Marked by the Vampire Page 17



Eric Pate heard the guttural cry and he leapt into the flames. He hated fire. Such a pain in his ass.

Shane was burning. Flames were on the vamp’s clothes. Rippling along his skin, and the fool was trying to go deeper into the fire.

Eric grabbed him and tried to drag the guy out of the cabin.

Fire could kill a vamp. Damn easy. Too—

Shane tossed him aside. When Eric crashed onto the floor, he was pretty sure that he broke his left wrist and dislocated his shoulder. He coughed as the smoke thickened around him. He was near the cabin’s door. Shane had almost thrown him through that door.

But then he was being jerked to his feet. Duncan McGuire was in front of him, and the flames were everywhere.

“Pate, are you all right?” Duncan demanded.

Eric fumbled for his weapon. He hated to do this, but there wasn’t a choice for him. “We have to…get Shane out.” There were only a few people he considered to be his friends in this world. Shane was one of those precious few.

He and Duncan headed into the thick of the fire. Shane was clawing at part of the ceiling—the ceiling that had fallen down on the bed and now covered half of the floor.

The vampire was so frantic. Eric knew there was only one reason he’d react that way.

Olivia was under that collapsed, burning ceiling.

The fire was blazing in hot, angry bursts, and the flames were eating everything in their path. If they didn’t get the vamp out, in the next five seconds, Shane would be dead.

Duncan grabbed Shane. The vamp whirled, snarling, “I have to get her, I have to get—”

Eric shot Shane. A wooden bullet straight to the heart. A guaranteed way to stop a vamp in his tracks. Shane’s body shuddered as he collapsed, and Duncan dragged the vamp out of there.

They all barely made it outside before the cabin seemed to implode. Fire shot toward the sky in big, wild streaks of orange and gold.

Duncan dropped Shane to the ground. The vamp wasn’t moving. Stiff, hard—dead. For the moment. He’d stay that way until Eric dug the wooden bullet out of the guy’s heart.

Eric turned his head and saw that a big, white wolf was pacing a few feet away. The other wolves had assembled behind the beast. They weren’t attacking, not yet.

What are they waiting for?

Then Connor jumped in front of Eric. Connor was bloody, battered, and in human form, but claws sprouted from his fingertips. “Who wants to try and go through me?”

The white wolf snarled.

Then the wolf whirled and ran into the woods. All of the other shifted werewolves followed him. They left their dead behind.

The cabin kept burning.

Connor rushed forward, as if he’d go after them.

“No!” Eric shouted. “That’s what they want.” He shook his head. “It’s a set-up. Hell, it always has been.” No one should have been able to access this safe house. No one.

I thought the traitor was in the FBI. Because that had been the Intel he’d received. Intel that hadn’t revealed the full truth about the traitor. I didn’t realize he was the one running the whole damn show. He’d made the connection with Senator Quick too late. With his resources, the senator would be able to discover all of the secrets that the Para Unit possessed.

“We need to get out of here.” Eric ignored his throbbing wrist and shoulder. “Now.”

Because those wolves weren’t done.

Neither am I.

Holly’s soft gasp reached him and he turned to see her falling to her knees beside Shane. Burns covered Shane’s arms and chest. The side of his face was lined with blisters. The burns wouldn’t heal until the bullet was out of him.

Holly cast a glare at Eric. “Do you always have to shoot us?”

Because he’d once put a wooden bullet in his sister, too. I didn’t have a choice. Jaw locking, he glanced away from her. “I saved his life.”

Connor paced back to him. “Where’s Dr. Maddox?”

Black smoke drifted in the air above the flames.

“Aw, f**k,” Connor muttered. “He’ll go insane.”

“That’s why you didn’t need to hunt the werewolves.” He looked back down at his old friend. Holly was digging the bullet out of Shane’s chest. “He’ll destroy them all.” Because Eric had realized what was happening between Shane and Olivia Maddox.

Something that could have been great.

Something that had been dangerous.

Something that was…gone.

“Almost got it,” Holly whispered. “Almost…”

The wind seemed to moan around them. A sound of pain. Suffering.

The black smoke thickened above the fire.

“Got it!”

He looked at her hands. Saw the blood-stained fingers, the small, wooden bullet and—

Shane sucked in a deep gulp of breath. His eyes flew open. The burns on his face began to heal as he yelled, “Olivia!” Shane tried to leap to his feet, but Duncan and Eric held him down. The last thing they needed was for him to burn again, especially since they’d just saved his life.

But there was no holding Shane, not for long. With a strength that Eric hadn’t seen before, Shane broke free of their grip. He staggered to his feet. Stared at the fire. Eric knew exactly what the vamp was planning.

“I will shoot you again,” Eric swore. “You’re not going back into those flames. You know the fire will kill you.”

“Olivia!” Her name was a tormented cry.

And the fool started to run to the fire. Hell, another bullet to the heart? Was that what it would take? Was he going to have to shoot his friend again?

But then the flames just…died away. In an instant, the crackling of the fire stopped. Smoke drifted lightly in the air.

“I can…smell her,” Duncan said, sounding stunned.

Connor faced the charred remains of the cabin. “So can I.” He sounded just as stunned as Duncan. “She should be dead, just ash, but I can smell her.”

Oh, hell.

According to the FBI files that he’d accessed, the way to kill a djinn was supposed to be a deadly combination of fire and blood. But the way to wake up a djinn’s powers…the way to summon the darkness within…

Black smoke snaked toward them as they all stood there, frozen.

The smoke slowly dissipated.

And when the smoke vanished, Olivia was there. Her clothing had burned away, but her flesh appeared unmarred. She walked straight toward them with slow, certain steps.

“Olivia?” Shane ran toward her. His hand locked around her arm, and as soon as he touched her, a rush of black smoke swirled in the air again.

The djinn are creatures of smoke and magic. He’d read that notation in the files he’d accessed.

Olivia collapsed in Shane’s arms. He lifted her up, held her closely against his chest. His eyes were wild, his expression maddened as he whirled toward Eric. “A werewolf bit her,” Shane said, voice ragged. “Right before the fire…I saw him bite her! She needs help! Help!”

Holly scrambled to his side, but Eric didn’t move.

He knew Olivia Maddox was beyond help.


She hurt…a damn lot.

Olivia groaned and opened her eyes. She was in a strange bed. An unfamiliar room. And she was handcuffed.

Was this becoming the story of her life?

She tugged on the cuff. It was linked to the side of what looked like a hospital bed.

A door creaked open. Footsteps padded toward her. Olivia glanced over and saw Holly pause near the bed. “You tried to attack me the last time I was here,” Holly said softly. “The handcuffs were for my protection.” A brief pause. “If you’re back in control, I can take them off.”

“I’m in control.” Her voice sounded funny to her own ears. Too husky and raspy. Olivia cleared her throat.

Holly unhooked the cuffs.

Olivia thought about springing toward the woman, but she had promised not to hurt her. For the moment, anyway.

“Where am I?” Olivia asked and her voice still sounded funny. Like someone else was talking.

“We brought you in to one of the Para Unit’s containment areas. Pate thinks you will be safer here because it’s a place that isn’t…on the books. The only people who know about it are those of us here now.”

Olivia licked her lips and swore she tasted ash. “The fire—is Shane all right?” She remembered seeing him, right before that burning ceiling had come crashing down onto her.

“He’s fine. Relax.” Holly backed up a few steps. “You’re the one who was…injured.”

Olivia glanced down at her body. She didn’t see any wounds.

“A werewolf bit you.”

Olivia flinched. She didn’t remember that part. At all.

“So, according to all the information I know, a werewolf bite means that you should be dead or transforming.” Holly shook her head. “But that’s not happening. Not with you.”

Olivia’s breath whooshed out. Holly was wrong. Or she was lying. “I-I wasn’t bitten.”

“You may just be the cure for the werewolf infection. A person who isn’t susceptible, who has a natural immunity against the bite.”

No. There is no cure for a werewolf bite. Olivia swung her legs to the side of the bed. Stood up. Her knees didn’t even wobble, awesome. Where is Shane? She felt a hard urgency within her, a need to find him. Right then.

“I finished your blood work.”

There was a note of hesitation, almost fear, in Holly’s voice. Olivia crept toward her.

“I finished right before the werewolves attacked.” Holly tilted her head to the side. “You aren’t human, not fully.”

Olivia stiffened her spine.

“But I think you knew that, right? I think you have been holding out on us all, Dr. Maddox.”

Olivia glanced toward the door. “Is Shane outside?”

“Shane was willing to burn to protect you.”

That news rocked through Olivia.

“But you walked away from the fire without a scratch. You stand there right now, no expression on your face, when I’ve just told you that you aren’t human.”

She might not be showing her emotions but it sure felt as if Olivia were shattering on the inside.

“Which side are you on?” Holly asked her.

Olivia shook her head. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Anger tightened Holly’s delicate features. “Yes, you do.”

She marched toward the door, but Holly leapt in her path and bared her fangs at Olivia.

The woman was a vampire?

“It’s not as simple as a choice between good and evil,” Holly said. “Because maybe we’ve all got evil in us. All got some good too. It’s a choice about survival. Are you going to join the supernaturals out there when they attack the humans? When they stop hiding and come out full force? Or will you try to protect the innocents before they get slaughtered?”

She’d always wanted to help people. Always wanted to stop the monsters. “I wish I could stop them all,” Olivia said softly. If only. “But I can’t.”

Holly opened her mouth to speak, but smoke blew from her lips. Black smoke. Holly grabbed her throat as she fell to the floor.

“Holly!” Horror tore through Olivia as she grabbed for the other woman. Holly was convulsing on the floor. Smoke rising from her body. “She needs help!” Olivia cried even as her fingers flew over Holly’s body in an attempt to find out what was happening. “Help—”

The door flew open. Shane and Pate rushed inside. Pate immediately fell to his knees beside Holly. His gaze flew over her, assessing, then he grabbed Olivia in a grip that hurt. “What did you do?”

She shook her head. “Nothing—”

“Pate, get your f**king hands off her,” Shane warned.

Holly gasped, struggling to breathe.

“What did you do?”

“I-I said I wished I could stop them!” Those had been the last words she’d spoken before Holly collapsed on the floor.

Pate’s eyes widened. “Un-fucking-wish that.” He shook her. “Un—”

Shane yanked him back.

Holly’s skin was ghostly pale. “I take it back,” Olivia whispered. Had she truly done this?

“Rescind it!” Pate barked. “Say you rescind the damn wish!”

“I-I rescind the wish.”

Holly sucked in a deep gulp of air. The smoke stopped rising from her skin. Light color slowly filled her cheeks.

Olivia’s shoulders slumped.

“Told you…” Holly gasped out as her fingers caught Pate’s. “She’d…do the right thing.”

Olivia’s gaze jumped between Holly and Pate. Then to Shane. Only…Shane wasn’t looking her in the eyes.

She slid back as Pate helped Holly rise to her feet.

“It was too risky,” Pate snapped back to Holly. “And the plan was for her to focus that power on me, not you.”

Olivia’s hand flew out and she steadied herself on the bed. “You set me up?”

Holly took a few more, deep breaths.

Shane still hadn’t moved. What was up with that?

“A test,” Pate explained. “After the way you, um, rather impressively walked through fire before, we realized that your dormant powers must have been activated.” His hand rubbed Holly’s shoulder. “Blood and fire…guess they can kill djinns and bring them to life.”

Her stomach was in knots. “I thought I was hurting her!”

“You were,” Holly said with a quick wince. “Burning me alive.” She glanced at Pate. “The part about the djinn’s wishes being twisted up is true, too. She said she wished she could stop all the monsters, and the next thing I know, I’m tasting fire.”

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