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Chapter 71 –Hunt– Raine's POV

I didn't dare take the time to look back to see if anyone was chasing me. Instead I gripped Loki tighter, urging him on as we hurtled across the remaining distance.

As we approached the building, I realized in alarm that Loki wasn't slowing down! I panicked, thinking he was going to run straight into the door! I yanked back hard on both tufts of hair clenched in my fists.

He slowed down, but only slightly. As we barreled forward, I tucked my head down behind his, hoping I wouldn't absorb too much of the impact. Shockingly, the instant we arrived, the door was opened, we flew through, and the door slammed shut behind us.

I snapped my head up and looked around to find Teo!

He motioned toward a hole and a trap door in the floor as he said urgently, "Time to go!"

My heart thundered in my chest. I dropped from Loki's neck, afraid I wouldn't be able to support my own weight. I must have wobbled enough to cause Teo the same suspicion because he darted to me and wrapped an arm around my waist in support. He started to carry me back to the hole in the floor.

I gripped his shirt and hissed, "Wait a minute! The alarm has sounded, which means they know I am gone and are looking for me! If my scent ends here, they will tear the building apart to find our exit. I turned to face Loki and threw my arms around his neck. I mumbled into his fur, my voice breaking with sadness, knowing I would never see him again, "Run fast, boy! My scent is all over you. Lead them on a wild goose chase through the woods! And when you are done, go home!"

Loki's nostrils flared and he shook his head, not wanting to leave me. I swiped the tears away from my cheeks and ordered him gruffly, "Go now! Do as I say!"

He whined, pushed his head into me one last time, and then spun around. Teo already had a back door open for him. The door faced the woods with the building blocking the view of anyone looking from the compound, which meant no one would know I wasn't still riding on the powerful tiger's back.

I let Teo gather me into his arms and tried not to scream as he dropped through the floor. When we landed, he grasped a handle and jerked hard, causing the door above us to close. It sounded like the entire floor above us with shifting, and I knew the entrance was now camouflaged in some fashion.

In the next instant, Teo was running!

It was pitch black. I couldn't see a thing as Teo careened through the darkness. The sensory void scared the fuck out of me, and I had to bury my head in his chest to keep from screaming.

He made complicated twists and turns, obviously familiar with the path. I considered again the irony that Hayden apparently had easy access in and out of Quinn's kingdom, just like he did with Armand.

.........

Thirty minutes ago...

Alaric's POV

I sat in the Council room, irritated that I had to be away from Raine. She had finally given herself to me. I had to adjust my pants as memories of the night before and earlier today, flowed through my head. But even more importantly, she hadn't held anything back! She had eagerly embraced my touch. I knew now we could make this work.

The thought of our mating ceremony in front of Cage still made me nervous. Not because I was worried about my performance. No, I highly suspected he wouldn't be able to stop himself from attacking me when I took her. I saw the way he had looked at her,  desperation and despair clouded his features. I had never found myself looking at a woman in that way, and couldn't imagine finally finding her, only having to let her go.

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