Read The Dark Side Online

Authors: M. J. Scott

Tags: #Paranormal Romance, #Urban Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Vampire Romance, #Werewolf Romance, #Werewolves, #Vampires, #magic, #Accountant, #The Wild Side Series, #FIC027120, #FIC009060, #FIC009000

The Dark Side (38 page)

BOOK: The Dark Side
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Who would no doubt be thrilled to be visited by a naked blood and ash-stained woman waving a gun but so be it. I forced myself into a run, feeling like every step was taken over by broken glass and burning metal as my muscles protested the effort.

My lungs were screaming by the time I rounded a corner and saw a burger joint. Thank God for junk food.

I burst into the restaurant, ignoring the startled screams and vaulted over the counter.


Phone
,” I snarled at the pimply clerk staring at me in terror. “Phone,” I repeated as she started to cry but then I heard someone behind me saying, “I have an emergency.” I whirled and saw another clerk with a cell in his hand.

“Is that 911?” I waved the gun at his phone.

He nodded, face pale.

“Good. Give me the phone.”

He held it out without protest and I snatched it. “This is Ashley Keenan. I’m with the FBI.” I babbled out the identification code Dan had drilled into my brain to use if I ever had to call the emergency line as the operator squawked in protest. But her objections turned to professionalism just as quickly. Obviously the code thingy did its job. The next thing I knew, I was speaking to Esme.

“Ashley, thank God. Where are you?”

“I don’t know.” I pointed the gun at the clerk. “Where are we, kid?”

“M-m-m, Cedar Park,” he stammered.

Well, what do you know? Seattle. “Thanks. Okay, I’m in a Burger Heaven in Cedar Park. Somewhere near an office park. But listen, I’m not staying here. Smith might be coming back and I’m not risking all these people getting caught in any crossfire. I’ll be heading west. Hurry.”

I handed the cell back to the kid and handed him the gun. “Call the police again. Lock the doors until they get here,” I said. “Don’t let anyone in until they show you a badge. Especially not any men with gray hair and glasses. Possibly driving a black van. Got it?”

He nodded again; staring at the gun like it might just go off in his hand.

“Don’t use that unless you have to,” I said. “Just stay inside. And I’m sorry if I scared you.”

Then I started running again, bursting through the back door. West. I told Esme west. And this time, the wolf was going to be faster and safer. I changed and started running, taking a side street to stay out of view. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck tingling. Somehow I knew Smith wasn’t far away. Even though his vamps were limited by the sunlight, I couldn’t afford to let them catch me.

I bolted a couple more blocks, then slowed, springing over someone’s front fence to get some cover as I got my bearings. I could feel the sun starting to sink, feel the moon growing stronger. God knows what time it really was. Somewhere behind me I heard sirens. Not just fire trucks but police cars.

The sound of safety.

If I could get to them.

Dan would be there. The need to see him suddenly outweighed everything else.

I leaped the fence again then started running back the way I’d come.

I almost made it. I could even see the police cars surrounding the Burger Heaven in the distance. One more block. But as I started to cross the road, I heard a car scream to a halt behind me. I glanced back over my shoulder.

A black van.

Just like the one the vamps had used in Caldwell.

Smith sat in the driver’s seat.

His eyes met mine and I saw the exact moment when he realized the truth. That if I was free, then Cilla was probably dead. His face twisted into a snarl of rage and loss and hate.

The van’s engine revved suddenly and I looked back to the restaurant. Between it and me was a street of small stores and office. All closed. No cover there. No yards to dodge into.

All I could do was run.

I sprang into motion, running for my life. The van’s tires squealed as it came after me.

In the distance I saw a dark-haired man step in front of one of the police cars, saw him turn toward me and freeze.

Dan.

I ran faster, the road stinging my paws with each bound but I could hear the van gaining on me, the roar of its engine drawing closer, the hot stink of gasoline and metal sharper in my nose and mouth as I strained for each breath, each stride. Surely Smith wasn’t crazy enough to drive into a wall of police? It was my only hope for rescue.

Even a werewolf can’t outrun a car.

Or maybe they could.

I was halfway down the block and they hadn’t caught me.

My lungs burned, each breath like acid. I heard Dan yell my name as he raised his gun.

And then a bullet scraped my shoulder from behind. I stumbled and rolled across the road and back to my feet, fire blooming along the bullet’s path, the bite of it nearly as bad as the pain in my lungs. I willed myself into motion, stretching like a leopard, praying for speed, angling down the road headed for Dan.

The sound of the van had faded but the sound of gunfire didn’t.

“Ash, no!” I heard Dan scream even as bullets lit sparks on the road around me.


Dan
,” I thought, just as something tore through my side like a lightning bolt and tumbled me into darkness.

* * *

I woke up in hospital. Dan was holding my hand.

“We have to stop meeting like this,” I croaked. Then I didn’t get to say anything else for several minutes. I was too busy having the life kissed out of me.

“Easy,” I joked when he finally let us come up for air. “You’ll give me a relapse.”

He turned pale and I hugged him tighter. “Hey, joking.”

“Don’t joke,” he said hoarsely. “I thought I’d lost you.”

I stroked his face. “Nah. I’m tough.”

His eyes gleamed silver. Damp silver. Shit, I’d made him cry.

“Ash, I’m serious. I can’t keep going through this.”

“Well, you won’t have to. That crazy vamp bitch is dead.” I wasn’t quite ready to explain how.

“We didn’t get Smith,” he said.

I bolted upright. “Excuse me?”

“Everyone was busy with you. He got away.”

I fell back against my pillows. “Shit.” But somehow part of me wasn’t disappointed. Because, this way, I got to hunt the son of a bitch down myself.

“It’s okay. I’ll get him,” Dan said.

I forced myself to sit up a little, wincing as my side stabbed with pain. “What’s this ‘I’ business?”

“It’s my job.”

“I’m on the Taskforce too, you know.”

His face turned grim. “You’re not putting yourself in danger again.”

“Excuse me?” Outrage turned my voice even rougher.

Dan heard it too. But his expression didn’t change. He just nailed me with a ‘don’t push me on this’ look. “I mean it, Ash. You’re staying in the office from now on.”

“Like hell I am. He killed Rhianna.”

“Rhi’s dead?”

I looked down; grief and rage roiling through me like a blow.
Rhi
. One more loss to chalk up to the vampires and Smith.

One loss too many.

“Yes. And if you think I’m not getting the bastard who caused all this, then you need to think again.”

“I’m the Agent in Charge, I get to say who is on the case.”

“And who says I need the Taskforce?” I flared.

Dan went still. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I mean, I’m getting Smith.” I folded my arms and glared at him.

“There are rules, Ashley.”

“Screw the rules. Smith doesn’t play by the rules.”

“You don’t want to be like him.”

I stared at him, not knowing how to make him understand. Not without telling him the truth about Rhianna and the knot of guilt and grief tearing me apart. Not sure, even if I did tell him, that he could understand. Dan saw the world in black and white. Right and wrong.

But I’d learned a lot in the last few months. I didn’t care so much about right and wrong and legalities. I cared about good and bad. About surviving. And there were all sorts of shades of gray involved in that.

And, as I stared into my favorite shade of gray—the silver of Dan’s eyes—I wasn’t sure that he’d be able to forgive me if I learned any more.

I closed my eyes. “I don’t want to fight. I’m tired.” I held out my hand to him. “Just be here when I wake up, okay?”

His fingers curled around mine. “I’m not going anywhere.”

* * *

They released me from the hospital the next day. I had a new scar on my ribs from Cilla’s silver knife but that was the only visible wound. The invisible wounds were something I didn’t want to talk about.

Though, over the next week, it seemed like I wasn’t getting much of what I wanted. Every man and his dog wanted to debrief me about what had happened. The Taskforce, Dan, the police, other random FBI personnel and even Ani and Sam.

And, even though I was sure there should be something in the relationship rules about nearly getting killed bringing two people closer together, my desire not to fight with Dan wasn’t working either.

He kept trying to wrap me in cotton wool. Hardly let me out of the house. All we did was fight and make-up with frantic sex. But each time, the gap between the fight and the making up part seemed to get bigger.

Just like the gap I felt growing between us.

We fought about the Taskforce.

We fought about Smith.

We fought about Marco when I said I wanted him to be the one to try to relocate whatever it was that my father had stashed in my head. Dan flipped. I stood my ground. I trusted Marco. And I wasn’t letting anyone else—not even a Taskforce vamp, rummage around in my head. In fact, I was particularly keen for it not to be a Taskforce vamp. Because then they’d find out all the things I didn’t want Dan to know; about what happened to me and to Rhi.

Fighting about Marco brought us right back to our starting point and we fought about my blood debt.

“Christ, you won’t cut me a break at all,” I yelled as Dan started on another ‘you trust a vampire more than me’ rant. Really, living with an alpha wolf was a bitch. And I’m sure Dan thought the same about me.

“How can I cut you a break when you keep running to him for help?”

“I went to him to save your life.” I was so sick of this argument. I was never going to win.

“And now you want to go to him again.”

“He’s not going to do anything to me. I want him to help us.”

“Maybe you just want him period.”

That did it. I grabbed the nearest object and hurled it at Dan. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard you say.” He ducked but the plate smashed into the wall beside him and a chip flicked into his face, cutting it.

“Really?” He wiped his cheek. “Well, I guess you’d recognize stupid when you saw it.”

“Get out.” It was a scream. I couldn’t stand this anymore and if he didn’t leave then one of us was going to do something irreversible.

“Don’t worry, I’m going.”

Dan slammed out of the house, leaving me staring at the wall and the shards of china littering my floor as fury churned in my stomach.

I turned over and over in my head but I couldn’t see a way to resolve things. Dan wanted me to live my life his way and I wanted to live it mine.

All I could think was that there was one way I could reduce the number of things for us to fight about.

So I cleaned the floor carefully then headed for my bedroom.

* * *

Forty minutes later, I stepped through the door to Marco’s office, wearing a strapless top and my favorite jeans.

Marco looked up from his desk, started to smile then froze as I held up a hand and pulled the door shut.

“I thought you might be thirsty,” I said.

THE END

Need more Ashley Keenan?

Watch out for
BRING ON THE NIGHT
, coming later in 2015.

And have you read
THE WOLF WITHIN
(Book 1)?

In the meantime, check out M.J. Scott’s other books:
The Half-Light City series – Roc
Shadow Kin
Blood Kin
Iron Kin
Fire Kin

To keep in touch with M.J. you can:

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About The Author

M.J Scott is an unrepentant bookworm. Luckily she grew up in a family that fed her a properly varied diet of books and these days is surrounded by people who are understanding of her story addiction. When not wrestling one of her own stories to the ground, she can generally be found reading someone else’s. She also writes contemporary romance as
Melanie Scott
.

BOOK: The Dark Side
10.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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