Afterglow (Wildefire)

Afterglow (Wildefire) by Karsten Knight

Book: Afterglow (Wildefire) by Karsten Knight Read Free Book Online
Authors: Karsten Knight
headed for the nearest of the two and wheeled back, ready to kick the door down . . .
    But then she heard just the faintest peal of laughter from the other room. When she listened more closely with her ear against the door, she could hear two people inside giggling over the alarm—a man and a woman. There was a hard wrenching sound, then the alarm on the other side of the door cut out altogether.
    Until now Ash had sensed there was something shady about this kidnapping, but that hunch was quickly transforming into understanding. And with that Ash felt her anger heading for its boiling point.
    Ash took a step back and unleashed a devastating kick on the door in question, her foot connecting hard, right next to the lock. The door imploded, slamming against the wall inside with its mangled dead bolt protruding like a broken bone. The scene inside the hotel room brought Ash’s rampage to a momentary but very abrupt stop.
    On the bed, as she predicted, Modo’s girlfriend lay only half-dressed, tangled up in a bedsheet with the water from the sprinklers cascading down on her. Her matted blond hair was so long that it practically flowed off the mattress, and she pulled the covers more tightly over herself when she saw Ash. Although she was no longer laughing or smiling upon Ash’s entrance, the expression on her face wasn’t a “thank God someone’s come to save me” look that would make sense for someone who’d been kidnapped.
    It was the guilty expression of someone who had just been caught in a lie.
    That much Ash had expected. But the other man in the room was the true surprise. His name was Brett Hardeson, and Ash knew this because he was a musician—a pop star. His infectious breakout hit “Star-studded” had been ravaging the Top 40 radio stations for the last two months. Now here he stood in front of Ash, wearing only a pair of boxer shorts and the fire alarm that he’d ripped out of the wall, while the sprinklers continued to wet his boyish haircut and his bare chest.
    Before Ash’s brain could properly compute “Modo’s supposedly kidnapped girlfriend is sleeping with a pop star,” Brett lunged for her. Water droplets flew off his wet body, and one of his fists transformed into wood midair, on a collision course for Ash’s face.
    Ash dodged the punch, letting the wooden fist clip her shoulder, then seized her attacker under his bare armpits. With her strength still fully engaged, she lifted him off the carpet and hurled him into the wall behind her.
    His body struck the ornate sculpture that had been nailed to the wall, which looked like a pair of twisted antlers. Both the man and sculpture fell, but the pop star’s face smashed into the cherry dresser on his way down.
    His eyes rolled back into his head, and his body transformed. Hair sprouted out of his smooth, toned pale chest, which lost all its muscle definition. An angry red burn mark appeared on his wrist, and when the metamorphosis was complete, Proteus lay on the carpet, unmoving.
    Someone squeaked behind Ash. She turned to findJenna, still wearing only lacy lingerie, darting off the bed and toward the exit.
    Ash was too fast for her. In one jump she blocked Jenna’s escape, slammed the broken door shut, and then grabbed Jenna by the throat. While Jenna flailed futilely, Ash threw her out the sliding doors onto the balcony.
    Jenna curled up in a ball, quivering against the railing. Tears were streaking down her classically beautiful face—it was the kind of face that could probably make a man do anything. Ash towered over her. She was so angry that the water from the sprinklers evaporated right off her red-hot skin and into a fine mist. “Right now,” Ash said, “you’re probably wondering what you should be more afraid of: the twenty-seven-story drop behind you”—Ash pointed to Tremont Street, so far below them—“or the angry Polynesian volcano goddess in front of you. If you don’t tell me who you are and what’s going on,

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