Blood Promise (A SkinWalker Novel #4)(3)

By: T.G. Ayer


I concentrated on the smell, breathing a little deeper, staring that much harder into the darkness. Something blurred to the right of the valley below and I moved slow and careful down the hill. My paws made little noise on the wet grass, and my body seemed to slide between the low growth without making a sound.

At the bottom of the hill stood a drab, dilapidated old hut, its gray surface broken, its mortar so crumbled that many stones had fallen out and left gaping holes in the wall. The roof too showed a number of missing sections, like tired mouths yawning to the open heavens.

The tap-tap of water dripping onto stone told me the hovel would be just as cold and wet inside as out here. Guess our demon wasn't on the smart side at all.

Somewhere along the hillside an animal cried, and my panther ears pricked to attention. It was a cat's cry and though I couldn't be sure what feline species it belonged to, it sounded more like an invitation than a warning. But I held myself stiff, cutting through my panther's temptation to investigate.

I padded around the broken wall to where a half-open door hung precariously from a rusted hinge. A mere breath from me would be enough to send it to the ground. The narrow space was just wide enough for me to slide inside the darkened interior without having to test my breathing theory.

Inside, the hovel was silent. A glance upward showed me the once well-thatched roof was now bare straw, moldy and broken, over rafters swollen and split in so many places that I'd bet it would collapse under a sparrow's weight.

Up near the rafters something shifted, and pale light gleamed on a ragged spider's web. The shifting image morphed into the web's now seven-legged owner. Even higher up, scurrying flashes of darkness confirmed the presence of rats.

Great.

Even in panther form, I hated the vermin.

Demons I could handle.

Rats? Nope.

I clicked across the floor, my sharp claws hitting the wet stone and echoing loudly around the room. Another doorway, this time free of anything remotely door-like, led to an inner room, this one no drier.

I froze, suddenly sure I'd heard something move. I felt, deep in my gut, the presence of someone or something. I tasted his scent on the air, and it led me to the far corner of the room, drawing my attention up toward the shadows within the high thatched roof. I squinted, the world a multitude of shades; gray and shadow and night, as my panther located the demon, and conveyed it to my human brain.

I'd discovered long ago that panther sight and hearing could overwhelm me, so I'd learned to blend it well. Now the sensations were not a total shock to my system.

Helps when you finally accept the panther side of you, doesn't it?

My eyes narrowed. My prey crouched on an old cracked rafter so swollen from the rain that it looked ready to burst into shards of toothpicks especially with the demon weighing it down.

He watched me too, his head tilted to the left, his demon eyes glowing amber. It was clear that he wasn't sure what to make of me.

I smelled no fear on him either. And that was certainly a mistake. He should be afraid of me.

His white protruding canines - yes, vamp-demons had them too - glinted as he grinned down at me.

It was easy to see why humans mistook this creature for the legendary vampire. His glamour didn't help either. Soft blond hair that hung to his shoulders, deep green eyes, a muscled tanned physique that would make him instantly sexy. He'd have plenty of fodder on the streets of Glasgow, let alone in cities as big as London or New York.

It certainly made sense that Sentinel would want to be rid of him. I found it refreshing that they hadn't requested we bring him back to headquarters. Omega had that particular requirement on all the missives they'd sent my way. Not a palatable job when I was forced to hand over a potentially innocent person - demon or otherwise - to Omega. They possessed a stained track record for experimenting on their own, one I wasn't comfortable with.

But, as pleasing as the instruction was, it didn't contain fine print regarding innocents. Something I planned to discuss with the higher-ups the first chance I got.

The barest hint of sound drifted to my ear. It wasn't much, probably the shifting of a stone against the path, or the brushing of clothing against the stone wall that surrounded the abandoned hut.

Cassie.

When the demon stopped grinning and simply disappeared, my panther's gut churned with the same fear my human self experienced.

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