Pretty When She Dies

Page 56

Slowly, Cian took in his circumstances. He was bound to a chair with cord and the dagger had been drawn out. The damage was still there, deep and painful, but he was no longer dying.

Roberto lounged against the wall nearby watching the proceedings with a rather excited look on his face. Cian knew from experience that did not bode well for them.

Several dead creatures stood about the room. Some were fresh, but others were quite old. Cian had a feeling it was yet again another show of power.

Before Amaliya lay a woman dressed in a very pretty pink outfit and high heels. She was freshly dead and smelled of warmth and liquor.

“Now, where were we before he woke up? Ah, yes. Make her rise!”

“I don't know how,” Amaliya said in a tired voice. Her silky black hair was hanging around her face and Cian could only make out the tip of her nose.

“You defeated my creatures and now you can't raise this simple little corpse for me? I have a difficult time believing that.” The Summoner's voice was dangerous and cruel.

Cian could feel the tension ratcheting up and knew the violence was coming. He had seen Amaliya's battle through the back window of the Lexus. He had seen her eyes glow with the power over the dead and how she had cast down the creatures that attacked her. He knew, just as The Summoner did, that she was powerful. But what he understood without a doubt, but The Summoner did not, was that Amaliya did not know how she had done it. The Summoner would take it as Amaliya being obstinate and it was about to get very, very bad.

“I just don't know how I did it. Okay?” She lifted her chin and her hair swung back to reveal her strong features. Defiance was etched in her expression.

“No, it is not okay. Show her it is not okay, Roberto,” The Summoner said in a cold voice.

Roberto stepped away from the wall and drew out the silver dagger. The hilt was wrapped in his silk handkerchief. He stepped purposefully toward Amaliya and she shrank back.

Cian knew what was going to happen, but Amaliya did not. He braced himself and clenched his teeth together.

Roberto swung about at the last moment and drove the silver dagger deep into Cian's upper arm. Cian felt the pain explode within him, but he did not cry out. Amaliya's cry was pained enough for both of them. Roberto's eyes gazed deep into his former Master's with curiosity, then stepped back and bowed slightly.

“Don't hurt him! I don't know how!”

“Try!” The Summoner slapped her and pointed his finger in her face. “Try.”

Amaliya fell to her knees, the big skirt puffing up around her and laid her hands on the girl's body. It wasn't hard to see her struggling to draw on her power of necromancy, but the girl remained unmoving.

“Do it!”

“I'm trying,” Amaliya cried out.

The Summoner nodded at Roberto and Amaliya screamed just as the blade was buried into Cian's thigh.

Again, Cian fought the agony and refused to cry out. He was weakening and he knew he could not remain conscious much longer.

“Do it,” The Summoner snarled at her and stalked around her. His eyes were pure white as his power filled the room and his dead followers swayed in the waves of it.

Amaliya again placed her hands on the girl and closed her eyes in an attempt to concentrate. The minutes ticked by and blood tears streamed down her pale face. The girl remained unmoving.

“Roberto,” The Summoner said again.


Cian saw Amaliya launch herself at Roberto and so did his former servant. Roberto turned and slashed at her. The blade caught her upraised hand and as she fell back, her hand swept over the room and her blood flew in an arc over both the raised dead and the corpse at her feet.

Cian could not process what happened next. By this point, he was close to blacking out. He could feel the sun hovering at the horizon and the dead drawing into a tight circle around him. He could see The Summoner looking down at shock as the girl with the pink high heels and glossy dead lips grabbed his ankle. He saw Roberto's look of sheer surprise as the leg of a wooden chair burst through his chest, impaling his undead heart. And, finally, he saw Amaliya falling back to the floor, her eyes glowing pure white.

Then he was lost to the darkness.


Amaliya didn't know how she did it, but suddenly her power lashed out, gripped the dead in its thrall, and wrenched them from The Summoner's influence. She cried out in anger and pain, and in her cry were the orders that the decaying bodies obeyed. She wanted Roberto dead at her feet and the corpses moved to fulfill her desire as the dark, silky tentacle of her power filled them with life. The dead surged around Roberto, one of them impaling him from behind with a tree branch. The Cian's servant's eyes widened with horror before he tumbled forward. Several of the dead leaned down and fumbled with the hole in his back, then plunged their hands inside his body. As Roberto screamed, the dead pulled his heart from his body and silenced him forever.

Scrambling to her feet, Amaliya saw the girl in pink attacking The Summoner while the dead surged forward to help her. Roberto, truly dead, lay abandoned on the floor.

“No, Cease!” The Summoner ordered the dead, but they did not obey as they reached for him.

Wrapping her hand with the stupid skirt's material, she grabbed the silver dagger from Roberto's hand and cut Cian free as quickly as she could. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw The Summoner shove through the dead as he advanced on her. She hurled the silver dagger at her maker just as Cian tumbled forward into her arms. The Summoner ducked away from the weapon and the dead managed to trip him into their midst.

Grabbing Cian about the waist, she heaved him up in her arms and dragged him toward the window. She felt so tired and drained, but they had to escape.

An animated corpse flew past them and into the wall as The Summoner rose up and began to rip apart the risen dead. His fury was evident in his features and he bared his teeth at her. “Where will you go? The sun is about to rise!” He growled at her as he shoved the attacking undead creatures away from him.

Amaliya didn't even answer. She shoved Cian through the musty curtains and out the window and followed him into the pre-dawn greyness.

Gripping him under the arms, she pulled him along, his feet dragging on the ground. The sky was turning a pale blue on the horizon and elegant pink and purple clouds swept across the hills. As she struggled along, she glanced behind her to see no one pursuing them. Glancing toward the horizon, she could see why. The edge of the new morning sun was emerging over the tree tops. The Summoner was safe in the darkened motel. Though he was able to stay awake, he would burn in the sunlight. Just as they would if they did not get to shelter.

Grabbing up the long skirt of the stupid dress The Summoner had made her put on, she lifted it over both of them like a cloak and tried to shield them as the sky continued to lighten. Cian stirred slightly and his legs began to carry him.

“The sun,” he whispered.

“I know,” she answered and tried to shield their exposed skin as they hurried along the rough terrain leading away from the abandoned town. They broke free of the overgrown foliage and into a golden field of grass. She looked behind them and considered trying to hide them in the trees, but she was sure the branches would not provide enough shelter.

Across the field was the dark shape of a structure and she glanced warily toward the rising sun. It burned her eyes. She flinched and looked away. The gray of the morning was fading fast. Adjusting the heavy satin skirt around them, Cian's face tucked into her neck, she pulled him with her across the uneven ground.

“Amaliya,” he said in a soft voice. “We'll burn.”

“No, we won't,” she answered, and half-dragged, half-carried him.

A soft morning mist flowed around them as they moved and she was grateful for the thick clouds sliding overhead. Maybe the clouds would buy them a bit more time.

“The sun,” Cian mumbled.

Determinedly, she kept moving. As they drew closer to the building, she made out its ramshackle countenance. It was long abandoned and appeared to be an old farm house. Grateful that she had kept her jeans and boots on instead of taking them off like The Summoner had wanted, she kept the skirt over their heads as they half-climbed, half-fell over the old decaying fence that surrounded the house. For a second, the sun caught Cian as he fell to the ground and he cried out in terror. She fell to her knees and quickly covered him. He reached out to her and she hid him in the safety of her dress.

“We're almost there,” she said softly and urged him to his feet.

Clutching her tightly, he struggled to walk with her.

She now understood that The Summoner's power was in her. She had risen during the day before and she was bound and determined to stay awake. Cian was obviously falling asleep despite his attempt not to, but she would keep him moving. She would not lose him to the sun.

Practically carrying him up the splintered steps, she heaved him onto the porch. He was nearly completely asleep. His body was a lead weight in her arms. The door was already partially open and she shoved it aside. The room beyond was full of debris. She dragged Cian inside and shut the door behind them. Sunlight was already beginning to pour through the east windows, filling the house with a soft morning glow. It also cascaded through the big holes in the roof and Amaliya fought back her panic.

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