“How ‘bout that?” Ben sneered. He stepped through Nicholas’s front door, dropping the lifeless body of one of the Weres who had been watching the house on the floor. He frowned at Alana; then smiled slyly. “To think, you’ve been hiding out here all this time.”
“Not hiding,” Nicholas said coolly. He pushed her behind him trying his best to keep her out of Ben’s line of sight. “Surviving. There is a difference.”
“No, she was hiding,” he shot back. “But no worries. I’ve got you and nobody, not even your lover can keep you from me now.”
“You’re not taking her anywhere, Benjamin.”
“Says you.” Ben snapped his fingers. Two men suddenly appeared beside him, fangs exposed. Nicholas’s body tensed. “Seems you’re outnumbered.”
“Depends,” Nicholas said, his mind reaching out to Carly’s. “Did you find the second wolf? Or did you foolishly assume there was only one?” Ben’s stunned face answered the question. “Ah, that’s what I thought.” Carly’s mind touched his. Help was on the way. “In that case, I suggest you and your associates leave while you still can. The pack will not like finding one of their own dead.”
“I doubt they’ll care much,” Ben said waving the warning away with a careless flick of his wrist. “They strike me as more of the survival-of-the-fittest kind of people, if you know what I mean.”
“Think what you want. If memory serves, that boy there is the pack leader’s nephew.”
Alana heard the back door open. Two cool hands encircled her waist, pulling backward. Nicholas turned to grab her, but he was too late. Ben’s entrance had merely been a distraction. He knew at once the vampire holding Alana was a young one. Probably no more than a week had passed since he’d been turned. His guess…Ben had turned this boy specifically for this moment.
Taking note of the hungry look in the young man’s eyes, Nicholas slowly stepped closer. “Let her go.”
“Help me,” Alana cried. Being in Ben’s presence was nothing compared to being in the grasp of an obviously hungry vampire. “Nicholas, please.”
“Make me.” The vampire smiled, showing off his fangs. Alana’s fear was at a fever pitch. Nicholas could see the vein on her neck pulsing rapidly, enticing the man holding her.
“Don’t,” Nicholas warned. “Just let her go. You don’t have to do this. You don’t have to be this way.”
“That’s enough! Bring her here,” Ben demanded. The young vampire did as he was told, reluctantly releasing her to his maker’s custody. “Good. Now go find the other Were.”
The vampire disappeared into the darkness. Ben smiled, apparently pleased by what he saw as a major victory. He pulled Alana to him. She tried to pull away, but he held her so tightly she couldn’t budge. Nicholas rushed to help her only to find his path abruptly blocked by Ben’s henchmen.
“What shall we do first?” Ben whispered, his lips gently grazing her neck. Her breath quickened. Nicholas felt her fear and tried once again in vain to get to her. Ben cut his eyes to look at his adversary. “Shall I kiss you?” Nicholas held his feelings in check. “Shall I touch you?” Still the man held steady. “I know.” His fangs suddenly appeared, as did a huge smile. “I’ll feed.”
Nicholas reacted with a speed not even Ben could have expected. Within seconds the two men holding him back were dead, their hearts lay barely beating on the floor beside them. Ben threw Alana in front of him, using her body like a shield, hoping any blow Nicholas sent his way would be absorbed by her. Then again…
Alana screamed, feeling a sharp pain shoot through her neck. Nicholas froze, his ears fixed on the rhythm of his lover’s heart. It was fading fast. Ben wasn’t feeding. He was draining. Even more distressing; he was doing it at a rate unheard of.
When a mournful howl pierced the silence around them, Nicholas made his move. He jerked Alana from Ben’s grasp and pulled her into his arms. Within seconds two huge gray wolves were tearing Ben’s body apart. A third gently lifted the body of the man he’d dumped on the floor and carried it outside. Another man entered the house, but Nicholas didn’t wait to see who it was. He transported himself and Alana to the only safe place he had left. Nobody would ever think to look in Alaska.
He laid her body on the bed. She was fighting to stay alive, but he knew the struggle was pointless. Ben had managed to relieve her of over half her necessary blood volume in a matter a seconds. She’d be dead soon and there was nothing he could do to stop it. She’d made her wishes to remain human perfectly clear.
Nicholas lay on the bed beside her, cradling her cool body against his. Tears ran down his cheeks as a totally helpless feeling overtook him. Never before had he felt so useless.
Alana could feel her life slipping away. Tears sprang to her eyes, but refused to fall. She realized then, she didn’t want to die. Life, even one confined to night was worth living. Gathering every ounce of strength she had left, she squeezed his thigh. His head shot up. He turned her to face him, his eyes searching hers. All he needed to save her was a sign.