Hunting the Demon
Releasing August 28th from Bantam Dell
Excerpt after the jump
Hunting the Demon
(c) 2007 by Jaci Burton
Nic had never felt so hung over in all his life. His mouth was so dry it felt like it was stuffed with cotton, his head pounded like a thousand hammers were beating against his skull, and the roar in his ears was deafening. Every part of his body thrummed with vibration. No, more like a jolt, a pitching wave of nausea he couldn’t stop.
What did he have to drink last night? Even worse, what day was it, anyway? And where the hell was he? Judging from the sharp pain slicing through his head, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to know. He slitted his eyes open, then went wide eyed, his synapses firing as shockwaves of awareness slammed into him.
Memories flooded back. He wasn’t hung over. He’d been drugged. Kidnapped.
Was she here? He winced as he moved to stand and realized he was bound against a chair. He looked around, gauging his surroundings, pinpointing his focus to the tiny square windows across from him, the clouds just outside. Moving clouds. Pitching and rolling.
He was on an airplane.
He counted about a half-dozen people on the plane, all focusing on him. He stared back at their menacing faces. Unruly lot, too. They looked like thugs. Or ninjas, dressed in dark clothes with strange looking weapons strapped to their bodies, all of them well muscled and looking mean and wary.
Even the women were in prime physical shape, including Shay, who looked a hell of a lot different than she had the last time he saw her. Now she wore the same dark camouflage pants as her counterparts on the plane, along with a snug black tank top. A belt slung across her hips was loaded with some kind of ammunition that didn’t look like bullets. She had daggers strapped to holsters that tied to her thighs.
The female Lara Croft. Sexy but lethal.
She’d screwed him over but good. He couldn’t believe he’d fallen for it. And he wasn’t buying the look of concern—of guilt—on her beautiful face.
“Who the hell are you people?”
“I’m Derek.” That spoken by the one sitting directly across from him. Big, steely looking guy with gray eyes and dark hair. “Do you remember me at all?”
Nic studied him, tilting his head to the side, searching for any sign of recognition. “No. Should I?”
Derek’s chest expanded with the force of his indrawn breath. Then he exhaled, disappointment washing across his features. “No, I guess not. But I kind of hoped you would.”
“Let’s take this slowly, shall we?”
That statement came from an older guy with a thick head of white hair. He left his seat and moved to the empty one across from Nic. “Shay, come over here please. You’re the only face Nic recognizes.”
Yeah. The face of the woman who was responsible for him being kidnapped. Did this guy think having her close would offer him some kind of comfort? Fat chance. She sat next to him, still sporting that look of concern.
Earlier, she’d been all smiles and sex appeal. But damn if she still didn’t exude sex, with laced up boots and weapons strapped to her hips. She looked like a warrior. He wanted to be freed of these ropes and see how well she’d tussle with him one on one. He’d like to tie her up and make her pay for this.
“Sit next to Nic. Why don’t you open a bottle of water and offer him a drink?” He turned to Nic. “You must be thirsty. I’m sorry about the drug, but it was necessary to subdue you so we could get you on the plane. I’m afraid it probably gave you a nasty case of dry mouth.”
Shay grabbed a bottle from the mini fridge next to her chair and unscrewed the top. She slid a straw in it and thrust it under his nose. Nic regarded the water for a second, then figured screw it. He was dying of thirst. They’d already drugged and kidnapped him. If they wanted him dead they’d have done that by now. He took the straw between his lips and guzzled the water down.
“I’m sorry we can’t untie you yet, Dominic,” the white haired man said. “My name is Louis. Most people call me Lou.”
He’d said ‘yet’. Okay, that implied Nic had a chance to be let loose of these bonds, which meant the possibility of escape. Though why they had him tied up on an airplane was beyond him. What was he going to do? Jump out?
“Who are you people? Why am I on this plane? If you want money, my family will gladly pay it to get me back and we can get this over with.”
“This isn’t a kidnapping for ransom, Nic,” Derek said.
That’s not what he wanted to hear. “Then what is it?”
“More like a rescue,” Derek replied with an upward quirk to his lips.
Nic arched a brow. Were these people insane? Maybe he’d fallen into some weird cult. Maybe they felt he partied too much and needed saving. Hell, who knew with weirdoes like that. One of the drawbacks with being in the public eye. The Diavolo Diamond mine was well known. Capitalism and all that. “I didn’t need rescuing. But thanks. You can take me home now.”
“Actually, you do,” Derek said. “We need to ask you some questions.”
Nic snorted. Like he was going to give them any information?
“Nic, it’s not what you think,” Shay said, her voice soft and meant to soothe.
He didn’t feel soothed. His nerve endings were on fire, anger and betrayal making him wish he had super strength so he could break these bonds and wrap his hands around her lying throat.
“Yeah? What do I think?”
“That you’ve been kidnapped for money, or because we want to do you harm. That isn’t the case. Trust me.”
“Trust you? That’s a laugh.”
Her lashes drifted down and her face colored pink before she looked back up at him again. “I’m sorry. I did what I had to do.”
“You did it really well, too. Were you intending to fuck me as part of your job? Because you didn’t appear to want me to stop in the pool.”
The pink of her cheeks turned red, the concerned expression on her face turning to anger.
“Hey,” Derek said. “Enough. Nic, do you know where your father is?”
Nic turned his head to Derek. “What about my father? Did Shay tell you he was missing?” God, he couldn’t believe he’d confided in her. That was stupid.
“You tell me. Where is he?”
This was about his dad? Did they kidnap his father? “I don’t know where he is? Did you take him, too?”
“He doesn’t know, Derek,” Lou said, shaking his head. “I really don’t think he has any idea.”
“Then let’s tell him what we know and see where we stand.” Derek let out a long sigh.
“Yeah, why don’t you do that since I have no fucking idea what you’re talking about.” And he hated being in the dark. If he was armed with some information, it might help him escape. Or at least figure how to get out of this predicament.
“It’s a long story and you’ll just have to listen.”
Nic nodded at Derek. “Not like I have much choice. So start talking.”
Derek looked to Lou, who nodded and said, “Go ahead. You take the lead and tell him.”
Derek turned back to Nic. “You’re not going to believe some of this.” He blew out a breath, looked down at his feet and shook his head, then jammed his fingers through his hair. “Hell, you’re probably not going to believe most of it. If I were in your shoes I wouldn’t.”
“Great. Then don’t waste my time.”
He held up his hand. “Just…listen, okay?”
The guy was frustrated. Not angry, not mean, but frustrated. Kind of weird for a kidnapper.
Derek lifted his head and stared at Nic. A spark of something familiar hit him in the stomach, but Nic couldn’t place it. He was sure he’d never met this guy before.
“Nic, I’m your brother.”
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