Z and the Fire Wolf

Dealing with the Dead Book Three

Tina Holland

 

Chapter One

Sin Vegas, 3025 A.D.

Tierra of the Phoenix Lunar Coven winced as the whip raced across her back, blood welling to the surface. She barely noticed the pain; it was a mere annoyance compared to the alternative. Her wounds would heal, and Limikkin would begin anew tomorrow. The important thing was that the humans below in Limikkin’s harem were safe. Tierra took pride in her ability to accept the sting and occupy so much of his time. Nevertheless, she would have to escape before the lunar eclipse. Tierra couldn’t risk the skin-walker taking her powers along with those of the Coven.

“One would think you enjoy the lash over your abhorrent spotted skin, despite your anguished cries.” Limikkin spoke again as he flogged her bottom.

“One might think you’ve grown fond of me, as often as I am here.” Tierra deliberately laced her voice with warmth she didn’t feel for the vindictive skin-walker.

The whip curled around her neck, and Limikkin tugged. “Don’t ever believe you are important, slave. You aren’t. I will take your powers at the next eclipse, and no one will stop me.”

Tierra tried to breathe, but Limikkin pulled tighter.

“Beg me, little wolf. Beg me for air.” Limikkin couldn’t hide the rising desire in his voice at her obvious pain.

“Go to Hell.” She exhaled her last breath before passing out.

“I’ve already been, little wolf. They won’t have me.”

*

Maximilian Z gripped the binoculars tighter as the skin-walker caressed the beautiful and unconscious Tierra.

Z had watched the deteriorating Casablanca hotel for two days before realizing his best bet was to grab the princess after a pain session with Limikkin. He was relieved Tierra healed at a rapid rate. When her coven hired him, he assumed she was a witch like her mother. He wondered if she was an immortal to heal so fast. The first time he saw her endure such torture, Z thought he’d be bringing a body back to the coven, but she returned unmarked the following morning, and again today. Z planned to move north toward the mountains outside of Sin Vegas as soon as Tierra was retrieved. They could make good time if he didn’t have to wait for her to recover from damage inflicted during sessions with the skin-walker.

Soon Limikkin would call for her transfer. Z leapt toward the stairwell, rushing to the opposite building. He needed to arrive at the lobby before the coyotes took her to the lower level safe. Once she was locked in there, a significant amount of patience—or serious explosives—would be required to get her out. Z had neither, and he dared not risk a confrontation with Limikkin. The skin-walker had existed for at least a millennia, and his dark magic was best avoided. Z’s best course was to take on the three coyotes transferring her. Not the best odds, but he never liked good odds anyway; it seemed unfair.

Z continued down the stairs two at time, knowing he wasn’t going to make it. He reached the eighth floor, then leapt down the abandoned elevator shaft. Z barely noticed the impact on his aging joints as he hit the bottom and dashed across the desolate street. He arrived in the once-opulent lobby before the shifters reached the foyer. He heard them coming; the animals’ movements were noisier than hell.

“She smells good,” he heard one dog say.

Z had no idea. His sense of smell was severely damaged, and he could only register the most pungent odors. He took a double-edged boomerang out of his pocket and tossed it, slicing the cables to the cameras in the lobby before the sharp disc returned to his Kevlar-gloved hand.

“Put her on the sofa, over here. Let’s have a taste,” another coyote suggested.

“But Limikkin?” the third finally spoke.

“He won’t know. She’ll be healed by tomorrow. We can’t eat her flesh. I’m sure he would notice.” The second voice was almost shaking in anticipation.

Z watched as they moved the princess to the nearest leather couch. They stopped, dropping her on the cracked leather. Their inattention to the task assigned was the break he needed. He’d be able to sneak up on them.

“Let’s take her!” It was the first who spoke, tufts of fur sticking out of his scalp in patches.

Z didn’t like this at all. If they raped her, they could change, and full shifters were a lot harder to fight off. Damn it all to Hell.

The coyotes flipped her over onto her stomach and began licking her wounds. Z snuck up and cracked the closest one’s neck before breaking his head clean off. The other two turned at the unearthly sound. One leapt toward Z, teeth bared. Z raised his arm. The canine’s teeth sank in. Z smiled, as the other strode toward them. When he was close enough, Z banged the coyotes’ skulls together, cracking them in the process. Once they were down, Z silently removed his sword from the scabbard on his hip and sliced off their heads, which rolled away from their bodies. Decapitation ensured they would never come back. Coyotes seemed particularly tenacious.

The distasteful task completed, Z looked to his bounty. She was worth claiming, but the princess of a powerful witch coven was not for the likes of him. Z quickly removed his leather duster to cover her bare porcelain form. He wrapped his coat about her lithe body, covering her treasures from prying eyes. He paused, lightly fingered her flame-colored hair despite the fact that the texture remained a mystery but he dare not remove his gloves. Z turned her face up, preparing to toss her over his shoulder like a stolen fortune. A smell filled his nostrils, a most intoxicating scent. Z lifted his head to sense where the odor came from. Nothing. He lowered his gaze to Tierra. Once more the perfume drifted up. He pressed his nose against hers and began to sniff a trail along her until he found the aphrodisiac’s source—the apex of her thighs.

“Do you like my scent, mercenary?” Tierra’s velvety yet strained voice tingled along his spine.

“It is rather stimulating.” He inhaled deeply. “What is it?”

“Get me out of here and you can deal with me then.” Tierra’s voice broke into a higher octave.

“What’s the rush?” Z lifted her against his chest even as he asked the question.

“I’m going into heat.” Tierra panted as her emerald eyes glazed over.

Z swore and moved lightning fast to the nearest exit. If he could smell her scent, no doubt other predators were able to pick up the smell too. They needed to vacate the city before darkness fell and monsters ruled the night.

 

 

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