Dark Wolf Page 8

“Don’t try to heal me, Sky,” Paul admonished. “I’m healthy, I can heal on my own. You need to conserve your energy to get well yourself.” He hesitated, clearly afraid of upsetting her more.

“What?” she asked, pulling back and taking in great gulps of air. “I’m okay, really. I just feel weak and my head is pounding.” And guilty. So terribly guilty. Fearful beyond any description. There was no way to express to Paul or anyone else the endless agony Dimitri was in. She felt some of the pain, but he’d attempted to block out most of it from her. She couldn’t imagine how much worse it was for him.

“Josef couldn’t tell me anything last night. What exactly is going on with Dimitri? What have they done to him? How can they hold someone so powerful a prisoner? That doesn’t make sense to me.”

“They have him wrapped in silver chains,” she explained. “I know this because they burn right through his skin in the way acid does ours. They’re torturing him. He has these silver hooks in his body, his chest, ribs, his h*ps and thighs, even his shoulders and calves. The hooks allow tiny silver beads to break off and drop into him when his body temperature heats them, one by one. It’s a slow, torturous death.”

Paul shook his head. “A Carpathian should be able to get rid of any silver if it really poisoned him.”

“Dimitri is both Lycan and Carpathian. His Lycan blood reacts to the silver, and he can’t free himself. The silver works its way through his body until it pierces his heart. Once it threads through the heart, it will kill him.” She forced herself to look at Paul, her lashes wet, her throat trying to close on her. “It’s a brutal, ugly way to die.”

Paul put his hand over hers. “We aren’t going to let that happen. Josef thinks he can take us both over the mountain. We’ll abandon the truck and coffin as soon as he wakes and feeds. We can’t take the time to drive and go through all the borders of each country. Josef can cover a lot of territory flying us all night.”

“Both of us? Can he do that? One maybe, but two?”

Paul shrugged. “He says so and I have to believe him. Josef will be up anytime. I think that he’s aging at a faster rate because he isn’t kept away from society like most Carpathian children are. He’s in human society and learning modern technology, probably ripping it off from everyone around him that he comes in contact with, but still, he understands it all. He has to grow up faster. In human years he’s no teen and he’s treated like a man.”

Skyler rubbed her temples again. She didn’t have the strength to heal her own headache. “I thought with Josef giving me blood last night, I’d heal faster. It’s not like I don’t have some Carpathian blood in my system already.”

“He said you wouldn’t. He said to get you somewhere safe and have you sleep as much as possible. He said psychic healing takes longer than a mere body healing, and you were pretty far gone.” Paul took a deep breath. He looked shaken. “I honestly thought you weren’t going to make it, Sky. I know you’ll go back to Dimitri and try again to rid him of the silver . . .”

“I have to find a way to rid him of the silver. He won’t last until we find him. He’s dying, Paul. I hate letting him suffer just so I can heal but I know you’re right. I can’t go to him like this and do any good at all. He’s hanging in there, and now he knows I can find him, that should give him hope. He knows I’ll come back.”

“I’ll get you something to eat. There’s a restaurant across the street.”

“Soup, maybe,” Skyler said reluctantly. She couldn’t imagine keeping food down, her stomach rebelled at the thought of it. “You know I’m a vegetarian.”

She had been given two blood exchanges by her parents, just in case of an emergency. It took three to convert her completely and bring her fully into the Carpathian world. Since then, she hadn’t been able to look at meat. Sometimes it was difficult to force herself to eat fruit or vegetables.

“Don’t worry.”

“And knock, please, before you come in. I’m going to take a quick shower.” The bathroom looked a good distance away—at least ten whole steps. She was that shaky.

Paul glanced from her to the bathroom door as if he might be reading her thoughts. He never talked about his psychic gifts, but he had jaguar blood in him and he had to have something. He couldn’t actually read thoughts—he would have said so. He just knew her really well.

“I can carry you in. Maybe put a chair in the shower for you.”

“I can make it,” she reassured him. “I’m not going to do anything stupid.” She was crawling into the freakin’ bathroom on her hands and knees if she had to. Paul was not carrying her. She was already feeling like a little bit of a burden to Paul and Josef. They both had to take care of her last night. Not only had she failed Dimitri, but she’d put both of them—especially Josef—in danger.

Paul pushed off the bed. “I trust you, Sky. Josef will beat the crap out of me if anything happens to you.”

That made her laugh, she couldn’t help it. Even her exploding head didn’t matter in that moment. There was something very beautiful about their friendship, Paul, Josef and her, which made her happy.

“Boys are so violent,” she observed, blinking back a fresh flood of tears. She was lucky to have the two of them as friends.

“Girls are so mushy,” Paul countered, leaning down to drop a kiss on top of her head. “Don’t go all sobby on me. Can you imagine what will happen if Josef comes in and finds you crying? Sheesh, I’ll be dead meat.”

She made a face at him and gave him a little push, her stomach churning at the reference to meat. “Ugh. Go away before I throw up all over you.”

“You already did that,” he pointed out.

“I did not,” she denied, uncertain if it was true, but adamant all the same. “I carefully and politely turned my face away from you.” She gave him a little huff of disdain, just to emphasize that he must have remembered the sequence of events incorrectly.

“Then why did I have to spend half the day in the laundry room?” he asked with a smirk.

Now she knew he was teasing her. This little room was not in a hotel. She could tell it was a private residence renting out rooms. No hotel was this cozy or had the detailed quilts, obviously handmade, in them. There wouldn’t be a laundry room.

“Go away, mean boy,” she said. “If I don’t take my shower soon, Josef will show up before I’m out.”

“Lock him out,” Paul said as he crossed to the door.

She laughed again. “You try locking him out.”

“He can’t come in if the doors and windows are closed and locked, not without an invitation,” Paul said.

“Really?” She arched an eyebrow. “This is Josef we’re talking about. He’s very adept at picking locks, as you well know. You both have studied enough to be criminals.”

Paul put his hand over his heart. “Ouch. Such a hurtful woman.”

He hurried out the door laughing, slamming it quickly so that the pillow she threw hit the door instead of him.

Skyler sat for a long moment, the smile fading from her face. Paul had allowed her to cry, something she clearly needed to do. He had done his best to assure her leaving Dimitri had been her only recourse. Now she had to heal so she could get back to her lifemate. How much time did she have? She doubted if it was very much. One night. Maybe two.

She staggered to the bathroom, appalled at her weakness. Maybe a chair in the shower would have been a good thing, but she did have some pride. Paul had given blood to Josef twice. He’d carried her to the truck and probably had done the same for Josef after he’d collapsed a second time beside her. Then Paul had driven through the rest of the night to find a place for them to stay during the day. He had to be exhausted.

The hot water felt good on her skin, reviving her a bit. Some of the tension eased out of her neck and shoulders enough to keep her head from shattering into a million pieces. Twice she had to stop washing her hair and just stay very still to keep from getting sick. Both times she held on to her head, pressing her palms hard on either side of her temples.

“Hey! Sky! You in there?” Josef demanded.

“No!” she shouted back. “I’m not.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. You left your brain somewhere in the cold zone.”

Leaning against the shower stall, she finished rinsing her hair, taking her time. Josef wasn’t going to be quite as nice about what happened as Paul. She’d be lucky if he didn’t shake her until her teeth rattled. She could already feel his anger, and she certainly heard it in his voice.

“Stop stalling,” he snapped. “You don’t want me coming in there after you.”

“Sheesh, Josef, you just got here. Give me a minute. I’m moving a little slow.”

“That isn’t surprising.”

She sighed. She was not going to shout back and forth through the bathroom door. She understood his anger. It came out of fear for her. She would certainly feel the same if the roles were reversed. But . . . she was Dimitri’s lifemate. Seeing him that way, feeling his pain, she doubted if too many other lifemates—man or woman—would have been completely rational in the same situation. Still, Josef deserved to be heard.

She dressed carefully, brushed her teeth and walked out of the bathroom drying her hair with a towel. Josef had his back to her, but spun around as she emerged. He looked thin and tired, his face still very pale, although she was certain he’d already fed. He held himself very tightly.

“You almost died last night.” He made it a statement. An accusation.

Skyler tossed the towel aside, walked right up to him and circled his neck with both arms, leaning close to hold him. “I know. I’m so sorry,” she said sincerely. “I almost took you with me.”

For a moment he held himself very stiff, then his arms came up and he hugged her so hard she feared she might break in half. “I don’t care about me, you goofball,” Josef said, “but I can’t lose you. Dimitri can’t lose you. Gabriel and Francesca can’t lose you. You can’t take chances like that. If you’re going to travel over a thousand miles and attempt a healing, you know you’re on a time limit. You know that. I don’t know how I got you back.”

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