Destined Mate (Chapter 1)
Her best friend had been taken by these animals and she planned to get her back. She didn't care what her tribe leader, Titus, said. She'd been stuck living with his coven for the past fifty years and while she normally didn't mind his Draconian rules, she'd gladly suffer the consequences to get Natalia back. If she was still alive. Who knew what those animals had done to her by now? Natalia had only been gone about a week but the animosity between vampires and werewolves went back thousands of years. It didn't matter that in a few months their two species would be signing a peace treaty. Right now nothing had been signed and her friend was fair game.
The icy wind whistled through the leaves of the giant red oak trees. Even though it was January, a lot of the foliage was still thick and would help block her scent.
She peered around the giant tree she'd been using as cover. Her eyes narrowed when she spotted the outline of a huge male by another tree about forty yards away. Even though he was in human form, she knew he was a shifter. Of the wolf variety if she scented right.
Luck was on her side since she was downwind of him. Withdrawing her gun, she glanced around the rest of the forest but didn't see or smell anything else unusual. Since his back was to her, she darted twenty yards closer until she hid behind another large tree.
She wasn't sure if she could take on a trained, warrior wolf by herself so she knew she couldn't miss this first shot. Raising her weapon, she held her breath and aimed directly for the spot below his skull.
The small puff of noise the tranquilizer dart made as it shot through her suppresser was enough for him to notice.
He stiffened but it was too late.
By the time he turned toward her, the tranq was already embedded deep in his skin. The giant shifter stumbled once, twisted in her direction then narrowed his gaze at her before he fell face-first in the dirt and grass.
Her friend Mick had been right. Those sedatives did their job fast. Unfortunately it wouldn't last long on a shifter his size. She quickly secured his hands behind his back with silver bindings, took his weapons and his radio.
If others found out about her presence, she'd know about it soon enough. She hooked the radio on her belt and tossed his guns and blades behind a nearby tree before continuing north. She'd been traveling on foot for miles so she knew it wouldn't be long until she reached her destination.
The sound of nearby male voices made her freeze in her tracks. Instead of trying to hide, she crouched down where she was. Until she figured out where the voices were coming from, she didn't want to make any sudden movements or risk anyone scenting her.
"I've been trying to get King on his radio but he won't pick up," one of them said.
Another male chuckled. "He's probably getting a piece of tail… Hey, what the…"
Crap. They'd spotted her. With her heightened night vision she could finally see the two outlines of male figures near a tree line. Judging by their stiff and alert posture, they'd seen her, too. It didn't matter that she wore all dark camouflage, blended in with her surroundings and had a much lower heat signature than they did. All they'd have to do was see something about her that didn't blend in with nature. Like her eyes. They likely looked like freaking Christmas lights to them.
She had two options. One was running. Even if she escaped it wouldn't matter. Her friend would still be captive.
She'd have to take the other option – go on the offensive.
Wordlessly she jumped from her position and sprinted at them. From what she could scent, there were only two of them and they hadn't made a move to notify anyone of her presence. Probably because they thought they could take her on their own. And maybe they could.
As she ran, they silently spread out to her right and left. Despite her keen awareness she couldn't read their expressions in the dark. Knowing she'd only be able to bring one of them down at a time, she raised her gun and fired at the one on her right.
The soft thud of the tranq hitting flesh was music to her ears.
"Oh, shit…" He hit the ground faster than the first guy.
Before she could even think about swinging her arm around to take a second shot, a heavy weight rammed into her. Damn wolves were just as fast as she was. She flew through the air and landed on her side.
All the air rushed from her lungs but she quickly jumped to her feet to square off with the werewolf. To her surprise, the male hadn't shifted form. He still wore black cargo pants and a long-sleeved black shirt.
"What are you doing on our land, little vampire?" His voice was almost mocking.
Little? Baring her teeth, she lunged at him, fist raised.
He dodged her punch but she was ready for him. She might be one of the youngest of her species but she was agile and she trained every day. As he moved his head to the left, she kicked out, high and hard.
When her booted foot made contact with the other side of his head, he grunted a string of curses. He hit the ground with a thud and she heard the unmistakable growl of the beast within him.
He'd be shifting soon. And while he did, she'd be hauling ass away from him. Werewolves were weakest when they shifted form and she knew it would give her time to run. She could stick around and try to tranq him, too, but knocking out a wolf in shifted form was a lot harder. As his body started to change form, she turned and ran.
Behind her, she heard the breaking and snapping of his bones. Her heart slammed against her ribs. Wouldn't be much longer now before she was being hunted. Her legs pumped hard and her palms dampened.
Now wasn't the time to freak out. She had to keep a level head. As she breached the clearing of trees, her heart jumped into her throat.
A brick house – a freaking mansion – lay on a giant spread of land surrounded by the forest. She didn't know how many rooms it had but the mansion had to be as big, if not bigger, than the one she lived in with thirty other vampires.
There were at least a dozen males patrolling the grounds and judging from their outlines, they were all armed to the teeth.
Flipping on the radio she'd taken, she kept the volume low. As she listened to the chatter, she realized she'd been discovered. It was only a matter of time before everyone knew of her presence. Her instinct to fight kicked in with a rush of raw rage she'd never experienced before. She might be outnumbered but she'd come this far. No turning back now.
Using one of her main advantages – lightning fast speed – she rushed toward the house. Her boots barely touched the earth as she sprinted right into the den of wolves.
The patrolling males stopped and a few uttered surprised curses but she ignored them. If she could get in the house, she could find her friend. After that…well, she hadn't exactly thought that far ahead yet.
A low, guttural growl sounded to her left. A werewolf with gleaming white teeth hurtled through the air toward her. Using all her lower body strength, she jumped high in the air. She couldn't clear the six foot beast so she used his back as a springboard and landed on the hard earth. At least she landed on both feet.
When she hit the ground, she didn't pause. Some of the werewolves ran at her in human form while others shifted to their animal form. She kept going full speed.
The growling and snapping behind her was terrifying. Blood rushed so loudly in her ears it was all she could do to try to block out those vicious sounds. She couldn't get distracted by her fear.
Just a little bit farther…
Her thigh muscles strained again as she prepared to leap. As she got closer to the brick monstrosity, she leaped through the air again and latched on to a stone balcony railing. Using all her strength she hoisted herself up and propelled over it.
Two French doors greeted her but she didn't bother trying the lock. Shielding her face, she jumped through it. Glass shattered and wood splintered everywhere but somehow she managed to stay on her feet.
Knowing the animals were close behind and that she had minimal options, she quickly scanned the bedroom. A king-size bed, and a bunch of expensive-looking furniture adorned it.
Natalia's scent was strong. As if she'd been there recently. Maybe she was still alive. Hope leaped in her chest.
Angela glanced behind her to find one of the male guards standing on the balcony. He was in human form.
His eyes were wary but he didn't hold a weapon in his hands. "I'm not going to hurt you if you'd just – "
She glared at him and reached for her weapon. As soon as she did two strong arms encircled her from behind.
Twisting and struggling she fought the viselike grip. When she felt her attacker's hard-on against the small of her back she screamed and lashed out with her foot, connecting with his instep. It didn't faze him.
"You perverted beast!" She twisted until she could see the shifter's face then froze. It was him. A thousand-year-old Alpha…her old lover. "Oh shit."
With pursed lips, Knox shook his head. "Such language," he murmured. His charcoal eyes matched his hair, adding to that whole dark and brooding thing he had going on. Everything about his features was hard, sharp…dangerous. He hadn't changed much since she'd seen him last. Especially those eyes. If she let herself, she could drown staring into them. Her throat tightened as she tried to think of a response. With him holding her so close –
"That bitch should be strung up and punished." She turned at the sound of a new male voice.
Now three of them stood on the balcony. Damn, they were quiet. Or maybe she'd just been so focused on Knox she hadn't heard them.
He still hadn't let go and she braced herself, waiting for him to throw her to the wolves. She was a vampire after all. And she knew how much he hated her kind. It was the reason she'd left him all those years ago. It might not have been her choice to be turned from human to vampire, but she'd known Knox wouldn't care. To him, vampires were all the same. Or at least that's what he'd told her when she'd been human.
She felt his body tense. "I should punish each of you for letting an intruder through our ranks. You will all leave."
One of the youngest looking males opened his mouth and Knox growled low in his throat. "Now."
Once they'd disappeared back through the broken doors and leaped off the balcony, she clenched her fists at her sides. Her short nails dug into her skin. The pain was a perfect distraction from her fear.
Knox leaned down until his mouth was next to her ear. His breath was warm against her skin. A traitorous tingle skittered down her spine. "If I let you go will you try to run?"
She gritted her teeth, despising her physical response to him. "No." But only because it wouldn't do any good.
He paused a moment before letting her go. Quickly she put three feet between them and turned to face him. Her breathing was uneven and ragged and she hated the terror forking through her. To not be scared of him would be stupid, though.
She'd seen Knox's strength before. Had seen him rip apart a vampire trying to hurt her in seconds. With his bare hands. But she'd been human then. He'd actually cared about what happened to her and had wanted to protect her. Now…well, she was a vampire.
It had been exactly ninety years since she'd last seen him. Something she shouldn't remember, but it was hard not to. Once she'd loved this shifter with all of her being. But the moment she'd been turned into a vampire she'd known that no amount of love she had for him would make a difference. She had been turned into his mortal enemy against her will. So she'd run from him without telling him what had happened to her. She hadn't been willing to risk letting him kill her.
Seemed all her running had come to an end. After nine decades she was finally face to face with the one man she'd never been able to forget.