Dark wolf, p.1
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       Dark Wolf, p.1

         Part #22 of Dark series by Christine Feehan
Dark Wolf


  Titles by Christine Feehan

  SAMURAI GAME

  RUTHLESS GAME

  STREET GAME

  MURDER GAME

  PREDATORY GAME

  DEADLY GAME

  CONSPIRACY GAME

  NIGHT GAME

  MIND GAME

  SHADOW GAME

  HIDDEN CURRENTS

  TURBULENT SEA

  SAFE HARBOR

  DANGEROUS TIDES

  OCEANS OF FIRE

  LEOPARD'S PREY

  SAVAGE NATURE

  WILD FIRE

  BURNING WILD

  WILD RAIN

  SPIRIT BOUND

  WATER BOUND

  DARK WOLF

  DARK LYCAN

  DARK STORM

  DARK PREDATOR

  DARK PERIL

  DARK SLAYER

  DARK CURSE

  DARK HUNGER

  DARK POSSESSION

  DARK CELEBRATION

  DARK DEMON

  DARK SECRET

  DARK DESTINY

  DARK MELODY

  DARK SYMPHONY

  DARK GUARDIAN

  DARK LEGEND

  DARK FIRE

  DARK CHALLENGE

  DARK MAGIC

  DARK GOLD

  DARK DESIRE

  DARK PRINCE

  Anthologies

  DARKEST AT DAWN

  (includes Dark Hunger and Dark Secret)

  SEA STORM

  (includes Magic in the Wind and Oceans of Fire)

  FEVER

  (includes The Awakening and Wild Rain)

  FANTASY

  (with Emma Holly, Sabrina Jeffries, and Elda Minger)

  LOVER BEWARE

  (with Fiona Brand, Katherine Sutcliffe, and Eileen Wilks)

  HOT BLOODED

  (with Maggie Shayne, Emma Holly, and Angela Knight)

  Specials

  DARK HUNGER

  MAGIC IN THE WIND

  THE AWAKENING

  DARK

  WOLF

  A CARPATHIAN NOVEL

  CHRISTINE FEEHAN

  THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) LLC

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

  USA Canada UK Ireland Australia New Zealand India South Africa China penguin.com

  A Penguin Random House Company

  This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

  Copyright (c) 2014 by Christine Feehan.

  Excerpt from Dark Blood copyright (c) 2014 by Christine Feehan.

  Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

  BERKLEY(r) is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

  The "B" design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

  eBook ISBN 978-0-69813692-2

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Feehan, Christine.

  Dark Wolf : a Carpathian novel / Christine Feehan.--First edition.

  pages cm

  ISBN 978-0-425-27079-0

  1. Werewolves--Fiction. 2. Romantic suspense fiction. 3. Occult fiction. I. Title.

  PS3606.E36D397 2014

  813'.6--dc23

  2013028743

  FIRST EDITION: January 2014

  Cover model photograph by Claudio Marinesco.

  Cover wolf and background images by Shutterstock.

  Cover design by George Long.

  Cover handlettering by Ron Zinn.

  Endpaper design by Diana Kolsky; images by Shutterstock.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Version_1

  Contents

  Titles by Christine Feehan

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Dedication

  For My Readers

  Acknowledgments

  Family Trees

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Special Excerpt from Dark Blood

  Appendix 1: Carpathian Healing Chants

  Appendix 2: The Carpathian Language

  For my Skyler, with much love

  FOR MY READERS

  Be sure to go to christinefeehan.com/members/ to sign up for my PRIVATE book announcement list and download the free ebook of Dark Desserts. Join my community and get firsthand news, enter the book discussions, ask your questions and chat with me. Please feel free to email me at Christine@christinefeehan.com. I would love to hear from you.

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  Many thanks to my sister Anita Toste who always answers my call and has such fun with me writing mage spells.

  Thank you to my wonderful daughter Cecilia who also helped with mage spells; rhyming is not my forte, and she only laughed at me a little bit! We certainly had fun.

  I have to give a special shout out to C. L. Wilson and Sheila English, who were gracious enough to include me in our power writing sessions. We rocked it, didn't we?

  As always, thanks to Brian Feehan and Domini Stottsberry. They worked long hours to help me with everything from brainstorming ideas and doing research to edits. There are no words to describe my gratitude or love for them. Thank you all so very much!

  1

  Skyler Daratrazanoff pulled the long black shawl closer, making certain her hair was covered and there was little to see of her face. Her heart beat so hard she was afraid anyone close would hear. Everything hinged on making the official believe her. Josef had forged the papers, and he was the best. He could hack any computer, provide information or get it. She didn't doubt for a minute that the papers he created would be in order and pass close scrutiny, but she still had to make the official believe her.

  The tin building was rusted and looked as if it might fall apart at any moment. A man came forward to meet her, looking solemn as the casket was wheeled ahead of her into the shade of the building. Fortunately the sun was setting and shadows fell around her, helping to make it more difficult to see her clearly.

  "Your papers?" he said. His voice was kind. The name on his badge identified him as Erno Varga.

  She glanced back toward the small plane she'd flown to the airport and then handed her papers to the official, making certain her eyes were downcast and she looked weepy. She had taken care to use drops to make her eyes red and watery, just in case she couldn't pull off acting on her own.

  Varga looked over her papers and then up at her several times with sharp, disbelieving eyes. "You're young to be bringing home your brother's body alone. No one else is traveling with you?"

  She shook her head, trying to look more tragic than ever. "My father is dead, and now my brother." She choked back a sob worthy, she was certain, of an Oscar performance. "There is no one else to bring him home to our mother."

  The official looked at her again and studied her papers closer. "He died of a broken heart?" There was skepticism in his voice.

  Skyler nearly choked. When I get my hands on you, Josef, you're going to die of more than a broken heart. She used her telepathic connection with Josef to let him know he was in huge trouble.

  A terrible tragedy. Josef was unrepentant as always. There was amusement in his tone. No matter how serious a situation, he didn't mind in the least being mischievous.

  She managed to keep a straight face and gave Varga a solemn nod. "He just wasted away when his girl left him. He refused to eat." She had no choice but to go with it, even if it meant twisting her fingers together hard in order to prevent the official from seeing she was shaking. "It's a terrible tragedy. Nothing could save him."

  Okay, even to her ears, that sounded totally lame. But a broken heart? Only Josef would come up with something so dramatic and unbelievable. How else could she explain he'd died of a broken heart? There was definitely going to be another cause of death after they opened the casket.

  She could feel Josef's laughter. Of course you're laughing. You're safe in the coffin, the tragically dead brother, while I'm lying my ass off to this man who could put me in prison for the rest of my life.

  She knew Josef would never let that happen. If necessary he'd give the official a "push" to believe her. Right now, he was having too much fun listening to her squirm--and she supposed she deserved it. She was making him do something highly dangerous, and he would be blamed more than she would be if anything went wrong. Her father would probably just kill him on sight.

  He will, too, Josef said. He'll rip me from limb to limb.

  You should be worrying about me ripping you from limb to limb, she threatened.

  "How old are you?" The official stared at her passport and papers and then back up to her face. "Did you pilot that plane?"

  She lifted her chin, trying for older and much sterner. She knew she looked young, but not her eyes. If he looked her directly in the eye, he would believe what those forged papers said. And they were great forgeries. Josef had many talents, although making up stories was clearly not one of them.

  "I'm much older than I look," Skyler replied. It was partially the truth. She felt older, and that should count for something. She'd been through more than most women--okay, teens.

  "Twenty-five?" he said skeptically.

  Josef had insisted she be twenty-five if she was going to pilot the plane. Piloting planes had come easy to her and it was something she especially loved, so her adopted father, Gabriel, had allowed her to learn.

  "I have to open the coffin," the official added, watching her closely.

  Skyler managed a little sob and covered her mouth, nodding slightly. "I'm sorry. Yes, of course. They said you would. I was expecting you to." She straightened her shoulders and spine courageously.

  He looked at her much more kindly. "You don't need to watch. Stand over there." He nodded to a corner of the building just a few feet away.

  She felt a little sorry for him. If she knew anything at all about Josef, she knew he would put on some kind of show.

  Don't you dare blow this by scaring him, she warned. I mean it, Josef.

  You're no fun. I can always remove his memories. Wouldn't it be so delicious to do an impression of Count Dracula? I've watched the movie a million times. I've got the look and accent down perfectly.

  He sounded far too eager. It took a lot of discipline to keep amusement from her mind where he could read it. She didn't doubt for a moment that Josef could do a perfect Dracula impression.

  Resist the urge. We aren't out of the woods and we can't afford to take any chances. We're in Carpathian territory. Or at least close enough that someone might be near us to sense the use of energy. Restrain yourself, Josef.

  He heaved a sigh. No matter what the outcome, your father is going to kill me, a slow and painful death, too. I should be able to have a little fun.

  That was hitting very close to the truth. Gabriel was going to murder all of them, but if their plan worked, it would be well worth it.

  She gave Varga a small, grateful smile and moved away from the coffin. Standing in the open door, her arms wrapped around her middle for comfort, she stared outside into the gathering darkness, holding herself very still. Their plan had to work.

  Behave Josef, or else. Gabriel's in London and I'm here. She had never been on the receiving end of Gabriel's wrath, but he and her uncle Lucian were legendary vampire hunters. The Carpathian people, most extremely powerful, whispered their names in awe.

  You've got a point. Laughter bubbled over in Josef's voice. What a sorry waste of a good coffin. Now there was disgust in his tone.

  Skyler couldn't tell if he was going to behave or not. It was impossible with Josef. He marched to his own drum. She sent up a silent prayer, hoping for the best.

  Right now, Francesca and Gabriel were probably awake and would soon be preparing to fly to the Carpathian Mountains. They thought she was a continent away, safe with her human college friend Maria, using her vacation to help build homes and run irrigation to farmers in South America. She had never lied to them before. Not once. And it hurt her to do it now, but there was no other way.

  She knew her parents had been summoned to the huge meeting between Lycan and Carpathian to discuss an alliance between the two species. Most of the Carpathians had been called home. Gabriel and Francesca had been more than happy to receive a call from her from school asking to go with Maria. They didn't want her anywhere near the Carpathian Mountains.

  She would never think of repaying their extraordinary kindness, the love they had given her from the moment she'd been taken into their home, with lies and betrayal--not for anything or anyone except Dimitri. Dimitri Tirunul was her unexpected miracle. A man beyond any she'd ever dreamt of. She was human. He was Carpathian--nearly immortal. She was nineteen years old. He was an ancient, centuries old. She held the other half of his soul, the light to his darkness. Without her, he would not survive. She was his lifemate--his savior. Yet she knew just the opposite was true--Dimitri was the one saving her.

  He knew she was his lifemate when she was just a child, and he had given her time. Space. Unconditional love. He never demanded anything of her. He never told her how difficult it was for him--that she was his salvation--just out of his reach. He had always been there for her, in the middle of the night, when her violent past was too close and she couldn't sleep, when nightmares haunted her to the point she couldn't breathe. He was there, in her mind, holding all those terrifying memories at bay. Dimitri. Her Dimitri.

  Dimitri was caught in the middle between the two species. The Lycans had taken him and planned to kill him. No one had gone after him to save him. He had spent centuries hunting the undead to keep his people as well as humans safe. He had survived honorably when others had chosen to give up their souls. Yet there was no rescue party. No hunters were rushing to save him. He was badly injured. She felt that much before he cut himself off from her to protect her from his pain--or his death.

  Dimitri was stoic about life or death. He was a Carpathian hunter and he'd been around for centuries, protecting innocents from vampires. Her lineage was complicated, but for all intents and purposes, she was human. The Lycans would never expect a teenage, human girl to mount a rescue operation for a Carpathian. She had the element of surprise on her side. That, as well as good, trustworthy friends and her very powerful but untested abilities.

  Skyler had faith in herself. She knew her every strength and every weakness. Like Josef, she was extremely intelligent and most of the time underestimated. She believed the Lycans would underestimate her--she was counting on it.

  No one would start a war over a Carpathian hunter it seemed, but she knew her father would come after her, and if anyone harmed one hair on her head, the Lycan world would be in for a nightmare it couldn't possibly conceive. Not only would Gabriel come after her, but so would her uncle Lucian. She was fairly certain her biological father, Razvan, and his lifemate, Ivory, would join the hunt for her. They were extremely lethal as well. There was satisfaction in knowing if she was injured or killed, she would be avenged. No one, not even Mikhail Dubrinsky, the prince of the Carpathian people, would be able to stop a war if the Lycans harmed her.

  She lifted her chin. Dimitri would never leave her in danger. He would rush to her side the moment he knew there was trouble; he had--more than once--just to soothe bad dreams when she had too many in a row. She couldn't do less for him.

  Holding her breath, she turned back to watch the official gingerly open the coffin. It creaked ominously. Hideously. Just like in the movies. The sound sent a chill down her spine. The lid rose slowly and darn Josef anyway, it looked as if it was lifting all by itself. Varga stepped back, one hand going up defensively.

  There was silence as the lid came to a stop. Nothing moved. She could hear the sound of a clock ticking loudly. Varga coughed nervously. He glanced at her. Skyler put her hand over her mouth and lowered her eyes.

  Josef! Behave yourself. Skyler was somewhere between laughing and crying with nervous tension.

  Varga stepped back to the coffin and peered in, beads of sweat visible on his forehead. He cleared his throat. "He certainly looks robust for a man who starved himself to death."

  The least you could have done was make yourself look emaciated if you wanted him to believe your preposterous story, she scolded.

  Skyler pressed a handkerchief to her mouth. "They did such a good job at the funeral home. I particularly asked them to make certain he looked good for our mother."

  Varga pressed his lips together and studied the body. He was suspicious, but she wasn't certain of what. Clearly there was a dead body in the coffin. Did he suspect her of running drugs? Guns? If so, that didn't bode well for what she had planned. She needed to look like a naive, young teenager who might be slightly ditzy.

 
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