Home > Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(15)

Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(15)
Author: Jackie May

Henry lets out an anguished scream and backhands me across the face so hard I fly back a few feet. I crash to the floor with a cry of pain. Terrance releases a mighty roar as I go down. The sound is guttural, and makes everyone in the room stop and gasp. I try to sit up, to see what’s going on, but I can’t manage it. My face is on fire, and my head is still spinning. Henry hit me hard enough to nearly snap my neck. I definitely have a concussion, and I wouldn’t be surprised if my cheekbone is broken.

A gurgling cough catches my attention. I turn my head just in time to watch Henry fall to the ground. Parker rushes to his side and yanks the bloody stake from his chest. He clamps a hand over the gushing wound. “Bring Nora to me,” Henry rasps.

I staked the bastard, and he can still talk? He’s like a damn cockroach. “Bring Nora to me!” he demands again, his voice already growing stronger. Damn him and his vampiric healing.

Terrance and Wulf sure as hell aren’t going to obey Henry, so Parker reluctantly removes his hands from Henry’s chest and rises to his feet. The second he turns my direction, Terrance snarls. I can’t see his face because he’s crouching protectively in front of me as if guarding me from everyone in the room, but whatever scowl he’s sporting, it’s enough to make Parker freeze.

The silence stretches out so long I start to wonder what’s going on.

“Impossible,” Wulf mutters, gaping with wide eyes at Terrance.

Parker is still frozen with shock and looks paler than normal.

“What’s going on?” I ask. My words come out in a slurred moan.

Terrance whirls around when I speak, and I nearly shriek at what I see. His eyes are black—all black—as if a demon has taken possession of his body. They look soulless.

“Terrance?” I whisper. I can’t help the fear in my voice.

He lifts his big, meaty hand to my face with a touch so soft I wouldn’t have thought him capable of it. The gentleness he’s showing doesn’t match the rage he seems locked in. I’ve heard of trolls losing their temper and going crazy on everyone and everything in sight, but this is different.

“Easy, Nora,” Parker whispers. “Don’t make any sudden movements. Terrance won’t hurt you, but if you startle him, he might come after the rest of us.”

“What’s going on?” Henry demands.

He sits up slowly. The gaping wound in his chest is already starting to heal. The second he moves, Terrance growls. The sound comes from deep in his belly, sending a shock of fear into me. I’ve never heard anything more menacing. Combine that with those eyes, and Terrance is the most frightening thing I’ve ever seen.

Wulf immediately lifts his hands up. “Easy, big guy. You’ve got Nora. She’s safe. We won’t let Henry near her.”

Henry’s mouth falls slack. “No,” he whispers, shaking his head in disbelief. “She’s human. It’s not possible.”

“She’s not a normal human, though, is she?” Parker says.

“She’s not a troll!” Henry shouts. “Trolls’ instincts only kick in for their family and their mates! She’s neither!”

Terrance roars again, and Wulf scrambles over next to Parker to try and block Henry from his view. Nobody moves after that. I don’t even think they breathe. Everyone looks a combination of completely shocked and terrified enough to piss themselves. I guess pushing a troll to his breaking point is serious business and doesn’t happen often.

We all stay frozen in silence, waiting to see what Terrance does. Terrance is not acting like himself. He’s clearly protecting me, but I think he’s lost his sanity. He seems like a caged animal about to break loose.

The stillness is shattered when the sound of a motorcycle cuts through the air and purrs to a stop outside. Moments later, the front door bursts open and in strolls—and I do mean strolls—a tall, black-haired, chocolate-eyed, dimple-faced, mocha-skinned stranger dressed in cowboy boots, tight jeans, and a tight gray Nirvana T-shirt under a black leather jacket.

The stranger stops walking when Terrance snarls a warning at him. He takes one look at the troll, and his mouth pops open and his eyebrows climb his forehead. His eyes rake curiously over me, stopping on my face. I’m sure it’s bruised and swollen all to hell and a trickle of blood is streaking from my nose.

The man looks at Terrance again and smirks. “Interesting.”

I snort a laugh at the casual understatement and then curse when my face explodes in more pain.

The stranger’s lips twitch, and his eyes spark with humor. I’m torn between laughing again and flipping the man off. I settle for giving him the finger because it hurts less. The man bursts into laughter and heads for the bar. “I like her, Terrance.”

The endless pools of nothingness that used to be Terrance’s eyes track the new guy’s movement across the room. The troll growls again and hovers on his toes as if readying to pounce. Terrance is on the brink of ripping the stranger apart limb by limb, but the guy does nothing more than grin at him and grab one of the few bottles still in tact behind the bar. No one else has dared to move yet.

I stare, bewildered, as the man pours himself a shot of something with a bluish glow, and kicks it back in one gulp. I can’t look away. I mean, a scary-looking black cowboy-rock star with a baby face and dimples? Really? Strangely enough, it works for him. Though, with the amount of confidence he’s radiating, I’d bet anything would work for him. But who the hell is this guy that he can walk in like he owns the place and pour himself a drink while Henry’s a bloody mess on the floor and Terrance is…whatever he is.

The man scans the room again, taking in every detail this time, and cocks his eyebrow when he notices Henry. He reaches for the bloody stake and looks at me. “I take it this was your handiwork?”

I slowly pull myself into a sit. If this guy can move around without Terrance going berserk, then so can I. Once I’m upright and the room has stopped spinning, I shrug at the new guy. “He was going to turn me.”

The stranger grins. “Nice aim, but a word to the wise. Next time use an ash-wood stake. It’s the only kind that’ll get the job done. That, or cut off his head. Fire works with vamps, too. That’s about it.”

I smirk, even though it hurts my face. “Good to know.”

The man winks at me, then turns his playful smile on Terrance. “How you doing, buddy? Calming down yet? Your little charge there looks like she’s not feeling too good. Enzo’s on call right now. You rein it in a bit, and we can meet him over at the Agency and get her all patched up.”

“Stay out of this, Gorgeous,” Henry snaps suddenly. Parker helps him sit up and Terrance growls again, but it’s not quite as menacing as before. He must be calming down a little.

“Nora is my responsibility. I’ll take her to my own healer—”

Henry’s cut off by another vicious snarl, and I’m scooped up into Terrance’s arms so fast I lose my breath.

“Yeah…” Gorgeous says to Henry. “Doesn’t look to me like that’s happening.” If his smugness wasn’t directed at Henry, I might find his arrogance annoying. Instead, the guy is my hero.

“She’s still mine. I’ve claimed her for a mate.”

Gorgeous chews on this new bit of information. He holds up the blood-soaked stake to examine it in the light and then points the tip at Henry. “Seems to me she’s not too interested in becoming your mate.”

“Not at all,” I clarify cheerfully. “He’s holding me against my will.”

Henry glares at me, then scowls so hard at Gorgeous his eyes start to turn red again. Whether he doesn’t like what Gorgeous said or he simply doesn’t like the man himself, I can’t tell. But it’s clear Mr. Gorgeous loves to irk Henry.

“She’s human,” Henry says indignantly. “Claiming her is my right. I don’t care if she triggered Terrance’s protective instincts. He can’t just take what is mine.”

“Well, I’m sure as hell not going to argue with him while he’s in that state, so why don’t we all head down to the Agency, get the pretty human all healed up, and sort this mess out with the director?”

   
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