Home > Reaper Unleashed (Deadside Reapers #7)(4)

Reaper Unleashed (Deadside Reapers #7)(4)
Author: Debbie Cassidy

“Come in.” He walked off, leaving us to enter. “He’s through here. I can’t stop the bleeding.”

Copper hit my nostrils as we hurried in. I moved aside to let Petra go first with the first aid box.

The drapes were drawn in the lounge, which was dimly lit by a free-standing lamp. Eldrick was on the sofa, his face a pale oval in the gloom. His eyes were closed, and he was breathing erratically. My gaze dropped to his chest and my heart stalled. It was red. A mass of red.

Torn flesh.

Blood.

Oh god.

Petra let out a string of curses and hurried to his side. She fell to her knees and set to work, yanking bandages and gauze from the first aid box.

“Hot water and towels now!” she ordered.

Dean and Grayson left the room.

I couldn’t move. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the gaping, lethal wound.

“Will he be okay?” My voice was a whisper, and I was surprised Petra heard me when she replied.

“I don’t know. I don’t—” She broke off to press more gauze to Eldrick’s chest. “Towels now!”

Oh shit. The gauze was soaked in seconds. He wasn’t healing fast enough. He was dying. He was… No! I wouldn’t allow it.

I fell to my knees beside Petra. “What can I do to help?”

“Keep pressure. Keep packing. I need to prepare the herbs.”

Her face was pinched with anxiety, lips pressed so tightly together they were bloodless. She grabbed her bag and turned away to work at the coffee table.

He wasn’t healing, why wasn’t he…I caught a metallic and familiar scent. Grayson had reeked of it when the vamps had bitten him in the museum.

“Silver.” I looked across the room at Hunter, standing in the shadows his expression a mask of supressed rage. “What happened?”

“Not now,” he snapped. “Stabilize him, then we talk.”

I wanted to snap back at him, but he was right. We needed to save Eldrick first and then the people who’d done this to him would pay.

Grayson and Dean returned with hot water and towels.

“Use the towels to staunch the blood,” Petra said to me. “I need to draw out the silver.”

I worked fast, but he was bleeding too quickly, his face bloodless now, his body limp. The only indication he was alive was the fact he kept bleeding.

I choked back a sob as I worked. I couldn’t lose him. I’d only just found him.

Petra began to slather on the herbs, lifting the towels here and there to do it. They acted like a tourniquet and the bleeding began to slow. An acrid smell filled the room.

“It’s working,” she said finally.

Long minutes passed as we worked in silence with the guys watching from the shadows.

“Good,” Petra said finally. “You did good, Fee.”

“Is he…Is he going to make it?” I couldn’t tear my attention from his ashen face. “Petra?”

“We’ve done all we can,” she said. “Go wash up. I’ll sit with him.”

Grayson cupped my shoulders and drew me away from the couch. He led me to the hallway then to the small washroom under the stairs.

The blood ran off my hands in rivulets, painting the white, porcelain basin pink, and it took a nail brush to get it out from under my nails. Grayson rinsed the sink, but the pink hue remained.

“I’ll get some bleach,” Dean said softly.

I followed Grayson into the kitchen to find Hunter making tea as if this was an ordinary day and we’d popped over for a chinwag and cake.

I walked up to him and grabbed his arm, forcing him to look at me. “Fuck the tea. Tell me what happened?”

He glared at me, his jaw ticking. “Get your hands off me.”

Grayson made a low rumbling sound in his chest, a warning for Hunter to back off, but in that moment, my senses were totally focused on Hunter as my empathy kicked in.

I’d been so consumed by my own confusion and anxiety I’d failed to sense his impotent rage. It beat off him in waves, and I didn’t need to drop my shields to sense how furious he was. But his fury was directed at himself.

“Get away from me,” Hunter said, low and lethal.

Grayson took a step toward us, his body coiled and ready to attack.

I kept my attention on Hunter. “Grayson, babe, can we have a minute please.”

I sensed his hesitation, but then he backed up and left the room. He wouldn’t go far though.

Hunter’s eyes narrowed and flicked over my head to the doorway then back again. He was surprised, but I wasn’t sure if he was more surprised that I’d asked Grayson to leave or that Grayson had complied.

I released him but didn’t move away. “Hunter.” I softened my tone. “Please tell me what happened.”

He took a deep breath. “It was an ambush. They waited until I left the building then they attacked him.”

“Then how—”

“I forgot my jacket.” He snorted derisively. “I fucking forgot my jacket, so I went back. They were on him like a pack of dogs.” He swallowed hard, chest heaving. “I think I might have killed two, and I maimed the others enough to get him out. I have a skeleton key to the back exits. The alpha exits. Eldrick was conscious enough to give me the coordinates to this place.” He turned away and gripped the counter, leaning against it as if for support. “I should have sensed something. I should never have left him alone. I just can’t believe… Ulrich was my man.”

“Ulrich did this?”

“He wants the Rising pack. He must have been working with Larson and now

they’ve taken it. With Eldrick down, Larson dead, and me in exile, Ulrich is next in line.”

Ulrich was the traitor. The one Eldrick had been trying to find. The trusted extra hand. The one Hunter had brought in and trained.

Oh shit. No wonder Hunter was pissed.

He blamed himself.

I grabbed his arm and yanked him around to face me. “This is not your fault.”

His eyes flinched, and he wouldn’t meet my gaze.

“Look at me.”

He deliberately returned his attention back to my face.

I locked gazes with him and reached up to touch his cheek on impulse. “This is not your fault.”

He jerked his head away from my touch, lip curling. “Of course it’s my fault. I brought Ulrich in. I convinced Eldrick to give him a spot. I trained him. I thought… I thought he was my friend, and all this time he was plotting to overthrow Eldrick.”

“Larson was plotting. Ulrich was probably just a tool he used, and with Larson gone he saw a chance to take the throne. None of this is your fault. You saved Eldrick’s life. If you hadn’t gotten him out of there…”

“Too late,” Hunter said.

I clenched my jaw and shook my head. “Don’t. We don’t know that.”

This time he met my gaze with a glare. “Did you see the state of him?”

“If you thought he was a lost cause you would have left him to die.”

“No. I’d never do that. Eldrick is…He’s like a father to me.”

My heart squeezed painfully in my chest. Here I was, a woman who’d barely known Eldrick for a few weeks, and I was acting like I had the monopoly on concern for his welfare. Hunter had lived by his side for years. Worked with him, been mentored by him, loved by him…

Eldrick was more his father than mine and Hunter was hurting. He was hurting bad and the need to soothe him, to comfort him washed over me in a powerful wave, drawing me toward him. I wrapped my arms around his waist. He stiffened but didn’t push me away, so I laid my cheek against his chest and hugged him. Really hugged him, not giving a shit about the blood that smeared my cheek.

“I’m so sorry you had to go through that, Hunter. So, fucking sorry.”

His chest heaved, once, twice and then settled into a series of erratic bursts, and it hit me that he was crying. I didn’t move. I didn’t look up at him, and slowly, increment by increment his arms came up to hug me back.

We remained like that for long seconds until his sobs ceased and he took a shuddering breath and gently pushed me away.

“Ulrich is going to pay for what he did.” Hunter strode out of the kitchen and it took a second for me to realize where he was headed.

I passed a stunned Grayson and grabbed Hunter around the waist from behind. “No.”

“Let go of me, Fee.” He didn’t shove me, but I could tell it was taking everything he had not to push me off.

“I won’t let you run in to danger like this.”

He rounded on me, eyes blazing, forcing me to stagger away.

“What the fuck do you care?” he demanded.

My stomach twisted and my heart throbbed. “I care, Hunter, okay. I care if you live or die.”

The rage bled out of his expression and it smoothed out to cool and aloof. The signature Hunter look. “You care about the Tribus.”

The Tribus? “Is that what you think? That I want you because we’re a Tribus?”

His gaze was calculating. “You lose the power if I’m dead.”

“I don’t give a fuck about the power, you idiot. I don’t want you dead, okay. I care about you.”

And it was true. I did. I cared. Not love. Not yet, but something… Enough to want to hold on to him.

A flicker of some emotion I couldn’t properly define flitted across his face.

I rubbed my temples. “We are going after Ulrich. That bastard will pay, but we’re going to do it smart.” I lifted my chin. “Put away your Loup and stick on your strategist’s hat.”

He tipped his head to the side, dark eyes lighting up. “You have a plan?

“Yeah, I fucking do.”

Petra had pulled the single seater sofa up to the one housing Eldrick and made herself comfortable. She was on Eldrick watch. He was still pale, but he was no longer ashen, and the bleeding had stopped.

He was healing.

“It will take days,” Petra said. “I’ll need more herbs.”

   
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