Dark Wolf Page 17

“Were you able to remove the silver from his body?” Paul asked. “All of it?”

Skyler nodded, relief sweeping through her. She hadn’t realized how tense she was until that moment. “Yes. And one of the Lycans gave him blood. He’s been starving for over two weeks, so it wasn’t nearly enough to bring him to full strength, but it should be enough that he can get out on his own after I remove the hooks and chains.”

“There is no way you, or either of us, could ever carry Dimitri. He’s too big of a man,” Paul said.

“Excuse me.” Josef blew air on his fingernails and polished them on his shirt. “You’re forgetting my mad skills. I could float him out of there.”

Skyler rolled her eyes at his blatant bragging. “And every Lycan in the forest will feel that rift in the energy field and come running.”

“I just wanted you to be very aware of my talents,” Josef said. “I could do it if it was necessary, that’s all.”

“Could you carry him out of the forest on your dragon’s back?” Skyler asked, suddenly very serious.

The smirk disappeared from Josef’s face. “If it was just him, sure, but not with the both of you as well.”

Skyler reached out her hand to him. “It won’t be necessary. You can give him blood. Paul and I will as well. He’ll be fine. Even if he has to go to ground for a night or two, we can hide. And if we can’t do that, we’ll have our fall back plan.” She spoke with far more confidence than she felt.

“So the silver is out of his body and a Lycan gave him blood,” Paul said, his tone speculative. “Maybe all of them aren’t bad.”

“Dimitri knows I’ll be coming for him tonight and he’ll be ready. I just have to figure out how to get the hooks from his body and the chain from around him. It’s burned into his flesh. Literally burned into it. His arms, his chest, all down his legs. They wrapped him up like a mummy in silver.” There was disgust and anguish mixed together in her voice.

Paul slung his arm around her shoulders. “He’s alive and he’s waiting for you. We’re getting him out.”

“So we laid a trail for you,” Josef said. “I’ll take the two of you deeper into the woods. There’s no sign of Paul anywhere, leading in that direction. Our tracks will go in two opposite directions, clearly searching for you. If a Lycan stumbles across, or goes looking for tracks, we’ve done a good job of making it look as if you’ve been gone several hours.”

“I’ll need a sprained ankle,” Skyler pointed out.

Josef frowned. “That’s the one part of the plan I’m not wild about. You can’t run with a sprained ankle.”

Paul burst out laughing. “Hello, you idiot. Have you forgotten who she is? She can heal anything, including a sprained ankle.”

“I just am squeamish about giving myself any injury,” Skyler admitted.

“Cause she’s such a girlie girl,” Paul teased.

Skyler made a face at him. “I don’t giggle.”

“You giggle,” Josef said, flicking her chin with his finger. “I’ll help you with your sprained ankle, but you’ll be hobbling around until someone comes. Groan a lot.”

“If someone comes,” Paul emphasized. “It’s a big forest.” He suddenly grinned. “This is your big chance to really show your girly side. Weep and look beautiful while you’re doing it, like they do on television.”

Josef snickered. “Her face turns red when she cries.”

“So does the end of her nose,” Paul contributed.

“Way to make a girl feel beautiful. Neither of you are ever going to find a woman who will put up with you.”

Paul shook his head. “Zacarias has a woman doting on him. Seriously, Skyler, if that man, as mean and as scary as he is, can get a woman, anyone can. It gives a man hope.”

Josef smirked. “I’ll have a lifemate. She’ll have no choice,” he added.

“Poor woman,” Skyler said. “I’ll befriend her and teach her how to box your ears when you get obnoxious.”

“What makes you think I’ll get obnoxious?” Josef demanded.

“You will never give up playing pranks. She’ll be afraid to go around a corner in case you fly at her in the form of a giant bat or something worse.”

Paul punched Josef in the shoulder. “She’s got you there, bro.”

The smile faded from Skyler’s face. “I have to figure out how to get the silver chains off of Dimitri. I know I can remove the hooks. I was able to get the silver to back up to their point of origin, and I could melt the hooks if I had to, but that chain. It’s actually in his skin. Any ideas that don’t include triggering the Lycans’ ability to feel a spike in energy?”

The two men looked at one another.

“Can you cut it off?” Paul said. “Josef can provide the tools you would need.”

“That depends how deep it’s embedded in his skin,” Skyler said. “I guess I’ll have to see it before I can make a decision. I haven’t really taken a look around him. I’ve been so busy concentrating on getting that silver out of his body that I didn’t think to see what his surroundings were.”

“Don’t sound so disgusted with yourself,” Paul chastised. “The truth is, his surroundings wouldn’t matter if he’d been dead. If you hadn’t worked so hard to save him, there would be no point in any of this. We have a plan. Let’s just stick to it and go one step at a time. If this works today, and you plant that tracking device in our Lycan, then we’ll figure everything else out quickly.”

“Agreed,” Josef said.

6

Skyler glanced around her. The trees towered above her, branches swaying and dancing in the wind. She’d been hobbling around for several hours, and no one had come to rescue her. It had been a long shot, they all knew that, but they had to try. She could follow the psychic trail, knowing it would eventually lead to Dimitri. Truthfully, that’s what she’d been doing, mile after mile, but wandering as if she was trying to find her way. Several times she took care to turn in different directions, starting out, going a distance and then turning back as if confused.

Her ankle was throbbing. Josef had ensured that it wasn’t just a little sprain. He wanted her to appear as no threat to anyone at all. It would be dark in a few hours and Josef would come for her. She followed the sound of water, struggling over the uneven ground and exposed roots. Little animals scurried in the vegetation, rushing for the shelter of brush and leaves in an effort to avoid her.

Twice she thought she saw that little fox. Intellectually she knew it couldn’t be the same one, but she told herself he was her guardian, watching out for her. That would be something Dimitri might do for her. Her heart seemed to always melt a little when she thought of him. He had watched over her for years, so selflessly, and hobbling around on a sore ankle, terrified she might really come in contact with a strange man, seemed a small price to pay for his steadfast loyalty and love.

She made her way to the small ribbon of a stream and found a large enough rock to sit down on. It was close to the running water as it bubbled over the smaller pebbles, making its way down a slight slope.

The moment she sank down onto the rock and leaned down to remove her boot, she knew she wasn’t alone. A chill went down her spine and she lifted her head and carefully looked around. Paul, can you see me? She made certain that her telepathic path to Paul had clean lines so that no Lycan could discern it or feel the psychic energy. She let her gaze move from tree to tree, a woman lost and alone and scared there in the forest. Unfortunately, the emotion was all too real.

I’m here, honey, I’ve got you covered.

Do you see anyone?

No. Do you?

He’s here. I can feel him. Which was strange, because according to Josef, no Carpathian could sense a Lycan. She wasn’t even Carpathian—she was human—and yet she knew with a certainty that someone was there. The only explanation could be that Mother Earth had passed her so much information that she was tuned to the rhythm of nature.

Maybe it wasn’t a Lycan watching. Maybe it was a real wolf pack hunting her. Or worse. Was there worse? Her imagination was getting the better of her. Paul had a gun and he would protect her. She just had to hold on to that.

She unzipped her boot and pulled it off, playing the part of the lost intern, her foot swollen and bruised and hurting. A human would be nervous, but would never know someone was out there watching every move. She could feel those eyes burning through her. Her heart began to pound and her mouth went dry.

She knew terror. Real terror, and right now, she had to fight it off. She was no longer a child to be abused sexually or physically or even emotionally. She was a grown woman with power of her own. With friends. With an ancient hunter for a lifemate, and he needed her. Dimitri needed her to be strong. She took several deep breaths, fighting off the need to put her head between her legs to keep from feeling so light-headed. Her body shivered continuously, and there seemed little she could do to prevent it.

As a child she had retreated to a place in her mind where no one could harm her. She didn’t have that luxury now, no matter how frightened she was. If the fear became too great, Dimitri would know. She didn’t want him any more upset than he already was. Skyler forced herself under control. She could do this. She’d planned every move out carefully. She had been a helpless child when evil men had dominated her life, but she was no child—and she sure wasn’t helpless. She straightened her shoulders, determination settling deep.

A twig snapped and she spun around to see a tall, broad-shouldered man striding out of the forest. He had to be Lycan to move with that easy fluid grace and absolute confidence. His eyes were the color of mercury with a glittering, piercing, very focused stare that seemed to look right through her. Her mouth went a little dry. He was rough-looking—and tough. Clearly he’d seen many battles.

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