Twice Bitten (Cascadia Wolves #6)(7) read online by Lauren Dane
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Twice Bitten (Cascadia Wolves #6)(7)
Author: Lauren Dane

    “I was working as an admin person at city hall, and I started hanging out with a cop.” The smile on her face told him hanging out might have been of the naked, horizontal nature. “He was satisfied with his life. He liked his job. He and I had started working out, and I ended up taking the exam because Allie dared me. I did really well and so I got the job, and thank God Mark, my friend, had been working out with me because the physical part was hard. I guess it was meant to be because they had an opening and I had great scores so I got the job.”

    “And the friend?” He would hate it if she was with someone. Not that it would necessarily stop him from pursuing her. His wolf wasn’t that noble.

    “He moved to Seattle. He’s engaged to be married next summer. He asked me to move up there with him. But... I’m a witch. It was hard to hide that from him, and I never felt like it was something I could share. I’m not sure how he would have taken it.”

    “Ah. Why didn’t you tell me?”

    “I was sixteen when you went away to school. I had planned on telling you when you came back at summer. I believed you loved me in only a way a sixteen-year-old girl can. But I felt like I needed to be sure. I guess it was a good thing I waited. Because you never came back.”

    He blew out a breath. “I’m sorry. Not that I left. It was the best decision. My parents don’t know and they sure as hell wouldn’t understand. It took years for me to get my shit together, but once I did, I was something else. It wasn’t about you and I was a dick for not at least telling you goodbye.”

    “We were young. It’s over and done with.”

    The gulf remained between them. But it felt a little smaller.

    “It’s up here on the left.” He indicated the small gas station as he turned into the drive and pulled into a parking space.

    “I’ll walk with you. Use my othersight to see if I can sense any of the mage energy. Then you let me talk to the people inside, please.”

    “Will you let me watch if you get rough?”

    She snorted as she got out. “Maybe. If you’re good.”

    * * *

    A breeze sent cold air over her face as she stood, throwing open her othersight and taking in the area. She noted the way the wolves looked, their magick deep green with hints of earth and sunshine.

    The paler blues and reds of human energy. The deep azure of witches. She paused, moving closer.

    Allie had been here. Michelle’s heartbeat picked up as she eased her way around the side of the building, and a wave of nausea hit from the mage energy hanging thick in the air.

    “They were here.”

    Josh stepped in front of her, Damon and GiGi to either side. He wrinkled his nose. “I can scent her magick. Just a hint. Yours is rich and powerful. Hers...”

    “She’s weak.” Michelle tamped her panic down.

    “I can scent the difference between the witch magick and the mage. The mage smells like rotting things.” Damon’s lip curled.

    “Stolen magick is perishable,” Michelle murmured.

    “What do you mean?” Josh stuck close, and she could far more easily sense his dual nature now. His wolf seemed to press against the human skin.

    “Witches, Weres—our magick is natural. It comes from what we are. In the case of witches, from the earth, the air, all the energy from natural things. For you I’m told it’s the magick of the shift. Of the way you hold your forms. I guess vampires have it too in their own way. Anyway, it’s inborn. We use it, we get more. It’s part of us like our blood. Mages steal it, but it’s not natural for them. That’s why it’s magick with a k when it’s ours and what they have is magic. Mages use it to feed their own power but it doesn’t renew like ours does. So they need more. And the turned witches? Well they’re like junkies. They use the stolen magick so often that it eventually burns out their connection to the earth. To their own magick. They have been working with the mages to get a hit of the witches they’ve been kidnapping. What they steal can’t be kept around. It will eventually, for want of a better word, evaporate. That’s probably why you smell rotting things.”

    “I didn’t really know all that background. I mean I knew this was happening, but not all the details.”

    “There’s more detail I’m sure. But I’m a coven witch, we aren’t a clan, and we don’t really know a whole lot about all the rest of the Others. Gage told me some, and when we got some training from Clan Owen about this stuff, they did a brief history lesson. There’s a whole world of information I need to know.”

    “I’ll help however I can.”

    She caught movement out of the corner of her eye, a guy running out the back door of the convenience store.

    “Shit.” She took off after him. “Stop! Police, stop and put your hands up,” she called.

    Adrenaline pumped through her system as her feet hit the pavement. He led her away from the main road and through a stand of trees. In the distance she caught the scent of water.

    She heard the pounding of feet behind her. “Don’t leave that gas station! I need to know if someone else tries to run away.”

    Josh pulled next to her, running easily as her lungs began to burn. “Damon and GiGi are keeping watch.”

    She indicated he head to the right and she’d go left. He nodded and peeled away. She drew on her reserves and sped. He was so close. She ordered him to stop one last time and he ignored her.

    Drawing a deep breath, she gathered her strength and her power in the soles of her feet and sprang, leaping forward, grabbing a handful of him and taking him down just as Josh sped out of the trees from the right, his teeth bared in a snarl, eyes narrowed.

    The guy beneath her tried to buck her off so she dug her knee into his back and bent his arm up, pinioning his wrist enough that if he continued, he’d break something. He shrieked and stilled.

    “God. I don’t know why you guys always do this. This is the eventuality. I will get you, and if you make me run, I’m going to be cranky.”

    “I didn’t do anything!”

    “I told you to stop. I identified myself. You kept running. Now, back to my earlier point about eventualities.” She managed to cuff him before getting to her feet and toeing him to his back. “Hi. I’m Officer Slattery and I’d very much like to ask you some questions.”

    “I didn’t do anything!”

    “We’ve covered that. I want to ask you some questions.”

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