Excerpted from Chapter Three
When Marley, a human ghost hunter Jinx had met months earlier on another job, had called him last night and told him that she’d gone to the facility to find a ghost and ended up running from a monstrous being instead, Jinx knew right away what was hiding inside that building.
A psych facility was the perfect spot for a monster from purgatory to hide—and by monster, he knew it could be a lesser demon or something worse. If people paid more attention to those who claimed to see monsters instead of drugging them, the world would be a better place.
“Goddamned humans, always screwing them- selves over,” he groused.
“Your human friend gave you the lead,” Jez reminded him.
“Since when are you so reasonable about them?”
“They have their uses.”
“I haven’t seen you feed from one.”
So how was Jez feeding? Jinx wanted to ask but figured it was safer not knowing. He was grateful to have any help at all.
Still, he couldn’t help but think about how helpful Rogue would be as well, but he was still too fragile. And probably pissed at Jinx. He wondered if his twin would keep his secret about purgatory, since none of the other Dires, or the Weres who lived with them, knew. Only Rogue and the witch Kate, who promised discretion.
He decided he couldn’t worry about that. “Let’s get the wolf out first and then we’ll deal with the evil later on tonight.”
“While you’re in, I’ll get the lay of the land, so to speak. Check in with a few of the patients about what they’ve seen.”
“How’re you going to do that without a visitor’s pass?’ Jinx asked and Jez smiled.
“Let me worry about that, wolf.”
Jez was a deadhead—aka vampire from an old order—and, if Jinx understood it correctly, Jez had been brought back from wherever vampires waited to die in order to help the Dires through their current messes. That meant he was far stronger than most vamps—the same way Dires were stronger than Weres. Jez could go out in sunlight, enjoy food. According to Jez, there were more like him, but he’d been sent specifically to help Jinx through these current battles.
There was always a goddamned battle. Always would be. But for now, he could kill two birds with one stone: grab the evil being and put him back in purgatory and save a wolf named Gillian.
He wasn’t surprised a Were had been placed in a psych hospital. It had happened countless times before. He was just lucky that Marley picked up on it before she’d been run out by the monster.
Now they got out of the car, and Jez disappeared around the back of the building while Jinx went in the legal way. He showed his fake ID—it read JOSH TODD—and from there gained easy en- trance. Stray had already gotten into the hospital’s system and given Gillian a brother named John, and put John down on the list of visitors. Jinx figured that there would be so many people there that day wandering the grounds that breaking her out should be relatively easy
This place was worse than the morgue and he steeled himself as he walked through, ignoring the ghosts that harangued him for attention. They flew at him like incoming missiles with deadly aim as an orderly named Ken came to guide him to Gillian’s room.
Jinx kept his eyes akimbo and his fists tightened at his sides. He felt hinky here—the result of the monster, not the ghosts. Whatever it actually was, he was pretty sure it was gone now, but it was bad. Really fucking bad, since his skin crawled as if it were contaminated.
“She doesn’t like to come out during the day,” Ken told him.
Makes sense, Jinx mused as he nodded and the guy continued, “At least she’s back.”
“She never says where she’s been?”
“Won’t tell us, and if she tells the shrink, he can’t say.” Ken paused outside the locked door. “She took her pills this morning. But it’s been a while since you’ve seen her, right?”
“I’m in the military, so I haven’t been able to get home much.”
“I’m not sure if you know…but she can get violent. I’ll stay with you.”
“That’s not necessary,” Jinx told him. “I’ll be fine. But I would like to try to get her out for a walk.”
Ken looked at Jinx like he belonged in the padded room as well. “She can’t.”
“She’s considered too dangerous.”
Jinx stopped arguing and instead looked into the small window.
Gillian had her back to the door. She was curled like a wolf on the bed, the T-shirt she wore riding up on her thighs.
“We give her clothes but she barely wears them. The nurse got her into that when she was half asleep.”
The door clicked behind her and Gillian jumped up and stared at him. Jinx remained in place, more out of shock than because it was the best way to handle this wild wolf.
She was no Were—he’d known that the second he’d stepped inside. Gillian Black was a Dire, and she was weeks away from her first shift. His Brother Wolf could smell a Sister Wolf, and his wolf surged in a nearly uncontrollable frenzy. That hadn’t happened to Jinx since he was newly transitioned himself.
It didn’t hurt that she was gorgeous. Wild, long- limbed, brown hair tumbling over her shoulders. Golden skin and her eyes glowed nearly aqua, like the shimmering ocean that reminded him of the old country.
“Down, Brother,” he murmured to himself and she cocked her head and stared at him.
He had no doubt his eyes had begun to change to the wolf’s. “Gillian, I’m here to help you.”
“They all say that.” Her voice was raspy from underuse.
“I mean it.”
Sister Wolf is confused, Brother told him.
“Who are you?” she demanded. She might not have been trained in the warrior ways, but she circled him as if ready to fight.
“I’m just like you.”
“A mental patient?”
Jinx grinned. “Let’s take a walk.”
“To remind myself what I can’t have? No. Besides, I’m not allowed to.”
“I didn’t say we were coming back.” He barely spoke the words, but the way her eyes widened, he knew she’d heard him clear as day.
* * * * *
Gillian wanted to ask this man with the long reddish brown hair why he’d do that. But really, she was too busy being drawn into his eyes.
Something deep inside of her that wanted the moon was also drawn to this man.
She never trusted, but the rustling said to now.
“How long have you been here?” he asked with a sidelong glance out the single window on the door.
He was built like a warrior from gladiator times—she’d seen the show on the TV in the main room. He looked as though he could do anything.
“Does it matter?” she finally asked.
“To me, yes.”
“Five years this spring.” It was spring already but she wouldn’t give him a date even if he asked outright. She needed to keep something for herself, had learned the importance of doing so in a place like this.
A scream tore through the late-afternoon air, sailed in through the window and made her cringe.
“It’s like that all the time,” she told him. “Worse on visiting day.”
“Do you get many visitors?”
“You’re my first in over a year.” Over three years, actually. At some point her parents had given up. There were care packages, clothes she never wore, books she never read. Nothing that could be of any value to her.
“You’ll stay with my family,” he told her. “They’re all like you. I’m like you.”
She didn’t know what he meant, but the rustling did, was chomping at the bit to be with others like herself.
She didn’t ask how he planned to do anything. He simply pointed to her pants. She slid them on and he knocked on the door.
“She wants to walk with me,” Josh Todd said.
The orderly looked between them. “Not without a major dose of tranquilizer.”
No choice,the rustling said, but Gillian shook her head and backed away. Too many injections made her feel odder than she already did. She could barely get her equilibrium during the past six months to begin with, never mind the last five years that passed in a blur of sameness.
Except for the escapes, the only time she could actually breathe, time had ceased meaning any- thing at all.
This wasn’t going to go well at all. Josh Todd spoke to her in a low voice, but she lunged past him and threw herself at the orderly.
She hated him and this place. Hated the visitor too, who’d promised her too much and then didn’t come through for her.
So what was the point of sitting here like a good girl, telling them, “Oh no, I don’t need to go outside—I’ll just stay here.”
The next time she left, she wasn’t coming back. The decision had been made but it would be on her own steam.
The orderly was coming with a dose of tranquilizers and she didn’t want them. Even though the other man told her to take them, that they would help with the escape, she wouldn’t submit.
Nothing inside of her ever truly would.