Chapter 4

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“What a warm welcome,” Della said, refusing to acknowledge her fear.

“She’s sassy,” said someone behind her.

“We can beat that out of her,” said the vamp walking toward her as he eyed her up and down.

“I wouldn’t try,” Della said.

“I second that,” Steve added, his voice deep and filled with warning.

The rogue tightened his gaze to check their patterns. “So you brought your pet with you, huh?”

Della heard Steve inhale and she reached over and touched his arm. Surely, he knew to let her deal with this.

“He’s not my pet,” she growled, offended for him more than she realized.

“Ah, I see,” the lead rogue said, a filthy twinkle in his eyes. “So you’re giving it up to this joker?”

“We’ve swapped bodily fluids if that’s what you’re asking,” she countered, confident, and suddenly grateful they’d exchanged spit last night during that hot kiss.

The vamp grinned. “I like your spunk. Maybe you and I can swap some bodily fluid sometime.”

Steve tensed beside her. “I wouldn’t count on it,” he said.

“And I’ll second that,” Della said.

The vamp frowned as if disappointed he couldn’t intimidate them. “You do realize first you will have to prove yourself worthy. If you are accepted, then your shifter here will have to prove himself, and even then he will only be considered an extra. Extras . . . don’t last very long.”

The rogue’s insinuation struck a punch to Della’s nerves, but she focused on what was important. The whole “prove yourself worthy” comment.

Was it going to be this easy? Was he just going to tell her right now what she had to do and they could leave? A tiny part of her hoped it wouldn’t be so simple. She already disliked this guy and wouldn’t mind teaching him a lesson.

“Exactly how do we prove ourselves?”

“Do you know how to fight?”

Hell, yes. “I can hold my own,” Della said.

His gaze shifted to Steve. “Looks like shifter-boy likes to fight,” he said, obviously referring to Steve’s black eye.

“I can hold my own, too,” Steve said.

“How strong of a shifter are you?” The rogue studied him as if assessing him.

“Strong enough,” Steve answered.

The rogue laughed. “Then why did you stay human to fight? You’re obviously not as strong as you’d like to believe.”

“Don’t let a little bruise fool you,” Steve said, tilting back on his heels.

Della heard the confidence in Steve’s voice, and while she’d assessed his ability to transform quickly, she honestly didn’t know his strength. Yet somehow she sensed that like her, he was holding his cards close to his chest. Not cowering down to them, but not letting them know exactly what they were up against if they picked a fight.

The rogue laughed as if he didn’t believe Steve. “Well, follow us. We have a little game going and we’ll see how well you two do.”

“What kind of game?” Della asked and cut her eyes around, taking in all the rogues circling them.

“A little hand-to-hand combat. If you do okay, we’ll see about your pet. You game?”

“Now?” Della asked, remembering in detail how Burnett told them not to be lured anywhere. Already the vamps had proven they weren’t good to their word because they’d stated only three of the gang members would meet them for a nonconfrontational interview.

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