Night Embrace (Page 3)

Night Embrace (Dark-Hunter #3)(3)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

"Okay," she whispered to him as she patted him gently on the arm. "I’ll take care of you without an ambulance."

Talon forced himself to move away from the glaring lamplight that hurt his light-sensitive eyes. His broken leg protested, but he ignored it.

He limped over to lean against a brick building where he could take the pressure off his damaged leg. Again the world tilted.

Damn. He needed to get to safety. It was still early evening, but the last thing he needed was to be trapped in the city after sunup. Whenever a Dark-Hunter was injured, he or she felt an unnatural urge to sleep. It was a need that would make him dangerously vulnerable if he didn’t get home soon.

He pulled his cell phone out to notify Nick Gautier he was hurt, and quickly learned that his phone, unlike him, wasn’t immortal. It was in pieces.

"Here," the woman said, moving to stand beside him. "Let me help you."

Talon stared at her. No stranger had ever helped him like this. He was used to fighting his own battles and then cleaning up after them alone.

"I’m all right," he said. "You go do-"

"I’m not going to leave you," she said. "You got hurt because of me."

He wanted to argue, but his body throbbed too badly to bother.

Talon tried to move away from the woman. He took two steps and the world started to shift again.

The next thing he knew, everything went black.

Sunshine barely caught the man before he hit the ground. She staggered from the sheer size and weight of him but somehow kept him from falling over.

As gently as she could, she lowered him to the sidewalk.

Note, she said as gently as she could.

As it was, he slammed into the pavement rather forcefully, making her hurt for him all over again as his head practically made a dent in the sidewalk.

"I’m sorry," she said, straightening up to look down at him. "Please tell me that didn’t just give you a concussion."

She hoped she hadn’t hurt him even worse by trying to help.

Whatever was she going to do now?

The illegal biker-looking alien dressed all in black was huge. She didn’t dare leave him on the street unattended. What if their attackers came back? Or some street punk rolled him?

This was New Orleans where most anything could happen to a person while conscious.


Well, there was no telling what the unsavory ones might do to him, so leaving him alone was not an option.

Just as her panic was getting the better of her, she heard someone call her name.

She looked around until she saw Wayne Santana’s beat-up blue Dodge Ram pulling up to the curb. At thirty-three, Wayne had a ruggedly handsome face that looked a lot older. His black hair was laced liberally with gray.

She breathed a sigh of relief at seeing him there.

He rolled his window the rest of the way down and leaned out. "Hey, Sunshine, what’s going on?"

"Wayne, could you help me get this guy into your truck?"

He looked really skeptical about that. "Is he drunk?"

"No, he’s hurt."

"Then you should call an ambulance."

"I can’t." She gave him a pleading look. "Please, Wayne? I need to get him back to my place."

"Is he a friend of yours?" he asked even more skeptically.

"Well, no. We just kind of collided out here."

"Then leave him. The last thing you need is to get involved with another biker. It’s none of our business what happens to him."


"He could be a criminal, Sunshine."

"How could you say such a thing?"

Wayne had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter seventeen years ago. After he’d served his time, he’d spent several months trying to find a job. With no money, no place to live, and no one willing to hire an ex-con to do anything, he was on the brink of committing another crime to return to jail when he’d applied for a job at her father’s club.

Against her father’s protests, Sunshine had hired him.

Five years later, Wayne had never missed a day of work or been late. He was her father’s best employee.

"Please, Wayne?" she asked, giving him the puppy-dog look that never failed to bend the men in her life to her will.

As he left the truck to help her, Wayne made a series of irritated noises. "One day, that big heart of yours is going to get you into trouble. Do you know anything about this man?"

"No." All she knew was that he had saved her life when no one else would have bothered. Surely such a man wouldn’t hurt her.

She and Wayne struggled to get the unknown man upright, but it wasn’t easy.

"Jeez," Wayne muttered as they staggered with him between them. "He’s huge and he weighs a friggin’ ton."

Sunshine concurred. The man was at least six feet five inches of lean, solid muscle. Even with the thick leather motorcycle jacket concealing his upper torso, there was no doubt just how well toned and muscular he was.

She’d never felt such a hard, steely body in her life.

After some doing, they finally got him into the truck.

As they headed toward her father’s club, Sunshine held the stranger’s head on her shoulder and brushed his wavy blond hair back from the chiseled features of his face.

There was a wild, untamed look about him that reminded her of some ancient warrior. His golden hair brushed against his shoulders in a loose style that said he was attentive to his appearance, but not obsessive about it.

Dark brown eyebrows arched over his closed eyes. His face was ruggedly scrumptious with a full day’s growth of beard. Even unconscious, he was compelling and drop-dead gorgeous, and his nearness stirred something needful deep inside her.

But what she liked most about this stranger was the warm masculine and leather scent of him. It made her want to nuzzle his neck and inhale the heady mixture until she was drunk with it.

"So," Wayne said as he drove. "What happened to him? Do you know?"

"He got hit by a Mardi Gras float."

Even in the dim light of the truck’s cab, she could tell Wayne was giving her the are-you-nuts? stare. "There’s no parade tonight. Where did it come from?"

"I don’t know. I guess he must have ticked off the gods or something."


She brushed her hand through the man’s tousled blond hair and toyed with the two thin braids that hung from his left temple as she answered Wayne’s question. "It was a big Bacchus float. I was just thinking this poor guy must have offended our patron god of excess to have been run over by him."

Wayne muttered under his breath. "Must be another frat-boy prank. Seems like every year one of them is stealing a float and taking a joy ride in it. I wonder where they’ll leave it parked this time?"

"Well, they tried to park it on my friend here. I’m just glad they didn’t kill him."

"I’m sure he will be too, when he wakes up."

No doubt. Sunshine leaned her cheek against the stranger’s head and listened to his slow, deep breaths.

What was it about him that she found so irresistible?

"Man," Wayne said after a brief silence. "Your father is going to be pissed about this. He’ll have my balls for dinner when he finds out I took an unknown guy up to your place."

"Then don’t tell him."

Wayne gave her a mean and nasty glare. "I cannot not tell him. If something happened to you, it would be my fault."

She sighed irritably as she traced the sharp line of the stranger’s arched brows. Why did he seem so familiar to her? She’d never seen him before and yet she had a strange sense of deja vu. As if she knew him somehow.

Weird. Very, very weird.

But then she was used to weirdness. Her mother had written the book on the subject, and Sunshine had redefined it.

"I’m a big girl, Wayne, I can take care of myself."

"Yeah and I lived for twelve years with a bunch of big hairy men who made meals off little girls like you who thought they could take care of themselves."

"Fine," she said. "We’ll put him in my bed and I’ll sleep at my parents’. Then in the morning, I’ll check on him with my mother or one of my brothers."

"What if he wakes up before you get home and steals you blind?"

"Steals what?" she asked. "My clothes won’t fit him and I have nothing of any value. Not unless he likes my Peter, Paul and Mary collection anyway."

Wayne rolled his eyes. "All right, but you better swear to me you won’t give him a chance to hurt you."

"I promise."

Wayne looked less than pleased, but he remained technically quiet as he drove them toward her loft on Canal Street. However, he cursed underneath his breath the entire way.

Luckily Sunshine was used to ignoring men who did that around her.

Once they reached her loft, which was located directly over her father’s bar, it took them a good fifteen minutes to get the stranger out of the truck and inside her home.

Sunshine led Wayne through her loft to the area where she’d strung tie-dyed pink cotton fabric along a wire to seal her bedroom area off from the rest of the large room.

Carefully, they placed her unknown guest on her bed.

"Well, let’s go," Wayne said, taking her by the arm.

Sunshine gently shrugged his touch away. "We can’t leave him like that."

"Why not?"

"He’s covered in blood."

Wayne’s face showed his exasperation. It was a look everyone had around her sooner or later-okay, it was most often sooner. "Go sit on the couch and let me undress him."


"Wayne, I’m twenty-nine years old, a divorced artist who took nude drawing in college, and I was raised with two older brothers. I know what men look like nak*d. Okay?"

Growling low in his throat, he stepped out of her bedroom and went to sit on her sofa.

Sunshine took a deep breath as she turned back to her hero dressed all in black. He looked humongous on her bed.

He was also a total mess.

Tentatively, so as not to hurt him, she reached to unzip his motorcycle jacket, which was the neatest thing she’d ever seen. Someone had painted gold and red Celtic scrollwork all over it. It was simply beautiful. A true study in ancient artistry, and she should know. All her life, she had been drawn to Celtic things. She’d cut her teeth on their art and culture.

As soon as she unzipped the jacket, she paused in shock as she saw he wore nothing underneath it. Nothing except lush, tawny skin that made her mouth water and her body instantly throb. Never in real life had she beheld a man with a body so hard and so well toned. Every muscle was defined, and even while relaxed, his strength was evident.

The man was a god!

She ached to draw those perfect proportions and immortalize them. A body this fine definitely needed preserving. She pulled the jacket off and carefully laid it on the bed.

Turning on the lamp that rested on her scarf-covered nightstand, she took a good look at him and was floored by what she saw.


He was even more gorgeous than the people who had attacked her. His wavy blond hair curled becomingly around the nape of his neck, and two long, thin braids hung down to his bare chest. His eyes were closed, but his dark eyelashes were sinfully long. His face was perfectly sculpted with high, arching brows and he had a very dignified, yet untamed look to him.

Again, she had a strange sense of deja vu as her mind flashed on an image of him awake and poised above her. Of him smiling down at her while he slid himself slowly in and out of her body…

Sunshine licked her lips at the thought as she throbbed in painful need.

It had been a long time since she had been this attracted to a stranger. But something about this man really made her ache for a taste of him.

Girl, you have been too long without a man.

Unfortunately, she really had.

Sunshine frowned as she moved closer and got a better look at the tore he wore around his neck. Thick and gold, it had Celtic dragon heads facing each other.

What was so odd was that she’d sketched that very same design years ago in art school and had even tried to cast it into a tore for herself, but the piece had ended up a big mess. It took a lot of metalworking talent to make something that intricate.

Even more impressive was the tribal body tattoo that covered the entire left side of his torso, including his left arm. It was a glorious maze of Celtic artwork that reminded her of the Book of Kells. And unless she missed her guess, it was designed as a tribute to the Celtic war goddess, the Morrigan.

Without thought, she ran her hand over his tattoo, tracing the intricate design.

His right arm had a matching three-inch band of scrollwork around the biceps.

Incredible. Whoever had drawn his tattoos certainly knew their Celtic history.

And as her finger brushed against his nipple, she was jarred from her artist’s appreciation of the design.

The woman in her snapped to the forefront as her gaze darted over his lean muscular ribs and abs so tight and well formed they should be part of a body-builder show.

Oh yeah, this was one fine-looking man.

Even though there was a lot of blood on his pants, there didn’t appear to be any injury to have caused it. Come to think of it, there weren’t even many bruises. Not even where the Bacchus truck had slammed into him.