Home > Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(10)

Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(10)
Author: Jackie May

Henry continues when I don’t respond, his voice becoming practical, businesslike. “You will help me in exchange for room and board and anything else you might need. I promise you will be better cared for by me than you ever have been before. You will be protected and afforded the finest luxuries I have to offer.”

Yeah. As if expensive dresses and jewelry could make up for my freedom. I meet his gaze again. “And if I don’t want it?”

Annoyance sweeps across his face, but he stamps it down and continues to speak calmly. “Then you will help me in exchange for your life.”

He says it so simply. So matter-of-factly. As if my life means nothing to him, and killing me would be inconsequential.

“Humans are not supposed to know about our world,” he continues. “I could kill you to keep my secret safe, and no one would care.”

“I would care.”

He smiles. “Then I suggest you accept your new life, my dear.”

His smugness is too much. Huffing, I turn back to the window, determined not to speak again for the rest of the ride. Henry must understand that I’ve reached my limit, because he leaves me be until we reach the club.

. . . . .

When we arrive at Underworld, it takes me a moment to realize what’s different. There’s no line out front and no cars parked in the parking lot except for a few near the back that must belong to employees. It seems odd for the place to be closed, considering it’s almost midnight.

Inside, the club is empty save a handful of employees running around. The house lights are on, and the music isn’t playing. The place is also completely wrecked. There’s broken glass and spilled liquor the entire length of the bar, the furniture is either ripped apart or upturned or both—a few chairs even stick out of the walls where they were clearly thrown in a fit of temper and went through the drywall. There are holes punched in the walls and doors are ripped off hinges—it’s a complete disaster area.

We walk into the main room, debris crunching under our feet, and a man working to clean the mess behind the bar shouts, “We’re closed!”

Parker ignores the warning. “Good evening, Wulf. I’m sorry to intrude, but I was wondering if we could take a look around again?”

When Parker leads our group toward the bar, the bartender jumps the counter in one lithe movement and stomps over to us. He’s a tall, ruggedly handsome man with golden tanned skin, brown hair, striking green eyes, and a dark five o’clock shadow. His eyes drift over our little threesome and get hung up on me. He frowns before shaking his head at Parker. “You guys need to leave.”

“Please. It’s very important. We need to speak with Terrance.”

Wulf shakes his head again and waves his hands in a refusing gesture. “Parker, now really isn’t a good time.”

Looking around the place again, I mutter, “No kidding.”

I barely speak louder than a thought, but the bartender hears me anyway. His eyes snap to me with enough fire in them to make me cringe back. “Sorry,” I grumble, and try to deflect his attention from me with a question. “What happened in here?”

“A couple of trolls got pissed off,” he says, voice completely flat. He turns his gaze back to Parker. “And they’re still not over it, so I need you guys to leave.”

Henry steps in front of Wulf, looking all arrogant and pissed. “You will let us stay.”

In the blink of an eye, the bartender’s hand is around Henry’s neck. He looks super mega scary pissed. His body trembles, and his eyes glow a dim yellow. He lets out a deep growl that sends a chill of terror through me. There’s no mistaking that noise. The bartender has got to be a werewolf. Wulf the werewolf bartender. I’m not touching that one. At least not while he looks about to rip out of his clothes.

“If you even think about using vamp compulsion on me, I will rip your head from your body before you can get the command out.”

Henry doesn’t appreciate the threat. He quickly transforms into a man similar to those who killed my mother. His eyes glow a bright red, his fangs descend, and his fingernails elongate into vicious claws as he hisses and snarls. Wulf growls right back. Without a doubt, these two are seconds away from ripping into each other. I’m both terrified and fascinated at the moment, and I have to admit, as violent as it is, I’m sort of hoping for Wulf to follow through on the decapitation threat.

Parker jumps between the two before the vampire and the werewolf go ape shit on one another. “Henry! Wulf! Wait! Please!”

“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON OUT HERE?”

Everyone freezes at the roar that shakes the whole building. I know that thunderous boom. My heart lightens until I see the murder on Terrance’s face. It seems my favorite troll isn’t feeling nearly as friendly tonight. His frown is as big as his biceps, and his body is shaking with rage. Considering he’s a troll, that’s a bad thing. If he loses his temper too badly, he’ll rip everyone here to shreds in a matter of seconds. Just ask the club he trashed earlier.

Parker decides to be the brave one and slowly steps forward, holding his hands up in surrender. “Hello, friend.” He lowers his voice to something so calm it practically bleeds the tension out of the air. “I’m sorry we’ve caused a stir. I promise we don’t mean any trouble. We’ve just come hoping to take another look around. We might have a new lead on Nadine.”

Lead? Ha! They don’t have a new lead on Nadine. They have a new tool to try and find a lead—me. It’s actually a smart move on Henry’s part. If I could help him at all, this would be how. He must have gotten a really good grasp on my gifts while watching my life history. Though, the chances that I’ll pick anything up here when it’s been so long since she disappeared and countless other people have probably left imprints behind are slim to none.

Something flashes in Terrance’s eyes. Worry? Hope? Desperation? “What do you know?” he demands.

Parker’s brows pull low over his eyes. “What’s going on, Terrance? The club is trashed, you’re on the verge of a rage, and your man is a breath away from killing my sire. I assure you, Henry meant no harm. He’s simply on edge because he’s worried about Nadine.”

Terrance swallows hard. His hands are still in fists at his sides, but he takes a deep breath and cracks his neck as he tries to relax a little. “We’re all on edge,” he grumbles. “There have been other disappearances. No one put the pieces together until tonight, because the damn races won’t talk to each other or ask each other for help. I had a girl go missing tonight, too. A member of my home clan was stolen right out from under my damn nose. No one saw anything. She just disappeared. It was just like Nadine.”

“A troll?” Parker mutters, his jaw falling slack. “Who could possibly steal a troll? Who would be that reckless?”

Terrance shakes his head. “My sister, Nell, and her friend were in town. When we realized Shandra was gone, we nearly tore apart the whole club. Nobody was killed, thankfully. The crowd cleared out fast, but Nell couldn’t keep her temper under control. I had to lock her in my safe room, and I have the Elders coming down to get her right now. Then, Wulf mentioned he heard about the Huron River Pack missing one of their females, too, and I remembered you said Nadine vanished, so I called in the FUA. They just left. They found nothing. What’s this new lead you’re talking about?”

“I can explain everything, if you’ll have your man stand down.” Parker nods toward Wulf and Henry. Wulf’s hand is still circling Henry’s throat.

Terrance huffs out a breath and nods once to his bartender. Wulf grudgingly releases Henry. Henry snarls the second he’s free, and Parker has to drag him back several feet to keep him from attacking Wulf. They argue in hushed voices. I hope it doesn’t take Parker long to calm Henry down, because both Wulf and Terrance turn their suspicious gazes my way. I throw my hands up. “Don’t look at me. I think you should have torn the asshole’s head off.”

There’s only time for both men to startle in surprise before Henry growls at me. “Nora, you will watch your mouth! You do not speak of your master like that.”

   
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