"If I killed you, it would at least be quick and clean. She'd grown up in a time when the only proper place for a woman was next to her man. Not a trusting soul, our sorcerer. We might possibly be friends—except that I didn't think vampires had friends. "Under the rug? "One or two, anyway, Mercy. There was a note on the fridge from Samuel. He gave her an oath of obedience, though, and to my certain knowledge, he never broke it." It wasn't exactly an agreement, but Kyle didn't seem to notice. He didn't smell of burnt oil, but of forest, wolf, and that exotic wild scent that belonged only to him. "Good eye," I told him. If they did it very often, they were eliminated for the sake of the pack and everyone who came in contact with them. Stefan took his hands off the chair carefully. He's loyal to his people and he takes care of them. After he'd died, I'd spent hours in that chair, smelling his scent, ingrained into the polished wood by years of use. Why did he delay the trial?" Finally he said, in an almost civil tone. So play coyote with all your might and if I don't make it out of here, go tell the Mistress what I asked you to do for me—and what you saw." Last I'd heard Johns Hopkins had a whole team devoted to the issue. "I didn't argue with him," I pointed out. "Go." D.C. was last week and next week." I could smell my own fear over and above the roses, which had, oddly enough, grown stronger after we crossed the street. "If I were you," I told him. I should have called Bran for information about the sorcerer earlier. "If I am not welcome, would you have someone find Marsilia and tell her to meet me out here?" "If your Alpha asks us as his price, she'll give us to him." When I negotiate contracts, I don't like to exert undue influence on the people I'm dealing with. Stefan says that with the bound ones the urge to kill is very, very strong—and it only gets worse with time. "So plug your nose," I retorted. "Iamsorry," he said contritely as he approached Stefan, still dragging Ben. "Hell," I said in disgust. "Nasty," Adam said, drawing my attention back to him. "She can't talk to you, Mr. Black," Honey told him, though she glanced at me to make it clear that the words were directed at me. Damn it. His voice was mild, but somehow I knew he was angrier than I'd ever seen him. We found the stairs to the basement tucked neatly behind the stairway to the choir loft. It smelled strongly of whatever cleaner they'd used, though I expect that wouldn't have bothered anyone with a less sensitive nose. Rather than answering him, I leaned over Littleton 's chest and whispered, "Drachen." I had to make you mine so my children would live, but I knew I was taking advantage of you. Something that sounded good acapella . Werewolves are made, not born. I nodded my head and pursed my lips. I think she felt the same way because she turned her head to stare out the window. Then she stomped off back through the crowd toward a corner of the room. I'd just had time to get a good start on a brake job when she spoke. Adam's voice had told me that much. How could his scent have as powerful an effect on me as Adam's smile? "Do I say it in German or English?" The interior was in better repair than the outside, but it still had that college-student aura defined by lots of books and secondhand furniture. "So how would you kill a vampire permanently?" I jerked my gaze to Samuel—which was hardly safer. Ever since the incident with Black, we'd been treating each other with cautious friendliness. He cried when I touched his shoulder. Is that how you always know me?" He raised his face to me. There was a smile on his face. But she did. "Good morning, Mercedes," said a sweet old voice. On good days, my looks were passable, today hideousandawful were more apt. "You killed them," I said, digging in my heels. I touched the canvas before I realized I had moved. He'd been there for a long time, watching me as I slept. I hadn't realized that the film on my front window had been grease—I thought Zee had had some sort of treatment done to it to block out the sun. I shrugged. "Many of our powers do not work well on you. The only reason Warren hadn't killed everyone in the house was because he was half dead and Darryl was very, very strong. I needed more information. Samuel was very old. She nodded. "Demons apparently have an odd effect on witchcraft. "I don't know. "He won't be up here," Andre said. "If it was done last night, why isn't he healing better than this?" "Daniel, stop." The blood." "Dad told me to ask you when you're going to fix that eyesore the sorcerer made of your house," Jesse said levering herself onto a shelf in my shop. "I asked. Be the first to receive exclusive offers and the latest news on our products and services directly in your inbox. "That doesn't mean that I didn't kill those people. asked Stefan without uncovering his eyes. Very slowly, giving me plenty of time to pull away, he kissed me. I pricked my ears, but I couldn't hear anything behind the shut door. What am I doing for you?" Okay, I was playing dirty, but it kept Samuel from attacking. He was answering me as if I had some authority, I realized, as if he really were talking to Adam's mate. I hoped so. Last night I took in a guy I've known for years. That chair is a very old thing." But, if we're living together, sooner or later, we'd be at each other's throat." "Stupid trailer." "Is this because someone saw you talking to me yesterday?" I sprinted between them, and across the yard, dropping the ball at their father's feet, wagging my tail. I'd no idea where the other vampire menageries were, and even if I did, I doubted that the sorcerer would be living with his master—assuming Littleton 's maker was one of Marsilia's vampires. His temper was shorter and he was too serious—when I tried to bring up the subject of that kiss we'd shared, he wouldn't discuss it. I left the pistols in favor of the Marlin 444 rifle which I loaded with silver— though I didn't know if the silver would do any more harm to a vampire than regular lead. I left him to it and started on the other side of the stairs. "And covered my mouth so I couldn't scream. I'll have to call him and tell him it's not advisable. But you didn't do anything to her." "Maybe the demon changes the rules, but they're not supposed to be able to abide holy ground either. The owner of the orchard just thought they'd gotten tired of waiting and moved on. All she told me was that you had given her orders not to tell me anything. If there were a rogue werewolf out here, there might be dead"—I found a hasty substitute for bodies—"animals, but not regular people going berserk for no good reason. "What if she questionsWulfe ?" She stared at us—no, at the werewolves, with an avid, almost hungry gaze. I gave Tom Black a brisk nod, that was friendly but aloof. Each of the legs had a ring of brass about a third of the way up. I tried to surge to my feet and almost fell. If Zee donated his time, at least it wouldn't be a ramen noodle month. When he found out I was in Portland, he gave me Hauptman's name—and yours." "Samuel is going to get you a blanket," I told him firmly. I stared at the phone. "Come in, come in," said the other vampire, stepping back from the door to invite Stefan through. "They've already refused to admit me once tonight—with every justification. During the first one I had a broken arm and he'd been very careful. His hands were tied, too. There was something about that chair… The wood was dark, but the grain looked like oak to me. Ben was less obedient. "Stefan already knew that longevity was something he could offer: one of his bound children had belonged to him for over a century before another vampire killed her." "He didn't do it right?" Which was just as well. I wish I could sing it that way. Somehow that belief wasn't as reassuring as it ought to have been with him staring at me through a thin pane of glass. Today she was wearing creamy linen shorts that would show every smudge of dirt—if she irritated me too much today, I could always get her with my grease gun. I need to know if Stefan came back last night." Adam would honor my invitation. He sucked in a deep breath. She can control him." I turned at the sound of a masculine voice behind me. The teenager just stared at her, her gaze coolly mocking. I was pretty sure that she thought I held the key to finding this sorcerer—either through my resistance to vampire magic or through my "ability" to speak to ghosts. Black?" I thought he'd drop me back at the waiting room, but he escorted me all the way out. He said nothing. "I hope so." He didn't even get out of the car to open my door—which he usually did. Adam's too much in the spotlight for now. "Put this on its body, after you've cut off the head,then say the medallion's name." The river was nearly a mile wide just here. All rights reserved. He wasn't the kind of person to stew about things that hadn't happened yet. I hoped it wasn't anything immediate. "I have to find someone though." I'd been hopingElizaveta would have some knowledge of the demon that would make it easier to killLittleton . He had his arm over his eyes. "Wait," I said, glancing at Honey. "I see. "Hey Dad, hey Mercy." There were a few old shelves leaned up against a foundation wall, and some fencing materials. Read 6 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. I was tired enough to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. The few men I've encountered who claimed to be sorcerers were nothing but demon-bait when I met them." "I went over to take pictures of it. "Hello, Mercy," said Stefan's amiable voice in my ear. His elegant gesture made me conscious of how rough my skin was—mechanic work is not easy on hands. Bran had mentioned something like that, too, but he hadn't made it sound as dire. Adam had that effect on people. "I know. "I'll start from the general and then go to the specific, shall I? I uncovered theGhia , and the three of us ate and debated the best thing to do with the car until it was time to go back to work. It didn't matter that my arm didn't work or that I couldn't get to my feet. He hadn't been talking like this earlier, nor had he been afraid. He glanced at me. A butcher-block table that wouldn't have fit in most of the rooms in my trailer held sway in the center of the kitchen. I could smell again, and almost wished I couldn't. He rolled himself out from under the car and frowned deeply at me. "Dehydration. I'm handsome, clever, witty… Not to mention I saved your life." I had a harder time getting her to let go of me once I had her at the picnic table. There were two incidents that might fit, but only one of the lone wolves would take it upon himself to help a girl. What the witch had said was, "Adamya says you are to leave it alone. Andre walked a few feet behind the sorcerer, Ben's blood dripping from his fingertips. Maybe he didn't know either. "Go and retrieve Stefan. Adam rubbed his face tiredly. Some wounds need to be pricked so they can drain, others just need to be left alone—I wasn't qualified to know the difference. It felt like a second chance to me—a chance to do it right. He wouldn't just lose it and beat up his wife because his AC frizzed out." They did a good job, too. Kyle was standing against a wall, as far as he could get from the bed. I could call Andre—but… My shoulders were stiff from the tension and I leaned my head to the side, stretching. His eyes weren't glowing, which I took to be a good sign. They won't want to keep us around long." "Mmm," I said. He gave Stefan a shallow bow. But then I didn't usually run into Adam's pack in wolf form—and in human form… well, theoretically their behavior should be the same. I pulled out my cell phone and called Gabriel's phone number. When the werewolves finally admitted what they were to the public several months ago, the scientists immediately started looking for a virus or bacteria that could cause the Change—magic being something their laboratories and computers can't explain. Probably. But whatever had been in his voice hadn't touched the bland expression on his face. I hadn't meant to sound quite so appalled. "But they're worth it, God love them. "How much do you know about the thing that he was hunting?" The only blond male in the seethe who had his own menagerie wasWulfe , the Wizard. "What's wrong?" Who could I ask? I called Zee, but only got his answering machine. I glowered right back at him. I asked following her into the kitchen, the source of the sobs. CHAPTER 6 I left Samuel sleeping and made tuna fish sandwiches for dinner, something I could put in the fridge for him in case he awoke hungry, but he stayed in his room until past my bedtime. I slid off the chair. I hate guilt. Come out and play, Mercedes Thompson." Would you attack me or does the smell of her blood rouse you as it does a vampire?" She's Stefan's friend, remember. He'd never let anything, not business, not the pack, come before his daughter. I don't know what she saw in my face, only heard her start to speak quickly—something to the effect that Andre wasn't evil. You've seen him because Stefan said he was present at the trial. "The Wizard? Wolves communicate very well without words; she understood what I asked her to do. He curled up tighter when I opened the door and whimpered, muttering, "They're coming for me, Lord. "We women always have to change for our men, don't we. " "You saw my trailer, Zee. Andre released my wrist. I fought the harness until it cut into my shoulders but it did me no good. I guess he hadn't heard Warren and his companion walk into the garage. I looked up to see Tony, cop and old friend—usually in that order—leaning up against one of my work benches. "Mostly immune," murmured Stefan. It made me acknowledge just how lucky I was that the werewolf relative my mother went to for help once she realized I could turn into a coyote belonged to the Marrok and not to some other pack. He doesn't live around here. You have to invite evil into your home—that's one of the rules. I don't know how he expected me to react to that, but it didn't make me happy. Certainly they didn't need to know that Stefan's driving had scared me, or the smells of the woman's death. An Alpha's second and third were the next two most dominant males in the pack. If he knows enough, he can testify himself." He leaned over and kissed me full on the mouth, a quick gentle kiss that told me I hadn't imagined the passionate words he'd murmured as I'd drunk his blood the night I'd killedLittleton . "The cages are spelled," said Stefan dryly. "Call off the bodyguards." If you didn't bite her, what did?" I looked away from him and found myself gazing into Samuel's white eyes. "Be careful," he told me, finally. Bleeding in a room full of vampires wasn't very smart, I thought. "I paid over a hundred grand for that car," Andre told me mildly. Born To Die: A Vampire Paranormal Romance (Blood Bound Series Book 4) by J.L. I think if they'd been fighting on dirt or something that gave Ben's claws a proper grip, Ben would have had the upper hand. "I don't mean now. And he didn't show it to any of us." "I can write you a check, but I only have a couple of dollars in cash." He leaned his back against the couch, turned his head away from me and covered his eyes with a hand. he asked me, sounding more naked than a man should when surrounded by strangers. But Stefan melted away from Samuel's hand. But, at the urging of my guides, I opened the door and was unsurprised to see a set of winding stairs that led down into a dark hole. Stefan has ways… I don't think that he could be imprisoned—yet he has not come home. "Yes. It was late for lunch and early for dinner so we had the room to ourselves. Adam seemed to be working something out. There are over 200,000 people living in the Tri-Cities. Samuel had known it might happen, I thought. "That'll help," I told him. The light, still attached to the battery, crashed to the floor, leaving the room in darkness once more. I pinched the bridge of my nose. "It is vampire business." "Where have you been?" "The baby you killed in the orchard?" "Mercy?" "Darryl's just a little confused right now." He left off petting me, stood up, and walked around until he faced Stefan again. "Daniel is gone," I told him. It was the "please" that got to me. "You mean sorcerers attract violence?" Like the rest of the room, it was stripped as well, the podium and organ or piano long gone. "Slipped in among a dozen things that weren't true—say, for instance, the one about vampires crossing water. When I got in my car, I was careful to hold onto the door so the wind couldn't fling it into the shiny newToyota I'd parked next to. Of course, most humans don't see them as well as I do, and then usually only at night. You have to be strong to survive, and stronger to want to do so. Not too harshly, because he is young and the lust is so very strong. That's how I first met Stefan. "It's made from the wood of a rowan tree, a wood of the light. Adam whined. He must have heard the answer I wanted in my voice because he shook his head slowly at me. I think the only one of us Stefan found in the Tri-Cities was Daniel, and he was hitchhiking down from Canada ." "How about some different bodyguards?" Stefan obeyed. I'd never actually followed her, but I'd seen her any number of places so I had a pretty good idea about most of her route. I had no proof of my suspicions, you understand. "And a pillow. "That's the easiest way. I spun around to see what had happened, but they were both all right. My own paws were still covered in it. "Why don't you show me how to find Stefan's house." Werewolves heal fast, but their bones still break and a punch still hurts. I waited for Stefan to knock his hand aside, but he did nothing to defend himself, just dropped to his knees, landing with a heavy thud. "Have you called Stefan's house?" Was staying all night, '' I said, but at Daniel recount... Guard on you, too, '' he said not to kill me—but that was,... 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