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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 14, 2012. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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After surviving being kidnapped by a vampire, Faith would just love to focus on some alone time with her hot (though occasionally furry) boyfriend, Lucas. Unfortunately, with a vampire uprising on the horizon and her best friend, Derek, about to wake up and find himself transformed into a half-werewolf, half-vampire being without a beating heart, Faith has a few other things to take care of first.
Faith is not without help, in the form of her newfound powers of sensing people’s emotions and being able to influence werewolves’ actions, not to mention her begrudging but rather helpful boyfriend. Even so, convincing a werewolf packmaster to prepare for an epic battle may be difficult to do without solid evidence.
Lose yourself once more in the deliciously suspenseful world of werewolves versus vampires, otherworldly boys with deadly charm, and addictive, spine-tingling action and romance!
For my mother.
Because you read it first when it was suckiest,
and told me you loved it anyway.
I love you always.
Because you read it first when it was suckiest,
and told me you loved it anyway.
I love you always.
It starts with heat. A sting. The bite. The fleeting, fragile moment when fangs break skin.
It's cruel, really, that heat is what I feel first. Like a reminder. This is the last warmth I'll ever feel. From the moment the venom seeps into my body until I'm sent willingly, mercifully to my death, I will never feel warm again.
Because immediately after the heat, the coldness begins. It spreads from the puncture wounds in my throat deep into my chest like a rushing river. I can feel it pumping through my veins, spreading throughout my body until I'm burning with cold. Poison incapacitates me completely as the eager, pallid faces of the dead loom above. I am unable to move as fangs slide easily from my throat and my head cracks hard on the stone floor. A delicate bloody wrist appears in my vision, coming closer to my mouth. I want to get away, want to close my mouth. Fight. But my body won't respond. All I can hear is my own blood rushing furiously in my ears and somewhere, as though from very far away, the desperate cries of my boyfriend as he struggles to save me.
"Lucas, I'm dying."
He approached me on silent feet, head bent to inspect my wound.
"You're such a baby," he said and turned away.
"Seriously," I croaked, clutching my toe. "It's going to fall off."
"Shh," he hissed. "How are we supposed to get the jump on a vampire with you whining constantly?"
I let my throbbing foot drop, carefully avoiding the stray log I'd kicked. "I'm just nervous."
"If you were going to wimp out, you shouldn't have come." He glanced over at me. "Do I need to take you back?"
"No!" I was nervous, but I still wanted to help. After all, how many times does one get to go vampire hunting with a werewolf and live to talk about it?
Well, I hoped I lived to talk about it, anyway.
"Good," he grunted and beckoned me further down the side of the barn. "Because I don't know how much use this will be without you."
I couldn't help but smile at that. The fact that a three-hundred-year-old werewolf needed my help was pretty cool. Add in that Lucas had actually let me come on this trip, well, it was just short of a miracle. This wasn't some scenic joyride through vampire territory. No, this mission into a dead vampire's lair was occurring for one purpose and one purpose only: to prove to the pack that there was, in fact, a vampire uprising.
Three weeks ago, Vincent had all but told me it was going to happen in the near future, and maybe it was naïve of me, but I took him at his word. The pack, however, was not so certain. In fact, they dismissed the very idea that the vampires would want to rise up, claiming that they'd never have the guts to challenge the wolf packs.
Even in the face of the continued murders of young girls across Colorado they refused to believe.
Which basically meant Lucas and I had one day to convince them otherwise. Tomorrow evening, he was almost surely going into the silver room as punishment for disobeying Rolf on the last full moon, and our shot at convincing the pack to take action before it was too late would be over.
But I preferred not to think about that. I had to concentrate on the current mission—that way I wouldn't stub my toe on any more logs. Or, you know ... get eaten.
"Do you smell anything?" I whispered.
"Oh, yeah. This place reeks of the dead," Lucas said. "But it's mostly Vincent's scent."
"So you don't think there are any more around?"
"We'll find out in a few minutes."
I gulped. The sun was slipping below the horizon at a disconcertingly brisk pace, taking our safety along with it. I shuddered, leaning heavily against the wall of the barn.
Who ever thought I'd be here again?
The only surefire way to prove the uprising was a reality was to hear it straight from a vampire of the Denver brood. Which, of course, meant that we needed to catch a vampire.
Luckily, we already knew of one. Vincent's.
It was a long shot to think there'd be any more vampires sleeping here, since the werewolves raided the place, but it was our only lead. We had to at least try.
"Okay," Lucas said, eyeing the darkening sky. "You remember the plan, right?"
I nodded, throat tight.
"And no matter what happens, you promised to stick to that plan." He rounded on me. "Right?"
Another shaky nod from me.
He began shedding his clothes. "And if something goes wrong, you get to the car as fast as you can and leave. Don't stop till you get to Gould."
He kicked his shoes off and unbuckled his belt. "You have the stake I gave you?"
I held it up in a white-knuckled fist. It was double-ended with a silver tip on one side and a wooden one on the other.
"Good. Don't be afraid to use it."
"But you said I won't have to, right? If everything goes as planned."
"That's the idea." Nude now, he turned away to face the rear entrance of the barn, crouching low. "No more noise now. Try not to let the wind catch you. We don't want your scent to tip them off."
Okay. Be quiet. Avoid wind. Use stake. Got it.
"Be careful," I said, unable to stop myself.
He rose and turned, taking my cheek as he kissed me softly. He pulled away with a devious smile. "You ready to kick some vampire ass?"
I released a reluctant laugh.
His hand closed over mine, squeezing my hold tighter on the stake. Then he turned and began to tremor. My heart went haywire, and I was unable to keep myself from backing up. This was the part of the plan I was most nervous about. My power was still so unpredictable. What if I couldn't forge a connection?
I didn't want him to do this, but if we were going to catch a vampire, we couldn't take any chances. Lucas had to change. And I had to connect to him.
Just please let this work. . . .
In an instant, Lucas exploded and then re-formed into a hulking black wolf. He'd been facing away from me when he changed, but he immediately rounded on me, hackles raised. I had about three seconds to link our minds.
Silver eyes burned into mine, both fierce and terrified at the same time. I inhaled deeply, trying to calm down so I could do this. His deep, gravelly snarl only ratcheted my heart rate up further. I could see his back tensing up, his lips curling more tightly around his gums. Any second now, he would pounce and this would all be over. My hand sweated around the silver stake I was supposed to use against him.
No. I can do this.
I channeled my gift, feeling that familiar zap of electricity ripple though my chest and filter through every limb until I was a live wire. When I focused on Lucas's eyes again, that was it—bam. We were one.
His emotions attacked me in a conflicting mess of canine instincts and werewolf protectiveness. He'd told me that werewolves were meant to protect humans from harm, but his wolf instincts told him that humans were potentially dangerous. He wanted to protect me, but was afraid at the same time.
It's okay, I said in my mind, sending him soothing emotions. I'm here to help you.
This was part of the plan, too: reminding Lucas's doggie mind of what we were here to do. As a wolf, his instincts took precedent over higher thinking, and although he'd remember vaguely what we were supposed to be doing, he'd need my help to make sure he did everything the way we'd planned.
Gradually, I felt Lucas begin to trust me, felt the fear ebb and his determination to keep me from harm increase. Good. That's it.
Lucas's body was almost completely smudged out in the darkness, which meant it was time to get him into the barn to investigate.
Okay, you remember the plan?
I didn't get a clear answer as much as a feeling. He remembered.
Don't kill all of them, if any are in there. We need one to question. And once I'm done asking questions, remember we need to get it into the car, okay? So just do what I say.
I grinned. This was going rather well.
He let out a low growl, and I could feel that he wanted me to stay put.
Okay. Be careful.
He sniffed at me and slunk around the edge of the barn, creeping silently into the fathomless darkness within. It was several minutes before I heard anything, and my stomach was cramping so hard with nerves I felt like I was going to puke. The only thing keeping me together was that I still had Lucas's connection, and could feel that he was alive.
Then someone screamed.
My heart stopped completely, and it took everything I had to keep from running into the barn.
"Get the human!" someone shouted.
An unearthly growling sound erupted and then more screaming. Sounds of a scuffle—banging, grunting, and Lucas's yowling—reached my ears. Pain radiated from his vibe so strongly it hurt me as well. I clutched the stake, flipping it around so that the wooden end faced outward. Any longer, and I was going in. To hell with the plan.
Another high-pitched scream and a thump.
More fighting, and then, without warning, the connection dropped.
I ran into the barn, yelling Lucas's name. It was almost completely dark inside with only the blue light streaming in from the hayloft above. At first I couldn't see anything, then I caught sight of a human lying still on the ground with blood pouring out of her throat. I started to rush to her to help, but a noise to my left made me stop. I whirled around to see—
Oh, thank God.
Lucas was okay. He was just human again.
That wasn't part of the plan, but at least he was alive. And he'd managed to subdue the vampire. It was a man, thin and eerily beautiful as all vampires were, but still sort of creepy-looking when you really looked at him. His pointed, blood-soaked teeth were bared, and he was doing everything is his power to throw Lucas off of him.
"Get off of me, filthy dog!" he yelled, thrashing.
"Yeah, because that's gonna happen," Lucas said. He waved me over, and I handed him the stake. Careful to avoid the silver, he pressed the wooden end directly above the vampire's heart. "Move again and you're history."
The vampire calmed somewhat, but let loose a stream of vile curses.
"Is the human okay?" Lucas asked.
I went over to check. "She's been bitten," I said, voice shaking. "She's paralyzed."
The vampire hissed a laugh and I heard Lucas punch him.
"Leave her and I'll deal with it afterward," Lucas said. "I need you here."
"But she's bleeding."
His tone told me not to argue further, so I returned to the struggling enemies and stood behind Lucas, too afraid to get closer. Lucas was supposed to be a wolf for this part, since he was stronger that way, but I found myself glad he'd changed back into a human. Just the sight of this vampire—of any vampire—was enough to make my brain all slow and fuzzy.
Lucas, however, didn't seem to have the same problem.
"We gotta do this quick. There was another one that got away, and she might bring reinforcements."
"What were they doing in here?" I asked.
"Looked like a feeding frenzy." He nodded to the right and I turned to see—
I choked back a sudden surge of vomit.
"Oh, God," I whispered, looking away quickly.
In the corner of the barn was a pile of dead bodies, some new enough to have been killed tonight while others ... well, it accounted for the smell of death Lucas had reported earlier, and which I was now privy to.
"The girl," I said, worried about the one who was still alive over there.
"Will die," Lucas said.
"It's protocol, Faith. Either I kill her now, or she becomes like this sack of maggots." He slammed the vampire's head into the earth.
At his grunt of pain, I came back to the situation. Now was not the time to lose it.
"We need to find out if he knows anything before we bring him back to the mansion," Lucas said. "So you need to read his emotions when I ask him the questions."
"I know," I said.
"Just reminding you. You look a little freaked."
"I'm fine." I swallowed hard and tried to focus. Looking at the vampire's bloody, beautiful face was not something I was keen on doing, but I had to in order to get the strongest read on his emotions. In fact . . . "I should touch him."
"Screw off, human slime," the vampire growled. Lucas slashed his cheek with the stake.
"You don't speak unless I say," Lucas rumbled. He glanced back at me. "Touch his foot or something."
I bent and pulled his slacks back to touch his calf. At once, a wave of his emotions fell on me like a collapsed building. He was furious and scared, but that didn't take a rocket scientist—or a telepath—to figure out. What I was looking for was signs of deceit.
"I'm ready," I said.
Lucas rounded on the vampire. "Tell me what you know about the uprising."
"You know damn well what uprising. Start talking or I'll start taking your eyes out."
Gross. This was definitely a side of Lucas I'd never seen before.
"I don't know what you're talking about." But I could feel differently. He was hiding something—I just couldn't tell what it was.
"He knows something," I said. The vampire hissed viciously at me, cursing me off.
Lucas rammed his head into the dirt again. "Tell the truth. As you can see, we'll know if you lie."
"I don't know anything ab—"
Lucas brought the stake directly over his eyeball, and the vampire cringed. "Lie again. Please. I think I'll enjoy making you eternally blind."
The vampire gulped and then said, "Okay . . . but promise to let me free after."
"Only thing I can promise you is a swift death, leech. Now start talking."
"Why should I—"
Lucas lowered the point of the stake so that it dug into the delicate skin of his closed eyelid.
"Okay!" the vampire screeched. "I know very little, but I know enough. If you just let me go . . ."
"We'll let you go," I said. Lucas turned to me. I shrugged. Why would he tell us anything if he was going to die anyway?
Lucas looked a little stunned by my input, but to my surprise, went along with me. "Sure vampire, we'll let you go, okay? Just tell us what you know."
The vampire deliberated for a long moment, and I felt the mistrust roiling through him as he did so, but finally croaked out with, "I know that the monarch is collecting women. She likes them young and she likes the pretty ones because they make the best hunters. She wants them for the army."
Lucas looked over at me, fire in his eyes.
"He's telling the truth."
"What else?" Lucas demanded. "Who's your monarch? Where is the lair?"
"I can't tell you."
Lucas began to start up with the stake-in-the-eye thing again, but the vampire screamed out, "It's the truth! Ask her! Ask her!"
I felt for it, and found, unfortunately, that he wasn't lying.
"Why can't you tell?" I asked.
"It's forbidden. Vampire magic ... when we swear our allegiance to the brood, we are bound by a gag. I cannot utter her name nor reveal the existence of our lair without her permission. And I do not have it."
"But it's a chick," Lucas said. "That's something."
"Not enough," I said. "Rolf will need more than this."
Lucas adjusted his hold on the vampire, but made sure to keep the stake poised at his chest. "What can you tell me about the plan to wage war on the wolf packs?"
Something flickered in his vibe—not exactly deceit, but close. I was about to say something, when the vampire began talking.
"The monarch wants to crush Rolf 's pack and all others on the planet. We're sick of living in the shadows. We want to kill without consequence, and the only way to accomplish this is if the werewolves are out of the picture."
Lucas looked back at me again and I nodded. It was the truth, all right. It just felt like there was something missing. Whatever it was, it didn't matter at the moment. We had what we needed.
I wasn't sure if there'd ever been a vampire at the werewolf mansion, but if there had, you certainly wouldn't have known it from the ruckus we caused by bringing one into the living room.
Every werewolf within a mile radius—or so it seemed—had smelled the rotting corpse mere seconds after we'd tugged him out of the silver-reinforced trunk. The silver didn't exactly hurt vampires as much as weaken them slightly. It wasn't as bad as it was with werewolves, who'd die if pierced through the heart with silver, but it was enough to keep him from breaking out of the trunk.
Inside the house, the vampire was heavily chained to a chair and surrounded by the pack. Not all of them, but darn near. Rolf stood at the head of the crowd, flanked by Yvette, his human wife, and the other Council members, all of whom were currently deciding Lucas's fate.
Hope this doesn't make things worse. . . .
Lucas and I stood on either side of the vampire, waiting for Rolf to speak. He'd been disconcertingly silent upon seeing what we'd done. Usually when something he didn't like happened, he took to screaming and throwing things. Heavy things. That the eighteenth-century vase behind him was still intact ... well, it was curious.
After several more moments of tense silence—during which Katie, Julian, and his human fiancée, Melanie, showed up—Rolf finally murmured, "What have you done?"
Hoping this was meant for Lucas, I remained silent, though refused to look away.
"We found the proof we needed," Lucas said, also calm, but firm.
"Regarding?" Rolf asked.
"You know what this is about. Don't feign ignorance."
Rolf's face tightened. "Fine. But I do not see how bringing a bloodsucker into my home is going to change my mind."
"Will you at least listen?" Lucas asked.
He waited a beat, and then, "I will listen."
Lucas kicked the vampire in the leg. The guy had been silent too, probably scared that one false move would turn him into an undead bag of Puppy Chow.
"Tell them what you told us," Lucas commanded.
It seemed to cost a lot of effort, but the vampire obeyed. He was likely hoping we'd hold up to our end of the bargain and set him free if he complied.
When he was done, I turned my attention to Rolf, who had not uttered a word. In the low light from the fire behind him, I could see a vein ticking in his temple—the only clue to the fury raging beneath his calm exterior. And yeah, if I stretched my power, I could feel it. He was livid. But, strangely, his voice was subdued when he spoke.
"I thought you claimed to have proof," he rumbled.
I shot a glance at Lucas, who looked about as shocked as I felt.
"What do you mean? This is proof."
"This is nothing but a scared little boy who will say anything to stay alive."
Lucas's mouth thinned. I knew he wanted to tell them all that I'd read his emotions and confirmed what the vampire said, but that would mean my death along with the vampire's. No way was Rolf going to let me live if he knew what I could do.
"It's the truth," Lucas snarled.
"What more do you want, Rolf?" Lucas exploded, flapping his arms out to the side. "A vampire from the Denver brood just told you everything he knows about the uprising and you still believe it's a lie? Are you really that damned stubborn?"
"You hold your tongue," Rolf said, voice like a gunshot through the room. "I am over five-hundred-years old, and there has never been a day in my life that I have sunk so low as to trust a vampire. Today will be no different. This creature knows that information—whether false or otherwise—is his only chance to be released. He will say whatever you want to hear to be set free. You should know that, Lucas."
I watched Lucas chew on the inside of his mouth, veins popping out of his neck. Yeah, I too wanted to blurt out that I had confirmed the vampire's story with my power, but I didn't want it bad enough to risk death. Still, if we didn't convince Rolf to take action on the uprising, the gory scene in the barn would be just the beginning.
"So you'll just sit around and do nothing while innocent humans die?" I asked.
Rolf's cold gaze locked on me, and it took everything I had not to shiver underneath it.
"We work every night to hunt the vampires that assault our territory. We always have and always will. But I refuse to waste time preparing for a war that will never come. Do you realize that if I were to accept this war as a reality, I would be obligated to alert every single pack master in Northern America? Word would spread throughout the wolf packs that I started this. That I initiated the fight. Hundreds of thousands would be mobilized, families evacuated from their homes, curfews, weapons, even riots among the conservative packs! It would be chaos within weeks. And then what if your little theory proves to be false, hmm?"
He peered between the two of us with eyes narrowed. "Do you think everyone will simply shrug and turn back to their lives, as though this happens every day? The werewolves' authority has never been challenged by the vampires. The wolf packs will not forget this so easily; they will hold someone accountable for the unnecessary trauma they inflicted on their packs. And who do you think that will be?" He stepped closer to us and pointed his index finger at us as though we'd been naughty puppies who peed on the rug. "If I alert the packs and this proves false, they will be out for blood—my blood. So no, Faith. I will not allow the vampires to continue killing on my land. I never have. But as for the uprising? If I hear anyone in this pack even utter the word, I will personally declaw you every full moon for the next fifty years. Is this understood?"
Silence echoed for a beat, but I wouldn't be subdued so easily.
"Well, I'm not in the pack," I said, "so does that mean I can talk about it?"
Lucas shook his head slowly—though I thought I saw a hidden grin on his lips—and Rolf straight-up growled at me, which I took as a definitive "no."
"Get out the both of you," Rolf spat. "And take your scum with you."
He swept out of the room, heading for the stairs, and the rest of the pack began to disperse. Julian and Katie found us immediately.
"This was really dumb," Katie said.
"If he wasn't so stubborn, it would have worked," I said sullenly.
"Well, you should have known better," Julian said to Lucas.
"Had to try," he mumbled and then sighed. "Help me take care of him, would you?" He gestured to the vampire, who looked on the verge of passing out. "Oh, and we got frenzy leftovers to clean up, too. Get a crew going, would you, Katie? I think I killed all the live ones before we left so just disposal."
Katie nodded with a jerk and jogged off.
Julian began dragging the vampire—who was now kicking and screaming—toward the back doors. I turned to Lucas.
"What do we do now?" I asked.
"What is there left to do? The verdict's gonna be read tomorrow, and even if by some miracle they don't convict me—which is a pretty slim chance after the stunt we just pulled—Rolf's made it clear that he won't alert the packs no matter what we do. He has to see it for himself."
"But he won't even try," I said, halfway stamping my foot in frustration.
"I know it sounds grim, but best we can hope for now is for the vampires to kick it up a notch. Maybe if they kill enough girls, Rolf'll realize he can't turn a blind eye anymore."
I shook my head. What a thing to hope for.
"Lucas, you coming?" Julian asked from the backyard as he struggled with the vampire.
"I gotta go take care of this stuff," he said.
"Okay, I'll be—"
"With Derek," he finished. "I know."
- On Sale
- Aug 14, 2012
- Page Count
- 496 pages
- Running Press Kids