The more knowledge one had, the more power he possessed, and Lu liked to think he possessed quite a lot of both. But never did he imagine he’d desire any from the rotting witch in front of him.
His eyes ran about the office, hands in the pockets of his long, gray wool coat. Most things were material, pieces of expensive art that held no real meaning.
“I’ve been really good to you, Lu. I’ve been patient.” Marcy nodded as she sat back in her chair, frail hands folded in her lap. “I haven’t harassed you—I haven’t given you a job that’s too hard to do. But here I am,” she waved a hand, “nearly a month and half in, and I still don’t have a damn heart to eat.”
Bored, he found himself walking to the brown bookcase behind Marcy’s desk. “Have you tried finding an easier meal to catch? There’s plenty of women out there just dying to be a victim.”
On the third shelf down, a bone-carved knife sat on a rosewood stand. He ran a finger along the handle and trailed up to the curved tip of the blade.
“Sweetheart, if I could pluck any old Susan off the damn street and cut her heart out, I would. But the hearts I eat aren’t a dime a dozen. They’re fillet mignon in a field of day-old pork chops.” He heard the chair squeak and spin. “Don’t mess with the knife.”
“Too late.” He pivoted, holding it in one hand. “It all makes sense now.” His eyes flashed to hers and he smirked.
“What are you talking about?”
“Does your brother know you’ve been eating all his children?”
Her nails drummed along the wood of the desk and a nervous glint flashed across her eyes. “What do you think?”
Lu chuckled. “But you won’t eat your own?”
“I don’t have any children.”
He had to give her credit. She kept her cool on the outside, but his ears heard the rhythm of her heartbeat double, the tempo picking up like a rat caught in a corner.
“You could solve all your problems in five minutes.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Marcy’s jaw clenched. “Her name is Amber.”
“Sentimentality will kill you.” He held out the knife, tempting her. “End all your problems. Be whole again. No one will blame you.”
Her fingers gripped the leather armrests of the chair as she stared at it. “Would you kill your child?”
“I already have.” He enjoyed watching the blood drain from Marcy’s cheeks as horror shined in her dull blue eyes. The smirk on his face grew into a wolfish grin, “Self-preservation is the common denominator in all of us.”
“You know that only makes me trust you even less?”
When he realized the witch wasn’t going to take the knife, he chucked it on the desk.
“Suit yourself, sweetheart.” He rounded the table and dropped into the chair across from her. “How many children does your poor brother have left?”
She waved a hand. “The girl I’m after seems to be the only one this century.”
Nodding, he squinted and sighed. “Where is old Antony?”
“Probably enjoying one of his harems in Italy.”
“Does the girl have his powers?”
“My brother’s powers stop at his line.”
Lu cocked a brow.
“My father said there’d be too many mixed breeds. I guess the same could be said for you.”
With a chuckle, he leaned back in his seat with his legs stretched out. “All my kids were made for a purpose.”
“Speaking of,” she cleared her throat, “. . . you seen Dom?”
“I’ll be seeing him soon.”
She perked up, crippling body straightening just a fraction. “Tell him I miss him.”
He rolled his top lip. “Doubt he’ll return your . . . feelings.”
“He still mad about the—” She lazily drew a line down her eyebrow and eye. When he nodded, she pursed her lips. “You’re the one who made me do it.”
“I didn’t make you do a damn thing. You had a choice and you made it. And you chose to turn on him.”
“I really wanted that sapphire though.” Frowning, she glanced toward the ceiling. “I miss my pet. It’s boring without him. No company to keep me occupied.”
“I’d hardly count him as company.”
“Trust me, what your son lacks in personality, he makes up for in bed. The closest I could get after him was Pierce.”
“Yeah, whatever happened with that?”
Her brows furrowed heavily. “He put a harassment charge on me and cut the tip of my index finger off.” She held up her left hand as proof.
Having a hard time understanding what he heard, Lu blinked a few times and tilted his head.
“I got jealous. He was seeing other women.”
“He’s an incubus. That’s . . . his job.”
“Well, I got all emotional about it and blinded him in one eye.”
“You blinded him?”
“Hey, he cut the finger off that did it, okay? Eye for an eye.”
“Not quite. I would’ve plucked your eyeball out and fed it to you.”
“So romantic. I think you and I belong together.” A wet cough hacked its way through the witch’s chest.
Lu did a quick scan of her and the deteriorating state she was in. “I’ll pass.”
She spit a ball of flem and blood out on the floor, a tooth flying with it.“Well, if you’d hurry up and bring me the girl, I’d get my form back.”
Disgusted, Lu covered his mouth with a hand as a smell of rotten eggs wafted through the room. “You’ll get your dinner soon, princess.”
Dom closed the front door and peered out the glass, staring into the night one last time. Tree branches scraped against the windows, and a loud boom shook the house as streaks of lightning webbed across the sky.
With the patience of a saint, he’d sat on the porch for hours, waiting like a damn fool in the rain. And he wasn’t exactly sure what he was waiting on, either. A ghost? Maybe even a hallucination?
But hell, who was he playing—the man was real, technically alive, and breathing. And somehow, someway he’d traced him here to the backwoods of nowhere. And he’d be coming back, and that thought alone kept his gut in a knot, his head in a mess, and him as paranoid as a schizophrenic.
He pushed off the door and scratched the scruff of his jaw as he started up the stairs.
“Who are you waiting for?” Aidyn’s voice echoed below.
Dom swore under his breath and huffed. “No one.”
His brother stood by the archway of the lounge, a shoulder leaning on the molding. “You’ve been standing out there every night for the last three days. Doubt you’ve taken up meditation.”
A long silence brewed as Dom refused to say a word and continued up the staircase, the wood groaning under the weight of his boots.
As Dom neared his room, an eerie creak sounded to the left of him. His brows dipped as Jade’s door slowly opened wide until the knob hit the wall. Yet, Jade still lay ungracefully wrapped in the black blankets of the bed. Any other time, he would’ve thought the house was getting old, but as the air around him thickened with humidity, a burst of heat flowed out the doorway.
As his eyes adjusted, he realized a hulking shadow sat in the corner, the dense mass blacker than the paint on the walls. Just as Dom moved forward, a pair of silver eyes shined and the shadows themselves drew back into the walls of the house and unveiled the looming man.
As if the light of the room could cure his hallucination, he flipped the light switch, the phantom disappearing with the night. Frozen in the doorway, he scanned the room, waiting for the shadow to appear out of thin air. He flashed a quick glance at the bed where Jade still lay asleep, and then his eyes went back to the corner near her desk.
A cold, prickly sensation spread over his skin as if something stared back at him.
For the second time that week, he questioned his eyesight—his senses. Reality in general. Was he finally losing it like the rest of his brothers and just diving off the deep end?
He let out the breath he’d been holding and as he turned to leave, he flicked the lights.
“Three-hundred-and-forty-three years,” a voice made of rocks and razor blades spoke. “I’ve been counting down to this moment . . . to this second.”
His body stilled, the room’s temperature rising like an inferno as his neck became coated in a layer of sweat. Slowly, he pivoted. The dark figure sat in the corner, two silver eyes regarding him in disgust.
“Seems you’ve done pretty well for yourself.” The shadow stood, matching his height.
As he walked closer, the heat thickened, the humidity nearly choking him, but still Dom refused to move. The hairs of his body rose in unison, a cold wind sweeping through his bones as the man stepped into the light that bled in from the hallway. The face he remembered—the face he’d seen only days ago . . . was now scarred beyond belief, his cheeks covered with raised and puckered skin as if the fire that had consumed him had engraved itself into his flesh.
Dom struggled to find his voice as an old nightmare came to life in front of him.
“Does my burning corpse haunt your memories often?” The man tilted his head to the side. The scars lining his face began to glow red like a searing iron, “I know it haunts mine.” A moan came from the bed beside him and his silver eyes slid to the sleeping form. “You have a debt to be paid, Dom. I’m here to collect it.”
“You wanna die again?”
The eyes then flashed back to him.
The man chuckled softly as he pulled something from the long, dark coat he wore. “I didn’t come to collect her debt. I came to collect yours.”
Dom’s brows scrunched together.
“The stolen property in your basement—” a piece of metal clinked and a flame illuminated the room as the man lit the end of a cigarette, “I’ve come to take it back.”
With clenched fists, Dom took a step toward him. “Like hell you are!”
As a frustrated groan sounded and the blankets rustled, the man took a few steps back, quickly melting into the darkness.
Jade pulled the cover off her head, her curls springing in different directions. “Who in the world are you talking to?”
Right on time, a hand grabbed the crook of his arm and pulled him toward the door.
“Sorry, he had a little too much Jack tonight. Go back to sleep,” Aidyn said with a wince.
She looked unconvinced, but Dom could care less as he looked over his shoulder and to the corner while his brother dragged him into the hallway. Aidyn slammed the door behind him.
“What in the fuck was that?” his brother asked, eyes wide.
“You saw him too?”
“Jesus Christ, Dom . . . are you losing it? I just watched you have a conversation with thin air.”
And then reality registered.
He shoved Aidyn out his way and made a bee-line for the stairs. As he hit the second floor, he jumped over the railing and landed on the balls of his feet on the marble floor below. He nearly knocked Erica down as she came out of the dining room with a bowl in her hand, and he headed straight for the hidden door on the far right wall.
The damn thing was already cracked open. He pushed it open further and jogged down the dimly lit steps of the basement, but as he reached the bottom step, his eyes landed on the bars of a cell at the end of the corridor. Inside, it sat dark and nearly silent . . . accept for a steady chewing noise.