Burning Skies Page 4

“Give me a sec,” she said. She set her phone down. Of course she would go. The Warriors of the Blood battled death vampires every night on behalf of all of Second Society. The least she could do was support one of the brothers when he was down.

She folded her nightgown off and with a second preternatural thought, folded a pair of jeans and a yellow T-shirt on. She didn’t bother with her long, layered red hair as she brought socks and Nikes onto her feet. She grabbed her phone and cried, “Fold me.”

“That’s my girl,” Jeannie said.

The journey between was a short ride, only a second, maybe two, a dark trip through nether-space then a touching-down of feet on solid earth.

When she materialized, she found Thorne kneeling beside Luken. Thorne was all business as he said, “Jeannie’s going to do a cleanup. Close your eyes.”

Havily obeyed, and a blinding flash of light tore over her eyelids. She opened her eyes. The horrible battle debris, all those parts of dead vampires, blood, and feathers, had disappeared, thank you, God. What wasn’t gone, however, was the stench in the air of burned feathers and the harsh chemical smell of the fire.

Thorne bent over Luken’s massive shape and spoke quietly to him, his deep rough voice a profound reassurance in the still night air. Luken lay on his side, shaking, his eyes open but his expression not exactly present. His wings … were gone. His skin was burned badly on his legs, thighs, arms, and back. His long thick warrior hair, hanging from the tight cadroen, lay over his shoulder untouched, which seemed like some kind of miracle.

Havily dropped down beside Thorne and swallowed the bile that rose in her throat. She was not going to lose it, not when the mightiest of the warriors lay shaking and burned. He tilted his head and his gaze skated to hers, his eyes rolling. “Havily,” he whispered.

She glanced at Luken’s hand. She checked to make sure the skin wasn’t burned before she drew his fingers into her palm, holding him oh-so-gently. “I’m here. We’ll get you through this, Luken.”

“Good,” he whispered then coughed. “I … I thought I heard you call my name.” He coughed some more.

“I did call your name.”

His eyes closed and his body quieted, his fingers now limp.

Havily gripped his hand hard, but there was no answering response. She glanced at Thorne as tears stung her eyes. “Is he dead?”

Thorne put a hand on Luken’s chest. He folded away the leather weapons harness. “No. His heart beats. But … shit. Of all the warriors, he had the most beautiful wings. They were the color of his eyes.”

“I know.” Luken’s wings were as massive as his muscular body was large. He had the broadest wingspan of all the warriors, and the color was an exquisite powder blue. Was it possible his wings were gone forever? Havily had never seen this kind of damage before.

A vibration behind Havily had Thorne spinning and leaping to his feet, a sword in his hand where one hadn’t been before. Thorne was the consummate warrior, heavily muscled, all man, ready to go.

The arrival, fortunately, was just Horace. The healer took one look at Luken and drew in a sharp breath. He pulled a slim phone from his pocket and barked a brisk string of words, essentially commanding a squad of healers to the Superstitions. “Don’t argue with me” came as a last gunshot into the receiver. A pause. “Then get them here as fast as you can.” He thumbed his phone and slid it into the loose white pants he wore, his expression grim. He met Thorne’s gaze. “My team will be here in ten minutes.”

The next moment he was behind Luken, both hands over his wing-locks, fingers spread, eyes closed. The glow that emanated from his hands forced Havily to blink then look away. She had seen Horace at work before, but never had a glow been as bright as this one, which meant the injuries, even from a healer’s perspective, were serious.

She shielded her eyes then glanced down at Luken. His whole body relaxed visibly, as though Horace imparted a sedative with the healing.

“We’ll have an ambulance here in about twenty minutes,” Thorne said.

Havily wished Central could have just folded Luken straight to the hospital on Second Earth, but injuries fared badly during dematerialization and the resulting increased pain would have been a form of torture. For that reason, Endelle had set up emergency facilities near each of the Borderlands on Mortal Earth. They were rarely used, since most healing could be done by Horace and his team on-site. But at times like these, the clinics were critical.

Horace nodded. “Good. We’ll be able to work better in a hospital environment.” He was a lean man, with wavy brown hair to his shoulders. He wore a loose V-neck pullover shirt of white cotton with navy embroidery that followed the neckline. He reminded Havily of the hippies on Mortal Earth during the 1960s.

Thorne rose to his feet and moved away from Luken a couple of yards. He called Central and spoke to Jeannie. Not long afterward, the rest of the warriors started showing up. A few minutes later the six men, including Thorne, stood in a half circle next to her. Except for Warrior Medichi, they all wore black leather kilts, black weapons harnesses that allowed for wing-mounts, black gladiator-style sandals with shin guards, and silver-studded wrist guards also in black leather. They were a powerful brotherhood, all spattered in blood from fighting, all bearing swords in hand. Santiago flipped his jewel-encrusted dagger in his free hand.

Warrior Medichi never mounted his wings and wore his version of battle gear: black cargoes, black tee, steel-toed boots. He did, however, wear the same weapons harness, the silver hilt of a dagger protruding from the central angled slot.

As a group they stared down at Luken, but no one said a word, five warrior souls exhausted from the recent months of accelerated battling. Commander Greaves had been importing an increasing number of death vampires from all over the world to fight the Warriors of the Blood on a nightly basis, a strategy that had culminated here tonight with the use of some kind of incendiary bomb that had burned Luken while he was in flight.

Santiago slid his dagger into his weapons harness, a slot just lower than his heart. He drew close and put his hand on her shoulder. “Thanks, Hav. Madre de dios, his beautiful wings.” He withdrew his hand and vanished.

The men couldn’t be gone from the various Borderlands for long. The death vamps arrived in waves, and any that slid unchecked down the Trough, that nether-space between dimensions, would claim victims on Mortal Earth tonight.

Kerrick came forward and also put his hand on her shoulder. She looked into his green eyes. “We’ll take care of him,” she said. She still held Luken’s hand.

He nodded as he dematerialized.

Jean-Pierre came next. “Merci, soeurette.” The term was affectionate and meant “little sister.” His eyes were wet as he followed Kerrick’s lead and was simply gone.

Zacharius approached next. He bent low and kissed her on the cheek. He stroked the back of Luken’s hand with a finger; then he, too, folded away.

Medichi knelt beside her, and she felt the strength and comfort of his powerful arm as he squeezed her shoulder. “We will never forget that you were here for him when we couldn’t be.” A movement of air, a little breeze at her back, told her he was gone.

For some reason, as she gazed at Luken, the fact that he lay with his head near the base of a tall stand of ocotillo, that he didn’t even have a scrap of cloth to separate his fine blond warrior hair from the dirt, made the tears come and they just wouldn’t stop.

A few minutes more and the healers began to arrive so that there were five in all, each with hands poised above Luken’s skin.

After what felt like hours instead of a dozen more minutes, the ambulance pounded across the open desert terrain. Only then did she release her hold on Luken’s hand. But because Horace insisted that her touch was as vital as any of their healing efforts, she rode in the ambulance all the way to the emergency clinic, her fingers once more wrapped around Luken’s.

She only let him go when the burn specialists arrived and he was hooked up to an IV.

She was reminded, yet again, that even the most powerful of vampires could die.

* * *

Marcus woke up with a headache. He opened his eyes and glanced at the low dresser across from his bed. The sleek chrome clock pulsed the hour in bold annoying red numbers—one in the morning.

He sat up, straight up.

Something was wrong. He could feel it. But what?

He pushed his hair back with both hands and breathed hard through his nose. He stared out the expansive picture window that made up the northern wall of his master bedroom and met a dark night sky dotted with stars.

Most of Bainbridge Island was hidden beneath a wilderness of trees, but he’d built his house at the water’s edge for the view of Seattle across Puget Sound.

He took a deep breath. Why did his head hurt?

Again, something was wrong.

He drew his knees up, the black silk sheet forming a dip between his legs. He circled his forearms around his knees and clasped his hands together. His thoughts turned in exactly the direction that troubled him.


Endelle’s warnings poured through his head.

Havily hadn’t come to him tonight, and she always came to him. In all these months, she hadn’t missed one night, so, yeah, something was wrong. But just how worried should he be? The hell if he knew.

He slid from bed and crossed to the bathroom. His vampire-warrior body always seemed to run a little hot so he never wore pajamas, which made late June and the start of summer almost time to crank up the air-conditioning. Few homes in this part of the world had forced air, but then few residents of Mortal Earth were vampires.

Relieving himself took the length of two or three serious yawns. He had a mountain of work tomorrow and he needed his sleep, dammit.

He washed his hands in the dark, or the semi-dark as it was for him. His ascended vision could see quite well. He dried his hands then stood up straight and let his gaze rove the lean muscled lines of his body. He worked out with weights every day, and sparred at least twice a week, sword in hand, with his second-in-command, Farrell Ennis. Ennis was also an ascender who had chosen exile on Mortal Earth. They were practically blood brothers.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies