Chapter 39 - Stone (Part 2)
Gavin’s voice in his head woke him, informing him that Hector and the Rosenrot warriors had arrived.
His phone was next to his head and when he held it up, he realized he’d been sleeping for seven hours.
Time to get up.
Going into his bathroom, he pulled the bandages from his wounds and cleaned them before applying new bandages on the deeper gashes. The shallow ones had healed but there were still too many deep ones to shift.
Thank the Goddess for Hector, he thought as he left the bathroom, put some clothes on, and headed downstairs.
He took inventory of their food supply and made a list before going out to the store. He would need to stock up on meat to feed their visiting allies when they sustained injuries and couldn’t hunt for themselves.
He stopped at the nearest store that sold barbecues before going to the butcher shop.
By the time he returned home, he had two hours left of daylight to cook the food on their new grill and welcome their guests.
Everyone was awake then. Alistair went into the city to pick up the Rosmi Maana warriors from the airport. Hector and his warriors had relieved Gavin and were familiarizing themselves with the territory and the traps set. Gavin still hadn’t returned home yet, but Gunner and Gwen were waiting for Stone to return, lounging on patio chairs with a book in their hands.
Gunner helped him unload the barbecue while Gwen took the meat inside and mentally told him next time he bought so much meat to buy a large freezer.
He hadn’t thought of that and promised to do that tomorrow. In the meantime, they would have to cook all the meat that couldn’t be stored in the fridge in the kitchen.
By the time they had finished cooking the meat and eating their share, Alistair returned with two warriors from the Rosmi Maana Pack. They resembled Gunner in build but slightly thicker. Their larger muscles would only slow them down and make them easier targets for the speedy vampires. They didn’t see as many vampires down in Arizona. He wondered if the pair might be at an even greater disadvantage as a result.
They arrived with an appetite and ate the remaining meat he’d cooked before setting out.
Gavin returned then and Stone was about to put more meat on the grill but his son declined and said he’d already eaten.
He went in for a shower as Stone looked up to the sky as the sun began to set. Only a few clouds scattered as far as he could see over the treetops.
He sent up a prayer to the Goddess.
Although they couldn’t shift, they could still fight; and fight they would have to do to protect their pack house and Gavin sleeping inside it if the vampires got past their allies.
Alistair tossed him a pair of daggers, a massive grin on his face as he buckled his sheathed sword around his hips. “Excalibur gets to taste blood again. Hope these ones will be as fun as the Samurai.”
Stone snorted. “Doubtful.”
Gwen perched up on the balcony on the third floor with her bow and three quivers full of arrows. She wouldn’t be able to slay any vampires with a simple arrow, but she could distract them or make them falter and that would give them an edge in combat.
Another pair of daggers were clutched in Gunner’s fists before he got into position.
The three of them on the ground surrounded the house as darkness fell over the land. They crouched down on one knee, still as statues, straining their ears for the faintest sounds to warn them of danger.
Hours passed as the half-moon and stars peeked out from between clouds.
A howl rose above the trees, five miles east, and prickled the hairs on the back of Stone’s neck.
The fight between the vampires and Rosmi Maana warriors was too far away for Stone and his packmates to hear, but soon another howl cut through the night. Vampires clashed with Hector and his warriors in the north.
Growls crept up their throats as anticipation tingled their spines.
If both groups were concurrently being attacked, how big was the vampire army tonight?
He wished he could mind-link with his cousin still, but alas, he could not.
They waited, listening with bated breath for signs—signs of victory, defeat, or even danger creeping closer to home.
Minutes ticked by. A quarter of an hour. Half an hour.
A howl of victory in the north.
Stone and his packmates exhaled in relief.
Another howl answered from the east, one calling out for aid.
Growls rumbled around the stillness before all four of them fell quiet again.
A pair of short, high-pitched howls of confirmation responded and they knew Hector and his warriors were on their way.
Shifting his weight, Stone’s muscles ached to move. [Stretch,] he commanded Gunner and Alistair, knowing that their muscles must also be cramping as well.
Simultaneously, they stood, cracking their knuckles, stretching out kinks and knots in the shoulders, arms, legs, and backs.
Rustling leaves whispered secrets in their ears.
[From the northeast,] Gwen announced through the mind-link above them.
The three on the ground resumed positions, crouching down, weapons ready. Waiting.
The stirring ceased. The faint stench of vampires drifted closer. A tinge of acid from a small, bleeding wound. Or perhaps, blood from another splattered across flesh.
There was more than one. How many exactly, Stone couldn’t be sure.
[Can you make out any forms in the trees?] Stone asked Gwen. Her position above gave them that advantage.
[No. It’s too dark.]
Alistair rose up from the ground, straightening his spine with his chin held high. He unsheathed his sword and spun the handle around his hand before gripping it firmly in both and holding it out before him.
“Come and get it, ya blood-sucking parasites! Gimme a fight worth remembering for the next century!” Alistair taunted to the hidden figures in the trees.
The familiar sound of bending wood alerted Stone of an archer, but before he could warn his beta, the arrow was released.
Whirling through the air, the silver-tipped arrow struck Alistair in the chest—mere inches away from his heart.
Instinct drove Stone forward, using his own body as a shield, and grabbed him, pulling him against him and yanking him away before another arrow struck.
Mental curses bombarded his mind as he dragged Alistair into the house. Excalibur clanged against the brick exterior and fell to the ground before they rushed inside and slid the door to the kitchen closed.
From Stone’s peripheral vision, he saw Gunner’s large, muscular form fighting a smaller, leaner one, but his attention was on Alistair as he wrenched the arrow from his chest and threw it against the wall.
He cried out in agony. A series of curses flew out of his mouth as Stone pressed a dishcloth to the gaping hole.
Stone reached out through the mind-link to forcibly wake his son up. [Gawain!]
Groaning, Alistair pressed his forehead to Stone’s shoulder, leaning on him for support as he struggled to fill his lungs with air.
[Dammit, Beta—stay with me!]
Alistair was still fighting for air, his lung punctured.
Stone held him close, Alistair’s shoulders rising and falling as he dragged in air, and prayed to the Goddess to heal him quickly.
[I’m not going anywhere, Alpha,] Alistair replied as heavy footsteps pounded across the floor overhead.
As Gwen asked about Alistair’s injuries through the mind-link, Gavin hurried down the stairs and into the kitchen.
Stone was filling everyone in when Gavin came to his side, wearing only a pair of gray boxers, and took Alistair into his arms.
“I got him. Go,” he urged as he turned to take Alistair into the living room and sat him down on a couch.
Returning outside, an arrow fired at him but he dodged it.
Gunner was battling two vampires while Gwen tried to pick off the archers hiding in the trees. There were two of them and while one fired at her, the other aimed his arrows at the battle on the ground.
Grabbing Excalibur, Stone swung it at the closest vampire attacking Gunner and struck him in the back. He cried out as Stone lifted the sword over his head and sliced down, cutting deep between his neck and shoulders.
As his prey fell to the ground before Stone took one last swing to sever his head, Gunner finished off the other vampire he was fighting.
A series of battle cries rang out through the night as vampires swarmed out of the forest like locusts.
Mental curses filled Stone’s mind through the mind-link as Gwen reloaded, aimed, and released arrows as quickly as she could, striking a couple of leeches, but not enough.
[Gavin, we need you!] Gwen’s voice rang out through the mind-link before she dropped from the third floor and landed on a female vampire.
The leech’s severed head hit the ground before her body did.
Acidic fumes filled the air as one by one, they slaughtered vampires left and right. Vampire blood splattered across Stone’s flesh as he hacked, swung, and sliced his opponents with Excalibur. Dodging between leeches and swinging the blade like the amateur swordsman he was, but these were not skilled fighters and they plucked them off one by one as Gavin joined them in the fight.
A howl of victory three miles to the northeast had the vampires retreating into the trees.
“No survivors!” Stone hollered as he chased after two in front of him, lifting Excalibur over his head and swinging it diagonally down.
One vampire fell, but he kept charging after the other one.
They had to stop them before they could take to the trees. They’d never be able to catch them then.
Gavin was on his heels and Stone heard him tearing the vampire to pieces as he closed the distance between the second vampire and thrust the sword into his lower back.
The vampire fell forward, and Stone fell with him, putting all his weight onto the steel as it sliced through the bloodsucker’s body and pinned him to the ground. In a flash, Stone ripped his arms off before twisting the head off with a crack. Blood gushed around him as he panted through his mouth, his eyes stinging.
Two pairs of feet slapped against bark, but that was all the noise he heard besides the huffing and puffing of his family nearby.
His stomach lurched as bile rose up to the back of his throat. Not because of the nauseating odor that surrounded him, but because through it all, he could smell a faint hint of Carina’s signature scent.
She had been here and gotten away.