If Alpha Asher was surprised by the Vampire’s words, he didn’t let it show. Alpha Asher’s face remained an impassive mask, disinterest flashing in his eyes. I wondered how he managed to keep his cool, and how long it had taken him to perfect that technique.
Alpha Asher raked his eyes over the Vampire lazily, a neutral expression on his face. I honed my features, hoping they would convey the same disinterest.
While my heart was a hammering mess, I meticulously checked the stable bookshelves in my mind. Each thought and memory were safely tucked away, bound in leather and stuffed onto a shelf. Before I could wonder if the man was a full-blooded Vampire, I felt someone entering my mind.
Clear as day, I watched as the raven-haired Vampire strolled through my mind. His nails scratched against the thick oak bookshelves. It felt like an irritating scratching sensation in the back of my mind, an itch I could never scratch.
It took all of my concentration to keep the library in my mind upright. Clearly this guy wasn’t as skilled as Tristan with the mind games.
Nonetheless, his intrusion caused me discomfort. I wasn’t sure I had room in my head for anyone else, Maya already took up enough space. Resisting the urge to wince, I schooled my face into an irritated glare.
“Could you stay out of my head?” I raised my eyebrow at the Vampire, my eyes flashing dangerously. “It itches.”
Alpha Asher turned his eyes to me, letting them flash with caution and concern before wiping the emotions away. The raven-haired Vampire stared at me blankly before letting his lips turn up in a dazzling smile.
While the smile transformed the man’s entire face, it was a smile that lacked any form of warmth or comfort. His smile was serpent-like, cold and calculating.
“My apologies, but surely you can’t blame me for trying.” The raven-haired man smirked, his emerald eyes bright and alert.
‘Instead of insulting me, let’s keep the Vampire’s out of our head.’ Maya grumbled, bristling at the close proximity between the Vampire and I.
“It is a welcome surprise to find you here, Alpha Asher.” The Vampire smirked, his emerald eyes raking over Alpha Asher before turning on me.
His full lips turned up in interest as he met my eyes. Something dark twinkled in their depths, a knowing smile forming on the man’s face. “And a pleasure to finally meet you, Lola. I presume you’re here for one of our fighters.”
A low warning growl shook Alpha Asher’s chest, the Vampire’s smile deepening in response. The bright-eyed Vampire knew why we were here, who we had come for.
‘This could be a trap.’ Maya murmured, ‘They don’t plan on letting us leave.’
‘I knew we’d have to fight our way out of here the moment we stepped inside. Let’s make it count and take Sean with us.’ I nodded in response.
Alpha Asher’s voice filtered through my mind, anger lacing his tone. I could feel the presences of Breyona and the guys listening in, waiting for word of what happened.
‘They knew we were coming.’ Alpha Asher repeated what Maya had said, his voice hard yet determined. ‘We’re waiting for an opening. I’ll need a distraction to get the three of us out safely. When I give the signal, sow chaos.’
Annoying pinpricks danced behind my eyes as I looked at Alpha Asher. He was determined to lead this mission even though he had no obligation to my family. He could have just sent a team of men to do the job for him, but he knew I’d insist on coming along.
He was willing to go so far to get my brother, willing to fight for his life. I felt the same as I thought about Breyona and Mason, how there was no hesitation when I asked for their help. I gathered up my strength and forced the tears away, giving the Vampire a hard look.
“If you know what we’re here for, then you know how far I am willing to go to get him back.” My voice came out steady and strong, conveying none of the that currently boiled in my stomach.
There was no reason to continue playing nice. I wasn’t needlessly trying to start a fight, but it was better to get straight to the point. Whether they had time to prepare or not, they knew what we came for.
I refused to let myself think of Tristan, determined to ignore the fluttering in my stomach at the thought of seeing him. Since the scarlet mark on my shoulder had healed, I felt the pull to Tristan much stronger than before.
That small part of me hoped Tristan would be here tonight. Maya growled in frustration, hating the scarlet mark that brought nothing but torment.
“A fight would be pointless, unnecessary bloodshed.” The dark-haired Vampire shrugged, his emerald eyes flashing with amusement. He leaned forward, his cold eyes staring into my own. “I’m sure we can come to an agreement.”
Alpha Asher caught on without needing an explanation, but I could feel the growl that had been building in his chest. Attacking the Vampire would do us no good, at least not at the moment. The fight had yet to begun and Sean was nowhere in sight.
“What do you want for him?” My voice was hard and cold, but even I couldn’t hide the interest that lingered in my gaze. As though he knew I were hooked, a serpentine smile formed on his face.
“That can be discussed.” The Vampire smiled, the strange expression lighting up his face.
“Do you even have him?” Alpha Asher’s voice matched my own, cold and patient.
“Stay for the fight, Alpha Asher. You’ll see soon enough.” The Vampire’s eyes hardened as they flickered to Alpha Asher. “My friend will be over to discuss our terms.”
In a fluid and graceful movement, the Vampire stood and left the two of us alone. Alpha Asher’s eyes met my own, and I swore we were thinking the same thing.
‘An agreement?’ Breyona frowned, her voice concerned as she spoke through the mind-link.
‘Sounds kind of sketchy.’ Carter’s voice ran through my mind, followed by Mason and Wade’s approval.
‘There will be no agreement.’ Alpha Asher’s voice was hard, leaving no room for negotiation. ‘We will bide our time, and wait until they bring out Sean. Once I call for a distraction, we’ll grab Sean and fight our way out.’
‘We may have to leave out the side door. If we do, we’ll circle around front and meet you there.’ I chimed in, earning a glance of approval from Alpha Asher.
Ignoring how close the two of us were seated and the heat that crept along my skin, I turned my eyes to the fighting ring. It seemed the fights were about to begin, all wandering eyes turning to the spectacle in the center of the room.
Two men were pushed forward, each looking pissed and disheveled. Hatred and acceptance burned in their eyes, protesting yet succ*mbing to their fate.
There was little hesitation before the two men leaped at one another. While one was built large, the other had rippling muscles.
They leaped at one another, the muscular guy taking the bigger one to the ground. Interested chatter broke out among the people watching. Burning disgust had risen in my throat, directed towards the Vampire’s enjoyment at the fight.
“Hello, beautiful.” A voice called out, that small bit of my soul reaching out to touch.
Tristan strolled over to the couch Alpha Asher and I sat on. His blonde hair was light like snow, his eyes the lightest shade of blue. He was nicely dressed, wearing black slacks and a black button-down shirt. The top buttons on his shirt were undone, giving a glimpse of his hard chest.
I was equally attracted and disgusted, my own emotions a boiling mess in my head. Alpha Asher stiffened beside me, feeling my inner turmoil through the mind-link.
Tristan’s eyes danced as he looked me over only to harden as they met Alpha Asher’s eyes. With little care for the fight going on before us, Tristan took a seat beside the two of us.
I was keenly aware Tristan had chosen to sit next to me, as close as he could get without hassle. Some small part of me cooed, ‘he won’t hurt me.’
‘Are you alright?’ Alpha Asher sent over the mind-link, unable to hide the hostility and concern in his tone. ‘Keep him out of your head. It’s your mind, kick him out if he tries.’
‘I can handle this.’ I reassured him, collecting my scattered thoughts. I focused on Maya, latching onto that side of myself with all of my strength.
Instead of picturing my library, I tried a different approach. A set of iron doors sat in the front of my mind, impenetrable and unmovable. Layers upon layers of iron and steel blocking what lie within. Tristan’s seafoam eyes met my own, a smile playing on his l!ps.
A dull prickling sensation formed at the base of my skull, irritating and incessant. I swore I could feel his fingers grazing against the door in my mind, stroking it lightly as he willed it to cave in.
After giving myself a killer headache, I felt Tristan leave my mind. I had held the door firmly, but not without consequence. As though I had run a marathon, my head was throbbing and my limbs weak. Rather than letting my exhaustion show, I leaned closer into Alpha Asher, propping some of my weight against him.
Tristan watched the action, his light eyes flaring at the sight. Maya grumbled smugly, practically screaming her hatred for Tristan.
I didn’t have to look to know Alpha Asher had a smug expression on his face, aimed directly at Tristan. After an irritated snarl, Tristan turned his intense gaze to me. His blue eyes burned into my own, calling out to the small shard of me that longed for him. I turned my head away from his own, determined to chase away the trail of heat his eyes left along my skin.
I wanted to cringe as I watched the brutality of the fight. The muscular guy had blood falling from his chin, spitting it across the floor as he fought for his life. The bigger man held more strength, clearly a werewolf from the looks of it.
A silver bracelet seared into his wrist, silencing his wolf and keeping him from shifting. Silver against the flesh will burn and nullify your wolf, but will not take away your strength or speed. Silver in the bloodstream will destroy us from within, almost a certain death unless treated right away.
A sour look formed on my face as I watched the human and werewolf fight. I found it unfair how the werewolf still had his strength and speed, using it to brutalize the human. The human had speed on his side, much like myself. His speed was what kept him alive so far.
“Are you not enjoying the fight, beautiful?” Tristan asked, his face impassive while his eyes burned.
“A werewolf against a human?” I scoffed, ignoring my thundering traitorous heart. “He’s clearly stronger and faster, it’s not a fair fight.”
“It isn’t, is it?” Tristan mused, a playful smile playing at the edges of lips. “I have quite a bit of money placed on this fight. Let’s even the odds, shall we?”
Tristan waved his hand and the Vampire we had spoken to earlier came to his side. The Vampire with raven hair and emerald eyes smiled at me, a smile that bore too much intimacy and familiarity for my comfort. Without a word, Tristan pulled a wad of bills from his pocked and placed it in the man’s hand.
“Let’s see if a human is smarter than a wolf.” Tristan smiled, his eyes gazing down to where his mark sat covered.
I kept my eyes on the fight, resisting the urge to steal a glance at Tristan. I had almost missed it when a small shard of silver was thrown into the fighting ring. Large enough to pierce a beating heart if need be. Time seemed to slow, the seconds ticking by as my heart rate sky rocketed. The two men locked eyes, a wave of understanding between the two. Both scrambled for the dagger, for a clean way out of the fight.
The human was faster, diving to the floor with the dagger in hand. The werewolf’s moves were rushed now, more frantic than they were before. The human had the upper hand, using the werewolf’s impulsive blows against him.
In just a second, it was all over.
The human had rolled to the ground, dodging the werewolf’s lunge. The silver blade met flesh, sinking into the werewolf’s chest with a sickening thud. I swore I could hear his last heartbeats; swore I could see the light leave his eyes as he clattered to the floor.
I felt sick to my stomach, ready to dispel the champagne I had drank tonight. My skin felt sticky, slick with nervous sweat. How anyone could find this entertaining was beyond me. Betting on life and death made my insides feel rotten, but renewed my strength and purpose.
“Who did you bet on?” I found myself asking. I almost flinched with surprise, noting how calm my voice had sounded.
“The human.” Tristan smirked, his eyes flickering with amusement.