Chapter 40 - Stone (Part 1)
The word repeated over and over in Stone’s head.
Carina had been there, lurking in the shadowed treetops and got away.
The others left him alone, feeling the burden of their failure together. The silence engulfed the house and the open space around it.
Gavin tended to Alistair’s injury and helped him up to his room before returning to his own bed for a few more hours and getting up for the daytime hunt.
Gunner and Gwen helped to clean up the mess in the yard. Stone and Gunner dug a pit with a pair of shovels while Gwen collected wood. After building a large bonfire, they cut off the index fingers of each vampire before tossing the bodies into the fiery pit.
The stench of burnt vampire flesh would linger for days unless a strong wind or heavy downpour came to cleanse it all away.
They would have to bear it.
Their allies returned about an hour before dawn and produced the severed fingers of their destroyed enemies.
Stone insisted Hector keep the ones his pack had eliminated, while accepting the ones the Rosmi Maana produced with the promise of paying them the cash for their services since their pack did not operate the same way as theirs with the lack of vampire attacks. This surprised the Rosmi Maana warriors, but they accepted his offer.
He joined Gavin in the city for a few hours, to hunt with him, and to see Mr. Johnson for payment.
Mr. Johnson was less than amused by the number Stone brought him, but he worked out a deal. Not including the Rosenrot’s kills, Stone had thirty-two severed fingers to claim payment for his pack and the Rosmi Maana Pack.
How many more vampires did Carina have serving her? How many more before he would finally catch and kill her and end this madness?
After completing all his necessary work in the city, Stone returned home around noon and passed out as soon as his head hit the pillow.
He woke up six hours later to a clap of thunder.
Music to his ears.
Thunder and lightning rolled in. The storm passed as quickly as it had come, but it continued to rain off and on for a few more hours.
Having sustained more injuries from the night before, no one was capable of shifting.
Given the rain, they assumed the vampires would stay within their lairs and slip out during the breaks to feed and build their strength. They opted to hunt in the city and left Hector in charge of their allies to protect the house and those resting inside.
When darkness began to set in, Stone, Gwen, and Gunner entered the city. They met up with Alpha Colten of the North Fang Pack and a few of his warriors, and Davis with his vampire slayers.
Everyone looked worse for wear, pushing themselves and each other to meet the threat. The slayers had a new member in their ranks, a female with caramel skin and her hair wrapped up in a colorful headscarf with a baby slung on her back. Trey stood next to her, their sibling resemblance evident. She didn’t wear the trench coat of a slayer but was still dressed in a black tank top and cargo pants, soaked from the knees down.
No introductions were made and they got right down to business, establishing teams and turfs. The female slayer wasn’t paired up and judging from the exhaustion rolling off her and the glazed-over look occasionally flashing over her eyes, she had spent the day hunting.
Meeting adjourned, they went their separate ways. Thomas with Stone, Gwen with Davis, Gunner with Trey, and the werewolves paired up their strongest with their weakest.
The hunt in the city went well. Stone was able to find a small band of vampires hiding and Thomas disposed of the bodies. Stone let him keep the proof. Their pack was set for the year.
Prior to killing the bloodsuckers, Stone tried to squeeze some information out of them. Most of them refused to squeal, but the disjointed bits and pieces that he could get as to Carina’s plans and whereabouts proved useless. They either lied or had no knowledge where she was. Gwen and Gunner had no luck with their partners in finding her with the information retrieved.
The night wore on in a game of cat and mouse. Someone finding a small lair or a random vampire, trying to get information, and sending the others out to search that location and finding nothing.
They returned home at dawn with heaviness weighing down on their shoulders. Another sixteen vampires had been slaughtered during the night in the city, but the rain erased all traces of Carina.
Their injuries were minimal, only a couple of vampires had silver weapons on hand, while the rest fought as best as they could with tooth and nail, but failed. Their older silver-inflicted injuries would be fully healed for the next hunt, but Alistair would remain bedridden for another day and night. He still couldn’t breathe normally, but he was in better spirits and whined less for Aubree than he had the previous day.
While Alistair had sustained battle wounds in the past and whimpered like a puppy to Gwen and Gavin for affection, he was worse than usual.
He whined pathetically for Aubree to nurse him back to health, even though he knew very well that it was too dangerous for her to return until Carina had been taken out and the war ended. He called her almost every waking hour of the day on Stone’s phone, telling her how much he missed her and how mean Stone was for keeping her away from him when he needed her most.
He got punched in the face for that. He purposely said it in front of Stone.
Stone knew Alistair was saying what everyone was feeling. They all missed their Luna.
As the days and nights crept by, Stone watched the swelling of the moon in the sky, his heart growing heavier and his patience wearing thin with the urge to find and eliminate Carina.
Alistair joined Gavin on the daytime hunt in the city for a few days before he completely recovered and joined the rest of the pack for the nightly hunt.
Unfortunately, it seemed as though the vampires had withdrawn, perhaps to rebuild their numbers once more, which only enraged Stone even more.
Hector and his warriors returned to their pack and everyone between Minnesota and Illinois continued to hunt day and night for the vampires.
Sadly, they continued to come up dry.
With three days before the next full moon, Stone was awakened in the late afternoon by Gavin.
[Papa?] A note of caution tinted his voice in the mind-link.
Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he glanced at his cell phone, not expecting his alarm to go off for another hour.
[We have visitors requesting entry into the territory.]
His brows knotted together. They weren’t expecting anyone. [Visitors? Who?]
He pulled himself up and heaved his heavy-laden legs over the side of the bed. They had all been dragging themselves through the motions these past few days. The knowledge that the full moon was nearly upon them and Carina still hadn’t been found, beat down on their shoulders day after day.
[The Council is here.]
Muscles froze. Time stopped.
[They’re looking for you and Aubree.]