Dark Wolf Page 73

Skyler sent him a smile of thanks. “I’m not very good with a crossbow yet,” she admitted. “And I’ll need to be if I’m going to be of any use on a hunt.”

Dimitri winced a little at that. She planned to hunt vampire with him, just as Ivory and Razvan did together. The idea still didn’t sit well with him, although she learned fast and the wolves would give them an edge. He had to admit that she’d been a huge asset when she’d rescued him. Without her, he’d be dead. She didn’t panic and she was methodical.

Skyler sent him a long look from under her lashes. He knew that look. He found himself giving her a sheepish smile. “You’ve already wrapped me around your little finger, sívamet, I can’t deny you anything. But you will wait to hunt until we all think you’re ready. All three of us, not you.”

Skyler resisted rolling her eyes. Razvan would side with Dimitri, saying just a little longer before she could hunt with him, but Ivory . . . She smiled at the woman who was fast becoming a close friend and ally. Ivory would advocate for her, but only if she worked hard and learned the lessons necessary to become an asset to Dimitri.

“I know I can’t possibly learn every weapon in a few weeks, but eventually I will.”

“You can’t just know how to use them,” Ivory said. “You have to have it be second nature to you. Vampires use all kinds of tricks, illusions and deadly poisons, not to mention their own weapons, when you hunt them. You can’t hesitate when you go in for the kill. We’ll keep working on your training until we know for certain you’re capable of destroying the undead.”

“I know you don’t like to hunt game,” Razvan added, “but that, more than anything, will help you adapt to hunting with the wolves. Your speed, stealth and ability to read the animals will improve fast.”

“You need to create a home for the wolves so that they’re with you all the time,” Ivory added. “Your house will serve you well, but they’ll need to know they can lie by the fire while you’re moving around the other rooms. When you go to ground, they’ll want to go to ground with you. Never forget they’re Carpathian and need the rejuvenating soil just as you do.”

Skyler reached out her hand to Dimitri. Immediately his fingers closed around hers and she felt the warmth of his love enfolding her like a blanket. More, the wolves felt it as well. Already, she was tuning to them, sharing her mind with them, as Dimitri did so naturally. They seemed to snuggle closer to her, brushing against her back in affection before settling.

She knew they had difficult times ahead. A war with an unknown enemy was brewing and her people had to be protected. She wanted to be able to fight if necessary, to protect those she loved. The wolves gave her added confidence.

“The tattoos suit the two of you,” Razvan said. “I would never have thought those scars would diminish in the way they have, Dimitri. I can barely see evidence of them, only faint white circles. On your back, the fur of your wolves just blends seamlessly.”

Dimitri tugged until Skyler was beneath the protection of his shoulder. “Skyler has skills beyond anything I’ve ever seen.”

A flash of pride lit Razvan’s eyes. “We were all amazed that she was able to save Zev. Has anyone heard how he’s doing?”

Dimitri shook his head. “He’s still hanging on, thankfully. Branislava has woven her spirit to his and holds him to this world. Fen says they aren’t out of the woods yet, but he has taken blood each time they’ve gone to feed them both.”

Razvan’s breath hissed out and Ivory moved closer to him, simply touching his arm in a silent gesture of comfort, reminding Dimitri that Tatijana and Branislava were Razvan’s aunts. They’d all three been prisoners together in the ice fortress where Xavier had ruled and carried on his malicious experiments.

“Bronnie barely had surfaced again before she did this,” Razvan said. “I hadn’t even seen her.” There was quiet acceptance in his voice, learned no doubt from centuries of torture and having to accept things outside of his control, no matter how distressing.

“Bronnie knew what she was doing,” Skyler explained. “There was no other way to save him. His wound was so bad, fatal, however you want to put it. It took all three of us working for what seemed hours to mend him from the inside out. Had Bronnie not woven her spirit to his, and locked him to her, he would have drifted away.”

“I don’t understand,” Razvan said. “A spirit can be surrounded and held, why would she have to tie her fate to his?”

Ivory took his hand. “He would have chosen to leave us,” she said softly. “But his instincts to protect others are very strong in him. She knew that, didn’t she, Skyler?”

Skyler nodded. “We all saw it in him. He’s deadly and scary when you first get inside his head, but then you find his first instinct is to defend and shield others. By weaving her spirit through his, Bronnie took away his choice to leave. He would take her with him if he did, and that is something almost beyond Zev’s capability.”

“Unless the wound kills him,” Razvan said.

Skyler nodded. “There’s always that. But I go nightly to work on him, and Mother Earth has accepted him as her son. She works harder than I do to attempt to save him. I think he’s getting better. A wound like his is such a trauma to the body. It takes time.”

“He’s Lycan,” Dimitri added. “Lycans regenerate faster than most, and because he’s now mixed blood, that should give him added strength and speed to recover.”

Razvan nodded, his gaze on his daughter’s face. “Thank you. I know what you did was extremely difficult, no matter how many times you say you had help. The toll it took on you showed for many days after. If Bronnie lives, it is due to your continued healing of Zev’s wounds.”

Color rose in Skyler’s face and she moved closer to Dimitri. She was very glad she finally had a relationship with her birth father and that she could do something to make him proud of her.

“Are you ready for another run at this?” Ivory asked. “This time you should hunt together and when you find your prey, release the wolves and coordinate the attack on the vampire with your pack to give them hunting experience with the undead.”

Skyler’s heart jumped with pure joy. “I’m ready.” She looked to Dimitri.

He leaned down, uncaring of their audience, and found her mouth with his. He took his time kissing her, allowing himself to get lost in her for just a moment. He lifted his head, his eyes dark with desire. Very slowly he smiled down at her. “Let’s do this then.”

Skyler went up on her tiptoes and kissed him back. “I’m with you.” She always would be. Right there, by his side.

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