Darkness Dawns

Page 38

Bastien towered over him, scowling menacingly. “An emergency would be finding the teaspoonful of Casey’s remains left behind after an immortal’s attack.”

Montrose paled.

“Casey is even now awakening from the rest you sought to deny me, so there is no emergency. Did you finish the suit?”

“N-no. It’ll be ready tomorrow.”

“Why is it not ready tonight?”

After stuttering several unsuccessful beginnings, Montrose said, “I just—I need to know where you got that blood sample you brought me. Not Casey’s. The other one.”

Bastien frowned. “You know where I got it.”

“From your enemy? The Immortal Guardian?”


“Where can I find him?”

“In a few days, there won’t be anything left for you to find.”

Montrose shook his head wildly. “You can’t kill him. He isn’t human.”

Bastien laughed. “Neither is your brother.”

“But he was once,” Montrose said earnestly.

Frowning, Bastien studied the man carefully. There was an almost fanatical gleam in his eyes, put there by something he must have found in Roland’s blood.

“What are you saying, Keegan?”

Montrose crossed to one of the tables laden with computers, centrifuges, and assorted medical paraphernalia Bastien knew little about and picked up a labeled glass vial with blood in it. “I’m saying Casey may be a vampire now, but he started out human. This man”—he held up the vial—“didn’t. This man was never human.”

Bastien stared at him.

What the hell?

Though Sarah knew it irked him, Roland didn’t go out to hunt that night. They bathed Nietzsche, shared what for others would’ve been dinner, but for them was brunch, did the dishes, let Nietzsche out, brought the cat back in again when he picked a fight with an opossum, then retired to the living room.

While Sarah caught up on world events through various satellite news channels, Roland paced restlessly. Back and forth. Around and around. Until she couldn’t take it anymore and turned off the television.


“Yes?” he replied absently.

“Why are you still here?”

“What do you mean?”

“Shouldn’t you be out hunting?”

He frowned. “I’m not leaving you here alone, unprotected.”

“I’m not in danger here.”

“As you were in no danger at my home?”

“You said yourself they must have followed us after the big paranormal rumble. Well, there’s no way they could have followed us here. Seth zapped us here or flashed us or tele-ported us. Whatever you want to call it. There’s nothing to lead them here.”

He resumed his pacing. “Except me, if they see me out hunting and follow me home.”

“Yeah, like that’s going to happen. You’re expecting it now and will know it if they even try to tail you.”

“You have more faith in me than I do.”

“I have complete faith in you,” she told him honestly.

He stopped and turned to stare at her, his expression stunned. “How can you? I’ve failed you twice.”

Now it was her turn to frown. “What? When?”

“When you were harmed running from that bastard Bastien—and me, I might add.” He had never said as much, but she knew her initial fear of him when she had seen him sprout fangs and drink the goth kid’s blood had hurt him. “And again when you were nearly shot and burned alive while in my home and under my protection.”

“I’m here, am I not?” she retorted, coming to her feet. “Safe and secure and still in one piece.”

“I’m not leaving you.”

“What about Bastien? He almost killed you twice. Don’t you want to find him?”

Hell, yes! his expression shouted even as he shook his head. “Your safety is more important to me.”

“Then call Chris Reordon and have him send some guys over to protect me while you go take care of business.”

“I’m not going to entrust your safety to a group of humans I don’t know from Adam.”

“So … what? Bastien goes free?”

His shoulders tensed. “Marcus is searching for him, as is Lisette.”

Sarah crossed the room and stood toe to toe with him. “You know that isn’t good enough.” Reaching up, she stroked his clenched jaw. “You want to be out there with them, hunting this guy down and taking him out yourself.”

Leaning down, he pressed his forehead to hers and sighed. “I don’t see any way around this. I can’t let anything happen to you, Sarah.”

Her heart swelled at the emotion in his deep voice.

He didn’t say it as though he felt obligated to keep her safe. He said it as though he couldn’t bear the idea of her getting hurt.

Pressing a quick kiss to his lips, Sarah took his hand, turned, and began leading him toward the hallway. Through the door to the basement and down the spiral staircase they went, Roland asking no questions.

When they reached the subterranean floor, she turned left instead of toward the bedroom they shared on the right.

“Where are we going?”

Sarah said nothing until they reached the training room, where she flicked on the light. “I want you to teach me how to kick vampire ass.”


“Knowing I can defend myself against a vampire attack will help put your mind at ease. Mine, too. So …” She motioned to the weapons and assorted equipment that filled the high school gym–size room. “Teach me.”

He propped his hands on his hips. “No, you are not going to hunt vampires.”

“I don’t want to hunt vampires. Though your chauvinistic, autocratic, I’m-the-man-so-you’ll-do-as-I-say attitude may prod me into it.”

“I didn’t mean—”

“I know. You’re just worried about me and want to protect me. But you can’t be with me every minute—”

When he opened his mouth to interrupt, she hastily covered his lips with her fingers. “Let me finish. You can’t be with me every minute of every day for the rest of my life. Sooner or later I will be in a position where a vampire—not necessarily Bastien—could catch me alone. Don’t you want me to be able to fight him off?”

Roland removed her fingers, kissed them, then linked them with his own. “Yes.”

“Excellent. I should be in pretty good shape.” She exercised six days a week, cardio and weights. “So show me what I need to know to kill something that moves faster than I can follow.”

* * *

Three nights later, Roland called a halt to their latest training session. Panting heavily, Sarah took the towel he offered and mopped her damp face as she collapsed onto one of the padded benches the room boasted.

Roland tried but couldn’t seem to wipe the grin off his face. It had been there for at least an hour now and his cheeks were starting to ache from it. He had not enjoyed himself this much in centuries.

Sarah was a natural. Already in near peak physical condition, she had listened to his instructions, earnestly mimicked them as proficiently as she was able, then—as he drilled her and tested her and put her through her paces—had rapidly begun to carry them out like a pro.

It helped that she had taken a couple of martial arts classes while she was in college. She was swift on her feet, graceful of motion, and such a joy to be around. Her quirky sense of humor reared its head at the most unexpected moments. She would be deadly serious one minute, concentrating on the lesson, then say something the next that would have him folding over with laughter.

“I am so screwed,” she said, dabbing at her neck.

That managed to dim his smile a little. “Why do you say that?” He crossed over and seated himself beside her so their shoulders brushed.

She was dressed like a professional vampire hunter. Black cargo pants that resembled military fatigues with lots of loops and pockets for weapons and ammo rode low on her hips and fit her legs loosely. A black tank top clung to her narrow waist and full breasts in damp patches. New black boots fit her small feet snugly and, he feared, rubbed blisters as she broke them in.

The tote bag carrying her clothing had been destroyed in the fire, so she had had to make do with what she could find here at what she called “David’s Estate.”

Since he never knew when an immortal or one of the network’s humans might drop by, David had made it a habit to keep a supply of men’s and women’s clothing on hand for any in need. Immortals’clothing tended to end up torn and blood-spattered after a confrontation with a vamp. Bloodstains were more difficult to discern on black material, often appearing as simply indeterminate wet splotches, so everything in David’s take-what-you-need wardrobe was black and suitable for combat. Everything except the underwear that was still in new, sealed packages. It was bright white.

Sarah looked great in black. Her pale skin seemed almost to glow in comparison where it wasn’t flushed from her exertions.

“I totally suck at this,” she complained.

He looked at her in surprise. “No, you don’t. I was just thinking that you seem to have a natural talent for it.”

She eyed him dubiously.

Roland tucked a damp curl behind her ear. “I’ve trained many immortals who didn’t learn as fast as you do.”

“I didn’t know you trained other immortals. I thought you preferred solitude.”

“Seth doesn’t always give me a choice in the matter. Sometimes he just pops in, drops some poor sod off, says ‘train him,’ then leaves before I can offer any protest.”

She smiled wryly. “And now you’re stuck training me.”

He drew the backs of his fingers down her warm, damp cheek. “Training you is a pleasure. I told you, you’re a natural. I have not enjoyed myself so much in a very long time.” He sent her a wicked grin. “At least not fully clothed.”

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