A Fang in the Sass: BBW Paranormal Shape Shifter Romance (Sassy Ever After Book 6) (9 page)

BOOK: A Fang in the Sass: BBW Paranormal Shape Shifter Romance (Sassy Ever After Book 6)
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TWENTY-ONE

 

Rolling through town, Trevan drove the group past the small club they found the girls in. The place seemed dead. No lights, no one milling around. The area looked like a quiet residential section waiting for everyone to get back from work.

But Aria knew the evil that lay below the innocent appearance. With Filip dead, she hoped the hive here would crumble to her demands. How strong was Damon? She thought back to the meeting with the community last night. Had it only been twelve hours since then?

The fear she saw in many eyes now made sense. They were firmly addicted to human blood and wouldn’t be willing to give it up. Her heart broke. Her great plans and dreams for them were crushed. Even now that they knew the truth behind the reason for the blood rule, she doubted many would choose to obey.

Her father and grandfather would tell her the entire clan would have to be destroyed. She loved these people. That act would kill her. But their continual abduction of humans and killings would lead to their discovery and destruction. What could she do?

Trevan reached over the console between the front seats and took her hand. “I don’t know what’s going through your head, my love, but I feel your struggle and concern. I’m here with you and we will do this together. Alain is more than ready to get revenge for his little mate, and Roen… Well, not sure about him—”

“Thanks, Trev,” Roen commented from the back. His sarcastic words made her smile. “Love you, too, man.”

With a grin, Trevan glanced in the rearview mirror. “Don’t get all mushy on me, dude.” Roen grunted and went back to the game on his phone.

She squeezed her mate’s hand, which felt large in hers. If she was right, the T-shirt he wore was tighter than it was when they left the house an hour ago. She had to ask Julian what he thought about her mate’s sudden growth spurt. He was a fucking mountain now. He’d scare even vamps.

They came to a stop at the front doors of the main nightclub where the vamps hung out. She buckled down her heart to focus on the right thing: protect the humans, no matter what she had to do.

She took a deep breath. “Let’s do this.” They climbed from the truck to the bar’s entrance. Trevan busted through the door with little effort. Wow, he was amazing. The room didn’t smell of blood or humans, but neither did Embraced. They split and searched all the rooms. Nothing. Not even any indication there was a level below. Could she be wrong about Filip and Damon?

Failing to find anything, Aria suggested they search the clan house. She remembered the underground rooms they had when she was a child. But the house had been rebuilt, so she had no idea where to find the entrance. Time was running short if they wanted to get out before the sun went down.

Aria had a key to the front door, which bummed Trevan. He was liking his new strength. She leaned into his ear and whispered, “Save it for the bedroom.” Both Alain and Roen behind them coughed to epically fail hiding their laughs. He gave them each an evil eye.

After opening the door and entering the passcode to turn off the alarm, they all stepped through the threshold. Inside, the house looked as it did when she arrived half a day ago. Tidy with a Victorian feel that traversed the ages. She led the group to the library. If this house was built like hers up north, which it should be since it was planned that way, there would be a secret entrance behind the interior wall.

They moved around books on the shelves, pushed on wood panels, and searched the floor for scrape marks. All yielding nothing. Obviously, Damon changed the means to gain entry to the secret chamber below. Aria sat at the overly fancy desk and opened drawers, feeling around for buttons or levers. Her fingers stumbled over a hidden switch, and the fireplace rotated ninety degrees revealing a dark room. Not very creative, but it got the job done.

They all passed through the entrance, the guys pulling out flashlights for extra light in the absolute darkness. The narrow space led to stairs leading down. This was it, the entrance to the underground lair she never liked.

She took the lead and Trevan brought up the rear, keeping the other two wolves between them. The place gave her the creeps, though it was more modern than when she’d last been down there. The walkways were wide with concrete flooring and walls. Dripping water echoed in the distance. That was the only sound beside their own heartbeats. Creepy.

The farther they walked, the wider the central aisle became. Large areas and rooms opened to the sides. Some had furniture for lounging while others looked unused. Smaller tunnels shot off in different directions and Aria wasn’t sure if they should check them. She turned to her mate.

“Maybe we can send some of the others down those when they get here. Right now, I think we should stick with the main path to see what we have.” He agreed and moved forward.

Her nose picked up a whiff of human blood. Behind her, Alain said, “I caught it, too.” They hurried along to find a locked door. Putting her shoulder to the door, Aria bent the metal frame, allowing the dead bolt to slide from its notch.

What she saw inside confirmed in her mind the destruction of the southern clan was upon them.

 

 

TWENTY-TWO

 

Inside, a dozen humans, male and female, lay naked and chained to the wall. Each had bite marks over his or her entire body, many red and puffy from infection. The smell of death was ripe in the air.

Fuck. Up to that moment, Aria had a tiny flame of hope the clan didn’t have blood slaves. Trevan pulled the chains from the wall and Roen lifted a nearly dead woman. They hurried the prisoners back the way they had come and into the sunlight. The captives had to shield their eyes from the bright light, but it was better than staying in the hell hole.

A few cars were parked along the street outside the main house and others were doing the same. An ambulance was setting up triage farther down the street so they headed that direction. She heard the alpha wolf giving orders to setup a defense perimeter.

“Mason,” Aria called, “we found a few prisoners. There’s bound to be more.”

“Damn,” he said. “Okay, everyone knows the plan. Groups of four go where you tell them to search. If they find someone, they call me immediately and we send others to help, if needed.”

Aria pointed out different buildings to search, but she wanted several groups to scour the tunnels. The vamps had to be sleeping somewhere and the underground maze was the most likely place. She wanted everyone out before last light.

“Is Emma here?” she asked. Mason frowned heavily.

“I couldn’t keep her away. She agreed to stay with the medical units. But knowing Emma…” Yeah, he didn’t have to finish. She knew Emma.

Stepping back into the tunnels, she heard groups of pack members searching the various offshoots of the main aisle. Voices called Mason, more slaves already found.

She worried that they hadn’t come across any of the sleeping clan. Were they always this well hidden, or did Damon have them specially positioned? Even though the sun had no effect on her, her body tracked its position. They had precious minutes left and so many more tunnels to check. She wouldn’t risk Emma’s pack any farther.

“Trevan, call Mason and have him start evacuations. The wolves know to be out by now, but anyone left needs to hurry. So do we—” A whimper met her ears. Trevan heard it, too.

“Behind there.” He pointed to a paint-chipped door older than the others. This one had deadbolts on the outside. Not waiting, he ripped the hinges from the wall and moved in. Aria entered behind him. A group of teens, male and female, huddled in the far corner in fear. They looked in good health still. Fresh slaves.

She asked if anyone was injured and if they could walk. They nodded, but didn’t talk. She doubted the poor kids had a clue what was going on. Or maybe they did and that traumatized them more.

“Come on, everybody up. We have to get out of here now.” Those words the kids reacted to immediately. When she stepped into the hallway, a familiar voice echoed, sending tingles down her back.

“Aria,” Damon called from a distance, “we need to talk.”

“Your bet your ass we do, dickhead,” she hollered back. Pointing down a passageway they hadn’t been down, she directed Trevan to find a room to hide in or something to protect themselves. “Go, I’ll try to stall him.”

Trevan stopped in his tracks. “No, I’m not leaving you.”

Well, shit. She should’ve expected that. “Okay, then. Let’s get going.” If her sense of direction was right, they were under the main street with businesses alongside. “Check all the rooms. Look for stairs that might lead up to the main level. There has to be another way out this far from the house.”

One of the teen boys turned to her. “They brought us down stairs not too far from here. It’s this way.” He took off down another tunnel and she had little choice but to follow. She hadn’t heard Damon for several minutes, which worried her. What did the bastard have planned? The sun hadn’t completely gone down, so if they and the kids could make it out of the tunnels, they might survive.

The older vamps were able to stay awake after the sun rose and awaken before it sat, but they were restricted to the underground until night settled. Which might be their life saver.

The boy opened a door and rushed inside. The room housed boxes of dishes, some looking very old, empty barrels, old kegs, beer taps, and ancient junk in general. It looked like a salvage yard for old taverns.

On the far side, a set of stairs led up to a door. The kid pushed on it with no success. Trevan reached the top and the kids moved away. Her mate set his shoulder to the barrier and gritted his teeth as he pushed. Aria joined him and together they broke a thick metal sliding door from its track. A blast of cold air whipped past them.

They stood looking into an industrial-sized freezer unit. With no need for verbal communication, the two advanced to the door on the other side and shoved it off its hinges. They emerged in the kitchen of the big bar they started their search in. No wonder they didn’t find a passage within the bar itself. It was hidden in the walk-in freezer.

Everyone rushed through and out the front door Trevan busted opened earlier. People were scattered everywhere along the street. Some were ragged and being carried while others hobbled with others’ help.

Aria gathered the kids around her and touched each one. “Everyone, listen to me. The sun will set in a few minutes. It is important that you stay with the medical personnel and don’t wander off. The people in this area are crazy killers and will take you without a thought.”

One of the girls looked at her, absolute terror in her eyes. “They are vampires, lady. Honest to god vampires. We saw their teeth. They told us we were now blood slaves.”

Trevan joined in the conversation. “See, crazy. Just like she said. Vampires don’t exist. They had their teeth filed to make them look that way. They are all high on meth or some shit. Stay away from that shit. It’ll fry your brain to be like theirs.” He herded the group toward the triage center while Aria looked around for Mason. Farther up the street, she heard him—a low, dangerous growl that sent shivers down her back.

She called to her mate then ran to find out what was happening. As she got closer to the main house, she saw why Mason growled.

Damon stood in the yard with many from the clan behind him. He was ready to fight for what was his.

And so was Aria.

 

 

TWENTY-THREE

 

Aria faced Damon outside the clan house. If he thought she would bow down because he had infected her people with the taste of human blood to the point they would fight, he had shit for brains.

She would put her life in danger to save the lowliest. She may come across as a hardened bitch with no feelings, but the world in which she lived, that was the only way she could keep her heart strong. With everyone she had lost, everything she’d endured, being tough meant survival.

Vampires like Filip and Damon preyed on weakness. They would take every opportunity to find a way to crush her until she voluntarily walked into the sun. But they forgot the sun didn’t kill her. She was a blood borne and that made her different. Very different.

Wolves, both animal and human, silently lined behind their alpha leader.

Aria strode up to Damon. “You little prick. Did you think I’d not find out about your little slave trade?”

Damon laughed. “Of course, I knew you would. That’s why we hired someone to kill you.” The vamp eyed Trevan. “Obviously, we chose the wrong dog to do it.”

Aria continued, drawing attention back to herself and off her mate. “You’ve broken the rules which means your destruction and all those who followed you. Is it the entire clan I have to take down?”

The vamp leader laughed again. “You think you and your pathetic army of dogs can take down a vampire clan? And for your information, it’s not the entire pack. Some fools stayed devoted to your grandfather’s teaching, though why, I have no idea. But it seems they are on the path to eternal life, while the rest of us are damned to die.”

Aria smiled. “You are right, Damon. You’re going to die very soon.”

His eyes glowed and fangs seemed to grow longer. The sound of bones popping, then howls erupted behind her. Damon hissed. “Bring it on, bitch. I’m ready to roll in your blood.”

With no warning, he flew at her. She didn’t think he’d be that stupid to engage here and now. Before she was able to get her defenses up, a mass of black whipped in front of her face, then Damon was gone.

On the ground, the biggest wolf she had ever seen tore into the vamp. That opened the dam to the clash between vamp and wolf.

Vampires poured through the front doors of the houses next to the clan leader’s place. Wolves dodged past her to get at the oncoming enemy. The animals fought with practiced ease. A group of three went after a vamp. Two would tackle and restrain the vamp’s arms while the third dove in to tear out the throat and decapitate.

As wolves took down the first wave of the enemy, more undead came from the houses to take their places. Aria jumped in, ripping off heads and limbs. Blood soaked the grass, making the ground as slippery as ice.

Heads rolled as well as injured wolves backing away, shifting to heal then jumping back in. She’d lost sight of Trevan, until she saw him in his naked glory. He held a vamp by the back of the shirt, wrapped his other massive hand around the head and tore it to the side. He dropped the body and reached for another.

Her heart flooded her throat as she realized he could protect himself against her kind. Before, he was a big, strong alpha wolf, but now he was a goliath with the strength to match. Enough power to battle and survive. He was probably no competition for Marxius, trained not just to fight, but effectively kill. Her guard would have to teach her mate everything he knew.

Speaking of Marxius, she hoped he and Wynther were alive. She hadn’t thought about getting to them before the sun set. But Marxius was old and usually up before the light outside dwindled. He’d spot a surprise attack against him and Wynther before the enemy was even out of bed.

A set of angry, crazed eyes met hers. Then she realized four vampires circled her. This could get messy. She doubted she could take four. She was stronger than one, but not that many. She readied herself, shifting her balance to one foot to kick away at least one of them.

“Don’t you worry, dear,” she heard Maree say. Then suddenly, two of the four vamps were gone. Maree stood before her, looking down at the male the old woman just de-spined and the second male with the top half of his head gone. The remaining two enemies ran.

“Maree,” she said, “you’re on my side?”

“Of course, girly. It’s too late for me to live forever with old Julian, but I’ve managed to keep a few of the regiment clean and on the straight and narrow. Now they are glad they listened to me and followed the rules. We’re here to lend a hand to clean up this clan.”

Hope once again livened her heart. The clan might be saved yet. The battle scene around her raged. Bodies littered the ground along with wolves too injured to move. She scooped up one and with vampire speed, ran it back to the triage center. When she looked around, she couldn’t believe the sight.

Over a hundred people covered in scars and bites either lay on cots, being attended to, or helping others. From the back of the group, screams and humans tumbled closer to the ambulances. Several vampires had broken from the fight and decided to get an easy meal. Not on her watch.

“Aria, catch.” Emma’s voice registered in her brain just before the air overhead sliced. Aria stretched her hand up and the handle of Emma’s katana landed firmly in her hold. She almost laughed at the stunt. They’d never be able to repeat that if they tried a thousand times.

It must’ve looked impressive as hell. The advancing vampires froze in their spots. With their hesitation, she launched herself toward them and chopped off heads before they reacted. She heard Emma’s cheers as well as those injured.

Mason’s voice echoed through the night. “Emma, keep your pregnant ass in the ambulance. If I see it outside, I will bite it and tie it up.”

“You promise, my mate?” she teased.

“Don’t tempt me, love. I am naked.”

Emma stuck her head out the back of the truck, eyes rimmed with gold, and searched the crowd. “That’s not helping me stay in here, mate.”

“Realized that after I said it. Pretend I didn’t say anything.”

“Yeah, right, mutt,” she mumbled and returned to the injured in the ambulance.

Aria hoped her relationship with Trevan was as blessed as Emma and Mason’s seemed to be. She remembered Trevan’s words from earlier: now he had something to fight for. She hurried back to the front line, eager to end this and take her mate somewhere private.

Katana in hand, she sliced through neck after neck, quickly changing the tide of victory. She came to a halt next to Marxius. He said, “I see you have a new toy. I may have to get one.”

Aria fiddled with the grip. “It definitely comes in handy, but would be a pain in the ass to carry around. Always bumping into things, in the way when you get into a car. Then the humans would freak out if you forgot to take it off before going into the blood bank.”

A grunt came behind them. Marxius ducked and Aria swung the sword around, taking off the head and raised vamp hand in one swoop. Marxius straightened. “Yeah, but still damn handy.”

“Where’s Wynther?” she asked.

Her guard search for the other in the chaos. “We left the house together when we heard the clashing. Lost track of him. Hope he’s all right.”

“So do I. The council sent him over on my request after we took down Filip. They won’t be happy if I get him killed so soon.”

Marxius laughed. “Survival of the fittest, Aria. Always has been with you.”

“Yeah, yeah,” she quipped. Marxius headed back into battle, which was slowing with each vamp taken down.

She looked around for her mate. She didn’t see him, but did see an injured Damon sneak off into the woods.

“Oh, no you don’t, dickhead.” She shot after him into the darkness. “You’re not getting away, Damon. I will hunt you until the day you die for what you’ve done. No heart or conscious means you don’t deserve to live.”

From her blindside, a force smacked into her, knocking the sword from her hand, taking her to the ground. Damon swiped a clawed hand over the side of her neck and face, scooping out deep gouges.

Her blood flooded the ground. Shit, she could be dead sooner than she ever thought.

BOOK: A Fang in the Sass: BBW Paranormal Shape Shifter Romance (Sassy Ever After Book 6)
11.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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