Home > Night Unbound (Immortal Guardians #5)(11)

Night Unbound (Immortal Guardians #5)(11)
Author: Dianne Duvall

“Joe didn’t either when he surrendered and sought the network’s help. But he wouldn’t have hesitated to run if I had taken him hunting with me.”

“I’m not suffering the paranoia that struck Joe.” Near the end, Joe had become convinced that the immortals had tricked him and were his enemy, that they were actually causing his madness instead of trying to cure it. “I just have . . . violent thoughts. Really ugly, violent thoughts.” His look turned pensive. “It’s getting harder and harder to not act upon them when I’m around Dr. Whetsman.”

Bastien snorted. “Hell, I have violent thoughts when I’m around Dr. Whetsman.” The sniveling weasel was Bastien’s least favorite colleague of Melanie’s. “Even Chris has violent thoughts around Whetsman. He’s a total prick.” An incredibly intelligent prick, but a prick just the same. Chris had once admitted he would’ve fired Whetsman a long time ago if his input weren’t so crucial.

Cliff’s brow cleared. A smile dawned. “I still laugh when I think about the time you got all up in his grill about talking down to Melanie and giving her a hard time. I thought for sure he was going to wet his pants.”

Bastien grimaced. “I almost wish he would’ve. Whetsman doesn’t wet himself when he gets nervous. He farts.”

Cliff laughed. “I know. Melanie has a hell of a time keeping a straight face when he’s around us vampires. You know we terrify him.”

Bastien laughed.

A cool breeze ruffled his hair.

“Wow, you smell that?” Cliff asked, tilting his head back and drawing in a deep breath. “The three B’s: bad breath, B.O., and blood. Ahhhhh. It’s like we’re back in your lair again.”

Bastien shook his head. He might have succeeded in forcing his vampire followers to eat foods he had hoped would slow the progression of the madness, but he had never succeeded in improving their personal hygiene. “Let’s go check it out.”

“Wait.” Cliff stopped him with a hand on his arm. “What’s my role here? When you said I could hunt with you . . .”

“I meant you could help me locate and kick some vampire ass.”

Cliff offered him a huge grin. “Seriously? I get to join the fight and everything?”

“Absolutely.”

“Awesome! Let’s go!”

Bastien had only hunted with two others as an Immortal Guardian. Richart, when Seth had insisted Bastien have a babysitter to keep him out of trouble. And Melanie, when Seth had ordered her to monitor Bastien after he had dosed himself with the experimental antidote. Richart had been a pain in the ass, yet tolerable. Melanie had been deliciously distracting.

Cliff . . .

Hunting with Cliff was like hunting with a brother. After Melanie, he was Bastien’s best friend. Being around him was comfortable and stress-free, with none of the constant need to prove himself or stay on guard to fend off the verbal blows other immortals slung.

In short, it was fun.

They found two vampires feeding on a couple of female students in the shadows between two buildings. Letting Cliff take the lead, Bastien held back and observed from several yards away, ready to intervene if necessary.

“Hey,” Cliff greeted them, stopping only a foot or two away from the vamps. “What’s up?”

They raised their heads and looked around, eyes glowing, fangs crimson and dripping.

Good. Had Cliff just yanked one of the vampires away from his victim, the vamp could have torn her carotid artery.

The blond vampire hissed like a cat.

Cliff burst into laughter. “Dude! Seriously?”

Frowning, the blond released the woman.

Eyes bleary and unfocused, she staggered a couple of steps backward, then slid down the wall to sit on the ground.

The vampire’s brunet companion shoved his victim toward the other woman and faced Cliff. “Who the f**k are you?”

“I’m Cliff,” he answered with a genial smile.

The two vampires looked at each other, bloody faces blank with confusion.

“What did you think I would say?” Cliff inquired. “That I’m your worst nightmare?” He drew two long daggers and displayed them in a series of showy swirls and flips and tosses. “I probably am, but thought it would be rude to say so.”

The blond drew a bowie knife. “You’re an Immortal Guardian?”

“Sadly, no,” Cliff said, grin still in place. “But I do still plan to kick your ass.”

The second the words left his lips, his eyes flashed bright amber, his fangs descended, and he attacked.

Swearing, the vampires scrambled to fight him off and avoid his blades.

Cliff struck with vicious intensity, his smile gone.

Bastien looked around to see if anyone dallied nearby when the vampires began to scream. He didn’t know if it was pent-up energy, pent-up aggression, pent-up frustration, or a first display of the madness formerly held at bay, but . . . Cliff tore those vamps to shreds.

Had Bastien not done the same to the mercenaries who had shot Melanie, he would’ve been disturbed by it.

One vampire collapsed to the ground, already starting to shrivel up.

Cliff grabbed the other by the hair, yanked his head to one side, and started to sink his fangs into the dying vamp’s neck.

Bastien shot forward and stopped him before he could. “Don’t.”

Cliff glared up at him.

Bastien could hear Cliff’s heart racing, pumping adrenaline through his veins.

Cliff tried to shove him away.

Bastien didn’t budge. “Don’t.”

“Why? They were draining those women. Why not give them a taste of their own medicine?”

“Because Melanie is worried that drinking the blood of another vampire will increase your viral load.” He frowned. “Or is it viral count?” He shook his head. “I can’t remember. I just know she’s afraid that it will make the brain damage and madness progress faster.”

Either Bastien’s calm tone or the science jargon reached Cliff.

Dragging in a deep breath, Cliff calmed and dropped the vampire. “He’ll be dead soon anyway.”

Bastien clapped him on the back. “Good. How do you feel?”

Cliff thought about it as the vampire at their feet drew his last breath and began to deteriorate. “Juiced. Relaxed. Relieved that I didn’t lose it completely and try to bail on you or something.”

“I knew you’d keep it together.”

“Yeah, but I really wanted to bite that guy. I mean, I wanted to rip his throat out.”

“Don’t let it disturb you. I feel the same thing every night. I’m not exactly what one would call even-tempered.”

At last, Cliff laughed. “I think you would bore Melanie if you were.”

Bastien knelt before the women.

Brow creased with concern, Cliff joined him. “Are they going to be okay?”

Both females had lost consciousness during the battle, but a quick listen to their pulse told Bastien they’d survive. Neither, thankfully, would remember the vampires’ attack. With the first bite, the glands that had formed above the fangs of vampires during their transformation would’ve delivered a chemical that acted like GHB in the system.

“They’ll be fine.” Bastien drew his cell phone out and dialed the network.

“Reordon.”

“It’s Bastien. Cliff and I found a couple of vampires feeding on two human women. Can you send a cleanup crew out here to see them home?”

“Sure. Where are you?”

Bastien gave him their location.

“How do you like hunting, Cliff?” Chris asked, knowing the young vampire could hear both ends of the conversation.

Cliff’s eyebrows flew up. “It’s weird.”

Chris laughed. “I know, right? Jack will be there in ten to take care of the women.”

The line went dead.

“That was weird, too,” Cliff said as Bastien tucked away his phone.

“What was?”

“Reordon’s asking me what I thought about hunting instead of asking you if I’d lost my shit.”

Bastien shrugged. Both questions would have accomplished the same goal—letting Chris know if Cliff had lost it during the fight—but this way Chris had left Cliff’s dignity intact. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think I’m actually starting to like that ass**le.”

“Chris?”

“Yes.”

“Reordon’s a good guy,” Cliff said slowly. “He’s been really nice to me ever since the mercenaries got their hands on me.”

“Good. He should be. You saved a lot of lives that night.”

Cliff smiled.

“So,” Bastien said, “once the cleanup crew arrives, do you want to call it a night? Or are you up for more hunting?”

“More hunting,” Cliff chose with amusing enthusiasm.

Zach perched on Lisette’s roof, waiting for her to return home.

A long sigh escaped him. The shingles beneath him were beginning to acquire a shine only wear could deliver. He would have to find a new place to sit soon or his ass would end up going through the roof.

Gargoyle duty.

The description fit. He really did feel like a gargoyle tonight. Probably resembled one, too. He hadn’t taken the time to look in a mirror before he had teleported to Lisette’s side and ended her battle with the unusually powerful vampires.

He shifted, unable to get comfortable. Most of the wounds on his body had healed. His wings would need more time, though. The immortal black sheep had done a good job of splinting them. Zach supposed he would have to find a way to repay him. If Bastien didn’t betray Lisette to Seth.

A raccoon the size of a beagle waddled across the lawn below him.

Zach’s thoughts wandered to the scene that had greeted him when he had sensed Lisette was in danger and teleported to her, fearing the Others had found her.

Something about the vampires she and the younger immortal had fought hadn’t been right. Not the lanky ones who had already fallen by the time he’d arrived, but the other two.

Mentally he replayed the scene over and over again. Two immortals working together should have had no difficulty defeating two vampires. He had seen Lisette drop five in one skirmish. Two shouldn’t have even made her sweat.

Zach had given the vampires a quick scan, wondering at first if the two weren’t immortals who, like Bastien, had been overlooked by Seth. No advanced DNA had inhabited their forms. Zach had, however, found blank spots in their minds. While the vampiric virus did cause brain damage that resulted in blank spots, the ones he had found in the muscled vamps’ minds had been different. Their blank spots could only have been caused by one of two things: either memories had been buried so deeply that they would never rise again or memories had been completely erased.

Someone with strong telepathic abilities must have buried or erased those memories.

Someone other than Zach.

Over the shuffling steps of the raccoon and the multitude of croaking frogs that lingered in a nearby stream, he heard the low rumble of Lisette’s Hayabusa.

After Seth’s unjust accusation—and the torture Zach had endured as a result of Seth’s stealing his powers and planting a Come and Get ’im, Boys sign on Zach’s head for the Others—Zach had thought it would be fun to watch some unknown immortal with aspirations of grandeur try to destroy his or her leader and usurp his command.

The betrayal would tear Seth up inside.

Watching his Immortal Guardians suffer on his behalf would kill him.

Revenge would be so sweet.

Unfortunately, Zach had neglected to consider that Lisette would be caught in the crossfire. That she could suffer or be destroyed, too.

His pulse picked up as she turned onto her drive and headed toward the house.

The thought of offering Seth aid—look what the hell it had gotten Zach in the past—really chapped his ass. But Lisette . . .

A low sound rife with frustration vibrated his chest.

Damn it, he was going to have to say something. Either that or watch over her twenty-four hours a day until whatever happened happened. He wouldn’t let her come to harm. And Seth could go f**k himself if he didn’t like it.

Silently, Zach watched as she parked the Busa. Removing her helmet, she stowed it away, tilted her head back, and looked right at him. “What are you doing up there?”

He would’ve shrugged if his wings hadn’t been aching so much. “Waiting for you.”

“Why didn’t you wait inside? You should be resting.”

“I am resting.”

She pursed her lips.

“Being in your home when you were gone felt . . . wrong,” he admitted. Being in her home at all had felt wrong. Her home was warm and comfortable and welcoming. He could practically hear all of the laughter she and her brothers and their Seconds had shared beneath this roof.

That was foreign to him.

She waved him down. “Well, I’m home now, so let’s go inside.”

A strange fluttery feeling invaded his stomach and chest.

Zach teleported to the ground, appearing a few feet away from her.

“You’re scowling,” she said.

Was that why her pulse had picked up? Did she fear him?

Zach endeavored to smooth his brow.

A tentative smile curled her full lips. “Better.” She motioned toward the steps that led up to the front porch. “Shall we?”

Still he hesitated.

Following her through that front door would be tantamount to giving up any plans for revenge. He couldn’t involve himself further in Lisette’s life and sit back and watch Seth fall. Lisette would gladly die trying to protect her leader.

   
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