Munro (Immortals After Dark #18) by Kresley Cole

            “If you do this, I will despise you,” she vowed. “You’ll still have no mate.”

            His Instinct screamed —RUNNING OUT OF TIME!— “Then I’ll spend eternity earning your forgiveness.”

            Between ragged breaths, she said, “You would transform me into an animal . . . enslaving me to those I long to see dead? There is no forgiveness.”

            Munro’s claws and fangs lengthened, his body morphing. “Close your eyes for me.”

            Instead, she trained her gaze on his face. Hardened vampires cowered at the sight of a Lykae’s beast. She gasped but didn’t look away. “I-I’m begging . . . no.”

            Voice gone guttural, Munro choked out, “And I’m begging you to return to me, little one.”

            With a primal roar, his beast took over completely. Existing in the background, Munro perceived his head whipping forward, his fangs sinking into the tender skin of her neck.

            A sob escaped her lips as she writhed in agony. Her heartbeat slowed. Beat-beat . . . beat-beat . . .

            The beast snarled against her cooling flesh, injecting its essence. Ignite the fire inside her, beast!

            As Kereny shuddered with death throes, it pawed her closer to his body, rocking her, spilling blood over her wedding gown.

            The beast drew back, but only to sink its fangs into her again. And again. Howling between frenzied bites.

            Munro was dimly aware of Jels’s laughter outside the cell. Then the warlock started his incantation. Dirty power coiled around Munro as Jels began leashing his beast.

            Kereny’s body fell limp. Beat . . . beat . . . silence.

            When her heart went still in her chest, the beast released its bite. It threw back its head and roared until the dungeon quaked, quieting only when her lips parted.

            Just before Munro succumbed to the vassal spell, her final breath escaped her, carrying her last words: “I . . . hate . . . you. . . .”


            five days later

            —She’s gone.— Munro stood at the edge of an acid pit deep beneath Quondam. Ormlo, his warlock jailer, had ordered him to carry Kereny’s corpse into the bowels of the dungeon to dispose of her.

            “More than three days have passed,” Ormlo said from behind him. “In all of our history, no mortal has ever resurrected as a Lykae after three.”

            Munro didn’t need his Instinct or the warlock to tell him that Kereny wasn’t coming back. He felt it; he knew. The Lykae fire hadn’t taken hold.

            She lay lifeless in Munro’s arms. His bite marks covered her neck. Her limbs had stiffened in death and from Ormlo’s spell, her body like a statue.

            My female is dead. His gaze roamed over her, taking in the dried flowers intertwined with her raven locks . . . the fringe of lashes resting forever against her cheekbones . . . her pale lips. . . . .

            Between the times when Ormlo had commanded him to bite other mortals, the warlocks had left Munro in his cell with her. He’d memorized the contours of her fine-boned face and stroked her hair. He’d explored her wee hands.

            Thin scars crisscrossed the pads of her fingers. As he’d held her, he’d caressed those scars, wondering if she mightn’t be a seamstress. And from what era had the warlocks taken her? Questions had swirled, with zero answers and dwindling hope.

            With each day that his fated female hadn’t resurrected, something inside Munro had died with her. His body had healed from the worst of his torture, but his mind . . .

            “Let’s face it, you failed,” Ormlo added, rubbing salt in a fatal wound. “Your bite took her down instead of bringing her back.”

            Munro wanted these last moments alone with her, but he was a vassaled slave. He got nothing he wanted. And Loreans wondered why Lykae despised magic so much? Werewolves were the strongest sentient species in the mortal realm—yet this feeble twig of a male could control a warrior like Munro.

            “Into the acid she goes. Be a good dog.”

            Canna cast her away like refuse! He resisted with all his mental strength, but his fingers began to uncurl their biting grip from her corpse. No! Fight this!