Home > Provoked (Dark Protectors #5)

Provoked (Dark Protectors #5)
Rebecca Zanetti

CHAPTER 1

The demon destroyer was beautiful.

Kane Kayrs settled back in the worn booth of the bar and eyed the blonde solution to his devastating problem. Long strands of hair flowed down her trim back, a messy and free tumbling that whispered of cool nights rolling under the stars. An organized chaos that somehow worked. Sun had kissed her angled face, leaving her slightly freckled and rosy cheeked. The cowboy hat perched precariously on her head was all sass. She maneuvered around packed bodies, an island of calm and grace as she delivered beer, hard drinks, and an occasional bottle of water.

A slight sneer lifted her pink lips every time she plunked a water bottle on a table. Interesting.

She stood to about five foot eight—tall for a human female. Ripped jeans molded to full curves, and a low-cut peasant blouse guaranteed she’d receive excellent tips for the night. The woman moved like a dancer, easily dodging groping hands without losing a step. A good-natured laugh, low and sexy, rumbled from her several times.

Kane finished the local beer he’d ordered while waiting for her to show for her shift. Odd that she hadn’t acknowledged him. They were the only two people in the bar with power.

The jukebox against the side wall had played a combination of hip-hop and country music all night, and his head was beginning to ache. Dollar bills hung stapled from the ceiling, and a television in the far corner highlighted local rodeo footage from last spring, regardless of the snow currently whipping around outside. The stale scent of old beer permeated the area. Several inebriated women rode saddles masquerading as bar stools, their excited yips a prelude to falling on the floor. The peanut-shell covered floor.

Kane shoved away impatience. Hanging with the locals had never interested him, and the pull of his laboratory called. He had work to do.

Finally, she approached his booth, her gaze going from the empty bottle to his face.

A punch of raw power slammed from her black eyes.

The woman smelled like wild heather just blooming. She smiled, a small dimple flashing in her left cheek. “Would you like another beer? Huckleberry Ale, right?”

He tilted his head to the side, allowing her vibrations of energy to run over him. They were almost as sexy as her smooth, slightly raspy voice. An unwilling smile played with his lips. “Are you serious?”

Curiosity widened her smile. “Yeah. Most people like another when theirs is empty. If you didn’t like the Colorado Huckleberry, you should try the Cooper Ale. The brewery next door makes it for us. It’s lighter and not quite as sweet.”

Irritation and a hint of respect filled him at her calm look. She gave absolutely no indication she knew who, or rather what, he was. “I’m not here to play games, sweetheart.”

She stilled all movement, wrinkling her brow. “Um, okay.”

He leaned forward, clasping his tapered fingers on the damaged table. “Are you really going to pretend you don’t know why I’m here?”

Wariness filled her dark eyes, and she took a small step away. A quick glance over her shoulder toward the bulging bartender resulted in confidence tilting her lips. She focused back on Kane. “Listen, jackass. We’re not selling the northern rocks. Do you want another drink or not?” The warmth in her smile had disappeared.

A chill swept along his skin. What the hell were the northern rocks? The animal within him, the one so rarely let loose, suddenly wanted to roar. He coughed. If she wanted to play games, he’d allow it until closing time. At that point, his patience ended. “I don’t want rocks, northern or otherwise. Why don’t you surprise me with the choice of beer?”

“Fine.” She pivoted on beige cowboy boots.

Damn, he’d always had a thing for women in cowboy boots. Probably because opposites really did attract. Her ass was something in the tight jeans, too.

He shook his head and stretched his neck. Lust had no place in this mission. When was the last time he’d slept? Grabbing his phone, he speed-dialed his older brother.

“Did you find her?” the king growled across the line.

“Yes. She’s broadcasting strong enough I’m shocked I’m the only one here.” Kane eyed a couple of cowboys at the bar who’d zeroed in on the blonde. Human, drunk, and stupid . . . they might create a decent diversion so he could grab the woman and go.

“You won’t be alone for long—I have no doubt the demons are heading your way.” The sound of rustling papers came over the line. Dage must’ve been in his study. “Will she help us?”

“I don’t know. So far she’s acting like she has no clue I’m a vampire.”

The woman sauntered toward him, a dark beer in hand. Depositing the frothing glass on the table, she stared him in the eyes. “Robust Rude Dark Ale. Seemed to fit.” Two seconds later and she was busing a table across the room.

Her husky voice had Kane thinking thoughts he really shouldn’t. He cleared his throat. “I may have to just grab her.” In fact, his hands all but itched with the need to get ahold of her. Damn enhanced human females. They instantly sent a vamp into overdrive. Even a logical one like him.

“I don’t care what you do. Just get her to help us.” Desperation and something darker lowered Dage’s tone. “I haven’t had a vision, but my gut is telling me we’re running out of time. We need to find Jase and now.”

Kane rubbed his chin, forcing back despair and a now familiar fear. “Don’t worry, I’ll do what I have to do.”

“I know.” Dage sighed. “Have you come up with a plan for when we get him back?”

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