Heat (Blood Bound Book 4) - Amy Blankenship - ebook
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Damon moved in with his brothers for one reason… the girl that had staked him and left him for dead was living there and under vampire protection. When they wind up saving Alicia’s life more times than he cared to count, Damon decides someone needs to get her under control before the little she-cat finally finds a way to escape him by getting herself killed. Jealousy becomes a dangerous game when she goes into heat and begins attracting more than just monsters.Alicia Wilder is tired of being shielded from the world by her over protective brothers. Trying to prove she can handle the vampire war gets her mauled, bit, kissed, shot at, and oddly enough, living with three very sexy vampires, one of which started the vampire war in the first place. When she finds herself going into shifter heat, Alicia realizes her safety net may be her undoing.Damon moved in with his brothers for one reason… the girl that had staked him and left him for dead was living there and under vampire protection. When they wind up saving Alicia’s life more times than he cared to count, Damon decides someone needs to get her under control before the little she-cat finally finds a way to escape him by getting herself killed. Jealousy becomes a dangerous game when she goes into heat and begins attracting more than just monsters.PUBLISHER: TEKTIME

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Heat

Blood Bound Series Book 4

Amy Blankenship, RK Melton

Copyright © 2012 Amy Blankenship

Second Edition Published by TekTime

All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

Micah was resting in bed wrapped up in so many bandages he was starting to resemble a mummy. He couldn’t help but smile softly as Mrs. Tully clucked around him like a mother hen and occasionally shook her head. He also wasn’t complaining about the amount of pain killer she’d stuck in his arm. He could see himself in the dresser mirror across the room and started to cock an eyebrow but decided against it when it instantly hurt.

They’d already assured him Anthony was dead but he couldn’t help wishing the alpha werewolf was still alive so he could torture the bastard the same way he’d been tortured. The story they’d told him had sounded like a quick death. He wouldn’t have made it quick.

“I think you shifters are going to end up being the death of me,” Mrs. Tully exclaimed softly. The shifters… both jaguars and cougars, held a soft spot in her heart. She’d delivered every single one of them and had been very close to their mother. “Just look at the shape you got yourself into.”

Micah pouted at the ceiling feeling dizzy when the ceiling fan kept going round and round. “It wasn’t my fault that I got kidnapped and tortured.”

Mrs. Tully softly tapped him on the forehead with the tips of her fingers. “I beg to differ, young Skywalker. If the stories I heard were true, you stood up to that horrid werewolf and that’s what got you kidnapped.”

“So you’re saying I brought this on myself?” Micah demanded, ignoring the grins from the other people in the room.

“Don’t interrupt your elders,” Mrs. Tully came back with a stern look. “I wasn’t finished. As I was saying… you stood up to that mongrel dog and I have to say it was something long overdue.”

Micah looked pointedly over at Quinn with an ‘I told you so’ smirk. He wasn’t ready to forgive his brother. He’d warned Quinn about Anthony and had been told to stand down. He hoped big brother was happy because now he couldn’t stand up.

“Stop that!” Mrs. Tully growled and slapped him on the top of his head.

The action made his lingering headache start to thump and he squeezed his eyes shut. “Hey, I’m hurt here,” Micah complained.

“You’ll make it worse if you keep up this sibling rivalry,” Mrs. Tully retorted and gave that same warning look to Quinn. “I need to call my granddaughter and let her know where I am. The poor dear will be worried if I’m not at home to answer the phone.”

Mrs. Tully didn’t wait for anyone to show her where the phone was. This wasn’t the first time she’d been to the Wilder residence. She missed a step when she noticed Michael sitting quietly in a chair in the shadowed corner of the room. It wasn’t like the charming vampire to be so dark and brooding. When the door closed behind her, all eyes turned back to Micah.

“It’s good to see you finally back home where you belong,” Steven said with a soft smile, trying to hide the fact that he was worried. Even though Micah was home, something was telling him he wasn’t out of danger. Micah was pale and his eyes were a bit too shiny for his liking.

Micah returned the smile but was starting to get drowsy, “It’s just good to be out of that hell hole.”

“You were very reckless this time,” Quinn stated from his position near the window and crossed his arms over his chest. “You could have died down in that basement if we hadn’t seen that message you sent to Alicia.”

Micah looked around the room for his little sister and frowned. “Speaking of Alicia, where is she? I thought for sure she’d be here.”

“She’s staying over at a friend’s house until this all blows over,” Kat answered. She glanced at Quinn wondering how long he was going to wait until he called their sister and told her to come home.

“Why didn’t she come back with us from Anthony’s?” Micah asked. “I thought for sure she’d…” again he glanced toward Quinn, putting the blame for Alicia’s absence on him simply because he wanted to.

Nick shook his head but was inwardly cringing. He tried not to look at Michael knowing the vampire had erased everyone’s memory except for his and Micah’s. “Dude, you must have had one too many hits to the head… Alicia wasn’t at Anthony’s.”

“But she was there,” Micah insisted. “I saw her with my own eyes.” He glared at Nick but the man just shrugged and shook his head.

He looked from one face to the next and realized that none of them would confirm Alicia being at the mansion. He remembered her in the basement… holding his hand. She was crying and it would eat at him until he saw her again and made sure she was alright. He didn’t know which had hurt worse… seeing her cry or being almost killed. He glanced around one more time making note of the fact that the man who had been with Alicia was also missing from the crowd.

Huffing, he pressed back against the pillows and silently planned to find out which friend Alicia was staying with. He’d hunt her down and demand the truth from her.

“You must have been hallucinating,” Jewel said softly.

Micah looked over at the pretty blonde and frowned. “Who are you?”

“This is Jewel Scott Wilder,” Steven said and wrapped his good arm around her shoulders. Mrs. Tully had already taken care of his own bullet wounds and had his other arm in a sling for now. “She’s my mate.”

“Anthony’s Jewel Scott?” Now Micah was even more confused.

“Only within Anthony's demented mind,” Steven responded but couldn’t stop himself from pulling Jewel a little tighter against him.

Micah blinked and looked over at Quinn to ask confirmation when he saw Kat was snuggled up against his older brother. With a sigh, he wondered how high a dose of drugs Mrs. Tully had actually given him because either he was losing his mind or everyone else was. He glanced up at the only other person in the room he knew that had any common sense, Warren.

“Did I pull a Rip Van Winkle or something? I mean, when I left… Steven was still single and Quinn had about as much romantic inclination as Dean.”

Warren smiled, “Quite a bit has happened since you’ve been gone.”

“Okay, my phone call is made,” Mrs. Tully announced as she walked back in. She actually hadn’t called her granddaughter. She’d only said that to give them a moment alone with Micah before running them off. “Now… everyone out and allow this little kitten to get some sleep.”

Micah growled at the older woman. “I am not a kitten.”

“Dear, my youngest cat could beat you in a fight with the shape you’re in right now and she’s a wimp, runs from her own shadow,” Mrs. Tully informed him. While she talked, she took a needle from the odd-looking box she’d brought with her.

“I’m not so sure I need more drugs,” Micah sighed. He had a lot of catching up to do. The mere fact that he hadn’t seen Alicia yet made him ache worse than the broken bones did.

“And that’s why you’re not the doctor.” Mrs. Tully was glad he still had that strange sense of humor… once he started healing he was going to need it.

Micah growled softly when the needle sank into his arm and had to look away. He hated taking orders from anyone and what he needed to be doing was tracking down his sister. Everyone filed out of the room when she pulled the empty syringe from his arm.

Mrs. Tully watched them go then turned back to Micah who was already asleep. His family was happy he was home, but the truth was… she worried for the cougar. His injuries were so severe she was surprised he was still alive.

Both of his kneecaps had been shattered by bullets, his ribs broken by being struck continuously over a period of time. It also looked like his back had been flayed by a whip of some kind. He was dehydrated, malnourished, and he had an infection spreading through his bloodstream. She would have given him penicillin had he been human, but sadly… human antibiotics did not have any effect on the paranormal.

Even though were-animals healed very quickly… it didn’t mean they couldn’t be permanently injured… or mortally wounded. She would consider him lucky if he survived the infection.

She glanced out of the corner of her eye at Michael, who hadn’t left and was sitting very still in his chair. Mrs. Tully decided to leave him alone. She thought a lot of Michael and if he wanted to stay then she would not make him leave. He was another that often came to her but it was mostly to bring her the wounded, never for injury of his own.

With a sigh, Mrs. Tully packed away her equipment and stood up. With a slight nod in Michael's direction, she quietly left the room.

Michael knew it was time to leave… he’d only been waiting for his anger to fade. Alicia was a handful, but Damon should have never brought her into the middle of a gun fight like that. He could still see the possessive look on Damon’s face when he’d wrapped his arms around her and wondered if history was setting itself up to be repeated.

His gaze returned to what was left of Micah and the image of Alicia crying as she held her brother’s hand came back to haunt him. Another image flashed through his mind… the image of Dean grabbing his hand and laying it on Kane to keep him from dying. Between him and Dean… Kane’s injury had healed right in front of them.

Michael had never thought about it, but he’d seen Syn do things like that in the past. There was one time in particular that stood out in Michael’s mind… so long ago that he had all but forgotten it.

It was during one of their many traveling excursions and they’d come across an injured child. He smiled softly in remembrance of Damon and Kane’s reactions to the little girl. One of her legs had been broken and she had several bruises that were in various stages of healing.

The child had insisted she’d only fallen but the guys knew there was nothing in the clearing that could have caused those injuries. When Damon knelt down in front of the little girl and started to compel her to tell them the truth, Syn had pushed him away saying, “You don’t do that to an innocent child.”

They’d offered to help her get back to her house but instantly smelt the fear that rose within the child. But, it wasn’t fear of them, it was fear of going home that made the little girl's heart pound. Though the child hadn’t said anything, Michael had known that her parents had been the ones responsible for all of her injuries… not just the broken leg.

Syn had said nothing to the child about it and dried her tears. Instead, he asked about her siblings and she replied that she had none. She started talking about her grandmother who lived in the mountains and her eyes shone with a grandchild’s love.

While she spoke, Syn had placed his hand directly over the girl’s hurt leg. When she finished her story, not only was her leg healed but all of her bruises had also vanished. That was when Syn had really shocked Michael. While Kane picked the girl up in his arms and started playing with her, Syn stepped closer to him and Damon.

Looking at Damon he said, “You are never to tamper with a child’s mind… except for this time. She does not need to remember the beatings, but she does remember their deaths.” His eyes had grown so cold as he added, “It was by fire.” With that, Syn had turned and walked down the path that obviously led to the girl’s home.

Kane made no secret that he wanted to keep the girl and raise her… he’d always had a soft spot for children. They all had soft spots but Kane’s was really bad. He’d buy a whole toy store for them if the whim struck him… and it had… a few times. However, Syn had insisted on doing the right thing and taken the child to her beloved grandmother.

When the sun rose the next morning, word had quickly spread around the village of a home burning to the ground. The remains of a man and woman had been found but their child, a small girl, was missing.

The four men had quickly left the village on horseback, heading into what was now known as the Swiss Alps. After delivering the girl to her extended family, Syn had given the grandmother a letter and a sack of gold coins as he exchanged a few words with her. The older woman smiled and hugged Syn tightly before taking her granddaughter up in her arms.

Though Syn never said anything, they knew that he was the one responsible for the deaths of the girl’s parents. To this day it made Michael shiver when he thought too long about it. Syn’s moral code refused to let any child suffer such misery and, if he could do anything about it… he would. Syn didn’t give a damn who the parent was or what they represented. He believed abusive parents deserved nothing less than what they would eventually do to their children.

When Michael had asked about Syn’s healing ability on the child, Syn had given him a patient smile.

“The power resides within your immortal soul. Compared to immortality… you are still a child, so most of your power is dormant. As time passes, that power will grow. As to what power you have… only your soul can choose. If healing is the power your soul calls upon, then all you have to do is want it bad enough.”

Looking back toward the injured cougar, he understood. Seeing Alicia cry like that was more than enough motivation to make him want it bad enough. Michael slowly stood up and approached Micah. As he moved closer, he could smell the hint of infection that was starting to take hold of the cougar’s body. If anything happened to the cougar, he knew Alicia would cry and he didn’t want Alicia to cry.

Michael laid his hand on Micah’s chest and recalled the sensations he’d felt when he and Dean had touched Kane. Concentrating on his need to see Alicia smile, he felt that need flow through him into the one he knew could make her happy. Micah started to glow softly and Michael waited to see if he would be able to see Micah’s soul like he had Kane’s. After a moment, he realized that had been Dean’s power… not his.

Had anyone been in the room with him, they would have seen the differences taking place. Michael’s eyes had started to glow a deep amethyst and his own soul slowly became visible, superimposed within his physical form.

Michael could feel a part of himself deep inside the cougar’s body… flowing through his blood. He breathed a sigh of relief when the smell of infection slowly faded from the room. He couldn’t see under all of the bandages to be sure, but he watched as the bruises and cuts on Micah’s face healed over then completely vanished.

Pulling his hand away, Michael took an unsteady step back. Lifting a hand to his eyes to ease the dizziness, he was surprised to feel tears on his eyelashes and cheek. He paused for a moment remembering that he’d also been crying when Dean had grabbed his hand and put it over Kane’s dying body.

Is that what Syn meant by wanting it bad enough? Did his heart and mind need to be exactly in the same place in order for it to happen?

Michael looked down at his hands and sighed. How he wished Syn was here to answer his new questions. Syn was awake now, but as long as he could remember, Syn never stayed in one place… always just passing through. He’d asked Syn once what he was searching for, but Syn had only smiled with that distant look in his eyes and answered, “Some secrets are meant to be kept.”

Perhaps he would find out soon enough… for now he would go home and rest. Healing the cougar had been taxing on him and he needed to rest and regain his strength. Looking back at Micah, Michael decided he had one more thing to do to cover his tracks and reunite the siblings.

Placing a hand on Micah’s cheek, he whispered his name, compelling the cougar to wake up enough to listen to his words. When Micah’s eyelashes fluttered, Michael told him the information that would keep Alicia's whereabouts secret until he could come for her.

*****

Trevor stopped the car in front of Moon Dance before slamming it into park. Seeing Envy injured had taken ten years off his life… or a least that’s the way it felt. Her being shot like that only confirmed the fact that he’d done the right thing by keeping her from knowing the truth about the paranormal world and his involvement with it for so long. By keeping his secrets, he’d kept her out of the danger zone.

“Home sweet home,” he grumbled without looking at them. Getting out from behind the wheel, Trevor walked around the car to open the door for Envy but Devon beat him to it.

Devon gave Trevor the evil eye as the other man followed them inside but didn’t say anything. Devon hated the fact that he owed Trevor for saving Envy… but hated it more that it was Trevor he owed the favor to.

“You don’t need to come in with us,” Envy offered, trying to diffuse the tense air around the two men. She even gave Trevor a small smile and a nod to let him know she wasn’t just being mean, but really appreciated his help.

Trevor’s eyes softened when he locked gazes with Envy. “I’d feel better if I knew you were being taken care of.”

Envy inwardly cringed… totally wrong thing to say.

“Are you saying that I can’t take care of Envy?” Devon stopped and demanded as they reached the stairs that led up to the living quarters.

“Not in so many words,” Trevor said as he followed Envy up the stairs.

Devon’s eyes widened and he raced up behind Trevor and pushed him harshly against the wall. “Then explain it to me Care Bear.”

Trevor shrugged against the wall, “Sure thing Thunder Cat… you suck!”

“Go to hell!” Devon growled loudly.

“I feel a flashback from Saturday morning cartoons coming on,” Envy muttered and rubbed her forehead. “How about you two stop spraying testosterone all over the place and play nice for a change? I’ve got a major headache, my arm hurts like hell, and the last thing I need is for you two to start fighting over who the better man is.” She looked at Trevor, “Either shut up or go home, right now I don’t care which.”

Devon smirked until Envy turned her glare on him. “And you… I have the right to deny you kitty cat. Keep it up and you’ll be reduced to yowling from the alley fence.”

Tabatha had been waiting to hear something for a while when she heard Devon tell Trevor to go to hell. She opened the door just in time to see Envy tell both of them off and couldn’t help but giggle. At least she wasn’t alone anymore.

“Are the boys misbehaving again?” Tabatha asked.

“You have no idea,” Envy grumbled as she walked into Warren’s office with the now-silent Trevor and Devon behind her.

Envy slipped the jacket off of her shoulders and Tabatha’s eyes widened at the blood-soaked bandage around Envy’s arm. She started to have a flashback of her and Envy being held hostage by Raven and his gang of bloodsuckers, but forcibly pushed the vision back into her mental lock box.

“Will one of you guys get the first aid kit?” Tabatha asked while looking Envy over to make sure her shoulder was the only injury.

“I’ll get it,” Devon answered and walked into Warren’s connecting bathroom.

“What happened?” Tabatha demanded when she unwrapped the bandage and saw where a bullet had grazed her friend’s arm.

“Got shot at, growled at, nearly clawed, and barely outran an explosion,” Envy said with a grin but the grin disappeared when she noticed the look on her friend’s face. “I’m okay, I promise,” she quickly added.

Ignoring Envy, Tabatha glared up at Devon when he came back into the room. “Where the hell were you when Envy got shot?” She couldn’t help it. “This is my best friend and you’re supposed to be taking care of her!”

Trevor laughed inwardly, glad someone besides him was finally giving Devon a much-needed ass chewing.

“Fighting for our lives,” Devon said in his defense. “I couldn’t get to her but Winnie the Pooh over here got her out.”

“That was after Hello Kitty let her get separated from him,” Trevor finished trying not to crack a grin at the thought of Devon still thinking he was a werebear… if Devon only knew the truth about what he really was. The urge to grin went away when his gaze returned to Envy. If Devon knew the truth, then Envy would know and he was tired of getting caught in his lies by her.

Tabatha and Envy gave each other a resigned look and Envy mouthed the word ‘help’ knowing Tabby would understand.

“Hey Trevor, can you give me a ride home?” Tabatha asked trying get Trevor out of the room before Devon bit his head off... or Envy truly went off on the two of them.

Trevor sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Sure, let me go down and get the car started.”

Once Trevor had sullenly left, Envy gave Tabby a look of relief. “Thank you!”

Tabatha smirked, “Don’t thank me because now you both owe me one.”

“I’ll give you everything I own!” Devon exclaimed with a grin.

“Does that include Envy?” Tabatha asked, her eyes twinkling.

“Not a chance,” Devon answered giving her a wink.

Tabatha made a disappointed face, “Well, that just takes the fun out of all of it.”

Envy giggled as Tabatha pranced out of the room, mock-slamming the door on her way.

Chapter 2

“Put me down you bloodsucking lunatic!” Alicia yelled while clawing at Damon’s back from where he’d thrown her over his shoulder. The moment she’d realized they weren’t headed toward Night Light she had wanted him to stop… obviously wanting and getting were two different things. “I want to go see Micah!”

“Michael told me to bring you back here and this is where you will stay,” Damon ordered as he calmly walked into Alicia’s room. He tossed her down onto the bed and winced when her nails left long welts on his back. Growling he added, “I don’t think your boyfriend will be overly disappointed if you’re a little late to his bed… side.”

Alicia huffed and tried to scoot off the bed but Damon was immediately leaning over her with a palm firmly planted on each side of her shoulders.

Damon glared down at her, trying one more time to put her under his compulsion spell, “Damn it, I said stay!”

“I’m not a dog, I’m a cat you...” Alicia’s mind went blank for a second as she stared up at him, watching the way his hair dangled down around that perfect face. She felt something in the pit of her stomach awaken with longing. Lowering her gaze to his lips, she used the only thing she could think of to get her mind off kissing him… aggression.

“You’re not the boss of me!” Alicia hit him in the chest but regretted it when Damon squeezed his eyes shut in pain and leaned down closer to her.

“Did no one ever spank you growing up?” Damon growled breaking out in a sweat. He rolled away from her to lie on his back beside her.

“You wish.” Alicia frowned wondering how in the world he had just carried her across town like a Neanderthal and now looked like he was going to pass out because she’d hit him for it. “Are you all right?” she asked suspiciously, not wanting to feel guilt for her retaliation.

Damon opened his eyes only to come face to face with a stupid teddy bear. His amethyst eyes narrowed reading the collar it was wearing… ‘Micah'… figures.

“I’m just dandy… and you?” he answered as he pushed himself into a sitting position wondering why he bothered getting involved with humans… especially females. They were nothing but trouble. Standing up, he started for the door hoping he didn’t do something lame like pass out. “If you try to leave this house before Michael gets back, I’m going to feed that teddy bear to you.”

Alicia glared at the door until he was gone then cocked her eyebrow at her innocent teddy bear, “Well I know what I did… but what did you do to piss him off?”

She rolled her eyes and reached over to turn on the lamp. Damon had been in such a hurry to throw her on the bed they hadn’t even turned on the light. She was about to grab teddy but froze when something on the bed caught her attention. Right there where Damon had been laying was a fresh red stain. She brought her hand close and was about to touch it when she withdrew.

Getting up off the bed, Alicia stepped out on the balcony and slipped over to the other set of glass doors that led into Damon’s bedroom. What she saw made her heart spill out on the floor.

Damon slammed the bedroom door and ripped off his black shirt, flinging it across the room. Several bullets that had been lying loose inside the shirt hit the floor and walls as he did so. His body had been consistently pushing them out of his flesh in an effort to heal. He took a deep breath and looked down at the bloody holes in painful distaste. It was the bullets that were still being pushed that were causing the wounds not to close.

Seeing a bullet sticking halfway out of his chest, he pulled it out the rest of the way. He gripped the bed post so tight with his other hand that the wood began to splinter and crack. If not for the werewolf blood he’d drunk earlier, he would be on his knees screaming bloody murder right now. Come to think of it, he probably wouldn’t have made it out of that mansion.

The blood of a paranormal being held more of a power boost than human blood, but it was obvious if he wanted to heal faster, then he was going to have to find more blood. No one had ever accused him of being patient.

With a grunt, Damon dropped the bullet he’d just pulled out onto the floor and went to the closet to get another shirt. All he found in there were some pullover sweaters… he pulled the black one from the hanger and put it on before heading toward the balcony doors.

Alicia had cupped her hand over her mouth to avoid crying out when she saw the amount of damage done to Damon’s chest. Some of the bullet holes were still bleeding and some of them were actually pushing the bullets out of his skin. No wonder he’d cringed when she’d hit him. She felt a flash of pain clinch at her chest. How could she be so cruel?

She started to open the door but paused when Damon turned around and grabbed a sweater from the closet and jerked it on. She really wanted to cry when she saw his bloody back, which was in worse shape than his chest. How many times had she hit him on the back before they’d made it to her room? Alicia felt her knees weaken at the thought.

When he started walking toward the balcony doors, she quickly moved to the side and spun around, leaning back against the brick wall between the two glass doors. Laying her hand on her own uninjured chest, she held her breath and hoped that he didn’t come outside and catch her spying on him.

Her panic quickly gave way to hurt… then anger and confusion. Damon had lied to her back at the mansion… all that blood had been his. Why would he do that? Why would he shield her and then not tell her that he was hurt? He could have gotten himself killed… and for what? To save her?

Alicia’s eyes widened when the balcony doors suddenly flew open and Damon leaped up on the thick ledge of the terrace facing the street below. He balanced on the solid railing but, before he could push off, he felt her presence behind him. He could feel all those emotions in her aura and sighed… he was tired and hurt and didn’t feel like fighting with her anymore tonight.

“Michael erased their memory of you being there tonight. If you go running back to Micah before they call you… you’ll undo everything he’s done to help you. If you won't stay here for me… then at least do it for Michael.” With that said, Damon flipped off the balcony and down to the grass below.

Alicia gasped and ran to the stone railing, looking down as he tumbled blindly. Her eyes widened and she gripped the stone when she realized that Damon’s blind tumbling wasn’t as blind as she thought. His arms shot out and it looked like he was pulling at the shadows around him, wrapping them close… then vanishing before he hit the ground.

Alicia searched the darkness for him, ready to follow the moment she saw him, but there was nothing… not even the sound of footsteps. She felt sorry for him and the pain he’d put himself through for her tonight.

She wrapped her arms around herself suddenly feeling more alone than she’d been ready for and wishing desperately he hadn’t left. She needed to say she was sorry… she wanted to say thank you and she really wanted to hit him again for not letting her know he’d been wounded. Where was he going? What did vampires do when they were hurt?

He wanted her to stay and do what Michael had asked. With a sigh, she decided to obey for once… but she wasn’t doing it for Michael.

Turning away from the balcony ledge, Alicia went back into her room and sat down on the bed. She stared at the phone for a few moments wondering what she should do if it rang. Should she even answer it? What if it wasn’t Michael? What if it was someone like Warren or Quinn calling for Michael and she answered the phone?

Damon was right… she owed them both enough to at least wait until morning before she made any decisions or did something she wasn’t supposed to. She remembered the edge in Michael’s voice when he’d told Damon to take her home. No one had wanted her there tonight except maybe Damon… one more thing she could thank Damon for.

Wanting time to pass quicker, she got up and changed into a thin nightshirt. Pulling back the covers on the bed, she laid down and tried to go to sleep. It soon became too hot even though she’d left the balcony doors open to let in the cool breeze. For almost an hour, she tossed and turned and finally lifted a hand to wipe away the perspiration on her forehead.

Her skin felt hotter than it should have been so she threw the blankets off in an effort to cool herself down. Getting frustrated, she balled the covers up until they were like a long body pillow then rolled on her side, hugging it and throwing one leg over it. She started rocking against the blanket, liking the feel of it between her thighs and hugged it even tighter.

Alicia’s eyes snapped open when she suddenly recognized the symptoms of what she was going through. She’d read about it and seen one of her friends at school go through it.

“No…” she whispered feeling fear slice through her at the mere thought. “Please don’t let me be going into heat.”

*****

Damon raced through the shadows across the city, heading toward the darkest slums in the search for something or someone that needed killing. He tried to block Alicia from his mind but it seemed every minute he spent close to her, the deeper she crawled under his skin. The strangest part was… he liked her there.

He’d built his life around not caring about anything… or anyone. He’d also prided himself for making it a rule to take what he wanted. He wanted her and she needed to stop tempting the devil. When he’d fallen from the balcony, he’d prayed she was smart enough not to follow him. Luckily, the girl knew a little about self-preservation.

He finally reached his goal: a rundown area of Los Angeles. Damon kept to the dark edge of the sidewalk, smirking when the police cars drove by and everyone would vanish. As soon as the cops were out of sight, the scum of the earth would come back out of hiding and it was back to business as usual.

Damon sneered at two scantily-clad women and kept walking when they tried to entice him with their bodies. Perhaps a few weeks ago he might have vaguely considered it, but now… he wanted nothing to do with the opposite sex. The thought of drinking from either of them left him feeling slightly sick.

Rounding a corner, Damon noticed two thugs up ahead and that they both looked his way as he approached. Now this was more what he was in the mood for.

“How’s it going,” one of them asked in a deep voice. He had his hands deep in his coat pockets expecting a sale of drugs. When he caught a glimpse of the man’s wild eyes, he decided to drop it figuring this guy had already gotten his drugs elsewhere.

Damon didn’t answer and kept walking. He knew what was coming and was looking forward to it. These two guys were probably kings on this street with their bulging muscles and dark flat eyes. He could smell the old blood on their clothing and see the scarred knuckles bullies always carried. Yep, they were probably legends within their own minds.

“Hey,” the second one yelled, “my friend asked you a question.”

“And my silence should have warned him I wasn’t in the mood.” Damon warned then turned his head to look at them. He gave an evil smirk, his fangs gleaming in the dim glow of the street lamp when they saw the red irises of his eyes. “However, a dinner date with both of you sounds good.”

Damon moved fast, grabbing the first one and draining him dry in less than a minute. He broke out in a sweat from the pain when more bullets started pushing out faster and landed on the ground with audible metallic clinks. Tilting his head back, he laughed breathlessly before dropping the dead man at his feet.

The echo of the second man running away drew his attention and Damon ran after him, once more pulling the shadows close to disguise his pursuit. Pain and adrenalin held its own high.

He caught up with the oversized punk and stalked him for a few moments, enjoying the smell of fear. When the man started to slow down, Damon merely chuckled in the darkness making the human start running faster again. Yes, this is what he needed… to rid the world of a couple low-life human scum while taking the blood he needed to heal.

Quickly growing bored with the chase, Damon closed in on the man and jerked him into an alley. The human’s struggles were valiant to say the least, but when matched against Damon’s superior strength… the outcome was inevitable.

Finally, the man’s struggles ceased and Damon dropped him to the dirty concrete. During the struggle, small packets of white powder had fallen from the man’s pockets along with a good-sized wad of money and a hand gun. Damon knelt down next to the corpse and, using a corner of its shirt, wiped his face clean of any evidence before taking up the money and tucking it into his back pocket then walking away.

Reaching the mouth of the alley, Damon shoved his hands in his pockets and started walking down the sidewalk like he didn’t have a care in the world. Now that his need to kill and feed had been partially satisfied, he could pick his next victim with a choosier taste.

Misery watched the entire exchange between the vampire and the two humans he’d chosen as his victims. She wanted to approach him but was too weak to do so. Instead, she satisfied herself by feeding off the fear the two humans exhibited as the vampire bled them dry. Their death thralls had been delicious.

Her encounter with Kane earlier that evening had forced her to use up all the power she’d had stored away since escaping the cave. When she’d combined her power with Kane’s blood, it had used up almost everything she had. Creating cracks in the dimensional walls of this world was a tedious process and would take a lot more power than she had at the moment. She could feel the evil heartbeat of this area and knew she’d awakened some of the weaker demons that slept here.

She would need to be stronger to thin the walls enough for the demons on the other side to sense it and take advantage. If the demons were powerful enough… they could finish the rip from the other side and join her in this world.

While her demonstration hadn’t been enough to do what she wanted, the evil in this city was breeding and it wouldn’t take long for her to build her power up to the necessary level. Once that level was reached… she would try to breach the walls of this dimension again. This vampire’s aura wasn’t as tasty as Kane's but the similarity and potential of the blood ritual was definitely there.

This vampire... though he did show a sadistic side that appealed to Misery… his power was completely different from Kane's. She already knew how to tap into Kane's real power but the more she stared into this one’s soul, the more she saw the dangerous truth. The power this one possessed could only be released while protecting something he loved. It was a worthless power since the creature suppressed such emotion.

After studying the vampire for a few more moments, Misery decided it was best if this one remained loveless because if he ever tapped into such emotion… his power would be limitless.

Damon could smell soulless vampires flitting all around him and down the darker alleyways. He thought briefly about ridding the city of a few of them but decided he’d already done his good deed for the day. If they wanted to feed off the low-lives in this area, then who was he to stop them? It wasn’t like he hadn’t just done the same thing. As he continued to walk, more bullets fell out of his shirt and hit the ground, tinkling on the sidewalk like forgotten memories.

The small hairs on the back of Damon’s neck stood up and he stopped walking, turning his head from one side to the other… he was being watched. Finally jerking his head back, his eyes narrowed when he saw a shapeless silhouette lurking on the roof of the building beside him.

Stepping back into the shadows, Damon wrapped the darkness around him hating how this city had no privacy with all the fucking paranormal breeds running around. Before coming here, he’d never been around shifters or the fallen. In his country, shifters had been purged back in the dark ages and been smart enough not to return. He’d never realized just how territorial he was while in a land he’d kept clean.

He’d never been one for traveling around the world like Kane and Michael… not when he’d been having so much fun where he was. But that wasn’t a shifter on the roof… it was a fallen, and it wasn’t either of the men he’d seen at the church. This must have been the one that got away.

*****

Zachary breathed a sigh of relief when the last of the news reporters finally got bored and left his quote-unquote crime scene. He turned his attention back to the soot-covered firemen and winced apathetically. Poor guys, they hadn’t stood a chance in getting that fire under control, although they seemed thankful it had not spread beyond the boundaries of Anthony Valachi’s land. Zachary smiled when he saw what he’d been waiting on.

He’d made the fire so hot that he knew it wouldn’t be long before it ran out of stuff to burn. He’d done it for two reasons. One was to give pity to the humans who were sacrificing their lives on a daily basis playing with fire, and the other was to destroy any evidence the humans didn’t need to see… including bodies to autopsy or bones to study.

“Looks like its dying down,” Chad said as he approached Zachary. “I’m surprised Trevor isn’t here.”

“Oh he was,” Zachary smirked. “Last time I saw him, he was dragging your sister out of here so I could blow the place up.”

“What!” Chad yelled then stepped closer so no one could hear him. “I’ve been here for a fucking hour and you’re just now getting around to telling me that my sister was almost killed tonight?”

“The bullet only grazed her,” Zachary just loved hazing the new guy. He felt a little guilty when all the color drained from Chad’s face. “Relax, she’s fine.”

“You’re an asshole,” Chad informed him without remorse.

“I’ve been called worse,” Zachary shrugged. “But for now, you can call me boss. I fast tracked your paperwork so it’s already a done deal. You no longer work for the police department. They work for you and you work for the CIA as far as they are concerned. And this falls under the CIA’s jurisdiction since it was a mob hit.”

“So what am I supposed to do now?” Chad asked feeling a little lost and secretly wondering how he could beat up a jaguar for putting his sister in danger yet again.

“Enjoy the promotion because I’m leaving you to handle this for the night.” Zachary patted him on the shoulder before opening the car door and sliding inside. He counted to three before Chad rapped on his window. Rolling it down, he arched an eyebrow.

“What do I tell them?” Chad asked.

“That’s the brilliance of it all. You’re not at liberty to give out any information at this time.” Zachary laughed and rolled the window back up then laughed again when Chad kicked his tire as he pulled past him.

His humor faded once he was alone with his own thoughts. He knew most of the wolf pack was harmless and had only been under the influence of their alpha’s orders, but the rest of them would want revenge for the death of Anthony Valachi. Some would be pointing at Micah’s rescuers, but some would point the finger at Steven and the cheating fiancé. Either way, that would put Night Light on what’s left of the city’s mob hit list.

Pulling out his cell phone, Zachary put a call in to the member of PIT he had deep undercover within the most dangerous part of the wolf pack. If what he thought was brewing then it might be wise to go ahead and send a couple death threats to Night Light just to keep the cougars on high alert, or better yet… get them to shut the club down for a while.

*****

Angelica gazed out the window at the city below thinking about the nightmare that had awoken her. Seeing all the lights and life within the city even in the middle of the night gave her comfort and it was hard to look away.

She’d never had a nightmare before… she’d never had a single dream and that was what disturbed her the most. She rubbed her fingers across the mark on her palm blaming it for the nightmare. She’d been so lost in morbid thoughts that when the door behind her slammed, she almost jumped out of her skin.

Zachary had opened the door quietly just in case Angelica was still asleep. When he saw her standing there in a daze, he couldn’t resist the temptation and slammed the door. Her reaction was even better then he’d hoped.

“Had I been a demon, you’d been bitten,” he smirked then lowered his gaze to the dagger clenched in her fist so tight that her knuckles were white. “Maybe not,” he corrected with a frown. “What’s rattled your cage?”

“Nightmares,” Angelica said truthfully as she relaxed her grip. No use lying about it… not to him anyway. She inhaled deeply trying to release the tension in her shoulders then wrinkled her nose, “you smell like burnt toast.”

“Wanna scrub my back?” Zachary wiggled his eyebrows as he headed toward the bathroom.

Angelica spared one more glance out the window before moving away from it. Hearing the shower turn on, she sat down on the loveseat and grabbed her notebook from beside the laptop and started to draw the man she’d seen in the cave. Since he was the one that had marked her, then the nightmare had to be his doing. She started with his eyes and softened the strokes of the pencil as the face came to life on paper.

Zachary came out of the steaming bathroom still towel drying his hair. Walking up behind Angelica, he looked down at the portrait of the man he’d seen her in the cave with. He watched the delicate way she arranged the man’s long dark hair… as if the wind was still blowing around it. For a demon, he sure was a hansom devil in her eyes.

“You smell better,” Angelica commented as she looked up at him. Tapping the drawing, she asked, “Can we get in touch with Dean so I can show him this picture?”

“I caught a glimpse of him tonight at the alpha werewolf’s mansion. But he seems to come and go so quickly around here that it would be easier to just show it to Kane.” Zachary suggested as he vaulted over the back of the love seat and sat down beside her taking the picture in his hand and studying it. “Kane said Misery is female.”

“That’s what I was afraid of,” Angelica sighed. “If that’s not the same demon that they released from the cave… then I’m afraid Misery isn’t the only demon in the city.”

“What makes you say that?” Zachary asked.

Instead of answering him, Angelica did the one thing she had thought she’d never do. Turning sideways on the cushion, she reached for Zachary and leaned toward him. When Zachary instantly tried to kiss her, she tilted her head so he wound up kissing her forehead instead. Then she let the dream play through her memories.

Zachary flinched as the scenery changed and he was surrounded by her nightmare. When the flickering images finally faded and Angelica slowly leaned away from him, Zachary opened his eyes and whispered, “Wow… that was a wiggly-boo dream.”

Angelica nodded, “Yeah, especially for someone who has never had a dream, not even once in their entire life.”

*****