Dark Wolf Page 6

Josef waved his hand, and the drunk couldn’t move. Josef floated to him, taking his time, making little swimming motions with his hands.

Oh for heaven’s sake. Must you? Skyler demanded.

Paul bent over laughing. When one of the men on the ground moved, he delivered another kick, but even that didn’t deter his amusement over Josef’s antics.

Yes, my little dove. I must. What’s the fun in being Carpathian if you can never actually scare the crap out of someone?

Josef, you have a mean streak in you.

Josef reached the drunk. He held out his hand for the gun. The drunk extended his arm and to his shock, the gun dropped into Josef’s palm.

“Thank you,” Josef said with a little formal bow. He removed the bullets and then crushed the gun in his fist.

Paul slipped into the driver’s seat. “Come on, Skyler, let’s get out of here.”

She took the little jump seat in the back. Josef was tall and would need the legroom to stretch out. Paul started the truck and drove around the five men, leaned his head out the window, and called to Josef.

“Come on, man, let’s go.”

Josef waved him away and turned back to gather up the weapons. One by one he destroyed them. Next he waved his hands toward the men and their clothing disappeared, leaving them na**d on the ground.

“It’s a little hard to rob and kill when you’re bare-butt na**d, now isn’t it? I’ll be watching you. You don’t want me coming back.” Laughing, he took to the air, streaking after the truck.

He was still laughing when he materialized in the front passenger seat.

Skyler smacked the back of his head. “You took their clothes, didn’t you?” she said for Paul’s benefit. Paul was becoming more adept at telepathic communication, but he couldn’t merge his mind and read thoughts as she could do with Josef, although he was learning very fast.

Paul snickered and held up his hand to give Josef a high five. “Oh, yeah, I’d like to see them slinking home in their birthday suits.”

Both men erupted into laughter.

Skyler rolled her eyes, trying hard not to laugh with them. “You’re impossible, Josef. Those men are going to have to make it through their neighborhood without a stitch on.” She pressed her palm against her mouth, but laughter spilled out anyway.

Paul’s eyes met hers in the rearview mirror and Josef turned in his seat, his eyes sparkling with amusement. All three of them burst out laughing.

Skyler had forgotten what it was like being with them. At college, she’d made a few friends, but she was guarded with them at all times—she had to be. At home, Gabriel and Francesca were loving and wonderful parents. Her baby sister, Tamara, was the most adorable child in the world and she couldn’t imagine life without her, but she couldn’t be honest with them about her relationship with Dimitri.

She wasn’t Carpathian and she couldn’t wait until she was fifty years of age to be with her lifemate. She was human. Without Dimitri, she might not have gotten through many of the long nights where she woke with sweat covering her body and the memories of men pawing at her, hurting her, beating and using her. She’d been a child, but that hadn’t mattered to them.

She’d learned to keep her screams silent, internal, and when she had nightmares, she did the same thing. Dimitri always heard her. Always. He came to her in the dark of the night, at her worst moments, surrounding her with unconditional love. He never asked her for anything. He never demanded his rights or threw it in her face that he suffered because she wasn’t able to fully be his lifemate.

And he did suffer. As the years had gone by, Skyler was more adept at accessing his mind and memories. She saw clearly the terrible darkness crouched like a monster, whispering in temptation, trying to destroy him.

Dimitri. Beloved. I’m so afraid for you. I’m holding you close to me, pretending that I’m certain you’re alive, lying to my closest, dearest friends, but in reality I can barely breathe. The terror of being without you feels so close—so real.

She waited there in the darkness, grateful for the backseat in the truck, grateful that Paul and Josef fought over the music and thought her asleep. She kept her eyes closed and her breathing even, but her heart pounded too hard, raced too fast and surely, at least, Josef could detect that. If so, he was polite enough not to call her on her pretense.

The silence stretched. There was no answer. Dimitri, even in his worst moments, once even during a battle with a vampire, had always sent her reassurance if she reached for him, however brief it might be. The silence was cold and lonely and absolutely terrifying to her. She’d lived too long in a nightmare with no way to escape until Francesca had found her. But still, her nights had always been spent trapped in those earlier years, repeating and repeating until she thought she might go insane.

Francesca had done everything she could think of to help alleviate the nightmares, including giving Skyler Carpathian blood. She took turns with Gabriel sitting by Skyler’s bed when the nightmares were so bad Skyler could only scream, recognizing no one. They’d called in healers. Nothing worked—until Dimitri. There was only Dimitri to stand between her and her past. Now that shield was gone and as hard as she tried, she could not reach him.

Terror gripped her. Sorrow. Despair. There was no way to go on if Dimitri wasn’t in the world. Her knight. Her other half. She took a breath and reached again, pouring everything she felt, everything she was into her urgent plea.

My love. If you think to protect me from something terrible, it cannot be worse than thinking you’re dead. I need you. Your touch. Even if it’s just for one moment. I can’t breathe without you. I need to know you live and there is hope for us.

The burst of pain was sheer agony. Her body went rigid. Convulsed. The air was driven from her lungs in one long scream that abruptly ended when her air supply did. She couldn’t think, the pain turning every nerve ending to fire. Her fingernails tore at her skin, trying to ease the burn.

She was barely aware of the truck stopping, of Josef lifting her out of the backseat to lay her in the grass. Paul held her hands down to prevent her from tearing her skin open.

“Breathe,” Paul demanded. “Right now, Skyler. Take a breath.”

She had asked for this, and if it was this bad for her, so far from him, what must it be like for Dimitri? She forced air into her lungs. There was no way to push away the pain. Her connection to Dimitri ran too deep.

She looked to Josef. He was Carpathian and he was strong when he wanted to be. She knew what she was asking, pleading with her eyes for aid.

“Paul,” Josef said softly, “she’s found Dimitri and it’s bad. I have to help her. That leaves you to guard us, get us back in the truck when it’s over and give me blood.”

Paul nodded. “I’ve got this, just help her.”

Josef didn’t waste time. “I’m all yours, Skyler, take my strength and energy freely. Wherever he is, help him.”

Skyler didn’t dare take a break and then try to overcome that mind-numbing pain again. It took nearly everything she had to stay conscious while she followed the thread back to Dimitri. If Josef hadn’t been with her, it would have been impossible. He was a great distance away. The Lycans who had taken Dimitri had managed to move him very quickly out of the country. They left no trail behind; Josef had managed to get that information for her.

She knew that the agony she was feeling was nothing in comparison to what Dimitri was going through. He would shield her, trying to block as much pain as he could when he reached for her to let her know he was alive. She felt him retreating from her, breaking the merge to stop her from feeling pain.

Skyler used every ounce of strength and discipline she possessed. She had been forged in the fires of hell as an infant. Honed in those same fires as a young girl. She was Dragonseeker. A daughter of Mother Earth. In her own right she was a powerful psychic. She refused to lose the thread leading to her lifemate. He wasn’t going to last long, not with that kind of torture—and they were torturing him. Skyler set her mind on one thing only—staying with Dimitri, following that faint trail back to him.

The path was broken, fading away, very faint, but she could follow it, those psychic footprints she was so familiar with. Pain ripped through her until every nerve ending was inflamed and burning. She had to turn her head to vomit, the pain excruciating.

She tugged at her hands, silently telling Josef she was under control and to let go. The moment he did, she pushed her fingers into the soil. That act alone gave her more strength. More determined than ever, Skyler reached again for the fading trail leading back to Dimitri.

She saw the way in colors as she always did, long silver streaks like a comet, only this time those streaks were edged bloodred. Dimitri had once told her he knew of no one else who could see a psychic trail in the same way she did. Bitter cold slipped into her mind. Her body continually shook. She drew on Josef, all that wonderful strong psychic energy he possessed and so freely and generously gave to her.

Csitri. Little one. You cannot be here.

She nearly sobbed. Tears collected in her throat until the lump threatened to choke her. His beloved voice was ravaged and raw.

There is no other place for me. There is only you. Be still and let me examine you. She found it more of an effort to speak to him; the pain, so close to him, was overwhelming.

I don’t want this for you.

She knew that already. He would protect her from any hurt if he could. The biggest threat to her would be to lose him—and that was not going to happen. She took a deep breath, her fists curled tightly in the soil as an anchor, and she sent her spirit into his ravaged body.

Dimitri was being attacked from so many directions it was difficult to find a starting point. Long thin streaks of silver inched through his body like deadly worms, tracer bullets, she thought at first. Had he been shot numerous times with silver bullets? She followed the path of one of those lines back to the source.

Her heart stuttered in her chest. For the first time she faltered. Hooks. He had hooks of silver in his body, great terrible claws shooting out their deadly poison into his system. The silver inched its way through his veins and muscle, spread along his bones, threading its way to every organ, always seeking his heart. The slow spread of silver throughout his body was deadly to the Lycan in his blood.

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