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Authors: J. C. Daniels

Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Vampires, #Tagline… A knife in the dark

Night Blade (13 page)

BOOK: Night Blade
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As I disconnected the phone, I studied the Eagle.

It was like touching a stick. Guns had no music for me. No meaning. They didn’t talk to me and they didn’t whisper. Almost all of my other weapons did.

Still, even my firearms had their place.

And this mean son of a bitch would put nasty holes through the bike Justin loved so much. Especially since the ammo I used had been magic-charged. Colleen had given me a look of much pain when I’d asked her to find me a warrior in her house who’d do it.

Colleen, a healer out of the Green Road House of Witches, adored me, but she was a pacifist. Most witches were. But as I’d once been told, even a peace-loving house needed their warriors if they wanted to survive in our world. The witch she’d found to charge the ammo had been utterly delighted at the challenge.

And one touch to the jacketed, hollow-point beauties told me one thing…the charge was still there.

Yep. If he didn’t call me, I had a date with that bike of his.

 

* * * * *

 

Useless waste

The nightmares found me.

It wasn’t a surprise.

I huddled against a wall, clutching my broken arm and staring at my grandmother.

She wasn’t alone this time.

Samuel was with her. The vampire—the one who’d called me a whore. The one Damon had supposedly killed. He smiled at me and opened his mouth to reveal fangs that made me think of a snake’s.

Deadly.

So deadly.

“You can’t save him. You couldn’t even save yourself,” Samuel said, smiling at me. It wasn’t a kind smile. It was the smile a madman would give his victim right before he ripped off her head.

“I did save myself,” I said, trying to think past the pain in my head. I shifted my gaze to Fanis. How I hated her…her face was an elegant, more beautiful, older version of mine. Unlined, despite the fact that she was coming up on her third century. Lovely as the day was long. And so very cruel. “I got away from
you
.”

“Did you?” She smiled and bent down to stroke my hair. She
tsk
ed as she drew her hand away and reached for a cloth to wipe it clean. “Filthy thing. And you didn’t get away. I’m still
here
, aren’t I?”

“No.” I lurched upward, swallowing a scream as my broken arm smacked against the stone wall at my back. “I’m dreaming. Just a dream. You’re nothing but a nightmare.”

“Darling…I’m one of your worst,” she whispered, still smiling. “But that doesn’t mean I’m not
real
.”

As she reached out to touch my cheek, I batted her hand away with my unbroken one. “Don’t touch me, you twisted bitch.”

She laughed and backhanded me. Men rushed up to grab me and I shuddered as pain danced through me. My arm…fuck, my arm.

“Does it hurt?” she asked, studying me. “Tell me it hurts, Granddaughter. Let me hear you scream…”

 

I came awake with the scream trapped in my throat.

No

I didn’t scream.

Not for her.

Not anymore, not even in dreams.

Not for a long, long time.

Huddling against the headboard of my bed, I flexed my arm and all but sobbed as I could move it without pain. Three times, now, it had been broken. Twice by her.

The memory of the pain was awful, a sickening beast that lived in my belly and I wanted to curl up and hide away from the memory of it. Instead, I drew my knees to my chest and breathed.

Quietly.

Slowing my breaths down took practice. Focus.

But I wasn’t going to let her win.

I
had
gotten away.

She wasn’t in my head and those dreams were just that.

Dreams.

 

* * * * *

 

Morning took too long.

I spent the rest of the night huddled in my bed and fearing the darkness like some young child who lived in fear of the monsters under the bed. My monsters lived inside of me, and that made it all the more pathetic.

Part of me kept hoping the phone would ring.

Part of me wanted to reach for the damn thing and call Damon.

Hearing his voice would fix everything.

Instead, I waited in bed until dawn and then stumbled into the shower. Once I was in there, I scrubbed my skin until it glowed red, washing away the dirty stain of the dream, scrubbing my hair, then scrubbing my skin a second time.

I wasn’t filthy.

I wasn’t the weak, dirty child who’d run from her, broken and terrified years ago.

Lifting my face to the water, I whispered, “I am aneira. My sword arm is mighty. My aim is true. My heart is strong…”

And my grandmother hadn’t broken me.

 

* * * * *

 

I was finishing my second cup of coffee and a donut so smothered in chocolate there might as well not
be
any donut when I felt the warm prickle on my skin.

A powerful male, that much I could tell without opening the door.

It also wasn’t Damon.

And I knew my early morning visitor, too.

Sighing, I glanced down at my clothes and made a bypass by my laundry basket to grab a tank top. I tugged it on over the sport bra I usually practiced in and then I made another stop.

The Desert Eagle was sitting right top of the duffle bag, all matte black and pretty. I loaded it with two bullets, though I figured I’d only need one to make my point.

I was at the door before Justin had managed to bang on it even the first time.

He had his fist raised.

Shoving the door open, I stepped back out of his reach and took aim over his shoulder. “Now it’s
my
turn,” I said flatly, narrowing my eyes as I aimed at the back tire.

“If you pull that trigger, I’m going to paddle your ass.”

“Yeah, yeah.” I narrowed my eyes. “You’ve seen what a Desert Eagle will do, right, Justin? I can put a bullet-hole in a man the size of a soft ball…or bigger.”

“I’ve got wards around my bike,” he snapped.

“And I’ve got magically charged ammo.”

I shifted my gaze to him and smiled. “Iron. Hollow point. Charged by a warrior out of Green House. Wanna see who wins?”

“You’re a bitch. Don’t you have a fucking job to do?”

“Yes.” I went back to staring at his bike.

“That gun is too heavy to hold for long,” he said.

“Wanna bet?”

The Desert Eagle
did
feel heavy in my hand, but I could hold it. The beauty of not being entirely human…I could do things no human could, no matter how strong they were.

Seconds ticked away. Finally, he spun away with a snarl. “What the fuck, Kit?”

I lowered the gun and smiled. “You ready to come in and talk?”

 

* * * * *

 

“I
can’t
help you,” he said again. “This was made damn clear.”

I stretched out my legs and folded my hands over my belly as I stared at the ceiling. “Here’s the problem, Justin, and you can either explain it to the big shots at Banner or I’ll go to Colleen and Green Road.”

His eyes slitted. “You can’t talk. I made sure of that.”

“She’s an empath. I won’t have to…at first.” Sitting up, I rested my elbows on my knees and stared at him. “Then she’ll pick up on the fact that I had a binding laid on me without my consent. Dirty pool, there, you know it and so do I. She can break it and if she can’t, somebody in her house can.”

He started to pace.

“Once the oath is broken, I’m going to go to the Assembly. I’ve seen enough of their meetings in the past day to know one thing—some of them don’t like Damon. He’s a maverick. But even more of them
hated
Annette and they are glad he came in and took care of her.”

“Nobody disputes that.” He shot me a dirty look.

I smiled serenely at him. “Here’s what
I
dispute. If I go to them and say a handful of people are trying to set him up and I don’t like how it’s playing out…there are going to be problems. And you know it.”

He stopped pacing and turned to stare at me.

“Somebody is working this,” I told him. “I don’t know
why
. I don’t get it and I don’t see
how
, but somebody is working this to get him out of the way.”

“It doesn’t change the fact that he likely killed five Assemblymen for no reason.”

I reached into my bag and pulled out the picture of Samuel. “One of them made a perceived threat against me.”

“Samuel.” Justin’s eyes narrowed. Then he shifted his gaze to me. “Perceived how?”

I gave him the brief version.

“He’d kill because somebody called his girlfriend a whore?”

Rubbing my hands over my face, I fought past the headache, past the pain in my chest and past the clinging dregs of the nightmare for some modicum of composure. When I thought I could speak clearly, I lowered my hands and then reached for the black leather brace I’d taken to wearing around my left wrist. I didn’t
always
have it on.

But Damon worried that the marks would make me a target.

I didn’t like him worrying any more than he had to.

So when I was out working the job, I kept it on.

Unlacing it, I stripped it off and dumped the leather on the table and then held out my hand, wrist turned up so the light shone down on the silvery marks there.

“It goes a little deeper than his girlfriend,” I said quietly.

Justin hissed out a breath.

“I think you knew it was pretty damned serious, or you wouldn’t have bothered approaching me.” I reached for the bracer but before I could put it back on, Justin was there, holding my hand in his, staring at my wrist. I tugged on my hand, but he didn’t let go. “Do you mind?”

“Yeah.” He nodded slowly. “I knew it was serious, but shit, Kit. This is permanent for him. He warned you about that, right? Did he make sure you understood what this meant for him? When a shifter does this, it’s….” his voice trailed off and he lifted his gaze to stare at me.

“I know what it means, Justin.” It was a permanent thing, that mark. Not just because I scarred from it—if I was a shifter, it would have healed. It wasn’t the mark, but the meaning behind it. Shifters don’t bite like that unless there’s something serious…something
permanent
. When Damon did it, it was his sign that he’d accepted what he felt for me. When I
let
him, it was my way of telling him I was cool with it. Rubbing my thumb of the scar, I tugged my wrist and this time, Justin let go.

A heavy sigh drifted from him. “I’d heard rumors, but…well. I guess the cute leather bracer isn’t just to make you look tougher than you already are,” he said, moving away to stare out the window.

“If I wanted to look like a badass, I’d get a Banner cop uniform and stick pretty silver sparklies on the arms.”

He didn’t respond, just stared outside as if the answers to the universe and everything were written somewhere on the broken pavement. Long moments ticked away before he finally said, “Kit, you understand, regardless of what the Assembly is up to, Damon has Banner worried. If we can’t show just cause, they want him dead.”

“Then we find just cause. But you have to convince them that I’m working blind and I need help.”

He turned around, staring at me with unreadable eyes. “And why do you need help?”

“You never used to be stupid, Justin.” I finished lacing the bracer back on and climbed off the couch. I needed to do something with my hands. Since I was no longer in planning on shooting up his bike, I decided to put the Desert Eagle up. “How easy do you think it’s going to be for
me
to go up to anybody who has any connection to Damon and start asking questions without it getting back to him? Think that through. You want me to play this all hush-hush, but I’m involved with this guy.”

“I’ve got that much figured out,” he muttered, his voice dark.

I shot him a sidelong look. Had there been something there? Something in his voice.

“How am I supposed to accomplish this without him asking what I’m up to?”

He rested his hands on his hips, head cocked as he watched me. “And how am
I
supposed to help?”

“Oh, that’s easy.” I gave him a wide smile. “You can make up some bullshit reason—you’re a Banner cop and Banner often works through…intermediaries. I’ll play your go-between, there to help out.
You
act like
you’re
doing the investigation just long enough to ask the questions that need to be asked. If Damon says a damn thing, I can tell him I got dragged into it because I have a history with Banner and the local Assembly. It’s the truth, on both sides. He won’t like it, but it will pass.”

“And if he asks what I’m investigating?”

“I’ll say I’m not authorized to discuss that and you’ve placed a binding on my ass.” I smiled serenely at him. “Then I’m going to tell him another truth—as soon as this job is done, I plan on kicking your ass over it, Justin. You never should have done that. I would have helped you anyway, and you know it.”

 

The words Justin left me with weren’t all complimentary. They involved:
I’ll do what I can. Accompanied by if you touch my bike, I’m hexing your ass and you went crazy the past few years, Kit.

But as he paused at my door, he reached up, touched my cheek.

“I’m sorry.”

I backed away from his hand. “For what, fucking up my life?”

“I’m trying to help fix it,” he said grimly. “If I’d known he was that important…”

Then he just shook his head and walked off. The wind kicked up, blowing a few of his dreads away from his face. Sunlight glinted off the silver worked into his sleeves and again, I wondered about it.

“Stay in touch, Justin,” I called out. “I can only do so much more of this solo.”

He gave me a short wave over his shoulder.

He’d work it out. Somehow.

He was good at the sort of thing.

I scrambled and skated by.

Justin always managed to rise above and glide.

Once he was gone, I locked up and reset the wards. I had one thing I thought I could maybe do today without a lot of trouble or grief.

One thing.

The two people who claimed they’d seen Damon around Silas MacDonald’s place were wolves I knew. A couple of bottom feeders who hung out in Wolf Haven. It was a trip that would keep me busy for most of the day. I could get down there, question them. And the good news, if they had to die, nobody would miss them.

BOOK: Night Blade
8.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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