I stood in front of a wide opened space. It apparently led down to a vault. I still couldn’t believe that I hadn’t notice that this was here centuries ago. To my left, Evelyn, Alyssa, and Natalia were removing the monitors from the wall, passing them over to Elijah who was setting each one of them carefully into a cart. Beside me, Tristan held a blade in his hand, waiting for my go-ahead. I took in a deep breath and nodded. He moved behind me and wrapped one arm around my waist. With a growling curse, his hand flashed, and the next thing I knew, pain flared hot, a second before I found myself falling into darkness. My ears popped, and I grunted as I plummet through a magical barrier. Tristan righted us midair before slowly descending the short distance to the ground. Turning me around in his arms, he leaned in and quickly licked close the gaping wound. When he was done, he lingered there, nuzzling me. He mumbled something as Sven stopped beside us. “Come again?” he asked. Wrapping my arms around Tristan, I glanced at Sven.
“I have no idea what he said either.”
“I said take everything out and teleport them up,” Tristan growled.
“Why can’t we just teleport all of this stuff at once?” Sven asked, frowning.
“Because those cabinets are spelled.”
“Lovely.” Sven turned to the others and scowled. “You heard him. Get moving.” Tristan straightened and glanced down at my blood-drenched shirt.
“What are you going to do once everything is out of here?” I asked softly.
He blinked, grimacing. “I’m going to blow this place up.”
It was my turn to blink. “Really?”
He grunted and turned me around. “You, too,” he muttered.
“Can I have a night off?” I asked, looking back at him and sticking out my lower lip. A low growl escaped him, and I smirked.
“Get moving or you won’t get your next paycheck,” he warned. Grumbling, and with the tingle of his gaze boring into the back of my head, I flashed to one of the tall glass cabinets and frowned at it. “Do not break it.”
I glanced back at him. “Tristan.” His eyes narrowed dangerously. “If you think I’d do such a thing, then you don’t know me.”
“Don’t I?” he asked in amusement. Then his cold fingers were around my wrist before I could punch out the glass In front of me. I glowered at him, muttering under my breath. I didn’t even see him move for fuck sake. I let out a heavy sigh and glared at the lovely swords inside. “Take your pick,” he said and looked around the vault. Then he let out a loud piercing whistle that nearly blew out my eardrums. The activities going on around us stopped abruptly, as if flipping off a light switch. “When we are done here,” Tristan continued. “Those of you who don’t own a collection of swords,” he said dryly. “May pick one out of the pile.” Sven grunted. “As today’s generation puts it, pass it on.” I snorted.
“You got it, boss,” Allia said cheerfully, earning a glare and a growl from him. He released my wrist, and I reached up and pulled open the cabinet door instead of punching a hole through it like I wanted to. I grabbed two swords and took them out; my arms tingling from the rush of magic. Tristan took them from me, and they vanished into thin air. Allia stepped up beside me and took out the remaining four swords inside. They ranged from longswords, shortswords, and katanas—well used, and often if the worn down hilts were anything to go by. Allia nodded, stepping back.
“Hey, Tristan?” Brynna said from across the vault, and she sounded like she was about to cause trouble. We turned as one and flashed over to her. She was standing in front of a table. It was half-moon shaped with a frayed-looking white tablecloth over it. On top of it was a collection of knives. They gleamed under the dim lighting and looked sharp as fuck. Some of the blades were steel; some of them were silver—almost blinding in their intensity. I, however, was more focused on the ones at the very top of the pile. There were about a dozen of them, and they looked opaque, glass-like even. There were also runes on the hilt of each blade, and I bet that these were halogen blades—forged from the abyss itself. I had no idea why it was even called a halogen blade to begin with. These were made to kill demons, and Brynna looked like she was about to combust in pleasure at the sight of them. One stab through a demon’s heart, and they’d burn from the inside out. Getting to a demon’s heart wasn’t easy, because like any sane creatures, they don’t just stand there and let you have at them. “If you say that I can’t have one of these babies, I am going to scream.”
Tristan chuckled, shaking his head in amusement as she stared hopefully at him. “Take two,” he said dryly. Her hands were a blur as she snatched the first two from the pile.
“Some nice stuff,” Sven drawled from behind me. He reached past me, grabbing a couple for himself. Tristan glared at him. “Hey,” Sven said defensively. “I lost mine a hundred years ago. I need replacements. My weapon stashes are not complete without their demon-killing kin.” Tristan rubbed his eyes and gave him a chilling look. Sven chuckled and shook his head, going back to his work.
“Do I take a couple as well?” I asked. Tristan nodded. Grabbing a couple of the demon blades along with a few silver and steel, I sheathed them in whatever available sheaths I had on me. I looked around and nodded. Besides a few more things, the vault looked cleaned out. Tristan’s cold hand rested on my arm, and a second later, everything went dark.
Elijah and Cole both looked up as we appeared in front of them. I looked around, spotting Jadianne just outside the splintered door that led out to the destroyed hall. She was sitting on the floor, talking softly to Natalia, Brianna next to her, her back against the intact wall and her slightly bent legs stretched out. “Just about done?” Elijah asked, giving me a nod in greeting.
“Just about,” Tristan said as I pulled away from him and launched myself into the air.
“Kira,” I warned. “Touch Natalia’s chocolate, and I’ll beat you senseless.”
“I wasn’t going to,” Kira spluttered, electrical wires in her hands.
“Uh huh,” I said and glanced down at her left leg. Earlier, she dropped five tons of chains down on herself, and as a result, snapping the femur bone in her leg. “How’s your leg?”
“Better,” she said and rubbed at it.
“Did you thank Brynna for her blood?” I asked dryly.
She scowled at me. “No,” she said just as dryly. I smirked, floating toward the door and through it. There was shit everywhere and barely any room on the ground to maneuver. All three glanced up at me, and I waved to them before continuing my way to what used to be the kitchen of the compound. Raina grunted as she saw me, tossing a refrigerator door over her head. “You look a little annoyed,” I said dryly, lowering myself to the ground and kicking things out of my way so that I could stand properly and not fall on my face. She glanced into the refrigerator and grimaced. The overwhelming scent of blood hung thick in the air, and I was a little surprised that no one else was here, room temperature blood or not. To someone like Casiar, Tristan, Allia, Evelyn, and Elijah, it was testing the limits of their self-control. I knew full well that everyone here could taste it and smell it. I glanced into the refrigerator and groaned. It looked like a nuclear-sized blood bomb exploded in there, and the refrigerator itself was huge.
“We are done here,” Sergei, one of the many hunters down here, growled low in his throat.
“Oh, thank the fucking devil,” Raina said in relief. Sergei’s aura wrapped around us, but I forced down the urge to run. He was just as old and powerful as Sven, and any hint of aggression or fear from us would snap whatever hold he had left on his self-control. I turned to face him. His hands were in his pockets, but the tautness of his body, pitch black eyes, and the growls I could still feel from him told me just how much he wanted to rip into me or Raina right here and now. His silver-streaked blond hair looked like he just rolled out of bed. It was either that or he had kicked someone’s ass to hell and back. I was betting the latter since I couldn’t smell sex on him. “Tristan wants us out of here?” Raina asked and straightened, flicking a piece of wood across the room.
“When you were human, what color were your eyes?” I asked.
Sergei blinked in surprise, and I smirked. “Why?” he asked. It came out more of a strangled hiss than anything. I waved at his hair and shrugged. “Silver green,” he replied, his lips twitching in amusement.
“Wow, Ari,” Raina said and chuckled. “Out of leftfield much?”
“Hey, I was just curious.” I said and gestured them to my side. Resting my hands on them, I teleported.
The moment we appeared above ground and outside in the cold night, I jumped back and ducked as a fireball flew toward me. “Davina!” I snapped. “Ease up on your trigger-happy fingers!” The air stirred, and Raina was launching herself at Sergei, sending him flying. Shit!” I yelled and moved to her side. The hunter’s eyes briefly flashed white, and Raina cursed, shouting obscenities at Davina as he popped from the ground and tossed her through the air.
“We have fucking demons running around you stupid fucking moronic bitch!” she yelled as she crashed against an invisible wall several yards away. I grabbed Sergei by the neck, spun him around and slammed him to the ground. He grunted as my entire weight pressed down on him. He continued to snarl and bare his fangs at me, but he made no move to push me off.
“Where is Sarisa?” I asked as means of distraction. Of course, it didn’t work. His eyes flickered past me, and I didn’t have to look to know who was approaching. I glanced up at Tristan as he stopped beside us.
“She is on her way up,” Tristan growled, barely getting the words out. I nodded, slowly releasing Sergei and getting to my feet. The hunter remained on the ground, glaring up at us. After another few seconds, he got to his feet, his left hand going into his pocket.
“So,” Sergei hissed softly. “Shall I shoot you?” He asked, drawing out each word. “Or shall Ari do the honor.”
“Fuck,” I said with a heavy sigh. Sven appeared out of thin air, and in his hands was a box full of weapons. He glanced around, and when he saw Tristan, he cursed vehemently and set it down.
“Who is shooting who?” Jadianne asked, stopping just out of our reach. “I personally vote that we all shoot Tristan.”
“Charming,” Evelyn growled from behind me.
“Davina,” I said, looking over at the witch. “Do me a huge favor,” I continued sweetly. “Take Brianna, Lily, and your witchy ass out of here.” For once, the witch kept her mouth shut and did what she was told. More vampires came up from the gigantic hole and stopped near us, ready to fight if need be.
“Charming indeed,” Casiar said and chuckled. “Do you think we can kick all the hunters’ asses, Evey?”
“I don’t know,” Evelyn said slowly. “Can—?” Sven and Sergei’s hand flashed, and my ears popped as what sounded like several air guns firing simultaneously. Grunts filled the air, and I moved in a blur, catching both Tristan and Evelyn before they could fall. Jailyn caught Allia and Casiar while Jadianne grabbed Elijah. I looked around and winced. There were over a dozen hunters, and they all had their guns trained on the unconscious vampires. Sarisa, Sergei’s mate, pocketed her gun and stepped forward, taking Evelyn from me, allowing me to wrap my arms around Tristan. I stiffened and tightened my hold as he stirred. Nehrya took Allia from Jailyn, and her hand was a blur as she turned, pointed the gun at Tristan’s head and shot him.
“Let’s move,” Jailyn said sharply and was gone. When all the vampires say for me, Tristan and Liana were left, Sven picked up the box of weapons and teleported, taking us with him.
When the darkness lifted, I blinked furiously, my eyes watering as bright ass light stabbed my eyeballs. A moment later, I sighed in relief as someone hit the light switch, plunging the room into blissful darkness. In my arms, Tristan stirred, a low growl emanating from him. Sergei, Sven, and Liana disappeared almost immediately. Sathia, standing at the door, smiled evilly. Her fingers flex, as if ready to punch someone. “You know, Stanton,” she growled. “It would give me much, much pleasure if you just allow me to kill your mate. I mean,” she drawled. “All those power he’s bottling up inside… just waiting to be unleashed…” Her green eyes practically glowed brighter if it was possible. Tristan straightened in my arms, and I held him tighter. Sathia laughed as the smell of sulfur filled the room. “Come on, Stanton,” she hissed. “Release him. Besides, he’ll get to work off his rage.” I scowled at her. “Have you heard of sparring?” she hissed as I struggled to hold Tristan. If he wanted to, he could break my hold easily, but at the moment, I was glad he didn’t.
“You touch him, I’ll stab you.”
“Oh, now that is not nice.” She tisked and let out a sigh. “Sadly, I believe you, hunter. Or shall I say spy? What rank do you go by now these days?” She bared her fangs, an amused gleam in her eyes. “You look like you’re struggling,” she hissed as I broke out in sweat. If I didn’t let Tristan go soon, he was going to either turn on me or give the demon what she wanted. He suddenly stop, his entire body going taut. “Let me help you out.”
“Sathia,” I growled as my vision, already seeing red, deepened. Tristan’s growl turned into a groan of pain. I grunted as something punched me across the room. There was a surge of power, and Tristan snarled as he hit the ground hard. Another surge lifted me off the floor and slammed me against the wall. Stars burst before my eyes, and my blood burned as rage came over me, even as pain knocked my ass senseless. When I could see straight again, I slowly got to my feet and glared at the demon. The ground shook, and delight filled her eyes. I glanced at Tristan and let out a curse as I saw the beast in his eyes.
“This is not the first time, Stanton,” the demon hissed. I just stared at her, hot and cold flashes of sensation coursing through me. “We both need this. His beast needs this. He knows it. I know it. You know it.” I was so enraged I couldn’t even think straight, let alone on what she was saying. The rush of blood was so loud in my ears, and the bitter taste of metallic filled my mouth. “If it’s any consolation, he is fucking good at what he does best,” she hissed. “Watch and learn, because one day, you’ll find yourself facing an arc demon.” And with that, Tristan bolted off the floor. As he did so, his eyes met mine, and I couldn’t move even if I wanted to. My ears popped again and this time, hot blood flowed down the side of my neck as both his and Sathia’s power met head-on in a resounding explosion, dazing me.