Home > Never Cry Werewolf (Crimson Moon #5)

Never Cry Werewolf (Crimson Moon #5)
Author: L.A. Banks

PROLOGUE

New Orleans . . . deep within the bayou

'Bring her to me," Elder Vlad said through his fangs, his voice slicing the stillness of the night with a hissing whisper.

Vampire sentries vaporized into a dark mist, moving swiftly and silently between the trees. The ancient leader of the Vampire Cartel narrowed his gaze as he inhaled deeply, then vanished, only to reappear at the far side of the chase. Quickly moving orbs of darkness had an invisible quarry on the run. Branches snapped, underbrush crackled, but Elder Vlad remained stead­fast and patient, watching them drive his prey directly to him. She would tire soon; she was no immortal. .. just very, very old and strong.

The moment the animal scent came within a yard of him, he cast out a thunderous black charge from his gnarled, hook-like fingers. A blue-black spider's web of dark energy spread across the ground, and a feral growl, then female shriek, sent bats and owls into an aerial frenzy. His sentries immediately stopped their pursuit and touched down in the damp mud, their black leather trench coats billowing on an unnatural wind behind them and their boots displacing fertile soil. They all watched dispassionately as the invisible entity that had been snared slowly lost power and had to reveal itself.

"Such a beauty and such a waste," Elder Vlad said with a slight taunt in his voice as he walked forward and watched the gorgeous entity thrash against his black-charged netting. Her unstable image flickered, finally showing glimpses of a pristine white coat that was mottled with velvety black spots. The pattern on her fur was so carefully created that he reached out his fingers to touch it, and then laughed as she yanked away and tried to savage his hand. "I am not your enemy, Em­press," he cooed.

Panting and clearly winded, the snow leopard be­came still. Her face was distended by saber tooth-length fangs, but it slowly began to normalize as she stared at the ancient Vampire.

"Lady Jung Suk, why didn't you come to us first?" Elder Vlad asked, and then tapped a hooked nail against his thin lips. "I don't understand why you would put your fate in the hands of the Unseelie Fae—not even a main political player, at that?"

Her image continued to phase in and out in a pulsing throb, allowing her captors to witness the partial meta­morphosis that had left her body in leopard form and ready for attack, but made her face an eerie combination of woman and beast.

"Kiagehul promised me that he was in alliance with the Vampires through the baron," she said, breath­ing hard.

Elder Vlad shook his head. "That was indeed unfor­tunate."

"Only Vampires can grant immortality," she said, slumping and no longer fighting against the black charge. "I knew that."

"And an entity of your age didn't know to even fact-check such a claim?" Elder Vlad smiled. "Come, come, milady, let us not toy with each other."

"He got me out of the country," she said, clutching the black charge in desperation but quickly letting it go with a painful wail. "Then he took me to see the baron—there were discussions that led me to believe that Kiagehul could pull this off, and Geoff promised that if he did, he would pick out a young body and—"

"Enough," Elder Vlad said, holding up his hand. With a wave of his palm he dropped the black-charged barrier, causing Lady Jung Suk to fall to the ground. He held out his hand to her and she looked at it for a moment, clearly afraid, as his sentries surrounded her. But the old Vampire stood his ground. "Have you decided what type of body you'd prefer?"

Lady Jung Suk slowly placed a clawed paw in his hand. "I cannot shift back ... I am a disembodied. I am trapped," she said quietly.

"I know. And if I bring you a young, nubile body to inhabit, then you will be indebted to me . . . say . . . forever?"

She closed her eyes and nodded. Elder Vlad snapped his fingers and two of his sentries instantly disappeared, moving the underbrush with their invisible velocity.

"I am sure as an ancient sorceress you are able to perform the spell. Should we provide you with the proper resources?"

"Yes," she murmured and then stared into the elderly Vampire's eyes with an unblinking gaze.

"My apologies for any part our representative may have played in misleading you. Baron Geoff Montague was not authorized to enter into a negotiation of that nature—one that had vast political implications." Elder Vlad released a weary sigh. "However, we do have great use for someone with your dark arts talent, as well as your obvious fighting capacity as a Were Leopard. Per­haps as a royal assassin ..."

Lady Jung Suk bowed. "My apologies for not more thoroughly investigating the scenario presented to me ... my eagerness led to the blunder. But I am at your com­plete disposal ... for the generosity of your amnesty."

Elder Vlad offered her a sinister smile and then gra­ciously kissed the back of her hand. The sound of a struggle and a muffled scream made the entire retinue in the swamp turn to stare at the source of the distur­bance.

A young girl held in a vise-like grip twisted against one of the Vampire guard's hold while the other ges­tured toward her with a toothy smirk as though imitat­ing Vanna White.

"You approve?" Elder Vlad said, leaving Lady Jung Suk's side to closely study the terrified Asian co-ed. "She seems to be no more than twenty years young," he said, deeply inhaling near the young woman's throat. "We thought that you might want to stay with that which is familiar, but you can change ethnicity, if you'd like . . . we can bring you a blonde, or—"

"She's exquisite," Lady Jung Suk breathed out, walk­ing closer. "Drain her, but not to the point of death. I need to pattern over her soul with the spell just as she expires so that I can be a strong conjuring source for you. This is the advantage of the covens—they have souls that can be sold or bartered to the Ultimate Darkness ... I am of minimal use as a sorceress with­out one."

Another muffled scream was caught into the sen­try's hand. Elder Vlad simply laughed as he looked at the traumatized girl.

"Oh, do uncover her mouth ... the screaming is the best part.”

CHAPTER 1

NORAD . . . Denver, Colorado

It was surreal, really. Captain Sasha Trudeau stood at attention in the war room with her gaze focused on a point on the wall. She was two thousand feet below the surface of the earth again and surrounded in a granite-encapsulated city. There were no shadows within this fluorescent hell to escape into. Twenty-five-ton steel doors had closed behind her and her team. This was just another one of the military's citadels, but today it felt like a prison.

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