Chained by Night (MoonBound Clan Vampires #2)

Chapter 7

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Spot-on. And holy shit, he wanted to lick that drop.

“Are you afraid yet? Afraid you’ll be so crazed on the night of the full moon that you’ll attack any female you see?”

As a matter of fact, yes, he was.

“You know why I called things off, don’t you?” she asked.

“I’m guessing it’s because you found out you were going to be mating Hunter?” At her nod, he hooked his thumbs into his jeans pockets. “I’m going to tell him about us.”

She snorted. “Tell him what? That for years, every couple of months, we meet secretly on the night of the full moon? That you have… special needs that only I can fulfill?”

“That pretty much covers it.”

Ice glazed over her eyes. “I don’t think so.”

“I didn’t tell you to get your blessing,” he said. “I told you because I at least owe you a heads-up.”

She flipped her long blond hair over her shoulder with a brisk shove. “You owe me more than that.”

“The hell I do,” he growled. “You got as much out of our arrangement as I did.”

“Yes, but I wanted what you gave me. You needed what I gave you.”

So utterly expected of her to point that out. “And that’s why I’m letting you know what I’m telling Hunter. I’ve done that. So have a nice life. I’m sure you two will be very miserable together.” Deservedly so.

He started to turn, but Rasha sank her nails into his forearm and yanked him around with a hiss. “You will not tell him about us, or I’ll tell everyone in your clan about your time as a slave for the humans.”

“Nice try.” He jerked out of her grip, leaving deep gouges in his skin from her sharp-ass nails. “But you don’t know a damned thing.” Turning his back on her, he started toward the front of the cave.

“Mr. Pritchard.”

Myne froze. A hot load of adrenaline dumped into his veins, even as a chill swept over him. “What did you say?”

“You heard me.”

He pivoted around slowly, afraid that if he moved too fast, he wouldn’t be able to stop until Rasha was dead. “How do you know about Mr… him?” The human who had given Myne his name.

You’re mine, you f**king cur. That’s your name from now on. Myne.

Rasha’s gaze was unflinching, brimming with the kind of confidence that came from knowing you’d won. “When I learned I was mating with Hunter, I made it my mission to find out everything I could about everyone in his inner circle.”

“If that were true,” he gritted out, “you’d know I’m not in his inner circle.”

She gestured toward the front of the cave, where Aiden and Takis were laughing about something. “I know they’re lovers, but Aiden sometimes wets his wick with a female. Tsk-tsk. Poor Takis.” She pointed to Katina. “And I know she was kidnapped as a human child and raised by wealthy people who paid a lot of money for her. When she saw her face on a billboard, she ran away, but before she could go to the police, she was turned into a vampire.” Rasha smiled. “Shall I tell you what I know about what they did to you inside that Daedalus lab? How they experimented on you? Removed one of your kidneys while you were still awake? Defanged you? Subjected you to humiliating research? Forced you to f**k —”

“Enough!” he barked. Everyone in the cave turned to stare. Lowering his voice, he ground out, “I get it. I won’t say anything to Hunter. But don’t you ever bring that shit up again, and if you use your ill-gotten information against anyone in the clan, I’ll break your legs and leave you on Daedalus’s doorstep so you can get some firsthand experience with what you think you know about me.” He jabbed his finger into her breastbone. “Stay the f**k away from me.”

The cavern felt suddenly devoid of oxygen. He practically ran out of the cave, and when he hit the outside ledge, he inhaled huge gulps of frosty air as snow and wind battered his face. He scooted to the side, where a crevice and an overhang sheltered a cove large enough for five. But he was alone, thank the spirits. Putting his back to the rock, he closed his eyes and concentrated on keeping his shit together.

Not a day went by without him thinking about his time as a human slave, but usually, it was in conjunction with memories of his brother. They’d both been captured and sent to Daedalus for the three T’s, “testing, taming, and training,” as Daedalus staff called it. Myne preferred the more accurate “tattoo, torment, and torture.”

Myne and his brother, Cloud Walker, aka Subject 212NP, eventually escaped, but Cloud had been recaptured, and Myne had been wounded badly enough that he would have died if not for Riker.

So yeah, Myne’s time in captivity was always with him, but Rasha had dug up shit he’d thought he’d buried a long time ago.

Footsteps put him on alert, but he relaxed when Riker ducked into the little cove with him. “Hey.”

Myne acknowledged him with a nod. “You want to know what happened with Rasha.”

“I’m guessing she didn’t like the idea of you telling Hunter about your full-moon meetings?” Riker was the only person besides Rasha and Myne who knew, and that was only because he’d caught them.

“I’m not telling him. She isn’t, either. So as long as you keep your mouth shut, we’ll be fine.”

Riker’s eyes flashed. “As long as you never feed from her again, your secret is safe with me. But why the change of heart?”

“Blackmail,” he growled. “She knows shit she shouldn’t know. About my time in captivity. My kidney. My… fuck it. She just knows shit, okay?”

Rike’s eyebrows climbed. “Your kidney?”

“Don’t ask. But, buddy, watch your back, because she claims to have dirt on everyone.”

“Know your enemy,” Rike murmured. “She’s a bitch, but she’s not stupid. What can we do about your moon feedings now?”

We? An uneasy sensation wound its way through Myne at the way Rike had worded his question. The male was a friend, the best Myne had ever had, and the clan had become the best thing ever to happen to him.

Which meant that it couldn’t be long before everything went to shit.

He looked out at the wall of snow beyond the cover. “I made arrangements for a female in the city.”

“Have you had her before?”

Myne shook his head. The number of females who had let him feed more than once could be counted on one hand. “She thinks she’s into pain.”

What a joke. It took someone mentally twisted, with nerve damage, or both to be able to withstand the pain of Myne’s titanium fangs.

The things had been great – at first. They’d punched through human flesh like nails through water. But then he’d discovered that the agony they caused vampires was nothing short of horrific. He’d tried to have them removed, but the titanium had fused to his bone, and the vampire-sympathizer dentist who installed them didn’t know why they caused pain to others but not him. It wasn’t until Nicole came along that he got his answer.

Turned out that vampires who had once been human were allergic to even the smallest exposure of their blood to titanium. About half of the born-vampire population also had a sensitivity to it. So Myne, in order to feed from a vampire female on the night of the full moon, had to find either an immune born female or a turned female who didn’t mind a little oh, my God, I’m going to die agony. Unfortunately, few of either existed.

Rasha was one of the few. A chance encounter at a vampire club in the city had turned into years of meeting every two or three months on the night of the full moon. She wasn’t immune to titanium’s pain punch, but for her, it also carried an erotic blow, one so intense that she would have met him monthly if he’d asked. But screw that; the only reason he stomached being with her at all was that he liked not being dead.

“For what it’s worth,” Riker said, “I don’t think Hunter would care about your past with Rasha.”

“Oh, yeah,” Myne muttered. “He would.”

Rike knocked his head back against the rock wall. “Dammit, Myne, just tell me what the f**k went on between you two.”

“It’s between me and Hunter.”

“You know you can trust me, right?”

He knew. He had opened his mouth to say as much when an angry scream, a shout, and a clatter broke through the snowstorm. Myne and Riker bolted into the cave, skidding to a halt as a pan lid sailed over their heads.

Rasha stood near the far wall, armed with the pot Riker assumed went with the lid. Aiden, Takis, and Katina were staring at her.

“What the f**k, bitch?” Katina yelled.

“I told you guys to stay out of my bags!” Rasha yelled back.

Aiden held up his hands in a screw it gesture and turned to Riker. “Chick is crazy. We weren’t looking through her shit. She’s delusional.”

Myne just shook his head. He didn’t like Hunter, but even he didn’t deserve Rasha. He thought back almost two hundred years and changed his mind. Hunter deserved her.

Unfortunately, the clan didn’t.

8

Hunter and Aylin had played video games for two hours before she fell asleep, and Hunter wasn’t ashamed to admit he was disappointed when she’d dozed off. He’d planned to use the game to lower her defenses and start earning her trust. As Rasha’s sister and the daughter of ShadowSpawn’s clan chief¸ she was potentially an invaluable source of intel. But he hadn’t expected to enjoy her company.

After a few minutes of jaunty Super Mario music and gathering gold coins, he’d found himself drawn to her easy smiles. She’d learned quickly, and when he’d assured her she’d be able to play anytime she wanted while she was at MoonBound, she’d actually bounced in her seat.

But how much of that was an act? Nicole had credited Aylin with helping her to escape ShadowSpawn’s clutches, but even that could have been a setup. Nicole’s jailbreak had kicked off a battle that ended only because Hunter agreed to mate Rasha, and Hunter had wondered, more than once, if the entire thing had been orchestrated by Kars to get what he’d wanted for so long: influence inside MoonBound.

So Hunter had played video games with Aylin, using the time to lure her in and build a bond of sorts. But now that the storm was over and they were tramping back to MoonBound through the snow, he figured it was time to do a little prying. See how well his plan to win her over was working. Any insight into Rasha’s and Kars’s minds would be helpful.

Especially since he’d just gotten a text from Takis that read: We’ll meet you outside headquarters. Hurry. I’m ready to hand off Rasha to you. She’s… something else.

Something else? Hunter texted back.

Yeah. Something else besides civil.

Hunter cursed silently. He couldn’t believe he’d actually let himself think Aylin was Rasha. Maybe deep inside, he’d been hoping. Because Aylin… she intrigued him. She was an impossible combination of wary and unguarded, as if she didn’t trust others but wanted them to trust her. Her spirit seemed desperate to burst from her with an explosion of energy, but something was holding it back. She reminded him of a bird with clipped wings or a wolf on a chain, wanting to be free but unable to make it happen.

Of course, it could all be an act. Her father had once hamstrung one of his own young warriors, a male not even fully grown, and sent him to beg MoonBound for sanctuary. Hunter had taken the youth in, and the clan had nursed him back to health, only to have him poison their water supply.

Seven clan members had died, and now, forty years later, three still suffered from the effects of the poison. The kid escaped before MoonBound could catch him, but he’d fared no better when he arrived back at ShadowSpawn. Kars had reportedly wasted no time in slaying the male, whose injury had left him unable to hunt or fight.

No, Hunter wasn’t prepared to trust any ShadowSpawn member, and that included Aylin.

“I really need you to see Nicole when we get to MoonBound,” he said to her. “You’re still limping.”

They trudged through the snow more slowly than he’d have liked, given that the woods were full of humans, but clearly, her injury was still bothering her.

She’d been following in his tracks, but now she eased up next to him, her face partially covered by the hood of the jacket he’d scrounged from the cabin’s supply closet. He barely felt the cold, but she’d been shivering since she woke up.

“It’s not the wound,” she said. “I mean, the wound took longer to heal than it would for most of us, but I’ve always been a bleeder.” Her cheeks flushed, and he wondered if it was from the cold or the subject. “The limp is something I’ve had my whole life. I was born with a twisted thigh bone.”

“A twisted thigh bone?” He laughed, and Aylin stopped dead in the snow.

“You think that’s funny?”

“Hardly. I’m laughing at the rumors about you.”

She stiffened. “And what have the rumors said?”

“That you’re a hideous, deformed hunchback.”

A blast of wind blew her hood off, and she pushed it back into place with an irritated shove. “How very Shakespeare.” Hunter had heard of Shakespeare, but he had no idea what Aylin was talking about. He must have looked perplexed, because she added, “Shakespeare made Richard III of England out to be a deformed hunchback, which wasn’t true. He had a curved spine, but he wasn’t a Quasimodo.”

There she went surprising him again. “You must like to read.”

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