Munro (Immortals After Dark #18) by Kresley Cole

            Madadh clotheslined him, choking him to the ground.

            As Munro thrashed against his friend’s hold, his Instinct sounded once more: —YOUR MATE DIES.—

            His beast howled inside him to fight for her, but Munro quelled it. If Jels vassaled Munro, he would have no hope of escaping with her, much less of saving her life.

            When Ormlo drew away from her, she sank to her knees.

            “Behold.” Jels shoved up her sleeves, revealing black veins twining upward from her wrists. “Her lifeblood turns to stone, will reach her heart in minutes. I’m told there’s no worse torment.”

            “You hexed her?” Rage tightened his chest, but he couldn’t shake Madadh’s grip with his wrists still bound.

            As the black inched up her arms, her expression twisted, and she cried out.

            “What do you want, warlock?” Munro bit out. “I’ll do it! Anything!”

            Jels tsked. “If only you had cooperated, then we wouldn’t have had to steal her from her own wedding.”

            Wedding? Munro couldn’t worry about that. “Bloody tell me what to do to save her.”

            “You have little time, Lykae. She fades like night douses day. I suggest a death by bite. It’s much less excruciating than Ormlo’s spell, and she might actually resurrect as a Lykae.” He turned toward the door, saying over his shoulder, “Though females rarely do.” When Jels snapped his fingers, Madadh released Munro and departed with the two warlocks.

            Before the cell door clanged shut behind them, Munro had lunged for her once more. “Kereny, my name is Munro MacRieve. I’m going to help you.” He could only imagine what his mutilated face looked like, his missing eye. “Just stay with me.” He looped his bound arms over her body, could feel her shudder as another wave of pain hit.

            His mind turned to another human he’d grieved so long ago. Mortals perish so readily. Am I to lose another?

            No! “I will no’ let you die.” But black continued to spread along her veins, would claim his mysterious female in moments.

            Munro had only one hope of saving her—by turning her. Yet he would have to unleash his beast, becoming Jels’s obedient pet.

            Bile rose, but Munro choked it down. He drew her closer to warm her, to prepare her—and himself. Never had he tried to turn a human. He rubbed his chin over her slim shoulder, breathing deep of his female. Her scent helped to temper his panic.

            All his life, he’d imagined biting his mate’s soft neck to give her his wolven claiming mark. But this turning bite would be a world away from that.

            One bite was dreamed of; one was unnatural.

            She spoke in a hushed voice. “I know what you are, wolf. Do not do this to me.”

            Her words carried an accent he couldn’t place. Eastern European?

            She craned her head toward him. “Defy the warlocks. Defy their evil.”

            “I will do anything to save you. You’re my mate.”

            “Mate?” She sounded aghast. “Then how can you think of abusing me like this? Don’t infect me with that thing inside you.”

            “I will take care of you, teach you to control it.” If she resurrected, she would awaken maddened from the ferocity that rose up uncontrollably in newlings. Harnessing one’s beast took decades and was often unsuccessful. This would be his last conversation with Kereny for an age.

            Unless she perished for good.

            “My kind worship freedom.” Tears slipped down her cheeks. She was so sweetly innocent. So gentle. “Ormlo told me what my fate will be if I resurrect. You would turn your mate . . . into a warlock’s slave?”

            “You will no’ be a slave! I will free you from this place.” Somehow. He used his mangled face to nudge her hair off her shoulder as he began to relinquish control to his beast. Save her, beast. Bite her fiercely.

            She resisted him but had no strength left. “Leave me to an honorable death.”

            “I canna, Kereny. You will resurrect. Do you understand me? You must return to me!” My beast is strong; it will light a firestorm inside her.