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Authors: Megan J. Parker

Scarlet Dawn (8 page)

BOOK: Scarlet Dawn
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“You suddenly interested in me for more than just the warrants on my head?” He grinned.

Serena frowned, “Would you rather I just shot you?”

“You have a gun?” Axle raised an eyebrow, “Where the hell would you keep it?”

“Wouldn’t you like to
know. So you gonna answer my question or not?”

Axle frowned and shrugged, “I was a part of a pack at one point, but we were attacked by hunters. Only me and my friend got away, and when we were found wandering the streets by a warrior we got thrown into our first orphanage.”

“Not much to say for grammar lessons, I see,” Serena chuckled.

Axle stared.

“Nevermind,” Serena frowned, noticing his aura darken under the weight of his memories and she found herself wanting to help him more than she was driven to arrest him. Shaking her head, she pulled herself to her feet and towards him—holding up her hands as a peace offering when he noticeably pulled back—and took a place next to him. “Look, there’s two ways we can do this…” She began.

“Oh? What are we doing?” He gave her a sidelong glance.

“Definitely
not
what you’re thinking,” she sighed.

“And what would you know about what I’m thinking, fang-head?” Axle scoffed.

“Because”—she held up a fist and let her pointer finger rise—“one: I might be a blonde, but I know that
anything
with a dick between its thighs is thinking the
same
thing—and since your kind are notorious for being
mostly
dick, I’d say that counts further for you—and two:”—she let her middle finger spring up to join the first—“I might be a ‘fang-head’, but I’m
also
part auric and I can
read
your thoughts with greater clarity than an
Ernest Hemingway novel.”

Axle’s face reddened and he nodded, “O-okay. Fair enough… so what are my two options?”

“You can either
allow
me arrest you NOW—willingly surrender to the Vail Clan so that I can use that to our mutual advantage--
or
you can explain to me what your entire gig is aiming at and, if I see a point behind it, work with you to make things right.”

“My gig”?
Axle frowned.

Serena nodded, “Yea. Like,
why
you’re running around my town stealing money of all things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you’re a real asshole in your own right, but you just don’t seem the selfish type who steals for no reason.”

“I see,” he frowned and looked down. “If I let myself get arrested, there’s a chance that you won’t be able to help me, right; that The Council would just take me away?”

Serena nodded, “That’s what makes it a risk, sport.”

Axle nodded slowly, “If—and this is a major
if
, mind you—I’m willing to show you what I’ve been doing, can you trust me long enough to show you?” He looked over, determination set in his face.

Serena frowned. She
wanted
to trust Axle, though she couldn’t fully come to grips with
why
. He didn’t seem like the enemy that the files she’d read had made him out to be, and she wanted to find out more about him before she made the decision view him as a danger.

“Okay,” she sighed and nodded. “Fine. You have my trust. Now what are you going to do with it?”

Axle grinned and stepped over as she heard the sound of cloth ripping and gasped, seeing that he had ripped his shirt.

“What the hell are you doing?” She glared, “This
was not
what I agreed to.”

“Then I guess it’s a good thing that
that’s
not what I’m doing,” he shook his head and started to tie the torn cloth around her eyes and she frowned, moving to pull the blindfold off. However, her wrist was caught by a strong grip and she felt warm breath near her ear.

“This stays on until we get to where we’re headed.”

Serena frowned, “How do I know you’re not just gonna lead me over the edge of the roof?”


That’s
where the trust part comes from,” Axle’s voice chimed. Then, as an added quip, “Sport.”

Serena frowned and nodded as she was suddenly lifted in the therion’s strong grip and she gasped as her cheek met with the expanse of his chest. He was stronger than she’d thought, and, as he started running with her in his arms to wherever it was he was going, she found herself feeling far more comfortable than she was comfortable admitting.

 

S
erena sighed as Axle finally let her down and she bit her lip, hoping the blindfold would come off soon. Their trip had landed her in what must’ve been the convertible she’d been “introduced” to the other night. As Axle’s mystery trip took her further and further, she began to worry that Zoey might send a search team after her. She was sure that she’d been gone longer than the others would have expected, and if Zoey couldn’t pick up on her auric signal she might assume the worst.

“We’re here,” Axle finally announced as he pulled off the blindfold.

Serena blinked at the sudden flood of light and frowned at the sight. The building he’d taken her to was old and abandoned and off in the deep, dark seclusion of who-knew.

“Oh good,” she rolled her eyes, “you’re going to show me where you hide the bodies!”

“I’ll have you know that
this
is what passes as a
decent
mythos orphanage,” Axle shot as he climbed out of the car and waited for her to follow. “Come on. The children will be excited to meet a newcomer anyway.”

“An orphanage?” Serena looked at the building again, “It’s… uh, kind of a dump.”

Axle glared back at her, “Yea. Almost like it could use some
money
to pay for the cost of supplies to fix it up, huh?”

Serena bit her lip with realization and followed after him. “Why haven’t I heard anything about this? Wouldn’t The Council have something to do with this?”

“Because The Council’s investment in childcare is limited to what they’ve
approved
of, and they’re rather
disapproving
of rogues who try to dodge them. The kids here were all unfortunate enough to be born to parents who worked
very
hard to
not
exist on The Council’s radar. According to your higher-ups, none of these kids
exist
.” Axle growled and shook his head, “And, if they don’t exist, then they don’t need the little luxuries like decent shelter with running water and power, food and
legal
sources of blood for the vampires, and medical supplies. Which means that those luxuries come from those willing to do what needs to be done,” he looked over, “like
stealing
and
running
from those who would get in the way.”

“I…” Serena stared up at the building, unable to even begin to think of a response. All the crimes she’d seen on the files, robbing mythos blood supplies and medical facilities; cases of kidnapping and turf warfare. All of it—every single crime he’d been charged for—suddenly made sense. “This entire time…” Serena shook her head in disbelief, “Y-you’ve been taking care of
them
this whole time…”

Axle nodded, “I couldn’t be sure if you’d understand, so I needed to keep this location secret before I could show you where I’ve been bringing everything we’ve stolen.”

With that, he pushed open the door.

“AXLE!” Serena gasped as a small boy, a sang with a bright blue aura that danced excitedly around him, rushed forward and jumped into Axle’s arms. “I knew you’d come back soon,” he boasted.

Serena frowned, noticing that the boy only had a single fang.

“Oh come on, Fang, you know I can’t stay away from you kids for long,” Axle smiled. “Where’s Sierra?”

“Miss Sierra was reading us a story, but I heard your car and I snuck out!” Fang grinned and turned to face Serena.

Serena blinked for a moment as he squirmed free of Axle’s arms and ran over to her, squealing in excitement.

“H-hi,” she smiled, looking down at him, I’m—”

“I know! You’re
S’rena!” He grinned, “I heard stories about you from my mom and dad!”

“Your parents?” Serena blinked and hoisted the boy up, allowing him to cradle against her shoulder and looking over at Axle.

“Fang’s sort of a unique situation,” Axle explained. “His parents
were
properly filed with The Council, but they weren’t credited or insured to any clan. They wanted to lead a safe, quiet life, but…” He trailed off, offering no other explanation than a shrug.

Serena nodded, “Always a gap in the system.” Biting her lip, she looked back at Fang, “I’m so sorry about your parents,
hun.”

“Yeah, they got
killeded by hunters. Mom and Dad weren’t strong like you, S’rena. They told me bedtime stories about you; told me that you were a strong warrior and that you came back to Vail to save us! And now you’ve come to help Miss Sierra!” His smile widened as he bounced in Serena’s arms.

“Oh wow… I-I had no idea there were stories about me,” Serena blushed and then looked down at Fang. “But I only came back to Vail a few months ago. When did your parents…?”

“Not long ago…” Fang whimpered and looked down sadly, “Axle saved me and killed the hunters!” He looked back at the blushing therion, “He’s
real
strong too, S’rena!”

Serena looked up at Axle and smiled as she gave Fang a tight hug before setting him down and starting to look around the orphanage.

The place was an undeniable shit-sty!

There had to be something she could do to help.

Though she knew it would take some sizable paper-pushing and tweaks to how she filed cases with The Council, she was certain that Zoey would know how to work the system in their favor so the children and any who were working to help them could be brought into the Vail Clan. It would certainly ruffle a few feathers initially—getting
that
many unregistered mythos kids suddenly filed into the Vail system
would
earn more than its fair share of dirty looks—but they deserved another chance and even if The Council didn’t approve right away.

And even then, they owed Serena
big time
for dealing with her scheming brother, who would’ve turned their entire organization inside-out if he’d had his way.

She had them by the balls, and she’d use that grip as leverage to prove to them that the children were worth it.

After all, she’d never been against busting the balls of authorities; why should the most influential authorities of all be any exception?

“Axle? Why are you here again so early?” A timid feminine voice called out and Serena looked up to see an equally timid sang woman with long black hair and bright green eyes step out; the numerous eyes of many, many children peering out from behind her.

“Sierra,” Axle smiled, starting towards her, “This is Serena.”

“I know who it is,” Sierra frowned, “The question is
why
you brought her here? Her knowing of us could get us all into trouble with The Council!”

Serena frowned as she wondered what the orphanage had to do with Axle’s stealing until it finally clicked.

“I already know that he’s been stealing to help you and the kids?” Serena nodded, stepping forward.

“Yeah! He’s our Robin Hood!” Fang grinned.

Serena smiled, “He is, Fang,” she looked at Sierra and offered a reassuring nod, “And I’d like to help him. I’d like to help all of you.” She looked around, noticing several different types of mythos, and smiled. The Vail Clan would
definitely
be livelier, and it was exactly that liveliness that Serena looked forward to. Seeing Sierra’s aura shift but still retain its skeptic rigity, she went on, “I’m not to say anything about your personal Robin Hood
or
this place.” Serena smiled. “I believe that what you are doing is right,” she shrugged and smirked, “and I don’t report things that are right to The Council. They’re politicians; they only care about that sort of stuff when it makes them look good.” She winked.

“You… are you serious?” Axle’s eyes widened.

“Yeah, what of it?” She glared back, “Even the big, bad law-girl Serena can have a change of heart, can’t she?”

He laughed and nodded, “I suppose so, and if you can then you must not be
that
bad.” He smirked and motioned to Fang, “Though it looks like you’ve taken my hero spot in Fang’s eyes.”

She smiled, noticing even Sierra’s aura and posture relaxing
; her defensive frown quickly growing into an excited smile.

“You’re welcome here anytime. However, it’s the kids’ bedtime, so maybe you could stop by earlier next time? We could all sit down and read a story together.”

Fang bounced in Serena’s arms still and looked up at her, hope filling his eyes as he waited for her response.

“It’s a date,” she laughed and set Fang back down and turned to Sierra. “It was very nice to meet you, and thank you for doing all of this.”

Sierra smiled and nodded before turning and waving to the kids who all ran forward and surrounded Serena in a tight group hug.

Serena cried out as the group slammed into her, forcing her to use all her strength to remain standing as she laughed and tried to calm the frenzy with head rubs and high-fives.

“Ahh! Crazy little beasts, all of you! Go on! Get to sleep!” She laughed as Sierra went about trying to herd them away.

She watched as they slowly began to pull themselves off of her and rushed to the stairs. Fang still stood a moment longer and she smiled, stepping over and giving him one last hug. “Sleep well, Fang. I’ll see you again soon,” Serena smiled warmly.

Squealing out an excited-yet-indecipherable response, the little vampire turned and followed after the others.

“Who would’ve thought that
you
would actually have a soft spot for children?” Axle laughed.

“You want a soft spot in your fucking skull?” Serena quipped, still unable to take her eyes from the heartwarming scene of Sierra guiding the kids to their room.

“Uh oh,” Axle cackled, “the bitch is back!”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Did me showing a moment of kindness tarnish my image to you?” She laughed. “Let’s go. I need to get back to the city.”

“Right,” he smiled and, though Sierra and the kids were far beyond earshot, called out his farewells as he waved before leading Serena out and hopping into the car. “Come on, princess!”

Serena laughed and jumped in as well. “Princess, huh? I like that!”

 

 

Serena smiled as the convertible came to a stop on the side of the road that bordered the woods, and Axle looked over at her once more to flash her a grin of his own.

“Thanks for coming today, Serena…
and
for being so understanding. You have no idea what a relief that represents for all of us.”

“Yea, well, you were just lucky to catch me on one of the few nights when I’m
not
hungry for the flesh of innocence, I guess.” Serena sighed and looked off towards the woods; towards the Vail’s hidden headquarters, “I want to help you—all of you, I mean—and I think I know how to do it, but it’s going to be your turn to trust me, okay?”

“You don’t need to get involved like that. Just help us by keeping this a secret. Please,” Axle bit, taking her hand in his and Serena blushed, feeling the tingling warmth his hand held.

“Keeping
what
a secret, Serena?” Zoey stepped out of the darkness and approached the car.

“Zoey…” Serena sighed, “I figured you’d start looking for me sooner or later.”

BOOK: Scarlet Dawn
3.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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