Bound By Darkness

Chapter 1

Santiago’s Club

Located on the Mississippi River midway between

Chicago and St. Louis

Mother Nature never intended for vamps and Weres to live in peace. And she sure the hell never intended them to enjoy the sort of you’re-my-bestest-pal bromances that were the current flavor of the month among humans. A damned good thing considering that just being in the same territory tended to send the two predatory species into a homicidal rage.

But the looming end of the world truly did make for strange bedfellows, and with the potential return of the Dark Lord from the hell dimension where he’d been banished centuries ago, both the Anasso of the Vampires and the King of the Werewolves had little option but to try and work together.

Well, the phrase “work together” might be a generous description of their uneasy truce, Styx acknowledged, leaning his six-foot-five frame against the walnut desk in his fellow vampire Santiago’s office. Dressed in his usual assortment of black leather pants, shit-kicker boots, and silk shirt that stretched over his massive shoulders, he looked exactly what he was: the badass leader of the vampire clans. But it was the grim power etched into the Aztec beauty of his face and the ruthless intelligence in his dark eyes that made wise demons shudder in fear. Styx was more than an oversized bully. He was cunning and patient and capable of compromise when necessary.

Which was the only reason he was standing in the same room with a damned dog.

The tiny turquoise ornaments threaded through the braid that hung nearly to the back of his knees tinkled as he gave a rueful shake of his head, his gaze keeping careful track of his companion.

As much as he hated to admit it, Salvatore fit the elegant office—with its slate-gray carpet and the museum-quality French Impressionist paintings that were hung on the paneled walls and carefully preserved behind glass cases—far better than he did.

The bastard always managed to look every inch the king with his dark hair slicked back in a tail and his muscular body clothed in a charcoal-gray suit that no doubt cost more than the gross national income of several small countries. Like Styx, however, there was no mistaking the brutal authority in Salvatore’s dark, Latin features and golden eyes.

He ruled a savage race that would quite literally rip apart and eat a weak king. It gave a whole new meaning to “Uneasy is the head that wears the crown.”

The Were paused to study the bank of high-tech monitors and surveillance equipment that would give Homeland Security wet dreams, his gaze lingering on the monitor that revealed a pair of near-identical female Weres with blond hair and green eyes seated at a table several levels below them.

“You’re certain that this place is safe?”

Styx snorted. The fact that he was mated to the Were sister of Salvatore’s mate did nothing to ease the tension between them. Not after the bastard had done his best to kidnap Darcy from Styx.

Of course, he did have a small (very small) amount of sympathy for Salvatore’s predicament. At the time his Weres were facing extinction, and in an effort to save his people he had genetically altered four Were female pups. After they were stolen the king had sworn to retrieve them. It was his bad luck that Darcy and another of the females, Regan, had both chosen to mate with vampires, although his frustrated fury had been eased when he had found a third sister, Harley, and she’d managed to bring back the ancient mating urges that had been lost to the Weres for centuries.

“Be happy that Santiago isn’t around,” he warned. Although the club that catered to the demons scattered around the Illinois countryside was technically owned by Viper, clan chief of Chicago, it was Santiago’s pride and joy. “He would take your lack of faith in his security as a personal insult. And an unhappy vampire is never good.”

“I could say the same thing about a happy vampire,” Salvatore drawled, turning to flash Styx a mocking grin.

“You were the one who asked for this meeting.”

The dog shrugged. “Harley misses her sister.”

Styx believed him. Although it had only been three weeks since Salvatore and Harley had left Chicago for St. Louis, the two sisters had become nearly inseparable since they’d been reunited. But he was also certain that he hadn’t been asked along for his sparkling personality.

“And the reunion of our mates offers the opportunity for us to speak without alerting the world to our meeting?”