I let out a long sigh, my head on Tristan’s chest. In my pocket, my phone vibrated, and I groaned. I snuggled closer to him, his arms tightening around me. We were fully dressed and had remained in each other’s arms for the past five minutes and counting. My phone vibrated again, and I cursed, pulling away from him and straightening. He remained silent as I pulled it out and answered it. “Stanton here.”
“I’m at a warehouse with over a dozen rogues,” Viviana whispered, so soft I had to strain to hear. Tristan straightened from the tree he was leaning against and went on high alert. Holy shit, he fucking heard that? One of these days, I was going to have a long, long talk about the Tronis’s line. Hell, Viviana wasn’t only whispering, I also had my phone on the lowest volume possible without muting the sound altogether.
“You do realize that you can contact me telepathically, right?” I asked slowly.
“There are a few witches here, and their hands are glowing. They might have a spell to… I don’t know. Sense vampire powers?”
I smirked, as Tristan let out a sigh and bashed his head into the tree. “Okay,” I said with a heavy sigh. “Next time we meet, I’m going to give you a fledgling handbook. We’ll also talk about witches, demons, and shifters. How does that sound?”
“Wait, there’s a vampire handbook?”
I shrugged, though she couldn’t see it. “Manual? Guide? Whatever you want to call it.” Wiping the blood from his head wound, Tristan glared at me.
“Back on topic, what are the rogues planning?”
“A massive slaughter in about an hour. Since the demons are out and keeping you guys busy, they’re going on a hunting spree.” Her breath caught in her throat as she picked up Tristan’s low, deadly growls. I shuddered as chills skittered down my spine, my skin suddenly feeling too tight and tingling as his aura wrapped around me, but I didn’t move away from him. Fangs bared, Tristan closed in on me, and it took all I had not to turn and run.
“We’ll be there in a second,” I said and hung up. Slipping the phone into my pocket, I braced myself a split second before Tristan enfolded me in his arms. A gasp escaped me as it felt like pin needles erupting all over, only a hundred times worse. He let out a snarl and took in several deep breaths. I put my hand on his arm as he gathered himself. A moment later, I could feel nothing from him as my breathing returned to normal. The feeling of cold darkness settled around us, a heartbeat before he teleported.
We appeared beside one of the crouching witches, and before she could turn and blast us, Tristan’s hand shot out to wrap around her neck, snapping it. She hit the ground, the white glow vanishing from her hands like blowing out a candle. I pulled away from him and teleported behind another witch. Tristan flashed to the last witch, and she let out a gasp of pain as he buried his fangs into the side of her neck from behind. My witch spun around, and my hand was a blur as I punched her in the throat, not hard enough to snap her neck, but enough to cause her to choke on the spell she was about to spew from her mouth. The light in her hands vanished as she stumbled backward, trying to get much needed air to her lungs. Her eyes widened in surprise as she saw me. Reaching out, I jerked her to me and spun her around. Holding her against me and wrapping my arm around her neck, I pushed her head down, constricting her airway even more. After a moment of her clawing at my arm and struggling, she went limp. I released her as Tristan walked over to me, his eyes still glazed over from the high of witch blood. Shuddering, he stopped beside me and caught the witch before she could hit the cold ground. “No biting. You had your fill.” I said and snorted. Right, he was never sated, no matter what blood he gorged on. He didn’t say anything as his power brushed up against me. After a long tense silence, he growled and bit her. Shaking my head, I turned and inhaled deeply. Viviana was right; there were over a dozen rogues here—the stink of them clogging the back of my throat. Viviana herself stood leaning against the side of the building, her eyes not missing anything. I walked over, smirking when she cringed at the sight of Tristan draining a witch.
“Is one witch enough?” she whispered, shuddering.
“If you’re Tristan, one is never enough,” I said dryly. “Now, what do you have for me?”
“I smell twenty rogues inside. They’re all vampires, and I also smell old blood and death.”
She hesitated before nodding. “I think I also detected a few shifters and a few more witches. I only smell strong fear from the humans though.” I nodded and took her by the shoulder, leading her to where Tristan was standing with a fireball in his hand.
“I truly do not mind being the topic of the night,” he growled and tossed the ball of flame onto the bodies.
“Can you shoot laser beams from your eyes too?” Viviana asked in interest.
Tristan slowly turned and stared down at her. After a long minute, Viviana shifted nervously as the silence stretched. “I don’t need to.”
“That doesn’t answer my question,” she said and grumbled under her breath.
“Then perhaps stick around and you’ll find out.”
“No,” she squeaked. “That’s okay.” I tapped a finger on his arm when he continued to stare at her. With a sigh, he turned to me. With a hand on my lower back, he gently prodded me forward. Viviana fell in step beside us as we walked to the entrance of the building. We came to a stop in front of the door, and I looked back to find Tristan scowling. With another sigh, he teleported several blocks from the warehouse, taking us with him. The air crackled, and Tavia followed by Davina with Amaris clinging to her arm appeared out of thin air.
“Are you okay?” I asked, turning to him. He grunted as Amaris released Davina and landed lightly on her feet. The little werepup looked around in interest, a squeak escaping her as an imp suddenly came into view, and he wasn’t alone. Tristan let out a feral snarl, grabbing me before I could launch myself at them. A second later, Sven, Liana, Brynna, Jesric, Jude, and Cole appeared between us and the advancing demons.
“Fiends,” Brynna hissed. “My favorite.” Viviana, gasping for air, stepped closer to me, her eyes not leaving the demons. Simultaneously, the six hunters unsheathed not blades, but swords, and lunged.
“Why can’t we join them?” I asked, pouting. In answer, he teleported back to the warehouse. With no warning, Davina blasted the door off its hinges.
“Stand guard, Amaris,” the witch ordered and stepped inside after Tavia, who shifted into a huge black panther. I didn’t have to look behind me to know that Tristan was gone. From the screams that followed a few seconds later was answer enough. Amaris shifted and disappeared from sight—one of her paws in the air—her claws stabbing into a rogue that came out of nowhere. The rogue screamed as blood flew from his leg as she yanked. I silently cheered before lunging for him and tackling him.
“Planning a little killing spree are you,” I growled as Tavia pounced on another rogue. A fireball flew over my head, and I grimaced. If the witch so much as singes me, I was going to eat her. I unsheathed a blade and twirled it between my fingers before plunging it into the rogue’s throat, cutting off his snarls. Punching my hand through his chest, I wrapped my fingers around his heart and ripped it out. Dropping the bloody organ and pulling out my blade, I stood, and then gasp as my head exploded in pain. My weapon hit the floor with a clang as I doubled over. Another wave of pain slammed into me—causing the floor to rush up to meet me. All around, I could feel magic. My vision narrowed to pinpricks as my stomach churned. Everything sounded so far away as blood poured from my mouth and onto the floor. I could barely hear Amaris’s howl as more pain crashed into me, as if determine to pop my head like a balloon. I couldn’t even make a sound as someone got the bright idea to stab me while I was down. Blackness closed around me as I silently shrieked in agony. I thought I felt the building shaking before darkness blissfully took me over.
When I came around, the first thing I noticed was me drooling, and my stomach feeling like someone sucker punched it with everything they’ve got. I opened my eyes to darkness and swallowed, groaning as my hunger clawed at me. The pain in my head was gone, and I slowly sat up. I froze, as the unmistakable sound of chains scraping floor met my ears. “Ari?” Skyler asked from the other side of the barely closed door. “Are you awake?”
“Why am I in chains?” I asked slowly and looked around. I wasn’t surprise to find that I was in a holding room. If anything, the chains gave it away. The floor, walls, and ceiling were made out of reinforced steel and concrete. The door itself was also reinforced and so heavy that it took more than one vampire or magic to move it. Even using magic was risky since the witch suffered a massive nose bleed for his or her effort.
“Well,” Skyler said, hesitating. “When Tristan brought you back, you were doing your best to tear his head off, and… your eyes were white.”
“Shit,” I groaned, and then grunted as I jerked against my chains. “Are you okay?” I asked.
“Why don’t I believe you?” I asked as Tristan appeared in the middle of the room. “Get in here.” I winced as Skyler slammed into the door, grunting as she tried to get it to open wider. Glancing at the door, Tristan came over and hauled me to my feet. “Open the door for her,” I said to him and scowled.
“About time,” she muttered and stopped slamming at the door. A second later, it flew open wider and crashed into the wall. Skyler stepped inside, and I held my hand out to her. She flashed over to me and took it hesitantly. “Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked and looked her up and down. “You need more blood,” I muttered, staring into her eyes. Tristan grunted as I elbowed him hard in the side. “Did you even feed her?”
“I did,” he said defensively.
Skyler smirked. “Only enough to heal my brain.”
I blinked. “Fuck,” I said with a heavy sigh. The chains rattled as Tristan unlocked them, letting them hit the floor. I looked down and realized that these weren’t the special venom-coated kind.
“There was no need to hurt you more than necessary,” he said softly, following my gaze and glaring.
“But are you okay?” Skyler asked, resting a cold hand on my arm.
I smiled and pulled her to me. She grunted as I squeezed the living daylight out of her. “I am,” I said. “Just a little hungry.” Tristan’s arms came around us both as he let out a long sigh.
“There’s nothing wrong with giving hugs,” Skyler said and laughed, pulling away from me. She looked to him, and then stared pointedly at his arm. I turned and smirked at him. He scowled at me. I put my hand on the side of his neck and rubbed his pulse with my thumb.
“Feed her, please?” I leaned in. “Your five-thousand-year-old blood does wonders,” I whispered in his ear, low enough that Skyler couldn’t hear me. “If you know what I mean.” His arms tightened around me, and I smirked as I felt his erection suddenly pressing into my lower stomach.
“Ahem,” Skyler said loudly. Tristan chuckled and released me. I stepped away as he pulled my child to him. “I didn’t have to hear whatever you said, you know.”
“Don’t you just love having heightened senses?” I asked. “Comes in handy.”
“Stop,” she groaned.
I laughed, reaching out and ruffling her hair. “Okay, I will. Now feed.” She nodded, taking hold of Tristan’s wrist he offered to her. Baring her sharp fangs, she glared at me before clamping her mouth on his wrist. He winced and glowered down at her as she let out a sigh and pulled harder—her throat working as she swallowed.
“Enough,” Tristan said through gritted teeth a long minute later. Skyler let out an aggravated sound and kept on drinking. “Skyler,” he warned. She said something, but it came out as gibberish. “Enough,” he said, more firmly. With a growl, she jerked her head back, tearing his wrist open even more. My hand shot out and grabbed his arm, bringing his still bleeding wrist to my mouth. He eyed me suspiciously as I licked slowly at it. Bite him, Skyler said into my mind. I smirked and let him pull away.
“I heard that,” he growled.
“Damn,” she grumbled.
Tristan pointed to the opened doorway, and she scowled at him. “Hunt,” he said dryly. Her eyes clouded with hunger, and in response, my stomach reminded me that I, too, had to feed. Kira chose that moment to pop in with Corinne. They looked around the room before their gazes landed on me.
“Ari!” Kira exclaimed and flashed in front of me. “Are you okay?” she asked, and then let out a squeak as Tristan glared down at her. “I didn’t fight them, I swear,” she spluttered. I arched an eyebrow in question at the sudden change of subject.
“There are demons everywhere,” Corinne said, groaning. “How the humans remain clueless I will never know,” she continued, muttering under her breath.
“Yes, Kira,” I said, finally answering her. “I am okay.” All hunters to Lamson’s Creek, Tristan mentally growled. Now.
“No,” he snarled a second later as excitement entered Kira’s eyes. “You have a death wish, girl.”
“What about me?” Corinne asked.
“No,” he said, growling. “What part of no do you girls not understand? I specifically said hunters, not fledglings.”
“But,” Kira said, pouting.
“Kira,” I said sharply, as Tristan’s power whipped around the room. “If you want to remain breathing for the next one thousand years, I suggest that you for once, listen to your sire, and Skyler, don’t you dare even think about it.”
“I wasn’t thinking about anything,” she mumbled. I glared at her. She sighed. “Okay, maybe I’m thinking about it, but I’m not going to act on it.”
“Good,” I said. “If I so much as smell a hint of demon on you, I will be extremely pissed off.” I walked to the door and stepped through it.
“You think they’re going to listen and stay put?” Jesric pealed himself from the wall and fell in step beside me as I took the stairs that led up from the basement.
“You were listening this whole time,” I stated wearily as I pushed open the heavy steel door.
“If you were, why didn’t you help Skyler with the door?”
“It was more amusing to watch her struggle to open it.”
I grunted, stepping into the kitchen and straight for the refrigerator. “Would you like one?” I asked, opening it and retrieving a blood bag. Jesric leaned against the counter and shrugged. Retrieving a second bag, I tossed it to him as I sank my fangs into mine.
“Did not know you liked it cold,” he drawled.
I shrugged, grimacing, as I quickly drained it. “I don’t,” I said and shuddered.
“Hmm.” Jesric straightened and walked over to the microwave, popping the bag in and warming it up. I dropped my empty bag into the trash, and then coughed as the strong smell of sulfur filled my nose and mouth.
“A little warning?” I choked as Sathia appeared in the kitchen. She was in her human form—tall, creamy skin, black hair, glowing green eyes and all, but she might as well have stepped out of a lake full of sulfur.
“Forgive me,” she said sweetly, though her eyes told a different story. They had a gleam to them that sent chills down my spine.
“Did Jailyn send you?”
“Now why would you assume such a thing?” I shrugged, and then let out a gasp as claws extended from her fingers. Tristan, who came out of nowhere, snarled in pain as the demon stabbed a claw behind her and all the way through his palm. It would’ve gone through one of his eyes if he hadn’t moved fast enough. The hot flare of pain in my own hand was brief before he blocked me, but it still throbbed and pulse, as if she stabbed me instead of him. “I don’t like it when I’m being sneaked up on,” the demon drawled.
Tristan glared at her, trying to breathe through the pain and failing as he broke out in sweat. “I wasn’t sneaking,” he hissed and bared his fangs at her.
“I consider it sneaking when people silently appear behind me.”
“No shit,” I muttered. We all stared at his hand where Sathia’s claw still was, and it was slowly bleeding… black blood. “The fuck?” I spluttered.
“It’s acid,” Jesric said as we walked over to them.
“Why didn’t you dodge me, vampire?” Sathia asked and smirked.
“You tell me,” Tristan snarled.
“Too focused on not getting your eyes gouged out instead of evading completely?” She chuckled, and without any warning, she yanked her claw from his hand. He let out a stream of nonsensical words, gasping through it all.
“Why?” he snarled. “Why is it always me?”
“Because,” Sathia said, retracting her claws. “It’s fun messing with the strongest vampire in existence. I, however, strongly recommend not going up against Jailyn.”
“Good to know,” he said and groaned as the red bled from his eyes.
“I suggest you bleed into a plastic something, or you’ll soon have a hole in your floor and whatever else is below that.” She looked around the kitchen before stopping on me. “And as to why I’m here, hellhounds are on the loose. I thought you’d like to have a little… fun.”