Dark Wolf Page 9

Skyler pulled back to look up at him. “He booted me out of him.”

He blinked. The tension eased out of him a slow inch at a time. “He did?”

“Yes. And don’t sound so happy.”

“Thank God that man can boss you, because no one else seems to be able to.”

“I don’t need bossing,” she pointed out. “Josef, I really am sorry. I’ll be far more careful next time. We know what we’re facing now.”

Josef took a deep breath and nodded. “I caught glimpses in your mind, Skyler. You’re one tough chick.”

Skyler flinched. “I wouldn’t call me a tough chick in front of my parents or someone say . . . like the prince. They wouldn’t appreciate the modern jargon.”

For the first time Josef smiled. It was more of a self-satisfied smirk, but she’d take it. At least he was finding his sense of humor again.

“They need to lighten up and become a little more modern, especially Gregori. He’s still living in the caveman days.”

“We don’t have to be around him much,” Skyler pointed out. “Think of poor Paul, living with the De La Cruz family—especially the eldest brother. I’ve never met him but I’ve heard the rumors.”

Josef gave a little shudder. “I’m totally avoiding Paul’s family. It’s the only safe, intelligent thing to do. When this is over, I’m making myself scarce for a century or two.”

A knock on the door heralded Paul’s arrival. Josef waved his hand and the door opened. Outside, Skyler could see night falling fast. The weather was overcast, clouds drifting across the sky, but there was no rain.

Paul set her soup on the small table. “Come eat, Sky. I wolfed down a sandwich while I was waiting for your order.”

That was code for telling her he ate a meat sandwich and didn’t want her to smell it and feel nauseated. “Thanks, Paul. I appreciate it.” She looked at the bowl of soup and shook her head, her stomach already rebelling.

“It’s not the enemy,” Josef told her. “It’s sustenance—the very thing you need to build your strength again so you can heal Dimitri.”

She didn’t dare take a deep breath, but she nodded. Josef made sense. She had to get strong fast and that required eating. She touched her tongue to her lower lip, tracing it, finding her skin quite dry. In spite of the hot shower, she was still shivering, unable to maintain her body temperature.

“Staring at it isn’t going to get it down,” Josef said. “We want to get moving. We’ve got a lot of territory to cover, and the faster we reach Dimitri, the sooner he’s safe.”

She approached the table and the bowl of steaming soup warily. The aroma, instead of making her hungrier, made her feel more nauseated than ever. Pressing the back of her hand to her mouth she gingerly took the chair facing the bowl of soup. Who knew it would be so difficult to take a few spoonfuls of vegetable soup?

“Skyler.” Josef used his sternest voice. “You’re wasting time.”

She spun around, glaring at him. “Don’t you think I know that? You’re not helping, Josef.” Just the act of moving so fast set her head pounding. She fought down the bile in her lurching stomach.

The stirring in her mind was faint, but her heart leapt and began to stutter with anticipation. She reached out, and immediately pain exploded through her head. Paul made a sound of distress.

“You’re bleeding, Skyler.” He rushed to the bathroom to get a wet cloth.

Let Josef aid you, beloved. I cannot, and we need you strong.

Skyler closed her eyes, tears burning behind her eyelids. Dimitri had found the way to her in spite of the agony he suffered. She couldn’t make it easier for him by bridging the distance for him. Her psychic abilities had been depleted after her night of trying to heal him. She felt surrounded by his warmth, his enduring love, by his indomitable spirit.

Dimitri didn’t give up—for her. He suffered the agonies of hell for a chance to get back to her. She wrapped herself up in him, knowing he needed to help her, and had to be distraught that he couldn’t.

I love you, Dimitri. Don’t let go. I’ll be there as soon as I can.

He was in far too much pain to realize she meant literally. He knew she would return to heal him and he didn’t try to delve further into her mind. She felt a burst of agonizing pain and then he was gone. She had no memory of shooting out of the chair and reaching toward the sky after that faint psychic trail, but she heard her own cry of sorrow as Dimitri faded away.

The pain drove the breath from her body, but it steadied her as well. She had to pull herself together and heal fast. Paul thrust a washcloth into her shaking hands, and she carefully dabbed at the blood trickling from her nose.

“I’m sorry I snapped at you, Josef,” she said. “I should have just asked for your help.”

“I should have just offered,” Josef answered, slinging his arm around her. “We’ll get him out of there, Sky. We will. I can’t believe he managed to come to you even for a moment when he’s in such pain. I tease you about him, but you know I think of him as a brother. Few Carpathian males would tolerate a relationship like ours—the three of us—but Dimitri encourages it.”

Skyler hugged him gratefully. “He knows I love both of you.”

“How do you want to do this?”

“Just have me eat it. And then, if you’re strong enough, give me a small amount of blood again. It will speed up the healing process, but I don’t want to experience anything.”

“You got it.”

Skyler blinked and found herself sitting at the table, an empty bowl of soup in front of her. Her stomach protested a little, but she found the soup nourishing. Or perhaps that was the Carpathian blood Josef gave her as well.

“Thanks.”

She was still cold, and they had a long night ahead of them. She didn’t look forward to streaking through the night sky.

“I’m going to shift to a dragon form. I’ve been practicing ever since they found Tatijana and Branislava. My dragon can carry you both on his back comfortably,” Josef said.

“Skyler still hasn’t stopped shivering. All day she’s been so cold I couldn’t pile enough blankets on her,” Paul said.

Skyler glanced at the spot on the floor where Paul had been sleeping. For the first time she realized there were no blankets—they were all on the bed where she had been.

Josef did what all Carpathians did—he simply made the clothes for her. Skyler donned the fur vest and slipped on the long fur coat. It fell to the ground and had a hood. He handed her fur-lined boots and gloves as well.

“You’re stylin’, Sky,” Paul said with a laugh. “The next thing we know, Josef is going to go into fashion design.”

Josef shrugged. “I always look good. I’ve considered a career in that field.” He looked and sounded very serious.

Skyler punched his arm. “You would do that just to really tweak the powers, wouldn’t you?”

Josef sent her a little grin. “Of course. Where’s the fun in conforming?”

She followed the two men outside. “You do realize karma is going to catch up with you. You probably really are lifemate to one of Gregori’s daughters.”

“Or both,” Paul said. “As a nonconformist, you could be the first Carpathian to have two lifemates. Twins. Not bad, Josef.”

“Ha. Ha. Ha. You two really do want me dead, don’t you? Gregori would cut off my head and other very precious parts of my anatomy and feed them to the wolves.”

“Slowly. He’d slowly feed them to the wolves while your head sat next to him watching,” Paul informed him.

“Eww. That’s just gross.” Skyler made a face at them. Already the fur coat helped to control the continual shivering. Even the pain in her head seemed to lessen.

“That’s why you love us so much,” Paul pointed out.

“How long do you think it will take us to get there?” Skyler asked.

“I can’t fly as fast as an airplane, but I think I can make it to the outskirts of the Russian forest by dawn,” Josef said.

Skyler was surprised. “I thought it could take us a couple of nights.”

“So did I,” Paul said.

“I felt Dimitri’s pain through you, Sky,” Josef replied. “I feel a sense of urgency, and that means we need to get there as fast as possible. I’m going to try it. I honestly don’t know if I’m that strong. All we can do is try. You’ll have to rest as much as possible, Skyler. Sleep if you can. Paul won’t let you go flying off, but we need you in shape as soon as possible.”

Skyler nodded. “Thanks, Josef. I know tonight isn’t going to be easy on you.”

“We’re in this together,” Paul said. “Dimitri is our friend, too, Sky. We want to do this. We’re not just going after him for you. Now, more than ever, we have to get to him. If he’s suffering the way the two of you say, we might be his only chance.”

The thought of that poisonous silver inching its way slowly, torturously, through Dimitri’s body sickened her.

“Hang on, my love,” she whispered to the night. “I’m coming to you as fast as I can.”

Josef moved a distance away, scanning quickly to ensure they were alone. Paul had found the perfect place to spend the night. The little house was tucked back into the woods, a distance from the road. A widowed woman rented out a room for extra money to those traveling. There were no close neighbors and that allowed for Josef to have the privacy needed to shift into the form of a dragon.

He extended his wing, and Paul helped Skyler climb up onto the dragon’s back. He’d provided a double saddle to make the night’s travel more comfortable. She slipped into the saddle, her feet in the stirrups while Paul climbed up behind her, doing the same. His arms came around her.

“If you need to sleep,” Paul said, “just lean back against me.”

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