If there was one thing Oz really hated, it was getting shot. It was just something that always put him in a bad mood.
And when he was in a bad mood, he tended to want to rip the throat out of stuff. Namely: Anita Blake, super bitch extraordinaire.
She'd been pretty much riding his last nerve and had finally crossed that invisible line where he wasn't about to give her anymore second chances.
Being shot really hurt and he figured he was going to be having a bad time of it later, but at least she hadn't used silver, so he was able to get back up again. Just BLAM! and through the explosive agony in his chest, he got to experience the weird star burst pain of the back of his head bouncing against the floor. He was pretty sure he might even have a concussion, though he wasn't letting the double-vision get one up on him.
He lay on the floor and let the Rage fill him until that was all there was, and through the darkness, his Beast burst out of his skin in a thunderous rush of claws, fur, and ripping TEETH.
Sometimes Changing was the worst kind of pain. It was like having all of the skin torn off his body in one swift jerk while someone pulverized all his bones and remade him as a slavering monster. And other times--this time--it was like he'd been released from some terrible prison.
The world had fallen into shades of monochrome, but scents wavered in the air as bursts of bright "color," or what his brain interpreted as color. He leapt to his feet and opened his mouth and roared as hard as he could, saliva spraying freely against her cringing face.
She made to turn and run, but he was already in motion, his powerful legs sending him hurtling at her. She shot him a couple of times--painful stings against his broad hairy chest--but he was in such a state that he barely noticed them as anything more than annoyances. He was in the kind of dark headspace where all he could hear was the snarl of his Beast reverberating through his chest and more than anything he wanted to cause lasting pain.
He hit her hard, sending her skidding across the floor as he rode her back, his claws biting into her flesh with each angry slap, tearing at her until blood was spraying everywhere. Dimly he heard the screams of the other people in the room, but his focus was centered entirely on her and causing as much damage as he could.
Rage was a song that filled his head with the thunderous beats of some fearsome drum. He'd trained himself to the point that he could retain some bit of his human brain--enough to keep him away from certain areas and to not hunt and kill humans--but right in this moment he was filled with a fierce exaltation.
He had her beneath him, writhing and screaming and trying to buck him off, but her powers had no effect on him. She controlled the dead, and he was far from it. He was all heat and energy and pure animal power, nothing of the grave lingering in him for her to grab onto and make her own.
He could taste her panic perfuming the air and the smell excited him. She tried to hit him off, tried to get her hand to her gun or her blade or anything, but he didn't hesitate to slash at both of her arms with his claws, cracking bone and ripping flesh.
Anita might have seen herself as some kind of metaphysical powerhouse, but he was a different order of beast and her powers meant nothing to him. He could feel her battering away at him, but it was like being slapped by vapor, weak and inconsequential.
He roared in her face, his slavering jaws dripping on her cringing cheeks, and lunged forward to bite.
Something slammed into him hard from the right and he skidded sideways, refusing to let go of his hold on Anita. Her scream of pain was shrill and breathy and there was a spray of bright arterial blood--he must have nicked something with his claws--and he snarled viciously and turned his head toward his attacker.
Jean-Claude's face was a mask of grief and rage, his blue eyes seeming to float on the pale oval of his skin. "Leave her!"
Oz roared at him, but Jean-Claude was foolishly brave, or maybe just that desperate. Jean-Claude ran at him again, his bare hands curled into claw-shapes. It was pathetic and weak and some darker part of Oz was wanted to see what Jean-Claude thought he could do before he died.
Instinct took over for a second and Oz batted out when Jean-Claude drew close, his arm hitting with deadly force. If Jean-Claude had been a human... It was lucky that he was a vampire, but even still he was flung across the ballroom to slam hard into the floor, his body spinning and flopping until he plowed into the legs of some of the spectators.
Oz rose up on his hind legs and roared again, his mouth opening wide to display his sharp teeth in a spray of saliva. His demonic eyes stared around, challenging anyone to step up and fight him.
There was the sound of ripping clothes and flesh and the snarls of beasts, but werewolf Oz was not afraid. He reveled in the thought of a good fight, his mouth hungry for the taste of flesh.
There was a weak cry from beneath him and he felt Anita trying to drag herself across the floor away from him. He slammed his right paw down in the center of her chest warningly, hearing ribs crack as she screamed.
She had attacked him, hurt him. She was his prey.
And he wasn't going to let anyone take her away from him. Not until he got his pound of flesh.