Dark Wolf Page 36

You must reenter your body, Skyler. It will be uncomfortable and there will be pain again, but not like we experienced before. He instilled absolute confidence in his voice, and kept it uppermost in his mind, although deep inside he was afraid she might balk.

There was a flutter against the walls of his mind, as gentle as the gossamer wings of a butterfly. You?

Every step of the way. I will hold you. You’ll never be alone, not in that dark cold world or the one above where we face war and persecution.

She would know what he meant. If she chose to return to the other world, he would follow her. As much as he would love to retaliate against the Lycans for what they’d done to her, nothing was more important to him than Skyler.

She astonished him once again, her light glowing a little brighter, stretching more to finally touch his. He felt her immediately. She was there, her indomitable spirit, as determined as ever.

Again he took his time, uncaring that he was starving and that bringing her back from the land of the dead had taken its toll on him. He’d suffered every moment of the conversion right with her, yet now that she was alive and willing to return to her own body, the terrible exhaustion that had settled in him seemed to disappear.

His spirit escorted hers to her battered body. Skyler didn’t hesitate as he expected, she simply united her spirit with her body, settling into her own skin with a small shiver. He stayed with her, afraid to leave her too soon. He’d been in three places, her body, his and the other world for far too long and was beginning to feel the effects of such a division.

I will not leave you, Dimitri, she reassured him.

He thought she whispered the words into his mind, but maybe he only heard what he wished. She was already fading, slipping into unconsciousness. Heart pounding hard, he checked her. Not death. She was ready to accept the healing earth.

He found himself back in his own body. Tatijana and Josef had removed the silver and the agonizing burn throughout his body was gone. He opened his eyes and looked around him, needing to see Skyler, needing to know he wasn’t hallucinating, that she was really there and alive.

She looked so pale, so ravaged by the bullets, blood staining her clothing and even caught in her hair. But she was alive and she was beautiful. The soil beneath them had sunk, taking their bodies nearly a foot and a half down. Black loam, rich with minerals, had packed itself all around them, between their legs and even forming a thin blanket over them.

Again he heard the call of Mother Earth. He took a deep breath and turned his head, knowing Tatijana was close.

“You’re back with us,” she greeted. “You’ve accomplished what no other has done that I’ve heard of. You brought her back.”

“It was a fight. She needs to go to ground.”

“You both do. But first you’ll need to feed.”

He nodded. He knew she was right. Hunger beat at him now, stronger than ever. “Before anything else . . .” He looked around him, his gaze settling on Josef and Paul.

Paul lay on the ground, his expression set in lines of pain, but he made no sound. Josef sat close to him, and both were staring with apprehension at Skyler.

“She’s alive,” Dimitri announced. “Back with us, and I have you two to thank. You saved my life and then hers. I can never repay the great debt I owe you.”

“She’s alive?” Paul asked. “Really alive? She’s not moving. She doesn’t even look as if she’s breathing.”

“You’ve seen Carpathians slipping into rejuvenating sleep,” Dimitri said. “I’ll command her to sleep, ensure she doesn’t wake until she’s healed enough to get out of this place.”

Paul pushed the hair back from his face and quickly averted his head, but not before Dimitri caught the sheen of tears.

“I didn’t think it was possible,” Josef admitted. His voice wobbled, but he refused to look away from Dimitri’s penetrating gaze.

“You were the one who told me she wasn’t dead,” Dimitri reminded with a weary grin. “You said to go after her and I did.”

“Yeah, I did, didn’t I?” Josef said, a slow, answering grin pushing through the weight of his fear and sorrow. “But I honestly thought it was bull and you’d never be able to bring her back.”

“It was all Skyler,” Dimitri said. “She’s strong. She found a way to stop herself, even in death, from moving too far away from me.”

“Because she has such faith in you,” Josef replied. He rubbed both hands over his face. “I never want to go through that again. Can you put her in a basement wrapped in Bubble Wrap so Paul and I don’t have to worry about her anymore?”

“An excellent idea,” Dimitri said.

Tatijana nudged him gently. “You need to feed and then go to ground. We’ll be safe here for the time being. I checked carefully and there are no weak points that I can find.”

Dimitri forced himself to move, to look around. The transparent structure allowed him to the see the Lycans, who appeared to be watching something other than the Carpathians. “Where’s Fen?”

Tatijana put a restraining hand on his arm. Only then did he realize he had begun to struggle to his feet.

“Fen is backing Zev, trying to find answers. I’m only getting glimpses of what is happening. Sword fights, snipers, two Lycans battling for position of alpha in the pack, that sort of thing. I’d say he was busy,” she replied.

Dimitri subsided, although he didn’t like his brother out there alone with the Lycans. He had known many of them and liked them, but he didn’t trust any of them anymore. “Did someone get word to Gregori that the prince may be in danger?”

“The moment Skyler died . . .” Tatijana broke off. “Everyone felt that terrible moment. She reached out to Francesca. Gregori will ensure the prince is safe.”

Dimitri let out his breath. He couldn’t think anymore. “Thank you for removing the silver from my body.” He turned his head to include Josef. “Both of you.”

Byron offered his wrist. “You’ll need to be at full strength when Skyler wakes. We may have to fight our way out of here.”

Dimitri took the offer, his hunger overcoming his need to see to everyone’s safety. He couldn’t do much in his weakened condition. He was careful not to take too much from Byron, no matter how tempting it was. He wanted the other males at full strength to make certain they could fight should the Lycans find a way in.

Vlad offered next. With the second feeding, Dimitri’s body settled, the edge off just enough that he could gather Skyler into his arms, holding what appeared to be her lifeless body close. Tatijana blurred the background around them, making it impossible for prying eyes to see what he did next.

Waving his hand he opened the ground, taking Skyler deep, floating down into the very arms of Mother Earth. At once, even before he gave the command for Skyler to fall into the rejuvenating sleep of the Carpathians, the soil poured over them of its own accord, cradling them both in warm, loving arms.

Fen, Dimitri and Skyler are safe in the ground. Dawn will be breaking soon. We all have to follow them soon. Can you make it back to us? Tatijana asked. She kept the little catch out of her voice, the one that acknowledged she knew he probably wouldn’t be with her throughout the day, but somewhere alone and in danger.

Zev’s in trouble, Tatijana. The outer ring of Lycans have circled the inner ring. Those inside support Zev. The outer ring—and there are more of them—support Gunnolf. I think there’s going to be a bloodbath here. I can’t leave Zev to fight alone.

Don’t get killed, Tatijana ordered.

Fen sent Tatijana reassurance, but he couldn’t move from his position and he wanted Zev to answer him, to realize just how much trouble he was in. With an army of renegade Lycans surrounding the pack loyal to Zev, the situation looked grim for the elite hunter.

The sniper put his eye to the scope once more and Fen struck from behind, grasping his head and wrenching it around, breaking the neck. He plunged a silver stake through the heart, severed the head and left him there in the tree.

I can start picking them off, one by one, Zev, but there are a good number of them and we won’t last forever.

The ferocious fight between Gunnolf and Zev continued. Gunnolf several times glanced up in the direction of the tree where the dead sniper was positioned, clearly expecting a shot to ring out. The large oaf of a Lycan maneuvering his way behind Zev had finally gotten himself in place. All Gunnolf had to do was drive Zev back and the other Lycan could kill him from behind.

Fen flinched when the two combatants hit the ground so hard it shook. They rolled, snarling and punching, tearing at each other. He cloaked his presence and used the doubled speed of both Carpathian and Lycan to cross the meadow and once again insert himself in the crowd.

Tatijana, this is going to go bad for Zev very fast. Those loyal to him are surrounded by Gunnolf’s army.

What you need, wolf man, is a dragon in the sky.

True, but they have guns.

And we have shields.

The crowd pushed closer to the combatants, ringing the two males as they fought for supremacy. The great bulk of a Lycan surged forward with feigned eagerness. Up close, using his mixed-blood senses, Fen read cold and calculating in the closed-in energy field surrounding the assassin. This was a man used to committing assassinations. Killing Zev wasn’t personal to him, but his job, a duty to perform, nothing else. He took pride in his work, and he wouldn’t stop until Zev was dead.

Zev drove Gunnolf to the ground over and over, each time the other male tried to leap to his feet. The punches increased in strength each time Gunnolf refused to submit. Realizing he was in trouble, Gunnolf rolled away from Zev, attempting to conceal a small blade in his fist as he managed to get his feet under him in a crouch.

Those closest to him saw and reacted with a roar of rage. In a challenge fight, two males fought bare-handed. Gunnolf clearly wasn’t following the rules. Zev feigned a kick at the knife hand and went in low, driving for Gunnolf’s head. He locked his arm around the Lycan’s neck and spun, bringing the head up over his shoulder behind him. Gunnolf hung there for a moment, but the crack was loud and his body stiffened and then went limp.

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