Dark Wolf Page 72

“He really worked hard to save Zev’s life. He knew Carpathians were giving him blood, but he didn’t object or try to stop us.” Skyler bit her lower lip. “Right then, he was so torn. Zev saved his life. Had he not covered Arno’s body with his own, Arno would be dead. Zev should have been. Fortunately he had enough Carpathian blood mixing with his Lycan blood that he held out until help came.”

Dimitri leaned forward and kissed the tip of her nose. “In the form of my amazing and talented lifemate. From what Fen and Tatijana told me, you were incredible.”

“It took all of us, but it certainly has made me curious to know more about my birth mother. I feel her sometimes, guiding me when I lose my way healing someone. She’s a force inside of me, unexpected and rare, but she sometimes comes to me. I can’t remember her healing people, but I dream of it sometimes. I think it’s possible I was there with her when she helped others. I had to be very young, maybe a toddler, and she showed me what she was doing.”

“I could find those memories for you,” Dimitri offered.

Skyler squirmed uncomfortably. He knew everything about her past, the fact that as a child she’d been sold to men, but he would have to get past those memories to find the ones of her mother. As much as she wanted to know as much as possible about her birth mother, she wasn’t ready for him to replay those monstrous memories.

“Sometime. When things aren’t happening so fast for me,” Skyler said. “There have been so many changes, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I know everything could blow up any moment between Lycan and Carpathian and the thought terrifies me. I’m still getting used to being fully Carpathian and learning everything that goes with that.” She smiled at him. “And there’s you. The love of my life. The intensity of us is a little disconcerting at times.”

He gathered her up, nuzzling the top of her head. “Dawn is breaking and you need sleep. We’ve got another big day ahead of us. Ivory and Razvan want us training hard all day, every day so that the pups accept us.”

“When they first called them pups, I thought they would be little things, but they’re huge,” Skyler said.

“Do they intimidate you?”

She shook her head. “Not anymore. When I first saw them, they did. I think they accepted me because I must have some of Razvan in me. They certainly recognized the alpha wolf in you right away.”

He growled in her ear as he opened the floor and floated down to the basement. “Of course they did.”

“Very funny. I don’t find you intimidating either.” She sniffed for emphasis.

He laughed. “After watching Ivory show you how to use the crossbow and throwing wedges she has, I think I’m becoming a little intimidated by you.”

She grinned at him. “I am getting good at it. I actually love it. Especially the wolves. In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d have my own wolf pack like Ivory and Razvan do.”

They both dissolved and slipped through the cracks in the stone floor to the ground below. Dimitri opened that for them as well. Skyler was too excited by the prospect of renewing her training with the wolves the following evening to have her usual brief moment of fear as they floated into the rich, welcoming soil.

Dimitri wrapped her in his arms, as he did each dawn, holding her close, commanding her to sleep before he settled the earth over them and secured their safeguards for the coming day.

22

Mist rolled in, long white fingers stretching through the forest and curling around thick tree trunks. The dense vapor muffled sound and lent an eerie quality to the woods. Out of that heavy fog stepped a woman. She went still, nearly blending into her background. Very slowly, she crouched low to place her hand on the forest floor, feeling the very heartbeat of the earth, checking for information, for sounds or vibrations of an enemy.

She was small, her long blond hair woven into a thick, intricate braid that reached her waist. She wore black pants that rode low on her h*ps and were tucked securely into black boots. Her sleeveless vest left her midriff bare. The vest had three sets of steel buckles with tiny crosses embedded in the metal, looking ornamental on the squares.

She carried a crossbow in one hand, a silver sword hung on her left hip and a knife on her right. A quiver of arrows was slung across one shoulder, some tipped in silver. Down both legs of her trousers were loops containing many sharp-bladed weapons. A low-slung holster on her hip housed a pistol as well as rows of very small, flat but extremely sharp arrowheads.

She was patient, taking her time, her palm flat on the ground, absorbing the news of the night. It was cold, but she didn’t feel the chill in the air, or the mist as it gathered around her. She closed her eyes briefly, allowing her senses to see for her. Very slowly she rose, turning to her left. There, where the fog was most dense, where the trees were the thickest, her quarry lay in wait to ambush her.

She seemed to glide over the forest floor. Even the brush parted for her so that there was no whisper of movement as she made her way cautiously toward that thick stand of trees. As she approached, she felt the first stirring on her back, a small brush of fur, warning her.

Elation swept through Skyler. She continued forward a few more feet and then whipped around, her fingers already pulling the arrowheads free and snapping them with tremendous strength as she ran toward the grotesque vampire emerging from the trunk of a twisted dead fir tree. Though dead, the tree shuddered and shook as it expelled the foul creature from its depths.

Six arrowheads went up his leg, lodging deep, the formula coating them preventing the vampire from shifting into another form. She ran forward with her sword. His torso and head disappeared as did his feet, lost in the thick fog. Only one of the vampire’s legs remained behind, a strange, almost laughable sight.

Cursing in a very unladylike manner, Skyler halted her attack. “I can’t believe I made such a stupid mistake.”

The leg disappeared as if it had never been. Ivory and Razvan materialized in front of her. Dimitri wrapped a comforting arm around her.

“You listened to your wolves,” Ivory said. “But the arrows have to go from belly to shoulder if you want to be able to take the heart.”

Skyler couldn’t help but smile. “Frost warned me. I was so proud of him. I actually knew it was him and not Moonglow. I can tell the difference between them now.”

Frost had a beautiful silver coat, thick and unusual, tipped in white so that he appeared to be covered in frost. The lone female was a beautiful specimen, her pelt so silver she glowed like the moon. Ivory had named her Moonglow, but most of the time they called her Moon. Both rode on her back as tattoos, so that she had eyes and ears on both sides and behind her, aiding her on the hunt.

She was grateful the four pups had accepted Dimitri and her as their pack leaders, the alphas they looked to. She knew it was Dimitri’s calm, decisive manner and firm leadership that had captured the pups’ attention, but she was getting better every single day.

Shadow was darker, a thick pelt of nearly black fur, tipped in gray so that he could slide through the darkness without detection, and he was definitely an alpha. He adhered to Dimitri’s back along with Sonnet, the wolf with the most surprising voice. He was large and a stealthy hunter, working closely with Shadow to bring down game.

“Did Moon give you any indication there was a threat to you?” Ivory asked.

Skyler sighed. “If she did, I didn’t feel it. I think she’s still in a snit because I tried carrying them as a fur coat earlier. When I shrugged it off and tried to throw it out smoothly to allow them to go free, instead of the coat sailing through the air flat, the pelt was bunched up and she got tangled. She let me know she wasn’t happy.”

Ivory shook her head, covering her smile with one hand. “I had so much trouble with the coat,” she admitted. “It isn’t easy to learn all of the different weapons, as well as how to hunt with the wolves. The movement on your skin has to be subtle. You never want anyone to know your wolves are the real deal.”

Skyler nodded. Ivory had so much to teach her.

Us, Dimitri corrected. I’m learning, too.

You’re so good at everything. I feel like the dunce in class. I’m used to being the top student.

Dimitri burst out laughing. Both Ivory and Razvan raised eyebrows.

“I’m sulking because I’m not at the top of my class,” Skyler confessed with a wry grin. “Dimitri thinks that’s very funny. I really want to be able to do this.”

Ivory smiled at her, touching her arm briefly. “The most difficult task has already been completed. The wolves had to accept you. You will have to find another female for Shadow. Little Moon is his sister, and she doesn’t have an alpha bone in her body.”

“Actually Shadow will find her in time,” Razvan said. “When he does, you’ll know, and you’ll have to train her as well.”

“They need to be worked with every day,” Ivory cautioned. “A pack is cohesive and successful as long as they have good leaders. You have to hunt with them when they go after game. Direct and help them. That’s part of being alpha.”

Skyler ducked her head. She didn’t mind hunting and killing vampires, but it was difficult for her to hunt live animals even though she knew the wolves needed to eat. She was working hard to overcome that squeamish feeling in the pit of her stomach each time they took the wolves out to hunt.

More and more, she wanted to spend time learning to use her weapons and the wolves for hunting vampire, not game. She was determined to be an asset to Dimitri. If it took centuries of practice she was going to make certain she was the best so he didn’t have to worry.

“I’ll always worry when you’re in danger,” Dimitri said aloud.

“Not if I get really good at this.”

“Even then,” he assured. “But I’m very proud of you, Skyler. You’ve come a long way in this last week.”

“Ivory is one of the best hunters we have,” Razvan said, “but as her lifemate, I worry. That’s not something that will go away. You’re improving every time we go out.”

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