Bound In Death Page 19


Alerac turned his bright stare on Jane. “He took your blood.” Certainty. Rage.


She rose to her feet. After a moment, Jane gave a faint nod. “Samples. He said that he needed them for tests.”


Alerac shook his head. “No, he needed the blood for its power.” He lifted Heath up into the air, and the smaller man dangled above the floor. “You think I don’t know your type? Greedy, desperate, willing to trade anyone and everyone for the promise of immortality?”


Heath stopped looking quite so beaten. His lips twisted in a hard snarl. “Isn’t that what you did when you took her blood? Werewolves aren’t supposed to live as long as you have. You found out that vamp blood can extend your life. You found—”


Alerac’s claws were out. “This is the part where you die.”


“No!” Jane jumped forward. “Dammit, no!


Heath started to smile.


But then Jane continued, “We can’t kill him yet. We have to find out what he knows about Lorcan first.”


That wiped Heath’s smile away.


Alerac nodded. Then he said, “Finn, get some rope. I want to make sure this SOB is tied up tight.”


Heath was fighting now. Too late.


Jane stared at him, anger coursing through her veins. “You really were just going to sell me out that night, weren’t you? Just hand me right over to Lorcan—”


“Not to Lorcan, not then.” He huffed out a hard breath. “To the other werewolf.”


Rage nearly choked Alerac then. “Liam.”


A frantic nod from Heath. “H-he was the one I called. He arranged for the guys in those SUVs to meet us.” His words tumbled over each other. “Man, I swear, I didn’t even know Lorcan then.”


Then. Alerac dropped the bastard to the floor. “So when did you make Lorcan’s fine acquaintance?”


Heath didn’t rise from the floor. He curled in on himself. “A-after. The men who were left…they were trying to figure out how to get Jane—”


Alerac growled.


Heath flinched. “But Lorcan found us first. It was like hell came at them. Lorcan broke into the house, and he killed them all in seconds. Every last one. He took their heads.” A thick swallow. “Their organs.”


Same old twisted Lorcan.


“But he let you live?” The question came from a doubting Zoe. “Your story is crap.”


Heath’s head lifted. His eyes slid toward Jane. “He smelled your blood on me. He let me live because of that. I told him that we were friends. Th-that I could help him to find you.”


“No,” Alerac wanted to rip him apart, “what you told him was that you’d betray Jane, that you’d sell her out.” And he already had a pretty good idea of the price that Heath would have demanded. “Let me guess. You’re gonna trade Jane for immortality?” Probably a fat wad of cash, too.


Heath shook his head. “No! You don’t understand!” His eyes locked on Jane. “He doesn’t want to kill you! You’re part of his clan. He just wants you back.”


***


They’d taken the human inside.


Lorcan smiled. Either Jane would trust the doctor—or Heath would die.


When he’d first found Heath, the human had been so desperate. Crying. Begging.


Once, Lorcan had enjoyed it when his prey begged. Now it just bored him.


But he’d spared Heath because Lorcan had known that he could use the human as a distraction, at the right time.


The time is right now.


He lifted his hand to his throat. It still ached, but the pain was more of a memory. Lorcan had long ago grown used to pain—both giving it and taking it. He’d made sure that the doctor enjoyed plenty of pain before Heath had been allowed to venture to Jane’s side.


He knew what was happening inside that wolf pack. The betrayal. The battle.


Liam had turned on Alerac. He’d thought the two wolves were as close as brothers. But even a brother would kill you if there was enough power involved.


Lorcan had killed both of his brothers centuries ago. A witch had come to Lorcan long before he’d ever tasted his first sip of blood. She’d told him that his brothers were destined to destroy him.


He’d destroyed them first. As their blood had soaked the ground beneath his feet, he’d learned just how valuable a witch could be.


A witch’s power could change the world.


And the right vampire—he could rule the paranormal world.


Normally, he wouldn’t give a damn about werewolf politics, but Liam had crossed the line. He’d hurt Jane.


Twice, Liam had sent vampires after her.


My own damn kind. The knowledge still burned.


Those vampires could have killed Jane. They hadn’t realized just what an immense mistake they were making.


No one could kill Jane. She belonged to him. Not just as a clansman, but so much more.


He was the only one left who remembered the bond that had been forged so long ago. Perhaps it was time for him to enlighten the others.


For them to truly see that there was no hope for Jane and Alerac. The lovers weren’t going to get some romantic, happy ending.


It was too late for that.


Jane was already linked to another, through blood and pain, until death.


***


“He doesn’t want to kill you! You’re part of his clan. He just wants you back.”


Right. Jane didn’t buy that line for an instant. Not with the images of Lorcan still swirling in her mind.


Finn came back into the room, holding thick rope in his hands. Alerac dumped Heath into the nearest chair, and they tied him up tight. Tight enough to cut off the circulation.


Then Alerac backed up. He cocked a brow and glanced at Jane. “Want to go first?”


Yeah, she had plenty of questions for her friend. “How did you know to find me in that swamp?” When she’d been walking alone, covered in dirt and grime. Her mind broken. Her body convulsing from hunger. “It wasn’t some vacation trip. Some coincidence.”


Heath’s gaze glanced around, sweeping the room.


“Don’t expect Liam to come to your aid,” Alerac snapped at him. “The pack knows he’s a traitor. He’s been hunted now.”


Heath’s Adam’s apple bobbed.


“Tell me!” Jane demanded.


“L-Liam told me where to find you. Said he’d drunk the memory from some vamp years ago. The enchantment that held you prisoner was supposed to fall away this year, and he figured that if you were strong enough, you’d crawl your way to freedom.”


“Where was she?” Alerac’s voice was low.


In his binds, Heath shrugged. Some blood still dripped from his wounds. “All I know is she dug her way out of a grave in that swamp.”


A grave. “I was buried alive? All that time?”


Another shrug.


“How could even a vampire survive that?” Zoe asked as sympathy flashed across her face. “Wouldn’t you need food? Air? I mean, you breathe, right?”


“It was the spell,” Alerac said, voice wooden. “It locked in the air in her lungs, froze her body, and made it her prison. She could feel the bloodlust and hunger, but she couldn’t move.” His face was tight with fury. “Magic can do anything, if it’s strong enough.” Alerac yanked his hand through his hair. “Liam knew.”


Jane tried to focus on breathing. She’d been shoved in the ground somewhere out in that swamp, buried alive for all of those years? A prisoner, in her own body. I don’t want those memories back. Maybe that made her a coward, but she didn’t care. Screw the past. She was ready for the future.


“It was gift, you know?” Heath was staring at her now. “Once I went with Lorcan, I realized that.”


What? Now she was the one grabbing for Heath as she lunged forward. “Being imprisoned was a gift?”


“No.” His chin lifted. “Losing your memory was. You should thank Lorcan for that. He was merciful to you. If you’d kept those memories, you’d probably be insane.”


She was staring at someone insane. “Oh, I’ll be sure to thank him, all right.” She’d thank the bastard by taking his head. That’d really show her gratitude to the jerk.


“Why did he send you here?” Alerac asked as he pulled Jane away from Heath.


Heath’s gaze jumped to him. “Because I promised him that I could deliver Jane to him.”


She laughed at that.


“It’s a promise I’ll keep,” Heath swore.


“I don’t see how,” Zoe said as she lifted a brow. Finn stood just behind her. “I mean, considering you’re tied to a chair right now, and you look like werewolf chow to me.”


Finn growled.


Heath licked his bloody lips. He turned his head, and his eyes found Jane once more. “If you don’t go with me, Jane, if you don’t go back with me to meet Lorcan, then he’s going to hurt someone that you care about.”


She frowned at him. “I should believe you because…?”


“Lorcan thinks I’m here to use our friendship.”


They didn’t have a friendship. They had lies.


“But I saw. I saw.”


Good for him. Disgusted, she turned away from him. She didn’t want to hear any more of his stories.


“Did you know that you have a brother, Jane?”


Yeah, she did. Jane hesitated. Her gaze slid toward Zoe. The other woman gave an almost imperceptible nod.


“Did you know that he’s about to die?”


The guy was bluffing. Jane spun to face him, and her hands fisted on her hips. “I don’t think so.”


“He has poison in his veins. Poison that Lorcan put there.” The hair at his temples was wet with sweat. “Lorcan has the cure to that poison. If you go to him, you can take the cure.”


Her heart kicked into her chest. “That’s a lie.” Another one. Ryan would have mentioned his imminent death, wouldn’t he?


Alerac was now staring at Zoe, too. “Bring the vamp in here.”


“But—but the sun—”


“I don’t care if he’s weak, I want him in here.”


Zoe nodded, then hurried from the room.


Jane kept staring at Heath. “It’s just another lie,” she said, sadly. “Another trick. Maybe you were supposed to come here and try to get me to your side, but when you started to heal, you realized that wasn’t going to work because we’d all realized that you’d been using my blood—”


“No, dammit, I’m telling you the truth!”


But his truth sounded like lies to her.


Heath exhaled. “It’s true, I swear it is. The guy is going to die unless you go meet Lorcan.”


She just gazed back at him. Liar, liar.


Heath swore and jerked against his ropes. “Don’t believe me? Then just drink me. Vamps can see memories. As old as you are, you should be able to control the memories you pull up. Lorcan does. He can see anything he wants when he drinks from prey.”


“I’m not Lorcan.” She might as well be a newborn vamp as far as memory control was concerned. As far as any vamp powers were concerned.


“You want your brother to die, fine. You can just—”


Ryan burst into the cabin. Zoe was at his side, casting worried glances his way. “What. The. Hell?” Ryan demanded as he advanced toward Alerac.


Then he got a look at the bound man.


Ryan stopped. Frowned. Then shrugged as if seeing a bound human was a typical occurrence for him.


“Is there something you need to tell us?” Alerac asked Ryan.


“Sure. You’re an SOB who will never be worthy of my sister?”


Alerac smiled. “Not that.” A pause. “Are you dying?”


“Not today,” Ryan shot right back.


“The poison’s in you!” Heath yelled, straining against the ropes.


Ryan slowly stepped toward the yelling man. “And who might you be?”


“He’s the human doctor who found Jane,” Alerac told him. “And he’s also the man who’s been taking her blood.”


Ryan’s teeth snapped together. “Is he.”


“He says you’ve got poison in you,” Alerac continued with a watchful gaze. “And the only way to get a cure? Well, seems Jane has to trade her life for yours.”


“I don’t want any trade.” Flat. Instant.


Jane’s breath caught. Wait—he hadn’t denied the poison. He’d just said he didn’t want a trade. Jane studied him, trying to see past the guard of his handsome face.


“This human works for Lorcan?” Ryan’s lips twisted. “He always did like to use his lackeys. He’d get them to do his grunt work, then drain ‘em dry. The fools thought they’d get immortality.”


Heath’s eyes widened.


“All they got was a fast trip to hell.”


Heath wasn’t struggling any longer.


“Is there poison in your veins?” Jane asked him.


Ryan smiled at her. “That’s not your problem. Hell, you don’t even know me.”


No, she didn’t have memories of him. “You’re my brother.” And he’d touched her mind. When he’d sent that message to meet him at the stream, she’d actually felt him in her head. That touch had been strangely comforting. Familiar.


She’d tried to reach out to him again, using that mental link, but Jane had found nothing.


No link.


No comfort.


His face hardened. “You’re not going to offer your life for me or for some cure that Lorcan doesn’t have. I know I’ve been living on borrowed time. I’ve known it for nearly two centuries.” He rubbed his chin. “It’s my own fault. I tried to get him to make me a deal with me. After he took you away, I was willing to do anything, to trade anything, to find you.”

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