Read Night Blade Online

Authors: J. C. Daniels

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

Night Blade (22 page)

BOOK: Night Blade
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At least that’s what it felt like.

Xavier must have had magics laid on his bike because with the brilliant blue explosion, the bike went into a skid. Only thing that saved us from crashing into that expanding wave of furious power was the fact that I could feel his magic grabbing us and jerking us back.

The bike was propelling us forward, his magic was jerking us back and the pavement was chewing a hole through my jeans, my skin and then I hit my head and for a few sweet, sweet moments…everything was blanketed in gray.


* * * * *


By the time those gray clouds cleared, it was like the whole world was burning. Even though everything looked
to my eyes, it didn’t
that way. I could feel the heat slamming against my shields and I could feel the air as it was being squeezed out of my lungs and I was certain that if I didn’t move, didn’t get away, I was going to die.

Rolling onto my belly, determined to do just that—get away—I went to shove onto my hands and knees.

Somebody forced me back onto my face in the dirt.

“You move, you die.”

The voice. I knew that voice. Didn’t like the owner of it. Didn’t know why, but after a few seconds…

Oh. Yeah. Sleazy son-of-a-bitch witch.

Evil witches were bad.

This guy had
written all over him. Bad news.

In my pain-driven state, I think maybe I saw a little more clearly than I had earlier and that spell Colleen had cast on him now made more sense. I flexed my hand, ready to call my sword but his voice stopped me.

“Marlowe and your cat are at each other’s throats—son of a bitch is throwing magics out like he doesn’t care who lives or dies and I’m not strong enough to do anything more than buckle down and wait it out.” Xavier’s voice was a disgusted mutter just a few inches away from my ear. “If you leave the circle I’ve got down, you aren’t going to live and I am
responsible for your stupidity. You hear me?”

I tried to think past the roaring in my ears.

The air was thick with magic and it was the angry kind. Careless. Careless didn’t fit the image I had of Marlowe but if Marlowe thought he was about ready to go down in a blaze of glory? Behind my eyes, I thought I caught flickers of something virulent and red, ricocheting through the air.

All the oxygen seemed to disappear from the world and Xavier muttered, “Aw,

I forced myself into a crouch. I could see past the circle Xavier had cast and just a few dozen yards away, there was a dead hawk lying there. “What happened to it?”

“Marlowe,” he said thinly. “He’s got an affinity for death magic. It’s forbidden but he doesn’t care.”

Beneath us, the ground shuddered and then he looked at me. “Your cat isn’t going to make it if this keeps up. I’m barely holding the shields and I’m not in the thick of it. If he—”

Despite the wild magic rippling all around us, a surreal quiet had fallen but the sound of a weapon firing through the night had suddenly shattered it. Yeah, no mistaking that sound.


My brain kicked into gear and I started processing. No. I didn’t like modern weapons, although some of the weapons manufactured back in the 1800 and 1900s weren’t bad. They usually needed work when I got a hold of them, like my Desert Eagle—they were in bad need of repair, some TLC and I usually had to have my ammo specially made.

Weapons, though, regardless of their craftsmanship, or lack of, were my stock and trade and I knew them.

The one being fired now wasn’t new—the typical gun of today was quieter and operated with either a laser or an electric discharge. Most. Not all.

There were still plenty that fired ammo like the old school weapons, but my ears told me this was an older one. The kind that would cut through a tank. The kind soldiers had carried when they walked through deserts back in the wars fought in the earlier part of the century, right before our presence had been brought into the open.

They were rare these days, but I knew what it was: an old-school assault rifle with armor piercing capabilities. Loaded with the right kind of ammo—
magically charged
ammo, a weapon like that could take down just about anything…an elephant, a tank, a homicidal vampire. Or an enraged witch with a knack for death spells.

Magic ripped through the air—fuck. That was the right kind of ammo. I gasped as I felt in it the pit of my gut. The screaming started almost instantly.

“Something charged in that weapon,” Xavier whispered. “Where in the hell did he get that idea?”

I swallowed, staring at the ground. The weapon fired again and each time, the power built in the air. Higher and higher.

“He’s going to bring down the fucking ward. Son of a bitch…” Xavier’s voice was full of shock, amazement and a little bit of horror.

I clamped my hands over my ears, because I knew what was coming. I could hear something shrieking—the wards, maybe. I could hear somebody screaming off in the distance, even though I knew the firefight was easily a mile away.

The magic built and built, and built—

When it broke, it was like a tsunami and I swayed under it. Blood trickled from my nose and I huddled there, convinced that somehow, the dying magic would get in and grab me.


* * * * *


“It’s over.”

I watched as Xavier rolled to his feet and kicked at the circle.

The air smelled of death and scorched earth and over it, I could smell hot grass, ozone and the scent of a coming storm.

Had I been human, I never would have noticed the magical, deathly storm that had just passed. Not until it killed me, at least. Flat on my back, I held a cloth to my nose and waited for the bleeding to stop. “Did Marlowe kill any people?”

Xavier was mopping up the sweat from his brow and paused to look at me, an irritated look on his face. “How the fuck should I know?”

Colleen. This guy is an asshole. I want to play slice and dice.

Instead of doing that, I climbed to my feet and took a few seconds to check my nose. The bleeding had eased up, although I had that disgusting sticky feel inside from the clotting. Wonderful. Folding the cloth inside itself, I tucked it back into my pocket and stared at him. “You’re a witch. You can sense death pretty damn easily, if you’ll exert yourself for a minute.” I waited a beat. “Exert yourself.”

“I think I’ve exerted myself enough,” he replied. “Fucking crazy bitch. Nobody said I was going to have to do any of this shit.”

“This wasn’t exactly what I was planning, I’ll agree, but you said yourself. You freelance. That means you should be used to changing up your job on the fly and that’s what you did.” Taking a step toward him, keeping my gaze locked on his face, I tried again. “I want to know if anybody died.”

“You owe me money,” he warned, jerking at the twig that seemed to be embedding itself in his wrist.

“You’ll get paid. But the question is how much? Do a good job and you’ll get paid for it. Do a lousy job and I might just reimburse you for the gas and the damage done to your bike.”

The look that crossed his face was ugly and it might have scared me, if he was anything more than a half-assed witch.

Not that being afraid would ever stop me.

“Do your damned job,” I said quietly.

The look in his eyes was pure venom but he turned away, staring off toward the now-silent battle zone. Tension rippled through him, wrapped around him. I could sometimes feel the echoes of death, but I had to be a lot closer than this and that was one thing I couldn’t do right now.

“A handful of his people are dead,” Xavier said. “They’ve got his signature all over them and they stink with his power. He’s dead, too. It’s on his head because he should have taken better care of his people when he went into a fight with a high level NH. Charter covers that and money from his estate will have to be paid to their families.” A sneer curled his lip. “Your cat ain’t responsible for anybody’s death. Well, except Marlowe’s but the high-levels get into fights all the time.”

The big problem here…he knew what Damon had done.

The bond on his wrist could cover that.

I’d meant to
the fight, not give another witness.

I’d inadvertently done that, but I could possibly get Colleen to work this…yeah. I think I could.

She couldn’t do it indefinitely, but I didn’t need that.

I just needed time to get—

“He’s coming.” Xavier unceremoniously shoved me to the wreck of his bike a few feet away.

“You have to cover the entire area,” I warned. “If he catches my scent, we’re fucked.”

Before he could argue with me, I added, “If he can smell
, he’ll smell
. And he can hunt, can track…and he just killed a witch you were apparently terrified of. I’d suggest you cover
ass, if nothing else.”

When the cloaking fell around this time, it was so all-encompassing, I felt like I’d been shoved into a vat of cotton. I was still struggling to think past it, see past it, feel, smell, when I heard the powerful engine of Damon’s Challenger tearing up the road.

I don’t even know if I
when the car slowly came to a stop.

Not by us. It was a few feet away, probably twenty and from here, I could see the path the bike had taken when it had wrecked.

“Not good,” Xavier muttered and his head cut to me, his gaze raking over me. “You bled, sugar. I can’t completely mask that smell.”

All the oxygen dwindled out of my lungs as Damon climbed out of the car, his eyes narrowed, head tipped back.

I knew what he was doing. He’d caught a scent.

“Can he smell it?”

Xavier’s jaw clenched. “Not entirely. It’s more like…something he forgot. Smell and memory are pretty tightly linked, but the cloaking is screwing with it so he’s not sure—”

Both of us froze as Damon knelt in the dirt, studying the track the bike had taken. He followed the path with his eyes and although he couldn’t
us, he was looking right at the bike, his gaze puzzled as he tried to think it through. He couldn’t see the bike, but if he walked over there…

, shit

Xavier’s breathing hitched. He lifted a hand and I did the same. Leveling my blade at him, I said quietly, “Do a damn thing to hurt him and I’ll carve your dick off, you hear me?”

“Give me some credit.” He flicked his wrist and Damon stilled, looking back toward the interstate.

I didn’t hear anything, but Damon apparently did.

His phone rang in the next second. He answered it, straightening from his crouch, still staring at the earth.

Only thirty feet separated us.

My ears weren’t as keen as his, but the cloaking spell didn’t affect me and I could hear the phone call just fine.

It was Chang on the other end. “Is it done?”

“It’s done. She’s safe for now, but keep your ears open. And if you hear
about where in the hell I can find that evil bitch…” Damon was staring off into the distance now, but the look on his face—it was enough to freeze the blood in my veins.

Looking at him, even knowing him, see the sly humor, the way he interacted, one would probably think his fury would be all fire and heat. But it wasn’t. It was ice. Pure, glacial ice, like the icecaps that were receding more and more every year.

Right now, the storm clouds in his eyes were so cold, it was a wonder the very air hadn’t frozen along with his rage.

“I’m still searching, Damon,” Chang said and his voice was that low, almost soothing tone I’d grown more accustomed to. “But I don’t think it’s a place people like us, or even the humans can find. You may never find her unless Kit can find her way back, or unless her grandmother comes out looking for her.”

“Kit won’t go back,” Damon said. He scraped the toe of his boot over something in the dirt. I was pretty sure it was some of my blood. I could still see the bemusement on his face, but it had faded away into the background under the fury. The one time in my life I could actually be grateful for my grandmother, I thought. “But that woman may come looking for her. Keep alert, Chang. I’m counting on you.”

Closing my eyes, I gripped the hilt of my sword.

And the sick feeling in my heart spread.

For me.

All of this was for me.

I had to get back and talk to Justin.



Chapter Thirteen



“Call Colleen,” Xavier said as I dismounted the busted-up mess of his bike. I think he’d whispered and spelled the wreck into getting us here.

I smiled at him. “I’ll go by her house. Straight from here.” I had to. I’d call Justin and ask him to meet me there, but I had to go there and get her to heal my leg, change into a spare set of clothes that she kept on hand…
tell her what I needed her to do about Xavier.

“Call her,” he snapped, jerking fitfully at the brown thing on his wrist.

It had gotten darker, I realized and it no longer looked
like a twig. Blood oozed out from it but it never fell. I stared, mesmerized as one of the little stump-like protrusions snaked out as a bead of blood welled up. It started to roll down his wrist but the stump of the twig lapped at the blood like a tongue.

What in the hell kind of magic had Colleen used?

“I’m not calling her,” I said quietly.

His arm shot out.

I pulled my blade, leveled her before his fingers even got close. I let her point kiss his flesh as I smiled at him. “You don’t want to do that.”

“Bitch, you cut me and I’ll hurt you,” he warned.

“Hurt doesn’t faze me. I’ll talk to Colleen. It’s forty minutes away and that thing isn’t going to kill you from here to there. You said you had until nightfall and it’s not even close.”

Something powerful and frightening danced in the back of his eyes.

“You’re not going to freak me out or scare me into changing my mind and if you keep this up, I’ll have a nice little chat, not just with Colleen but with every damned witch I can find,” I warned him. “Don’t expect to find a lot of work in the near future when I’m done.”

BOOK: Night Blade
8.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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