“This one is mine,” said the one holding her.
Over my dead body.
“No!” She jerked away from him, and her eyes found mine.
Before I could move in, the vampire yanked her back against him, and his friend landed beside them. It looked like they were going to try to fight their way out of this. Worry for her safety ate at me as I drew my sword, but I kept my face impassive.
The first vampire sneered at me and voiced my fears. “You can’t take us both and save her. She will die, and your efforts will be for naught.”
I met his challenging stare. “Then I will have to settle for killing only you.”
His smile faltered. “Bold words for one outnumbered.”
“Sara?” called a male voice, and all four of us looked toward the alley entrance. I sniffed the air and smiled as my Mori picked up a new and unexpected scent. Werewolves.
“Sara, where are you?” yelled a second male.
The recognition on her face told me she was the Sara they were calling for. My sense of smell was stronger when my Mori was near the surface, which must be why I hadn’t scented them in the club. It seemed my orphan was full of surprises.
I laughed at the shock on the vampires’ faces. “Do you smell that, my friends? I believe the odds just changed.”
Joel nudged his friend. “Come, brother. There are sweeter meals to be had.”
“No. I want this one.”
I bit back a growl at the possessiveness in his voice. “Release her or die, your choice. And you’d better make up your mind soon.”
“Sara, damn it, where are you?” her friend called, closer this time.
The vampires shifted nervously. Sara cried out, and I tensed to spring.
One of the boys shouted. Then a loud growl echoed down the alley.
I waited for the vampires to release Sara and run. No prize – even a young Mohiri – was worth staying and facing an armed warrior and two werewolves. As soon as the vampire let her go, I’d grab her and pull her to safety.
A werewolf pounded into the alley. He was huge for a young wolf, and his sights were on Sara.
The vampires cried out, and the one holding Sara jumped for the fire escape, his arm still locked around her waist.
No! I lunged for them, but the second vampire, the one named Joel, used the distraction to swing at me with his claws. He nicked my side and jumped back out of the range of my sword. He was old and fast, and the arrogant smirk on his face said he thought he could take me alone.
Any other time, it would have been my pleasure to fight him, but my only thought now was getting to Sara. If that vampire got away with her…
I tightened my grip on my sword. No. I wouldn’t let that happen.
Joel snarled and came at me again in a blur of movement. I spun away from his attack and brought my sword up, laying open his shirt and scoring his chest. He grunted and danced away again.
Sara’s scream tore my eyes away from him. I looked to my right to see the other vampire halfway up the ladder to the first landing. He was kicking frantically at the werewolf latched on to his leg. Sara fought the vampire wildly, but he was determined to hold on to her. A few feet away from them, the second werewolf stood watching his friends and looking unsure of what to do.
Joel came at me again, and I parried his attack just in time. He stumbled back, holding his hand over his bleeding shoulder.
“You’re good, Mohiri, but you aren’t good enough to save her,” Joel taunted as he darted back and forth out of my reach. “Eli is going to have so much fun with her. He loves pretty young things, especially brunettes, and I’ve never seen him this hot for one. He’ll make her scream.”
Enraged, I struck at him again. This time my blade sliced through muscle and bone, severing his left arm just below the shoulder. He screamed and grabbed his stump.
I risked another look over my shoulder, and my heart lodged into my throat. Eli had escaped the werewolf, and he was halfway up the fire escape with Sara still in his clutches. The werewolf was climbing after them, but he was too slow. He’d never catch them in time.
My Mori needed no urging, and it sent fresh waves of strength through me. I moved and my blade was at the vampire’s throat before he knew what had hit him. His head flew into the brick wall as his body crumpled.
I spun to the fire escape before the body hit the pavement.
Eli and Sara were only feet from the roof, with the werewolf too far below to catch them. In another second, Eli would reach for the roof, taking her with him.
Without thinking, I pulled a knife from my harness and threw it at the vampire.
Eli screamed and stopped climbing. He reached for the silver knife buried deep in his side, but he couldn’t get to it while holding Sara and the ladder.
I drew out a second blade, prepared to throw it.
The vampire’s eyes fell on me and moved to the werewolf advancing on him. Determination crossed his face as he abandoned the knife and grabbed the ladder rung above his head.
I pulled back my arm, but stopped mid-throw when Sara reached down and yanked the knife from the vampire’s side. What is she doing? I thought, a second before she plunged the blade into his shoulder.
Pride surged in me. She was a fighter.
The vampire screamed and almost lost his grip on her. She dangled precariously three stories above the ground.
I’ve got you. I raised my throwing arm again and stopped. Sara’s body was shielding most of Eli’s, and with them struggling, I could too easily hit her instead.
Her eyes met mine, and I saw the raw fear and resolve on her face.
“Do it!” she screamed. Her voice broke. “Nikolas…please.”
Hearing her speak my name felt like she had reached her hand into my chest and squeezed my heart. I couldn’t look away from her as I released the knife.
The vampire cried out as the blade found its mark in his other shoulder. Struggling frantically, he snarled at Sara.
Then he released her.
I dropped my sword and cradled my arms to soften the impact of her fall. My arms closed around her, and I held her against my chest as I breathed hard to maintain my cool. The feel of her soft body against mine awoke something other than protectiveness inside me. In that moment, I didn’t want to ever let her go.
A low growl nearby reminded me we were not alone. One of the werewolves crept closer to me. The other had shifted back to his human form and was racing down the fire escape.