Burning Skies Page 49

After a few minutes, he drew his wings back into his wing-locks then dressed in his form of traditional battle gear: black cargo pants, a heavy-duty black T-shirt, steel-toed boots, and black silver-studded wrist guards. He also wore the same weapons harness as the other warriors so he could have a dagger on his chest ready for battle.

He had just made it to the front patio, where Marcus reclined watching the show and the landscaping lights had just come on, when Havily cried out. “Parisa, stop! Not past the mist!”

But her warning was too late and Parisa, clearly exhilarated by the experience, shot through the boundary.

Medichi’s heart fired up. He knew what no doubt waited somewhere beyond the edges of his property. Thorne had already texted him with the warning of death vampires near all the warriors’ properties and hangouts.

He knew what would follow.

He folded his sword into his hand as Marcus leaped out of his chair, folded off his shirt, and mounted his wings. Marcus was in the air, sword in hand before Medichi had taken three steps forward.

Damn, the vampire was fast, even after two hundred years on Mortal Earth.


Brings destruction

—Collected Proverbs, Beatrice of Fourth

Chapter 16

Marcus hadn’t waited. The moment Parisa left the protection of the dome of mist, he knew exactly what would happen. He plowed through the air and was beside Parisa within the space of three seconds. Not fucking bad.

Despite his efforts, however, once he was guiding a startled Parisa back toward the mist, with Havily on the other side of her, the worst had already happened. She’d been spotted by the enemy.

Dammit. The breach in the mist would no longer offer the necessary protection, not until Endelle could do the repair, which meant someone had to contact her. Right now there was no time even for that.

Three squads of death vampires, and that bastard, Crace, headed straight for them. So, yeah, the warriors’ estates had been under surveillance for signs of the ascendiate, which of course meant that Greaves wanted Parisa bad.

As he flew back through the mist, he shouted at Medichi, “Thirteen incoming.”

“Bring the women to me,” Medichi returned, his voice booming across the airspace. Marcus still had hold of Parisa’s hand and, as soon as he drew near the patio, he took both of her hands, popped his wings into parachute mode, and brought her squarely to earth. “Draw your wings in as fast as you can,” he cried. He didn’t want to think how hard that was going to be since her eyes were the size of saucers.

Havily, bless her, already had her wings within her body. She went to Parisa, but the mortal cried out, “I can’t do it. I can’t do it.”

As Marcus also drew his wings into his wing-locks, Medichi crossed to Parisa and put his large hands on her shoulder and neck. He looked deeply into her eyes. “You can do this,” he said quietly. He even smiled a little.

The mortal heaved a sigh and closed her eyes. The next moment, her wings retracted. Thank God. Havily took her hand and hauled her into the villa.

With the women on foot, Marcus had already made the decision to battle next to Medichi, and protect the entrance to the house. He knew Medichi’s style of warfare, having battled beside him for centuries and more recently four months ago. He held his sword in both hands, knees bent. Another second and the pretty-boys poured through the opening in the mist, Crace pulling up the rear.

He heard Medichi on the phone. “Thorne. We need backup at the villa. Have Jeannie do the fold. We had a mist-breach and we’ve got thirteen landing on the property now.” Pause. “Yeah, three squads and that big motherfucker, Crace, pulling up the tail, fucking coward. You know, he’s almost as big as Luken now.” Pause. “See you in a few.”

From his peripheral he watched Medichi replace his phone into the pocket of his cargoes.

Marcus stayed close to Medichi, back-to-back, swords drawn. The attack came. Six remained in flight and six landed. Crace kept his distance, his glossy black wings plowing the air. Coward wasn’t the half of it. He traversed the air in front of the southern villa, peering through the windows, hunting his prey. So, yeah, he was after the women.

Marcus put at least six feet between himself and Medichi. He flexed his sword in both hands. From the ground, the first pretty-boy offered him a smile and a hard stare. He laughed. Did the bastard actually think he could enthrall him?

“Enthrall this, asshole.” He moved with preternatural speed, whirled and plunged his right arm. The sword struck deep. The smile faded. The body fell sideways.

One approached from the air. Marcus swung in a wide arc, levitating at the same time. The second flying bastard screamed as Marcus severed an arm and part of a wing.

He engaged a third and fourth. He worked hard to protect Medichi’s back and to keep any of the bastards from getting past the door. He saw a blur to his right and a bad feeling came over him. Where the fuck had Crace gone? But he already knew.

He fought harder, using preternatural speed again, and took down a third. He engaged the fourth, his heart pounding in his ears. He had to get to Havily. Crace wanted Havily’s blood. He had to get to her.


Across the lawn, reinforcements arrived—Thorne, Jean-Pierre, Santiago, and Zach. Thank you, God. They’d probably been relaxing at the Blood and Bite.

* * *

Havily took Parisa in the direction of the turret and pushed her up the narrow winding staircase. Parisa was shaking but then Havily wasn’t exactly a smooth ride of nerves herself.

“We’re under attack,” Parisa cried.

“You’re doing fine.” Oh, dear Creator, help us.

The turret was a small bedroom with a canopied bed tucked into the corner, a small barred window near the bed, and below it an oak chest of drawers.

Havily shut the door and turned the key.

“Hav … ily…” The singsong voice sent a spear of dread through her. “Open the door, babe. It’s me. Eldon Crace. Come on, sweetheart. Don’t be shy.” Laughter followed, deep, low, menacing.

Parisa drew close and slipped her arm around Havily’s.

Havily waited for the latch to lift. Instead the air shimmered and the monster without was suddenly within. Together, the women backed up until Havily felt the bed at the back of her knees. She turned to grab Parisa, but Crace was before her. He held Parisa against him with one arm. With the other, he formed a brace at the back of her head. Oh, God. One quick twist.

Havily didn’t think. She just moved, not in Crace’s direction but straight into the darkening. At the exact same moment, her thoughts pulled Parisa in with her in a quick swish of momentum. They stood facing each other, the space similar to the turret bedroom but fading to black all around the edges. Her heart slammed against her ribs. She reached out and grabbed Parisa’s arm just to make sure she was real. The moment she made contact, Parisa’s face crumpled. She covered her face with her hands and started to weep.

She pulled Parisa against her and held her fast. “You’re safe. You’re safe,” she whispered. “I should have done this the moment you retracted your wings. I wasn’t thinking. But you’re safe now. Truly.”

The librarian of Mortal Earth couldn’t be consoled as she cried over and over, “It was my fault. My fault. I passed the mist without thinking. My fault. I don’t belong here. I shouldn’t be here. My fault!”

* * *

Crace twisted his arms but hit only air. “What the fuck?” The woman was gone. The mortal whose neck he’d intended to snap with a quick jerk of his arms was gone. Vanished.

But where the hell had she gone? And where was Havily? Damn, they must have folded away. He had to act fast if he had any chance of getting to them before they disappeared beneath another cloak of mist somewhere else in the Valley.

He turned in a circle searching for the streams of light that would allow him to trace after Havily. He didn’t give a tick’s ass about the mortal-with-wings, but Havily was necessary. He’d hammered out a special pair of manacles just for her, engraved with butterflies the entire distance around, a real fucking work of art. “Havily,” he called softly, “where are you?”

He made a circle and searched for the trace, but found nothing. He turned in a second complete circle then a third.

Shit. Where the fuck was the trace?

When he heard the heavy thump of feet up the stairs, he knew he’d just run out of time and somehow his blood donor had gotten away. He prepared to fold, but he thought he’d have a little fun first.

From the stairwell, he heard Warrior Medichi’s deep voice. “She’s in here. I can smell tangerines.” The doorknob turned but the key was in the lock. The next moment, damn if Medichi didn’t shove his boot at the door, making a sound like a gunshot. The door flew open, hard, and snapped off the top hinge.

The warrior appeared on the threshold in avenging glory, with sword in hand and dark eyes blazing.

Crace met his gaze, laughed, then flipped him off as he lifted his arm and vanished. He hoped Medichi would follow him, because he was folding into the bowels of Greaves’s compound and he’d have the bastard.

Crace arrived next to his forge.

“Yeah, follow me, asshole,” he cried.

But no one came.

Adrenaline pumped like fire through his body. He paced and shouted at the enormous ceiling, a vaulted space of heavy carved rock. His voice bounced back. He shouted again. He’d failed on both counts. No Havily and no dead Parisa. Fuck.

But if Havily hadn’t dematerialized, then where the hell had she gone? Where the hell had the mortal gone? And who had taken her away? What kind of power had been in that room that could have made the women disappear without leaving behind the signature of even one trace?

He cursed and stomped around for a good loud minute until he saw what would calm his nerves. The latest mortal he’d apprehended stood shivering in white gauze against the walls, her arms manacled overhead. She was still fresh, not even drooping yet. Good. She’d probably put up a fight.

He approached her, ripped the gauze, pushed her head to one side, and buried his fangs.

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