Lightening-hot pain slammed Slade’s back. His legs collapsed, spilling him on the floor in a writhing heap.
Someone cackled from behind him.
He struggled to roll over, but his limbs refused to follow directions under the disabling effect from the shock of an electronic vampire control device. The equivalent of a souped-up taser, the device could take down the toughest vampire in seconds.
The man with the knife grabbed Slade’s jacket and yanked him onto his back. “What the hell we got here?” the officer asked and shoved white-blond hair away from his face.
Muffled cries came out of the juvenile and the captive Wolf Guard moaned.
An unusually small officer, the one who’d tased Slade, snorted. “I believe this is a do-gooder of the vampire variety.”
“Sheeeit,” White Hair said. “You know what happens to do-gooders, especially the fanged kind?” He poked Slade with his boot.
Slade growled, but his show of bravado didn’t change the facts. He was in a world of potential fuck-over.
“See if he’s got anything good on him,” the runt said.
White Hair squatted and patted Slade down, deftly plucking his wallet and phone from his jacket. He helped himself to Slade’s cash, counting out the six hundred dollars and divvying up the bills. He quickly tucked away his cut and Slade’s phone. He concluded the transaction with a kick to Slade’s ribs.
Slade clenched his teeth to keep a groan locked inside.
“You steal that money?” White Hair asked.
Slade sure as hell couldn’t say he’d earned it working for the Resistance. Better they think him a thief. If they knew he belonged to the Resistance and turned him in for the reward money, he would be executed.
White Hair kicked him again. “Answer the gawddamn question.”
“I stole it,” Slade said between bared teeth.
“I hate a damn thief.” White Hair dropped down on his heels.
Slade bit back the urge to point out that the bastard had no problem stealing from him.
“Cut his damn throat and be done with it,” the runt said.
“In a minute.” White Hair lifted the knife.
Slade’s mind blanked out, and in an instant, he was fifteen years old again…
Ripped from sleep, a dark, snarling face with huge fangs hovering over him, rancid breath fouling the air.
A siren wailed, jerking him from his stupor.
White Hair hesitated.
“Fuck this shit,” the runt said. “Come on, we can’t afford to get busted.”
“Probably not comin’ here.” But uncertainty colored White Hair’s voice.
The runt shifted toward the door. “Little fucker made a lot of noise before you shut him up.”
White Hair glanced at the Wolf Guards who looked as if they didn’t give a shit one way or the other.
“Stay if you want,” the runt said. “I’m getting the hell out of here.”
White Hair stood as if indecisive then kicked Slade again. Pain punched his side. He groaned and tried to pull himself into a ball.
“Take care of them,” White Hair said to one of the Wolf Guards who immediately drew a weapon.
As Slade watched, the traitor vampire shot the bound Wolf in the head, vaporizing his face.
The Wolf aimed at the whimpering youngster who stared with huge pain and fright-filled eyes.
The Wolf squeezed the trigger. A hole appeared in the young male’s temple, silencing him forever.
Slade’s turn. Heart thumping hard, he waited for the bullet that would take his life.
The bark of the gun and burning pain along his temple were almost simultaneous.
He lay still, not quite knowing how badly he’d been injured. Controlling his breathing, he played dead as blood trickled down his face in a warm trail.
The four thugs hurried from the house without sparing him a glance.
He lay immobile for long minutes before his limbs began tingling. The numbness from the taser shock had started wearing off.
The siren screeched, growing louder. Were the police going to show up? Getting caught sure as fuck wouldn’t do him any good either.
Finally able to move, he wiped at his temple. Blood slicked his hand, but the wound was shallow. He forced himself onto his hands and knees then lurched to his feet.
The infant wailed.
Outside, the sirens wailed accompaniment.
Oh, hell. What the fuck was he going to do with the baby? He swiped more blood from his temple, side stepped the juvenile, and went to the newborn.
Her skin had taken on a faint blue tint. Shivering little hands curled into fists, and she squirmed helplessly beside her mother.
Slade stripped off his jacket and knelt on the floor.
“It’s okay, little one.” He laid the jacket on the floor and clumsily grasped the cold infant.
Shit. She was freezing. He wrapped her securely in the warm fleece and gingerly picked her up. She cooed from inside the cocoon. Holding her close, he eased to his feet.
The cold soothed the burning in his temple, but the rest of him was already chilled. The Kevlar vest he wore did nothing to warm him.
He held the baby closer. He had to get her someplace warm and into capable hands. His sister, Saranna, pregnant with her first child, would know what to do. He would take the infant home and let her take over.
On second thought, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. Julian wouldn’t appreciate his already exhausted mate being saddled with an orphaned child.
Not that he really gave a fuck about what Julian thought, but he didn’t want to make Saranna suffer any more than he already had.
He sure as hell couldn’t care for a newborn baby. She needed a female, and most of the ones he knew weren’t parenting material.
Maybe Jason then. The doctor and his mate would take her. He must know every eligible female within a fifty mile radius.
The sirens drew near, a block away. Maybe.
He left the protection of the house and stepped out into the cold, damp breeze. The baby whimpered and shivered inside his jacket.
Blue lights flashed.
He slid around the side of the house and slipped into deep shadows.
He needed a taxi. The doctor’s house was too far to walk in the cold.
Hurrying, he scanned the streets for a cab.
Shit! He had no money to pay the fare.
Well, fuck. He would have to stiff the driver if he could find a cab in the rundown neighborhood.
The baby wailed.
“Shh.” He patted her through the jacket.
She cried harder. She was probably hungry. She needed a female to care for her, not some clumsy-ass male who didn’t have a clue about what to do.
He did know someone who lived fairly close. What was her name? He struggled with the memory of the female he and his sister had aided five months earlier.
Alyssa? Yeah, that was it.
Would she help him? Better question, would she even remember him? She’d been traumatized, half out of her mind with grief over the forced abortion she’d been put through. Did he dare go knock on her door with someone else’s child in his arms?
A cry, weak and wavering came out of the swaddled baby.
He didn’t have a choice. The baby needed to be warmed and fed, and there wasn’t a cab in sight.
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