Dark Hunger


Page 49



“I had no power over the storms when I served the emperor,” he said, shaking his head. “I was an ordinary man. A soldier. I did not discover my ability until sometime after I woke to this world, when a man tried to rob me. Then it seemed to come out of me on its own. The thief was struck down by hail that never touched me. The rain came down for hours after he fell.”


Jessa realized something. “You must be the very first Kyndred.”


“I have never found another from my time,” he said. “Even the old ones, the dark Kyn, they came into this world centuries after my first life.” He rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. “The courier who tried to slay me on the battlefield … he escaped that day. In time I found accounts of him in the history books. They say he was elevated through the ranks of the army, and later was named a senator of Rome. He grew wealthy and powerful, until he was struck down by a plague, but his sons carried on his cursed name, and passed it through all their generations to this time.”


Jessa frowned as she felt a peculiar twinge inside her head, like the beginning of a bad headache. “What was his name?”


“Septus Janus Genarius,” he told her. “Jonah Genaro is his last living descendant.” He glanced at her and sat up. “Jessa?”


She pressed the heels of her hands to her temples. “Something’s wrong. I can feel …” She trailed off as her stomach surged and she fought against the alien sensation. “It’s Lawson.”


“Lawson is dead.”


“No. He survived.” She looked at him. “He can feel me, the same way I can feel him. He’s coming here, Matthias. He’s coming to kill both of us.”


Rowan left her bike under a tree by the pretty fountain in Price Park and scanned the area. A couple of people with dogs were walking on the other side of the grounds, but she saw no one else. She checked her watch, and saw it was two minutes to noon.


“You’d better show, Drew,” she muttered, “or I’m going to be pissed at you forever.”


“What else is new?” a voice said from above.


Rowan tilted her head back and saw a man standing in the tree over her bike. “What are you doing up there, you idiot?”


“Maintaining cover, smart-ass.” He jumped, dropping down twelve feet before landing neatly beside her. “Were you followed?”


“Am I six years old?” she countered.


“No.” He looked her over. “Sixteen, maybe.”


“Twenty-one and legal, thank you very much.” She shoved her spare helmet into his hands. “Hop on. We’ve got a lot of road to cover.”


Something whizzed past her cheek and thunked against the tree. Two more things zipped past her nose before Drew knocked her to the ground.


Drew seized the back of her collar. “Keep your head down and crawl,” he said. “Behind the fountain. Move it.”


Rowan crawled, ducking again as more bullets hit the tree where she’d just been standing.


“I wasn’t followed,” she insisted as she got behind the fountain and huddled next to Drew. “They must have been tailing you.”


“If they’d spotted me,” he said, “I’d already be lying on a slab at GenHance.” He looked up as something pinged against the metal sculpture, and grinned. “Oh. We’re okay.”


Rowan stared at him. “We’re being shot at. We’re unarmed. We’re about to be killed or taken, or both. Probably both. We’re screwed, is what we are, Andrew.”


“Have faith, baby girl.” He lifted his head and looked toward the source of the shots before ducking down. “Do you have any pennies?”


“A couple thousand in a jar back home,” she snapped. “Tossing one in the fountain and making a wish will not make the bad guys go away. Just FYI.”


Drew shoved his hand into her hip pocket and pulled out a handful of change. He sorted out the silver and dropped it, curling his fingers over the remaining pennies.


“So your bike, is it pretty good on gas?” he asked in a conversational tone. “I’ve been thinking about getting one for years, but with gas prices the way they are, it seems like the right time.”


“You’re crazy. That’s it. I’m going to die with a crazy man.” She folded her arms over her waist. “Well, at least I never slept with you.”


“You’re going to live long and prosper, baby girl. And you never know.” Drew made a V sign with his fingers, winked, and stood. “Hold your fire,” he shouted at the men crossing the park. He held up his arms. “We’re not armed. We surrender.”


Rowan grabbed the leg of his jeans. “Hey. I’m not surrendering, you nitwit.”


“Get up and raise your hands,” he said out of the side of his mouth. “So the nice shooters think that you are.”


Rowan realized something, rose, and stood beside him, holding her hands in view. “The fucking fountain is made of copper.”


“Uh-huh.” He lowered the fist holding the pennies and pretended to rub his nose, while the fountain began to shake.


She sniffed. “You could have mentioned it before.”


“And spoil the fun?” Drew glanced at her, his eyes glittering like two new pennies. “I thought you’d be more of a wild biker chick. You sound just like my mother.”


Rowan watched the men advancing on them. “Four of them.”


“Yep.”


“What are you going to do about the guns?”


He opened his palm and the pennies in it began to float around his fingers. “Put a cork in them.”


The fountain stopped shaking and produced an eerie whine as the copper basin began undulating.


The shooters stopped a few feet away from the fountain and aimed for their heads.


“Guys.” Drew smiled. “Put down the guns, turn around, and walk away.”


One of the men laughed. None of them moved.


Drew sighed. “It never works in the movies, either.”


The pennies streaked away from his hand, moving so fast Rowan couldn’t follow them. One man’s gun exploded in his hand, and as the blast knocked him backward the others dropped their guns and shouted, seizing their bloody hands, in which Rowan saw penny-size wounds.


“Shit, Drew, you only hit one out of four.”


“I got their hands, didn’t I?” He scowled at her. “You try ramming a penny down the barrel of a weapon from thirty yards away; then you can complain about my aim.”


She chuckled. “Okay, it was pretty cool.”


“And everyone says pennies are worthless.” Drew touched the basin of the fountain and slowly raised his hands like a magician trying to conjure. The copper screamed as it flared up as if molten, shedding flakes of green rust as the water it contained poured out and flooded the ground.


The uneven wall of copper split in two, then four, then eight sections before they lifted into the air and stretched out over the four men. Each of the copper strips wove through the others before the ends drove themselves into the ground. Drew sent more copper from the fountain to reinforce the strips, until he had fashioned a crude but effective cage around the shooters.


Rowan heard a shout, and looked over at a white-faced man who had stopped at the curb and was peering through the open window of his car. “Call nine-one-one,” she yelled to him. “These terrible men have vandalized the park.”


The man gunned his car and sped off.


“No one wants to do the right damn thing anymore.” Rowan walked over to the cage, reached in, and grabbed the uninjured hand of the man closest to her. The image of a voluptuous, Marilyn Monroe-type blonde in a tight sequined dress filled her head, and her body went into shift. A moment later she pouted her red lips and looked into the man’s wide eyes.


“Honeybunch, how could you shoot at me?” she said.


“Rosie, I swear I didn’t see you.” Caught up in the vision of the woman he loved, the shooter smiled. “I thought you were back in LA.”


“I was too lonely for you, sweetie pie.” Rowan leaned close. “How did you find us? Who else is going to try to hurt me?”


The man’s eyes glazed over. “We tracked the bike. Teams all over the city.” He grunted as one of the other men slammed a fist into the side of his head, and he slumped back.


“You can’t get away,” the second man told her. “You’re dead.”


Rowan stood, shifting back into herself as she turned to Drew. “What?”


The side of his mouth curled. “Can you do the blonde again? Maybe for the rest of the day?”


“Shut up.” She walked past him. “And come on. We need to steal a car.”


Chapter 21


Bradford Lawson felt like a new man. He didn’t look like one, not yet, as the transerum was still healing the damage from the lightning strike. But large patches of burned flesh were sloughing from his face, falling like black dandruff into his lap. He could feel the same itch all over his body as his skin slowly regenerated.


The truck he’d stolen as a present for Jessa Bellamy handled beautifully, even when he drove it over a hundred miles an hour. And he had to, now that she was moving again. He’d hit the accelerator as soon as he’d felt the connection between them becoming weaker and thinner, and it was growing stronger. He was close enough now to taste the brightness of her fear.


She knew he couldn’t stay away.


Jessa felt a little different now, too. Lawson wasn’t sure if it was because he’d come back from the dead in a different phase of his transformation, or if she had changed from being in his presence. She had given him so much delight with her cringing and pleading in Savannah; he was sure that seeing him now would have her crawling to him to kiss his feet and beg for his forgiveness.


He’d make her kill her boyfriend first, he decided. Then he’d take her back to GenHance and have Genaro transform her into a suitable mate. One he could beat as much as he liked, and who would always heal, just as he did.



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