Night Play (Page 35)

Night Play (Dark-Hunter #6)(35)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

"Yeah?" Fury called from inside.

Vane shouldered it open to find Fury with the dog on his bed. "We were heading over to Sanctuary. I was just wondering if you’d like to join us."

"Sure. Can Cujo come?"

"I guess. We can always put him in one of the cages if he gets nervous."

"Cages?" Bride asked.

Vane turned to face her. "Since Sanctuary has a lot of different kinds of animals in it, they have a whole room of cages in the event someone gets nasty."

Fury and Cujo flashed out of the room.

"How do you want to go?" Vane asked her.

Bride let out a deep breath. "Beam me over, Scotty."

Vane took her hand and flashed them to Sanctuary.

It took Bride a second to get her bearings. She’d been by this bar a million times, but had never been inside it before. There was a sign on the door that said it was closed. However, there was plenty of activity inside. At least fifty "people" were there, including Fury and Cujo, who was sniffing around various occupants.

Several tables had been pulled together to make one really long banquet table that was covered with white tablecloths. Another series of tables held more food than she had ever seen in her life. There were a dozen turkeys, twenty hams, and at least two dozen kinds of cakes and pies with every side item known and a few she couldn’t identify.

But what stunned her most was how incredibly attractive everyone there was. Jeez! It looked like a model revue.

Bride felt extremely intimidated.

"Vane," a tall, gorgeous blond man said as he came over to them. "We were wondering if you’d make it."

"Hey, Dev."

Bride noticed two more "Devs" who entered the room, carrying more food.

"We’re quadruplets," Dev said with a wicked grin. "You can tell me by this."

He pulled his T-shirt sleeve up to show her a bow-and-arrow tattoo, then he pointed out his brothers. "The mean-looking one holding the gumbo is Remi. The bashful one over there with the bear cub in his lap is Quinn, and Cherif is the one holding the platter of crab legs. Don’t worry if you can’t remember who’s who, just yell ‘quad’ and we’ll answer."

He seemed very friendly and open.

"I’m Bride," she said, holding out her hand to him. "Nice meeting you."

As he shook her hand, another attractive blond man appeared behind Vane. He growled low in his throat, reminding her of a wolf.

"Don’t even think about it, Sasha," Vane growled back, giving the man a lethal stare. "I’m in no mood for your shit."

"Wolves," Dev said to Bride. "The alphas have to do that dominance crap whenever they see each other. See, me, I’m a bear. We get along with most anyone.

Unless you mess with us, then we rip your head off."

Dev inclined his head to Sasha. "Why don’t you go help Papa bring out the kegs?"

Sasha came over and sniffed at Bride. He appeared to calm a degree before he looked back at Vane. "Sure, Dev. I wouldn’t want to embarrass Vane in front of his mate by defeating him."

Vane took a step toward him until Dev cut him off.

"Go, Sasha," Dev said sternly.

Sasha finally left.

Dev took a deep breath and grinned at her. "You should have tried a bear, Bride. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about this."

"It’s all right. I’m rather fond of wolves." She watched as Sasha neared Fury.

Fury came instantly to his feet with a snarl so sinister that it actually scared her. Always easygoing and a bit inept, she’d had no idea that Fury could look like that.

He was truly frightening in his wolf persona.

"Wolves apart!" a tall, slender woman said in a French accent as she came between them. "Or else I shall throw water on you both."

Remi appeared by her side. "Do you need help, maman?"

"Not from you, cher," she said, patting him kindly on the arm. "Go and help Jose in the kitchen."

Remi gave the wolves a warning glare before he obeyed his mother.

Once Sasha and Fury had some distance between them, the woman came over to her and Vane.

"There you are at last." She kissed Vane on his cheek, then turned to Bride.

"I am Nicolette, but most people call me Mama."

"Bride," she said, shaking the bear’s hand.

Nicolette smiled up at Vane. "She is beautiful, mon petit loup. You have done well for yourself."

"Merci, Nicolette."

"Come," she said, gesturing them further into the room. "Vane, introduce your mate to our people while I make sure my sons do not fight. And have no fear if you can’t remember our names, Bride. There is but one of you while we are many.

You will learn them all in time."

Bride thanked her, then Vane took her around the room and introduced her to lions, tigers, bears, hawks, jackals, and leopards. Even a couple of humans were there.

Nicolette was right. She couldn’t keep straight who was who or what. Since there were only a handful of women, most of them mates for the men, they were easier to remember. But the men it was enough to make her head spin.

"Where’s Fang?" she asked as Vane finished introducing her to the people in the kitchen.

"He’s upstairs. C’mon and I’ll introduce you to him next."

Vane led her through a door that opened out into a grand Victorian parlor.

Bride paused at the sight of it. Plush and decorated with antiques, the house was stunning.

"This is Peltier House," Vane explained. "The Were-Hunters live on this side of things where we’re safe from discovery."

"It’s beautiful."

"Merci," Nicolette said from behind them. "It has been our home for more than a century now. It is our goal to keep it so."

"How can you do that without anyone finding out who and what you are?"

"We have our ways, chirie," she said with a wink. "Magic does have its benefits." She handed Vane a small votive candle.

Vane saw that the glass container had the name "Anya" engraved on it. His heart ached at the sight of it.

"We always remember our loved ones who are gone," Nicolette explained.

"Since Fang cannot honor Anya, I thought you might want to."

Vane couldn’t speak past the sad lump in his throat as Nicolette led him and Bride into a side room where four candle stands were set. The light from the candles flickered like diamonds against the dark green walls.

"There are so many," Bride said, awed by the number of names.

"We live a long time," Nicolette said. "And we are at war. The Katagaria against

the Arcadians, the Dark-Hunters against the Daimons. The Apollites against everyone. In the end, all we have are memories."

She indicated two candles that were set up on the wall. "Those are for my sons.

Bastien and Gilbert." A tear slid down her cheek. "It is in their honor that Sanctuary was founded. I vowed that no mother, no matter if she is human, Apollite, Katagaria, or Arcadian, would ever know my grief so long as her child was housed here underneath my roof."

"I’m so sorry, Nicolette."

The bear sniffed and patted her arm. "I appreciate your words, Bride. It is for you that I am renouncing Vane’s banishment."

Vane looked stunned.

"It is my wedding present," Nicolette said. "You have no pack to protect her with and, as Acheron says, you have paid a high enough price for your kindness.

You protected Sunshine for the Dark-Hunters and so we protect you and your mate."

"Thank you, Nicolette," Vane said. "Thank you."

Nicolette inclined her head, then excused herself.

Vane lit the candle, then placed it next to the one for Colt’s mother. His hand lingered on the glass. By his expression, Bride could tell he was remembering his sister. That he was grieving horribly for her.

His eyes were bright and shiny as he watched the candle flicker. After a moment, he glanced to her.

"Come," he said, taking Bride’s hand. "It’s time to meet my brother."

Bride followed him out of the room and up the staircase.

As they passed the first room, a man stepped out whom Bride actually recognized.

"Carson?"

He looked as shocked by her presence as she felt for his.

"Bride? What are you doing" His voice trailed off as he sniffed the air. His eyes widened. "You’re one of us?"

"Us?"

"Carson is a hawk," Vane explained.

"No way!"

Carson nodded. "I’m the resident veterinarian and doctor here at Sanctuary."

He opened the door to the room he was leaving to show her a state-of-the-art examination room that was complete with some of the cages Vane had mentioned.

"I can’t believe it," Bride said as she stared at Carson. She’d known him for years now.

"Neither can I," he said. He looked at Vane. "I suppose congratulations are in order. You do know what her father does for a living, right?"

"Yes. Neuter King."

Carson drew his breath in between his teeth. "You do have guts, wolf. Lots and lots of them."

"Yeah, I know."

"Well, I suppose you were on your way to Fang’s room. I’ll see you two downstairs."

Vane took her to the next room, which was a bedroom.

Bride half-expected to see a man on the bed and was a bit surprised to find a brown timber wolf there. There was also another extremely attractive blond woman, who could have been Nicolette’s younger sister.

Vane introduced her to Nicolette’s daughter, Aimee, who quickly excused herself

to leave them alone with Fang.

Vane released Bride’s hand as he closed the distance and knelt down on the opposite side of the bed where Fang was facing. "Hey, little brother," he said quietly. "I brought someone here I wanted you to meet. Bride?"

She joined him.

The wolf didn’t budge.

"Hi, Fang," Bride said. She looked at Vane. "Can I touch him?"

"If you want."

She placed her hand on his head and rubbed him behind his ears. "It’s nice meeting you finally. Vane’s told me a lot about you."

Still, he didn’t move.

Bride wanted to cry for them both. She could feel how much it hurt Vane that his brother wouldn’t acknowledge them.

"I guess I’ll take you back downstairs," Vane said sadly.

"It’s okay. We can stay for a while. I don’t mind."

"You sure?"

She nodded.

"Okay, let me go get us something to drink and I’ll be right back."

"Wait," she said before he could poof out on her. "Is there a bathroom around?"

"There’s one in Carson’s office."

"Good."

Vane flashed out of the room. Bride left to take care of her business.

As she left the bathroom, she noticed that Carson’s office had a two-way mirror that looked into Fang’s room.

But that wasn’t what made her heart stop.

Standing in Fang’s room was Bryani.

Chapter 13

Vane was behind the bar getting Cokes for himself and Bride while Colt razzed him.

"Now aren’t you glad I sent you back to her?"

"Shut up, Colt."

"C’mon, wolf. I know you hate it. Say "Thank you, Colt."

"I’d rather stick" Vane’s voice trailed off as something bright flashed onto the dance floor. At first he thought it was someone else joining the party until he realized the "human" couldn’t stay in human form. He kept flashing from human to wolf and back.

He also recognized him.

It was Stefan.

Vane put the drinks down and leaped over the bar. He ran across the room to the wolf.

"Easy," Carson was saying as he laid the injured wolf against the concrete floor. "Can you stay in your base form?"

"Warn Vane."

Vane grabbed Stefan and used his powers to keep him human. "Warn me about what?"

Stefan was a bloodied mess. Someone had beaten him one step away from death. It was amazing the wolf was still alive. "Your mother" "Don’t talk," he told Stefan. "Think it."

Stefan leaned his head back and closed his eyes.

"She and her Sentinels killed Petra and Aloysius," Stefan said in Vane’s head.

"I didn’t want to die. I made a pact with her that if she let me live, I would bring her here to kill you and Fang."

Vane ground his teeth at that, but didn’t do anything to interrupt.

"She was supposed to let me go. Instead when she learned Fang was in Sanctuary, she turned on me. She’s coming, Vane. She may already be here."

"Whoa!" Kyle’s voice rang out from the doorway that led to Peltier House.

"Everyone, come quick. Vane’s little human mate is having a major smack down with some wolf chick upstairs. And she’s winning!"

Bride was terrified. Her heart hammered, but even so she wasn’t about to just stand there and let Bryani kill Fang.

She probably should have called Vane, but she wanted this over.

And she knew how to end it.

She hoped.

Bride threw open the door to Fang’s room.

Bryani turned on her with a snarl. "Stay out of this. It’s not your concern."