Shivering, Cindy watched Rémy pace around the room, his expression stony, eyes glowing with barely contained rage. Vasya stood still, cool and calculating, studying the symbol as if it had more to tell them than simply the perpetrator of this crime. Never had she met such polar opposites and she feared getting them to play nice would require patience beyond her capabilities.
Thoughts a buzzing, tangled mass, Cindy tried to work out how to proceed. There was so much work to be done and little time to do it. They’d need to put their heads together to figure out what exactly Azazel wanted. Collecting her laptop, she opened the door to the adjoining room of the suite. Fortunately, it was warmer there. The preternatural chill in Denysé’s room had seeped into her bones.
Taking a seat on the bed, she pulled up the latest file Denysé had sent her. Cindy’s gut told her the answer lay in those writings. The story revolved around Vasya, that much she knew. A million questions for the ancient wolf prince sprang to mind, but Rémy’s presence stopped her from giving them voice.
“What have you found?” Rémy strode into the room, Vasya a few steps behind.
“If we’re going to fight this demon, we’ll need supplies.” She avoided the question, hoping Rémy wouldn’t notice.
“We have all we need to fight him right here.” Rémy clenched and unclenched his fists.
“She’s right,” Vasya replied. “As far as brute strength has gotten you in your short life, we will require more sophisticated protection against Azazel’s unholy powers.”
Rémy’s face reddened and he advanced on the elder wolf so quickly all Cindy saw was a blur. Again, Vasya proved faster, easily sidestepping the aggression.
“Thank you for illustrating my point, young one. You might be the strongest of your pack, but I’m afraid you’ll have to use something besides those muscles if you hope to free your beloved. How I wish your Alpha were here. Matthew, Michael, Mitchell…what’s his name?”
“Matéo,” Rémy replied, every syllable dripping acid.
“That’s right. Matéo. He’s the smart one, isn’t he?”
Rémy shook, clearly wishing he could rip Vasya limb from limb.
“Gentlemen.” Cindy sighed. “As much as I’m enjoying all this posturing, we need to address the task at hand: supplies and a game plan to fight an eons’ old demon.”
As the words left her mouth, they sounded ridiculous. She and Denysé were supposed to be drinking Italian wine, laughing with their editor and colleagues and ogling cover models. Instead Cindy found herself playing referee to two powerful and dangerous wolf shifters while trying to come up with a way to free her dear friend from the clutches of hell. If ever she needed a drink, it was now. She couldn’t even imagine Denysé’s distress at the moment.
Je suis désolé, chère. Rémy pushed the thought into Cindy’s mind, placing a warm hand to her cheek. This must be frightening and difficult for you and we aren’t making it any easier.
“No, you aren’t,” Cindy said, tears prickling in the corners of her eyes.
“Tell me what supplies we need.”
Sighing, she shrugged. “I’m not really sure. A few Bibles couldn’t hurt.”
“Candles, incense, salt and some sprigs of sage if you can find it,” Vasya spoke up.
Mouth a flat line, eyes narrowed, Rémy turned on the prince. “We’re going to fight a demon with some wax, perfume and seasonings?”
“Do as you’re told, young one.” Vasya dismissed Rémy with a flick of his hand.
Snatching up an empty plastic bag from the dresser, Rémy shot the elder wolf a look of pure contempt. “I’m going for Denysé’s sake, not because you commanded me to.”
Vasya stared straight ahead as if he did not hear Rémy.
Rémy stalked toward the door. “And stop calling me ‘young one.’ I am over ten score old.”
“A mere grain of sand in the hourglass of my life.” Vasya flashed an icy smile.
Mouth agape, Rémy seemed to catch a retort before he gave it voice.
“Thank you.” Cindy offered a weak grin.
With a curt nod, Rémy slipped out into the hall.
Once the door had clicked shut, Cindy asked, “Do we really need any of that stuff?”
“No. But I know you wanted the two of us alone.” Vasya motioned to the empty air around him. “And now we are.”
“I need to know what your part in all of this is. Denysé was working on your story earlier today. A few hours later, she’s snatched by a demon.”
“Clever girl.” Vasya folded his arms over his chest.
* * * * *
A deep growl resonated around her prison. Denysé fought the urge to scream. She curled into a ball on the floor. She had to stay calm, sensing that whatever creature held her would only grow stronger through her fear.
The growling became louder and rhythmic, the heat of the prison walls pulsating as if a beast breathed down her neck.
I am not afraid. I am not afraid. I am not afraid. She repeated over and over in her mind, rocking back and forth. The creature was toying with her, trying to unsettle her, but she wouldn’t give it the satisfaction.
Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to think of happy things, beautiful things. Rémy’s chiseled visage appeared in her mind’s eye. Her very own big, bad wolf. The night before she had left for the conference, he had taken her to his château, wined and dined her, made love to her as if it were the last time. What if it had been the last time she would know his touch? Would she ever see her dear Rémy again? Panic clutched at her throat and she struggled to draw in a breath.
No, she couldn’t give up hope. Rémy would rescue her. How many times had he declared he would march through hell and back for her? He would come, no matter what. A teardrop slid down her cheek.
Suddenly, the growl turned to maniacal laughter.
“He can’t save you. No one can.” A deep, booming voice reverberated around her cell.
“I am not afraid,” Denysé shouted.
“You will be.” The unseen entity cackled with apparent glee.
* * * * *
Vasya crossed the room and opened a bottle of wine that had been chilling in the ice bucket. He poured a single glass and held it out to Cindy. Though he cared little for her species, he took pity on the poor, frightened woman.
“Thank you.” She took the goblet.
Watching her take a few sips, he waited for her nerves to calm before speaking. Once she set the glass aside, he motioned to the story on her laptop.
“Do you think this is a work of fiction?” he asked.
She nodded. “At least I did until about an hour ago. What does Denysé’s work have to do with her abduction?”
Closing his eyes, Vasya pulled up recollections of the bloodbath in Europe so many ages ago. “The whelp is too young to know of the Demon Wars. I don’t believe his pack even studies them anymore though their ancestors fought along side us then. They seem to think that all history began when they set foot on this continent. New world, new mythos.”
Eyelids opening, he focused on the scribe. Worry creased the corners of dark brown eyes trimmed with black lashes; her rosy lips turned down. Tendrils of golden brown hair spilled over her shoulders, a black dress hugging her curves. She was quite pretty―for a human.
“Much was lost in those days,” he went on. “Though we managed to beat back the evil threatening our survival, alliances were broken, animosities amongst bloodlines arose. Our kind was never the same again.”
“But what does that have to do with right here, right now?” She began to chew at one fingernail, but Vasya stayed her hand.
“Everything, bella. Everything.”
To be continued. Find part four here tomorrow: http://boundpassion.blogspot.com/