Acquired Taste | ii

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Nerina was among the hounds. None of them tried to attack her as she moved with them towards the city. She let them be as they left her seeking only one thing. Nerina had acquired a certain taste for werewolf blood. One that was only satiated for as long as it took to kill another one and feed. The rush too of the kill was intoxicating. She was creating havoc for the sheer pleasure of it.

At one point in her life, she had done so—with humans—the rush now was different. More. The thrill much more fulfilling. In the city, she realized that all the werewolves were gone. Overhead she heard flapping of wings but saw nothing. She looked in the direction the sound was headed and at a preternatural speed she followed.


Steele was still in his cell—safe. Trapped. He was not sure if he was grateful anymore. There were so many people left in the city. With the werewolves gone, they would not be able to protect themselves. Duncan would not have cared about that because they were not werewolves. Not part of his pack. Steele cared; they were his people.


The familiar voice had him going to the bar. He stopped seconds from touching them his relief for a second erasing the memory of the jolt that would have followed.

"Bile," he said as his old friend came to stand before him. "Don't touch the bars."

Bile dropped the hand he had inches from it. "Camorra?"

"Who else?" Steele wanted to ask him how he was alive but did not think it—appropriate. He had gone to save Bile and the others but instead he had fallen for a trick. "Where are the others?"

Solemnly, Bile shook his head. "Some she-devil broke in, tore the place apart. I'm the only one who escaped." It was more like the only one who survived.

"A vampire?" Steele found himself still hoping that there had been a mistake.

Bile shook his head. "She was no ordinary vampire. There is a madness in her. Nothing like I have never seen. We need to get you out."

Steele stepped back as Bile's battle-axe materialized in his hand. As the axe touched the bars, sparks flew between metal and magic. Repeatedly he whacked at the bars. Steele had recognized Nerina's sword was forged from the same metal that made Bile's axe. The metal repelled magic. Bile made a large enough hole that Steele could go through without having to touch the bars. On the outside, he saw the full extent of the damage the hounds had caused. On the outside—in the streets—the scene was worse.

"We need to get the survivors to the tunnels."

Bile raised an eyebrow looking at him. Of course, no one but the vampires knew about the tunnels. Then not all vampires only a handful knew about the labyrinth in case of an emergency. Out of that handful, Bile and Steele were probably the only ones still alive.

With the people now being safely led underground, there was one thing left to do. The gates could not remain open. There had to be a way to close it and Steele had no idea what it was. At the main opening to the labyrinth, Steele paced waiting on Bile to surface.

"Steele,' Bile said tentatively trying to broach the topic. He knew the responsibilities that rested on the shoulders of the man he held as a long-trusted friend. He also knew the grief.

Steele faced him his mind still trying to work out a solution to a problem he had never thought he would have ever encountered.


"Duncan killed her like he killed my father and my mother. I'd say there isn't much to discuss."


"Is warranted when a man's entire family is wiped out because of the greed of one but that—that isn't the focus right now." He was trying not to let it be the focus right now. Sorrow raked at him but he had to put that aside. With Caine being gone that left him in charge of the Hunts Clan. That had taken some time to register because accepting his new position was accepting that Caine was gone. Caine. It hurt to think about him. About Dina—Amara. He could not allow himself to wallow in his grief... not just yet. He still had a job to do. "We need to close that damn gate."

"It isn't open Steele for you to just shut it. She broke it. The gate is broken."

Steele ran his fingers over his tired eyes. That would be a problem.


It was a regular all you could eat buffet.

Werewolves trapped in an open area fighting above, below and on the ground for their lives. They were heading somewhere and that was where she placed herself. Close to the entrance of the portal. They would come to her and she would pick them off one by one. Nerina could already taste the fun she was going to have.

Some of the werewolves held her off while others made their escape. When she was done with this realm, she would simply go on to the next. Save some for later. Claws dug into her back lifting her off the ground. Nerina landed hard a good distance away, rolling over to see who had managed to get the drop on her. He was a big bastard. Bigger than all the others. Three other werewolves flanked him.

The Alpha, Nerina smiled at her good fortune. Now his blood was a prize.

He roared at her. Nerina stood to make a show out of brushing off her clothes caked with the blood of his pack. She knew the sight of her; the scents that clung to her like a second skin would tick him off. Steele said werewolves were notorious for their flash fire tempers. That was what made them so good to— play with. Each had their own way of fighting, their own strengths, and weaknesses—taste.


"Me," she said, not in the least intimidated.

Duncan growled. The woman who stood before him did not stand out readily as a threat of any kind. She was a young slip of a thing, closer to being a child than a woman. How had she managed to cause all this? How had she managed to cause the deaths of so many of his people? How had she managed to ruin his plans?

"You will suffer for what you have done."

"Really? Do you promise?"

She was mocking him. Mocking him in front of his pack. The blatant disrespect had Duncan's blood boiling. Nerina knew their little chitchat was a ploy to distract her. She looked around as werewolves came in to surround her while others made their escape. She would play along. Nerina had all the time in the world and the sun would never rise above the hills.

"Let's settle this." Duncan moved forward taking the lead.


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