Warrior (Relentless #4)(10)

by Karen Lynch

She gave me an appraising look. “And you hunt vampires.”

“Among other things.”

I studied her in return. Most people would be in a quivering heap after experiencing what she had been through. I could see she was still shaken by the attack, but she wasn’t at all intimidated by the sight of an armed warrior.

She looked unsatisfied by my answer. “What about your friend from the club? Is he a hunter, too? Why didn’t he help you?”

“Chris scouted the area for more hostiles while I handled the situation here.” Considering she’d only seen Chris for a moment in the club, it surprised me she remembered him after everything that had happened.

She shook her head and gave me a wry smile. “So what happened? Did you get the short straw or something?”

“Or something.” If it were only that simple.

The redhead spoke up. “What about the other vampire? Did you get him?”

“Chris is tracking him.”

Roland stared at me with a mixture of disbelief and alarm. “He got away?”

“He’s injured, so he won’t get too far,” I said to assure Sara more than her friend. “Don’t worry. He won’t stick around here now that he’s being hunted.”

Roland did not look convinced. “We should put some distance between us and this place all the same.”

They should have left when I’d told them to go. There was no telling how many more vampires were in the area.

“You live in Portland?” I asked.

The three of them shook their heads.

“Good. The farther you get from the city, the better. It’s not safe here right now.” I didn’t want her anywhere near this city with that vampire out there, injured or not.

“No shit.” Roland took her arm. “We need to get out of here.”

He tugged her gently toward the car, and I stayed where I was, feeling a mixture of relief and dejection. I shook my head to clear it. The bond was new, and I didn’t think it should affect me like this so soon. I was closer to Viv than I’d ever been with any other female, and I’d never felt anything like this for her. It made me feel naked and vulnerable, and I didn’t like it.

Sara pulled away from her friend and spun back toward me. “Thank you…for what you did. If you hadn’t come when you did…” Her voice broke, and she appeared to be fighting back tears.

Her green eyes met mine, and I felt myself being pulled into them. My protective instincts flared, and for a moment, all I wanted to do was pull her to me and wrap her in my arms.

I caught myself before I took a step toward her. What the hell am I doing? I needed to put as much distance between us as possible. I definitely should not be entertaining any thoughts of holding her. The sooner she got out of here, the better it would be for both of us.

“Just doing my job.”

I regretted my cold words as soon as they left my mouth, especially when she flinched and hurt crossed her face.

“Oh…okay, well, thanks anyway,” she said quietly before she turned away to join her friends.

I watched her walk to the car, waiting for her to turn around and look at me again. But she got in the car, ignoring me as if I didn’t even exist.

Probably for the best. I melted back into the shadows and watched them drive away, ignoring the part of me that wanted to jump on my bike and follow them. I caught the license plate and pulled out my phone to shoot off an email to one of the security guys at Westhorne. It wouldn’t take Dax long to track her down. I’d call Paulette and let her know we had a new orphan that needed help, and then I could get back to business as usual.

* * *

“Seems our boy likes pool.”

I watched the young blond vampire we’d been following enter the pool hall as if he hadn’t a care in the world. If he’d paid attention to his surroundings, he might have noticed he’d had a tail for the last five blocks. Today’s vampires were less vigilant than those created a century ago, which was why most of them did not live to maturity. Their increased strength and speed made them feel invincible, and that made them cocky and careless. It also made for easy hunting.

Chris or I could have taken this one down at any time, but I was hoping he’d lead us to his friends first, namely the vampire I’d let get away last night. Vampires rarely traveled alone, and the odds of two different groups of them showing up in Portland at the same time were slim.

We were halfway across the street when a gray sedan pulled up and four males got out. Downwind from them, I picked up the scent easily this time. They stood in front of the car and quietly watched us approach.

“It looks like we aren’t the only ones on the hunt tonight,” I said.

The largest man, a tall stocky one with reddish-brown hair, nodded. “So it would seem. We don’t see your kind here often. What brings you to Portland?”

“We heard about the human girls that went missing here recently, and we suspected vampires.” I gave the entrance to the pool hall a meaningful look. “Appears we were right.”

The man, who appeared to be the leader of the group, crossed his arms over his chest. “We sent some of our people to check out the disappearances. They couldn’t pick up the vampires’ trail, so we thought they’d moved on.”

“This lot is good at covering their trail…except for the one we followed here,” Chris said.

“You mean the one we followed.” A dark-haired man who couldn’t be much older than twenty sneered at us. “We’ll take care of it from here.”

Ignoring him, I addressed the older man. “You can have the vampire after we ask him a few questions.”

The young one took a step forward. “This is our territory, and we’ll decide how to handle the bloodsucker.”

“Like I said, you can do what you want with him when I’m done.” I couldn’t help but notice the young wolf bore a slight resemblance to Sara’s friend, Roland.

“Listen here. You don’t –”

“That’s enough,” barked the leader, putting an arm out to restrain the hothead.

“But Brendan –”

“I said enough, Francis.” A low growl entered his voice, and the younger man backed off, glaring at us. The older man didn’t act like an Alpha, but he was definitely someone with authority in the pack. The Beta, most likely.