Bad Moon Rising (Page 5)

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Bad Moon Rising (Dark-Hunter #18)(5)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Markus turned back into a wolf and bounded off.

Vane turned on him. "Why do you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Piss off everyone you come into contact with? Just once, couldn’t you keep your mouth shut?"

Fang shrugged. "It’s a skill."

"Well, it’s one I wish you’d unlearn."

Fang let out an irritated breath at the constant bitch-topic that had grown old three hundred years ago. He wasn’t the kind of wolf to suck it up. Rather he gave as good as he got, and most times he gave better. "Against the grain is the only way. Stop being such an old woman." He turned and headed for the edge of camp where Anya had chosen to den with her mate Orian.

Fang always had to bite his tongue around them. He hated the wolfswain the Fates had picked for his sister. She deserved so much better than that half-wit, but unfortunately, that wasn’t in their hands. The Fates chose their partners and they could either submit or the male would live out his life completely impotent, the woman infertile.

To save their species, most accepted whatever abysmal mate the Fates assigned them. In the case of his parents, his mother had refused and now his father was left impotent and perpetually pissed off.

Not that Fang blamed the old man for that. He’d probably be insufferable too if he had to go centuries without sex. But that was the only part of his father he understood. The rest of the wolf was a complete mystery to him.

Luckily Anya’s mate wasn’t with his sister. Anya was lying down on the grass in the fading sunlight, her eyes barely open as a light breeze stirred her soft white fur. Her belly was swollen and he could see her pups moving inside her.

It was pretty much gross, but he wouldn’t insult her by telling her that.

"You’re back."

He smiled at her soft voice in his head. "We are and . . ." He held the bag out toward her.

She sat up immediately and trotted over to him. "What did you bring?" She nosed at the sack as if trying to see through it with her snout.

Fang sat down and opened the sack to see what Aimee had given them. The moment he did, his heart quickened. She’d thrown in two steaks, baklava, beignets, and cookies. There was also a small note in the bottom.

He dug out the cookies and held them for Anya while he read Aimee’s flowing cursive.

 

 

I really appreciate what you did and I hope your sister enjoys her food. Brothers like you should always be treasured. Anytime you need a steak, you know where we are.

 

 

He didn’t understand why such a short, innocuous note touched him, but it did. He couldn’t help smiling at it as an image of her drifted through his mind.

Stop being a head case.

Yeah, something was definitely wrong with him. Maybe he needed to see one of those pet psychics or something. Or maybe have Vane give him a sharp kick to the hindquarters.

"Do I smell bear?"

He tucked the note into his pocket. "It’s from the Sanctuary staff."

She shook her head and sneezed on the ground. "Gah, could they stink any worse?"

Fang had to disagree. He didn’t smell bear, he only smelled Aimee and it was a delectable scent. "They probably think the same about us."

Anya paused to look up at him. "What did you say?"

Fang cleared his throat as he realized how out of character it was for him to defend another species. "Nothing."

She licked his fingers as he held out more cookies for her.

A shadow fell over them. Looking up, he saw Vane standing there with a stern frown.

"Shouldn’t it be her mate doing that for her?"

Fang shrugged. "He was always a selfish ass**le."

Anya nipped hard at his fingers. "Careful, brother, that’s the sire of my pups you’re talking about."

Fang scoffed at her protective tone. "One chosen by a trio of psycho bitches who-ow!" He jumped as Anya sank her teeth deep into the fleshy part of his hand. He cursed as he saw the blood dripping from the wound she’d given him.

She narrowed her gaze. "Again, he’s my mate and you will respect him."

Vane cocked him on the back of his head. "Boy, don’t you ever learn?"

Fang bit his lip to keep from snapping at both of them. He hated how they treated him like their mentally defective distant relation. As if his opinions didn’t matter. Anytime he opened his mouth, one of them told him to shut it.

Honestly, he was more than tired of their treatment. All they saw him as was the muscle they needed. A loaded gun to be used against their enemies. The rest of the time, they wanted him kept in a box, completely silent and unobtrusive.

Whatever.

Changing into a wolf, he left them before he said something they’d all regret.

But one day . . .

One day he was going to let them know just how tired he was of being their omega wolf.

 

Aimee paused at the table where the wolves had been. In the corner was a pair of discarded sunglasses. She bent down and picked them up only to catch a whiff of the owner.

Fang.

A slight smile hovered at the edges of her lips as she remembered the way he’d looked leaning back in his chair. Relaxed and lethal.

"What’s that?"

She jumped as Wren spoke right behind her. Looking at him over her shoulder, she smiled at the young tigard. Handsome and lean, he had long blond dreadlocks with bangs that fell across his eyes, shielding them from the world. She was one of the very few people he ever spoke to.

She held up the sunglasses so that he could see. "One of the wolves left them."

He scratched at his whiskered cheek. "You want me to put them in lost and found?"

"It’s okay. I’ll do it."

He nodded before he moved on to bus another table.

Aimee closed her eyes and held the sunglasses tight. As she did so, she saw a perfect image of Fang in wolf form running through the swamp.

Someone sneezed.

She jerked, looking around quickly in fear of someone catching her using a power that no one knew she held. It was something only the most powerful of Aristi could wield and the fact that she had it . . .

It was as much a danger to her as a gift.

And it was a power that had cost two of her brothers their lives. For that reason alone, she could never allow anyone to know what she could do.

But today those powers weren’t scary. They would allow her to find Fang and return his property to him. She checked the watch on her wrist.

In thirty minutes she’d be free to take a break and then she’d find the wolf. . . .

 

Aimee paused next to the cypress tree that jutted out of the water and twisted up toward the sky. The setting sun fanned around the branches, casting a majestic glow as it also reflected the cypress against the rippling black water. It was eerie and beautiful. Haunting.

Even though they’d lived in New Orleans for more than a century, she’d never spent much time in the swamp or bayous. She’d forgotten how beautiful they could be.

Smiling at the image, she manifested her camera and started photographing it. There was nothing she loved more than capturing nature in its purest forms.

Completely captivated by the complexity of the light playing against the tree, she stopped paying attention to her surroundings. The world faded away as she moved in a large circle, tilting the camera for better angles.

The murky water sloshed around her feet as she moved. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a bird take flight. She turned to catch that as well, but as she moved, she heard something. . . .

A low, fierce growl.

Before she could react, a wolf attacked her.

CHAPTER THREE

Reacting on pure instinct, Aimee dropped the camera and manifested a long staff. She crouched low, waiting for the attack. But in true wolf fashion, he didn’t attack alone. He waited for three more to join rank. By their scents, she knew none of them were the wolves she’d seen earlier at Sanctuary.

These were feral and mean.

True Slayers . . .

And she was their prey.

Aimee twirled her weapon, bracing herself for them. If they wanted a fight, she would and could definitely give them one. Some times they ate the bear, but today the bear was going to take one juicy bite out of them.

Growling and snapping, they circled around her.

She shook her head at their bravado. "Trust me, guys, you don’t want a taste of bear. This one bites three times as hard as you do."

It didn’t stop the lead one from charging.

Aimee caught him against his side with her staff and sent him flying. The other two sprang forward. She planted her staff into the ground and lifted her body to kick one back before she twirled and used the staff to smack the other against his hindquarters.

He let out a vicious whelp.

"Cry to your mama, Big Bad Wolf. Little Red Riding Hood is about to serve your hide for dinner."

"You think you can take us?"

She turned to counter their leader. "Oh, baby, I can send you all straight to hell." At least that was her thought until four more ran at her.

Odds now . . .

Not so good.

Snarling and snapping, they moved in, slowly, threateningly. As she backed up, Aimee considered shifting forms to fight, but she wouldn’t be as fast as a bear. They would have much better maneuverability and that would cause her to lose.

Losing to anyone was something she wasn’t about to do.

No, she’d handle this as a woman.

"You know, a better weapon against them would be a gun. . . ."

She frowned as she heard Fang’s voice in her head. Yet he wasn’t near her.

The leader launched himself.

Aimee crouched and just as he reached her . . . just as she felt his hot, smelly breath on her skin, a large brown wolf intercepted him and sent him flying in the opposite direction.

Fang.

From the image she’d seen in her vision, she knew that this was him. He tore at the throat of the wolf that had initiated the attack against her. Aimee would have continued fighting, but the others backed away in confusion.

A large white wolf who put himself between her and the others transformed into Vane.

"Are you insane?" he snarled at the wolves. "She’s one of the Peltier bears."

One by one the wolves turned human. Except for Fang and the one he fought.

"Stefan!" Vane snapped in anger.

Instead of standing down, Stefan went for Vane. Fang caught him in a vicious hold on his throat as the two wolves continued to fight and writhe. Aimee cringed at the savage anger that said the two of them hated each other passionately. Old memories surged as they growled and snapped, tearing at each other’s flesh. The sight of it sickened her.

"Stop it!" She blasted both of them with her powers.

Fang yelped as a blast hit him hard in his tail. Sharp and stinging, it sent him reeling. He hated being injured and for someone to get the better of him. . . .

It spun him into a level of pissed off like nothing else could. Furious, he snapped to human form even though it was hard to hold it.

"What the hell are you doing?" he asked as he limped toward her, his rear cheek still burning.

Aimee narrowed her glare on him. "I don’t like fights."

"And I don’t like getting stung on the ass."

She didn’t back down or back off. "Well, if you’d stopped when Vane told you to-"

"I don’t take orders from a woman I was fighting to protect."

She held her hand up as if declaring war on him for those words. "Well, macho you. For the record, I didn’t need your protection."

Fang scoffed at her misplaced bravado. "Yeah, right. They were about to take you down."

"I seriously doubt it."

Fang closed the distance between them to stare down at her as fury stung every part of him. He wanted her to fully understand the danger she’d stupidly put herself into. "This isn’t Sanctuary, little girl. You’re invading our territory and we have burdened females. What were you thinking? We kill you out here and no one blinks."

She screwed her face up in disgust. "Oh, get over yourselves. Like I give two snots about your den." She pulled out his sunglasses and shoved them toward him so hard that it forced him to take a step back. "I just wanted to return your property. So go stuff yourself."

Fang was stunned as her hand struck him in the center of his chest. Instinctively, he cupped his sunglasses as she vanished, no doubt to return home.

The only problem was, he didn’t know what stung most. Where she’d shoved him on his chest, smacked him on the butt, or the blow she’d just dealt his ego.

"How did that bitch find us?" Stefan ground out between clenched teeth.

Vane gave him a droll stare that said he shared the same opinion of Stefan that Fang had-that Stefan was a first-rank moron. "She must have followed our scent."

Fang didn’t speak. He was still too stunned at her anger toward him when all he’d been trying to do was make her understand the danger. How could she not know better? Had Stefan not called in for reinforcements and Fang not realized who it was they were grouping to attack, Aimee would have been torn into pieces.

Another few minutes . . .

His stomach churned over the images in his mind.

Vane snapped his fingers in front of his face. "Dude? You okay?"

Fang shoved at him. "Of course I am."

Stefan came forward with a grimace on his face. "What did the bear want with you anyway?"