Home > Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(11)

Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(11)
Author: Jackie May

I almost growl back. “Maybe if I had a master, I wouldn’t.”

“You will start showing me respect, or I—”

“Trouble?” Terrance blurts, interrupting us before Henry can finish his latest threat. His eyes are bulging, and his mouth is open wide. “Is that you, honey?”

“Unfortunately.” Nodding slowly, I slip close to Terrance. It says a lot that I’d rather stand next to an angry troll than Henry. “I didn’t escape fast enough last night. Stupid Parker caught me and took me to his master. Now Henry thinks I belong to him and won’t let me go home. Please tell me you can kick his ass, and call the cops for me.”

“They kidnapped you?” Wulf asks. He’s glaring at me, but I don’t think it’s me he’s mad at.

When I nod, Terrance’s nostrils flare, and he drops a heavy arm over my shoulders, pulling me tightly to his side. Since it’s a protective gesture and not a possessive one, I don’t try to squirm free. Terrance can be my shield any day. “You did what?” he asks Parker. His low voice gives me a fearful shiver. It screams I’m a badass about to go to town on someone.

“She’s human,” Parker pleads. “Not only did she know about the underworld, she was involved with my main suspect in Nadine’s disappearance. I had no choice. I needed answers.”

Before the two of them can get into an argument, Henry’s voice cuts in, sounding every bit as lethal as Terrance’s just did. “I will ask you once, troll, to take your hands off my mate before I rip you to shreds and burn this pathetic dump to the ground.”

Terrance freezes. “Your mate?”

“Your what?” I screech. I knew he planned to keep me, but he didn’t say anything about mates. My curse has him much further gone than I realized.

Henry pulls his shoulders back and tugs at the cuffs of his sleeves as if straightening himself out. “She is mine,” he says simply. “I have claimed her, and my clan will defend my claim.”

I expect Terrance to respond aggressively to Henry’s threat—the man’s a freaking troll, for crying out loud, surely he can beat one lousy vampire—but instead, he blanches and lets me go. When I realize he’s stepping away from me—giving in to Henry—I grab his arm in a panic. “Terrance, please. The guy is crazy as hell. He’s holding me hostage. He really plans to force me to be his slave for the rest of my life.”

“Mate,” Henry snaps. “Not slave.”

“As if there’s a difference in this case?”

Henry’s face turns red. He’s going to blow his top soon, but I don’t care. I look at Terrance with pleading eyes. “Terrance?”

Terrance shakes his head, pain heavy in his expression. “Sorry, Trouble. I can’t. Vamps are the powerhouse in this city, and Henry’s clan is the strongest. If I kill these two right now, his clan will come after me for revenge. I’m alone in this city. They’d kill me and burn this place to the ground with everyone who works for me inside it. It’d cause riots in Detroit and start a war between vampires and trolls. We’re a strong race, but small. We’d be greatly outnumbered. My family would most likely die.”

Henry puffs his chest up, proud of Terrance’s claims. Sick bastard.

I slump in defeat. If Terrance can’t help me against Henry, I doubt there is anyone in this city that could. I’m completely on my own. And completely screwed.

“I’m so sorry, Trouble.”

I shake my head. “Don’t be. I would never ask you to put your life, or anyone else’s, on the line for me. I’ll find a different way out of this.”

Maybe I can bargain. If I can find something here, I can use the information to earn my freedom. I mean if Henry can kidnap me, then I can hold his clues for ransom. It’s only fair.

Henry clamps a hand around my arm and glares at me. “There is no way out of this. Stop fighting your fate or—”

“Whatever.” I cut him off, tired of his threats. “We can fight over the semantics later. Let’s just get this over with.” I yank my arm so hard Henry lets me go.

Wulf frowns. “Why do you have a human here, kidnapped or otherwise?”

He directs the question at both Henry and Parker, but I give him the answer. “Because I can help.” When all eyes turn to me, I sigh. I meet Terrance’s curious gaze and shrug my shoulders. “I’m not your average human.”

“What do you mean, you’re not an average human?” Wulf asks.

I could drown an elephant in his skepticism. Terrance, however, is leaning in, eyes wide, and holding his breath, waiting for me to hand him a miracle. “Can you really find Shandra?”

I feel bad for the guy. He’s bleeding with so much hope, but I don’t know that I can deliver. I hold my hands up to ward him off. “Whoa, slow down. There’s a chance I can find some clues. A chance. Not a guarantee. It’s not an exact science.”

Terrance clasps my hands in his. “Whatever you want. I’ll give you anything I can, if you’ll help me.”

I’m graced with his thoughts as he grips my hands. He’s been out of his mind, sick with worry and guilt, since the moment he realized Shandra was gone. She’d been in his club. She was supposed to be safe here. And worse, she was clan. She was visiting the city for the first time with Terrance’s sister, and now she’s been abducted. He feels like a failure to his clan and hates that he let his little sister down in such a horrible way. But at the same time, he’s relieved his sister is not also missing. Still, as relieved as he is for Nell, he’s genuinely afraid for the missing troll woman.

His fear and worry for this woman that he barely knew changes everything I’ve ever thought about underworlders. No one with such a big heart could truly be a monster. I want to bring Shandra home safe for Terrance. If Henry weren’t standing here, I’d do it no questions asked, but it can’t go down like that right now. I feel skeezy for what I’m about to do, but I don’t have any other options.

“I want my freedom, obviously.”

I pull my hands out of Terrance’s and back away, feeling like the biggest jerk that ever lived. I quickly meet Terrance’s eyes, and then Henry’s. “I’ll be happy to do everything I can to find the missing girls if you promise I can go home—to my home—when I’m done.” I stand up straight, pull my shoulders back, and lift my chin. “My help for my freedom, or else I’m not doing it.”

Henry’s jaw clamps, and he pulls his shoulders back, puffing out his broad chest. I’m pissing off a master vampire again, but I don’t care. I’m not backing down from this. I feel awful about the missing women, but this is my only bargaining chip. It’s my only shot at freedom. Refuse to help a bunch of missing girls, or become one myself. I’m not that altruistic.

Terrance waits, holding his breath and silently pleading to Henry with his eyes. Wulf stands there, glowering at Henry so hard the guy has to have a migraine. Neither speaks up. It’s Parker that surprises me. I expect him to stand behind his sire, all stoic and silent with a conflicted expression, allowing his boss to do something he disagrees with. Instead, he places a hand on Henry’s shoulder and says, “It’s a fair deal. You should release her.”

My jaw drops. So does Henry’s. “Let her go?” he asks. “Are you out of your mind?”

Parker doesn’t flinch away from Henry’s anger. “If she doesn’t want to stay in our home, why force her?”

“She doesn’t know what she wants!” Henry hisses, his pale cheeks ruddy and his eyes wild. He waves his hand my direction. “She’s just scared of the underworld. Of vampires, especially. She doesn’t understand, yet, that we are not the monsters who killed her mother.”

Parker frowns, somehow staying calm despite how enraged Henry is. “Are we not monsters if we kidnap her? Are we not just like those who stole Nadine from us?”

Henry sputters, and his hands clench into fists at his sides. He’s going to come to blows with Parker any moment if Parker doesn’t back down—not that I want Parker to stop. I can’t believe he’s sticking up for me. And, I have to admit, I hate Parker a lot less right now.

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