Blazing gold eyes, silken dark fur, and that smell.
A caress traveled across my collarbone and down to the tops of my breasts. My skin was sensitized, alive, and my body was filled with a strange lethargy. I opened my eyes and looked up at Grayson. His attention drifted to my mouth, then back up to my eyes.
“Is it over?” My voice was raspy.
He reached up and picked something out of my hair. A leaf. “It’s over.”
“I turned into a wolf?”
“A beautiful silver wolf.”
His gaze raked over me, his pale eyes darkened, and then his mouth was on mine, tongue wrestling with mine, because I was kissing him back, taking what he was offering. It felt fucking amazing. It felt right, it was like falling into a cool lake after being sunburned, it was the bliss of the sting against my fevered skin. His thigh slipped between mine, pressing against my core. I ground against him, slick and wet and fucking wanton.
Her voice in my head was a reminder that this wasn’t me. What the fuck was I doing? I turned my head to the side to break the kiss.
Grayson growled, his hands slipping in my hair, fisting and holding me steady. “I could take you, Fee. I could take you right now.”
I dug my fingers into the moist earth to stop myself from touching him, because, God help me, my body wanted this. It wanted him inside me, but the consequences were too much.
“Tell me why I shouldn’t take you right now, Fee.” He slipped between my thighs so his cock was flush against my core and rolled his hips against me. A low moan rose up in the air.
My eyes fluttered closed.
“Tell me why?” He kissed my neck, licked and sucked on my flesh, drawing heat up from my toes. It settled between my thighs, pooling, getting wetter, and swelling with need.
He rubbed against me, sliding between my folds to graze my clit, and then I was moving with him, desperate for more, desperate for the spiraling, tightening sensation that led to bliss. Fuck. Fuck.
“You want me. Tell me you want me?” He crushed his mouth to mine, making it impossible to tell him anything.
I was a prisoner of sensation, a slave to my body, to his fucking mouth and his cock and his hands, and if I allowed this to happen, I’d be a slave to his pack.
“No!” I pulled my mouth from his and shoved him.
He froze on top of me, body going rigid.
I locked gazes with him as our breath mingled hot and heavy. I inhaled him, squeezed my eyes shut, and forced the words out. “I don’t want to mate with you, Grayson. I want to be free.”
He climbed off me in one smooth motion and turned his back. His shoulders heaved, and the muscles on his back rippled with tension.
There was no denying he was beautiful, no denying that I wanted him, but not enough to give up my life.
The Loup world wasn’t for me. “I’m not the one for you, Grayson. I can’t be what you want.”
He sighed. “I know.” His voice sounded strained. “We better get back to the house.”
I rose and reached for my clothes just as my comm, which was sitting on top of the pile, buzzed to life. I plucked it off my dress and read the message.
Conah is at the house. He’s hurt. The guys are in trouble. Get back quick.
Oh, shit. “What’s the quickest way home?”
Grayson, who was already half-dressed, pulled his phone from his jacket pocket and dialed.
“Dean, I need our car at Zone B, stat.”
I hurried to dress, heart pounding in my chest like a tin drum. Conah was hurt, the guys were in trouble, and nothing else mattered.
Nothing but them.
I burst into the guest room to find Conah lying on the sofa. His shirt was torn and bloody, his golden hair was mussed, and his sapphire eyes were filled with horrors.
“Fee…” He tried to sit up but collapsed back against the leather.
“He’s hurt,” Cora said, emerging from the ensuite. She handed me a wet washcloth. “I was about to clean him up.”
I took it and dropped to my knees by the couch. There was blood on his neck and collarbone. I swiped the cloth over his skin, mopping up the dried, crusty residue.
“What happened? Where are Azazel and Mal?” I searched his pale face for answers.
Conah tried to sit up again, but I pushed him back down easily. He was weak. Even his lips were bloodless.
I smoothed his hair back off his forehead. “You need to rest.”
“No.” He tried to sit up once more. “I have to go back. I have to get them out.”
I felt Grayson’s presence, but I didn’t take my eyes off Conah.
I pressed a hand to his chest, feeling his heart beating too fast. “You need to rest.” He lay back down, making a sound of exasperation, and I stroked his cheek to calm him down. “What happened?”
He closed his eyes for a moment and shook his head. “Dammit, it’s so fucking fuzzy.”
“Start at the beginning.”
He blew out a breath. “All right, Azazel stayed outside, and we tethered to him using celestial rope. Mal and I went in. It was gray, ash floating in the air. It was this world but as if someone had sucked all the joy from it. As if it was a husk, and there were souls—black and red whizzing about. They didn’t touch us, didn’t pay any attention to us, but then there was a voice.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “I can’t remember what it said, but then Azazel was with us. It…It pulled him in using the tether. I remember we were about to fight it…this thing.”
He clenched his teeth in frustration. “That’s just it, I can’t remember. I was somewhere else for a while… I was in a memory, but I thought it was real until…Until I remembered you.” He took my hand. “Fee. Remembering you woke me up. In that moment, I wanted nothing more than to be with you, and then I was outside the house.”
“Where is it? Where is the Eye?”
His eyes widened. “No. You can’t go. I have to go back in.”
“Like hell, you’re in no condition to go anywhere,” Cora snapped. “Now stop being a bloody idiot about it, and tell us the location.”
Two more figures entered the room. I glanced up in annoyance. This wasn’t a fucking freak show, but my irritation melted at the sight of Petra. She looked even smaller than the last time I’d seen her. But there was an undeniable strength to the woman, a power that seemed to halo her. She joined me by the sofa and knelt to take Conah’s hand. He let her, staring up at her as if she was some kind of marvel.
“You can see, can’t you?” she said.
I was confused. “See what?”
“Her aura,” Conah said. “It’s beautiful.”
He saw auras?
“And yours is tainted,” Petra said. “I’m afraid the malignant have fed off you. It will take some days for your spirit to restore itself. You will need to rest.”
Fed off him…oh, shit. They had Azazel and Mal. Were they feeding off them, too?
“A Dominus’s soul is a powerful source of sustenance for a malignant soul,” Petra continued. “Even more so than a human soul. Do you know why?”
“No,” Conah and I said simultaneously.
She smiled gently. “Memories. That’s what the malignant feed on. And a long-lived demon will have plenty of those. More than a human. This place, the Eye, as you call it, is a special place for them. A place where they can siphon.”
“You know about it?”
She nodded slowly. “Oh, yes. Nothing good ever comes out of the Eye, and only a malignant soul can navigate it and emerge untouched.”
But Mal and Azazel weren’t malignant. “There has to be a way to get them out.”
Petra looked at me with pity. “They shouldn’t have gone inside. Not when they knew so little of the place.”
But they had, and now they were trapped. “I don’t understand. Why didn’t Uri tell you what to expect?”
“The celestials have no idea what lies beyond the rift,” Petra said.
I frowned at Petra. “How do you know so much about the Eye?”
“I dreamt it,” Petra said simply.
“Petra’s ancestors were shamans,” Grayson said. “Her family has been part of our pack for generations.”
Conah tried to sit up for the third time, and this time I helped to prop him up.
Cora grabbed a blanket and draped it over his lower body, shooting him a stern look. “You stay there. We’ve got this.”
Had we? Had we got this? “Anyone know a malignant spirit willing to put its malignancy aside and help us out?” It was a quip, a joke, but the words nudged an idea to life in my mind. “Shit. I think I know someone who can help us.”
Conah frowned. “You know a malignant spirit?”
The champagne I’d drunk sloshed around in my stomach at the thought of what I was about to do. “Yes. Yes, I think I do.”
“You can’t leave Necro, or you’ll break bail,” Grayson said once I closed the door on Conah. “The Eye is outside Necro, Fee.”
“She won’t be going to the Eye,” Cora said. “I will. We just need to get this Jasper ghost on board.”
Jasper, the unfriendly ghost who liked to snap the necks of blood witches who held him prisoner. Do not shudder, Fee. Wait, what had Cora just said?
She was going into the Eye? “I can’t ask you to do that, Cor.”
“You’re not. I’m offering.”
Grayson’s shoulders relaxed. “What do you need?”
“I need a car, and I need to change out of this ridiculous dress.”
“It’s not ridiculous. It looks stunning on you,” he said softly, wistfully.
A lump formed in my throat. He hadn’t commented on my attire all evening, and he chose now to do it? Stubborn man.
Cora cleared her throat. “And back to the situation at hand…” She jerked her head down the corridor to where Vi was walking toward us, concern etched on her face.