30.3 | Savage Delights

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A million thoughts raced through Dante Azzara's mind as he trekked through the forest, Sam by his side. Some of them weren't even his own, but information transmitted by other Volkari. The hunt for Tatiana's pendant raged on, but the Vigil's reinforcements were flooding into Lirovin Square. If the betas didn't take out the target, there wouldn't be another opportunity like this again.

But Dante cared little about the success of his uncle's plan. So he ignored the messages and focused on putting one foot in front of the other. He had to reach the rendezvous point before anyone realized that he'd failed to accompany the first raiding party.

Capello had been clear about what would happen, should Dante act without permission again. But the meeting with Nika tonight would be worth any punishment the alpha bestowed. Recruiting her was the very lifeblood of Dante's efforts.

"Do you really think she's a dormant wolf?" Sam asked for the twentieth time since they'd left Nika at the ravine.

Biting back his irritation, Dante said, "No."

"Then why did you—"

Dante whirled into Sam's path. "Listen. You were only there because Capello ordered you to babysit me. But what you just witnessed is none of your business. Understood?"

"Oh, I see. You're trying to get back in Alpha's good graces. But if we get Nika to join us, you shouldn't bask in the glory all alone. I deserve some credit."

It was a miracle that Dante controlled his urge to laugh. "That's not happening."

"Fine, then I'll just tell Alpha myself. I am faster than you."

"No, I mean—we aren't sharing this with anyone. There won't be any glory to bask in."

"Why not?"

"Because Capello will just make Nika a spy, and she's much more valuable than that."

Sam's eyes narrowed. "What are you up to, Dante?"

"Like I said, none of your business."

A scoff. "Right. I'll mention that to Capello when I report your second act of rebellion."

"You can't report anything if I kill you."

As Sam puffed out his chest and cracked his knuckles, Dante slipped Nika's handgun from his waistband. There was no need for discretion, so he boldly clicked off the safety and rested a finger on the trigger.

"You won't use that on me," Sam said with a nervous chuckle.

"Are you willing to test that theory?"

For a moment, Sam stared at him, his face growing deathly pale. Then he bolted.

Dante tracked his blurring figure through the trees, raised the weapon, and fired. The sound cleaved through the world. Sam timbered to the ground with a thump. Then Dante Azzara tossed the gun aside and continued his trek alone.

Elliot Mirza had discovered in recent weeks that he didn't like danger. In fact, he loathed it. And when he huddled alone in an upstairs closet of Laguna Manor, completely surrounded by hazards, he was terrified enough to piss his pants.

Fortunately for his pride, that didn't happen. But he would have gladly endured a bladder accident if it meant escaping the hellshow around him.

He gripped Asteroth so hard that the metal pierced through the handkerchief and dug into his skin. He didn't even care that he wasn't supposed to touch it, for the sounds exploding beyond the room were, at the moment, more threatening than any magical object.

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