Kiss of the Night (Page 12)

Kiss of the Night (Dark-Hunter #5)(12)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

After parking his car, he walked down the quiet street like a silent phantom in the cold frigid night. The winter winds whipped around him, biting his exposed skin.

It had been a night much like this one that had brought him into service for Artemis. He’d been on a quest then too. Only then the nature of the quest had been different.

Or had it?

You’re a wandering soul, looking for a peace that doesn’t exist. Lost you will be until you find the one inner truth. We can never hide from what we are. The only hope is to embrace it.

To this day, he didn’t really understand what it was the old seer had tried to tell him the night he’d sought her out, wanting her to explain to him how Morginne and Loki had swapped their souls.

Perhaps there was no real explanation. After all, it was a freaky world he lived in and it seemed to get stranger by the minute.

Wulf entered the Inferno. Painted black inside and out, it had iridescent flames painted inside and out, as well, that sparkled eerily under the muted, dancing lights of the club.

The club’s owner, Dante Pontis, met him at the door where he and two other "men" were taking cover charges and checking IDs. In human form, the Katagari panther was ironically dressed like a "vampire." But then Dante thought such things were funny-hence the name of the club.

Dante wore black leather pants, biker boots that sported red and orange flames, and a black poet’s shirt. The panther had left his shirt unlaced and the ruffled collar curled around his neck while the silk laces fell down his chest. His long black leather coat had a nineteenth-century look to it as well, but Wulf knew it to be a copy-one of the advantages to having been alive then was that he well remembered the fashions of that time period.

Dante’s long black hair fell freely about his shoulders. "Wulf," he said, flashing a set of fangs Wulf knew weren’t real.

The panther only had teeth like that in his true animal form.

Wulf cocked his head at the sight. "What the hell are those?"

Dante smiled wider, displaying his teeth. "Women love them. I’d tell you to get a set, but you already come well equipped."

Wulf laughed at that. "I’m not going there."

"Please don’t."

Still, bad double entendres aside, it always felt good to come to the Inferno, even if the Were-Hunters didn’t really want him there. It was one of the few places where someone remembered his name. Yeah, okay, so he felt like Sam Malone on Cheers, but there was no Norm or Cliff sitting at the bar here. More like Spike and Switchblade.

The "man" beside Dante leaned over. "Is he a DH?"

Dante’s eyes narrowed. He grabbed the man beside him and shoved him toward the other bouncer. "Take the friggin’ Arcadian spy out back and deal with him."

The man’s face went pale. "What? I’m not Arcadian."

"Bullshit," Dante snarled. "You met Wulf two weeks ago and if you were really Katagaria, you’d remember him. Only a f**king were-panther can’t."

Wulf arched a brow at the insult that none of the Katagaria used lightly. The root of the term "were" meant human. To place that term before their animal name was a gross insult to the Katagaria, who prided themselves on the fact that they were animals who could take human form, not the other way around.

The only reason they were tolerant of being called Were-Hunters was the fact that they did in fact hunt and kill the Arcadians, who were humans capable of taking animal form. Not to mention the fact that the male of their species often hunted human females for sexual purposes. Apparently, sex was much more enjoyable to them in human form than in animal, and the males had voracious appetites in that department.

Unfortunately for Wulf, the female Were-Hunters who could remember him never looked outside their species for partners. Unlike the men, the females had sex in hopes of finding mates. The men were simply after the pleasure of it.

"What are you going to do to him?" Wulf asked as Dante’s bouncer dragged the Arcadian away.

"What’s it to you, Dark-Hunter? I don’t screw with your business, you don’t screw with mine."

Wulf debated what to do, but then if the other man really was an Arcadian spy, most likely he could handle the situation on his own and wouldn’t relish the thought of help, especially from a Dark-Hunter. The Weres were extremely independent and hated for anyone or anything to interfere with them.

So Wulf changed the subject. "Any Daimons in the club?" he asked Dante.

Dante shook his head. "But Corbin’s inside. She came in about an hour ago. Said it was slow tonight. Too cold for the Daimons on the street."

Wulf nodded at the mention of the Dark-Huntress who was also assigned to the area. He wouldn’t be able to stay long then, not unless Corbin was ready to leave.

Going inside, he went to say hi to her.

There was no band on stage tonight. Instead a DJ played loud, operatic music he vaguely remembered Chris calling Goth Metal.

The club was dark with bright strobe lights flashing. It played havoc with his Dark-Hunter sight, an attempt on Dante’s part to keep Dark-Hunter interference at a minimum while they were in the club. Wulf pulled out his sunglasses and put them on to help alleviate some of the pain it caused him.

People danced on the floor, oblivious to everything around them.

"Greetings."

He jumped at the sound of Corbin’s voice in his ear. The woman had the power of bending time and teleportation. She lived to surprise people by sneaking up on them.

He turned to see the extremely attractive redhead behind him. Tall, lithe, and deadly, Corbin had been a Greek queen in her human lifetime. She still had that regal bearing and a look of such haughty supremacy that it could make anyone feel like they should wash their hands before they touched her.

She’d died trying to save her country from invasion by some barbarian tribe who were no doubt the forerunners to his own people.

"Hi, Binny," he said, calling her by a nickname she only allowed a chosen few to use.

She placed a hand on his shoulder. "You okay? You look tired."

"I’m fine."

"I don’t know. Maybe I ought to send Sara over to replace Chris for a few days and take care of you."

He covered her hand with his, warmed by her concern.

Sara Addams was her Squire. "That’s all I need. A Squire who can’t remember she’s supposed to serve me."

"Oh, yeah," Corbin said, wrinkling her nose. "I forgot that one drawback."

"Don’t worry. It’s not Chris. I just haven’t been able to sleep well."

"Sorry to hear that."

Wulf noticed several of the Weres were staring at them. "I think we’re making them nervous."

She laughed as she looked around the club. "Maybe. But my money says that they sense what I do."

"Which is?"

"Something is going to happen here tonight. It’s why I came in. Don’t you feel it too?"

"I don’t have that power."

"Be grateful then, it’s a bitch." Corbin stepped away from him. "But since you’re here, I’ll step out for a breath of fresh air and leave the club to you. I don’t want my powers drained."

"Later, then."

She nodded and in a flash vanished. He only hoped no human had seen her do that.

Wulf walked through the club feeling odd, detached. He didn’t know why he was here. It was so stupid.

He might as well leave too.

Turning around, he froze…

Cassandra had felt so weird being in the Inferno tonight. Her mind kept flashing back to the night before. Even Kat was sensing her discomfort.

There were two warring voices in her head. One telling her to leave immediately and one telling her to stay.

She was beginning to fear that she might be schizophrenic or something.

Michelle and Tom came up to them. "Hey, guys, I hate to bang out on you, but Tom and I are going someplace quiet to talk, okay?"

Cassandra smiled at them. "Sure. You two have fun."

As soon as they left, she looked at Kat. "No need in us staying, huh?"

"Are you sure you want to leave?"

"Yeah, I think so."

Cassandra got up from her chair and grabbed her purse. Shrugging on her coat, she wasn’t paying attention to anything until she walked into someone who was standing as still as a wall.

"Oh, I’m sor-" Her words broke off as she looked up a good four inches into the face that had haunted her dreams.

It was him!

She biblically knew every inch of that solid, gorgeous male body.

"Wulf?"

Wulf was stunned beyond comprehension as he heard his name on her lips. "You know me?"

A becoming blush stained her face and it was then he knew…

Those hadn’t been dreams.

She started away from him.

"Cassandra, wait."

Cassandra froze as she heard her name on his lips.

He knew her name…

Run! It sounded like her mother’s voice in her head, but the order was drowned out by the part of her that didn’t want to run away from him.

He reached his hand out toward her.

Cassandra couldn’t breathe as she stared at it, wanting his touch. His real touch.

Before she could stop herself, she reached out to him.

Just as she was about to touch him, a shimmer over his shoulder caught her eye.

She looked past him to see a strange mirrorlike image appear on the dance floor. Out of its midst stepped a man who was evil incarnate.

Standing at least six feet eight, he was dressed all in black with short ebony hair that framed the face of perfection. He was every bit as handsome as Wulf. And like Wulf, he wore a pair of dark sunglasses. The only color on him was a bright yellow sun with a black dragon in its center that was painted on the front of his motorcycle jacket.

In spite of his black hair, he was a Daimon. She knew it with every Apollite instinct she possessed. What’s more, he was followed through the opening by more Daimons. All of whom were blond and dressed in black.

They oozed an unnatural attraction and virility. Most of all, they oozed deadly precision.

They weren’t here to feed. They were here to kill.

She stepped back with a gasp.

Wulf turned to look at what had startled Cassandra. He felt his jaw go slack as he watched the Daimons coming through a bolt-hole in the center of the club.

Dante came running from the front in human form that shifted to panther as he ran. Before he could get near them, the Daimon with black hair shot a god-bolt straight at him.

The Katagari hit the ground with a yelp as the electrically charged bolt shifted him from panther to human and back again.

The bar went wild.

"Mind-shield the humans!" the DJ shouted over the intercom, alerting the Katagaria who were present that the humans needed to be gathered and their memories of the night reorganized and/or purged, just as they routinely did anytime something "strange" happened in their club.

Most of all, the humans needed to be protected.

The Daimons fanned out, circling the club and attacking any Katagari who came near them.

Wulf rushed through the crowd to attack.

He caught the Daimon with a blond ponytail and swung him around. The Daimon jumped back out of his reach. "This isn’t your fight, Dark-Hunter."

Wulf pulled two of his long daggers out from his boots. "I think it is."

He attacked, but to his amazement, the Daimon moved like lightning. Every move Wulf made to attack was countered and returned.

Holy shit. He’d never in his life seen Daimons move like this.

"What are you?" Wulf asked.

The blond Daimon laughed. "We’re Spathis, Dark-Hunter. We are the only thing that is truly deadly in the dark of night. While you…" He raked a repugnant look over Wulf’s body. "You’re just a pretender."

The Daimon caught him by the neck and threw him to the ground. Wulf hit the deck hard. His breath left his body with a vicious woof as his knives flew out of his grasp.

The Daimon jumped on top of him, slugging him as if he were a helpless babe.

Wulf knocked him off, but it was hard. There were fights all over the room as the Were-Hunters engaged the Daimons.

Worried about Cassandra, he looked to see her hiding with a blond woman in a far corner.

He had to get her out of here.

The Daimon he was fighting looked to where Wulf had glanced. "Father," he called out. "The heiress." He pointed straight at Cassandra.

Wulf took advantage of the distraction to kick the Daimon back.

As one cohesive unit, the Spathis disengaged their opponents and jumped from their locations to where Cassandra and the blond woman were hiding.

They literally dropped out of the sky and landed in formation.

Wulf ran for them, but before he could reach the women, the blonde with Cassandra came out of her crouch.

The Daimon leader froze instantly.

The blonde held her arms straight out as if to bar the Daimons from Cassandra. Suddenly, a wind of unknown origin whipped through the club.

The Daimons froze.

Another shimmery doorway opened on the dance floor.

"It’s the laminas," the Daimon who had been fighting Wulf said, sneering. He turned toward the blond woman and glared.

Their faces angry, the Spathis disengaged the formation and walked one by one back through it.

Except for the leader.