Excerpt from A HUNGER SO WILD by Sylvia Day
Contains mature content not suitable for younger readers.
Elijah shifted forms, the power of his lycan sight diminishing into that of a human’s, then blurring with tears. He stared down at the lycan lying at his feet, watching fur melt into flesh as life flowed out of Rachel’s body from the punctures in her broken neck. Dropping heavily to his knees, he threw his head back and howled his grief.
"Damn it,” Vash snapped at his back. “You should’ve let me do it. It would have been self-defense. The others would’ve accepted that easier than they will you killing a lycan while protecting a vamp.”
A growl at his back alerted him to Stephan’s presence behind him. Bracing for the agony of a bite he wouldn’t defend himself against, he was startled when the expected attack didn’t come and Vashti spoke instead.
“I’m not going to hit him while he’s down, Beta,” she said drily. “You don’t have to protect him from me, even if he does need a smack upside the head for jumping in when I can protect myself.”
“I didn’t do it for you.” Gathering himself, Elijah stood and collected his jeans, yanking them on. “I can’t afford disobedience now. Letting you two get to each other after I ordered Rachel away would only prove that my word isn’t law, and it needs to be.”
His chest heaving, he swiped his tears away and fought down the rising bile in his throat. An icy lump had settled in his gut, guilt eating through him like acid. He’d killed the woman he had promised to protect from harm, the widow of his closest friend. While her death had been certain from the moment Micah died—lycans couldn’t live long after the loss of their mate—he’d never imagined the nightmare of being the hand that dealt the fatal blow.
Stephan shifted, but kept a defensive position between Elijah and Vash.
“Alpha.” His voice was calm and controlled. “How do you want to handle this?”
Elijah faced him. “I’ll inform the others. Take whoever you need and see Rachel buried as well as possible. Then take these cameras and set them around the perimeter in ever-widening circles. If you need help setting up the feed, Vashti will assist you.”
“I’ll take care of it.”
Stephan’s immediate compliance might’ve soothed him, if that had been even remotely possible. Before his Beta walked away, he stopped him. “Stephan…thank you. For everything.”
Giving a brief nod of acknowledgment, Stephan gathered his clothes from the ground and moved away. Elijah set off toward the caves. Remorse weighted his shoulders and stung his eyes. He’d never wanted this, never wanted the responsibility of making such brutal decisions or having the power to see them enforced.
“Hold up, Alpha.” Vash drew abreast of him, swords still in hand. “I’m coming with you.”
The way she strode by his side, armed, offered her support without words. They were a united front. Allies. He almost laughed at the terrible absurdity.
“You have to put it away, Alpha.”
He came to an abrupt halt, his hands fisting at his sides.
“Wanna take it out on someone?” she asked softly, facing him and sliding one blade into its scabbard. “I’m your girl. I’m always up for a heated sparring match. But you’ll regret carrying that baggage in front of the others. Trust me. I know.”
“Do you?” he challenged. “Have you killed someone you promised to protect with your life?”
Amazingly, her beautiful amber eyes softened with something like sympathy. “I’ve done some horrible things, things I’m not proud of and have a hard time living with. It’s part of the job of being a leader. I’m not saying you should suck it up and get over it, because you’re not going to get over it. That’s also part of the job—if you stop caring, you’re worthless. I’m just saying you can’t stand in front of your troops seething with guilt, because that implies culpability and this was an assisted suicide. Rachel had to know she couldn’t possibly win against you or me. She was ready to go, and this was how she chose to do it.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” His friendships were precious to him. As frustrated as he was with Rachel, she was still a friend and a pack member and he ached from her loss.
Vash shrugged. “Nothing will. But you didn’t do anything wrong. It was a shitty thing to do, yeah, but it had to be done. For her sake, my sake, your sake, and the sake of this alliance that we both really fucking need. As I said, if you wanna knock it out, I’m here. Just don’t take it in there.”
“There will be more,” he muttered, respecting her counsel and appreciating—however reluctantly—that she’d offered it. “The others didn’t know what they were getting into when they orchestrated this revolt, and many of them aren’t going to be happy with the decisions I’m making.”
“Fuck ’em. Until they’ve been in command, they can’t know what it’s like.”
He snorted. She knew what it was like, which created an unexpected affinity between them. She smacked him on the shoulder. “Ready, puppy?”
Fuck. She was hot as hell but totally crazy. Irreverent and unpredictable, too. Yet when he’d researched her, he’d heard the stories of her hunts—she was like a lycan on the scent when she pursued, dogged and unwavering, dependable for those who hunted with her. And now it seemed there was a method to her madness.
He growled. It’d been better when the only thing he admired about her was her tits. “Stick close to me.”
“I’ve got your back.”
“Fine. Make it easy for me to have yours.”