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Authors: P.A. Warren

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BOOK: Reluctant Storm
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Chapter 15
Mikail

Well that’s quite an interesting development
, I think, shaking my head as I hang up the phone. Riley does have Claire and for some reason he’s trying to keep her safe, to the extent that he wants to call in a favor, and he never calls in favors, ever. What could have possibly happened to make him want to defy Griffin and go through the trouble to save someone when normally he’s in the business of killing them? The last time I checked, he took great pleasure in killing people. Tapping my fingers on the wheel and biting my lip, I look over at a sleeping Jason, who has no idea that I’m working with Griffin, and now Riley, or the shit storm that’s going to happen. What a friggin’ mess. I hit the steering wheel in anger. I can’t believe how all this happened. Everything was going fine until those two powers hungry fools concocted their stupid plans, and now Claire’s gone. What the hell did she do to deserve this? Nothing. She was born, and she goes from living a normal life to this shit. When she’s finally mine, I’ll make sure her life is protected no matter what. I grab a bag of blood and force myself to look at the bright side. I realize this is going to work out in my favor, and Riley has just made my life ten times easier if he is bringing Claire to me.

The reason why, however, has me worried a bit though. Something doesn’t seem right, and I know there’s something he isn’t telling me, but what is it? Pulling over to the side of the road, I get out and grab a file full of the houses that are available to use as a hideout. I flip through them and find the one I’m looking for. I type in the address and text it to him. Shoving everything back into the trunk in its special compartment, I slam it shut, take a seat, and pull out my phone to call Augustine.

“Riley called me,” I tell her in Hungarian before she has the chance to say hello.

“What did he want?” she questions me while talking to someone in the background.

“He wants me to find him a safe house so he can bring Claire there.”

“This is perfect,” she responds, sounding a bit too chipper for my liking. “It worked! Listen whatever happens, I’ll fix it.”

“What worked? What do you mean, you’ll fix it? What exactly would you need to fix?”

“Oh, nothing, something I’m working on. Listen, I have to go. I’ll call you soon.”

Staring down at my phone, I flip it the bird. What the hell is it about today that no one answers any damn questions anymore? I sit there and cool down, getting my thoughts in order. I watch quietly as the cars pass, when my silence is interrupted by the opening of the car door and Jason hops onto the trunk.

Seriously? I’m not in the mood to deal with his shit right now. I’m on edge. I feel like a taut wire and the slightest thing’s going to make me snap. Jumping off the hood, I reach in the passenger side and grab my hoodie, pulling it on and putting the hood over my head. I hop into the car so I don’t have to deal with Jason for a few minutes.

“Dude, what’s your problem?” he asks, leaning down to get in the car.

What I want to say is you’re an asshole, and I want to jam my fist up your nose, but what I actually say is, “Nothing. Let’s go to Antony’s lair we should be there in an hour.”

My phone rings just as I’m pulling back onto the highway. I pull it out and glance down, frowning as the name flashes on the screen. It’s Griffin. Son of a friggin’ hell. Why is everyone and his brother calling me today? “Hello?”

“Mikail, how’s it going?”

Switching to French, I look over to Jason. He’s digging in his bag for some blood. I hit his leg and point to the bag by his left foot. He glares at me as he grabs one. Rolling my eyes, I get back to the phone call.

“As good as can be expected,” I lie. “That was quite a trick you pulled yesterday, kidnapping the girl, I mean. Though I’m kind of confused as to why you hired me in the first place if you were going to do it yourself.”

He sighs into the phone. “Complications came up, and I did what was needed. I no longer need your services as I’ve put Riley on the situation.”


Mhm, well next time let me know when the situation changes. That was an asshole move on your part,” I hiss and hang up before he has a chance to respond.

Throwing my phone into the center console, I feel my anger building. I’m so sick of power hungry men who think I’m at their beck and call and screw me over.

Chapter 16
Jason

Mikail finally gets off the phone, and I can feel the anger radiating off him. It makes me wonder what’s going on to make him that angry as I watch him shaking his head at the phone.

“Who was that?” I question him.

“Just a friend,” he says as we both sit back and stare at the gate in front of us. The security guard comes out as we pulled up, and Mikail puts his black sunglasses over his eyes and rolls his window down to talk to the burly man.

“My man, we are here to see the Antony,” he says, smiling at the guard.

“Do you have an appointment?” he asks in response, his tone bored.

“Yes, yes we do,” Mikail replies confidently.

I sit straighter in my seat, not looking at either of them, knowing we don’t have an appointment. Finally, the guy, for some reason, believes Mikail and lets us through. Driving through the gate and down a winding driveway, Mikail pulls up to the house and puts the car in park, and we stare out the car windows. The house, if you can call it a house, is built out of brown stone. There is a huge front door and I can see through the window a giant lit chandelier hanging in the foyer.

Pushing the car door open, I glance around at the grounds, and it’s eerily quiet, too quiet for my liking. I peer up and stop to take in the huge palatial house that the King of Vampires lives in. It’s a massive monstrosity. There are guards out front by the door, and I zone in on security cameras that are most likely recording us now. This place gives me the creeps.

Mikail gets out of the car and motions for me to follow him up the steps. He rings the doorbell and we wait on the porch awkwardly, neither of us saying a word. I look over at Mikail and watch him stand there eyeballing the guard as footsteps approach the door. When it opens in front of us, there stands something that makes my mouth drop open. It’s Claire.

“That’s not Claire,” Mikail says.

Ignoring him, I walk towards her.

“Claire, what are you doing here? How did you get away?” I grab her around the waist in relief, not even dawning on me that her hair is blonde instead of brown like Claire’s.

“Get. Your. Hands. Off. Me,” she says, punctuating each word with anger. Whoa. I feel my brows lift in surprise. This is not the nice Claire I know. I take a big step back and put both hands up, showing her my palms and that I’m not a threat to her. She first looks at me and then to Mikail, studying us now that I have created some distance.

“Who’s Claire?” she asks.

“You are!” I exclaim.

“Not you,” Mikail says looking pointedly at Anya.

Arching my eyebrow at Mikail, I ask, “What do you mean, it’s not her?”

“You’re about as smart as I thought you were,” he says sarcastically. “Number one, Claire couldn’t have gotten away that fast. Number two, Claire has brown hair, not blonde. When would she have had time to dye it? And finally number three, you’re an idiot.”

This Claire look-alike is shaking her pretty blonde head along with what Mikail says. “My name is Anya; I’ve never even met a Claire.”

I’m stunned speechless. She’s a spitting image of Claire, a little meaner and with different hair perhaps, but she could still she pass as her. I lean towards Mikail, still staring at Anya, and whisper, “She does look exactly like Claire, doesn’t she?”

He nods and slips his sunglasses up onto his head. “I’m thinking Claire might have a sister she doesn’t know about, that no one knows about, actually,” he says, rubbing his shaved head and looking over at her again, seeming putting off by this doppelganger.

I turn my head towards the sound of tapping shoes that are steadily walking towards us. I gaze up and away from Anya and find myself staring straight into the eyes of the man who kidnapped me and ordered me to keep Claire safe, Antony; The King. I swallow my fear of him and look him in the eye, waiting for him to say something to the man that didn’t protect his daughter.

“Nice of you to stop by, Jason,” he says in his always superior tone. “But there was no need,” he says, pausing and looking over and smiling slightly at the Anya, the Claire lookalike.

“What? You didn’t think I’d lay all my eggs in one basket, did you? Claire may be the rightful heir, but with her out of the picture Anya can take her place, and the vampire world can have a pure heir. Claire isn’t worth the trouble, but putting you as her bodyguard fooled Griffin into thinking she was special to me and worthy to be next in line. So essentially your job is done. Even though you failed, you really succeeded in doing me a favor by letting her be captured.”

This man in front of me is delusional and is about on the same level of madness as my estranged father. Looking over at Mikail, his jaw clenched, fists in tight balls, I step in front of him. The anger I feel towards this man who kidnapped me and forced me to do the only job I’ve ever failed at, who used his daughter as a pawn in his fucked up power trip. My anger gets the better of me, because the next thing I know my fists are flying at his face, pleasure filling my body as each one connects with his nose, causing blood to spurt into my face. I land punch after punch to his face until I’m pulled off from behind. I instantly go to attack that person when I realize its Mikail, and he’s pulling me towards the entrance and out the door. I stumble and grab the wall, stopping Mikail from going further as I watch Anya kneeling next to Antony. I don’t
know why but I grab the knife in my pocket and stab Mikail in the stomach and run back into the house without a second thought. I grab Anya and throw her over my shoulder and speed back to the car, leaving Mikail standing there holding a bloody knife and looking down at his torn shirt and then back at me.

“That was my favorite shirt. You should not have done that,” he looks unamused and then he realizes I’m carrying Anya and his mouth drops...

“Dude, what the hell are you thinking?” he yells at me.

“Give me a hand with the trunk,” I say, evading Anya’s hands as she’s trying to punch me while hanging upside down. I flip her forward and snap her neck so she’ll stop as I throw her in the trunk without delay. Mikail looks at me grimly, shaking his head as we jump in the car right as the guards come running out, weapons at the ready. Mikail guns the engine and squeals the tires, leaving black strips on the cement as we peel out and reach the closed gate. Mikail is fully concentrating on driving, and I don’t like the look in his eyes so I grip the ‘oh shit bar’ as Mikail presses down on the gas pedal. We go flying through the gate, leaving a mess and a cloud of smoke in our retreating path. Turning up the radio, I let the bass pump through the speakers and spread through the car, letting the high of the chase take over.

Mikail leans over and turns the music off, gazing at me incredulously. “Dude, you’re an idiot. So now that you have her, what exactly do you plan to do with her?”

That’s a good question. I look out the window and know what I have to do. I have to go somewhere I haven’t been in many years. “I have to take her home, to exchange her for Claire.”

Arching his eyebrow, he looks back at the road, tapping his fingers against the steering wheel before he starts talking. “Let me ask you something, why are you doing all this for one girl? I mean she’s pretty, but there are millions of prettier girls out there, and you could have any one of them.”

I close my eyes and stare straight ahead and lie. “It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the fact that I failed and I. Do. Not. Fail.”

He nods as if he actually understands what I’m talking about. “You’re lucky I know what you mean. I happen to have some acquaintances that have a cabin a few hours from here that are letting us use it for as long as we need to. It’s a safe place and off the radar.”

I nod and lean down and open the cooler, pulling out two bags of blood and handing one to Mikail. I tear the other open with my teeth, draining it within seconds. I roll down the window and hang my hand out, letting the cool wind hit is as the night around us turns dark.

“By the way,” I say with a smirk, “sorry about stabbing you.”

Chapter 17
Claire

I hate the smothering darkness. It's making me claustrophobic as it continues to obstruct my view. I can't see anything, anywhere. In any direction. I drop my head and close my eyes, trying to sleep. It's an unsuccessful attempt. My arms are still attached to the wall, making it almost impossible to sleep.

Turning my head, I zero in on a faint dripping sound. I yearn for a drink, licking my dry lips. Pulling my hand up, the chains give enough so I can touch my cracked gums. Licking them to relieve some of the cracking is useless. I need water, desperately.

I lean back and try and ignore the pain in my stomach. I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been here and haven’t eaten anything in days.

I lean my head back when a memory I had managed to hide away for years dings in my head, shutting my eyes I’m transported back to my senior year of high school.

I was walking home from school when a group of boys rushed towards me. They grabbed my arms and legs and carried me kicking and screaming towards an old building. They shoved me carelessly into an old shed and locked it from the outside.

It felt like I was there for hours but in reality it was more like thirty minutes. I huddled in a corner when the door opened with a bang, as I heard the sound of footsteps coming closer to me. The person gently lifted me into their arms and told me to close my eyes as they carried me out. I could tell a man was carrying me. I felt his hard muscles clench underneath my hands as I held onto him. All I wanted was to open my eyes but it was as if something was weighing them down. I felt sunshine on my skin as he carried me out of the shed
.
The following day I heard from other classmates gossiping that the group of boys that did it were beaten up so bad they ended up in the hospital. No one ever found out who beat those boys up.

Something running over my foot brings me back into my new terrifying reality of being held prisoner. Shivering, I kick my legs around in hopes that whatever furry creature ran over me is gone. I settle down thinking about that random memory and to this day I never understand why I was the senior class prank. I always wondered who the savior was that let me out of the shed.

The door slamming open breaks the monotony of my dreary thoughts. A large daunting figure walks in flipping the switch turning on the bright light overhead, causing them to tear up. I bring my hands up to my eyes, covering them. I wish he would turn the lights off, the light burns my eyes. The irony of that thought isn’t lost on me.

As the man moves closer to me I remove my hands from my eyes peering at him, squinting. He has scars all on his face and he’s wearing an eye patch on his left eye. His head is completely bald, covered in a skull tattoo that’s grinning at me. When he looks down, my stomach drops when I notice he wears the uniform of a guard.

“I’ve been told not to come in here,” he says leering at me, his eyes on my chest, making me shiver in disgust. The way he looks at me leaves me feeling completely naked.

“I’ve never been told I’m not allowed in a room before. The boss usually lets me have some fun with the prisoners in here,” he says, grinning.

Cringing as he smiles down at me, displaying a huge gap in his teeth. The stench of his breath flows towards me making me gag.

“It makes me wonder what you have the others don’t, and while the master’s away I’m going to play with you. It’s time I find out what’s so special about you.”

Kneeling in front of me, he moves a piece of my hair behind my ear and does the same to the other side. His hot rancid breath brushes against my cheek. I hold my breath, trying not to breathe it in. Quivering in fear, I lean as far away from him as the chains will allow. Curling into myself, I try to make myself as small as possible. My gut instinct is to run and not being able to sends my mind into panic mode with what could possibly happen. I have absolutely no control over anything that happens when I’m chained up like this.

Without any warning he grabs my hair and pulls my head back leaving my throat vulnerable. He licks my neck from my collarbone to my ear. Pulling away I gasp, shuddering in utter revulsion as he pulls back smiling. I let him see the disgust in my eyes, taunting him as I do it. The next thing I know my face is stinging from the slap of his hand. Laughing as tears stain my face, he lifts his hand and slaps me again, this time harder,
causing my tooth to connect to my cheek ripping it open. The metallic taste of blood fills my mouth.

“What is it that makes you so special?” he asks with his hand on his chin staring, with a look that terrifies me, tears I
’ve tried so hard to hold back run down my chin. With his boot he nudges my legs apart and tells me to get into a kneeling position. I shake my head no, and he grabs my upper arm and lifts me to my knees, ordering me to stay there.

“Are you one of them?” he whispers softly, pulling out a very sharp knife that glints in the light. He caresses it between his fingers as he walks in a circle around me. Fear leaves me unsteady and I lose my balance, falling to the floor. Growling, he pulls me up by the hair and puts me back on my knees. Using the knife, he rips the back of my shirt open, splitting it half.

“Now for the real test, don’t make a sound,” he starts laughing manically.

I feel the coldness of the knife rubbing my back and all of a sudden, I feel the tip of the knife cut into my skin making patterns, crying out in pain as the knife digs deeper. I feel blood dripping down my back soaking into my pants. The pain is so great that I’ve bitten through my
lip as I try not to scream. His laughter echoes off the walls of the room, the entire time he’s using his knife to carve into my back.

He stops for a minute and walks in front of me holding the bloody knife. He puts the knife, to my lips, covering them with blood. Setting his hand on my back, I can feel him rubbing his hands in blood, spreading it around. He brings his hand to my face, smearing blood onto my cheeks. I’m past the point of being able to react to him, so I sit there and take it, which makes him angrier. Raising his arm, he repeatedly hits my face, and just when I think he’s done, he starts kicking me. I can no longer hold back my screams; they burst out of me like a freight train, as he kicks every inch of my body. Why won’t he stop kicking me?

Lying there in a pool of my own blood I have an out of body experience, almost as if I’m watching him kick me. I feel my body jerk every time he kicks me, gathering one last plea I beg him to stop my voice hoarse from screaming.

“Stop!” I plead, groaning hoarsely. I make an attempt to cover my stomach, but the chains prevent me, holding my hands in place. “Stop!” I beg one last time. Bringing my terror to an entirely new level, and I feel my hold on sanity hanging on by a mere thread.

He goes to kick me again, grabbing at my pants forcing them down. There is nothing I can physically do to stop him; the chains refuse to give way. The adrenaline that’s moving through my body has me flailing my legs trying to stop him, but his weight is pressing down against me. Unable to even kick, I stop trying. The door slams open and he’s pulled off of me. Taking a deep breath after he’s pulled off me, I roll over just in time to see him slammed into a wall with a crash.

“I said no one was to come in here!” Riley yells at the guard.

My body shudders in relief that Riley’s here now, which is ironic. I lie there shaking, waiting for Riley to finish the job the guard started.

Shutting my eyes, wincing as I listen to the sounds of fists hitting flesh and the guard’s screaming, the sounds filling the small space are horrifying. I bring my fist up to my mouth, covering it to keep the screams at bay.

Vaguely hearing the sound of more footsteps coming closer, I clench my jaw trying to stop the shaking and end up biting my already hurt lip again, drawing more blood. The person bends down towards me, lifting my tangled hair away from my face. Terror fills me when I see it’s the elegant man from earlier. The one who has dark hair and pasty white skin; he’s the one who dunked me in water trying to drown me. Looking into his eyes I avert my gaze quickly as I see the lust that fills them. Leaning back on his feet he smiles and takes his finger, putting it on my chin and wipes the blood that’s slowly dripping down my chin and gracefully puts his finger in his mouth closing his eyes in utter bliss.

“You taste wonderful, Claire, simply wonderful.” Cocking his head to the left he takes in everything about me disdainfully. “Do you have any idea who or what I am?”

Placing his cold hands gently on each side of my face he stares into my eyes coldly. “I’m Griffin and I am the leader of the Western Clan. I’m also a vampire.” My eyes close slowly and I reopen them in disbelief.

“Yes, sweet Claire, take it all in...I am the world’s most deadly predator and you are the most glorious prey around. Your daddy must not be too concerned about you as I haven’t heard anything from the King.”

This is just way too much to take in right now. What does this all mean? Before I can summon up the courage to ask him this I notice he’s looking very intently at my profile. Turning my head, I scan his face as his eyes become fully black. Wincing, not understanding why, but knowing I can’t keep looking at his eyes, I avert my gaze which seems to please him.

“Gets me every single time,” he says laughing. “The fact you can’t be compelled is so very thrilling for me; you have absolutely no idea how much so.”

Smoothing my now greasy brown hair, he runs his cold spindly fingers through it. He stares over at Riley who has now lifted the guard to his feet and has his face pressed into his neck. I am stunned at what I’m seeing. Is he biting him? Despite this, my eyes are fixed on the sinewy muscles that hold the guard trapped against the wall. When Riley’s face comes into view again, his lips and chin are covered in blood. I put my hands over my ears to drown out the inhuman sounds coming from the guard and look towards the man that’s now standing next to me staring at the two of them against the wall.

“Riley! That’s enough!” Griffin barks out. “He’s still a good guard and I don’t want to waste all the training we did on him.”

Riley reluctantly pulls away and lets him fall in a heap to the floor, gazing towards me breathing heavily with his mouth covered in blood and his clothes disheveled. “He’s so good that he tries to rape a prisoner you want kept alive? Sounds like a great guard,” he says sarcastically. Catching my gaze, he stares at me as if waiting for me to condemn him. Wincing, I look away disgusted by the blood, but not knowing how to take this all in. The only people I know who drink blood are fictional characters and Riley is no Edward Cullen.

Griffin glares at Riley with a stare that would probably kill a lesser man. “Do you want to tell me what was going on that you had to attack the guard?”

“Not particularly.”

“Meet me in my office once you’ve cleaned this mess up,” he orders, looking at the guard in disgust. I lift my head and staring at Griffin. “Why don’t you go ahead and kill me?” I utter, wishing for the pain to stop.

Griffin tilts his head and the room is suddenly filled with his thunderous laughter. “Kill you? Now, where’s the fun in that?” I watch in agony as Griffin leaves the room. My eyes follow Riley as he walks out the door and brings in another guard to drag out the one he almost killed. I can still hear Griffin’s amused laughter from down the hall.

BOOK: Reluctant Storm
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