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Authors: penelope fletcher

Demon Dark

BOOK: Demon Dark
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Rae Wilder Novels

Book Three

DEMON DARK

 

Penelope Fletcher

CHAPTER ONE

Breandan ran as if the gods themselves cracked whips at his heels. Tucked safely into his chest, my arms were looped around his neck, and my head bounced off his chest.

 

He kept the straightest path possible, vaulting over obstacles, and skidding under collapsed bridges as they appeared in our way. His booted feet splashed in oily puddles as he dexterously navigated the uneven ground, and each of his light footfalls were followed a heartbeat later by a lighter step.

 

Daphne, deadly in her silence. At times, she detoured to destroy the faster vampires who had managed to gain on us, but always came back to guard the rear.

 

We had one direction, back towards the forest where those of fairy blood were strongest. There we stood a chance of survival.

 

Making it out of the infested inner city, we sprinted down a broad street daringly out in the open, but the most direct path out of vampire territory.

 

Salivating, a vampire dropped from a building above and landed in a shower of rubble another slammed to the concrete a few meters behind.

 

Without pause, Breandan leant forward, increased his pace, and swerved.

 

The vampire opened his mouth wide and screeched in my ear. The rank smell of rotting flesh and putrefied remains wafted over me. Dirt encrusted fingers reached to catch my hair.

 

Icy tremors rippled across my scalp. Whimpering, my body shrank back and I tensed, waiting for the pain.

 

Daphne abruptly changed direction, smashing her fist into the face of the vampire who reached for me. He crashed through a wall. An explosion of dust billowed across the street and bricks showered down on the concrete. The sound echoed through the city. The other vampire caught the tail end of the rubble spray and twisted her ankle, rutted chunks scattering across her path. She tripped, head snapping back at an odd angle when it hit the floor. Her legs folded over her back until she was doubled over on herself.

 

Our pursuers scrambled around the corner, bare chests gleaming off-white. Their emaciated bodies moved with frightening speed and demented grace. Covered in raggedy tunics and jeans, they growled and snarled as they tracked us, set loose by the deranged Vampire Queen, the long time consort of my vampire, my now dead vampire, Tomas.

 

Pain sliced through me. Flashes of memory saw his lifeless, headless body sinking to the ground. I shuddered, pushing the images away.

 

Daphne stopped and took up stance. The vampires chasing us did not hesitate. Three attacked her as one and another broke past her guard heading for us.

 

In motion, Breandan leapt onto a pile of bricks and spun on his heel at the top. Unsure of what he planned, my gaze slid over the straightness of his nose and the strong planes of his cheek and forehead to rest on his eyes. A heavy top brow and sharp cheekbones drew together to create a fearsome scowl on his sculpted face. His bold eyebrows and masculine lips added intensity to his grim expression.

 

For this warrior, the deepest of yearnings poured through my limbs making them nearly as heavy as my grieving heart.

 

Unsheathing the dagger at his hip, he shifted my weight onto one arm. As he finished this about turn, his arm curled into his body. The knife tip halted at his ear, a slender ellipse with a sharp point the ears of fae then jackknifed out with speed and precision. He threw the dagger one handed at the vampire who crested the slope.

 

The blade slashed through the air, the silver point cart-wheeling before embedding itself deep in the vampire s neck. The bloodied tip ripped out the other side. Blood spurted. The vampire snapped back and landed flat on his back, tumbling down the incline.

 

Breandan nodded in satisfaction at his kill.

 

His strong chin jutted out with pride and character, a sensual curve that made me giddy under the melancholy, an odd combination that had shivers crawling up and down my spine in lingering tickles.

 

Through my disorientated haze, I decided we needed that dagger back. Tugged by an invisible hand the blade pulled free of the corpse and shot towards us.

 

Surprised, Breandan caught it before it sailed past, and sheathed it back at his hip.

 

He looked down at me, questioning, his eyes catching the faintest gleam of moonlight to twinkle, their oval shape heavily rimmed by lashes the colour of soot.

 

Tucked securely in edgy stillness, a brief respite from the frantic race from danger, the power of his stare hit me full force. His irises were pale as liquid silver, and circling his dark pupils were cerulean rings. By gods, I fell into his eyes and was surprised I didn t glimpse fallen stars hidden in their shimmering depths. Lovely. So yes, I stared back at him, knowing my own eyes were flat and lifeless. Too full of shame and regret, but I was unable to look away, even knowing danger lurked and sought us out.

 

Let it come.

 

I did not fear the dark bathed in his light.

 

Rain beat the top of my head and soaked my clothes. My rapid breaths rushed out in plumes of vapor. I shivered. This time my trembling was not the attraction to the one who held me, but from the bitter cold seeping through my clothes, too thin to withstand the wet chill.

 

I often didn t feel the cold, but I d never had such an emotional trauma before either. Who knew what it would do to me? My emotions were all over the place.

 

Breandan waited for Daphne, restlessly scanning the dark.

 

He radiated silver light, a soft glow that pulsed just beneath the surface of his skin. To the eyes, it appeared black tattoos covering his lean body shifted and moved. The runes of power and magical incantations were surrounded by swirling lines and intricate patterns that protected him from black magics helped him see the truth. His armor, dark segmented trousers, rigid across his thighs and shins, and flexible about his waist, and knee joints creaked as he shifted. Torso bare and warm, his chest was slick with rain, steam curling from his broad shoulders and neck.

 

Heart thumping under my palm, his breath came evenly, but the inhalations were deeper and quicker than normal.

 

Thunder boomed overhead. Shafts of moonlight pierced the overcast and highlighted long slashes of rain drenching the crumbling city. The downpour cleansed the night air of rotten smells, but did nothing to hide our trail from the vampires tracking us. Fairy body temperature ran hot, and the barest flare of heat from our skin in the iced metropolis was trail enough.

 

The sound of breaking bones and terrified whimpers drew my attention to where Breandan looked with mild appreciation.

 

Daphne ripped through our remaining enemies with deadly efficiency. Slamming her foot down on the last skull, she sent Breandan a dark look over her shoulder.

 

Her fangs grazed her bottom lip and her eyes red-rimmed and boasting a most unusual shape slender ovals down tilted at the corners and framed by absurdly long lashes the colour of cream were inky black pools, the whites blotted out by the darkness that bred in all vampirekind. White-blonde braids slick with blood and gore whipped around as she jerked her chin, dark eyebrows pulled together in a fierce scowl.

Go,

she rasped and twisted her heel on the vampire below her, his demise confirmed by the wet crunch that followed the action.

More are coming, I smell them. I m right behind you.

Dressed in jeans, boots, and a dark green tunic, she had the same gaunt appearance all the vampires had though there was a telltale flush of colour in her cheeks from biting and feeding on those who hunted us.

 

Displaying the innate calm of the warrior he was, Breandan nodded and moved on.

 

Dawn approached in another hour at most, and the vampires tracking us would have to go to ground. That would have given us the ideal chance to escape if we hadn t been travelling with a Nest deserter.

 

Daphne s small form was lost to the gloom, and I squeezed my eyes shut, praying to the gods for her protection.

 

Not long after, she joined us again and murmured to Breandan,

They ve broken into groups. It s safer I stay close.

She paused.

We need to detour to get the grimoire. If we carry on this way, we ll go right past it. It would be unwise to leave it here unprotected.

 

They gave each other meaningful looks then were silent.

 

We slipped into a narrow alleyway, more of a nook that ended with a rutted brick wall.

 

Breandan made a noise of frustration.

Here?

 

It won t be for long,

Daphne hissed.

She s a big girl, and she knows how to fight. Hurry up.

 

With reluctance, he set me down on the cold ground in the shadowed corner. The lip of a roof overhead provided scant protection from the rain, but it was enough to satisfy him.

 

He brushed wet skeins of hair away from my face and leaned my head against the wall.

 

I blinked up at him, numbly wondering if he d finally had enough of me, and was leaving me to my fate.

 

Rae-love. I need you to stay here. I m going to get the grimoire, and I need to fight.

Breandan tilted my chin back, and my lashes lowered. I was still too ashamed to look him fully in the face. He brushed his lips over mine and stroked my cheek.

Stay here. If we re not back by sunrise, you run back to the Wyld. If anybody but me finds you here, run back to the Wyld. My brother will protect you.

I didn t say anything, and Breandan shook me.

Do you hear me?

 

Rabid shrieks drew closer and had my heart thumping erratically. I whimpered and shifted uneasily.

 

Daphne gripped his shoulder.

We don t have time

 

Breandan shot her a cold look over his shoulder. She removed her hand.

She will answer me, or I won t leave her.

 

Knowing he was true to his word, I nodded jerkily, keeping my gaze averted. Unsheathing the dagger at his hip, he pressed it into my palm. Fingers loosely curled around the hilt, my hand fell to the floor, and the blade scraped the concrete.

 

He and Daphne left like shadows, exiting the alleyway and blending into the night.

 

Thankful to have some time alone, I huddled up against the wall, my tail curled around my ankles and my wing pinions listlessly folded, the segmented membrane sopping. Fiddling with the end of my ragged tunic, using the dagger to pick at the cotton, I stared at the floor. Sorting through everything that had happened made my head pound. It was a nightmare. How much easier everything would be if I sleepwalked and my reality was only night terrors tormenting me.

 

Tomas was gone. Breandan killed him. The idea was too crazy for me to accept as real, but I d seen him do it. The blood tie to my vampire-boy was gone, it would never trouble me again.

 

A snuffling noise roused me from my despondency.

 

A hunched figure slipped into the mouth of the alleyway and separated itself from the darkness. Bloodshot eyes peered into the corner where I was hidden. My nature flared. A feeling of wrongness wafting from him put me on guard.

 

Speed and intuition was crucial.

 

Keeping silent, I eased myself into a crouch, cursed when the dagger I forgot was in my hand struck the wall with a clang.

 

The vampire rushed toward me, fangs flashing and eyes crazed with bloodlust as the hunting instinct took over.

 

I shot up, back flat to the wall for support, and moved to the side. At the same time, I swung my arm out with all my might towards the spot where I d been. Flesh gave under my thrust, the dagger tearing into my attacker s back.

 

Slamming into the demon, I wrenched his shoulder back, pinning him to the wall with an arm over his chest. Applying pressure, I squeezed the air from his lungs to cut off any cry for help.

 

Avoiding his gaze afraid I would see life there I dragged the blade deeply across his gullet. Blood sprayed across my neck and cheek. Clawed hands came up to grapple at my throat. The vampire fought to lean down, jaws chomping for a vein. Drawing on my knifework as Disciple of the Sect, I flipped the blade over and dragged it back to cut into his spinal cord, breathing out slowly as I did so, the jarred, shuddering movement making my stomach churn.

 

Holding his body flat to the wall with an arm across his boney chest, I tucked the blade into my waistband. Shoving his head back as I tugged his body forward, both detached with a rip of sinew and crack of bone.

 

With a strangled noise of disgust, I let them both drop, staggering away to avoid the jumble of limbs.

BOOK: Demon Dark
11.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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