Read Trace's Temptation (RARE Series, #3) Online
Authors: Dawn Sullivan
Tags: #Paranormal Romance, #Romance, #Shifters, #Shifter Romance
After getting everything set up at the shooting range, Jade loaded her gun. Squinting slightly, arms held out in front of her in the police stance Rikki had taught her, Jade took aim, lining up the shot. Slowly squeezing the trigger, she unloaded the Glock at the paper target several yards away. When she was done, she put the gun down and reeled in the paper. Not bad, Jade thought as she saw the holes in the circles surrounding the bulls-eye. She had hit exactly where she aimed.
“Good job,” Rikki said sarcastically as she appeared behind Jade. “Now, tell me why you didn’t hit the bulls-eye. After that, you can tell me how you took Flame down the way you did.” Shit, she should have known Rikki had been watching them spar. Taking a deep breath, Jade turned to confront Rikki. Resting her hands on her hips she challenged, “I don’t know what you mean. I did well. All my shots are in the circles.” Eight months ago Jade never would have spoken to anyone the way she was speaking to Rikki. Eight months ago, Jade would have been shoved down in a deep, dark hole with snakes and spiders for daring to say what was on her mind. That was eight months ago, this was now. Before, she was not living. She was surviving. Now, Jade promised herself she would be the person she wanted to be, not what someone else required her to be, as long as she could still keep her deepest secrets. There was no hole to stick her in here and no General to ply her with drugs to dull her senses so she could not fight back. She would never be the helpless woman she was before. She may have to hide her skills and gifts, but she did not have to hide her true personality. Well, not all of the time anyway; only when she felt it beneficial to play the meek, gentle Omega.
Rikki reached out snatching the target. The anger and tension in Rikki rolled off her and Jade cringed at the impressions that hit her fast and hard. Shit, she had let her shield down. Rikki was upset and hurt. It had something to do with a man, a very handsome man. He was tall, dark and muscular with gorgeous brown eyes. He seemed familiar, but the images were rolling by so quickly in her mind, Jade could not grasp who he was. Finally, they slowed down and Jade felt the confusion and despair in Rikki as there was an image of her watching the man being driven away in a SUV, his hand lightly resting on the window.
Turning away from Rikki, Jade calmly squeezed her eyes shut, biting her bottom lip and concentrated on pushing all of the images out of her mind and blocking Rikki’s feelings. Damn, it was getting harder and harder to block everything out. Since RARE rescued Jade from the General, she discovered the pills the scientists filled her with had contained something preventing her from fully using her abilities. Jade had not realized how strong those abilities really were. First of all, she was a very strong empath. Constantly feeling others emotions really sucked; the pain, the despair, the jealousy, the anger. There were so many emotions and when you were bombarded with them constantly, it was very hard to block them out and stay sane.
Jade had also known she was telepathic, but thought she was not a very strong one because she was never able to connect with another person unless they held the connection on their end. Now that all of the medicine she had been forced to take was out of her system, Jade was finding out she was not only telepathic, but what she could do went way beyond just talking to someone else with her mind. Jade also had the ability to connect with others like her mother, Angel, could. She found she could easily connect with anyone around her. She tried not to take advantage of her gift, but if her shields were not firmly in place, sometimes it was hard to block others thoughts.
Finally, Jade’s head cleared and she was able to push Rikki’s thoughts and emotions aside. Calmly, Jade picked up her gun and proceeded to load it. “Dammit, Jade, stop ignoring me. Get pissed, yell, scream, but don’t ignore me.” Rikki held the target in front of Jade. “Stop screwing with me, Jade. Stop hiding who you are and what you can do. You are safe now. The General isn’t here. It is just you and me. Hit the fucking target.”
Swallowing hard, jaw clenched, Jade watched as Rikki attached a new target to the clamp and reeled it back out. “Now, hit the red,” Rikki ordered. “I don’t want to see a bullet hole anywhere else on that target, do you understand me? Hit it!”
Looking Rikki in the eyes, Jade took a deep breath. “How did you know?” she asked softly. Not saying a word, Rikki held up a gloved hand, eyebrows raised. Shit. Rikki had the ability to see the past, present and future with the touch of her hand. She wore gloves to prevent the images from constantly bombarding her. Jade wished she had that option. She had to make sure and keep her shields up, or every thought and emotion would hit her.
Nodding, Jade glanced around to make sure no one was around, then she raised her gun and proceeded to unload it hitting the bulls-eye every single time. Turning back to Rikki she asked, “Are you happy now?”
Quickly reeling the target back in and removing it, Rikki grinned. “Now that’s what I’m talking about! Why hide it, Jade? Why hide from everyone?”
“Because of Jinx,” Jade responded. Placing the gun on the shelf in front of her, she pulled her long blonde hair up in a ponytail securing it with an elastic band she took from around her wrist. Picking up the gun, she proceeded to reload it. “My brother is still with the General. Jinx will do everything in his power to stop him. He taught me how to defend myself. He wanted to make sure I would have a fighting chance if he was able to get me out of there. He could not just take me and run, though. If he did, there wouldn’t be anyone to fight the General from the inside. Now that I am with my mother and RARE, Jinx can do what needs to be done on his end without me being a distraction.”
“That doesn’t make sense to me, Jade.” Rikki protested. “There is no reason to hide who you are. You don’t need to hide your skills. Jinx can take care of himself. He has for the past 24 years. You need to train harder. You need to push yourself and your abilities, so that when it comes time, you can help Jinx take down the General. Because I promise you, we are all going to help and you are going to want to be there.”
“If the General finds out everything I can do, he will hunt me down,” Jade insisted. “If he catches me, I will be his prisoner again and Jinx will become his prisoner, too, because the General will know Jinx is the only one that could have trained me in the things that I know. Jinx has done so much for me, Rikki. I can’t let him get caught.”
“You have been with us for several months, Jade. The General isn’t going to think anyone other than RARE trained you,” Rikki responded. “Now, we are going to go hand to hand and I want to see what you have. None of this girly bullshit you have been pulling.”
“Jinx taught me to fight, Rikki. I have his fighting style. Not many do. The General will know.” Jade hesitated, as she watched Angel, Nico, Phoenix, Jaxson and Ryker coming toward them. They were all training together today, but Jade and Flame had decided to practice together before the others arrived. Now they were close enough to hear Jade and Rikki’s argument. Jade was pissed. How dare Rikki put Jinx in danger? Who the hell did she think she was? Jinx had been there for Jade since they had met 20 years ago. No one else had been there. Not Angel, not her father, just Jinx. And no one would put his life at risk if Jade could help it. Jinx was in enough danger as it was.
“Let’s do this, Jade. Now!” Rikki ground out, jabbing at Jade quickly with her fist. Jade easily blocked it. Laughing, Rikki kicked out with her foot, jabbing Jade in the thigh hard and then jumping back. “Is that it? All you can do is block? You aren’t going to save your brother and take down the General with those moves. Of course, if that is all Jinx taught you, then maybe he will be dead before we can save him anyway.”
Jade saw red. Fuck Rikki. No one was going to get to her brother. In the background, she heard Angel ordering Rikki to stand down, but Jade could not stop herself. Rikki had pushed too hard. Leaping forward, Jade slammed an elbow into Rikki’s mouth, then quickly swept Rikki’s feet out from under her. Rikki landed on her ass but swiftly rolled out of the way and was up and ready to go.
“Both of you stand down now!” Angel ordered as she stopped in front of them. “I don’t know what’s going on here, but you need to back away from each other.”
Jade moved in close to Rikki, her hands tightly balled into fists at her side, her body shaking with fury. “Stop hiding,” Rikki snarled. “Show us who you really are.”
Grabbing Rikki by the throat, Jade slammed her up against the barn. Growling low, Jade threatened, “If anything happens to my brother because of you, I will kill you.” The sight of the blood trailing down Rikki’s chin along with the brief glimpse of fear in Rikki’s eyes finally broke through the haze in Jade’s mind. Quickly stepping back, Jade fought to raise her shields and find that inner peace that would make all of her pain and suffering fade once again into the background. Breathing deeply and fighting for that inner calm, Jade slowly backed away from the stunned team. “I need to get away for a while,” she whispered brokenly. “I need to be alone. I’m going for a run.”
Angel nodded silently. “Rikki,” she said after a moment, “we were just coming to get you. Jeremiah called and we are needed on a mission.” Turning to her team she told them, “You are on your own this time. Nico, you are in charge. I trust you to get the job done. I’m staying here with my daughter. She needs me.”
“No,” Jade interrupted Angel. “I need to be alone. I’m sorry, I need time to myself. Go with your team.” When Angel looked like she was going to argue, Jade insisted, “You saw what just happened, Angel. I’m not ready to talk about it, but if I don’t get some time alone someone might get hurt.” Sighing deeply, Jade fought the tears that threatened to break free. “If I need anything, I will call Chase. He will send someone.”
Chase was the Alpha of the White River wolf pack that lived near Boulder, Colorado. He was Angel’s mate, even though both seemed to be fighting the mate bond. He was also raising two little girls RARE had rescued from the same facility where Flame was held. Two little girls Angel wanted to claim as her own, but was unable to. Jade was not sure what was going on between Chase and Angel, but there were several times she had used her abilities to try to calm both when they were together. Jade had the ability to affect emotions occasionally, but it didn’t always work. Chase and Angel were proof of that.
“I don’t like the thought of you alone, Jade,” Angel argued. “What if the General sends his men after you while I’m gone? I won’t be here to protect you. Neither will RARE. I need all of them on this mission.”
“Then you obviously need to go, too,” Jade retorted. “I will be fine. You haven’t been on a mission in the eight months I have been here. Just go. If I need anything, Jinx...” Jade trailed off realizing what she had been about to say. She did not want anyone to know how close Jinx was right now. It wasn’t safe.
Understanding dawned in Angel’s gaze. Tears filled her eyes. “He’s near, isn’t he, Jade?” she questioned. “You have been secretly meeting with him. My son is near and wants nothing to do with me.” Back stiffening, her voice hard, Angel turned to her team. “Get ready to head out. We leave in 15 minutes.” Seeing Flame standing by the barn door, Angel ordered, “You will stay with my daughter, Flame. Maybe she and her brother will tolerate your presence better than mine.” Not waiting for a response, Angel headed back to the house without looking back.
Jade felt the angry gazes of the team members, but refused to look any of them in the eye. They could think what they wanted. Right now, keeping Jinx safe was all that mattered. She would fight to the death for her brother.
t was dark, so dark and cold. Waves of fear poured off Jade as she tried to remember where she was. The hole. She had to be back in the hole. She was sitting on the hard, cold ground, her back up against a wall. Tentatively, she moved her hand across the wall behind her and flinched when she felt cold cement scrape her fingertips. Cement, not dirt. She was definitely not in the hole.
When she tried to move her hand further, she was stopped. That was when Jade realized she was bound in chains. They were wrapped around her arms several times and hooked to the wall behind her. They were also wrapped around the upper part of her body and were digging into her chest so tight she could barely breathe. She yanked on them again and again, but could not get loose. As her fear escalated into full-on terror, she heard a door open and a dim light flickered on. Squinting through swollen eyes, Jade watched as a man approached her. Again and again, she yanked on the chains, but she was going nowhere. She was tightly secured.
The man squatted down in front of Jade. His dark, savage eyes stared into hers. “You thought you were going to get free, didn’t you? Have you started praying to your god yet?” he rasped viciously to her. “Remember, I am your god. I decide your future. You beg to me. You pray to me...Titus.” Rising back up to his full height, Titus walked over to a table on the far side of the room. Walking behind it, he removed a hammer from the wall and walked back toward her, lightly tapping the hammer in the palm of his hand. “You have lasted longer in The Dungeon than I thought you would; longer than anyone before you. I would have killed you by now, but you have information the boss wants.”
What the hell was he talking about? She had never seen this man before. Where was she? Did the General have her again? Looking around, her eyes widened as she caught a glimpse of several jail cells lined up along the walls around the room. Some contained people, some were empty. The people in them looked half dead, which did not surprise her the way she was feeling right now.
The door opened again and two more men walked in. Walking over to the wall, one removed a steel baseball bat, the other a tire iron. Oh God, she thought as they stepped in her direction. The first man laughed as he unhooked one of the chains holding her to the wall. “Are you ready for round two?”