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Bloody defiance, p.1

Bloody Defiance, page 1

 part  #3 of  Isabella Howerton Series

 

Bloody Defiance
 


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Bloody Defiance


  Bloody

  Defiance

  The Isabella Howerton Series

  Bloody Beginnings

  Bloody Consequences

  Bloody Defiance

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2017 Laura Hysell

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

  Dedication

  To my mom

  My number one fan, on earth and in Heaven

  Acknowledgements

  This book didn’t take longer to write, but it took longer to edit. I lost my mom in November of 2016, and the chapters of BETA reader notes sat in my Inbox for months, unopened. While I knew my readers were waiting for the next book, I had no time for writing. An overwhelming sadness consumed me, interspersed with anger and frustration. My days were consumed with new tasks, and I found myself drowning in paperwork.

  Time doesn’t actually heal all wounds, but things do eventually get better. My readers said they’d wait for me and told me to take all the time I needed. The January release date I had set for myself came and went before I finally pulled open those BETA reader notes. I was so glad when I did!

  I feel like I have some of the best BETA readers out there! Not only did I get great notes about structure, flow, and any remaining typos, but I also found a plethora of commentary as they wrote out their thoughts. This is something I’ve come to look forward to, and it frequently had me laughing out loud as I read it. As a writer, it’s encouraging to know your readers have connected to the story.

  This book wouldn’t be possible without my wonderful BETA readers and their delightful observations and notes. I love and value each and every one of you! You know who you are!

  To all my readers out there, whether you have been with me since the beginning, or you just found my books yesterday, I want to thank you. I love reading books, and soaking up the stories until I feel as though I am a part of that world. That is what I hope to bring to others.

  The Isabella Howerton Series

  Dedication

  Acknowledgements

  Chapter 1- Jared

  Chapter 2- Isabella

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7- Jared

  Chapter 8- Isabella

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10- Jared

  Chapter 11- Isabella

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17- Jared

  Chapter 18- Isabella

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  About the Author

  "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear."

  –Ambrose Redmoon

  Chapter 1- Jared

  My leg was on fire. My whole body was on fire. Time was elusive. I had lost consciousness, but for how long I had no idea. I tried to sit up, but pain erupted in my stomach and I curled back on my side. What the fuck? I looked down at my body, and realized I was back in human form, naked except for the blood that coated my entire body. Not just a patch here and there, but completely drenched. It looked as though I had bathed in a pool of blood, and more dark, thick fluid was oozing from a wound in my stomach.

  Memory returned, and I groaned as I forced myself into a sitting position, clutching my stomach. Izzy had shot me. Twice. I looked down at my leg, which didn’t look too bad. The shot had gone clean through and had already started healing. That didn’t mean it didn’t hurt still, and it would be a bitch to walk on.

  I needed to return to werewolf form, which I knew would help with the healing, but I didn’t have the strength. I barely had enough strength to sit upright. I surveyed the room, taking in the blood-soaked floors. A distinct pile of ash was beside me, and I smiled knowingly. At least Sarah was dead. If I’d had the chance to torture that bitch, I would have. I wrinkled my nose and spit on the ground. Vampires didn’t taste good.

  There was nothing in the room except for my blood, and the lovely pile of ash. Jed would be here soon, or perhaps he was already in the tunnels, if I was lucky. Even if I wasn’t in werewolf form, Jed should have been able to sense me. Of course, it’d be easier if I was a wolf. Then I could just talk to him and ask him to come help me, and maybe bring some clothes, and bandages. A doctor would be helpful too.

  Fuck. Clutching my stomach, I scooted to the wall and struggled to my knees. After taking a minute to compose myself, I stood up. The world spun around me and darkness threatened. I would not pass out like some sissy. Blood pulsed from my stomach at an alarming rate, and the burning sensation only grew worse. I’d been shot with a silver bullet; I was sure of it. That damn vampire was trying to kill me. Worse, he’d made Izzy shoot me. Henri was definitely next on my list of vampires who needed to die. Of course, I needed to get out of here first, and find Izzy. Crap, where was he taking her? If he could control her enough to make her shoot me, she was screwed.

  The world stopped spinning, and I took a tentative step forward. Pain shot up my leg at the first step, but it was nothing compared to the throbbing in my side. Izzy hadn’t wanted to shoot me, and she’d done her best to aim at a safe location. If I got the silver bullet out soon, I would live. Damn, it hurt though. I slowly made my way to the next corridor and looked around for any sign of help. If a vamp came up right now, I was dead.

  I sniffed the air, straining my senses. What was that smell? It was familiar, but my brain was in a fog. I leaned against the tunnel wall and took several slow, deep breaths. There it was again, mixed with the reeking smell of decay that I associated with vampires. Izzy and Henri. I growled and pushed away from the wall, determined to follow the scent.

  It took twice the time it normally would have taken to walk to the next corridor. I sniffed the air again, and continued to follow Izzy’s scent. After several minutes, another smell caught my nose, and I stopped in my tracks. It was Pack. The pack had a distinct smell that was a thousand scents rolled into one. It was the gentle aroma of earth after a light rain, mixed with fir trees and wolf. To me, the smell was home. The scent was coming from the corridor to my right, and Izzy’s light fragrance was coming from the left.

  The world spun around me again, and I stopped moving, closing my eyes. The tunnel walls were cool to the touch, soothing my feverish skin. I breathed in all the aromas, rolling them in my mind and relishing each individual scent. A breeze shifted across my face, and I opened my eyes. Someone was coming down the tunnel fast. There was nowhere to hide. I braced myself, ready for a fight.

  The sound racing toward me was faint, but growing progressively louder. I stretched my senses, searching for the scent of whatever was coming toward me. The smell that reached my nose filled me with relief, and I slumped against the wall as my remaining energy drained from me.

  Jed raced into view in wolf form, followed by two other wolves. I slid to the floor and looked at them; it was the twins. Jed stopped in front of me and nudged me with his nose. “Henri took Izzy that way,” I said, pointing down the corridor where I could still catch Izzy’s scent. The twins took off down the corridor, but Jed stepped
back and shifted easily into human form.

  “Let’s get you out of here,” Jed said as he knelt beside me.

  I was worried about Izzy, but lucid enough to know that I couldn’t do anything to help her in my current state. I nodded to Jed and let him pull me to my feet. Everything rotated around me again and darkness threatened. Panting hard, I struggled to maintain consciousness as Jed held me upright. Blood pumped faster from the wound in my stomach, coating my hand as I did my best to staunch the flow.

  Jed put an arm around my shoulders and led me back the way he’d come. We had only taken a few steps when the twins returned, shaking their wolf heads. Jed stared at them as they silently communicated with their Alpha. “The tunnel is caved in,” Jed said softly, looking at me. “They can’t get through.”

  “He had another way out,” I said.

  Jed nodded and continued leading me down the tunnel he had come from. “Hugo and the others are back at the house you told me about. No one has come out through that tunnel. I suspect the vampire had another exit, but we haven’t been able to find it.”

  “Fuck,” I muttered fervently.

  “We’ll find her, Jared. For now, just concentrate on taking it one step at a time,” Jed said. We walked slowly, with the two wolves scouting the way ahead of us and periodically checking behind us. The silver in my stomach burned with each step, and I felt my grip on consciousness slipping with each passing moment. Jed had been speaking, but the words were just a murmur in my ear as each step took my full concentration.

  “What?” I asked, catching Jed saying something about a bullet.

  “I asked how you managed to get a silver bullet in your gut,” Jed said as we stopped to rest.

  I laughed, although there was no humor in it, as I leaned against the wall. “The damn vampire told Izzy to shoot me.”

  “And she did?” Jed asked, his eyebrows rising in surprise.

  “She was trying to fight him, but she couldn’t. It wasn’t her fault, Jed,” I added insistently. Some of the wolves didn’t trust Izzy anyway, and I didn’t need this adding to their mistrust.

  “It’s all right, Jared, I believe you. Vampire control can be a powerful thing.”

  “She tried just shooting me in the leg,” I added, indicating my injured leg.

  “But it wasn’t enough for the vampire.”

  I shook my head, but that only made me dizzier. “No, it wasn’t enough. If he has this kind of control over her now…” I trailed off, unwilling to finish the sentence. I didn’t know enough about vampires to make a guess, and I didn’t want to. Worry would get me nowhere.

  “We’ll do what we can, Jared,” Jed said, patting me reassuringly on the back.

  I nodded my head, but the tunnel had grown dark. I closed my eyes and leaned into Jed, taking comfort in the smell of the Pack. My Alpha’s arms held me as I succumbed to the darkness and slid slowly to the ground. The feel of fur against my skin and the smells of home were the last things I noticed before I slipped into unconsciousness.

  ***

  Being a werewolf was a curious thing. As a human, the first thing I relied on was my sense of sight. Since becoming a wolf, sight had been pushed to the backburner. Now, smells and sounds took just as much precedence as sight. It was the aroma of home that came to me first as I began waking. The smell was a comfort, and instilled a sense of peace in me I hadn’t felt since childhood, wrapped in my mother’s arms as she comforted me after a bad dream. Perhaps it was because that was the last time I had been somewhere I truly called home.

  I sniffed the air, breathing in the jumble of odors. I was back at Jed’s home, surrounded by Pack. Another distinct scent wafted my direction, making my stomach growl. Bacon. Someone laughed beside me, a deep, bass sound that reverberated through the room.

  “I knew bacon was the key to waking you up,” Hugo chuckled, and the smell of bacon grew stronger.

  I opened my eyes and snatched the bacon Hugo was dangling in front of my face. “There’d better be more,” I murmured between mouthfuls. Hugo held a plate in front of my face, and I struggled into a sitting position. Bacon, eggs, toast, and potatoes were piled high on the plate.

  Hugo set the plate on my lap as soon as I was sitting upright, and I immediately dug in. As I scarfed down my food, I assessed my injuries. A bandage was wrapped around my stomach, but I couldn’t smell any blood coming from it. I shifted slightly, but there was no pain. I leaned back and kicked my legs up, pulling up the bottom of the sweat pants I wore. My leg was unblemished, with no sign I had ever been shot.

  “You’re healing up nicely,” Mirabelle said softly as she entered the room. “After we got the bullet out, your body immediately began repairing itself.”

  I nodded and swallowed the bite in my mouth. Thank God for fast werewolf healing. “How long?” I asked before taking another bite. At this rate, I would need at least one more plate of food to fill me up. Maybe two.

  “You’ve been out for almost two days,” she replied as she leaned over me to pull back the bandage on my stomach. After a quick inspection, she grabbed scissors and began cutting off the bandage. I finished the plate of food and set it off to the side as she cut the bandage away, revealing flawless skin. “You heal fast,” she said softly.

  “Yes, you do,” Jed added as he walked in the room. He held another plate of food out to me, and I took it eagerly. “It’s a good thing, too.”

  “Tell me about it,” I murmured as I began digging into a piece of bacon. This wasn’t the first time werewolf healing had saved my ass.

  “You heal faster than I do,” Jed commented, and I looked up at him in surprise. Jed looked as he always did, casual in jeans and a flannel, but the expression on his face was thoughtful. “Not many can take a shot of silver like you did and come out so quickly without shifting into wolf form.”

  “It would be an interesting thing to study,” another voice said, and I looked up to see Justin walking into the room, carrying his own plate of food. He sat down on the couch beside me, his eyes assessing. “When you’re feeling up to it, I’d love to get a blood sample. Werewolf physiology is fascinating.”

  I shoveled in another bite and made a noncommittal sound. I’d known Justin a long time, but he wasn’t the same guy I’d gone to college with. The years had changed me, for sure, but this past year had changed Justin into a person I hardly recognized. There was a tightness around his eyes when he looked at me, and it sent a shiver down my spine.

  I finished off the plate and looked around eagerly. Hugo chuckled and quickly took my plate. The doctor had finished her assessment, and also left. I sat quietly with Justin, neither of us saying a word as Hugo brought back in another plate of food for me. The big man immediately sensed the unease in the room, and excused himself. I began heartily eating once more, doing my best to ignore Justin.

  Jed still stood in the corner of the room, and I shifted my attention back to him. “So, what happened while I was out?” I asked between mouthfuls.

  “We torched the vampire den,” Jed said simply. He shrugged when I looked up at him in surprise. “We did our best to contain it to the lower levels, since there were regular humans at the hotel, but we could only do so much. It was daytime, so the vamps were unable to sneak out. We made a nice dent in the vampire population, and we managed to take a few as hostages.”

  “Vampire hostages? How’d that work out?”

  “They weren’t very forthcoming, so they’ve been relocated to the research program,” Jed replied, with a nod of his head toward Justin. I wasn’t sure what to say to that, so I just continued eating. “I’ll let you regain your strength. We’ll talk again later.”

  I looked up from my food, but Jed had already left the room. Justin shifted on the couch beside me, and I returned my focus to the plate in front of me. Perhaps if I ignored him long enough, he’d just go away.

  After several minutes of silence, Justin finally spoke. “Do you know what happened to my sister?” he asked quietly.

&
nbsp; “Didn’t Jed tell you?” I asked, glancing at him.

  Justin shrugged and said, “Jed said that vampire, Henri, took her.”

  “Yup.”

  “And that she shot you, while under his control.”

  “Sure did,” I replied shortly.

  “They’re not going after her.”

  I stopped eating and looked at him directly. “What?”

  “They said she’s not priority right now, and they’re not going after a human who is under vampire control. Mark is missing, and they’re not actively looking for him either.”

  “Well, what are they doing?”

  “Gathering the other packs, and waiting on me,” Justin added sourly. “I’m close to figuring this thing out. I think I can create an antidote to the vampire vaccine in humans, but I haven’t been able to stabilize it yet. At best, it’ll last a couple days.”

  “A couple days could be long enough,” I responded as I bit into another piece of thick, greasy bacon.

  “Maybe,” Justin replied as he set his half-eaten plate of food down on a side table. He looked up at me, then down at his hands, obviously anxious about something. I had a bad feeling it wasn’t just Izzy on his mind.

  “Why are they gathering the other packs?” I asked, intent on changing the subject, even though I was sure Jed would give me the answers.

  Justin looked up at me with his blue eyes that reminded me so much of Izzy. It tore at my heart, but I did my best not to dwell on it. “There have been disappearances over the past year. Several Pack members have gone missing, and they’re usually high-ranking in the pack order. No Alphas that we’ve heard of, but still high ranking. Now Mark and Leon are both missing. Leon is new, but I guess Mark is actually second in the Pack.”

  “He was next in command,” I replied. Jed had told me a lot about Pack hierarchy, and it wasn’t just about physical strength. “Mark left the Pack, but before that he was second only to Jed. From what I understand, he could be an Alpha if he chose it. Now, Hugo is technically second in command, although Mark could challenge him. Knowing Mark though, he probably never would.” Mark would probably win, too. Hugo might be big and strong, but Mark was smart, fast, and able to partially shift at will. There weren’t many able to do that.

 
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