Demon from the Dark

Chapter 23

"You bastard!" Carrow pressed her palm to her breast, flushing from her reaction. "You promised you wouldn't bite me! Does what I want matter at all to you?"

The demon stared at her as if dumbfounded, while she was panicked. She couldn't catch her breath. There was still time for him to see her memories - out of context - still time for him to balk at the gate and doom Ruby.

"Let me up!" She shoved against him, grappling to get his weight off her. "I trusted you."

"Carrow, I wanted - "

"I know what you wanted." She'd offered herself to him, and instead of making love to her, he'd preferred to steal her blood.

That stung so much. At once, she felt both violated and rejected.

"Get off me!" When he wouldn't, fury filled her. She launched him into the wall, feeling stronger than she had in years. And he'd fueled it. Which made her wonder - what in the hell had that bite felt like to him?

Rock dust clouded over him where he'd landed. Had she heard something snap?

As the dust abated, she gasped in horror. She'd launched him into the blade corner. His skin was gashed open in a dozen places, blood pouring. On top of that, one of his shoulders had been dislocated, and his right arm appeared to be broken.

Sympathy swept over her, and she rose to see to him. "Malkom, I ..." She trailed off when blood trickled down her breast and dripped from the peak. Despite his injuries, his gaze was rapt on her nipple, on each droplet of blood.

She dabbed at the puncture wounds, and her regret vanished, resentment and doubt taking its place. Does he prefer my blood to my body? "Just ... just get out!"

He gazed at her with guilt, even yearning in his blue eyes. But above all else, his expression looked disappointed.

Didn't matter how he felt. That bite could spell her doom, Ruby's doom. Ruby, who was sitting inside a cell, motherless, wondering if Carrow would ever return. "Out!"

With a frustrated growl, he left the chamber, limping away. How badly had she hurt him?

After he'd gone, she stared at the exit. For as long as she lived, she'd never forget the look on his face. The disappointment in his expression ate at her.

Which confused her. She cleaned up and dressed, then began pacing. He'd just hurt her, so she should want him to hurt in return. Yet he had her so mixed up.

She had the sense that he'd expected something specific from her - she didn't know what. All she knew was that she'd let him down.

Agitated, she crossed to Lindt's backpack for that flask of Jack Daniel's, wondering, Is it still good? Of course. Alcohol was preserved in alcohol, after all.

As she stared at the bottle, she wondered how her life had come to this. She had an out-of-control, blood-guzzling demon as a would-be lover, a looming betrayal that she didn't want to deal, and a little girl depending on Carrow to save her life.

She knew without a doubt that Ruby was going to turn her entire existence upside down. And still Carrow missed her like crazy, couldn't wait to get their life together started. ...

Getting sauced wouldn't help anything. But it can't really hurt either, can it? Carrow lifted the flask, knocking back a shot, savoring the burn.

What was she going to do with Malkom? Besides give him over to merciless mortals bent on experimenting on him.

Everything was so difficult between them. Why couldn't Carrow have found a guy like Mariketa's man? Her husband, Bowen MacRieve, adored and spoiled her. He was a gorgeous werewolf who was witty and fun.

Carrow was the mate of a demon who dug blood, possibly more than making love to her. One who couldn't discuss current events or use silverware and had only recently been introduced to hygiene.

Mari had once mentioned that Bowen didn't like to watch the same movies that she did.

Carrow's man? He didn't know what a movie was.

She couldn't help but be jealous of Mari. They'd bonded over the fact that both of their parents had left them behind. It turned out that Mari's had abandoned her to go fight evil and make the world better for their beloved daughter.

Carrow's wanted to play golf on a perpetually balmy paradise plane.

Mari deserved everything fate was giving her. But I deserve loving parents and a great guy too, damn it!

Where the hell was Malkom? The clock was ticking, and he was the key to her and Ruby's freedom. That's the only reason I care where he is.

Bastard bit her!Again. Chugged her breast like a frat boy on a Natty Lite. He broke his vow.

Still, she had a lot of nerve to blame him for that, especially when she was on the verge of destroying his ability to trust forever.

Everything was so damned difficult. ...

At the end of the flask, she concluded that she was now drunk - and that he definitely should've been back by now. Deeming herself powerful enough to fry a monster X if need be, she decided to set out after him. She filched a flashlight, then stumbled down the mine shaft.

Once she reached the exit and the wind hit her face like a slap, she slurred, "Fuggin' hate this place!"

She was about to declare her hatred for him as well, but stopped herself. She didn't hate him for what he'd done.

Now that she could see things more drunkenly, she wasn't convinced he'd taken her blood in lieu of making love to her. She suspected his bite might have been a try at closeness, like intimacy for a vemon. Maybe?

With a sigh, she unsteadily gestured to herself. "Becauss, less face it, demon hasta be fallin' in love with me by now."

He'd looked so completely staggered by her reaction, clearly expecting her to feel differently about his bite. And she would have if she hadn't been planning to deceive him soon - would've just accepted the pleasure it brought her.

So damned difficult.

"Malkom?" she called, marching out after him. "Where are you?" No response. With his uncanny senses, he should have been able to hear her over the wind. "Demon, come back!"

Finally, she spied his large prints, saw they were accompanied by a blood trail. Guilty pang. Down the booby-trapped path she went, trying to remember where he'd pointed out traps.

But it turned out that his contraptions were easy to find. Because they'd all been triggered.

By demons. Now mangled and dead demons. An attack? The dossier had said Malkom guarded the mines. Maybe this was a takeover attempt. Or perhaps the Trothans had come here to capture their fugitive, the one who'd killed their prince?

Farther down the mountain, she could see signs of a struggle. Bone trees had been felled. This had to have involved someone as powerful as Malkom.

Had even more demons jumped him? She'd bet they were regretting it now. Malkom was probably out hiding the fresh bodies from her - or cooking them. Who could tell with her man?

She surveyed all the tracks scattered over the clearing. Again, she could make out Malkom's prints, but now she saw lighter boot prints. Even more demons?

With ten shots of Jack D in her belly, she was convinced that her scientifical mind could read tracks and deduce a corresponding fight. She was a regular Sacagawea. Even though Carrow had never learned to track.

Deep half prints meant someone lunging, right? There were lots of those. They spun around and around. But she could swear that it looked like in the end, Malkom had just limped away with lighter demons on either side. Then the tracks simply disappeared.

What - the - frack? Had he allowed a gang to teleport him away? Even if he was weakened, if he resisted enough, no one would ever be able to trace him against his will.

She had to know what had happened, so she eked out some power to fuel a sobering spell - her least favorite of all spells. On the heels of that, she launched a viewing spell, murmuring, "See here. See Malkom."

A scene began to play out like a show on a TV with fuzzy reception. Malkom was sweating, as if he'd been running up and down his mountain, but he appeared to be returning in the direction of the mine.

Though time had passed since he'd left, he remained thoroughly pissed at himself, ramming his horns into trees. He was still limping, his injured arm hanging awkwardly, and he had dried blood all over him.

Another guilty pang. She'd never meant to hurt him so badly.

Her eyes went wide as the scene continued. More demons lay in wait for him. Malkom was so injured and distracted that he didn't see them -

Until they'd surrounded him, at least twenty of them. The largest one wore a grand suit of armor and was nearly as large as Malkom. The others called that demon Ronath. From the look on his face, Malkom despised him.

They were here for Malkom, specifically for his capture. If Malkom was a fugitive, had this armored demon come to arrest him?

With hatred seething in his now dark eyes, Malkom said something in a low, brutal tone.

When Ronath responded, sneering some reply, Malkom launched himself at the demon, driving him into a tree.

But Ronath's armor took the brunt of the blow. And unlike Malkom, Ronath and some of his men could trace. Even with Malkom's speed, he couldn't defend against so many as they appeared and disappeared, stabbing him again and again.

Can't watch this ... can't watch...

After several tries, they cast a metal net over him, but they couldn't trace him away when he was resisting so violently.

How much longer could he keep up his struggles? He was weakening - he clearly knew it. Still he clashed with them, and he might have gotten free. But then Malkom froze. His senses were better than the others'. And he'd heard Carrow calling for him, approaching them.

His eyes were calculating, his mind working. Her lips parted as he stopped fighting them. He'd made the decision to be taken.

Just before they traced him away, he roared twice more to cover her drunken calls. And then they were gone.

Ah, gods, no.

If they'd seized Malkom for that murder, then they'd likely take him back to the nearest city. She hurriedly climbed to a vantage point to gaze out from the mountain.

In the distance, she could barely spy out a collection of buildings rising from the horizon. If the winds had been up much more, she'd never have spotted them.

Surely regicide was punishable by death. She had to go after him. Aside from the fact that she felt guilty as hell for injuring him and then distracting him, she needed Malkom for her and Ruby's freedom.

So she'd go and save him, just so she could betray him?

Are you so cold, Carrow? Not cold, she was committed to a little girl who needed her.

A part of her cried, Malkom needs me, too. At that moment, she made a promise to herself. If Chase kept his word, then she'd return to the facility for Malkom. "I swear to Hekate that I won't stop until he's freed." Carrow would make everything right. It just might take time....

With that vow made, she focused once more on the problem at hand - some asshole named Ronath.

The sobering spell she'd cast made one sober as though through the passing of time. Which meant Carrow was now hungover. Which meant...

Demons would die today!

How to get to them? Between her and the city was a beastie-filled desert. She'd have to expend beaucoup energy to make herself invincible. Oh, and to float across the sand.

Yes, she'd been using power to reinforce her body with Malkom - and she'd used still more to attack him today. So she wouldn't have enough juice left over from her trek to contend with a town full of demons.

She'd need an infusion. It all would depend on one thing.

Malkom Slaine had better be happy to see her.

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