Alexa O'Brien Huntress Book Three
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Alexa O’Brien has more power than she can handle. A werewolf bound to a vampire by a force bigger than the both of them, Alexa is feeling lost. Desperation drives Alexa to make a deal with the one person who can guide her, a man she loathes, Harley Kayson. He just so happens to be the sire of her vampire lover, Arys Knight. To say Arys is pissed about this would be putting it lightly.
Conflict threatens to destroy what Alexa and Arys share. Due to their eternal bond, they can never truly walk free of each other. When Arys teams up with his sire to revisit their sordid past, the pain he and Alexa inflict on one another rises to a scathing boil. Alexa comes to realize that her only solution is to fulfill Arys’ greatest wish and worst nightmare, regardless of the consequences.
“In so many romance stories, two main characters meet, fall in love, hit a road block, and then work through it, falling more deeply in love than ever before. That is the formula for most romance novels; a formula Ms Lee abandons. The result is a story that raises the bar in this genre, forcing authors and readers alike to rethink the neat packages of so many stories.” The Romance Reviews
Editor: B. Leigh Hogan
Cover art: Michael Hart
The city scenery flew by as I hurtled down the street at full speed. The ice cold, night wind whipped my hair around behind me, and the sound of snow crunching underfoot accompanied my pursuit. I was hot on the heels of a vampire I’d been tracking. It hadn’t taken him long to determine that he was being followed. He ran and I gave chase, unwilling to lose this one. The fact that he ran only enticed me more. He was acting like prey.
This son of a bitch was mine. The chilly, seasonal air carried his scent, guiding me with perfect precision. The combination of blood, citrus and a woman’s perfume on him made it easy to navigate the twists and turns he was taking. The bastard had about a block on me. With inhuman speed, I shot through the night like a bullet.
Ice and snow marked the path I took despite the fact that spring wasn’t far off. Nearing the end of the block, I followed his scent around the corner, careening out of control as I hit an icy patch on the sidewalk. My arms flailed, and I swore heartily but, miraculously, never went down on my ass.
I recovered quickly, regaining speed as fast as I’d lost it. He was so close, I could feel him. I surged forward, closing the distance. Once I got him in my sights, my heart jumped with joy. Oh yes, here we go.
He was stupid enough to cast a frantic glance back at me over his shoulder. It was enough to slow him down on the icy sidewalk. I moved so fast, it felt like my feet never even touched the ground. All I could focus on was having him on the ground beneath me while I tore his throat out.
The impact when I hit him was mind jarring. I threw myself into him, taking him down with all of my weight on his back. He grunted from the force and struggled to roll over beneath me. I used my forearm to pin his head to the snow covered concrete, pressing hard against the back of his neck.
“Get the hell off of me!” He attempted to dislodge me from his back, but I held tight, grinding his face harder into the ground. With a knee planted firmly between his shoulder blades, I held him down with far greater ease than I’d anticipated.
“Guess what, pal. You are all mine.” I growled the words at him around my four fangs. “It’s up to you if you go out quick and painless or slow and agonizing.” For good measure, I gave his head another smack against the ice packed cement. He grunted but lay still beneath me. “I know you’ve been spawning vampires at The Wicked Kiss.”
He was giving off energy that stank with anxiety. It told me a lot though. He was afraid. Knowing that I intimidated him only fed my fire. I was more than ready to dust him, but I had to force him to talk first.
“Aw, fuck,” he groaned. “Not you. Not Arys’ bitch.”
“Ah, you’ve heard of me.” I barely resisted the urge to smack him. “Piss me off, and I can drag this out until dawn and let the sunrise finish you off.”
Silence. He had to be considering his options, which were incredibly limited. After a moment passed and he hadn’t said or done anything, I knew what was coming, and I braced for it. I felt it when he gathered his power and prepared to lash out at me. I was prepared to meet it with my own, so when it began to burn instead, I was beyond shocked.
I let out a small yelp. No two vampires have the exact same abilities though most are metaphysically inclined. Whatever he was doing, it burned. I leaped to my feet and tried to place one booted foot on the back of his head. He took advantage of my action and rolled, grabbing my foot in his hands as he did so.
Before he could twist my ankle, I stepped on his arm with my other foot. I could feel the bones grind but nothing broke. Too bad. He let go of me, and I immediately put a few feet between us. This gave him the opportunity to get to his feet, which hadn’t been my plan but would have to do.
“You’re nothing. Just a goddamn werewolf.” The look he gave me indicated that he believed his own statement. He was so wrong.
I’d come out here alone to hunt this jackass down, and I wasn’t leaving until the job was done. This was a personal hunt. Neither Kale nor Jez were with me. This had nothing to do with the vampires and Weres that I usually hunt down. Those supernaturals were idiots that had to be stopped before they exposed us all. This guy, he was different.
“That’s what I keep saying.” My fingertips buzzed with the energy that coursed through me. The power I had was bigger than I was. Though that might sound like a good thing, I would like it better if I could control the power more than it controlled me.
He made as if to lunge at me, and I reacted without thinking. The power went out from me like a waterfall. I could feel it cascade out to become a wave that knocked his feet out from under him. “Now tell me what’s going on inside The Wicked Kiss. I know vampires are being spawned there.”
The Wicked Kiss was the deadliest establishment in the entire city, a vampire bar that was disturbingly high class and run by the only vampire in existence that chilled me to the bone. Harley Kayson was the very vampire that had sired my lover, Arys Knight. He wasn’t too secretive about his desire to have me as his own. Lately, there were more newborn vampires coming out of his creepy club than there ever should be, along with other suspicious activity that didn’t sit well with me. Just the excuse I needed to burn the place to the ground.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” He laughed, long and loud, throwing his head back. “I don’t answer to you, honey. But, I’m not about to turn down a sure thing when it’s standing right in front of me.”
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. I was wasting my time matching wits with this pathetic leech. His energy was eager, hungry. He really thought he was going to feast on my blood. Well, he wouldn’t be the first to try. Due to my experience with vampires, I naturally expected a metaphysical attack. It completely caught me off guard when he suddenly flew at me like a football player making a tackle.
Fangs bared, he came at me so fast that I had little time to react. I threw my arms up to protect my face and throat, simultaneously lashing out with power. It hit him before he hit me. My failure to direct the blow effectively caused it to do little more than slow him down, and he simply came at me again. The power that swirled around me was like a tornado of pure energy that had the strength to move mountains. Yet, because I did not have the ability to fully control something so wild and lively, it instead failed me.
The breath was crushed out of me when I hit the ground flat on my back. He was on top of me, fighting to gain a hold and bare my throat. Throwing him off was too easy. No sooner had I formed the thought than he was airborne. The unpredictability of my power was unnerving. I tried to gather it tightly to me so that I could better manipulate it.
The more my inner rage grew, the more I needed to tear him apart with my bare hands, to devour him. I couldn’t help the smile that curved my lips. I was always game for a fight to the death. I have yet to lose.
Advancing on him, the power crackled around me. It drove me as the desire to feed on his undead energy rose up to consume me. He watched me warily, taking an uncertain step back. That one small move told me everything about him. He had nothing. Like most vampires, he was a mediocre monster playing the role of super bad, a minor inconvenience at best. I guess he didn’t think I was just a werewolf after all.
I licked my lips as if anticipating a gourmet meal. His heady energy would be a most pleasurable power high if nothing else. He wasn’t going to talk about what was going on inside The Wicked Kiss, and I had better things to do than waste my time torturing potentially useless information out of a worm like him. I could live without answers. I knew enough to justify taking him out. Anyway, it was a bit of a personal “fuck you” to Harley by taking out one of his regulars.
The shift in the atmosphere seemed to affect the vampire right away. His stance changed from defensive to unguarded, as if he weren’t sure what to do. The need to tear his throat out had shifted to a hunger for his supernatural essence; my own energy had reached out to seduce and draw him in. It hadn’t been an entirely conscious decision on my part. It came naturally.
I watched as he tried to fight it. I knew what it felt like to be sucked into someone else’s power, spiraling out of control into an abyss that was as enticing as it was deadly. The time I had experienced it, it had scared me into a panic. I never would have dreamed that same ability would so soon be mine. It felt much too natural and that scared the shit out of me, too. The blood bond that I’d formed with Arys had changed everything for me.
I went from being naturally gifted with basic abilities to having more power than anything living should have. Or, so I’ve been told. The fact that I’m a werewolf makes me somewhat of an enigma to vampires like Arys and Harley. The vamps with the serious power, they can’t get enough of me. It started with Arys. He was the only one who called to that part of me. After forming a power bond with him and joining our power, it all snowballed out of control.
With that increase in my abilities, I began to capture the attention of power hungry vampires like Harley and my own friend and colleague, Kale Sinclair. Forming the blood bond with Arys was the only way to guarantee that no other vampire would ever be able to force me into one. Considering Harley had tried it, I had little choice in the matter. It was either be bonded in every way to my vampire lover or take my chances.
What made the blood bond most scary was the fact that mortals bonded to a vampire by blood were fated to rise as an undead themselves after passing through their mortal death. They would remain bound to that vampire indefinitely. As supernatural as werewolves are, we are still unmistakably mortal.
Being a living creature with powers that belong to the dead has been a recipe for disaster. Whether that was because I still lived and breathed, I didn’t know, but I faced a constant battle for control of myself and my abilities. When it did all come together though, it was pure magic and it felt damn good.
I knew the moment that he was all mine. Gazing into his eyes, I lifted a hand and beckoned to him with one finger. The sensual quality to it felt foreign but comfortable. He didn’t want to respond–I could sense it–but, with one foot in front of the other, he came to me anyway. I stopped him with a gesture before he invaded my personal space.
Running my hand over his aura caused him to squirm as if I’d touched him. His energy felt warm and smooth. Taking a deep breath, I drew it in so that it rolled over me, tasting what this vampire was really made of. His sweetness pleasantly surprised me. His power wasn’t exceptional like Arys’, but it was strong. It created a tingle in the pit of my stomach, one that quickly grew to encompass my entire body.
“You’ve been turning vampires at The Wicked Kiss.” It wasn’t a question. I stepped closer so that barely a foot of space remained between us. The slightest motion of my fingers, and I pulled hard on his power, tearing it from him painfully fast.
With a cry, he went down on his knees. Staring up at me, he nodded calmly. Taking his energy into me so fast resulted in a disorienting head rush that almost sat me on my ass. I fought to clear my head and focus on the vampire at my feet. The control I had over him just that quickly blew my mind. Now, if only I could maintain it.
“Two.” Fear shone in his eyes, but he remained relaxed under my hold. I’d already stripped away his defenses. He was too weak to do much now.
It pissed me off that the vampires frequenting The Wicked Kiss believed they could do as they liked. The human donors that walked into the place made their own decisions. They could die there for all I cared. However, when they started coming back out with their own thirst for blood, I couldn’t ignore that problem.
Taking his energy into me felt good, and I had to remind myself that I wasn’t here for a game of cat and mouse. I’d hunted him in order to kill him. I had a point to make, and he was my means of doing so. Dragging this out excruciatingly long was not only completely cold, it was unnecessary. Still, the side of me that was all about the power could have played off his fear and his easily manipulated sensuality all night; the wolf inside, on the other hand, had little interest in any of it.
The Wicked Kiss had been at the top of my hit list for months now. Since my abilities had increased with the blood bond to Arys, I had been able to feel the entire place inside my head like one giant writhing mass of horror. It sickened me to no end. It did not help that my friend Kale had been using the place to fill the void of a centuries-old ache.
Staring down into the face of the monster before me, he looked so much like a man that it was easy to forget how far from human he was. His pupils were huge, reflecting my own image back at me. With my blonde hair and deep brown eyes, I, too, wore the illusion of human. So deceitful.
The power that ruled me was way beyond my capacity. I reached out to the natural energy sources around me to ground and balance myself. It eased the growing ache inside my skull, but the power coursing through me continued to burn, constant and at an extremely high voltage.
My body reacted physically to the metaphysical sensations. I was almost as blindsided by my own power as the vampire at my feet was. Warmth flooded me with a sexual glow in response to the intimate nature of the moment. I wasn’t thinking anymore, I was just acting in accordance to the force guiding me.
Caught up in the irresistible lure, the need for more of the euphoric feelings that swept me, I slowly sank to my knees before him. Reaching out ever so slowly, I caressed his face with a tender touch. I knew that I was about to bring it all to an end for him, and though I wanted to feel remorse or shame for that, I felt only eager anticipation.
When my instinct turned to desire, I feared the craving to feel him inside me while I drained the life from him. A swarm of images swam together behind my eyes, one blur of blood, sex and death. I ached to feel his naked flesh, to taste his blood as it flowed. I leaned into him, alive with the vampire power that lived within me. The need to take all that he had to give was rooted in my core.
The balance of the wolf saved me, preventing me from taking it too far. With a snarl, my wolf rose to the surface. The true predator inside me broke the hold that the vampire’s hungers had over me. I sprang into action, swinging a clawed hand before he could free himself from my allure. I punched into his chest with a rib breaking motion that caused us both to cry out. My hand slid through things that were warm and wet until I reached his heart and tore it free.
It lay heavy in my hand, slick and dripping with blood. The vampire rocked unsteadily on his knees before hitting the ground, hard, face first. I winced and scrambled to my feet. His remains instantly began to fade to dust and ash. I dropped the heart and brought my fingers to my lips, tasting his blood. I watched until there was nothing left of him but pieces that I kicked into the snow.
There was no denying it anymore: I couldn’t go on like this. As the conductor of my power, I should not also be victim to it. This had to stop before I did something I truly regretted. Losing control wasn’t an option. It was losing control with Arys that got me into this in the first place.
Power like that which Arys and I possessed was rare. It affected me differently because my heart continued to beat. Only one person had the knowledge that I needed to master it completely, and Harley Kayson wasn’t someone that would dole out that kind of information without a price. Not to mention, Arys would die twice before he would let me anywhere near Harley again.
Staring into the mix of bloodied ash and snow, I couldn’t help but feel that something had to give. I couldn’t live this way, lacking the piece of the puzzle that put me in charge. It took so little to strip my control away.
A siren sounded off in the distance, startling me out of my thoughts. Making my way back down the deserted street, I tasted the blood that lingered in my mouth and grimaced. I was a risk to myself and everyone around me.