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Hunt The Darkness
By Alexandra Ivy
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Debbie Raleigh
All rights reserved.
Roke hadn't yet given in to his overwhelming desire to commit gargoyle-cide.
But it was a near thing.
Roke was antisocial by nature, and having to endure endless chatter from a stunted gargoyle for the past three weeks had been nothing short of torture.
It was only the fact that Levet could sense Yannah, the demon who'd helped Sally flee from Chicago, that kept him from sending the annoying twit back to Styx.
His mating connection to Sally allowed him to sense her, but Yannah's ability to teleport from one place to another in a blink of an eye meant by the time he could locate her, she was already gone.
Levet seemed to have a more direct connection to Yannah, although they still spent their nights chasing from one place to another, always one step behind them.
With a small smile he came to a halt, allowing his senses to flow outward.
The sturdy cottage tucked on the western coast of British Columbia was perched to overlook the churning waves of the North Pacific Ocean. Built from the gray stones that lined the craggy cliffs, it had a steep, metal roof to shed the heavy snowfalls and windows that were already shuttered against the late autumn breeze. A garage plus two sturdy sheds surrounded the bleak property, but it was far enough away from civilization to avoid prying eyes.
Not that prying eyes could have detected him.
Leaving his custom-built turbine-powered motorcycle hidden in the trees, Roke was dressed in black. Black jeans, black tee, and black leather jacket with a pair of knee-high moccasins that allowed him to move in lethal silence.
With his bronzed skin and dark hair that brushed his broad shoulders, he blended into the darkness with ease. Only his eyes were visible. Although silver in color, they were so pale they appeared white in the moonlight, and rimmed by a circle of pure black.
Over the centuries those eyes had unnerved the most savage demons. No one liked the sensation that their soul was being laid bare.
On the other hand, his lean, beautiful features that were clearly from Native American origins had been luring women to his bed since he'd awoken as a vampire.
They sighed beneath the touch of his full, sensual lips and eagerly pressed against the lean, chiseled perfection of his body. Their fingers traced the proud line of his nose, the wide brow, and his high cheekbones.
It didn't matter that most considered him as cold and unfeeling as a rattlesnake. Or that he would sacrifice anything or anyone to protect his clan.
They found his ruthless edge ... exciting.
All except one notable exception.
A damned shame that exception happened to be his mate.
No. Not mate.
Or at least, not in the traditional sense.
Three weeks ago he'd been in Chicago when the demon world had battled against the Dark Lord. They'd managed to turn back the hordes of hell, but instead of allowing him to return to his clan in Nevada, Styx, the Anasso, had insisted that he remain to babysit Sally Grace, a witch who'd fought with the Dark Lord.
Roke had been furious.
Not only was he desperate to return to his people, but he hated witches.
All vampires did.
Magic was the one weapon they had no defense against.
Regrettably, when Styx gave an order, a wise vampire jumped to obey.
The alternative wasn't pretty.
Of course, at the time none of them had realized that Sally was half demon. Or that she would panic at being placed in the dungeons beneath Styx's elegant lair.
He absently rubbed his inner forearm where the mating mark was branded into his skin.
The witch claimed that she was simply trying to enchant him long enough to convince him to help her escape. And after his initial fury at realizing her demon magic had somehow ignited the mating bond, Roke had grudgingly accepted it had been an accident.
What he hadn't accepted was her running off to search for the truth of her father.
It was her fault they were bound together.
She had no right to slip away like a thief in the night.
"Do you sense anyone?"
The question was spoken in a low voice that was edged with a French accent, jerking Roke out of his dark broodings. Glancing downward, he ruefully met his companion's curious gaze.
What the hell had happened to his life?
A mate that wasn't a mate. A three-foot gargoyle sidekick. And a clan that had been without their chief for far too long.
"She's there," he murmured, his gaze skimming over the creature's ugly mug. Levet had all the usual gargoyle features. Gray skin, horns, a small snout, and a tail he kept lovingly polished. It was only his delicate wings and diminutive size that marked him as different. Oh, and his appalling lack of control over his magic. Roke turned back to the cottage where he could catch the distinctive scent of peaches. A primitive heat seared through him, drawing him forward. "I have you, little witch."
Scampering to keep up with his long, silent strides, Levet tugged at the hem of his jacket.
"Umm ... Roke?"
"Not now, gargoyle." Roke never paused as he made his way toward the back of the cottage. "I've spent the past three weeks being led around like a damned hound on a leash. I intend to savor the moment."
"While you're savoring, I hope that you will recall Sally must have a good reason for—"
"Her reason is to drive me nuts," Roke interrupted, pausing at the side of the nearest shed. "I promised her that we would go in search of her father. Together."
"Oui. But when?"
Roke clenched his teeth. "In case you've forgotten, she nearly died when the—"
Roke grimaced. The creature that they'd so recently battled might have claimed to be the first vampire, but that didn't make him a god. The bastard had nearly killed Sally in an attempt to break the magic that held him captive.
"When the ancient spirit attacked her," he snapped. "She should be grateful that I was willing to wait for her to regain her strength."
Levet cleared his throat. "And that is the only reason you tried to keep her imprisoned?"
"She wasn't imprisoned," he denied, refusing to recall his panic when Sally had lain unconscious for hours.
Or his fierce reluctance to allow Sally to leave Styx's lair.
"Non?" Levet clicked his tongue, seemingly oblivious to how close Roke was to yanking that tongue out of his mouth. "I would have sworn she was locked in the dungeons."
"Not after Gaius was destroyed."
"You mean after she saved the world from the vampire- god?" the gargoyle taunted. "Generous of you."
Oh yeah. The tongue was going to have to go.
"Don't push me, gargoyle," he muttered, allowing his senses to spread outward.
He would deal with the aggravating gargoyle later.
Testing the air, he caught the scent of salty foam as waves crashed against the rocks below, the acrid tang of smoke from the chimney, and the distant perfume of a water sprite playing among the whales.
But overriding it all was that tantalizing aroma of warm peaches.
A potent aphrodisiac that once again compelled him forward.
Levet grabbed his back pocket. "Where are you going?"
Roke didn't miss a step as he swatted the pest away. "To get my mate."
"I do not believe that is a good idea."
"Thankfully I don't give a shit what you think."
"Très bien," the gargoyle sniffed. "You are the panty boss."
"Bossy-pants, you idiot," Roke muttered, heading directly for the back door.
He'd officially run out of patience twenty-one days and several thousand miles ago.
Which would explain why he didn't even consider the fact Sally might be prepared for his arrival.
Less than a foot from the back steps he was brought to a painful halt as an invisible net of magic wrapped around him, the bands of air so tight they would have sliced straight through him if he'd been human.
"What the hell?"
Levet waddled forward, his wings twitching as he studied Roke with open curiosity.
"A magical snare. Sacrebleu. I've never seen one so strong."
Roke flashed his fangs, futilely struggling to escape.
Damn, but he hated magic.
"Why didn't you warn me?" he snarled.
"I did," the gargoyle huffed in outrage. "I told you it was a bad idea."
Okay, he hated magic and gargoyles.
"You didn't tell me there was a trap."
"You are chasing a powerful witch. What did you expect?" The damned beast dared to smile. "Besides, it's such a fine spell. It would have been a pity to spoil Sally's fun."
"I swear, gargoyle, when I get out of here—"
"Are all vampires always so bad-tempered, or is it just you?" a light female voice demanded, the scent of peaches drenching the air.
Roke swallowed a groan, a complex mixture of fury, lust, and savage relief surging through him.
None of it showed on his face as he turned to study the tiny female with shoulder-length hair that was a blend of deep red tresses streaked with gold. She had pale, almost fragile features with velvet brown eyes and full lips that begged to be kissed.
"Hello, my love," he said in a low, husky voice. "Did you miss me?"
* * *
Sally Grace had been well aware that she was being hunted.
Not only hunted ... but hunted by a first-class, grade A, always-get-my-man predator.
And she should know all about predators.
She'd been prey since her mother had tried to put an end to her existence with a particularly nasty spell on her sixteenth birthday. No one understood the difference between an okay hunter and one you didn't have a hope in hell of shaking off your trail better than she did.
Still, she'd managed to elude him for the past three weeks.
Twenty-one days longer than she'd expected.
Now she intended to hold her ground.
No one was putting her back in a cell.
Planting her hands on her hips, she pretended a confidence she was far from feeling.
"Why are you following me?"
His beautiful eyes shimmered a perfect silver in the moonlight.
Of course, everything about him was perfect, she acknowledged with a renegade rush of awareness.
The exquisitely carved features. The dark hair that was silky smooth. The hard, chiseled body that should only be possible with Photoshop.
And the raw, sexual magnetism that pulsed in the air around him.
There wasn't a woman alive who wouldn't secretly wish he'd handcuff her to the nearest bed.
A pity he was a coldhearted vampire who would happily kill her if her magic hadn't tied them together as mates.
She shivered despite the heavy sweatshirt and jeans she wore to combat the cold.
"Is that a joke?"
She tilted her chin. "There's nothing funny about our situation."
"Then why don't you return to Chicago?" she demanded in frustration. "I'm perfectly capable of tracking down my father without you."
A dark brow arched. "Really?"
"The last time you went rogue we ended up mated." His lips twisted as he stopped struggling and instead stood there with his head held high, pride etched onto his beautiful face. As if he was above noticing her tedious spell. "Forgive me if I don't entirely trust you."
Sally flinched, her eyes narrowing. Dammit. She didn't need any reminders that she was a major screwup.
Not when she was tired and frustrated and in the mood to punch something.
Really, really hard.
"Sacrebleu," a voice rasped, drawing Sally's attention to the tiny gargoyle standing at Roke's side. "You may have a death wish, vampire, but I do not. I believe I will speak with Yannah."
Sally blinked, effectively distracted by the question.
Yannah had been a strange travel companion. The small demon had happily zapped Sally to each of her mother's properties so Sally could search for clues of her father, but she'd rarely spoken and had spent most of her time zoned out as she mentally communicated with her mother, who also happened to be an Oracle.
Sally had been almost relieved when Yannah had abruptly announced she had to go home.
She was used to being on her own.
It was ... comfortable. Familiar.
Tragic, achingly lonely, but familiar.
"She left," she informed Levet.
"Left?" His heavy brow furrowed. "What do you mean left?"
"One minute she was standing next to me complaining about the dust, and the next—" She waved a hand.
"Poof," Levet finished.
Without warning the gargoyle was stomping away, his tail twitching and his tiny hands waving in the air as he muttered to himself.
"Aggravating, unpredictable, impossible female."
"I feel his pain," Roke drawled.
She turned back to stab him with a glare. "Not yet, but keep it up and you will."
The silver eyes shimmered. "Release me."
Sally wrapped her arms around her waist. She could feel his anger through their bond, but more than that she could feel a seething frustration that was echoed deep inside her.
That scared her more than his irritation.
"Why should I?" she bluffed. Yeah, look at her. All badass just so long as Roke remained trapped in her spell. "You're trespassing on my property."
He glanced toward the cottage. "Yours?"
She shrugged. "It was my mother's, and since I'm her only heir, I assume her various houses are now mine."
"She had more than one?"
"What do you think I've been doing the past three weeks?"
The silver gaze returned to sear over her pale face. "Running."
She sniffed, refusing to admit that running had been a large part of what she'd been doing.
There had been a little method to her madness.
"I've been searching through my mother's belongings," she said. "I hoped that she would have left some clue to my ..." She bit off the word father. Did a donation of sperm actually earn the title of father? "To who impregnated her."
He frowned. "I thought you said that witches had a spell so their private papers were destroyed when they died?"
It was true that many witches had binding spells attached to their most sensitive possessions. It gave a whole new meaning to taking "secrets to the grave." And her mother had been more secretive than most.
Still, she had to cling to some small fragment of hope. Dammit.
"They do," she grudgingly admitted. "But she wouldn't have destroyed everything. There has to be a clue somewhere."
"Release me and I'll help you search." He studied her stubborn expression, silently compelling her to obey. "Sally."
"Don't growl at me. You locked me in a cell—"
"And I let you out."
"Only because I forced you to."
A dangerous chill blasted through the air at her foolish reminder that he'd briefly been under her complete control.
"Sally, like it or not we're stuck together," he rasped between clenched teeth.
"I don't like it."
The silver eyes narrowed. "If that were true, then you would be eager for my help."
She snorted. "Nice try."
"You know that vampires are the finest hunters in the world," he continued, ignoring her interruption. "And I'm one of the best."
"And so modest."
"If you were as anxious as you claim to end our mating, you would be begging for my ... services."
His gaze deliberately lowered to take in her slender body, making Sally tremble in reaction. Blessed goddess. The blast of sexual arousal that jolted through her made her feel like she'd been struck by lightning.
And the worst part was, she couldn't blame the intense reaction on the faux mating.
She'd been aching for Roke from the moment she'd caught sight of those dark, male features and the astonishing silver eyes. Not to mention the tight ass that filled out a pair of jeans with oh-my-god perfection.
"Jeez, could you be any more annoying?" she muttered, reluctantly releasing the spell that bound him. The magic was draining her at a rapid rate, and the last thing she wanted was to collapse in front of this man. Better that she pretended to be bored with the game. "You're free. Now go away."
The words had barely left her lips when Roke was flowing forward at a blinding speed.
"Roke." His name was a muffled protest against his chest as he lashed his arms around her and flattened her against his body.
"Don't move," he growled, pressing his face into the curve of her neck, his fangs lightly scraping her skin.
"What are you doing?"
He shuddered, his hands running a compulsive path down her back to cup her hips.
"You feel it," he whispered against her neck.
And she did.
Not just the tidal wave of sensual pleasure at being in his arms, but the strange sensation of something settling deep inside her.
Excerpted from Hunt The Darkness by Alexandra Ivy. Copyright © 2014 Debbie Raleigh. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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