Dark Wolf Page 10

“Thanks,” Skyler said. “I’m certain I’ll take you up on that.”

She had traveled through the air many times with Carpathians. Gabriel took her flying all the time, using various forms. She’d always enjoyed it. That was the start of her love of flying and her need to get her pilot’s license. Flying had become almost an obsession, but Josef was young for a Carpathian and inexperienced in comparison to the ancients. She wasn’t certain if he had the strength it took to keep the form of a dragon as long as he’d need to, as well as keeping Paul and her safe.

If you get tired, Josef, don’t push it. We can find a place to rest.

Don’t worry, Sky. I lectured you about pushing your strength too far. I’m not going to make the same mistake and give you a chance to say I told you so.

The cheery amusement in Josef’s voice made her smile as the dragon lurched a couple of times, wings flapping as it stood on two legs. She held on tight as it began hopping along the ground, gaining more air with each hop. The dragon’s great wings beat hard as he struggled to get off the ground. When they finally went airborne, Paul cheered and Skyler let out the breath she’d been holding.

Not particularly graceful, Josef commented, but we made it. I think the two of you need to lose a little weight.

Hey, now I’m totally offended. Skyler gave him her haughtiest, snippiest tone. It’s all Paul.

Josef snorted.

To her shock, Paul dug his fingers into her rib cage, making her squeal. Thought you were safe, didn’t you? Josef hooked me up with this telepathy thing. It’s working rather well.

We should have done that a long time ago.

Well, of course my family and I can speak together, Paul admitted. It’s weird that we never thought about it. It’s just blood.

Skyler laughed. Isn’t that funny how we both just say, “It’s just blood”? We’re human and that’s such a taboo in our culture, but we’ve obviously been around the Carpathians far too long. I actually asked Josef to give me blood this morning, didn’t I?

Yes, you did, but it did help you. Paul tightened his hold on her as the dragon’s wings beat hard to take them higher over the mountain peak.

Are you cold? Maybe Josef should have provided warmer clothes for you as well.

I’ve got my jacket. If I get too cold, I’ll call a halt and ask him then.

She knew immediately that Paul had deliberately not asked for warmer clothes. If he felt the dragon tiring, he planned to ask Josef to drop down to earth on the pretense that he was cold.

You’re a good friend, Paul, Skyler said. Have you checked out this dragon? It’s the coolest dragon I’ve ever seen. She included Josef in that comment.

The dragon was black but every scale was tipped a deep blue, just like Josef’s hair. The body of the dragon was good-sized, the tail long and spiked. Each spike was tipped in blue.

Even your dragon is stylin’, Paul said.

Your dragon is totally rockin’ the look, Skyler added, admiringly.

He is very cool, isn’t he? Josef sounded pleased.

Absolutely cool, Skyler agreed.

You should see my owl, Josef said. Feathers look ultra-cool tipped in blue. Sometimes I spike the owl’s head with blue feathers as well.

Skyler looked at the wedge-shaped head. Sure enough there were blue tipped spikes protruding from the dragon’s head. Laughing, she patted the dragon’s neck. You’re so wonderful, Josef. I love everything about you.

Josef had such an air of fun about him. In the worst situations—such as this one—he could still make her laugh.

Have you worked out how we’re going to find Dimitri? Paul asked. I imagine he’s being held in an isolated place surrounded by some very tough Lycans, who, by the way, are pack hunters. Just saying.

They had to take him somewhere they believe they have the upper hand, Josef said. Carpathians must not be too close or they wouldn’t be using that forest to hold him. He could send for help.

Skyler shook her head, although seated as she was on the dragon’s back, Josef couldn’t see the movement. I’m not certain he could. He blocked me, and maybe he has blocked everyone else as well, but our connection is . . . different—stronger. Neither of us knows why, but together we seem to be able to span distances that others can’t.

So are you just going to go walking through the woods like Little Red Riding Hood? Paul asked.

Skyler tilted her head back against his shoulder to see him. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.

I’m actually going to give her a red cape with a hood, Josef said. We want to make it easy for the big bad wolf to spot her.

Paul was silent for a moment, frowning, clearly not liking the idea. And if they just kill her? You’re taking a huge chance with her life, Josef. It might sound funny to give her a red cape and hood and send her off walking alone through that forest, but it won’t be so funny if she turns up dead.

Lycans don’t kill humans, Skyler said. We researched very carefully. Only the rogues do, and they’re treated by Lycans the same way Carpathians treat vampires. Dimitri wasn’t taken by the rogues. The Lycans have him.

How does anyone know that? Were they wearing shirts proclaiming the difference? Paul’s voice dripped with sarcasm.

There was a brief silence. I never considered that it could be members of a rogue pack who took him, Josef said. Everyone assumed it was members of an elite Lycan special commando-type team, because two of them disappeared at the same time as Dimitri did, but Paul’s right, Sky. No one really knows for certain. Maybe we need to rethink our plan.

If they were rogues, Skyler argued, they would have killed him right there. They would have no reason to take him out of the country and then keep him alive just to torture him. Rogues kill and eat their prey. They’re werewolves craving raw meat and fresh blood.

Are you willing to bet your life on that? Paul asked.

It wasn’t her life she was concerned with. It was Dimitri’s. Clearly, if they didn’t find him in time, even should she be able to stop every silver tracer bullet crawling through his body, eventually the Lycans would find another way to kill him. They had to find him. She had to find him.

Yes, Paul. I’m going to walk through the forest and pray a Lycan finds me. That’s the plan. I wandered away from our campsite and got lost. You and I are part of a student group studying wolves in the wild. The papers are in perfect order, the site is up on the Internet looking extremely legit, and when they find me, the hope is that they will return me to my camp, not eat me for dinner.

I always knew you were a little crazy, Sky, Paul said. You could get killed.

Skyler accepted that she might get killed—but she wasn’t going to have much of a life without Dimitri in it. She might not be Carpathian, but she was his lifemate, claimed or unclaimed. She knew her emotions were not the crush of a young girl, or the romantic fantasies she knew her college friends thought she indulged in. Dimitri was a special man. She would never find another man like him, one totally focused on her. She was the only woman he would ever look at. She was his world. His other half. There was no explaining to anyone how that felt. None of her college friends would ever be able to conceive of that kind of devotion.

The thing Paul didn’t yet understand—and perhaps Josef didn’t either—he was far too young—she was equally as devoted to Dimitri. She would walk through fire to get to him, so a trip through the deep woods might be terrifying, but it would never stop her.

Whoever found her. And she had sent up many prayers that it would be the elite hunter Josef had heard everyone talking about—Zev—to come to her rescue. He sounded like a decent Lycan who definitely could protect her from anyone or anything else threatening her.

Here’s the reality of the situation, Paul, Skyler said. I might get killed. If I don’t find him, Dimitri will die. He doesn’t have much time left. Even if the Carpathians had launched a rescue mission to find him, they won’t get there in time. They don’t know about the silver hooks.

Unexpectedly her stomach lurched again. They put hooks in his body and strung him up in the trees like a piece of meat. She couldn’t help the tears or the horror so stark in her voice. She didn’t bother to try.

Paul tightened his arms around her, nudging her shoulder with his chin. We’ll find him, little sister, and when we do, we’ll get him out of there.

The wind tore the tears from her face. She shrank down into the warmth of the fur, so grateful to have two friends who loved her enough to risk everything for her lifemate. Behind her, she could feel Paul begin to shiver.

Maybe we should find a place for Josef to set down and get you some warmer clothes.

Not yet. He’s still flying strong and we’re covering kilometers fast. When he tires, I’ll get warmer clothes. Go to sleep. Talking this way probably isn’t the best thing for you.

She hadn’t thought of that. She was so used to communicating telepathically she hadn’t considered that it took psychic energy to do so even so close to the one she was speaking with.

She didn’t answer him. She was tired. Paul would never let her fall. She closed her eyes and willed herself to fall asleep.

4

Skyler, what are you doing? I can feel you close to me.

The pain in Dimitri’s voice tore at her. At least she was on the right track if he could feel her close. The forest was very dark, the trees large and ancient. She could almost hear them whispering to one another.

Skyler followed the psychic footprints directly back to her lifemate. Again, the path was stretched thin and ice-cold, but it wasn’t long. Triumph swept through her. She wouldn’t have to hold a bridge over a horrendous distance in order to heal him.

You are supposed to be healing.

The pain took her breath as she connected fully with him. She had thought herself prepared—after all, she knew what to expect—but there was no real way to remember the agonizing pain so clearly until one touched on it. She let it burn through her in an effort to acclimatize herself to it.

Josef was totally exhausted. They had made it to the forest in one evening of flight, but it had seriously depleted his energy. Paul had given him a tremendous amount of blood, which in turn had weakened him. She would have to be careful and not take this healing session as far as she had the last one, but she could not be so close to Dimitri and not try to get the worst of those silver threads away from his heart. She’d slept most of the way and felt more energized just because Dimitri was somewhere in the vicinity.

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