Home > Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega #5)(12)

Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega #5)(12)
Author: Patricia Briggs

Hester snorted and gave him an “of course, idiot” face.

“So,” Charles continued, “they can’t see us, can’t see a place to land, no matter what their instruments are telling them—if they are telling them anything,” Charles told Anna. “We’ll be okay here for a few minutes. Let me do a quick search of the bodies. I need to find out what he shot me with.”

“This,” Anna said, pulling the weapon he’d been shot with out of the hollow between the small of her back and her waistband. Up close, it looked like a cross between a gun and a Taser.

He took it—there was still a smear of blood on it.

Anna looked at him with eyes that shifted from brown to her wolf’s blue. “I killed him,” she said, her voice hoarse. “He hurt you.”

Then she wiped her hands on the legs of her jeans, and he noticed that there were bloody marks on the fabric that showed she’d done that before.

She, both woman and wolf, knew how to kill because he’d taught her. The best way he knew to protect his mate was to teach her to protect herself. Charles and Brother Wolf between them had kills numbering in the hundreds if not more … but Anna did not.

Ignoring the bodies waiting to be searched, the weapon, and the helicopter, which was for the moment not an issue, thanks to Jonesy, he touched Anna’s cheek. With an effort, he let Anna and her wolf see inside him through their mating bond. He left himself vulnerable to his mate, so she could know that he understood what her actions had cost her.

“He hurt you,” she said, and this time her eyes were Anna brown and not wolf blue. She smiled, only a little grimly, and told him, “These men came to our territory and attacked us.” Her voice tightened, and she said, “Attacked you. I have no regrets.”

She heard the lie in her own voice and gave him a rueful smile. That was his Anna, tough to the bone.

He’d thought it was a gun when the man had pulled it. Even waking up without a bullet hole wasn’t a surety that it hadn’t been. He could sometimes heal an ordinary bullet wound pretty fast.

But this wasn’t a gun that shot bullets. He took it from her and examined it. Up close, the device looked more like a beefed-up Taser, but there was no sort of cartridge or projectile.

“Right?” said Anna. “It’s weird. I thought it might be a Taser—the way it dropped you. A kind of super-duper-charged one or something.” Because a normal Taser didn’t do much besides make a werewolf angry. “But it doesn’t look like a Taser—and there were no wires or anything hooked into you.”

He pointed it at the ground and pulled the trigger—and darn near dropped the thing as it grabbed energy from him and turned a small plant into powder. He took his finger out of the trigger and glanced at the pinprick left where something sharp had cut him to fire the magic. He rubbed it a couple of times because there was a numb spot right where the pin had gone in. He’d have worried more, but the spot was returning to normal.

The gun itself felt no more magical than it had before he pulled the trigger.

“Blood magic,” he said to Anna—and Hester, who was watching him out of careful eyes. “Witchcraft of a kind I’ve never seen nor heard of. Isn’t Da going to be very, very interested in this?”

He tucked the weapon in the small of his back, just as Anna had. The lingering pain that shivered through his joints was subsiding enough that it wouldn’t slow him if he had to move quickly. The dead plant made him wonder why he was alive and kicking—not that he was complaining about it. Maybe it had something to do with the difference in size between him and the plant. Or maybe just the amount of power it was able to draw from him—magic born on both sides of his parental heritage.

He looked at Hester. “Is Jonesy around here?”

The wolf raised her head and turned until she was back where she started. She shook her head.

That surprised him. When the helicopter had overflown them, he’d assumed Jonesy had followed them. A glamour that big was difficult to maintain from a couple of miles out …

I told you—dangerous, said Brother Wolf.

“He’s holding the glamour over us from your cabin?” asked Charles, just to be sure.

She shrugged and looked around as if to say “the evidence points to yes.”

Somewhere to the west, the helicopter finally found a place to land. Unless Jonesy’s magic was different than other glamours Charles had seen, the enemy would probably be able to follow whatever trace or GPS had gotten them this far despite Jonesy’s spell. Only the Gray Lords working great magic together could confuse technology until it wouldn’t work at all. He considered the reach of Jonesy’s magic. Maybe their enemy was using witchcraft instead. Though witchcraft and werewolves were uneasy bedfellows, he had evidence in the odd gun a werewolf had used on him—that their enemy was willing to mix power.

Under other circumstances, Charles would have waited for the enemy to find him. But the weird blood-magic weapon pushed him into caution. He’d never even heard of such a thing before. He didn’t take on enemies without more intelligence about their capabilities.

He did a cursory search of the three dead bodies and discovered no more than that the first dead body, the one Hester presumably had killed, was human. None of them carried ID or had useful clues like insignia or easily discoverable tattoos. Their body armor and weapons (there was only the single witch-blood gun) were good but not custom-made.

It would have been nice if they could call the pack and get reinforcements, but neither he nor Anna had brought phones.

Twice since he and Anna had tangled with the government in Boston, they’d had to go out and rescue federal agents who got themselves stuck in the mountains. The first pair of agents hadn’t been his fault, he and Anna had found them wedged in a rocky outcropping on their way back from a horseback ride. Since there hadn’t been anything up that old logging road except for a few hikers and horseback riders since the 1960s, he figured they were hunting for him and Anna. They seemed suitably embarrassed when he got them out—and unsurprised by his ability to lift the front end of their truck, which confirmed his suspicions.

But after them, he’d been paying attention to his backtrail. The second pair he allowed to discover why native Montanans don’t drive over broad, flat meadows high in the mountains unless it’s been below zero for a few weeks. Charles got the people out—but he imagined that the SUV might be sinking deeper in the mud even now.

After that, though, Bran had made a rule that anyone heading into the wildling territory could not carry a cell phone. People who disturbed Bran’s special wolves tended not to live to regret their mistakes. Bran preferred not to kill government agents unintentionally.

“Let’s get back to Jonesy,” Charles said, when he’d finished searching the last body. “We can make a decision then whether to hole up in the cabin and call for reinforcement or just pick him up and head to Da’s house.”

• • •

THEY WERE ALMOST halfway back to Hester’s cabin when the sound of a gunshot echoed in the trees. Charles flattened himself on the ground as a second shot fired, noting that Anna and Hester had done the same without hesitation. There was something odd about the motion the two of them made, but he’d worry about that after he took care of the immediate danger.

Brother Wolf’s hearing told him where the bullet hit in the tree behind where they had been standing. Because it had scored the bark rather than hitting in the middle, Charles also had a nice line of broken bark that pointed back where the shot had come from—downwind, which was why he hadn’t scented anyone.

He divested himself of the witch-worked weapon, leaving it on the ground. Then he rolled to his feet and shifted to wolf in the same moment. The next time he changed, it would be slower, but with the adrenaline in his system, he was still plenty fast.

The shooter had climbed a tree to get the best shot at them. But that left her stuck in a tree with a werewolf coming after her. Not that it mattered. As far as Charles was concerned, as soon as she fired the first shot, she was dead. The tree swayed under his weight as he leaped from one branch to another. The unpredictable movement meant the two shots she aimed at him missed—as he’d calculated she would.

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