The Wolf of the Prophecy
The Prophecy Trilogy: Book 2
I was wrong. He’d open with that. Admitting that he’d been wrong and leaving her was a mistake would definitely get her attention. He should have chosen her from the beginning. He’d be sure to really hammer that home .
The vampire whose heart beats for a witch who belongs to a wolf shall save us all. He shall take his throne and rule over all kinds. If not, the vampire who belongs to the witch will end all kinds.
He didn’t care about the prophecy. What were prophecies anyway but pure speculation? The only reason any of them ever came true was because people believed in them so hard they made them come true. Rori could choose not to believe in the prophecy.
Stepping out of the light from the streetlamp, Rori utilized his enhanced night vision to scan the parking lot. With determined cognac-colored eyes, he sought any sign of her. The rehearsed confession of his love for Divina replayed in his mind while he searched. The apologies would follow, of course, and then he’d make promises, vows to her—none of which she’d take seriously if he didn’t apologize first. He’d plead if he had to. There wasn’t much for which Rori would beg. Divina was the only exception.
As he stalked past the scattered cars, Rori’s gaze landed upon the brightly painted, handcrafted, wooden vardo, and his barely beating heart skipped a lazy beat. Repeating the script in his mind, he crept closer. In his tired state, the wagon had an aura of hope around it. He could still make things right. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt truly optimistic.
He wouldn’t leave her until he fixed things. Telling her it all, the full truth and the sacrifice he’d make for her, only her, she’d believe him. She had to.
Since they had left the vardo just days ago, it took him only a few steps to realize that while the wagon stayed, the jalopy she drove hadn’t. With knitted brows, Rori turned in a circle, perplexed. No, he hadn’t walked past it. She hadn’t moved it to another spot.
Stroking his short goatee, he pondered where his love might have gone.
Rori ascended the few steps to the vardo’s small landing. Before reaching the door, he looked over his shoulder and checked the lot again. It definitely wasn’t there. Panic bloomed in his chest, the burn of it splintering and spreading throughout his body. The nagging feeling that something was amiss taunted him.
Divina loved her vardo. She’d never abandon it. She had no place to go, especially at this hour. She should have been sleeping inside.
He struggled to think of where she could have gone, ruling out the Ember Witches immediately. Divina hated them. She’d never go with them, and they weren’t the type to take her by force.
From the pocket of his blazer, Rori retrieved his phone. He tapped the screen until he found her face and dialed. With each unanswered ring, his breath quickened. Using his preternatural hearing, Rori would have heard her phone from within, even it if were on vibrate.
Divina’s theatrical pre-recorded voice came through the speaker, and Rori removed it from his ear. He stared at the screen while the voice mail played, his thumb lingering over the red button. Lifting his eyes, he stared off at the woods behind the parking lot. His gut twisted.
Maybe it hadn’t been the witches. Perhaps, Perci and his demon witch bitch had lured her into some trap. Bile rose in his throat at the thought. Scrubbing his hand up and down the back of his neck, he let out a heavy breath. Someone had his Divina.
Trotting back down the steps, Rori circled the vardo and checked for signs of struggle: shards of glass, splintered wood near doorjambs or windows, anything to hint someone had broken in. There had to be a sign that she’d fought back. The thought of someone harming Divina turned his stomach.
Practically human, she was fragile, especially compared to other supernatural beings. She hadn’t developed her spell strength to its full potential, making her even more vulnerable than most witches.
The thought of Perci and his devil woman harming her had him balling his fists in a panic-fueled fury.
The red hue of anger staining Rori’s vision didn’t block out the scene before him. The more he looked, the more he saw order. Through the window, the inside of her vardo looked tidy. Rori returned to the landing and tested the door. Locked.
Peering through the window again revealed gaps in the bookcase. Divina’s trunk of clothing was gone. Panic remained, but his rage subsided. Confusion crept in. With his heart returning to its lazy beat, he wondered: why would she have taken her clothes?
“What the fuck do you want, leech?” demanded a snarling baritone from behind Rori.
Deliberately slow, he turned on his heel. With the door to the vardo at his back, Rori found a tower of a man stood before him, with loose wavy brown hair that fell to his shoulders. The man’s olive T-shirt was stretched taut over broad shoulders, the short sleeves straining to accommodate the bulge of his biceps. Curling his lip in a sneer while flexing his fingers into fists, the unknown male glared at Rori.
Straightening his spine, Rori lifted his chin in an attempt to appear confident before the formidable man. “That is none of your business.”
As he strode toward the vardo, the man’s nostrils flared. Stopping at the bottom of the stairs, he looked up at Rori with narrowed glowing eyes.
“Are you going to make me rip it from you?” the man threatened through gritted teeth.
Rori could best a human. He was a vampire, after all. Though the golden hue of the man’s hazel eyes told Rori this was no human encounter. He needed to rely on his quick thinking and charm to avoid the deadly bite of a shifter.
“I’m looking for a friend,” he said, eyeing the wolf’s still-human teeth. He needed to play his cards right. If this wolf sought Divina, the implications didn’t sit well with Rori. That prophecy was a persistent pain in his ass.
Wrinkling his nose, the wolf snorted. “Kitchen’s closed. Go somewhere else.”
“Are you her boyfriend?” Rori queried with caution. Shoving jealousy down, he focused on gathering information. How close had Divina gotten to the wolf? And in what, one night? One freaking night, and she’d met a goddamn wolf? “I have to speak with—”
One of the wolf’s flashing eyes, the one with the scarred eyebrow, twitched. “She’s mine,” he snapped.
Starting in his gut, flourishing up through his chest and outward to the tips of his limbs, red-hot rage rose in Rori like nothing he had ever felt before. Tightening his jaw, he narrowed his eyes at the animalistic man. “You see, that’s the problem, wolf.” Rori raised his brows. “I don’t think I can accept that.” All plans of using charm and wit to soothe the wolf and prevent a bite went out the window. The wolf had attempted to claim his Divina. That could not happen. Rori would die first.
He’d claimed her years ago. His claim still stood. Witches be damned. Prophecy be damned. The whole world be damned. Rori didn’t care. Divina was his.
A vein in the wolf’s neck became more prominent with strain, drawing Rori’s attention. The distraction delayed his reaction time by half a second.
In a blur, the man lunged at Rori with preternatural speed.
Rori had a second to react. Leaping from the miniature landing of the vardo to the ground, he narrowly missed the shifter’s swiping arm. Sprinting a few paces to get some distance between them, he turned to keep an eye on the threat.
This lumberjack of a man-wolf thunked against the door when he missed Rori. Panting with wild eyes, the shifter spun and scanned the lot, searching for Rori. Jumping down from the vardo’s landing, his attacker stalked in Rori’s direction. With his chest heaving and teeth grinding, the wolf stopped under the spotlight of a streetlamp. His golden eyes, pulsing vein, and grinding teeth reminded Rori of the tentative restraint his kind had on their inner beast.
Antagonizing the wolf would serve no purpose; it wouldn’t lead to finding Divina. He needed to get a handle on things and check his own emotions. Find Divina first, then have a jealous breakdown.
Rori took a deep breath. Collecting himself, he tugged at his jacket. Refocus. Regain control.
The wolf’s back hunched and he wheezed as though he had just run a marathon. Baring his teeth like an animal, drool formed at the corners of the wolf-man's mouth. The beast was too close to the surface for Rori’s liking.
Putting out his hands, palms facing the wolf, Rori attempted to de-escalate the situation. “Calm down,” he coaxed. “We’re out in the open.”
The wolf’s eyes panned the lot behind Rori. No doubt the shifter was assessing the risk for change. “You’re the one who bit her.” The gravel in his voice caught Rori off guard.
Having never been this close to a changing wolf before, Rori knew he needed to be careful. He’d only heard of the signs, never actually seen them, but now was not the time to indulge his curiosity. He’d heard shifters were more temperamental in animal form than human. That wouldn’t exactly bode well for Rori.
“I don’t see how thinking about that will calm you down. Control yourself,” he admonished.
Curling his lip, the wolf roared. A moment later, he closed his eyes. Taking a deep breath, the man-beast straightened his posture slowly, his mouth closing with another deep breath.
Rori watched the man-wolf combination in awe. The magnificence of the dual creature wasn’t lost on him. If he were any other wolf, Rori would have been more complimentary about him. The whole concept of a shifter was truly a thing to behold. However, this was not any wolf-man. This one meant to steal Divina.
When the wolf opened his eyes again, they were hazel without a hint of gold. The human was in full control once more. Unsure that made things any more comfortable, Rori kept up his guard and the distance between them. He cleared his throat. “There, isn’t that better?”
“Where is she?” the man-beast demanded.
Rori furrowed his brow. “Obviously, I don’t have her on me.”
“What have you done with her?” The wolf took a step toward him.
Rori held his ground while the wolf advanced. “Nothing,” he answered honestly. “I came here looking for her, just as you have. So I could turn the same question around on you. What did you do with her?”
Cracking his neck, the wolf stopped. With narrowed eyes on Rori, he huffed. “You’re Rori.”
Rori’s jaw clenched, “I am.”
“You’re the reason she left.” The wolf resumed his slow stalk.
Rori raised a brow. “What are you talking about? Where did she go?”
“She left my bed.”
The possessiveness of the statement in the wolf’s voice triggered a tick in Rori’s eye. Fighting the bile rising in his throat, he took a step backward. “I clearly cannot be blamed for your failed—”
The wolf shifter sprang forward, iron fingers curling around Rori’s forearm and jerking him closer to the man. Rori’s breath hitched, his body stiffening. Not anticipating the attack, he cursed himself for not being more aware. The thought of Divina in another’s bed was too distracting.
“She said it was you. She said it was the witches. What did you do to my mate?” The accusation in the wolf’s words trailed over Rori’s face, and the fury within him ignited into a roaring inferno of rage. They were nose to nose, and Rori’s fangs descended of their own accord.
The shifter growled with golden eyes that glared through to what remained of Rori’s soul. Never had anyone looked on him with such hatred. He’d betrayed a lot of people in the centuries he’d walked the Earth, but he recalled no one who despised him as much as the man gripping him now.
Well, the feeling was mutual.
With a need to regain the upper hand in the situation, Rori decided to use the only weapon in his arsenal. “You will unhand me,” he hissed, forcing eye contact. Shifters were vulnerable to vampire suggestions; holding his gaze would give the wolf no choice but to obey.
The grip loosened on Rori’s arms, and he stepped back. Tugging at the bottom of his jacket, Rori inhaled deeply, centering himself. Wolves weren’t as susceptible to suggestions as humans. Simple one-step, quick commands for immediate results were about all Rori could do. He couldn’t plant a long-term suggestion or anything; the advanced healing a shifter possessed meant their brains wouldn’t accept a long-lasting manipulation.
Turning his attention away, Rori released the wolf from the suggestion.
“I hate vampires.” Lunging at Rori again with jaws open, the snarling wolf gave Rori little time to react, but he was prepared for it this time.
Rori turned and ran, utilizing his preternatural speed to escape that much faster. Wolves were fast—definitely faster than young vampires who hadn’t recently fed. Adrenaline- and testosterone-fueled wolves, hormones vampires lacked. Rori had to give it his all if he wanted to survive this encounter and fight another day. Thankful he’d fed quite generously from the donor at the vampire hotel bar, he did his best to escape.
Rori needed to find a place to regroup, and then he needed a plan to find Divina. The prophecy would not play out. He didn’t give a rat’s ass about the wolf or his claim to her. He’d had her first. She was his.
He’d rather see the world burn than give her up.