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Authors: J. C. Daniels

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

Night Blade (9 page)

BOOK: Night Blade
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Damon isn’t human. I wasn’t going to expect him to have human reactions.

And hell, even though I am
mostly
human, I know I wouldn’t react well if I found out Damon was hanging out with one of his former lovers. I’d react badly. Probably with bloodshed. Grimacing to myself, I figured it would be best if we just didn’t find out.

Not how
I
would react…not how
he
would react. So it was a good thing Damon left before I did. And a good thing that the dark-clad figure I glimpsed in the parking lot had waited until Damon left before he made his appearance.

Justin had never lacked for brains, I could give him that.

Somehow I didn’t think my current lover would be overly happy if he saw my ex-lover loitering at my door, in the parking lot.

Especially in the uniform he wore.

Justin’s Banner uniform was standard black, although in my rearview mirror, I saw odd flashes of silver that I couldn’t quite figure out.

The dark mass of his hair was pulled back and shades shielded his eyes as he stuck very, very close to my bumper. Wasn’t taking a chance that I’d lose him this time.

As I slowed down at a red light, I waved at him.

A slow grin curved his lips but he didn’t wave back.

Well, the grin wasn’t a bad omen, I decided.

If Justin was mad, he would have been glaring at me. Hell, I wouldn’t put it past him to use his magic to stop my car in the middle of the road. He could do it. Justin was a witch. Up until he’d signed on with Banner, he’d been unaffiliated, not linked up with any of the witch houses but that was because he couldn’t stand the rules and the structure that went with the few of them he would have been suited to.

Justin and I were a lot alike in some ways…problem children, to the core.

My office wasn’t close to my home. It was on the far side of East Orlando, close to the main offices of the Assembly but also very, very close to the border. A few miles either way and I’d be in cat territory, wolf territory and just a little north of here was Orlando. Human ground.

I liked being accessible.

Not that many humans came looking for me these days.

They stayed holed up in Orlando. The tourists came for the parks, enjoyed their vacations and left. The rest of them stayed for the jobs and lived in spelled, gated communities because they didn’t think it was safe with all the monsters around anymore.

Hell,
we
were safer than they were.

Their gangs killed more humans than we did.

We might kill our own, but we rarely killed humans.

Amending that—under
normal
circumstances, we rarely killed humans. I’d killed a few of them several months back. I’d gone after those monsters who’d been hunting NH kids. Anybody who does that doesn’t deserve to live. I’d been careful. I’d covered my tracks. I was a born assassin and I knew how to kill, and do it without being caught. I hadn’t been bragging when I’d told Damon there were some things that I was just good at. I was good at killing. Fortunately, the skills that made me a good killer were also useful for other things.

The humans…an uncomfortable itch settled on my spine as I slid Justin another look. Banner stepped in when NHs went over the line, and I knew I had. I’d do it again, but in the eyes of the law, I’d fucked up and if they found out, I was dead.

There was no way he could be here because of
that
…could he?

I was still mulling that over when I finally reached my office thirty minutes later. Mulling it over, considering my options…trying to figure out the best way to get the hell away from Justin, because there was no
way
I was going down over what I’d done. Not easily, at least.

As I climbed out of my car, I watched as Justin swung a leg over his bike. He didn’t wear a helmet. Probably worried about messing up that pretty hair. He’d started growing the dreads out not long before we’d started dating and I had to admit…they looked very nice on him. But a cloth sack and bald head would look nice on Justin Greaves.

Sunlight danced off the silver worked into his sleeves and I studied it. Even up close, I couldn’t quite make it out. It didn’t look like decoration, exactly and while Justin was a vain piece of work, decoration didn’t suit him, either. Justin
was
decoration.

“You decide to stop avoiding me?” he asked, grinning at me.

“Hey, I wasn’t avoiding you.” I shrugged and shoved away from my car. “I was going to call you this morning.”

“Yeah. Sure.”

I shot him a dark look. “Since when do I lie?”

He didn’t answer. He probably knew better.

“I finished two jobs back to back, hadn’t been to the bank, I was tired and I had a date. If it was that important, you could have come inside to the bar to talk to me last night.” I raked him over from head to toe and grinned. “Trust me, nobody would have gotten in your way.”

“No chance of that happening, Kitty-kitty.” He waited at the door, one hand raised as he sensed the wards. “These are new.”

“Yes.” I had to deactivate them using a series of charms at my desk and he waited patiently while I did it. Would be easier if I was a witch, but oh, well. If I was a witch, I wouldn’t be running a jack-of-all-trades investigation service and somehow, I didn’t think Justin would be at my door. Hell, if I was a witch, I wouldn’t be living the life I was living.

“Why so much firepower, Kitty-kitty?”

“Quit calling me that,” I said as the wards shuddered, sighed, and faded away. I could come and go without them doing anything, but I wasn’t the problem. They responded to the presence of others, not me. Staring at the charms, I tried to decide if I wanted to go into detail about Jude.

He
was the reason I had so much firepower. Local vampire, big on the power level, low on the humanity level, and we had a complicated relationship.

Once, he’d saved my ass. Then he’d started annoying me…I can’t exactly explain when he’d started to worry me, but it had happened.

Turns out, I’d had good reason to worry. A few months ago, he tried to hurt me. Actually, he
had
hurt me. Badly. But the really shitty thing was that he hadn’t planned on stopping with that. So it was safer just to err on the side of caution when it came to him.

The wards were designed with him in mind, but they had lots of bells and whistles thrown in. The more power one had, the harder it would be to come through those wards unless I deactivated them.

Anything of the midlevel power range could come through easily enough but anything on that level, I could handle.

Jude and his fine ass would be stuck outside.

Even if he tried to bust the wards, it would also warn their makers: my friends, Colleen and other witches of the Green Road, one of the local houses. I had something of a singular honor with them—kinship. They wouldn’t die for me…well, Colleen might, but they’d come if I needed them. If they sensed the wards being disrupted, they’d be there and Orlando was one of their strongholds, with one of their smaller houses a few miles away. In a matter of minutes, they would have people here.

If they knew I needed them, they’d come.

It was a reassurance.

Still, I wasn’t about to get into it with my ex just then.

“You don’t really need to know, Justin.”

He studied me, green eyes watchful. “If you got that much trouble, you know I’ll help if I can.”

“Well…you’re not here much,” I pointed out. Then I shrugged. “Besides, it’s not trouble, really. It’s caution.”

I tossed the charms down on my desk and dropped down into the seat.

I didn’t bother letting him know the wards were down. He felt it and came inside, rambling around the office, pausing to study the spare weapons I kept mounted to the wall. One of them was a compound bow. I liked that bow. Damon had bought it for me and I’d used it to help track down some of the scum who’d gone hunting kids for recreation.

“I didn’t think you liked modern weapons.”

“I don’t usually. But that one is pretty nice.” Then I shrugged and added, “Besides, I don’t have to like them to appreciate their value. You probably know all sorts of magic that you don’t like. Doesn’t mean you can’t use it.”

“Good point.” Justin came over to sit down in the chair across from me. He stretched his long legs out in front of him and fixed his vivid green eyes on my face. Our gazes locked. Held. My heart slammed once against my ribs and somewhere in the back of my head, I heard a distant voice whisper,
Oh, shit
.

This was going to be bad.

I already knew it.

Something glinted in his eyes. It might have been regret. Then it was gone and he said softly, “You’re going to take a job, Kit.”

Oh, really
…?

I wanted more than anything to tell him to get the hell out. Just kick his excellent ass out of my office and maybe use some force if I had to. But even as I glared at him, my instincts were screaming. His face was grim, his mouth set in unsmiling lines and his green eyes were dark and unreadable. That wasn’t like him at all.

So as much as I wanted to tell him to fuck off and go away, those instincts of mine were telling me to shut up and listen. Still, I wasn’t about to let him think he could tell me what to do.

Slouching in my chair, I watched him with a faint smirk.

Justin leaned forward, elbows braced on his knees. “I can see what you’re thinking,” he mused. “It’s written in your eyes. You never have learned how to control that, Kitty-kitty.”

“If you keep on calling me that, I’m going to punch you,” I said, smiling at him.

He snorted. “Won’t be the first time.”

“Probably won’t be the last. Now, why don’t you finish spouting whatever crap you have to spout, so I can tell you no and kick you out?”

“You can’t,” he said and the gravity of his voice served to ratchet up the tension building in my chest. “And I think you already know something is fucked up. Because I can see that, too. I know you too well.”

“If you know me, Justin, then you know I don’t like games. Tell me what the hell is going on and quit screwing around.”

He nodded, a slow dip of his head. “You don’t want to tell me no, Kit. You can’t. You have to do this job…and you can’t fuck it up, because if you do, it’s very, very possible an extermination squad is going to be sent after your man, Kit. And I don’t think you want that.”

 

 

Chapter Six

 

 

He had my attention.

My hand heated, so hot and so painful, I could feel the hilt of my sword in my hand, even as I sat there staring at him.

Justin had never been a threat to me.

He’d been a friend.

A lover.

A pain in my ass.

And when he left, briefly, he’d been a pain in the heart.

But he’d never been a threat and I’d never once felt the need to draw on him.

I felt it now.

“Are you ready to listen to what I have to say?” he asked quietly.

“I’m ready to kick your ass,” I whispered as I fought the urge to call the sword.

One thing stopped me.

Justin wasn’t here because he wanted to give me a heads-up about the order.

He was here because he wanted to stop it and he thought I could help.

At least, that had
better
be the reason.

The muscles in my neck, shoulders and arms were tight, so fucking tight, it was agony just to move but I had to move before I lunged over the desk at him. Shoving backward, I started to pace, well aware that he was watching me with a close, wary gaze. We were a match, he and I. We’d fought before, trained together. If we ever had to fight for real, I didn’t know which one of us would win.

Right now, I was mad enough to find out.

“Talk,” I said quietly, standing in front of the wall and staring at the bow. I chose that one because it was the only weapon that I wouldn’t be tempted to grab. Bows weren’t good weapons for close combat. Anything else and I’d be tempted to go after him.

“You need to be aware that you can’t discuss this with anybody. You’re now bound to that,” he said.

“I’m not agreeing to that,” I snorted.

But even as I said it, I felt something simmer in the air, simmer…then drop down and wrap around me, settling inside me. Realizing what he’d just done, I whirled around and glared at him.

“You son of a bitch—you don’t get use that Banner shit on me!”

Justin just stared at his hands. “Normally, I wouldn’t. And if it was anybody but your cat, I wouldn’t have bothered, because I know you’d understand the importance of this. But I can’t have you warning him. Since I don’t expect you to give me your word, I had to take the precaution.”

“By stealing an oath from me?” I rubbed a hand over my chest, feeling the sizzle of the magic he’d laid on me settle deep, deep inside.

Nobody looking at him would realize what he was.

I hadn’t, the first time I’d seen him.

He was one of the very few who’d surprised me, but that was one of his abilities. He hid what he was and he hid it well. It was one of the reasons Banner had wanted him so bad.

One of the strongest witches in the United States sat in front of me. He was, like me, a born killer, a fighter, a thief…whatever he needed to be. But he worked for the U.S. government and he hunted his own kind.

And the son of a bitch had just laid a spell on me.

Screw this.

I lunged for him.

I had the blade at his throat before it hit me that he hadn’t tried to fight, hadn’t bothered to try and defend himself.

Hell, he was
lying
there under me with his hands held up, passive as could be.

“You can do it and maybe get away with it,” he said calmly. “I slapped a spell on you and you can always claim you reacted out of self-defense. I’m in your office, I haven’t claimed that I’m on official business and you know I’m not human. One of the Green Road witches would probably back you up…it’s very likely you could just get fined, a light sentence and you’d walk.”

I glared at him. He was giving me an easy way out if I decided to attack.

“I won’t dispute it if you go that way,” he said, his voice still soft and easy.

BOOK: Night Blade
10.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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