Not from what I saw. Lucius doesn’t play around. He killed one of his own a couple weeks back for trying to mate. Turned the woman afterwards.”
Jax’s mind flashed back to the young vampire at the bar and her words. “I think I get the picture.” He rubbed his eyes. Something about both jobs started to eat at the back of his mind.
Garrett slammed the hotel door behind him. He looked at the woman sitting on the bed. “Sarah, nice to see you’re in control again.”
His sister glared up at him with her yellow eyes. “Did you find Kass?”
“She was at a safe place tonight. A club run by a local alpha wolf.” He sat on the bed and leaned back on his hands as he thought about his half sister. After his attack on her the night before he knew that she would be cautious where the family was concerned.
“A safe place,” Sarah said. Her eyes were distant. “I want to go see her.”
He looked at her. “What?”
“Let me go see her. She always listened to me. Maybe I can convince her to come back.” She played with her hands.
The shell of his sister made something in his heart break. He knew that if Kassity hadn’t left home his father would have left Sarah to her happy and innocent life. But no, Kass left them and Quinn turned to Sarah. Attacking her continuously until she gained an animal form. Though Quinn’s original plans failed, he still wanted to use Sarah in the war against the vampires.
“You can go tomorrow night, but I don’t want you causing problems. Understood?”
She grinned and nodded. “Thank you.”
“You think you can handle your beast while you’re in there?” He saw her pale at his question and he regretted it.