Unleash the Night (Page 14)

Unleash the Night (Dark-Hunter #9)(14)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

"He has nowhere else to go."

"And neither do we." She jerked her chin in the direction of the monkey as he bounded back toward the tigard. "That is unnatural, too. I hate that damned monkey. He is filmy. Animals such as that one are food for us. They should never be kept as pets."

"Marvin isn’t a pet," Aubert said quietly. "Wren doesn’t own him. They are friends, and the monkey keeps the tiger calm. It is why we allow him to stay."

She made a disgusted sound. "Why must we cater to him? We are bears. We are the more powerful. One strike and we could kill the tiger."

Aubert conceded the point with a nod. "In the wild, beast to beast, yes. But Wren is part human, as are we. He knows not to attack us from the front, but rather to attack us from behind. What he lacks in strength, he makes up for in speed and agility. He could kill us. I have no doubt."

She looked at her mate with rancor. "You fear him?"

"No," he snapped. "But I’m not a fool. Don’t let your hatred blind you, ma petite. Better to use his strength to fight for us than to make an enemy of him."

She considered that. "Perhaps, but he isn’t like the others. He sees through us and our hospitality."

"Oui, but he keeps it to himself. Seldom does he speak to anyone."

Still Nicolette didn’t trust Wren. She could sense the tigard’s unrest. Sense his volatile state. He could turn violent at any moment "I think we should take our concerns to the Omegrion." The Omegrion was the ruling council for their kind. It made and enforced the laws of all Were-Hunters, and its members could call out a blood hunt for anyone the Weres deemed a threat to their world.

Aubert rolled his eyes. "There is no need for that. Wren is not a Slayer."

"No, but he will be. I can feel it."

Wren let out a deep breath as he finished wiping down the table. With his new haircut he was attracting way too much attention, and he hated it. He’d always liked blending into the background. In the past, people might notice him, but they quickly looked away. Or curled their lips in repugnance.

Either was preferable to the women watching him now. To the men narrowing their gazes because their girlfriends were ogling him.

Tigers by nature were solitary creatures. They lived their lives alone.

And yet his thoughts kept drifting back to the afternoon. To the sight of Maggie’s face.

I have to forget her.

The only problem was that he couldn’t.

Marguerite sighed as she straightened her bed. But it was hard to not think of Wren while she made up the bed where they had spent most of the afternoon.

"It’s for the best that he’s gone," she told herself.

It was true. Law school wasn’t easy. Her classes were hard, and they required a lot of concentration. The last thing she needed was the distraction of a troubled bad-boy boyfriend.

The last thing she could afford was to flunk out of school. That would just tickle her father no end.

Marguerite stepped back from the bed and stumbled over something under her foot. Frowning, she saw the small black wallet on the floor.

She grimaced at the sight. "Damn." Of all the stupid luck. It must have fallen out of Wren’s pocket while he’d been dressing.

She picked it up and opened it to find his license and money. Yeah, it was his. Not like it could have belonged to anyone else, but she’d still been holding out for a clumsy burglar.

"I should mail it to him."

But he would most likely need it before then. "I can be a grown-up about this."

She’d take it to the bar, leave it with the waitress, and duck out before he even saw her.

Okay, that was a little cowardly and less than adult, but it would be the way to save her feelings. If he didn’t want to see her, then she didn’t want to be seen.

Wren was in the kitchen unloading dishes when something strange went through him. It was hot and scintillating. Like something had brushed up against his very soul.

Eyes narrowed, he lowered his head and scanned the room.

There was nothing out of the ordinary. But still the beast within him sensed something.

Grinding his teeth, he left the kitchen to head to the bar. He’d only taken one step inside when he found the source of his discomfort…

Maggie.

And she was talking to Dev.

Wren’s gaze narrowed even more as a jealousy the likes of which he’d never experienced before took hold of him. It was all he could do to stay in human form and not run headlong and attack the bear until he had Dev lying dead in his jaws.

But he did cross the bar in quick, fierce strides.

Marguerite felt the air behind her stir. Even before she turned her head, she knew it was Wren. She could feel his presence like a tangible touch.

She looked up at him over her shoulder. His blue eyes scalded her with heat. The intensity of his stare made her shiver.

"You left your wallet," she said quickly, not wanting him to think that she was tracking him down. She took the wallet from the man she’d given it to and handed it to Wren. "I was just going to leave it for you."

She started for the door.

"Wait," Wren said, pulling her to a stop.

"Wait for what?" she said more harshly than she meant to. "I’m not a yo-yo, Wren. You made it clear that there’s nothing more between us. I was-"

He cut her words off with a scorching kiss. Marguerite actually moaned at the feral taste of him.

Even so, she pulled back. "This is cruel." She saw the bitter longing in his eyes as he stared at her.

"Have you ever wanted something that you knew was bad for you? Something that you ached for so much that you could think of nothing else?"

"Yes, which is why I always end up eating the whole chocolate bar anyway."

His grip loosened on her arm as he laughed. She saw the shock on the man’s face over his shoulder.

Wren pulled her against him, nuzzled her, and took a deep breath in her hair. "And I want to inhale my chocolate, kitten. Even if it kills me."

She frowned at his words. "I would never hurt you, Wren."

He tensed as if he heard or felt something. "You need to go now. It’s not safe here for you."

"How so?"

Wren didn’t answer. The two of them were getting way too much attention from the other Were-Hunters in the bar. He couldn’t afford to let them know just how much this woman was coming to mean to him.

"I’m taking my break," he said to Dev before he took her arm and led her for the door.

"What’s going on here?" she asked him as they walked outside.

"I can’t explain it. I really can’t." There was no way to tell her that the feelings inside him were completely wrong. He wasn’t supposed to feel for a human. Not like this.

He felt…

Like a human being. And that was something he most definitely wasn’t.

Wren took her to her Mercedes, which was parked on the side street. He clenched his fists as his body roared to life, demanding he take her again.

Why was he feeling like this? Dammit, it was wrong.

Lifting one hand, he laid his fingers against the blush of her cheek.

He wasn’t what she needed in her life. He wasn’t what anyone needed, and he knew it. But for the first time ever, he wanted to be with someone.

And a human woman no less.

What was wrong with him? Was this the trelosa that could come upon Were-Hunters when they hit puberty? He’d never really felt it as a young man and hadn’t understood the rabies-like madness that appeared with hormonal surges.

But he felt it now. It gnawed and it demanded.

Maybe the trelosa had been delayed because he was a hybrid. He didn’t know. But humans weren’t supposed to attract him. Not as anything more than a possible bedmate or prey.

She stared up at him with those accusing brown eyes that were shining in anger. "I don’t understand what’s going on here, Wren. You push me away and yet you look at me as if you’re a starving beggar and I’m the only steak in town."

"That sums it up about right," he said softly. "You are so out of my league."

"How do you figure?"

"I’m not right, Maggie. Physically, emotionally, socially… I shouldn’t be with you."

"That’s just stupid. You keep saying that and I don’t see anything abnormal with you. What is so wrong with you that we can’t date?"

How he wished he could tell her, but that was stupid and he knew it. To tell her he was an animal would scare the life out of her. Instead, he settled on human arguments. "I’m antisocial."

"So am I. I’m socially awkward and I hate parties and mixers."

"I hate people."

"Then why is your hand still on my face?"

He swallowed at the truth he couldn’t deny. "Because I don’t hate you."

"Well that’s a relief to know, especially after this afternoon."

A tic started in his jaw as he dropped his hand away. "I need to get back to work."

"Will I see you later?"

He wanted to say no, but there was a part of him that was so calm around her. It was the only time in his life that he had felt such.

Dear gods, she had actually tamed some part of him.

Shove her away.

He couldn’t. He needed to feel her against him. Against his will, he felt himself nodding.

Marguerite breathed a sigh of relief. She hadn’t realized that she’d been holding her breath in expectation.

He hadn’t rejected her this time. It was a good sign.

"Wren?"

She looked past him to see the mean older woman on the street, glaring at them. Apparently the woman hadn’t warmed up to either one of them since the last time she’d thrown Marguerite out of her house.

Wren glanced at the woman, then growled a sound that didn’t seem quite human as he returned to stare into Marguerite’s eyes. "I have to go now."

"Okay." Marguerite leaned forward and placed a chaste kiss on his cheek. As she pulled back, she saw the way he savored it.

He picked her hand up and brought it to his lips, where he placed a hungry kiss on her knuckles. "Be careful."

"You, too."

He stepped back as she got in her car and he didn’t move until she’d driven away.

Turning, Wren walked to where Nicolette was still standing. The bear didn’t say a word as he walked past her, but he felt the heat of her stare.

Ignoring it, he returned to the bar and went back to work.

Nicolette followed the tigard inside and paused by her son Dev’s side. "It is unnatural for our kind to be attracted to a human."

"He’s becoming unstable."

She nodded. "I spoke with a cousin of his a few hours ago."

"And?"

She narrowed her eyes on the tigard. "He said that Wren had killed both of his parents."

Dev looked stunned by the news, but she hadn’t been. It was what she’d expected to hear. There was something evil about that tigard.

"How?" Dev asked. "He was barely more than a cub when he was brought here."

"It is the curse of his breed. Why do you think the snow leopards are nearly extinct? They go mad and turn on the ones they depend on. The ones who care for them."

"You think Wren is going mad?"

"What do you think?"

Dev glanced to where Wren was cleaning a table with Marvin on his shoulder. "I think he’s in love with that woman. I actually heard him laugh."

Nicolette sneered at the very thought. "It is unnatural for a Katagari to love a human. Not to mention, that woman," she spat the word, "is death to all of us. Can you imagine what would happen if her father ever learned of us? We would be hunted and killed."

Dev nodded. "The humans would panic, no doubt."

Nicolette ground her teeth as raw, bitter anger consumed her. "I will not allow that hybrid beast to jeopardize all of us."

"What do you plan to do, Maman?"

She didn’t speak as she watched the tigard curl his lip at her before he took his dishes to the kitchen.

She couldn’t tell Dev what she had planned. For some reason, her son was rather fond of the tigard. Something that truly appalled her. But then most males were weak. It was why bearswans were the stronger of the species and why she was the one who led this household.

"Don’t worry, Devereaux. Maman will handle everything. You go back and monitor our door."

And soon her house would again be safe from the threat that Wren posed to them all.

Chapter 7

Marguerite sighed heavily as she walked alone in the zoo, watching the animals play together or rest. Three days had gone by without a single word from Wren. Worse, her father had called two hours ago to yell at her about Blaine’s arrest and pending trial. Apparently neither Blaine nor his father had bothered to inform him just who Wren really was-Blaine most likely refused to believe it. After all, whose family could ever be more important than his own? And how could anyone with Wren’s kind of money ever do anything other than bask in his own greatness?

It was enough to make her sick, and even now she could hear her father’s angry voice in her head.

"He will have a permanent mark on his record and for what? A worthless vagrant you decided to befriend? Really, Marguerite, what is wrong with you? Blaine’s father has helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars at a time for my campaign, and my daughter had his only son arrested? Are you trying to kill me? Do you want me to drop dead from cardiac arrest so that you can have your inheritance early? Just take a gun out and shoot me then. Get it over with…"