Home > The Jackal (Black Dagger Brotherhood: Prison Camp #1)(12)

The Jackal (Black Dagger Brotherhood: Prison Camp #1)(12)
Author: J.R. Ward

When he walked back over to her, it was easy to stand her ground considering she was armed and he was not. What was difficult was the way she tracked his movements. With every step he took, there was a powerful shifting from left to right, his shoulders and his hips counterbalancing his muscular weight.

It was the kind of thing that made a female wonder what exactly he could do with his body. If he happened to be naked.

His eyes scanned her face. “You will have to tell me who you’re looking for.”

Nyx’s heart skipped a beat. But not because of what he’d demanded. It was that scent that seemed to come out of every single one of his pores. God, it smelled good, wiping out all the damp earth and mold in her nose.

“It’s my sister,” she said. “I’m going to get her out of this nightmare. She should never have ended up here in the first place.”

“What’s her name.”

Not a question. Then again, they were solidly in rhetorical land, weren’t they.

“Janelle. She was incarcerated fifty years ago.”

“I don’t recognize the name. But that doesn’t mean anything.”

“So you’ll help me. For five hundred dollars.”

His eyes, those incredible, glowing, blue-green eyes, narrowed. “Maybe.”

Oh, for fuck’s sake. “What’s with the maybe. You’re in or you’re out.”

The smile that curled his lips was calculating. And sensual. “Curious choice of words, female.”

This isn’t happening, Nyx thought. This is not happening.

And yet she focused on his mouth. And thought of where he could put it on her body.

“No,” she said as she caught his drift. Because it was where her dumbass mind had gone, too.

“I would have helped you for free before,” he drawled. “But now that you’ve brought up payment, I find myself with a change of heart.”

“Five hundred. And we keep this professional. That’s what I’m offering.”

The male inhaled deeply, his nostrils flaring. Then he laughed, the rumble low in his throat. Like a purr. “I think you’re offering quite a bit more, my dear.”

Nyx reached out and grabbed the front of his shirt, yanking him forward. “Don’t. Call. Me. ‘Dear.’ And I’m never going to be yours.”

Later, she would reflect that manhandling the male was a mistake. Later . . . she would wish she could take that back. But not because she felt physically threatened.

“I will call you anything I want,” he said as he focused on her lips.

“Oh, so it’s like that, huh. I drop two curse words and you figure you don’t need to show me any respect at all. Classy.”

There was an electric pause. “On the contrary. I am more than prepared to show you something.”

“Yeah, you can keep that to yourself.” She punched at his chest and stepped back sharply. “Now do we have a deal.”

“I don’t want your money.”

Nyx laughed with a hard edge. “Well, it’s the only thing of mine I’m offering.”

“I haven’t told you what my price is.”

“I know what you want.”

“Do you,” he drawled.

Yes, she thought, because I want it, too.

But now was not the time for her sex drive to finally get out of neutral. Nor did she want to start something with a criminal, for godsakes. Not only did she not know this male, she had no idea how he’d ended up down here. Although . . . well, Janelle didn’t belong here, either, and—

Wait, was she really making excuses for this guy? What the hell was wrong with her.

Crap. He smelled really good.

As if he were reading her mind, the male’s eyes dropped lower on her, to the front of her windbreaker, to her legs. When they rose back up to meet her stare, he was clearly laying out his position at their negotiating table without words.

“Five hundred dollars,” she repeated.

“Tell me what I want.”

“Excuse me?”

“You said you knew what I want. What is it.”

He went back to looking at her mouth, like he wanted to watch it move, and she had a thought that he was thinking of places she could put her lips on him. Hard places. Places that, with a certain amount of attention, got things very, very messy.

And not just in an “it’s complicated” kind of way.

“You want to have sex,” she said. “But it’s not going to be with me. So I’d suggest you take the five hundred and pay someone to put up with your grunting and groaning.”

“How do you know what I sound like when I come.” His voice was like velvet, his words running together. “Hmm?”

“Fine. Maybe you sing the Kit Kat song. Maybe it’s your grocery list. Hell, it could be the Star fucking Banner. Whatever it is, it’s none of my business.”

“Oh, I’m afraid it is. If you want to find your sister.”

Nyx glanced over her shoulder. There were no other noises coming from behind her, but that was not going to last. Sooner or later those guards were going to return and she couldn’t believe this male was just standing here calmly, negotiating for sex, like they were on the sidewalk of a city street in a good zip code at one in the afternoon.

Right. Because that was where these kind of deals went down.

“I’m not fucking you,” she said. “So either you get over this or—”

He moved so fast that she didn’t have any time to react. One second there was space between them, the next, he was back in her face. And turning his head to the side. And dropping his mouth so that it was a thin inch from her own.

As she gasped, she smelled those dark spices.

“I’m afraid that’s what I want from you,” he whispered. “And I dare say, it is what you want as well.” He breathed in deep again. “Fates, you smell like something I want to taste.”

“No, I do not,” she said roughly.

She went to slap him but he caught her hand, his reflexes faster than her own. And then he forced her arm back, his grip so tight she didn’t even try to yank away.

He just stared at her with those mesmerizing eyes, and the next thing she knew, she wasn’t thinking of pulling back. She only thought about getting closer to him.

It was the stress, she told herself. It was this strange, dangerous, knife-edge-of-adrenaline situation. That’s why she was getting . . . turned on.

The male dropped her arm and regarded her with triumph.

“Let’s find your Janelle then,” he said. “Shall we?”

The Jackal didn’t return the female to the hidden passageway. He was tempted, but he’d always had a sixth sense about the guards, and something was telling him that backtracking even a couple hundred yards in that direction was a bad idea.

But they had to get moving.

Fates, it had been so long since he had wanted a female. And after everything he had been through, he needed to feel that spark of attraction again.

It meant he wasn’t as dead as he thought he was.

“Take your jacket off and put it on over that pack,” he said as they headed off and he forced himself to snap out of the sexual spell. “And keep your eyes down and your hands in your pockets. I want you right behind me, and stay close. My reputation precedes me and that will be of benefit to us, but you do not want to be noticed. We don’t want to push it.”

The female complied so fast with the reorientation of her supplies and outerwear that he upgraded his opinion of her. Mayhap she could survive this. Yet as he sensed her falling lockstep into his wake, he wished he were leading her out of the hellhole instead of deeper into it.

She would try it on her own, though. She was just that reckless.

The prison’s tunnels had been carved out of the earth with no rhyme or reason to their layout, which was what resulted when you had a system that had evolved rather than been designed for a given function. He was confident that a lot of prisoners didn’t know half of the prison’s confines, and he wondered about the guards.

The Command knew, however. He’d learned that the hard way.

For at least a quarter mile, they ran into no one, but as they got within range of the Hive, other prisoners were encountered. He kept her well away from the common area, skirting the high-traffic passages on a just-in-case. And it was strange how her presence changed things for him. Ordinarily, other prisoners were not on his radar; he worried about the guards. Now, anything that approached them was a threat to be assessed.

The closer he got to his cell, the faster he went, as if the lack of complication they’d had thus far was the kind of thing that could run out over distance.

The cells for the incarcerated were set in blocks in the oldest part of the prison, and you were lucky if you had one. The males and females who didn’t were forced to bunk up in one of the common sleeping areas.

Which were rife with corruption. And worse.

His carved-out compartment in the rock was the last in the row of the oldest ones, and as he proceeded down the lineup of berths, he deliberately looked into each and every one. None of the other prisoners paid him attention. Most were lying on their pallets, sleeping off work shifts. One was reading a Life magazine that had a picture of a male human with the name “Richard Nixon” under the black-and-white portrait. Another had a tattered book with no jacket upon it cracked open.

When he got to his cell, he stood to one side and nodded for the female to go inside. Verily, he wished he had something better to offer her than these harsh, barely inhabitable accommodations. The days of luxury were long past him, however.

Staying put, he stared in the direction they’d come from. No guards. No prisoners. Nothing.

So her scent hadn’t been noticed.

As he ducked into the ten-by-ten-foot space, he cleared his throat. The female looked over from checking out the rock-hard wooden platform he slept on.

“Where are the bars?” she asked as she nodded at the open archway.

The Jackal leaned to the side and pulled the set of iron slats and steel mesh out from the rock walling. “Here.”

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