Hot Blooded (Jessica McClain 2) - Page 1

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    The knife pressed against my neck pissed me off. “You’re kidding me, right?” I couldn’t see what was behind me, but it smelled faintly of eggs. Half a beat later its Otherness began to slip along my skin like an unwanted caress. My fingers curled around the door handle of my car.

    I didn’t have time for this.

    It hissed a few inches from my ear. “Shut up, bitch. You’re going to pay for what you did—”

    I brought my elbow up hard, faster than any human could track, and cracked my attacker neatly in the face as I spun around. Without hesitation, I grabbed him by the neck and slammed him onto the hood of the car next to me. Crap, that was going to leave a dent. I glanced around. Luckily there were no bystanders nearby. “What’s your problem?” I snarled. “Doesn’t look like you want a piece of me now.”

    The rheumy eyes of a stunned imp stared back at me, blinking once. An imp, by definition, was half human, half demon—and this one was heavy on the human, which was why he hadn’t triggered any of my new senses. A supe this weak had to be in close proximity to give off any Otherness. He wasn’t a danger to me—more like a pesky mosquito—and to my credit he stank like a dirty bum more than any kind of demon. I examined him, not surprised to find he resembled the imp I’d killed last week. But this one was a lot weaker than Drake, so maybe a distant relation gunning for revenge?

    Demons got off on revenge.

    “So it’s…” he gasped through a very diminished airway, “… true…”

    “What’s true?” I relaxed my grip on his neck so he could answer. When he failed to do so, I hauled him up by the shirt, turned him around, and pushed him against the side of my car. “I’m running a little short on time. Care to expound further?” I shook him for emphasis, letting him know there was really no other choice.

    A glint of surprise along with a creepy smile full of stained, slightly pointy teeth slowly spread over his features. I jammed him back against my car, locking my forearm across his neck again, hoping to convince him to spit out an answer before things had to get any uglier. “Look,” I said when he remained silent. “I’ve had a rough few days and I’m in no mood to be attacked by yet another supe. This is not going to end well for you if you don’t answer my question, so I’ll ask it again. What’s true?” His greasy brown hair swung limply over his shoulders as I jostled him into a better position. What was it with imps? Not showering must be a union order.

    “I didn’t know you were her,” he finally spat, his metallic breath pinging my nose like a tarnished penny. I eased my arm off his jugular. “I came to avenge my cousin. But I can smell you now. I know who you are. There have been rumors, but you won’t be able to hide from us. We will find you.”

    Find me? My wolf shot to the surface, sensing the real threat behind his words. I wasn’t hiding from anyone, especially not the imps. My secret had come out, and for all I knew the entire planet was well aware I’d become the only female werewolf on earth. It wasn’t ideal, but nobody had asked me.

    My nails elongated to vicious points in the span of a heartbeat. “What do you think you know about me?” I edged in closer, inhaling his repugnant scent. The possibility this moron knew more about me than I did tested my compassion on every level. “Imp, you have three seconds before my wolf comes out, and I can guarantee you’re not going to like what she has to say.” She growled her agreement in my mind and I echoed it out loud for effect.

    Instead of answering, the imp lunged forward, trying to break out of my grasp. His movement surprised me, forcing me to take a small step backward to steady myself. But my hold didn’t break, because he was weak and the muscles in my arms had already coalesced together like two giant anvils waiting to bring the hammer down on his greasy, uncombed head. “I’ve had enough of this crap, demon boy.” I shook him. “You’re going to talk whether you want to or not.” I dug my nails into his neck to accentuate my point. “You can either spill it here with me, or you can face my Alpha, who is a lot less patient than me.”

    “You will not rule us… bitch,” he sputtered, blood slowly leaking out of the wounds in his neck. “We are stronger. We will never follow you! Your filth cannot touch us.”

    Rule? “What in the hell are you talking about?” He wasn’t talking about ruling the humans. I rocked him back on the edge of his heels, my irises flashing an angry violet. “Listen clearly to what I’m telling you now. I want nothing to do with your demon race—not now and certainly not in the future. Ruling you doesn’t even make sense. I’m a wolf, and demons live in the Underworld.” A place nobody in their right mind would volunteer to go willingly. “And believe me, imp, my plans aren’t about to change. There’s absolutely nothing about your kind that appeals to me.” Stinky, unwashed cretins.

    He opened his mouth, his stained teeth and coppery breath assaulting me on so many levels. “We will strike you down before you place a foot on the throne of Astaroth! The Prophecy will not stand. Your death is imminent,” he sneered through the choke hold. “You will not best the powers of the Underworld. We are coming—”

    I slammed my fist into the side of his head and he crumpled to the ground like a worthless marionette. “Yeah? Well, you’re going to have to get in line, buddy, because everybody around here seems to want something from me and I’m late for a meeting.”

    I opened my car door and tossed him in the backseat. He was still breathing, but it would take a while to recover. Unwanted attacks were getting old, but at least this one didn’t have a foaming muzzle and three-inch canines. I slid into the driver’s seat.

    Now I just had to figure out why everyone in the entire supernatural race seemed to know more about me than I did.

    “What did you just say?” I stood so quickly, my chair spun back and clattered against the wall. “The Second Coming of what? And who exactly was the first?”

    Devon tossed a panicked look at my father, Callum McClain, Pack Alpha of the U.S. Northern Territories. The three of us had been sitting at the conference table in my office; my father had his hands folded neatly in front of him, looking calm and in charge. He nodded to Devon to continue as I stalked around the table. Fear leaked out of the Pack’s computer whiz, making my wolf edgy.

    Devon spoke again, clearing his voice once before he started. “Um, well, according to what it says here…” I stopped behind his chair, leaning over his shoulder to read the words for myself. The text on the screen appeared to be taken from a copy of a photograph, and not a very clear one. The original parchment background looked broken and old, like the ink had rubbed off before they’d snapped a good shot of it. It read: