His head inclined in a tight nod.
“Dammit, she needs blood.” Sam threw his hands into the air. “Look at her. Look.”
Keenan’s gaze darted to her. She saw the hunger in his eyes. The need. The fear.
“If you’re not gonna help her, I will.” Sam reached for her.
“No,” Nicole said, her voice firm. She’d been planning to pull back even before Keenan came flying down those stairs. “I’ll find another source.”
Keenan’s jaw tightened and she caught the flash of fury in his gaze.
So did Sam. “Don’t like that, do you? Makes you jealous.” His voice lowered. “Those damn emotions. They’re real bitches, aren’t they?”
Keenan ignored him. “I won’t kill you,” he told her.
Sam laughed. “Isn’t that what this whole mess has always been about? You … killing her.”
Keenan didn’t glance back at him. “If you leave now, you’ll have a good headstart, sweet. I’ll make sure the coyotes don’t follow you.”
“Because it’s okay to kill them,” Sam said, “but not her?”
Keenan’s eyes narrowed. “Go, Nicole.”
The guy was really throwing her out the door. Fine. She spun away, took two steps and locked her fingers around the doorknob.
His whisper stopped her cold. “For what? Leaving you?” So that he’d have to fight a vicious battle without her?
But Keenan didn’t say anything else. Damn him. Nicole looked over her shoulder, glaring. “For what?”
“Life.” He inclined his head. “Now I understand why you fought so hard.”
No, no, he was not bringing that up to her—
“Some things are worth fighting for.”
He turned away and began to march back up the stairs.
“He can’t kill you.” Intensity hardened Sam’s voice.
Nicole’s tongue swiped over her lips even as her fingers tightened around that doorknob. “Th-that’s not what Az said.”
“Az is a dick.”
So was he. “Az said that if … if Keenan killed me …” And Keenan was halfway up the stairs now. His shoulders up. His head high. Couldn’t he have looked a little depressed? “Az said if Keenan killed me, he could go back.”
She turned the knob and opened the door.
Sam slammed it closed instantly. “What?” Lethally soft and vibrating with fury.
“You heard me.” Nicole didn’t doubt that for a moment. “Keenan can go back. He can get his life back. I just have to die.”
“There are no do-overs. Az knows that. He can’t bullshit his way through—”
“I don’t think he was bullshitting.” She wasn’t going to run after Keenan even though it hurt to watch him walk away. “Now get out of my way, Sam.”
“Out of my way.”
“You’d leave him?” He edged away but watched her with curiosity in his eyes. “I … didn’t count on that.”
She bared her fangs. “Maybe I finally realized it was time to save my own skin.” She yanked open the door. The night waited for her. Dark and heavy.
She wouldn’t look back. Death was the only thing that waited behind her. She’d never wanted death.
Not when the doctor told her that the same cancer that had killer her mother was slowly destroying her own body.
Not when that vamp had slammed her onto the ground in that alley.
No, she’d never wanted death.
But she sure wanted her angel. She could almost feel his touch.
A touch that would kill.
“You’re a f**king idiot.”
Keenan didn’t turn when Sam burst into the room. His gaze was on the street below him. On Nicole. She moved so quickly through the shadows that he could barely keep track of her. “If she stayed here, she would’ve been dead by dawn.” Because he was a greedy bastard, and he wanted to touch. So badly.
“So you send her out alone? That was your genius plan?”
“No. My genius plan …” Nicole was turning the corner, heading out of sight now. He swallowed. “My plan is to track the coyotes before they track us and to kill them. Then Nicole won’t have to worry.” He’d thought she’d stay safe if he was with her, watching her back every moment.
But that plan was too risky. Because when he was close …
Human needs and emotions were, indeed, a bitch.
“It’s all because you think you can’t touch her, right?”
The question didn’t need answering.
Sam sighed. “I told you. You have to want to kill. When you touch her, you’re just gonna be wanting to screw.”
The always eloquent Sam.
“You don’t believe me? You know we can’t lie!”
Such a crock. Now Keenan did look Sam’s way. “Why bother to lie when the truth can be just as deceiving?” Sure, pretty it up, make the truth look righteous, but in the end, it was just as twisted.
“Fine. You don’t believe me. Then go find some human. Touch away. See if you kill or not.”
Keenan allowed himself a smile. “Actually, that’s exactly what I’m planning to do.” Then he leapt off the balcony. For an instant, he felt the whip of the wind, the roll of wings, then his feet slammed into the ground. His knees barely buckled.
He began to walk slowly down the street. No rush—he knew just where to find his prey.
The wind pushed around him. “You’re bullshitting me, right?” Sam wanted to know as he stepped to Keenan’s side.
“You’re just gonna pick some random mortal—”
“Not random.” Not random at all, but then, he’d long ago learned that nothing in this world was random. There was always a plan in place.
Sam whistled and kept perfect pace with him. “Going for some revenge, are you?”
He slanted a hard look Sam’s way. “Worried?”
The faint lines around Sam’s eyes tightened. “Sometimes when folks get a touch of power, it’s a little too much for them to handle. Too much temptation.”
“I’ve had that.” Far too much. He rounded the corner, caught Nicole’s scent, and stumbled, just a moment.
But then he strode faster. The streets were crowded here, thick with humans already drunk and with Other hiding in plain sight. And his prey.
Pete. Tattooed, redheaded, and still alive. For now.