Battle Scarred 4: You Complete Me
by Megan Slayer
Art by Mina Carter
I’ve got your back, if you’re willing to trust your enemy. Hagan Dean thought he was helping his friend. He was playing the role of savior…except he ended up left for dead in the sunshine. Vampires and sunshine don’t mix. Even worse? A Hunter—one of the sexiest women he’s laid eyes on—is ready to kill him. He’s got a lot to survive for and the odds are stacked against him, but he’s a fighter. Will the Hunter let him live another night? Or is this vampire destined to fry into a pile of soot?
Emily Cross is a born Hunter. Her life’s work is to keep the balance between the Supers and the Supers who have stepped out of line. She’s never been keen on the Rogues taking over the Hunters. She doesn’t want to kill all the Supers…she is one! When she finds a nearly charred vampire in the woods during one of the hunts, her thoughts turn from killing to keeping him alive.
Will these two opposites come together to find common ground in order to help end the war? Or will the passion crackling between them tear their worlds apart?
Available right now from Loose Id!
How about an excerpt?
Hunting helpless creatures seemed inhumane. Emily clutched her shotgun tighter and gritted her teeth.
“We’ve got to search high and low for these creeps. They could be anywhere and dangerous as hell,” Ben said and rushed in front of her.
She winced. Everything her partner said revolved around killing supers. She suppressed a groan. They could see the supers. She and Ben both possessed supernatural blood, allowing them to pursue their specific calling—hunting the supers as true hunters. The job description included killing supers in order to terminate those who went mad and were essentially dangerous to the rest of the population. They hunted the supers who’d gone rogue. No one said a word about killing the vampires, shifters, and faes—among others—simply for the sake of taking lives. According to Ben, they needed to eliminate all supers.
Emily trudged behind him. She could hold her own up front and defend herself from the attacks with ease, but she wanted distance from Ben. The negative vibe swirling around him unnerved her.
“I see it,” Ben shrieked. He bolted away, leaving her in the pitch-black woods. She gazed into the darkness and focused. She didn’t hear a sound, not even the critters creeping around, and that wasn’t right. There should’ve been something in the brush moving if he’d spotted anything. She crinkled her nose. The scent of a being came to her…dead? Decaying? Dead things left a definite gross smell behind, but this wasn’t the scent of decomposition. This particular pungent odor reminded her of a wet tiger or charred hair. What was it?
A round object caught her attention. Nothing in the woods was perfectly rounded…not like a shoe. She glanced over to where Ben had taken off to, and when she didn’t see him, she crouched to look at whatever it was in the brush. She figured she’d hear Ben coming when he returned. Unlike vampires, Ben wasn’t stealthy. Freight trains were quieter than her partner. She didn’t see him when she looked again. Thank God.
Emily crept up to the rounded thing and studied it closer. The thing was a shoe, connected to a foot. Were other hunters leaving their kills in the forest now? If the person was indeed a super, then the body wouldn’t be around—it would’ve disintegrated. A human body would decompose but still be evident. She moved the leaves aside. The leg led to a full body. The person was so still. She glanced around again and uncovered the face. The guy’s mouth was open, allowing her to see his teeth. Sharp, bright white teeth.
The super they were after was already dead? That couldn’t be. This super was still intact. She inspected his shoe and the exposed part of his leg. Burn marks. From the sun? He’d charred his skin, and she guessed he’d gone into the light long enough to get to the deeper darkness of the woods before he collapsed.
“Hey! Emily! Where are you?”
Shit. She didn’t want Ben to find the vampire. The poor super had been through enough without having her partner attack him. At least he deserved a chance to fight back when Ben struck.
She shoved the leaves back over him and crawled away into the underbrush. She refused to bring attention to the vampire.
“I’m over here.” She emerged from under a partially collapsed tree. “I tripped. The tree broke my fall.”
“You?” Ben stood over her and offered his hand. “You never trip. You’ve got the balance of a cat.”
“There was a root. I didn’t see it until the last minute.” Good Lord. She had double the strains of super blood in her veins—part fae and part seer—and if he found out about the fae part, he’d kill her.
“Why do I think there’s more to the story than you’re letting on?”
“Ben, I fell down. It happens.” She dusted the dirt off her pant legs. Her hair hung in her eyes from where it had fallen loose from the elastic. “I’m good.”
“You’re good now.” He tugged her close and wrapped his arms around her. “Admit it. You wanted me to save you.” A wicked smile twisted his lips. “I knew it.”
She pressed her lips together. Not long ago, she’d wanted Ben to rescue her. She’d wanted him to notice her. She’d dreamed about them being a gruesome twosome in the hunters world. No holds barred except around each other. They’d be the best together—or at least that’s what she thought until she saw him with a vampiress. The poor girl hadn’t had a chance. He acted so sweet and nice to her in order to lure her away from the nightclub. She hadn’t been crazy or dangerous. No, she’d simply chosen the wrong place to party and the wrong man to go home with. She’d been a full super and exactly what Ben wanted. He determined she needed to die.
Emily had thrown up in the parking lot when she came across the vampiress’s mangled body. She hadn’t died yet, but was close as Ben stabbed her. If Emily had known he’d tear the super apart, she’d have stopped him. But she hadn’t. The guilt ate at her.
“Em, if you’d have just told me you wanted a date, we could go out.” He tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear. “Be honest with me.”
Oh, she’d be honest all right. “I never could fool you.” She faked a smile. Ben hadn’t been her first choice as a partner, even though she’d once wanted to screw him senseless. Once she got to know him, his arrogance appalled her and his attitude cancelled out his good looks. On the outside, the man embodied sexy. On the inside, he was made of garbage.
“Name the time and place. I’m there.” Ben kissed her on the cheek, missing her mouth only because she turned her head. “I like that you’re being modest and letting me catch you finally. It’s hot.”
“Something like that.” She inched away from him. The vampire being so close bothered her. If he wasn’t fully dead and disintegrating, then she wanted to know why.
“Let’s go to the cars.” He waved his hand. “Come on. I’ll escort you.”
“I’m good.” She swung her shotgun onto her back and headed out of the woods behind him. Along the way, she memorized landmarks to get back to the vampire. An oak tree with letters carved into the trunk was five trees from his position. A rock with chipped edges and knife marks demarcated the bend in the path. She sniffed the air. His scent wasn’t as strong. How was Ben not detecting the vampire? She committed the vampire’s scent to memory. He was too strong to forget.
Once she reached her Jeep, she placed the gun on the rack behind the seats. Ben needed to go. Now. She could only stall for so long before he’d get antsy.
“So. When and where?” Ben asked. He leaned on the rear corner of the Jeep.
“When what?” She rummaged through her duffle bag, buying herself time.
“When do you want to go for our date?”
Okay, she’d let the charade go on for long enough. No need to lead him on when she wasn’t interested. “Ben, we’ve been teamed up for search and destroy, not romance.”
“We could have all three—the searching, the destroying, and the hot-as-fuck-sex. You said you wanted it all.” He bobbed his eyebrows. “Come on.”
“You’re right. I did say I wanted all that, but things change. Everything with Maslow and the war are escalating. Laing is planning an attack, but since we don’t have the most accurate info, I was afraid I’d lose you.” She’d only given him a partial lie. As a hunter, he was a damn good shot. He caught what he shot and very rarely missed. As a man…he left a little to be desired.
Ben winked. His brown eyes sparkled. “Fair enough. Should I escort you home?”
“I heard Laing’s army is growing. He’ll take over the world. We’re better to play it safe and be as subtle as possible.”
“Smart. I’ll wait for you to go, then I’ll leave.”
“Go ahead. I can handle anything in these woods. Get a good rest so we’re fresh for tomorrow night.” She patted his arm. She meant the move to reassure him, but instead he smiled and trailed his fingers down her cheek. She fought off the shiver.
“Until tomorrow night.” He winked and climbed into his truck. The man didn’t wave or flick his lights to say good-bye. Instead, he peeled out in the dirt and sped away. She waited for his taillights to disappear on the edge of the woods.
“Thank you,” she whispered. She headed back to the vampire. A thought occurred to her. He wasn’t fully dead. If he was still there, then he could’ve been playing at looking deceased. Did he want to lead her on? She doubted he was playing possum. She’d learned the ways of the vampires, and she’d done her research on Laing’s group. His army was supposed to be dangerous, but everything she’d learned pointed toward defense. They weren’t out to rule the world, just save themselves from death by the hunters.
Another thought occurred to her. The vampire could drain and kill her, especially if he wasn’t dead and was playing her. Christ. She was supposed to be a badass vampire hunter—not stupid as shit.
She located the brush and kicked at the vampire’s foot. He hadn’t moved, and his burns seemed darker. Her heart lurched. He wasn’t going to move. Not now. Burns shouldn’t have darkened unless the sun exposure had taken its toll on his body. He was truly dying a slow death. She gauged his size. Could she pick him up? Possibly.
Emily grasped his ankles and dragged him out of the brush. To her shock, he moved easily. The dead weight she’d expected wasn’t there. Leaves covered parts of his upper body, preventing her from seeing his face. She moved the debris from his burns, revealing him little by little. In another life, he’d probably been handsome. Dark hair matted to his head and scruff covered his cheeks, but the sexiness still shined through. The sickly paleness wasn’t attractive, but with a little blood and some soap, he would clean up nicely. Maybe that was the problem. She was attracted to him.
She rolled her eyes at herself. With a little blood? Attractive? Who was she kidding? He could kill her, and she was trying to figure out how to save him. She should finish him off and spare him the rest of a lingering death—except she wasn’t a bloodthirsty pleasure killer like her partner.
Argh. She scooped the vampire into her arms, shocked by how little he weighed, and carried him through the woods to her vehicle. She kept an ear out for the sounds of other hunters or Ben. When she reached the Jeep, she growled. Where in the hell was she going to put him in the two-seater? If she had him up front, someone would definitely see him. Headlights in the distance grabbed her attention. Shit, shit, shit.
Emily dropped him onto the ground and opened the gate of the Jeep. He’d have to suck it up in the cramped space. Once she stuffed him into the small alcove behind the seats, she shoved the gate door shut.
The light shined on her, temporarily blinding her. Thank God she’d closed the door. She noticed the shape of the vehicle. Ben’s truck. Damn it. He’d come back for her. He slowed beside her and rolled the window down.
“Hey? What’s taking so long? I doubled back past your cottage to make sure you’d gotten home, but you weren’t there.” He leaned on the window frame. “Huh?”
“What do you mean?” She tugged the elastic from her hair and regathered the ponytail. “I just took my time. I thought I heard something and had to hide. The noise left, and I was about to follow.”
Ben frowned. “Em, you’re not being yourself. You’re always the first one in and the first one out. No straggling. You’re being very secretive. What’s wrong?”
Beside the fact he’d come on too strong? She appreciated him acting human rather than like a jerk, but she still wanted him to get the hell away from her. “I’m just tired and moving slower.”
“Are you pregnant?”
She slumped against the side of her Jeep. “Pregnant,” she blurted. “How in the hell did you come to that conclusion? Slowing down one time automatically means I’m pregnant?”
“When Cassadee had her baby, she was so slow on everything, and it made her useless as a hunter.”
Emily sighed. She remembered her friend well. Cassadee’s hesitation during a hunt had cost her life and left her daughter without a mother. Emily wished she’d been there to help.
“I’m not pregnant. Not even a spark with someone, nor am I thinking about hooking up. Thanks for your concern. I’m leaving right now. Follow me if you want.” She slid behind the wheel of her vehicle. “Ready?”
“There are vampires in these woods. I would hate for you to get hurt. I’m on you like glue.” He nodded and kept right up behind her.
Emily pulled onto the paved road and gripped the steering wheel tightly. If Ben only knew what she had in the back of the Jeep. He’d flip out. Good thing she’d installed heavy tinting on the windows. Good thing, indeed.
Copyright © Megan Slayer