passionate, and Jace would bet on the second.

A sexual sadist. Anger excitation. It wasn’t the sex that got this bastard off. It was the pain of these innocent women. Intestinal damage and blood loss: a slow death, so his victims suffered in front of his eyes. He attacks them as a wolf and violates them in human form as they die. The familiar anger built inside him again.

Jace pulled a pack of Marlboro Reds from his leather trench coat. He slipped one from the box and lit up. The smoke rushed into his lungs, the nicotine calming him instantly. This shit was going to kill him, but most days he didn’t care.

A small amount of guilt rose in his chest as he stared down at the victim. Here he was, clearly not giving a rat’s ass about his health or his life, with no family left to give a shit if he died. But he was living and breathing, while this innocent girl, who’d had a full happy life ahead of her, lay at his feet, violated and murdered. She’d had something to lose, people who would miss her.

He stared into the open cavity that had once been her chest. No heart. He eats their hearts when he’s finished. Consumption shows a desire to keep part of the victim with him. No remorse. Jace grabbed the flask that always resided in his pocket. He unscrewed the cap and downed a long gulp of Bushmills Irish Whiskey. The liquor trickled down his throat in a warm rush. If this was any sign of how the night was going to go, he would need a lot more than the contents of the flask to keep his demons at bay.

He glanced at the dead girl again as he crouched at her side. He wracked his brain for any possible clues he could have missed. Careful to use only his sleeve and not leave a fingerprint, he lifted her hands and peered underneath her fingernails. No skin or fur. She hadn’t put up much of a fight. Maybe the killer took her by surprise? Given his cowardly choice of weak victims, Jace wouldn’t be surprised.

He would report to the Execution Underground and then leave things to his fellow hunters. Shane could use the voice distorter he’d rigged up to call in the crime, if need be. Jace had what he needed for his report, but he couldn’t notify the beat cops himself, not until he was certain he wouldn’t need to recheck the body. And it would take them a while to find her in the back alley like this, if they ever did.

As he stood, ready to go to the damn meeting, another scent came to him on the wind. He paused for a long moment.

What the...?

Spinning so fast the world blurred, he had his gun out and the trigger pulled within seconds. A werewolf peeked its head out of the darkness as the bullet sped straight toward its head.

The wolf dodged the ammo and bolted from the alley. Jace dashed after his target as his cigarette fell from his lips and landed next to the girl’s body. A werewolf’s speed outranked a regular human’s any day, but his boots clashed against the pavement as he tailed the monster with ease. The werewolf skidded sharply to the left with Jace on its heels, his pace never faltering. Adrenaline shot through his veins, charging him like a live wire.

He tapped the trigger of the Mateba and, aiming while he ran, he fired wide with purpose in mind, intentionally missing and using his silver bullets to herd the wolf. If he fired right, it turned left. He was careful, making each bullet count and ensuring he had one left for the kill.

One of Jace’s shots ricocheted off the ground near the werewolf’s feet. It jumped with a loud yelp and bounded into an alleyway. But he was prepared; he knew these back streets. He sprinted after the wolf. A smirk spread across his face as the monster ran into a dead end. It spun toward him and growled.

Right hand bracing his gun, he reached with his left and removed his silver dagger. When the wolf’s golden eyes locked on the weapons, it backed into a corner, and Jace swore he heard it whimper before its growling continued. Stalking like a predator, he moved forward, ready to thrust the blade into the monster’s heart. All his muscles tensed as he prepared for the animal to lunge at him. His whole body longed for a fight.

And damned if he wouldn’t give this rapist mongrel the fight of its life.


FROM THE MOMENT he pulled his gun, Frankie Amato knew what he was. A hunter. She’d stumbled onto a hunter. She stared down the barrel of his gun with fear and adrenaline pumping through her veins. A large lump crawled into her throat.

The rumors are true.

What had she gotten herself into? They’d murdered her kind for centuries, but as civilization progressed, their numbers had dwindled to near extinction, or so she’d thought. Shit. She hadn’t expected this. A hunter in Rochester—on her turf. How could she have been so oblivious?

In the past few months, several lone wolves who’d refused to join her pack had been murdered. As Alpha of the Rochester Pack, it was her job to protect her people and keep them out of harm’s way. But the protection she guaranteed didn’t extend to the rogue wolves, and she’d given no more than a fleeting thought to the rumors that they’d died at the hands of a hunter. Now the voices of gossip and the murmurs of trouble, which had spread like wildfire throughout her clan, smacked her in the face with a major reality check.

And son of a bitch, he’d backed her into a dead end. She’d let down her guard, and the bastard had cornered her.

She bared her canines, growling from deep within her throat. The hunter strode closer. Shadows covered his face, and his gun pointed at her head. The silver dagger he’d pulled from his coat flashed in the moonlight. Her heart pounded in fear, knowing the fate she would be subjected to if she didn’t fight fast.

Frankie’s tail hit the wall; she hadn’t realized she’d backed away in the first place. The hunter maintained the upper ground, holding the fighting advantage. Even if she lunged for him, his dagger would pierce right through her chest. Anger and rage filled her, and she snarled, dying to rip his throat out. But her sense of logic prevailed. She would shift into human form, wait until the right moment, when he thought she was weak, then speed-shift—her specialty—back into a wolf.

A shiver ran down her spine as her limbs and muscles contorted. Pleading wasn’t her style, but it was worth a chance. A loud howl escaped her lips, slowly transitioning into the cry of a woman as she shifted. She fell back against the brick wall behind her and slid to the ground, bare flesh scraping the pavement.

The hunter stepped closer. His gun barrel held steady. A streak of rage rushed through her. She hated herself for being such a moron. Why had she gone looking for the killer when she was off her game? Damn her sense of pride. She’d overestimated her ability.

On the average day, she could handle this, but now she was knee-deep in trouble and shit out of luck. Damn estrus always clouded her judgment. Hell, she’d even warned her pack against doing anything stupid. And topping the list of stupid things to do, hunting a supernatural serial killer while in her Call ranked number one by far.

She scanned the alley. Sheer brick walls, a couple of Dumpsters too far away to offer protection, and nothing amongst the garbage she could use as a weapon. Nothing that would help her escape, and there was no way in hell she could dodge around him when she was cornered like this. He’d proven he was a good shot when he oh-so-successfully corralled her into a dead end.

She lifted her hands and held them up, palms out. She wasn’t below milking the helpless-female card. Not if it saved her ass.

Draw him in. Pretend you’re weak. Then shift, finish him off and get the hell outta Dodge.

He hovered in the near shadows, a massive black silhouette, nothing visible but the width of his body and the gun still trained on her. Yeah, there was no missing that.

“I don’t know who you are,” she said. “But I’m not your enemy.”

A rough sound escaped him. Had he just scoffed at her?

“I’m serious,” she insisted. “Look at the evidence. That girl was mutilated and raped.” She gestured to her own body. “I’m not covered in blood. I’m weaponless, and I don’t have the...uh...right equipment to do what was done to that poor girl.”

Frankie held her breath as she waited for him to reply. The silence was deafening. Please let him care about her being innocent. Granted, hunters traditionally stuck to troublemaking rogues without a pack, but that didn’t mean he would spare her. Hunters were reputed to be ruthless, and he might not take pity on her. She

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