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Dark Wolf

By:Christine Feehan

Dark Wolf
Christine Feehan

       1


Skyler Daratrazanoff pulled the long black shawl closer, making certain  her hair was covered and there was little to see of her face. Her heart  beat so hard she was afraid anyone close would hear. Everything hinged  on making the official believe her. Josef had forged the papers, and he  was the best. He could hack any computer, provide information or get it.  She didn't doubt for a minute that the papers he created would be in  order and pass close scrutiny, but she still had to make the official  believe her.

The tin building was rusted and looked as if it might fall apart at any  moment. A man came forward to meet her, looking solemn as the casket was  wheeled ahead of her into the shade of the building. Fortunately the  sun was setting and shadows fell around her, helping to make it more  difficult to see her clearly.

"Your papers?" he said. His voice was kind. The name on his badge identified him as Erno Varga.

She glanced back toward the small plane she'd flown to the airport and  then handed her papers to the official, making certain her eyes were  downcast and she looked weepy. She had taken care to use drops to make  her eyes red and watery, just in case she couldn't pull off acting on  her own.

Varga looked over her papers and then up at her several times with  sharp, disbelieving eyes. "You're young to be bringing home your  brother's body alone. No one else is traveling with you?"

She shook her head, trying to look more tragic than ever. "My father is  dead, and now my brother." She choked back a sob worthy, she was  certain, of an Oscar performance. "There is no one else to bring him  home to our mother."

The official looked at her again and studied her papers closer. "He died of a broken heart?" There was skepticism in his voice.

Skyler nearly choked. When I get my hands on you, Josef, you're going to  die of more than a broken heart. She used her telepathic connection  with Josef to let him know he was in huge trouble.

A terrible tragedy. Josef was unrepentant as always. There was amusement  in his tone. No matter how serious a situation, he didn't mind in the  least being mischievous.

She managed to keep a straight face and gave Varga a solemn nod. "He  just wasted away when his girl left him. He refused to eat." She had no  choice but to go with it, even if it meant twisting her fingers together  hard in order to prevent the official from seeing she was shaking.  "It's a terrible tragedy. Nothing could save him."

Okay, even to her ears, that sounded totally lame. But a broken heart?  Only Josef would come up with something so dramatic and unbelievable.  How else could she explain he'd died of a broken heart? There was  definitely going to be another cause of death after they opened the  casket.

She could feel Josef's laughter. Of course you're laughing. You're safe  in the coffin, the tragically dead brother, while I'm lying my ass off  to this man who could put me in prison for the rest of my life.

She knew Josef would never let that happen. If necessary he'd give the  official a "push" to believe her. Right now, he was having too much fun  listening to her squirm-and she supposed she deserved it. She was making  him do something highly dangerous, and he would be blamed more than she  would be if anything went wrong. Her father would probably just kill  him on sight.

He will, too, Josef said. He'll rip me from limb to limb.

You should be worrying about me ripping you from limb to limb, she threatened.

"How old are you?" The official stared at her passport and papers and then back up to her face. "Did you pilot that plane?"

She lifted her chin, trying for older and much sterner. She knew she  looked young, but not her eyes. If he looked her directly in the eye, he  would believe what those forged papers said. And they were great  forgeries. Josef had many talents, although making up stories was  clearly not one of them.

"I'm much older than I look," Skyler replied. It was partially the  truth. She felt older, and that should count for something. She'd been  through more than most women-okay, teens.

"Twenty-five?" he said skeptically.

Josef had insisted she be twenty-five if she was going to pilot the  plane. Piloting planes had come easy to her and it was something she  especially loved, so her adopted father, Gabriel, had allowed her to  learn.

"I have to open the coffin," the official added, watching her closely.

Skyler managed a little sob and covered her mouth, nodding slightly.  "I'm sorry. Yes, of course. They said you would. I was expecting you  to." She straightened her shoulders and spine courageously.

He looked at her much more kindly. "You don't need to watch. Stand over  there." He nodded to a corner of the building just a few feet away.

She felt a little sorry for him. If she knew anything at all about Josef, she knew he would put on some kind of show.

Don't you dare blow this by scaring him, she warned. I mean it, Josef.

You're no fun. I can always remove his memories. Wouldn't it be so  delicious to do an impression of Count Dracula? I've watched the movie a  million times. I've got the look and accent down perfectly.

He sounded far too eager. It took a lot of discipline to keep amusement  from her mind where he could read it. She didn't doubt for a moment that  Josef could do a perfect Dracula impression.

Resist the urge. We aren't out of the woods and we can't afford to take  any chances. We're in Carpathian territory. Or at least close enough  that someone might be near us to sense the use of energy. Restrain  yourself, Josef.

He heaved a sigh. No matter what the outcome, your father is going to  kill me, a slow and painful death, too. I should be able to have a  little fun.

That was hitting very close to the truth. Gabriel was going to murder  all of them, but if their plan worked, it would be well worth it.

She gave Varga a small, grateful smile and moved away from the coffin.  Standing in the open door, her arms wrapped around her middle for  comfort, she stared outside into the gathering darkness, holding herself  very still. Their plan had to work.

Behave Josef, or else. Gabriel's in London and I'm here. She had never  been on the receiving end of Gabriel's wrath, but he and her uncle  Lucian were legendary vampire hunters. The Carpathian people, most  extremely powerful, whispered their names in awe.

You've got a point. Laughter bubbled over in Josef's voice. What a sorry  waste of a good coffin. Now there was disgust in his tone.

Skyler couldn't tell if he was going to behave or not. It was impossible  with Josef. He marched to his own drum. She sent up a silent prayer,  hoping for the best.

Right now, Francesca and Gabriel were probably awake and would soon be  preparing to fly to the Carpathian Mountains. They thought she was a  continent away, safe with her human college friend Maria, using her  vacation to help build homes and run irrigation to farmers in South  America. She had never lied to them before. Not once. And it hurt her to  do it now, but there was no other way.

She knew her parents had been summoned to the huge meeting between Lycan  and Carpathian to discuss an alliance between the two species. Most of  the Carpathians had been called home. Gabriel and Francesca had been  more than happy to receive a call from her from school asking to go with  Maria. They didn't want her anywhere near the Carpathian Mountains.

She would never think of repaying their extraordinary kindness, the love  they had given her from the moment she'd been taken into their home,  with lies and betrayal-not for anything or anyone except Dimitri.  Dimitri Tirunul was her unexpected miracle. A man beyond any she'd ever  dreamt of. She was human. He was Carpathian-nearly immortal. She was  nineteen years old. He was an ancient, centuries old. She held the other  half of his soul, the light to his darkness. Without her, he would not  survive. She was his lifemate-his savior. Yet she knew just the opposite  was true-Dimitri was the one saving her.

He knew she was his lifemate when she was just a child, and he had given  her time. Space. Unconditional love. He never demanded anything of her.  He never told her how difficult it was for him-that she was his  salvation-just out of his reach. He had always been there for her, in  the middle of the night, when her violent past was too close and she  couldn't sleep, when nightmares haunted her to the point she couldn't  breathe. He was there, in her mind, holding all those terrifying  memories at bay. Dimitri. Her Dimitri.                       
       
           



       

Dimitri was caught in the middle between the two species. The Lycans had  taken him and planned to kill him. No one had gone after him to save  him. He had spent centuries hunting the undead to keep his people as  well as humans safe. He had survived honorably when others had chosen to  give up their souls. Yet there was no rescue party. No hunters were  rushing to save him. He was badly injured. She felt that much before he  cut himself off from her to protect her from his pain-or his death.

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