The muffled sound of screams still teased her ears.
All hell seemed to be breaking loose above her, but she had to finish her mission.
Find the girl .
Maya pushed the key into the lock, shoved open the door-
A low, rumbling growl came from the dark depths of the room.
Her eyes adjusted to the dim lighting instantly.
A wolf was chained to the far wall. A snarling, spitting, furious, black beast that stared at her with pure hate in its glowing eyes.
Maya stepped forward.
The wolf lunged for her, only to be jerked back by the chain. The beast howled in fury.
The scent of blood was heavy in the room and her eyes caught sight of the glistening red drops matted in the wolf's fur. He'd been fighting the chain until he bled.
A thick metal collar circled the wolf's throat. Blood stained the edges of the metal.
Maya judged that the length of chain was about fifteen feet. If she moved two steps closer, she'd be savaged.
She pointed her gun-
"Help!" A child's voice. A girl's. A hollow thud followed the cry, as if the child had banged her fist against-
Another door was behind the wolf. A second steel door.
"Please, get me out! It's dark." Muffled sobs. "I'm s-scared. I don't wanna be alone."
"It's all right, sweetheart!" She pitched her voice high, trying to cut across the rapid growls. "I'm going to get you out of there." Once she got past the guard dog.
Her fingers were locked tight around the butt of the gun. The wolf was snarling, pacing in quick lines in front of the second door. "Nice dog," she whispered, stepping forward. She didn't want to hurt him unless she had to. The beast obviously hadn't chosen to be locked in the basement and chained up by the vamps.
His lips peeled back, exposing teeth far, far sharper than her own.
No, she didn't want to hurt him, but she would get that girl out.
The wolf stopped pacing and planted its body solidly before the door.
The girl wasn't talking anymore. She was still crying, Maya could hear the faint whimpers, but the pleas had stopped.
A whisper of breath behind Maya, she turned-
The tall, blond vampire stared down at her. Too damn close. The wolf's growls and snarls had enabled him to clear the stairs and sneak up on her.
Hell, this was really not turning out to be her night. Maya's gaze swept over him. "Tell me, your name wouldn't by any chance be Torrence, now would it?"
"A friend of mine is looking for you," she murmured. "If I were you, I'd probably try to get the hell out of Sin City before you get burned."
"Don't worry about me, bitch. Worry about yourself."
Okay. Adam had wanted to take down the vamp leader, but beggars couldn't be choosers. Maya aimed her gun and felt a smile curl her own lips.
Torrence pulled a small black remote from his pocket. Pushed a button. A soft swish sounded behind her.
Please, don't let that be-
Razor-sharp teeth tore into her right ankle.
Maya went down, hard, as the wolf attacked her. Torrence smirked at her even as he hurriedly backed away. "See how long you can last with him, bi-"
She fired. Screw aiming. She hated being called a bitch, especially by a murdering butcher.
Th wolf jerked her, dragging her body back three feet.
The bullet ripped across the skin of Torrence's arm. There was a solid thunk as it lodged in the wall behind him. Dammit!
Then he was gone.
The steel door slammed shut and the snapping of the lock echoed in the room, sounding even over the wolf's snarls and growls.
Locked in. Trapped with a now-free wolf. A wolf who was currently trying to bite her foot off.
We attack the legs first, that way the prey can't run.
She'd heard a wolf shifter say that once. At the time, she'd thought it was a particularly vicious attack method.
She still thought that.
And damn, but it hurt!
She twisted around. Shoved her body upright and slammed the butt of the gun against the wolf's head. "Let go!" She hit him again, harder, harder.
He howled and jerked back, freeing her. The thick collar still encircled the beast's throat, but the heavy chain had fallen away, courtesy, no doubt, of the vamp's little toy.
Maya didn't look at her ankle. She really didn't want to see it right then. She scrambled back like a crab. Okay, so much for not hurting him. She'd shoot the beast right between his golden eyes.
Maya fired at the same moment the wolf lunged. The shot went wide, and the wolf's powerful paws landed on her chest. His weight knocked her back and her head banged against the floor with a thud.
The heat of his breath burned her skin, then his teeth locked on her throat.
Maya caught his head in her hands, digging her fingers deep into his fur. "Get off me, dog," she snarled. He'd pierced her flesh, just barely, and she could feel the blood dripping down her throat.
She held him back, no easy task even with the enhanced power she'd gotten from Adam's blood.
The wolf was pissed, enraged, and riding a hard bloodlust.
Maya drew a deep breath. She was in trouble and she knew it. She had no idea where her gun was. Her knife was still in her left boot, but it wasn't doing her much good there and it wasn't like she had a free hand to grab it.
The wolf's claws dug into her chest, gouging deep.
She used the pain, pulled it close, then heaved the wolf back with all of her strength.
The second he cleared her body, she lurched to her feet and yanked out her knife. Her right ankle buckled immediately. Shit . Crouching-because it was the best she could do-Maya held up the blade and caught sight of her gun.
Almost close enough to grab.
The wolf shot toward her. Maya hurled the knife. It flew, end over end, then landed hilt-deep in the wolf's front leg. Maya sprang forward and grabbed the gun.
Golden eyes glared at her. Anger. Pain. Fear.
The wolf padded slowly around her, circling until it stood before the door that trapped Cammie.
"I don't want to kill you," Maya whispered, "but I will if I have to. I'm getting that girl."
Its nostrils flared. Its eyes narrowed.
She saw the wolf's muscles bunch as he prepared for another attack.
He growled and jumped into the air.
Maya fired. Not gonna miss this time, asshole.
The wolf howled in fury, a long, terrible howl that sounded like a scream.
No, wait, that was a scream. The girl was screaming behind the door.
And the wolf was on the floor, shaking. Her bullet had found its mark.
Maya closed her eyes for just a moment. Her whole body hurt.
Get the girl. "I-it's all right," she managed. "I'm going to get you out of there."
The screams stopped.
Maya glanced around the bloodstained room. Crawled and found the keys she didn't even remember dropping.
She pushed to her feet, holding the wall for support. The wolf had done a serious number on her ankle. Limping, losing way too much blood, she stepped over the wolf and reached for the lock.
The third key she tried fit.
Maya turned the key, pushed open the door, and caught the faint scent of smoke in the air.
The room was dark, pitch-black actually, but she could see the girl easily. Huddled in the corner, hair tangled and hanging down her back. "Cammie?"
The little girl flinched.
"I-it's all right, I'm not here to hurt you." She crept forward.
The girl let out a scream and spun around to face her. "Stay away from me!"
Maya froze. "It's okay," she said, trying to make her voice soothing. "I'm here to help."
But Cammie shook her head. "You're one of them," she whispered.
True. The girl obviously had her uncle's sharpened senses. "I'm working with your uncle Adam.
He sent me to find you."
Maya watched the child's lips tremble. "U-uncle A-Adam?" Desperate hope filled her voice.
She tried taking another tentative step forward. A couple more feet and she'd just grab the girl and make a run for it. "He's waiting outside for us. But we have to hurry, Cammie." She didn't know what was happening upstairs, didn't really want to find out, and she was afraid if they stayed there much longer, more "company" would arrive.
She just wasn't in the shape to win another fight.
Maya inched forward.
The child's hands pressed into the wall behind her. "You're lying." Said with absolute certainty.
"H-he wouldn't have sent someone like you."
Sure he would have. To hunt monsters, you use one of their own. A sudden idea struck her.
"Cammie, come with me into the light. I'll prove that he's waiting." Taking a gamble, Maya stepped back. Fire shot through her ankle as she moved. Slow steps. Nonthreatening.
Cammie began to follow her.
Maya eased over the wolf's body. He was still alive, his breathing heavy and ragged, but he was losing a lot of blood and he wasn't in any shape to fight her anymore.
Cammie inched forward. One step. Another.
She gasped when she saw the wolf and tears poured from her brown eyes, leaving white tracks on her dirt-stained cheeks.
Hell . "Look at me, Cammie," Maya ordered. Then she turned her back partially to the child and lifted the edge of her shirt.
Maya glanced at the girl. Her eyes were wide, and the tears still fell in a steady stream.
"Adam wanted me to show you the tattoo," Maya said, lying without a second's hesitation, "to prove that I'm on your side." Now that part was true. The lie was one that a child would believe.
Almost like a secret message.
Maya held out her hand. "Now, sweetheart, I need you to trust me because we don't have much time. We need to get to your uncle and get out of here." Fast. Because if they were attacked, she feared she'd be too weak to protect the girl.
Cammie stared at her offered hand, then glanced back at the wolf. Her fingers lifted, stroked the bloody fur on his side.
"Cammie…" Screw it, she'd just grab her and run.
The girl placed her hand in Maya's.
Maya's breath expelled in a relieved rush. "Good girl. Now, I want you to stay with me, no matter what you see or what happens– you stay with me. And I promise, I'll get you to your uncle."
A slow nod.
"Then let's go."
Death. Blood. Screams. Howls.
As she'd thought, all hell had, indeed, broken loose in Temptation. Maya crouched in the stairwell. She'd opened the door a bare slit, just enough to see what was happening.
And, well, it definitely wasn't good.
Full-on shifted wolves were destroying the bar. Big, muscled beasts were breaking furniture and attacking the vampires, one after the other.
The humans screamed and ran for the exits.
The vamps fought back, trying to take down the wolves with claws and teeth.
The fact that the werewolves had even bigger claws and teeth made it one damn bloody fight.
Cammie's fingers tightened around hers. "I'm scared," the little girl whispered.
Maya raised her gun and prepared to enter the battle. But first, she cast a quick look back at the kid. Forced a smile. "Don't be, baby. I'm going keep you safe-I promised, remember?"
Cammie swallowed. Her lips lifted in a ghost of a matching smile.
Maya's heart pounded like crazy in her chest. She wouldn't be able to move fast enough, not with that damn ankle, so she'd probably have to take a few of the bastards down.
Unless they were smart enough to stay the hell out of her way.
Adam kicked in the back door, fear pumping through his blood as the screams filled his ears.
He ran through the kitchen, past the men and women crouched on the floor and whimpering. He followed the howls, the scent of death.
He shouldn't have let her go in alone. He should never have let Maya-
"You're supposed to be fucking dead," a furious voice snarled and a bloody, blond vampire jumped in his path.
Fire shot through him and the dragon began to roar. "Sorry to disappoint you." Wolves raced around the room, vampires fought them, blood flowed.
"This time, I will kill you," Torrence promised.
Not damn likely.
"Just like I killed your vampire bitch!" Torrence leapt forward.
The heat of the change swept through him. Adam lunged for the vamp. He'd rip the bastard apart, drink his blood, burn his flesh straight from his bones, and-
A shot rang out. Torrence jerked, black eyes flaring wide. Smoke rose in a slow, curling plume from the wound in his back.
The vampire fell, shrieking.
Adam came face-to-face with Maya.
"Idiot didn't kill me," she muttered, but looked very much like she was in jeopardy of falling down, too. "He just pissed me off."
The vampire was still alive. Adam reached for him. Time to finish-
The voice he heard in his dreams. He glanced back up, saw a pair of tear-filled brown eyes peering around Maya.
He jumped over the vampire. Grabbed his niece and held her as tight as he could.
He felt her heart racing against his. Felt her small arms curl around his neck. "Sweetheart, I've missed you."
She cried into his shirtfront.
"Uh, I'm all happy about the reunion," Maya said, "but you need to get her the hell out of here, now."READ MORE >>