Excerpt: To Hell and Back

To Hell and Back (League of Guardians) by Juliana Stone

A Novella, League of Guardians

Water dripped somewhere behind Logan Winters. It was a steady fall, one he’d heard for days it seemed and yet he knew it could only have been a few hours.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

It would eventually drive him crazy, he knew this, but for the moment his sanity was intact. For the moment, he was still alive. Besides, he’d rather concentrate on the wet, monotonous sound that echoed against cold stone, than the pain that ripped across every inch of his body.

Because it was a pain he was all too familiar with and he sure as hell knew what was coming next.

Another wave of hurt rolled over him but Logan managed to hide a groan, aware he was no longer alone. Aware that she was back and as a new scent drifted over to him he realized she wasn’t alone. Something dark, putrid, and malevolent had joined her. One of her pets not doubt.

He tensed and prepared himself for what was to come. He knew it would be awful. He knew it would be brutal and without mercy. Such was the way of it down here in District Three. In Hell.

Logan’s arms–spread wide and held up by chains of fire–ached, the muscles stiff and useless. His left eye was swollen shut, his cheekbone smashed, while the fingers on his right hand were broken. His bottom lip oozed blood, but it was only one of many abrasions that marred his face, his chest and torso.

And they’d barely gotten started.

He saw her then. Her pale, white feet, toes painted blood red–and then slowly as he raised his head–her rounded hips, tapered waist and breasts that swelled generously, their puckered tips a dusty rose. She wore a sheer bit of cloth that did nothing to hide her nakedness. Her skin was creamy, her mouth plump, the candy red lips slightly parted. Not one blemish marred her flesh and her long hair hung in golden ropes, over her shoulders, streaming down like shining wisps of the silkiest threads.

Lilith.

His chest burned with hatred and his heart was tight with pain as he gazed into eyes the colour of liquid glass. He clenched his teeth, ignored the pain and let his beast show through. He vowed, if nothing else, that he would survive this.

He had to, or all was lost.

Chapter One

Two days earlier…

Logan leaned against the window, his right leg casually bent at the knee, while he pulled the collar of his leather jacket up a little higher. The wind was chilled and rushed along the sidewalk, blowing bits of debris and dust, dead leaves and garbage. It was nearing dinnertime and behind him the hair salon glowed warmly in the gathering dusk.

He’d stopped in this small Canadian town only an hour earlier and now, his brow furled menacingly as his gaze swept up and down the sidewalk. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he’d done wrong. They should be on the road, moving North…getting closer to their destination, not hanging around some small country town teeming with humanity and–his nostrils flared–more than a few otherworld creatures.

Especially not so close to All Hallows Eve.

He crossed his arms and glared at a woman who smiled seductively as she moved down the sidewalk. Her smile faltered for a moment, probably because the tall, statuesque blonde with breasts as large as melons, legs as long as sin and a mouth as ripe as a cherry was the kind of woman who wasn’t used to men ignoring her. Hell, she was the kind of woman he would have tasted with no regrets, once.

But that was before. Before Kira Dove.

Behind him a giggle, a soft, wonderful, feminine giggle pierced the silence and for a second everything inside him stopped. His face softened and he looked to the side wanting to turn around so that he could see her, but Kira had made him promise he’d wait.

And so he would.

He shook his head, wondering what his brothers would think of how this little slip of woman had managed to get under his skin more than any before. And in just under a month. All she had to do was lower her lashes, bite her lip, gaze up at him…and he was done for.

Him. Logan Winters. Ruthless hellhound and all around bastard.

He’d had no plans whatsoever of stopping in Waterford but once Kira caught sight of the quaint town she’d begged him to, and considering she’d been locked in a mental institution most of her life, he had a hard time saying no. Everything through her eyes was new and shiny and wonderful. It soothed something in his old, tired, soul.

And really, when she asked so nicely, how the hell could he turn her down? She’d gone on for a good twenty minutes about pumpkins and Halloween and trick or treaters, witches and black cats.

She’d done it all. Bitten her lip, turned her head just so. Told him about the parties her parents used to host, parties she’d spied on from the landing when the adults got crazy and the booze would flow. She’d leaned in and kissed him, there beside his mouth where he loved to be teased. And though he knew better, though the danger they lived with was real, he ignored it. The sun was shining, the air crisp with fall and he couldn’t say no. Not to Kira. And especially not when he’d spied the joy in her eyes.

For the last month Logan Winters had lived, no, he’d fucking breathed, to see the shadows lessen from their dark, depths. Christ two days ago he’d taken her dancing. Him. Dancing to some honkytonk shit in some honkytonk bar out in the middle of nowhere. He’d even mastered the two-step but that was more or less because Logan Winters never did anything halfway. If he was going to twirl his woman across a whiskey soaked dance floor he was going to do it right.

Logan growled softly and banged his head against the glass behind him. He was, for want of a better term, pussy whipped, and he didn’t give a rat’s ‘effing ass. A smile tugged the corner of his mouth. Pussy whipped. Whatever. He’s given in to her wish to spend the night in Waterford with the promise that she would pay a high price later. Much later when he had her all alone. When her hot little body was pressed against his. When he stripped her bare and made her cry out his name with passion.

When he joined with her. Mated with her. When he…

Christ, he was hard just thinking about all the ways he was going to make little Dove pay for this side trip and he’d scored bonus points because he’d agreed to wait outside while she had her hair done. Though truthfully, he’d gotten used to her bad bleach job, with the dark two inch roots and the hacked off ends.

He shifted again and hissed as his jeans rubbed against his thickening erection. If she didn’t hurry up…

“I’m ready.” Kira’s soft voice jolted him and he turned, nostrils flaring as her subtle, earthy, scent washed up and over him. His heart tightened and for a moment he could do nothing but gaze down into her heart-shaped face. The woman could be bald for all he cared. She’d had him way the hell before fucking hello, it had just taken him a bit to catch on.

“Well?” She touched the flirty ends that just touched the tops of her shoulders. They were now dyed her natural, ebony color with a few crimson highlights. “Do you like it?”

He saw the hesitation. The fragile confidence that threatened to take away the lightness of the moment. He raged inside at the madman Mergerone who’d abused her so, though he knew the bastard would suffer. Only yesterday he’d learned from his brother Lucian, that Mergerone had been dragged to hell and sent to District Three for processing. He’d pay and the price would be steep.

Logan reached for Kira, slid his hand along her jaw, cupped her head as she leaned into his touch and then bent low. He felt her shiver as his warm breath rolled across her flesh and the emotion inside him was so fierce he had to wait a second before he could speak. He cleared his throat and nuzzled her just underneath her ear.

“There is nothing about you I don’t love.” His voice was husky, thickened with desire. “Now, let’s find a hotel,” he growled, his erection straining even more as she made that little sound in the back of her throat…the one that drove him crazy.

“A hotel,” she whispered. “But don’t you want to eat first?”

A wicked glint entered his eye and he drew back. He slipped his arm around her shoulders possessively. “Oh, I’ll be eating. Don’t worry your pretty little head about that.” He loved the blush that stained her cheeks. “It’s just, my menu is a little more exotic than what we’ll find in a local pub.”

She made that sound again and her arousal was instant. It flooded his nostrils and he smiled, content, soon to be sated, and for the moment…happy, which was an odd thing for a hellhound.

Logan led Kira down the street, his steps slow and unhurried, not at all like the emotions that raged inside him. They turned the corner and followed a sign touting Waterford’s best Bed and Breakfast. It was near the end of the street, nestled among old oak trees and all the colors of fall.

For a moment something drew his head up–a sense that all wasn’t right–and he ran his eyes over the milling humans. Several feet ahead a werewolf paused and held his gaze for several seconds until the tall, golden-haired shifter bowed his head in respect and looked away. Logan glared at him for good measure before turning his attention elsewhere. He sensed a vampire nearby and when he would have taken a moment to dig deeper, send his senses flying on the wind, Kira tugged on his arm and suddenly the darkness was no more. There was only sunlight and fresh rainwater and Kira.

“Thanks for letting us stay.”

His arm slid around her shoulders possessively and he turned once more toward the Bed and Breakfast. “We’ll spend the night and most of the morning but that’s it.”

She nodded, clung to his side and beneath his skin, the beast stirred. Aroused and possessive.

Logan didn’t see the dark shadow that melted into the alcove of the coffee shop across the way. He didn’t feel the ripple of evil, or the scent the putridness of the underworld. In that moment, Logan only saw Kira and even though her safety was paramount, he was helpless to stop the tide that was coming. It was an unusual lapse in judgement and yet it was so much more. It was hunger, desire and need…and for the moment, it was weakness.

As it was, Logan Winter’s world was about to implode and he had no way of stopping it.


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