Angelia hesitated inside the infamous Sanctuary bar. They’d popped into the third level of the limani—the area that had been designated for those teleporting in so that no one would see them—and were now trying to get the lay of the foreign landscape. Dimly lit, the club’s ceiling was painted black, and the walls were made of dark red brick. Black railings and trim added to the cave-like feeling of the place.
She’d spent most of her life in medieval England, preferring the open countryside and untainted air to the chaos of twenty-first-century life. Now she knew why. Buildings like this were claustrophobic. She was used to thirty-foot arched ceilings. The flat one above her head couldn’t be more than ten feet, if that.
Skittish, she eyed the electric lights around her. As a Were-Hunter, she was susceptible to electrical currents. One tiny jolt and she could lose control of not only her magick, but her human appearance as well.
How did her people live in these horribly crowded and overly electrified places? She’d never understand the appeal. Not to mention the clothes . . .
She wore a pair of blue coarse pants and a white top that, while it was soft, was very strange.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” she whispered to her companion Dare.
He stood a full head and shoulders above her. At first glance his hair looked dark brown, but in reality it was made up of all colors: ash, auburn, brown, black, mahogany, even some blond. Long and wavy, that hair was more beautiful than any male’s should be. She, herself, would kill for it. Yet he thought nothing about it or the fact he was unbelievably sexy and hot. Not that she’d ever sleep with him. He was practically Katagaria with the way he went through women, and as an Arcadian female, she found that animalistic behavior repugnant.
Still, he was one of the fiercest wolfswains in her patria, and the women of her clan had been fighting over him for centuries.
Tonight he was out for blood.
Luckily it wasn’t hers.
He turned those smug hazel-green eyes on her. “If you’re scared, little girl, go home.”
She barely stamped down the urge to shove him in anger. His arrogance had always rubbed her the wrong way. “I fear nothing.”
“Then follow and remain silent.”
She made an obscene gesture behind his back as he headed for the stairs. That was the one drawback to living in the past. Male egos. Here she was, an Aristos, one of the most powerful of their breed, and he still treated her like she was his inferior waste.
Gods, how she wanted to beat him down.
But he was the grandson of their former leader and the head of her tessera, so she was honor-bound to follow him. Even if she wanted to kill him.
They preyed on people and each other like the animals they were. None could be trusted. Ever.
Yet how ironic that it was a group of Katagaria who owned this bar and who maintained its laws of peace. In theory no one here could harm anyone else.
Yeah, right. She didn’t believe that for a minute. They were probably just better at hiding the bodies.
Or eating them.
Harsh and judgmental, perhaps, but there was a sixth sense inside her that said they should leave before they finished their mission.
That feeling worsened as they descended past the second level where a bear bared his teeth at them in warning as he looked up from the card game he was playing against a group of humans. Frowning, she waited for Dare to react, but he merely continued on his way to the bottom floor. She assumed he must have missed the bear’s reaction, though that wasn’t like the man who normally caught every nuance of hostility around him.
Suddenly a loud electrical shriek pierced the air, making her flinch as it assaulted her wolf’s hearing. She covered one ear with her hand as she prayed it wasn’t bleeding. “What is that?”
Dare pointed to the stage where a group of Weres were tuning instruments. A loud guitar wailed before they started a song and the crowd cheered them.
She grimaced at the sight and sounds. “What terrible music,” she groused, wishing they were back home and not in the midst of this dive.
Once they were on the ground floor, Dare was only able to take two steps before he was surrounded by five of the meanest-looking werebears she’d ever seen. The eldest of them, who looked to be their father since he bore an uncanny resemblance to the younger ones, stood over seven feet tall. He looked down at Dare as if he were about to tear him into pieces.
“What the fuck are you doing here, Wolf?”
Dare’s nostrils flared, but he knew the same thing she did. They were outnumbered and in hostile territory, surrounded by animals.
Angelia cleared her throat before she spoke to the eldest bear. “Isn’t this Sanctuary?”
One of the younger blond bears shoved at Dare. “Not for him, it’s not. It’s more like cemetery.”
Dare caught himself and held the look of hell wrath on his face. Luckily, he held his temper and didn’t fight back.
A tall blond woman, who resembled the men closely enough to be another relative, stopped beside them. She gave Dare an insulting once-over before she raked the werebears with a scathing glare.
The bearswan laughed at them. “He’s not Fang, guys. Congratulations, you’re about to skin an innocent wolf.” Tucking her tray under her arm, she stepped away only to have the eldest bear stop her.
“He looks and smells like Fang.”
She snorted. “Trust me, Papa, he’s nothing like Fang. I know my wolf when I see him and that boy there is seriously lacking.”
The youngest bear in the group snatched at Dare’s hair. “He has the mark of a Kattalakis.”
The waitress rolled her eyes. “Fine, Serre. Kill the bastard. Not like I care one way or another.” She walked off without looking back.
Serre let go of Dare’s hair and made a sound of disgust. “Who the hell are you?”
Angelia froze at the deep, resonant voice that went over her like ice. It was a voice she hadn’t heard in centuries, and it was one that belonged to someone she’d assumed was long dead.
Her heart pounding, she watched as the bears parted to let him approach. Tall and lean, Fury held the kind of toned body that most men had to work out for. But not him. Even in his younger years, he’d possessed defined muscles that had made the other males in their patria green with jealousy and the women swoon with heat.
If anything, these past centuries had honed him even more. Gone was the insecurity of his youth. The wolf before her was sharp and lethal. One who knew exactly what he was capable of.
The last time she’d seen him, his blond hair had been long. It was much shorter now, falling just to his collar. But his eyes were still that unique color that was one shade darker than turquoise.
And the hatred in them sent a chill over her.
His black leather Aerostitch-styled jacket had red and yellow flames on the sleeves and on the back, was a white skull and crossbones that peeked out threateningly from behind the flames. Unzipped in the front, it showed off a plain black t-shirt underneath. The Kevlar padding on the jacket added to the width of his already wide shoulders. Black Aerostitch pants were tucked into a pair of black biker boots that held silver buckles up the sides.
She swallowed at the incredibly sexy sight he made as he stood there, ready to take them all on. And against her will, her heartbeat sped up. Whereas Dare was hot, Fury was incredible.
And that werewolf had a butt so tight and fine, it had to be illegal even in this day and age. It was all she could do not to stare at it. Or more to the point, stare at him.
Ignoring her obvious ogling, Fury glared at Dare. “Long time no see, brother.”
“Not long enough,” Dare said between his clenched teeth.
“You know him?” the father bear asked.
Fury shrugged. “I used to. But if you guys want to chop him up and make hamburgers out of him, I wouldn’t mind in the least. Hell, I’ll even go get the grinder.”
Dare moved toward him.
Serre grabbed him and held him back. “Hitting him here would be a very big mistake on your part. Even if we don’t like him.”
Fury winked sarcastically at the bear. “Love you, too, Serre. You guys always make rne feel so welcome here. Appreciate it.”
“Our pleasure.” Serre let go of Dare.
The father bear sighed. “Since it appears we’ve made a mistake, let’s leave the wolves to their business.” He cast a warning look to Dare. “Remember. No spill blood.”
None of them spoke until the bears were completely out of earshot.
Fury watched the two before him warily. Dare and he, along with Vane, Fang, and their two sisters, Anya and Star, were litter mates. All born at the same time to their Arcadian mother. Their mother had kept him, Dare, and Star, and then sent the others to live with their Katagari father.
That was when they’d assumed Fury had been human. Yeah. And the moment his family had found out he wasn’t human, they’d turned on him and tried to kill him.
So much for human compassion.
As for Angelia . . . he hated her even more than he hated his brother. At least Dare he understood. The punk had always been jealous of him. From the earliest memory of his childhood, Dare had been there, trying to push him out their mother’s affections.
But Lia had been his best friend. Closer than siblings or even lovers. She’d blood-promised to stand at his back for eternity.
Then the very moment Dare had exposed his secret, she had turned on him, too. For that alone he could kill her.
Even so, he had to admit she still dazzled him. Her long black hair was shiny and soft. The kind of hair that begged a man to brush his hand through and bury his face in until he was drunk from her feminine scent. Her large dark eyes held a sleepy quality to them that was as seductive as it was pretty. And her lips . . .
Large and plump, they begged for kisses. They were also the kind of lips a man couldn’t help but imagine wrapped around a part of his anatomy while she looked up at him with those dark bedroom eyes.
Damn, the very thought made him hot and hard.
Clenching his teeth, he narrowed his eyes at the scrolling marks that covered half her face. Those marked her as the worst sort of sanctimonious Arcadian.
They were the ones who thought themselves so much better than the Katagaria. Even worse, they were sworn to hunt them down and cage them like the animals the Arcadians accused them of being.
It was hard to believe he’d ever thought he cared about her. He must have been insane.
“I saw your work on the Litarian,” Fury said, his tone guttural. “Want to tell me how you did it?”
Dare, whose eyes looked so much like Vane’s that it was spooky as hell, glared at him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Fury sneered at him. “Yeah, right. And I assume the two of you are here for drinks because those kind of sciewed-up coincidences happen all the time.” He sniffed the air. “Oh wait, what is that? Bullshit? Yes, I smell lots of bullshit.”
“As if,” Dare spat. “You can’t smell shite in this cesspit of cheap alcohol, oversprayed perfume, and animal stench.”
“Oh see, there you’re wrong. I live in this cesspit. Picking out the scent of shit is my specialty, and, Brother, you reek of it. So if I were you, I’d tell me what you did, or I’m going to turn you in to the Peltier bears.”
Dare scoffed. “What are they going to do? They have to maintain the laws of No Spill Blood.”
“True, but there are three Omegrion reps under this roof and two more live just a howl away. We call a vote and . . . Basically, Brother, you’re fucked.”
Before Fury could blink. Dare lifted a gun and aimed it at Fury’s head. Fury caught Dare’s wrist at the same instant it fired. Docking and twisting, he fell to his knees, pulling Dare’s arm with him. –
Screams rang out around them.
“Gun!” someone shouted, causing the human patrons to panic as they ran for the door.
Angelia caught Fury by his throat.
“Hold him down!” Dare snapped, as he tried to wring his hand out of Fury’s.
Fury refused to let go of Dare’s hand. If he did, the bastard would shoot him with whatever he’d used on the lions.
Angelia wrapped her arm around his throat, choking him. “Let him go, Fury.”
Before he could answer, all three of them were thrown apart. Fury tried to get up, but someone had them pinned down with one hell of a forcefield. Growling, he struck out with his powers in anger. Instead of breaking the hold, it turned him into a wolf.
He barked at Mama Peltier, who moved to stand between them. But he knew from experience that it wasn’t her powers he felt. The trouble was, he didn’t know who they belonged to.
“No one comes into my house and does this,” she snarled. “All three of you are banned from here, and if I ever catch you inside Sanctuary again, you won’t live long enough to regret it.”
“He attacked us,” Dare said. “Why should we be banned?”
Dev hauled him up from the floor. “Anyone who participates in a fight is thrown out. Those are the laws.”
Colt was far more gentle picking Angelia up.
“There was no bloodshed,” Angelia argued.
Mama curled her lip. “Doesn’t matter. You almost exposed us to the humans. Lucky for you, they evacuated quickly. Now get out.”
Fury tried to turn human again to tell them what was going on, but his magick wasn’t cooperating. Not even his mental powers were working. It most likely had to do with the fact that someone else’s powers were holding him down.
Dare glared at him and made a gesture to let him know it wasn’t over. Then, he and Angelia left.
“That means you, too, Wolf,” Dev growled. “Max, let him go.”
The forcefield dropped.
Finally he was able to turn back into a human. Though he could have done without the public nudity. Unlike other Were-Hunters, he couldn’t manifest clothes at the same time as he shapeshifted. /
As he reached to scoop up his clothes, they were put on his body. Confused, he looked around and caught Aimee’s gaze. She inclined her head to let him know that she was the one who’d helped him. No doubt Fang had told her about his weakness.
Dev stepped forward.
“I’m going,” Fury said. “But before I do, let me congratulate all of you on your stupidity. Those two assholes who just left were the ones who screwed the lions upstairs. I was trying to get the information out of them.”
Dev cursed. “Why didn’t you tell us?”
“I was trying. Next time you forcefield someone to the ground, you might not want to stifle their ability to talk, too.”
The dragon, Max, shook his head. “I thought you were just going to insult me for holding you down. It’s what you normally do whenever you speak to me.”
“I probably would have had I not had something more important to tell you.”
Dev cleared his throat to get their attention. “Are they from this time period?”
Mama nodded. “Then they have to be in town somewhere. There’s no full moon for them to use to time jump.”
Fury wished, but there was another truth about his old friend. “The woman was Aristos. She’s not bound by the moon. They could be anywhere, in any time.”
Dev sighed. “Well, at least we got the humans out before they saw anything unnatural happen.”
“Bully that.” Fury zipped his jacket up. “Now if you’ll excuse me—” “Hey.”
He looked at Dev.
“You’re still banned from here.”
“Like I care.” He’d been banned from much nicer places than this, and at least there he’d had people who’d actually cared for him . . . at least for a few years.
Without a backward glance, he left them and headed back to Ursulines. The street was strangely quiet, especially given the fact that a large number of humans had gone screaming into the night only a few minutes before. The threat of violence must have really gotten under their skin.
But that didn’t change the fact that he still had a wolf to track. Two of them to be precise. Common sense told him to return to his pack and tell Vane what was happening.
Fury scoffed. “Lived my whole life without any sense. Why should I start having some now?”
As he reached his bike, a strange fissure of power went down his spine.
He turned in expectation of a fight, but before he could even move, he was hit with a fierce shock. Cursing, he hit the ground hard. Pain exploded through him as he changed into his wolf form, then human, then wolf again. He was completely immobilized as his body struggled to hold onto one form and was incapable of it.
Dare walked up to him slowly, then kicked him hard in the ribs. “You should have died. Fury. Now you’re going to wish you had.”
Fury lunged at him, but his muscles wouldn’t cooperate. If he could lay hand or paw on the bastard, he’d rip his throat out.
He looked up at Angelia to see sympathy on her face an instant before Dare shot him again. Unbelievable pain ripped through him as he struggled to stay conscious.
It was a losing battle. In one heartbeat, everything went black.
“What are you doing?” Angelia asked Dare.
“We need to know what he knows about our experiment. More to the point, we need to know who he’s been talking to. We can’t afford for our secret to get out.”
She cringed as she watched Fury’s body continue to shift from human to white wolf and back again. At least until Dare wrapped the collar around his throat that kept him as human. Since Fury’s natural form was a wolf, keeping him as a human, especially in daylight, would weaken him.
And it would hurt.
She shook her head at his actions. “You know he’s not going to tell us anything.” “I wouldn’t be so sure.”
The Fury she remembered would never tell secrets. He’d die before he did, and he could take a lot of pain. Even as a child, he’d been stronger than any other. “How can you be so certain?”
“Because I’m going to turn him over to our Jackal.”
Angelia sucked her breath in sharply at the threat. Oscar was a jackal whose heart was so black, he was more animal than man. “He’s your brother, Dare.”
“I have no brother. You know what the Katagaria did to my family. To
It was true. She’d been there the night Dare’s Katagari father had led the attack on their Arcadian camp. Just a child, she’d been hidden as the attacks began. Her mother had smeared her with earth to mask her scent before she’d placed her in the cellar.
Even now, she could see the wolves as they attacked her mother and killed her while she’d watched in horror through the slats in the floor.
Dare was right. They had to protect their people. The animals needed to be stripped of their powers and put down like the rabid creatures they were. Even Fury.
“Are you with me?” he asked.
She nodded. “I won’t see another child suffer my fate. We have to protect ourselves. Whatever it takes.”