Dark Wolf Page 25

Skyler indicated the need for stealth. A guard directly ahead of us.

He already knew that. His senses were coming back, acute, the senses of the Sange rau, or Hän ku pesäk kaikak, whatever he had become. Whatever his mixed blood and the silver had made him. He knew exactly where the Lycan was. They would forever be a stench in his nostrils. He knew each individual. This one had stayed away from him. Several times Dimitri had noticed him speaking with Zev.

They have a pattern they follow when they guard their pack. This man will move to the right while the guards in the outer circle will move to the left to cover where he has been.

He shouldn’t be surprised anymore with any information Skyler had, but the inner workings of a Lycan pack?

The moment the guard shifted direction, she was on the move. How had she known the precise moment the Lycan had changed his position? Dimitri found he was just a little in awe of his lifemate. They edged past the first guard and picked up the pace, moving quickly along the little strip of grass that wound through the trees and kept them covered by heavy brush.

8

Dimitri found he was getting his legs back as they hurried along. At first he’d been stiff, walking like a marionette with someone jerking the strings to his arms and legs. Blood flowed back with movement, and he found he could easily block the painful pins and needles. After the burn of the silver, the prickly sensation was more annoying and troublesome and easily manageable. Skyler picked up the pace, but in deference to his state, she wasn’t moving very fast. His longer strides kept up with her easily.

There will be another guard a few meters ahead. We have to wait for him to circle back around, she cautioned.

He hadn’t believed that they could just walk out of the Lycan camp. Hanging from a tree with silver wrapping him from head to toe, he’d had plenty of time to study the pack and the way they operated. A lot of the day-to-day operations were instinctual, probably imprinted on them before birth.

His own wolf had fed him information on the species, giving him the data necessary to be Lycan, but this was different. His wolf told him how to fight in pack formation, but Skyler had gleaned much more. She knew movements, times, how the pack guarded camps. He kept his mind merged with hers, learning the information, and how Mother Earth had shared with her.

He found his heart swelling with pride and respect. There should be no more surprises with his lifemate, yet she astonished him at every turn. Her abilities continued to grow along with her confidence. Was it the combination of her bloodlines? But there were others with her specific bloodlines, and they didn’t exhibit the extreme power she displayed. Her mother? What did they really know of her mother and her gifts? Clearly he needed to learn more about her.

The path shifted to the left and then cut back sharply to the right. He could smell the other guard. The Lycan was much closer than Skyler had expected, which meant he had deviated from his normal routine. Dimitri put a hand on her shoulder, halting her progress. They crouched together on the narrow path, Dimitri sheltering her body as best he could, making certain he completely covered her in the event bullets started their way. The pack preferred hunting without guns, but he’d seen plenty of weapons in the camp. If they were preparing for a war, they would be using modern weapons.

Every breath he drew was difficult, and he had to prevent the wheezing from being heard. His lungs were shot. He needed blood. His close proximity to Skyler made his mouth water and his teeth stay lengthened. He could move, and he could endure pain, but he couldn’t stop the ever-present hunger that crawled through his body demanding he feed starving cells.

His hand remained on Skyler’s shoulder and he felt her tremble. She had gone to her hands and knees, sitting back a little on her heels, but she kept her hands in contact with the mat of grass. Through her, he felt the silent footfalls of the Lycan guard approaching. The earth gave off the smallest of vibrations. Skyler was so sensitive she felt it.

He stayed relaxed, but deep inside, he coiled, ready and more than willing to strike to protect his lifemate. He might be weak, but there was no silver chain to stop him. Skyler held her breath as the guard came even closer. The man moved first to their right and then to their left. Was he searching for them? The brush surrounding them was thick enough that the Lycan avoided going through it, and he wasn’t aware of the thin strip of forest green carpet leading them to safety.

Dimitri allowed his enhanced senses free rein. Being a mixed blood gave him all the gifts of a Carpathian as well as a Lycan. As time went on, he would evolve even more. He already was gaining the speed of the mixed blood, and he had the acute vision and sense of smell as well as hearing.

The stench of the fire, the burned tree and cabins permeated the forest. The Lycan guard continued to move back and forth in an effort to see what was happening back at camp. He couldn’t abandon his position, but he was clearly worried.

A sense of relief swept through Dimitri. He wasn’t anywhere near full strength and he doubted if he could fight off a pack of Lycans. He wanted to get away without any of them realizing he was gone until it was too late to stop them.

They waited, counting the seconds ticking by, both knowing any moment someone would discover Dimitri had escaped. After what seemed an eternity, the guard gave up and resumed his normal patrol. Dimitri squeezed Skyler’s shoulder. She looked back at him, her eyes changing color, like a kaleidoscope, a signature of her Dragonseeker blood. He knew the color change indicated nervousness.

You’re amazing. He breathed the words into her mind, accompanied by his deep respect and love for her. I honestly didn’t think you could possibly get me out of that tree, let alone remove the silver chain from my body, but you did it. And now we’re moving through the second circle of their guards.

It’s a long way until we’re really free, she reminded. From here on out, you would have a much better chance without me. I can’t go to ground or take to the air.

He leaned close, his mouth moving against her ear, although he spoke in her mind. I can’t do those things at the moment either, csitri. I am far too weak.

Josef is waiting just ahead. We couldn’t risk his being too close in case the Lycans sensed his energy. But he’ll give you more blood—Carpathian blood. Paul’s here as well. He’s just a few kilometers from Josef. And you can feed again there.

He should have known she would even have prepared for feeding him, attempting to get him into good enough shape for a fast escape.

Skyler shook her head, obviously reading his mind. Josef was the one who remembered you would need more blood than just mine. All I could think about was taking away the pain and trying to heal you. Her lashes swept down, hiding the shame and guilt in her eyes. I should have thought of it, though. I’m sorry.

Dimitri took her chin between his finger and thumb, raising her head until her lashes lifted and her gaze met his. We have good friends in Josef and Paul. I’m certain between all three of you, every detail of my rescue and escape has been attended to. Thank you for coming for me. You have such courage, Skyler. I tried to shield you from what was happening to me . . .

She shook her head. You were wrong to do that. I don’t want you to keep anything from me—good or bad. We’re a team—partners. We’re lifemates, and I want to be that in every sense of the word.

He nodded his chin toward the path, indicating they could start out again. The guard had completely moved away.

I think you’ve more than proved your abilities to be my lifemate, Skyler. We are tied together, bound, soul to soul. Before she could rise, he wrapped his arm around her and just held her for a long moment. She felt warm and soft, her body fitting into his burned and battered one, bringing a soothing balm to him.

Skyler rubbed her cheek gently over his burned chest, taking care to keep the gesture featherlight, but he felt it through his entire body, a gossamer touch that reached deep inside and sent his heart soaring.

I love you, Dimitri. We’ll make it out of here and start our life together.

He brushed a kiss along her temple. He would give anything to have her anywhere else but where she was right then. Somewhere safe. He nodded, and she rose and began to walk along the narrow, inviting path between the two rows of thick brush.

He struggled into a standing position, shocked at how weak he was. As a Carpathian he’d always had strength, and as his blood had mixed with the Lycan blood over the centuries, he had become even stronger. His body needed healing inside and out. He also desperately needed the rejuvenating sleep of his kind, deep beneath the earth in the richest of soil.

Skyler picked up the pace, jogging slightly, just enough that he had to extend his strides to keep up with her. He had a difficult time keeping his feet on the carpet of grass. He concentrated on staying to that small strip.

I didn’t want you in danger, but I can see that you’re a woman who will stand with me through anything. I’m not so old, sívamet, that I can’t learn. In spite of the dire situation, his ravaged body and weakness, Dimitri still managed to laugh at himself.

Skyler had always been drawn to his gentle ways and his sense of humor. She knew he was a predator and that any Carpathian male who had fought off the temptation of darkness for centuries was a strong, dangerous man. Still, with her, there was always tenderness and his humor.

She could barely look at his burned body. Had he been able, she knew he would have changed his appearance, but he was too weak. The damage done to him only served as a reminder to her that she’d waited too long. She’d been too concerned about hurting others, lying to her parents, getting in trouble. That seemed so trivial in comparison to what he suffered.

I didn’t know how much I loved you until I nearly lost you, she admitted. I’ve always known there was no one else for me, that I was your lifemate, but it’s so much more, it’s everything, Dimitri.

She had loved him, but almost with a teenage crush, an infatuation that seemed obsessive at times. She’d leaned on him, counted on his strength, and she’d been selfish without even realizing it. She knew it was difficult for him to wait to claim her, but she hadn’t really considered the consequences to his soul. To his honor. She’d been a child, playing at being an adult.

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