Come Into The Light
After a twist of events Troy has lost the battle with his other self. Velvet believes she can wait it out. Months go by and Takeru has taken over every aspect of Troy’s life. He has fooled the city and the the Brotherhood. He has also terrorized the pack into silent submission. Velvet decides she must step back into pack business. She begins to wonder if she is being finessed by Takeru.After getting repeated glimpses of Troy behind Takeru’s eyes Velvet feels her lover is trying hard to come back to her. Takeru means to shut that all down and claim Velvet for himself.
Tyra caught Devon’s eye across the street, his face was already wolfish as there was no reason to hide his super nature. He gave a slight toss of his head and turned toward the alleyway. Tyra knew to follow. The smell of human blood increased with each step she took.
At the end of the alley, three young male vampires stood ready, facing them with furrowed brows, elongated teeth, and fangs. Their long thick fingernails they held as claws. Tyra scanned the alley. Not so much room for battle, yet it would do. Devon walked right up to the vampires, all three managed to not cower as they looked to the others. They seemed to decide to stand firm, blocking the back door entrance to the building behind them.
“Don’t start nothing and there won’t be nothing,” Devon told the nervous youngsters.
“You- you can’t go in there!” The vampire in the middle spoke up and took a step backward. “This is private property.”
“Is it your property?”
“Who wants to know?”
“Who do we look like?” Devon snarled.
The vampire looked him over, and clearly recognized him to be a werewolf. He looked at Tyra, his eyes bucked in his head when he noticed the twin swords she revealed under her duster.
“You fellas move on,” she said. They were too young and scared to be more than disposable looks outs.
“We’ve got our orders, Miss Washington.”
“I’m not Velvet Washington, you idiot. I’m Tyra Kincaid,” she corrected the assumption with just a bit of a boast.
“The slayer!” The other two vampires cried out at the same time, pulling swords from down their backs.
Tyra sighed and snatched the vampire in the middle up by his jacket. In his face, she said, “You fellas want to die tonight?”
“No,” he answered. “Sparks, Stan. Y’all back down with the swords.”
“This is Tyra Kincaid! Y’all know she’s one cold ass bitch!” DC yanked himself free, ripping the collar right off his jacket. “And that werewolf is crazy!” DC ran to the back door. Without warning, he opened the door, slammed it shut, leaving his boys in the alley with the slayer and a growling werewolf.
Devon abruptly spun around, grabbing the wooden cross attached to his utility belt.
More vampires. Tyra sensed them rather than saw them. “Sparks. You and Stan, drop those swords right now, or I will kill you in two seconds.” They dropped their weapons then split in the same fashion as DC.
From behind the shadows of the dumpsters, several vampires stepped into the moonlight. In front was that Japanese guy with the long cornrows. A step behind him was Darnell. Tyra had heard about Darnell being known to pack heat. She stepped forward meeting them. Darnell snickered in her face, showing his fangs.
“You going to pull those swords or what, slayer?”
“You really want me to, Darnell?”
“You know me,” he asked mildly.
“I’d be a sorry vampire slayer if I didn’t know the major vampire’s in my own city.” Besides, next to Jerome, Darnell was about the best-looking man she’d ever seen, living or undead. His creamy peanut butter complexion just about matched her own.
“You have no business back here. This is private property.”
“I’m smelling human blood. For me to smell it like this means there is an awful lot of it in the air.”
“Considering we are vampires, why wouldn’t you smell blood?”
“Because it is illegal to operate blood bars in Fairlight.”
“This building is private property, not a public bar. If you think we’re breaking the law call the police.”
“I don’t need to call anybody,” she said stepping back, and pulled her swords out. “I’m more than capable of handling this.”
“No one is here against their will.”
“I don’t believe you. March all your vamps out of here, or I will drag them out by their feet. You decide how you close this joint right now.”
“Haido,” Darnell said to his stylish, silent friend. “Take the boy wonder and I’ll show this bitch how I’m not about to close shit!” He commenced to swiping hard and fast at her head and face. He was good. A lot better than Tyra would have guessed. But he was angry and letting the vampire inside him rage and relied on his speed and strength to overpower her. Tyra was strong and fast, and knew her skill outclassed Darnell by a mile. After a few minutes, he knew it as well. He glanced in Haido’s direction as if accessing the situation. Haido was without a sword and up against the wall. His throat was dripping blood. Devon had dug in and was ready to rip him apart.
“Now, think it through, Darnell,” Tyra suggested. “You can save your boyfriend’s life by backing off, and getting your crew out of here. Or you can risk more of your people to save him and defeat me. Just remember, it’s an amber moon tonight. Werewolves get real turned up on that.”
“Fine,” Darnell said. “Let Haido go.”
“Haido leaves last. Don’t for one moment think, I won’t know when every bloodsucker is out of this neighborhood.”
“All right, you win this one, Tyra. At least, tell him to get his claws out of Haido’s throat!”
“I’m not his boss,” Tyra said. She watched the other vampires back off and finally step out of the alley. “Now, drop your weapon and sit your punk ass down.”
“And spoil this suit?” Darnell gaped at her like she was nuts. It was a nice suit and he wore it very well. Tyra had to admit Darnell had it all going on with his fair skin tone and light brown eyes, a faint dusting of freckles across his nose. “I’m not about to sit down in filth, Tyra.” He adjusted his tie to make it lie flat on his chest.
“Devon, hurt Haido.”
Devon pushed a single claw deeper into Haido’s throat. “Aaaah!” he screamed until Devon paused to glance back at Tyra for further instructions.
“Stop it, Devon!” Darnell swallowed hard. “Tyra, you know a serious injury from a werewolf can be devastating to a vampire!”
“So? You think we care? You care more about staining your suit than your buddy?”
“Make him stop,” Darnell said. “You already won. Don’t keep pushing it.”
“How about, you don’t make me? Devon, let him lose. He’s useless for the time being.” She walked up to Darnell. “You tell Jerome, I said, he better not be starting up again.”
“That’s funny, Tyra.”
“Then why aren’t you laughing?”
“Like we don’t know what they did to him.”
“What who did to whom?” Devon frowned, keeping an eye on the entrance to the alleyway.
Tyra caught the look exchanged between Haido and Darnell. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m done with you tonight.” Darnell turned his back on her.
“Hold it! If you are going to accuse somebody of something, say it straight out. Ain’t nobody got time for bullshit.”
“Come on, Tyra.” Darnell included Devon with a look. “You know Jerome has been missing since that night.”
“What night?” There were a lot of nights. “Jerome is missing? Since when?”
“That night Troy tried to slaughter him on his dance floor!”
“Oh, you mean that night he had Rex sever Rankin’s head!” The memory filled her with sudden rage. Poor Rankin and Vee! She hadn’t known who to pity the most. Velvet was a wreck over that for days until she saw with her own eyes that Rankin was able to recover. “And you shot Troy’s hump with silver bullets! You bastards were lucky, Devon and I weren’t there that night!”
“Tyra.” Devon pulled her back out of Darnell’s snarling face.
“Yes, that’s the night.” Darnell took a handkerchief from his hip pocket and wiped his mouth. Glaring at the pair he went on. “Jerome wasn’t healing so good until- never mind that. I had to leave him and when I got back there had been a fire, signs of a struggle and no Jerome. And not one of you, until now, even mentioned Jerome.”
“Boy, if one of us did away with Jerome, you can bet your last meal, we wouldn’t keep it a secret!”
“He’s nuts,” Devon said. “Don’t know what he’s talking about.”
“I don’t? Or have the two of you been kept in the dark?”
“No damn way,” Devon insisted.
“Then ask her if she and Troy sneaked out to finish Jerome off!”
“Why are you bringing Troy into this?” Tyra asked. If Velvet needed back up to take out Jerome, the person to have along was herself. Not a werewolf wounded with multiple silver bullets.
“He’s her boyfriend, isn’t he? Who but Velvet and Troy had so much to gain from Jerome’s demise?”
“You think he’s dead?”
“Why else wouldn’t he be involved in his operations?”
“Wilder sired him,” Devon reminded them. “He’d know and be affected if Jerome was murdered. He ain’t showed any sign of anything being wrong.”
“He’d know,” Darnell agreed. “But affected? Not necessarily if Velvet were involved. She’s been hexing that guy for years. She’s capable of anything.”
“Well, we already knew that, bright eyes,” Tyra bragged. “But Velvet doesn’t keep secrets from her associates. Why would she hide it? She’s always wanted to kill Jerome.”
“Doesn’t make sense,” Devon put in. “It’s more like the ole boy had enough of Troy’s claws and hauled ass out of town.”
“Not in a million years,” Darnell objected. “You two have no idea what kind of vampire Jerome is, and you sure don’t know the kind of woman you work for.”
“And guess what else, bright eyes? I don’t give a damn. You ready to head out, Devon?” She didn’t wait for an answer, but calmly walked past Darnell and stepped over Haido lying on the concrete panting to relieve his pain. He’d heal soon enough, no need for the murderous glares. Smiling, she exited the alleyway trailed by Devon.
“Look, you really need to calm down, or slow your roll, or whatever you people do these days.”
“You people? What people do you think we are?” Velvet tore her sunglasses from her face. This jerk better not be one of those throwbacks. Bad enough if he hated super beings, but she’d be damned and ashamed of herself, if she put up with a straight up racist.
“You’re a witch, ain’t you?” He turned and pointed at Devon, who rose from beside the body he was waiting to examine. “And that kid, he’s a freak too. Y’all ain’t cops.”
“But all the same, you and your crew will back up and give us access, detective.”
“Now, see here!” He sidestepped in front of her, blocking her path to the dead body. “You ain’t getting near the body until the coroner arrives.”
“And do what when she arrives? She can’t even officially pronounce a demon dead.”
“Well, we are still going to wait.” A loud growling swung him around, his hand reached for his glock.
“Don’t you dare pull that weapon,” Velvet strongly advised. As of that moment, she’d had enough trying to reason with the detective and his pride. He knew she was there officially because the police were not equipped to handle cases involving the supernatural or super beings. “We aren’t waiting for the coroner, her assistant is here and that is all that is required.”
“Madam, I realize you were once a cop, but that don’t mean shit. I’m in charge of this crime scene.”
“And how are you going to work it when you are too afraid to go near the corpse?” Rather than dignify her question with a response, he pressed his lips together and glowered. “About what I thought,” she said moving away from the detective and over to the body on the crumbled pavement and Devon.
The dead woman lay on her back, her eyes staring up at the cloudy sky. Hunkering down, she ignored the police and forensic personnel moving around, doing practically nothing useful. After pulling on a pair of surgical gloves, she lifted the sheet covering the victim’s torso. She was an awful mess. Her purple body had bled blue blood. Her chest and arms were more bone than flesh. Her heart and lungs were gone along with most of her intestines. Velvet hoped those wounds were inflicted post-mortem, but somehow she didn’t think so. The kind of work was done up close and personal. A real punishment.
Rising up from the dead woman, Velvet bellowed her voice, wishing she had the capacity to give every cop in the overgrown parking lot a headache. “Where’s the damn coroner’s assistant!”
“Here,” a stout fifty-something woman piped up and took her time leaving the white van to come forward to the body. “My name is Karla Alverez.”
“We are going to start examining the body, Karla.”
“And you needed to tell me that?” Devon offered a low growl before Karla left the scene preferring to sit in the coroner’s van and catch up on her texting.
“Devon?” He was giving off those vibes that Velvet found hard to ignore. He was full of tension which he was doing his best to hide. “Dee, you all right?”
“Sure, I’m just fine. I ain’t laid out dead, torn apart, while these so called cops are standing around ordering take out!”
“Calm down,” Velvet whispered. “You’re making them nervous.”
“How long do you think the mayor is going to allow the police to consult us? Do you really think he’s come around with his bigoted way of thinking?”
“No. But this new crime wave grabbed him by the balls. Demons aren’t just killing demons these days. And vampires aren’t asking for consent much either now.”
“I think it’s Jerome. Without him controlling things this kind of mess is going to get plentiful.”
“Jerome is just a criminal himself.”
“He always had the demons under control, kept the streets orderly. Suddenly, he’s out of the picture and the streets are flooded with activity. I think he’s sending the city a message.”
“Interesting. I never thought of that, Devon. It would explain what is up with these demons suddenly acting like they don’t know right from wrong.”
The slamming of a car door drew her attention from Devon and the dead body to the man walking up to her. She rose, moving away from the body to meet his casual approach. For a few seconds, he just stared back at her. Feeling awkward, she broke the gaze and greeted him softly. “Detective.”
“Is that how it is now? You can’t say my name?”
“Omar.” It had been a while and he was looking good. “I wasn’t sure how you were feeling about me these days. How have you been?”
“Good. Been better, but still good.” He continued to look at her until she felt like he was checking her out.
“Um, are you working this case?”
“Yeah. I heard they brought in a witch to consult on this one. Had no idea it would be you. You looking good, Vee.”
“How you doing, kid?” He greeted Devon after finally noticing he was silently watching him ogle his boss. He returned his attention on Velvet. “Yeah, you looking good, girl.”
“Is that your professional opinion?”
“It’s just the truth, baby.”
“I guess, professionalism no longer exists in the Fairlight PD. Or is it just slack on account of nonhuman victims?”
“I’m talking about this so called police force. Nothing is going to change.”
“What are you talking about?”
“A woman is dead and look at your team, standing around eating donuts and texting for goodness sakes!”
“Well, with Velvet Washington and Associates on the scene there is little else to do.”
“I guess, you think that is cute, Omar.”
“For your information, this whole crime scene has been pre- processed. Oh? You thought PD gave you access before Major Crimes?”
“Major Crimes?” Her eyes widened at that. Last she heard he was transferred back to Homicide without a partner which was one of the reasons she didn’t return his calls or respond to the flowers. She’d done enough damage to his career, yet he kept trying to come after her. “That’s good news.”
“After all these months, it’s good to see you again, but I’m surprised you’d agree to help the police.”
“I’m here for the city.”
“Always the city. Nothing for you.”
“I’ve got plenty. So who is she?”
“The victim. Who is she?”
“Oh.” Omar produced a notepad he referred to. “Her name is or was Virginia Hood. Forty-three. Single. Wrote erotica novels for a living. No criminal record. A few traffic tickets though. That’s about it.”
“And she ends up sliced and diced and ripped on the concrete.”
“So, how is Troy behaving these days?”
“Troy? Troy wouldn’t do that to a woman! Or anybody!”
“Calm down.” Omar spared a quick glance at Devon who was on his feet watching them. “I’m not accusing him.”
“Then why bring up his name?”
“You see those apartments over there?” He indicated the buildings down the street. She didn’t bother to take her sight off his face. “There were several eyewitnesses. One thing they all agreed on was that the attackers were furry.”
“Were the attackers identified as werewolves?”
“No. It was too dark and too far away. But we both know ole Troy is capable of this kind of attack.”
“You have no idea what you are talking about. You don’t know Troy! Or anybody in his pack! You sure you don’t want to accuse Devon too?”
“I haven’t accused anyone, but I am going to consider all the possibilities. If that includes your boyfriend-”
“Fine, Omar! But don’t you expect me or my team to back you up when you try to question Troy like he’s your number one suspect.”
“Hey! Stop acting like I’m all out of line here. You know Troy’s history with demons. Demons that were loyal to Jerome.”
“Then go question Jerome.”
“I would if I could find him.”
“Listen to me, Omar. Just trust me that Troy would never in a million years do this to anyone, especially a woman.”
“Then he can tell me that.”
“No. Please, don’t approach Troy or any of his people right now.”
“Because I’m asking you to stay away from him. Let me go see him on my own.”
“If you know something, you should tell me.”
“What I know is that Troy isn’t up for any stress right now. The brotherhood is-”
“If those guys are in town that means there’s conflict in the pack. What the hell is going on, Velvet? Are you involved?”
“No. But Troy is in a situation. It doesn’t involve this dead person.”
“So it’s all personal.”
“Promise me, you won’t question him.”
“Only, if the evidence doesn’t lead me directly to him. That’s the best I can do.”
“You still got it for him after all this time.”
“It hasn’t been that long.”
“He broke up with you almost four months ago. I’ve been trying to get back your attention that long.”
“Omar, I told you I have way too much going on.”
“Too much to have dinner with a friend? Too much to dial a phone and say thank you for the lovely flowers?”
“Yes.” Man, he was persistent. “Omar, you have no idea.”
“I would if you’d talk to me. I’ve got a few things I want to tell you.”
“I was mostly worried Buster would punish you on account of your association with me. I care about you enough to not ruin your career.”
“Velvet, that’s one thing you need to get over. I’m a full grown man. You don’t need to be worrying about me every other second. I know how to take care of myself. And so does everybody else.”
“Like I said, you have no idea.”
“Velvet, did it ever occur to you, being close to me could help you rather than burden your life?”
“Omar…” She wanted to tell him she’d thought the same thoughts more than once. She’d picked up the phone to call him several times just to hear a friendly concerned voice. And maybe for a strong set of arms to hold her. But she still hoped and longed for Troy to come back. Why start something with Omar again just to hurt him like before? He was a good guy who didn’t deserve any part of her messy love life.
“How long are you going to wait for that guy to decide he chose wrong?”
“Who says I’m waiting?”
“It’s what you do, Velvet. You waited years for Wilder to decide to love you, then you waited years for him to take care of Jerome. Now, you are putting yourself through similar crap with Tanaka. Why can’t you see I’m here waiting and willing to have you with none of the supernatural nonsense?”
“I see you.”
“Then why won’t you give me a chance?”
“Because I’m not over Troy. You really want to date a woman that’s still thinking about someone else?”
“I could if that woman were thinking about me too.” He lowered his voice and touched her lightly on the waist to ask, “Do you think about me?” His voice was quiet and intimate. She wanted to step back and escape the earnest hope in his eyes. His feelings were genuine, she knew that even without the calls and flowers. But how could she lead him on then quit him again the moment Troy was back? “We can keep it casual and easy.”
“I don’t even know what that means.” Besides she was sure Devon was getting an earful with his wolf hearing. Omar didn’t seem to care though.
“It means, no pressure. I just want to see you.”
“I- I’ll have to think about it. Um, anyway, shouldn’t we be talking about solving this murder?” She sneaked a peek over at Devon. He was openly staring at her. What was he thinking, she wondered? When he first found out she’d been sleeping with Troy, he acted like it blew his mind or something. She never knew if he disapproved or not because the affair was over so quickly. “Devon and I have all we need, so we’ll be getting out of these cops way.”
“Hey,” Omar paused her before she and Devon climbed into the Yukon. “Maybe you should consider not thinking so much. Things have changed, Velvet. Maybe it’s time to move along. I’m here baby, all you gotta do is come on.”
“I’ve got to go,” she said. “Nice seeing you again.” She climbed in the Yukon and slipped behind the wheel. She gave Omar a parting smile since he just stood there watching her preparing to leave. He wasn’t holding back. Omar had a strong case of something for her. And he was a decent guy. She liked him too, always had.
Devon got in the passenger seat and buckled up. “The man was doing some serious begging. You like him?”
“He’s all right.”
“What about Troy? I heard what you told Omar about not waiting for anyone. Is that true?”
“You sound like you don’t want it to be true.”
“You still believe he was sincere?”
“You’d think he would have called you or something.”
“You don’t know enough about anything to be saying that.”
“Actually, due to heighten hearing abilities I know quite a bit more than you obviously think I do. What’s up, Vee? Troy is into some stuff, ain’t he? He’s organizing the pack getting ready for something. I know that much from the streets.”
“Maybe.” She gripped the wheel and began to back out. On the road, she felt Devon’s stare again. “Devon, you have something to ask me?”
“Are you protecting him?”
“Troy. Did he kill Jerome?”
“Troy is not a murderer. And why is everyone assuming Jerome is dead?”
“Makes sense to me, but what do you know that everyone else doesn’t?”
“Wilder. If Jerome were destroyed, Wilder would suffer and grieve. Wilder hasn’t changed.” At least not in that fashion. Moody and secretive as hell, but not grieving at all. “While we’re talking about Wilder, I think you and Tyra need to be reminded he is a full partner. Respect goes a long way when dealing with a master vampire.”
“He’s not my master, Vee.”
“Neither am I, but you respect me, don’t you?”
“You know I do.”
“I also know it’s mostly Tyra bugging Wilder. And you automatically want to protect her. Instead of doing that, I’m asking you to refrain her aggressive behavior. It could save her life.”
“Say what? Tyra can take Wilder any day of the week.”
“Not really, Devon.”
“Are you serious?” Devon tried to laugh but failed upon understanding the tightness of Velvet’s profile. “You’re kidding me.”
“For his young age, Wilder is one of the strongest vampires I’ve ever met. I didn’t even know until he and Milton began to spar. Milton’s dhampirism allows him to take attributes of any male vampire he slays. Milton killed Barton, who was over one thousand years old. If he wasn’t tired of his existence, I believe Milton would not have survived that battle.”
“You mean, Barton let Milton slay him?” Devon’s dark brown eyes were opened even wider than his mouth. “And Wilder is as strong as Milton?”
“Milton still has the edge so far.”
“Damn. So he’s been pretending to be weak all this time!”
“No, he just hasn’t had to exhibit his full strength. So, I strongly suggest you two stop treating him like garbage. If he snaps it’s y’all’s asses.”
“I doubt that. I’m a werewolf- and he will have to kill me before he hurts Tyra.”
“It won’t have to come to that if you two just leave him be. I mean it, Devon. I’ve told Tyra she better cut it out. Now you make sure she doesn’t put you in a bad position. I don’t have time to be getting between grown folks.”
“Oh, so now, I’m a grown up?” he grinned.
“You are about as grown as the rest of us.”
“So why are you hesitating with Omar? From what I can tell, Troy ain’t slowed his roll since he quit you to keep his pack. Werewolves can’t for too long, Vee. Especially an Alpha humpback. Sex is the ultimate equalizer to stress, desire, and rage. And Troy is about the most stressed out werewolf I’ve ever met.”
“Oh, did he tell you otherwise?”
Not exactly, she reluctantly admitted to herself. What he did say was that he was not going to be forced to take a mate. That didn’t cover emergency or recreational sex.
“I’m not bad mouthing him. Just letting you in on a few things. I like Troy- and I like Omar. You gave Troy a shot and he walked away. You like Omar, but you won’t give him more than the time of day. Why not? Don’t seem like he has any baggage.”
“He’s a cop and he’s a normal.”
“Excuse me, but like you said, bullshit.”
She eased up off the gas pedal upon realizing she was speeding down the highway. “What do you mean by that? Cops are employed by the city. Mayor Buster Zennith is constantly trying to put us out of business and run me out of town on a rail. And as a normal, Omar is putting his life at risk just by being my friend.”
“So? We’re all at risk, Velvet. Omar’s a cop, he puts himself at risk every day and guess what? He’s survived every day. And you know he can handle himself. You bragged about him for weeks when he put down Jerome and that chick Mary with his handgun and a crucifix.”
“I guess he impressed you.”
“Yeah, he did. I think the brother deserves better from you.”
“I think you need to mind your own business, young man.”
“Cool. I done said my peace.”
“Craig.” He turned as if annoyed at the sound of her voice and let out a sigh before snatching up a bottle of Wild Turkey before coming around the bar counter. He locked his bloodshot brown eyes with hers as he sailed past her to the nearest table from the bar. He took a seat and poured a drink. He looked up at her as he gulped it down. “What’s the problem?” Last time they talked he acted like they were friends. “You can at least offer me a drink.”
“Gee thanks.” Casually, she surveyed the club. Been a minute since she set her big feet into the place. Last time she came was to bust Troy’s chops for ignoring her. Today she had butterflies in her stomach at the thought of seeing him again. “So where is he?”
“Your bean head boss.”
“Well, I ain’t seen him in a while, but maybe you’d like to talk to that other guy who looks just like him.”
“Yeah, I mean! Thanks for the heads up, Velvet!”
“I- well, I hoped the issue would be resolved by now. How bad is it?”
“How bad do you think? He ain’t Troy, but he’s dealing with the pack and the brotherhood as if he is. So why are you here? I heard you were dating the cop.”
Being mad was understandable, but why was Craig being downright hostile toward her? “Craig, why are you drinking like that?” Troy used to knock them back when he was having a rough time and all the drinking did was make him madder. “Troy will be back.”
“How do you know?”
“That’s what I’m here for, Craig. I’m going to try putting that other beast to sleep.”
“Has the Brotherhood tried to help him?”
“No! Are you crazy?”
“No, I’m not crazy. Why don’t you get over your mad and tell me what is going on. Why hasn’t the brotherhood done something? It’s their job to protect packs from lousy pack leaders. Craig, you told them, right?”
“Nobody in the pack dares to reveal the truth in front of the brotherhood. Dude says he’ll rip us all to shreds! And he will, Velvet. I’ve seen this guy fight and kill two bears and a mountain lion in the same night! He makes us change back and forth continually against our wills or he’ll do it with his mind power! It’s torture, Velvet. Says he conditioning our bodies to sync with his.” Craig turned the bottle up, swallowing hard. “And,” he wiped his wet lips with his knuckles. “And he’s turning all the virgins out personally.”
“What do you mean, turning all the virgins out?”
“He can tell if a woman ain’t ever done it wolf style. He insists he gets the first go round. Some folk think it’s an honor. Others call it- something else.”
“Surely, he’s not forcing anybody. Craig?” Craig had closed his mouth, holding the whiskey bottle by the neck. Without turning, she knew he was on the scene behind them.
He strolled up behind her, and around the table to view her face then Craig’s. He wasn’t pleased. “Takeru.” She rose noting the tall, hard length of him and experienced a strong stirring inside her loins- and wanted to slap her own face. “What are you doing to these people,” she demanded.
“Craig, have you been running that mouth again?”
“I can talk to my friends.”
“Take that bottle and get the hell out of here.”
“Takeru. She called you Takeru,” Craig said. “All that Osaka mess was you wasn’t it? I knew my man, Troy was no sell-out.”
“You dare talk like that to my face?” Takeru released his claws as he swiped down at Craig’s head. Skin and muscle tore as blood splattered. From the force of the blow, Craig went down to his knees, grabbing at the torn flesh of his cheeks.
Velvet moved fast, positioning her body in front of the fallen young werewolf. “Are you crazy? Craig is Troy’s most trusted and loyal friend.
Look what you did to him!”
“Are you sure you want to interfere?”
“Back up off him.”
“Grawr!” Craig was up fully transformed.
“Now, this is going to be interesting.” Takeru grinned and transformed as well.
Things were getting out of hand fast. She took Craig by his furry heaving shoulders and pushed him backward. “Calm down. He’s stronger than Troy. You know you can’t take him.” He was getting tighter as the energy radiated around him. “Takeru, don’t fight him.”
“Craig, that was your one time to jump at me. Next time I’ll disembowel you.”
“Groowl!” Craig pushed against Velvet’s hands that held him back. Then without warning, he howled up at the ceiling, his body shook violently. He appeared to be coming undone.
“Damn, Craig. Come on, get a grip.”
“Craig!” Reiko shouted from the top of the stairs. The flash of eyes shot from Takeru, stopped her cold before she touched one bare foot to the first descending step. Velvet saw the fear in the girl’s tear filled eyes. “Velvet, get Craig out of here before he-” A shot glass sailed like a rocket and struck her right between the eyes. She fell back into the wall but kept on her feet then fled as fast as they would carry her away from Takeru’s awful dark gaze.
Takeru swung around to ask Velvet. “What are you looking at?”
“What’s the matter with you? Why are you treating people this way?”
“Because they have to learn to obey me. Craig! Stop that whimpering! Get off her!”
“Don’t touch him. Can’t you see something is wrong with him? Craig, it’s okay.”
“Reiko,” he said from a mouthful of fangs and teeth. “Save her.” He attempted to tear himself out of her arms and go for Takeru.
“Come on, cub!” Takeru snarled, crouching into an advance.
“Grawr!” Craig was in the air, dragging Velvet along for the ride. The last place she wanted to be was between to raging werewolves and their claws when they collided.
They touched down in the parking lot.
“Snap out of it!” Velvet screamed into his face and slapped him hard on the ear.
“Craig!” Reiko popped up from behind a cleaning van. “Thank God!” She ran to hug them both. “We better get out of here.”
“Graaawr!” Takeru burst from the side door of the club, knocking the hinges loose. The hump on his back was huge. He walked almost doubled over.
“My stars,” Velvet exclaimed. “Was Troy ever that big?”
“I never saw it,” Reiko answered. “I never saw him this big before either. We better split.”
“Stay behind me and hold on to some part of me.” Big Boy was about to leap and if he were nearly as fast as Troy, she might have to take a swipe before she could teleport them all to safety.
“Ah!” Red ribbons of blood soaked her blouse. Her shoulder was sliced open. “Damn, it hurts.” She couldn’t remember the last time she’d taken such a bad injury.
“Wow, those cuts are deep,” Reiko remarked. “What me to lick them?”
“No, thanks. I can fix it myself.” From the countertop, she chose the sugar canister, taking a handful she spread the crystals across her shoulder and down her raggedy arm. Right away, the bleeding stopped and soaked into the sugar, making a crusty bandage. “Ouch,” she winced. She side glanced Reiko. The girl was eyeballing her arm for sure. Yeah, she’d love to lick on somebody’s arm. “Hey, Craig.” He looked shocked but coming back to himself it seemed to Velvet. “I never saw you lose control like that.”
“If you had to live with that guy, you’d lose it too,” Reiko said.
“Craig, tell me what’s going on.”
“Craig, don’t,” Reiko advised.”
Don’t what? Don’t tell her what Takeru was up to after she just rescued them and got her flesh ripped into by a frenzied werewolf that was their leader while trying to get after them? “Okay, fine,” She said tightly. “Don’t tell me. But remember this when Takeru goes after you again.”
“He won’t because we’re not going back,” Reiko declared. Her almond shaped eyes were big as could be. “He’ll kill me this time.”
Craig seemed to be thinking it over, he was scared that was for sure but he wasn’t a coward. He’d face Takeru again if he had to, and most likely get himself killed. “If I don’t go back, he will take it out on the others, especially the cubs.”
“Craig, I’m not getting this. Why is he acting this way? The pack had seemed like a well-run machine before he took over.” It wasn’t making any sense to Velvet. The Takeru she met previously was no gentleman, but how they were describing him was something else. Not in Troy’s body was such a person. No way. Was this the mess in Japan Wilder had investigated? The report on Troy she refused to take a look at?
“Velvet, what is he?” Craig asked rather than reply to her questions. “Did something take over Troy’s body? Is it a demon? There’s been a lot more possessions lately.”
“He’s not a demon. He claims to be Troy’s brother. As you can see, they are in the same body.”
“That’s crazy,” Reiko stated. “How does that happen?”
“There are lots of ways. Some deliberate and some are accidents. I tried to probe his mind, but I got pushed right back out. Actually, I didn’t get in. All I know is whatever is going on in Troy’s and Takeru’s psyches is strong and defensive.”
“But why is he here now? Where was he before?”
“Before now, the last time Takeru was out and in charge was in Japan. Takeru hinted that Jasmine had something to do with Troy pushing him back so they could get out of Japan. I didn’t get to discuss this with Troy.”
“Velvet, when did this happen?”
“That night at my house when Troy got shot. He tried hard to stay, but Takeru was smarter and stronger.”
“Maybe if we hurt him real bad,” Reiko said. “He’ll go back and leave us alone and we’ll get Troy back.”
“Too risky on too many levels,” Craig stated as if he’d given the matter some thought.
“I agree,” Velvet said. “We can’t assume Takeru is an unnatural affliction to Troy.”
“I do,” Velvet answered. “I love Troy and I will protect him from anyone. Even if he never returns no one is going to hurt his body or his mind.”
“He doesn’t belong to you,” Reiko announce strongly. “He belongs to us. He never even officially claimed you. Tell her, Craig.”
“Nobody has to tell me anything about Troy, especially you Reiko! He will come back and in the meantime you better not make things hard for him. If you do, I’ll make your life so miserable that being with Takeru will seem like a walk in the park.”
“Save that bullshit, Velvet.”
“Excuse me, Craig?”
“If you knew half of what that guy is capable of you wouldn’t be threatening people on his behalf.”
“Craig, do you hate Takeru more than you care about Troy?” He didn’t say anything. “Oh boy, I guess I misjudged your caliber.”
“Velvet, you just don’t have any idea.”
“Then tell me.”
“He’s not just Alpha, he’s a humpback with a pack now. Since he acquired the pack, he can use special gifts and powers. He can do things because he has the combined psychic strength of the pack and he can use mind control if he wants too.”
“Doesn’t sound that bad to you yet? How about him using his mind powers to make a woman succumb to him and think it was her idea? Or how about forcing a person to transform at his will? It’s brutal. If your mind is strong, it takes even longer. Is that okay, Velvet? We lost Troy to that monster. So ask me again, who do I hate more than I care about.”
“I’m sorry, but why on earth did you not call me? I’m a professional and a friend.”
“If I made a wrong move, he promised to punish a cub. A wrong move includes calling you. He said if you ever came a calling on your own, he’d deal with you then and not before.”
“Deal with me how and what for?”
“I don’t know. But you came today, now I guess it’s on.”
“Back to the punishments. Is it for a reason or is he just having fun?”
“What difference does it make?” Reiko asked quite loudly. “No one agreed to it! I certainly didn’t ask to be his sex slave! Or forced to transform several times a day at his whim!”
“Oh lord.” This was her fault for failing to warn the pack. It was up to her to fix it somehow. The first order was getting those people too afraid to make a move from under Takeru. She owed it to Troy to save his pack from his sadistic brother. “Craig, we need to move your people out of Fairlight.”
“He’ll sniff us all out, one by one.”
“Craig nobody is that diligent.”
“I’m not willing to bet one cub’s life on it.”
“If you all went to Winsor and applied for protection from the local pack-”
“Velvet, Takeru is nuts. He doesn’t care about anything, just being the top wolf.”
“All right.” They were too afraid to defy him even with her help. “All right then.” She went to the sink to rinse the crusty blood off her shoulder and arm. The wound was closed and healing really good. No pain, just nagging a little. She went to the herb garden on her back porch for some rosemary and thyme leaves, she chewed the combination to make it slick before rubbing the herbs over the scars. She came back to the kitchen flexing her arm. It would do, she thought. She chose her red and black battle suit to zap on.
“Velvet, you can’t go over there alone.”
“I don’t work with fraidy cats.” She gave them both disparaging looks then walked out the back door.
He was strutting around the parking lot, knocking back a fifth of Scotch when he caught sight of her flying in fast and low. Growling, he jumped into the air meeting her. With the flat of her short handle axe, she struck him upside the head. He attempted to wrench it from her grip, and she slugged him right in the mouth. Her knuckles knocked against his teeth. No way was she letting him get any kind of hold on her. She sailed on to the front of the building, then lightly sat her boots on the pavement. Takeru landed on his feet just inches from her. He shook his head as if clearing it.
“Transform, you sadistic bastard.” Instead, he swiped at her face with a long arm. He was quick, but she anticipated he’d go for her face first. She spun around, her axe arm extended, connecting with his furry chest. The silver blade sliced him open, yet he didn’t back off. His fist came up, punching her under her jawbone. She fell back into the building seeing stars.
“Now, we’ll see how good you are without the blade.” He tore the axe from her hands and went for her sword.
“To me!” She commanded and the axe flew back into her hand. She brought it down on top of Takeru’s head. He staggered backward, keeping to his clawed feet. “Now, I’m going to tear you apart,” she promised, chunking the axe into his chest. This time he fell to his knees. Holding the axe handle, he growled and snarled. It wasn’t a fatal wound for she made sure to miss his heart. In a couple of seconds, he’d manage to pull it out and probably try to take her head off with it. She pulled her sword and ran him through the belly.
“What do you think you’re doing, Velvet?” His hands dropped to his sides, letting his blood seep and spill down his lower body. “You can’t kill me.”
“There are things worse than killing you. Right now, I just want to hurt you.” She pulled the hilt of the sword upward until it hit against a rib. “You molest and abuse one more virgin or cub, or keep mistreating Craig and Reiko, I will come back and fix you.”
“Liar,” he grunted up into her face. “You’d never kill him no matter what I might do.”
“I said, I’d fix you. Not kill.” Now he was smiling? Did he not know how murderous she was feeling? He should be grinding his teeth, trying to get the silver blade out of his belly. She pulled the sword out, viewed the wound then back at his face. He was grinning at her, not caring he was stuck and cut open! He was enjoying it! She marveled at the light of pleasure in his big eyes. So like Troy’s right before he used to kiss her. It made her want to scream.
“I hope this is good for you too, Velvet.” He got off his knees, standing straight up, he applied his palms and fingers to the closing wounds on his torso. He closed his eyes and sighed, deeply. “Ahh…”
“You are a bonafide sicko.”
“I can’t help what feels good to me.” While he took a few seconds to examine his chest and belly, the amusement on his face faded into a frown. “For the record,” he said. “I haven’t forced myself on any cub or virgin.”
“Craig would not lie to me. Before you took over Troy’s body, he warned me you were a monster.”
“Maybe I am a monster, but I haven’t raped anyone.”
“I better not have to come back here.”
“Velvet, you are welcome to come see me anytime you desire.”
Her stomach felt sick, and she wasn’t sure if she could engage him again drawing blood even if he loved it. It was Troy’s body too.
“What, you horrible thing?”
“Are you done being the avenging witch?” He glanced down at the sword that seemed forgotten gripped in her fist. “Perhaps next time you should at least give me the honor of a chance to defend myself verbally.”
“As if I can believe anything you have to say.” Unmindfully, she rubbed the shoulder he nearly ripped into ribbons. “Besides, you didn’t stop to ask me anything earlier.”
“What was there to ask? You were clearly interfering in pack business which has nothing to do with you. Consider that scratch as getting off easy. But easy isn’t how you like it.” He waltzed his big nude body right up to her and penetrated her with his big almond shaped eyes. She forced herself to not respond to his heat, and ignored the urge to suddenly swallow or take a giant step backward. “Is it, Velvet?”
“Huh? What?” She blinked back the flashes of memory of herself with Troy. Turning, she sheathed her sword inside the scabbard on her back.
“I was referring to your style. Bold almost to the point of becoming reckless. Or am I a special case? You don’t even know me, yet you fly over here on the word of individuals that wouldn’t speak favorably about you to the brotherhood. Not even Craig.”
“I don’t believe you. He’s Troy’s friend.”
“He remained silent while Reiko and the ladies detailed every quality that made you unsuitable as a mate to their leader to the brotherhood.”
“I must say that is disappointing, but it doesn’t change the fact that you are terrorizing the pack. Reiko wouldn’t-”
“She wouldn’t what?” Takeru interrupted, angrier than before. “She wouldn’t take the opportunity to sleep with her alpha? Even if she had to block every other woman close to Troy? You think she wouldn’t take advantage of the fact that he might be lonely because you were no longer around?”
“Typical. Turn it around on the victim.”
“She offered and I took. I can’t help she didn’t appreciate my style.”
“Craig, backed her up.”
“Then clearly, he doesn’t think the girl is lying. As far as the other things, some of it might be true. But anyone not down with my methods can walk away from the pack at any time.”
“And then what?”
“You don’t care if your whole pack leaves you?”
“No one is going to leave. Not even those idiots hiding behind your sword,” he shared, walking past her to the front entrance to his club. He didn’t look back before he entered.
As expected he was at the bar, guzzling down a bottle of gin as if it was water. Velvet watched the protrusion of his Adam’s apple, bobbing up and down his throat as he swallowed. Her eyes moved down to his chest to the muscles of his shoulders. She didn’t want to look further down at the blood covered parts.
“You need to ease up on Craig,” she said.
“Craig is a sissy and needs to earn himself a real set of balls. As second in command, he sucks.”
“He’s Troy’s best friend.”
“I don’t need a friend! I need warriors and loyalty. I don’t care if it’s heartfelt or simply from fear of me! Now, you tell those idiots to really consider what they are about to do. I’ll even forgive Reiko this one time for the lies. You tell them that we are werewolves and I’m their leader and protector- not you. If they leave, there is no coming back ever. You got that?”
“I got it. But I don’t like the position you’ve put Craig. Ease up on him. Quit using threats about the cubs to control him. How could you treat them like that anyway? Isn’t being young and a werewolf stressful enough without you scaring them to death?”
“Velvet, why don’t you shut up, then come back here to talk to me when you halfway know what the hell you are talking about. I’ve got my style and they will learn to be like me. I’ve endured so much more in my existence than I expect from them. Troy and Jasmine made them weak, letting them behave as mere men and women. We are werewolves and this whole town is going to know what we are! No more hiding and pretending!”
“Takeru, you said yourself they are weak. Ease up until they are ready. At least let them learn to trust you.”
“I’m not the patient sort of person. However, I will consider the cubs are children. But Craig and the others better just suck it up and take the training like real werewolves and quit all the bitching and crying! Now, take your fine ass out of here. Unlike Troy, I don’t have time for your nonsense.”
“I’m not exactly having the time of my life with you either. Just answer me one thing and I’ll gladly leave.”
“One thing? If you were a cat, you certainly would not die.”
“Are you turning out the virgins?”
“What difference does that even make?”
“I don’t know. I just want to know.”
“After what you just did to me? Do you think you deserve to know?”
“I’m sorry about that.”
“Sorry enough to kiss me?”
“It’s been over four months. I told you that night I’d give him back to you if you kissed me. Why didn’t you?”
“I don’t trust you. I don’t believe you have that kind of control.”
“You don’t know that for sure.”
“I know you are a cruel beast.”
“Look who’s talking.”
“Oh, you ain’t seen cru- mmmph!” She pushed against his arms that felt like bands of steel that held her captive against the bar counter, while he kissed her deep and hard, punishing her lips and tongue. She had to be careful of getting nipped or sliced by his fangs. All at once, he released her mouth to lick her face and throat. “You must really want to die,” she said catching her breath.
“If your love is so much, make him come back and save you. Personally, I don’t believe your love is that strong.”
“I don’t need saving.”
“You think your magiks can get rid of me?”
“I do, but I haven’t figured it out yet.”
“That’s good to hear.” His teeth bit the fabric of her battle suit.
“What are you doing?” All sweaty, breathing hard and fully erect, he circled her eyeing her battle suit as if looking for a weak spot to tear into. Good luck with that, she thought.
“What the hell is this thing made off?”
“Was it so hard for Troy to get the goods?”
“All he had to do was ask.” He snatched her up again, putting his face so close to hers the smell of gin assaulted her nose. “Is this how you treat the cubs? Is this the style Reiko didn’t appreciate?”
“What about you? You aren’t screaming.”
“I’m not afraid of you and I certainly don’t need to be rescued.”
“You’re lucky I can’t get this costume off your body.”
“What if I took it off, Takeru? What would you do to me?”
“What would you let a bastard like me do to you?” He gave her a grin that reminded her so much of Troy that she jolted in his arms. The expression on his face was different. He wasn’t mad. The embrace that held her was strong but much gentler. The grin turned into a brilliant smile that lit up his big eyes.
“Troy.” It was him! Honey golden skin to his amazing smile that lit up his eyes. “Troy.” She touched his face. “My stars,” she breathed against his cheek. “It’s you.”
“Oh, Troy!” She held his face in her hands and went in for a kiss.
“Fool!” Takeru laughed and pushed her to the floor. He walked out slamming the door on her stunned, bewildered face.
She swallowed and sought to collect her composure before rising to her feet. What the hell did he just do to her? Why did he do it? Revenge for cutting him open? Touching her tender lips, she questioned what she felt and saw. For a moment there, she was sure Troy was looking right at her. She went to the closed door, pulled it open and took another moment before stepping out into the light.
In the lot, fully dressed in pants and shirt, he smoked a cigarette and paced. He acted more animal-like than Troy. He believed in letting the wolf out he said. As she walked past, she turned her head, watching him watch her. He was angry and agitated. He knew she saw his loss of control. He was dominant for now, but his control wasn’t fixed. “Are you scared, wolfman?” His wolf hearing picked her words up easily enough. He stopped pacing and tossed the cigarette away. “Still think you can keep us apart?” He snarled and made like he wanted to run and leap at her just to wring her neck.
Velvet turned to the voice behind her. From the other side of the parking lot, Suzanne sprinted up to her. She wore her preferred yellow and black battle suit.
“Vee, what’s all the blood? You all right?” Her eyes went to the club’s entrance and Takeru’s big body taking all the space in the door frame. “Craig told me everything.” Suzanne pulled her axe and headed back to the club.
“Suzanne! Come on, we’re walking away. Things might not be the way Reiko and Craig presented them.”
“What do you mean? Craig isn’t a liar.”
“I know. But he believes Reiko. That girl might be a real operator.”
“You mean you believe Takeru?”
“I guess, I do. He’s rough and mean. The pack doesn’t like it, yet they’ve chosen to stay.”
“Because they are afraid,” Suzanne stressed. “That’s still force.”
“Suzanne, I’ve talked to him. He’s going to ease up, and we are going to mind our own business. Come on, now.” She spun Suzanne around by an elbow and marched away from the club. She looked back when he laughed out loud. “Bastard,” she gritted. Clearly, he heard her and stopped laughing, with a mean parting glance, he backed into the door he tore up earlier and somehow slammed it shut.