Angels' Judgment Page 3

Sara was so surprised by the sudden burst of sense that it took her a second to process it. “Yeah, that’s right. So he was lying. He say anything else?”

“No, he just got out his sword—”


“—and tried to cut off my head.” He sat back, recital finished.

“What did he look like?” Deacon asked.

Rodney jumped, as if he’d forgotten the danger at his back. “I couldn’t see. He was wearing a black mask, and black everything. But he was tall. And strong.”

That included half the hunters in the Guild. Sara tried to get more out of Rodney, but it was a bust. Neckleting him again, she drove to Lacarre’s, very aware of Deacon following on a big monster of a bike. He remained outside the gates while she went in to deliver Rodney.

Rodney’s master was waiting for him in the sitting area of his palatial home. “Go,” he ordered.

Sara removed the necklet and put it on the table for Lacarre to return to the Guild as Rodney shuffled off like a penitent schoolboy. Snapping his cream-colored wings shut in anger, the angel picked up an envelope from the table. “A receipt confirming payment. I sent it through as soon as you called to say you had Rodney.”

Checking it quickly, she slid it into a pocket. “Thank you.”

“Ms. Haziz,” he said, scowling, “I’ll be frank with you. I never expected Rodney to attempt an escape. I’m not sure how to punish him.”

Sara wasn’t used to talking to angels for longer than it took to get the assignment. In most cases, she didn’t even see them then—they were way too important to consort with mere mortals. That’s what vampires were for. “You know a Mindy?”

Lacarre stilled. “Yes. She’s one of my most senior vampires.”

“Jealous type?”

“Hmm, I see.” A nod. “I’ve been spending extra time with Rodney—he’s a child and I’m afraid he’ll get eaten up if I don’t teach him some skills.”

Sara wasn’t even going to ask how Rodney had gotten through the Candidate selection process. So many people wanted to be Made that it was anything but a slam dunk. “He’s no mastermind,” she said. “I think if you punish him too harshly, he’ll break.”

Mr. Lacarre nodded. “Very well, Guild Hunter. Thank you.” It was a dismissal.

Leaving Rodney with a master who was still irritated, albeit no longer furious, felt vaguely wrong. But the vampire had made his choice when he asked to be Made. Now he’d be somebody’s slave for the next ninety-seven years. As she walked out, her path crossed with that of a slender redhead. The woman was dressed in a daring scarlet suit that molded to her body like second skin. It made a statement.

She would’ve kept going but the redhead stopped her. “You brought Rodney back.”

Mindy. “It’s my job.”

The older vampire—much older from the sheer ease with which she faked humanity—all but gritted her teeth. “I didn’t expect him to survive this long—he can barely tie his shoe-laces.”

“How did he get Made?” Sara asked, unable to swallow her curiosity any longer.

Mindy waved a hand. “He was fine bef—” She belatedly seemed to realize who she was talking to. “Good-bye, Guild Hunter.”

“Bye.” Interesting, Sara thought. Everyone knew—even if the knowledge had never actually been confirmed—that a tiny percentage of Candidates went insane after the transformation. This was the first time she’d seen an example of someone who’d been diminished instead.

Deacon wasn’t around when she got back into the rental car, but he’d found her again by the time she reached her hotel. She parked in the underground garage and got out to see him bringing that monster motorcycle to a stop beside her. “How did you get past security?”

He took off his helmet, unzipped his jacket, and swung off the bike. Gorgeous male muscle. Oh, so touchable. Something very tight in her stomach wound even tighter. Dear God, but the man was sex on legs.

Chapter Two

Taking a deep breath to wash away the rush of raw hunger, she headed for the elevators, weapons bag in hand. Experience told her management would get a little testy if she walked in wearing her crossbow. “So? Security?”

“It sucks.”

That was her estimation, too. “It was the most convenient location for this hunt.”

Being stuck in an elevator with the man was an exercise in frustration. His smell; soap and skin, heated up from within to create something uniquely Deacon—pure male with an edge of steel—wrapped around her like an aphrodisiac. Since she couldn’t not breathe, she was overdosing on it by the time the elevator kicked them out on the third floor. “Stay here.” She held up a hand. “I need to check your credentials.”

He leaned his back up against the wall opposite her door. “Say hi to Simon from me.”

Keeping an eye on him, she swiped her keycard and entered the room. It was fairly basic—a double bed beside a small chest of drawers, a table with just enough room for the hotel phone and maybe a laptop, a couple of chairs. Really, everything she needed while on a hunt. The call to Simon’s cell phone from her own went through without problems.

“Deacon,” she said the instant he picked up. “Who is he and why is he here?”

“Give me a description.”

She did. “So?”

“Yes, that’s Deacon. He’s on a job and it’s something I want you on as well—I assume you’ve completed the retrieval for Lacarre?”

“Yeah.” Intrigued by what he wasn’t saying, she put a hand on her hip. “What’s the job, and does it have anything to do with vampires getting their heads lopped off?”

“Deacon will explain. We need to sort this out fast.”

“Will do.” She paused. “Simon. The other thing . . .”

“It’s all right, Sara. The decision doesn’t have to be made today. Or even tomorrow.”

But Sara knew it did have to be made. “After this job. I’ll give you an answer.”

“I’ll wait for it.” A pause. “Sara, Deacon’s extremely dangerous. Be careful.”

“I’m pretty dangerous, too.” Hanging up after a few more words, she went to the door and pulled it open. The man in question was standing on the doorstep. Her eyes drifted down to the duffel that had materialized at his feet. “Whoa. You’re not staying here.”

“I have a lot to tell you. I’ll crash on the floor.”

Her streak of curiosity was a pain in the ass sometimes. “Yeah, you will.” Waving him in, she locked the door. “So, let me guess—we have to find and neutralize this psychopath pretending to be a hunter.” There’d been five murders in the past week and a half that she knew about. All vamps. All killed by decapitation.

Deacon dropped his bag on the floor beside hers and shrugged off his jacket to reveal a rough navy shirt that threw his eyes into even brighter relief. “I’m not so sure he’s pretending. I’ve been on his trail since the day after the second murder, and all signs point to a hunter.”

“I don’t believe you,” she said, remaining by the door, arms crossed.

Putting his jacket over the back of a chair, he pulled it out and grabbed a seat before bending down to unlace his boots. “Doesn’t mean it’s not the truth.”

“Hunters don’t go around killing innocent people.” It wasn’t what they were, what they did. There was honor in being a hunter. “We make sure vampires don’t get killed more often than they already do.” Legend had it that before the formation of the Guild, vampires who dared try an escape were simply executed upon discovery.

Having removed both boots and socks, Deacon stretched out his legs and tipped his chair back against the table, eyes intent. “Bill James.”

It was a punch to the gut, a fucking knife to the heart. “How do you know about that?” Nobody but the three hunters who’d gone after him—and Simon, of course—knew about Bill. To the others, he’d died a hero, been given a full Guild funeral.

Deacon continued to watch her with absolute, unwavering focus, a calm that made her wonder if the man ever let go. “My name is Deacon, but most people know me as the Slayer.”

She stared. He wasn’t joking. Fuck.

Pushing off the door, she walked very quietly to the bed and sat down on the edge. “I thought they made you up. Like the bogeyman.”

“The Guild recruits and trains some of the deadliest men and women in the world. We need a bogeyman.”

She shook her head. “Ellie’s never going to believe I met the Slayer.” It was a joke, the name. Taken off a television show. “The Guild really has a hunter whose job it is to hunt our own?”

“Only when necessary.” He didn’t speak again until she raised her head. “And you know it sometimes is necessary.”

“Bill was an aberration,” she said. “Something snapped in him.” The other hunter had taken to killing children, savaging them with an inhumanity that made her gorge rise even now.

“Hunting our own is a rare thing,” Deacon acknowledged. “But it happens. That’s why there’s always a Slayer in the Guild.”

“Why didn’t you track Bill?” Because it was Elena who’d had to kill the older hunter. Sara had been determined to do the gut-wrenching task—Bill was her friend, but he’d been Ellie’s mentor. But Bill had attacked her with a tire iron in an ambush none of them had seen coming. She’d been unconscious before she hit the ground. And her best friend had had to knife her mentor to death.

He looked at me as if I’d betrayed him, Ellie had said afterward, her face splattered with Bill’s lifeblood. I know he had to die, but I can’t stop thinking that he was right. His blood was so hot.

“Sheer bad luck,” Deacon said, dragging her back to the present. “The situation went critical so fast that I couldn’t get back in time—I was on the other side of the world.” He didn’t move, a predator at rest.

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