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 (5 page)

BOOK: The Dark Side
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Dizziness swept over me. I bent down, bracing my hands on my knees and trying not to throw up as I breathed in traffic fumes and the smell of wet tarmac, the drizzling rain forming a cold film over my heated skin.

Behind me, I heard Dan push his way through the line of people waiting to be let into the club. I straightened as he stopped next to me. His eyes, usually silver, were a flat stormy color in the glow of the streetlights.

“Are you okay?” he said.

“I’m fine,” I said between breaths. My heart still pounded furiously, and the pain in my head bit in unison with each pulse. I knew Dan could smell the fear rising from my skin but I needed the lie to convince myself not to have a total meltdown.

“I told you this was a bad idea.” His voice was as flat as his eyes.

“I know you did.” My knees wobbled. I looked around for something to lean on, but there was nothing unless I wanted to sit in the gutter. Not a good plan if the whiff of rotting food and dirt rising up from the puddles at my feet was anything to go by. What I really wanted was for Dan to put his arms around me and tell me everything would be all right.

Which was about as likely as me growing wings and flying through the darkness. My head throbbed again as he glared at me. “It’s just a job.” Maybe if I said it enough I’d convince myself.

“You still think you can handle this?”

I forced myself to stand up straight, ignoring the rapidly increasing wobbly feeling in my legs. “He needs a forensic accountant. He can get me for free thanks to Marco. End of story.”

Talking made the pain spike deeper into my head. I dug my fingers into the back of my neck where the muscles were doing a pretty good imitation of granite. “I’m under Marco’s protection, Esteban can’t hurt me.”

“He just did.” Dan lifted my arm. My hand trembled. I snatched it back, hugging myself to try and get warm.

“It’s not Esteban, it was that place. The whip....” I trailed off before my brain could start showing images of Tate. “I’m fine now.”

“Until the next time you go near him. Why do you think I didn’t want you to come? He’s dangerous,” Dan said, the words half snarled. “Christ, Ash. Do you think I can’t smell what he did to you? That isn’t safety. Marco can’t help you if you agree to do whatever Esteban wants.”

“I wouldn’t,” I whispered.

“Really? How can you be so sure? I could smell you while I was outside his office. You wanted him. You weren’t thralled and he got you wet. If he tried harder, he could’ve had you.” His voice was spiked with anger and fear, roughened and hard. He grabbed my shoulders, his grip hard enough to bruise and I started shivering. He was usually so careful with his strength.

Silver eyes burned into mine. “Don’t you understand? He’s strong. He could make you do anything. And he’d enjoy doing it. I’ve heard the stories. And a lot of them aren’t just stories. He likes to hurt people. He’d cut off your clothes and play you like a goddamned violin. Make you get down on your hands and knees and let him fuck you in front of whoever he wanted. Make you beg him.” Dan’s voice grew rougher still. Darker. Like steel spiked velvet scraping my nerves. “That would be just the beginning. He likes whips and knives and blood. You want to be the one sucking him off while he carves his initials into your skin?”

I couldn’t breathe. I just stared at him. I’d never told Dan exactly what Tate had done to me. How the vampire had done almost exactly what Dan was describing. Tate hadn’t raped me but he’d made me like everything else he did to me.

 “You wanted that girl’s blood back there,” Dan continued. “You could taste it, couldn’t you? He could make you lose control of the wolf. Let the beast out until all you think about is hot blood and soft flesh tearing under your teeth. Is that what you want to be? A rogue? A killer?”

My teeth chattered as my gut twisted. “He w-wouldn’t. Marco—”

Dan growled, a real growl. The sound a human throat shouldn’t make. His scent was drowning in smoke and electricity. “You think he gives a fuck about Marco? They’re Old Ones. One day one of them will probably kill the other. You want to be a casualty of that war?”

I shook my head, tears stinging my eyes.

“Then listen to me. You’re not doing it. Whatever he asked, forget it.” His fingers tightened again. “Understand?”

I tore myself free, stumbling backward. Christ, how did everything get so screwed up? I couldn’t let Dan get in the middle of my problems again. The last time he’d done that, he’d almost died. “And how am I supposed to explain that to Marco? Or Esteban?”

A muscle ticked in his jaw. “I said I’d deal with Marco.”

And there was a statement that scared me even more than Esteban ever could. I swallowed hard. “You can’t start a fight with an Old One. Ani and Sam would kill you if Marco didn’t.”

“Screw that,” he said. “Just look at you.” He ran his hand down my arm and I leaned into the warmth before I could help it. “An hour with Esteban and you’re a wreck.”

Clear concern threaded under the anger. He was right to be concerned. He was right about Esteban. But I had to do what I’d agreed anyway. “This is my mess to clean up. I went to Marco.”

He dropped his hand, anger tightening his face into a nearly unrecognizable mask. “Why are you being so goddamn stubborn?”

“Because Marco helped me save your
life
. I owe him. I
promised
.” I clenched my teeth together before I could say something I’d regret. Like admitting that I was doing it to get Dan to forgive me, to let us move forward. I couldn’t handle that conversation right now. Tears rose in my eyes again and a half sob caught in my throat.

The fury on his face evaporated and he looked like Dan again. “I’m taking you home. We can talk about this later.”

“I—”

He put an arm around me, drawing me close and I leaned against him, needing to feel something solid. “Don’t argue. We’re going home. You need to get warm. My place.”

It wasn’t a question. I nodded, glad of the reprieve. This wasn’t an argument we could solve tonight. I wasn’t sure it was an argument that we could ever solve. But I didn’t want to fight with Dan anymore.

* * *

We didn’t talk on the way back to Ravenna. The silent ride gave me plenty of time to discover damp leather is cold, uncomfortable, and in no way a distraction from the fact I’d just agreed to take on an Old One as a client.

Or from the fact the Old One in question had nearly given me a meltdown. It wasn’t just the leather that was causing the shivers I couldn’t quite control. I’ve worked for vamps before but my clientele tend to be those vamps who prefer acting mostly human. Not the big, scary, mojo-you-into-orgasms powerful ones.

If I was going to go through with this, I needed to find out if there was a way to protect myself from whatever power it was Esteban wielded. Otherwise, everything Dan had said might just turn out to be true.

Jase was the obvious person to ask but he was going to be as mad at me as Dan was once he found out we’d be working for Esteban. Adding an admission that Esteban could voodoo me wasn’t going to improve the situation.

But I had to ask someone. Every time I thought of Esteban, part of me burned even as the rest of me chilled. I hoped like hell the former was going to wear off soon.

If I wasn’t going to ask Jase or Dan, I needed to ask Ani. I made a mental note to call her as soon as possible.

Dan’s Jeep bumped its way into his front drive and I came back to myself with another shiver.

“Are you feeling better?” Dan asked as he climbed out of the car.

I shut the passenger side door, stood for a moment while my legs decided whether or not they wanted to keep me upright. Then I walked over to him, hoping not falling down was proof of my statement. Cold warred with exhaustion and a desperate need to sleep. But I wasn’t as freaked out as I had been. “I’m okay.”

Dan’s gaze sharpened. “You’re lying again.” Anger smoked through his scent. He pulled me against him. Heat ripped through my body.

Too hot. Too fierce.

Esteban’s voodoo still riding me. I pulled free.

Dan frowned. “What are you doing? You’re freezing.”

I realized the leather vest wasn’t hiding the fact my nipples were hard and crossed my arms. Damp leather rubbing across sensitized flesh only made heat spike again and I trembled. The good kind of tremble. Problem was I couldn’t be sure if it was Dan or Esteban causing it. “I’ll be fine.” Despite my efforts to quell the heat, my voice quivered.

Dan’s nostrils flared. “Still lying,” he said.

Damned werewolf senses.

I looked at him, eyes silvered in the moonlight, tall and strong, leather and cotton clinging to all those muscles, and felt the heat bite again. Maybe I shouldn’t fight the feeling. After all, sex was better than fighting. Surely I deserved one good thing out of this mess of a day, Esteban or no Esteban?

I stepped closer, breathing in the edge of wildness that was pure Dan. Familiar. Soothing, even as it swirled across my nerves and drove warmth through my body. Warmth that didn’t burn and bite like the feelings Esteban had evoked. Warmth that felt right. Natural.

Maybe hot sex with Dan could drive away all the demons nipping at my heels.

I smiled, tilting my head back to look at him. “You could warm me up.”

“Is that so?” His voice deepened a few notes.

A nod. “Yep. All this wet leather is...cold.” I backed toward the house, tugging the vest away from my skin slightly. Dan moved forward as I moved back, all male intent and grace as he stalked toward me.

Desire licked my nerves as warmth turned to heat and heat loosened the tension in my muscles. It felt wonderful. We reached the porch and Dan reached for the door. I didn’t want to wait. Needed what he could give me now. Needed skin and heat and us to drive away everything else. I ducked under his arm, blocking the door by leaning back against it and arched toward him. “Where’re you going in such a hurry?”

His eye widened. “Inside?”

I tugged at the laces holding my vest together. “What’s wrong with right here?” The porch was shadowed, the moonlight flickering through the clouds unevenly. The darkness seemed to kiss my skin with more heat.

“Isn’t this a little public?” Dan sounded confused.

I worked the lace free of the first few holes, baring my cleavage. “Don’t tell me the big bad wolf is shy?”

“Ash, let’s just—”

I made a frustrated noise. Too much talking. I’d had enough of voices. Of arguments. Of shoulds and shouldn’ts. I wanted hands and lips and skin. Wanted to feel instead of think. I reached for his neck, pulled myself up on tiptoes and nipped his lip. “
Here
.”

He growled low in his throat. “I hope you’re sure.”

The rumble in his voice made me even needier. I bit his lip again. “Less talking. More fucking.”

This time the growl vibrated against my lips as he kissed me with all the hunger I could desire. My back hit the door with a thump that rattled through me as he surged forward, pressing us close.

Need to need.

Skin to skin.

His hands tangled in my hair as the taste of him filled my mouth. I rocked my hips forward, feeling the length of him through two layers of leather. Warm. Hard. All mine. I pressed harder.

“Not so fast.” His voice rumbled in my ear—his tone husky with need and edged with anger—as his lips brushed my lobe and I sucked in a breath.

“Dan—”

He growled softly and the sound vibrated all the way down to my toes. “My way. You’re going to do everything I say.”

Oh God. Heat rushed to my face even as it curled through my stomach. “I—”

“Don’t talk.” His hand slid up from my waist, brushed my nipple through the leather and something about the combination of hot male fingers and damp leather short-circuited my brain, making me whimper.

“You like that, don’t you?”

I nodded, breathless.

“Lift up your arms,” he said, pinching slightly harder. Pleasure spiked through me. I did as he asked, feeling the carved wood of his door bite the back of my wrists as I waited, pulse speeding.

He smiled at me, a long lazy smile edged with hunger. “Good girl.” One hand reached out and, with a yank, the laces parted completely, baring me to his gaze. Heat streaked through me, pinning me where I was as effectively as shackles.

His eyes darkened as he watched me. “I’m going to make you scream, Ash,” he said. “You’re going to wake up the neighborhood.” His fingers returned to my breasts, not gentle. It should’ve hurt. Instead it made me moan.

“Not yet. Not until I tell you to.” He pressed a finger to my lips then traced their curves. When he pushed, I obeyed, taking his fingers into my mouth and sucking them. Hard.

His free hand curled around my wrists, holding them where they were as he slid his fingers free. Moisture brushed my skin as he trailed his hand down my throat and slicked those damp fingers back to my nipple.

Obviously Maelstrom had given him some ideas.

Ideas I shouldn’t like. I shouldn’t want to let him call the shots, take me how he wanted. But I did.

Heat flowed through me as he teased me. He took his time, setting each nerve on fire with tantalizing pressure. All the time his eyes never left mine.

I wanted to close my eyes, to look away but all that focused heat was irresistible. He had me trapped.

His hand drifted down, flicked open the buttons at my waistband then stroked the skin at the top of my panties. My hips arched helplessly toward him as need roared in my ears.

“Dan—”

“I said no talking.” He took his hand away and I whimpered.

“Guess I’ll have to find you something else to do with your mouth,” he whispered. Then he leaned in and kissed me. If it could be called a kiss. There was nothing gentle about it. Our mouths met like the clash of armies, need and possession and hunger smoking between us.

I groaned under the assault and Dan’s hand slid back between my legs, tearing leather and fabric like it was tissue to find bare flesh. The heel of his hand pressed down, sending lightning streaking behind my eyes as I widened my legs. The slide of his skin against mine was heaven and hell.

I tried to free my wrists so I could touch and play Dan the same way he was playing me but his fingers didn’t budge, one hand pinning me effortlessly. It wasn’t often he used his true strength but he was now. I moaned and he pulled his mouth away. His eyes were fierce as he stared at me.

BOOK: The Dark Side
2.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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