Home > Night Unbound (Immortal Guardians #5)(4)

Night Unbound (Immortal Guardians #5)(4)
Author: Dianne Duvall

Yes.

The other vampires were a slovenly mess, no longer concerned with personal hygiene. Garbed in jeans and T-shirts with various and assorted smart-ass quips splashed across the fronts, the vampires could easily pass for students if one disregarded the bloodstains on their clothing, as well as the fangs and glowing eyes. The latter gave away the vamps’ recent kill as much as the stains and their thoughts did.

Any heightened emotion—anger, excitement, lust, jealousy—made the eyes of both vampires and immortals glow. Which was one of the many reasons immortals had to be careful when they took mortal lovers. Glowing eyes weren’t easy to hide.

Of course, that wouldn’t be a problem with Zach. His own eyes glowed a beautiful gold, so if she took him as a—

She swore.

Why the hell couldn’t she stop thinking about him?

What about the others? Richart queried mentally. Do we take time to chat, or shall we simply attack?

Attack. They aren’t worth saving. The thoughts of those turned her stomach, the screams of their victims still echoing through their minds like a favorite tune.

The lost causes walked in pairs. Two swaggered in front, wondering aloud if they should seek new victims to torment. The other two scuffed along behind them and agreed, eager for another kill. The fifth brought up the rear.

The gaze that one directed at the others whenever they weren’t looking held contempt. He thought them beneath him. Lesser creatures to be used and discarded.

Richart might be right. This might be the next vampire who intended to declare himself king. (Thank you, Bastien, for putting the idea of such uprisings into their heads.) Perhaps, like Dennis, this one intended to make lowlives like these his whipping boys.

While Bastien had ruled his vampire army with an iron thumb, he had only used violence to keep the maddest of them in line when they’d strayed and had earned the devotion of his followers by giving them hope. Dennis, Bastien’s successor of sorts, had used violence . . . just because. The vampires who had followed him had done so not because they thought he could help them and cure them, but because they had feared he would rip them to shreds if they didn’t.

Again Lisette’s gaze went to the fifth vampire.

Yes, this one reminded her strongly of Dennis. Already, he imagined tearing his companions apart.

She nodded to her brother.

Richart vanished and reappeared directly behind the first two vamps.

How she envied him his ability to teleport.

With a flash of his long daggers, he decapitated the vamps in front before those behind him could even utter yelps of surprise.

Lisette darted forward at preternatural speed, arriving just as Richart spun around and severed the carotid arteries of the next two.

They stumbled back, grasping their throats as blood spurted and they began to bleed out faster than the virus could save them.

Only the fifth remained.

Just as Lisette arrived, that one delivered a roundhouse kick to her brother’s chest. Richart flew backward, hitting the side of a nearby building hard enough to crack the bricks. Dust and mortar exploded around him as he fell to the ground.

Merde! Lisette ducked the right hook the vamp aimed at her, dodged the upper cut that followed half a second later, and swung her shoto swords. He was so fast!

The lumberjack vamp spun out of reach of her weapons and drew his own: two sais, as long and sleek and well cared for as those Roland carried. And, unlike most vampires, the lumberjack vamp knew how to wield them.

He swung the sais.

Shock rippled through Lisette as she met his every strike. This vampire had been trained. And the bastard was tall, with arms that seemed as long as a gorilla’s. But her longer shoto swords made up for her shorter reach.

She swore as one of his blades caught her across the cheek.

Richart? she called mentally, unable to take her gaze from her opponent long enough to check on him. Are you all right?

A slew of French expletives filled her mind, grumbled in her brother’s familiar voice.

Relief made her smile. So did scoring a deep cut across the vamp’s right arm.

Fury mottled his rough-hewn features. His moves grew more careless. His thoughts filled with such hate and violence that it was hard to read any one thought in particular, but she did manage to discern that he had believed he would easily overpower her because she was a girl.

Dumb ass.

She swept the sai from his right hand.

He curled his empty fingers into a fist and slammed it into her jaw.

Pain exploded through her head as bone cracked. Her fingers tightened around the grips of her swords as her feet left the ground and she flew backward the way her brother had. She didn’t know what she hit, but stars burst into being around her, lighting up her vision and muddying it at the same time.

Richart roared over the ringing in her ears. Lisette! he shouted mentally as the sounds of fighting resumed.

I’m fine.

Dragging herself to her feet, she staggered a couple of steps until she could regain her balance. Bastard had punched her! When was the last time a vampire had caught her off guard or gotten close enough to strike her with his bare hands?

She didn’t wait for her fuzzy vision to clear, just dove back into the battle. Racing to her brother’s side, she added her blades to his. This vampire might be far more skilled with weapons than those they normally fought, but he couldn’t best two of them at once.

They defeated him in short order, cutting his carotid, brachial, and femoral arteries.

Richart looked at her as the vamp fell over onto his side. “What the hell was that?”

She shook her head. Some dumb ass must have turned a martial arts expert, she told him telepathically. Speaking hurt her cracked jaw too much.

“Brilliant,” her brother complained.

Too bad he wasn’t a gifted one, she told him with a shake of her head. With those skills, he would’ve made an excellent immortal.

Richart’s look turned uneasy. “You don’t think . . . He wasn’t immortal, was he?”

Nausea took her. Bastien had been immortal, but had lived as a vampire for two centuries. Hastily sheathing her weapons, she removed her cell phone from a back pocket and knelt to snap several pictures of the vamp’s face before he could deteriorate beyond recognition.

When she rose, Richart was dialing his own.

“Yes?” the Immortal Guardians’ leader said over the line.

“Seth,” Richart said. “We need you. Now. It’s important.”

Seth appeared beside them.

Before he could speak a word, Richart pointed to the fifth vamp. “Do you know him?”

Seth frowned down at the vamp. “No.”

“Are you sure?” Lisette pressed without moving her jaw.

He cut her a glance, then knelt beside the vamp and rolled him onto his back. A few seconds passed. “I’m sure.”

Both she and her brother sighed with relief.

Seth rose. “What’s going on?”

She fell silent as Richart told him.

His scowl deepening, Seth crossed to Lisette and gently cupped her face in his large hands. A comforting heat suffused her where they touched. The pain in her jaw disappeared as bone healed and swelling receded.

Smiling, she clasped his wrists and gave them a squeeze. “Thank you.”

He nodded and dropped his hands. Turning around, he stared down at the vampire. “It happens every once in a while.”

Richart raised his eyebrows. “Vamps turning someone who can actually challenge us in a fight?”

He nodded. “Ask Roland about the time a vampire turned a master swordsman in the fourteenth century. Roland was so caught off guard he nearly lost an arm.”

Lisette smiled. “I would think turning a human who was better skilled in fighting would backfire on a vampire.”

Seth laughed. “It did. The swordsman killed his maker as soon as he completed the transformation. I’m sure this one did, too.”

Lisette eyed the pile of clothes, all that remained of their fierce opponent. “I think he intended to pull a Dennis and raise an army. He seemed to despise his companions and intended to kill them when they no longer proved useful to him.”

Seth eyed her speculatively. “You gleaned that from his thoughts?”

She nodded.

He motioned to her phone. “Did you take pictures of him?”

“Yes.”

“Send them to Chris. Let’s see if his techno geeks can identify him.”

Chapter Two

Large warm hands slipped beneath the hem of Lisette’s sleep shirt. Tracing a path over her h*ps and up to skim the sides of her br**sts, they eased the shirt over her head and tossed it aside. She hummed in pleasure as those hands returned to her br**sts, stroking and teasing. Then lips tasted her, drawing a hardened nipple into a hot mouth to be tormented by her lover’s tongue.

She had hoped she would dream about Zach again, but hadn’t expected this.

A muscled thigh slipped between hers and pressed against the heart of her, sparking heat and need. Smiling, eyes still closed, Lisette buried her hands in Zach’s hair, combed her fingers through his . . . short locks?

Her eyes flew open. Stiffening, she glanced down at the chiseled body atop hers, the hand at her breast. . . .

That wasn’t Zach’s body.

And those weren’t her br**sts.

Groaning, she realized she’d been drawn into Tracy’s dream about her home-improvement hunk.

Lisette separated herself from Tracy in a blink and stood beside the bed. Turning to leave, she glanced back at the writhing duo . . . and felt her mouth fall open.

“What?” she blurted.

Tracy’s eyes, closed in ecstasy, opened and met hers. Her lover raised his head and looked toward the door.

“Holy—” Lisette awoke in her pitch-black bedroom. She heard Tracy curse upstairs. The sound of a door being yanked open followed.

Shocked beyond belief, Lisette sat up.

Bare feet thumped down the stairs with quick steps and padded down the hallway.

A pause ensconced the house in silence. Lisette’s door slowly inched open, flooding the room with light from the hallway as Tracy peeked inside.

“Damn it!” Upon seeing Lisette’s no doubt wide eyes, Tracy shoved the door the rest of the way open and entered. She wore a different sleep shirt than the one in her dream. Both it and her hair were rumpled, her face full of dread. “It was you, wasn’t it? You were there?”

“Yes.”

“You saw . . . ?”

“Everything.”

Her Second flushed a bright red as she covered her face with both hands and groaned.

“I thought you said you were dreaming about a guy at the home-improvement store.”

“This is so embarrassing,” Tracy wailed, staggering forward a few steps and collapsing into Lisette’s favorite reading chair.

“You’re sleeping with Sheldon?”

“No!” Tracy nearly shouted, and dropped her hands. Pure misery hid among the red in her face. “No, I’m not. It’s just . . . dreams.”

“Erotic dreams. More than one. About Sheldon.” The youngest Second in the area. Possibly in the country. Chris Reordon rarely recruited men or women under the age of twenty-five, claiming he wanted to make sure they were past the party-their-asses-off-now-that-they-were-no-longer-under-their-parents’-roof stage and could be counted on twenty-four hours a day to take care of business.

Sheldon had been a teenager when he had begun to serve, at Richart’s request. Apparently Sheldon was the descendant of Richart’s first Second. Lisette hadn’t even realized until then that her brother had been keeping track of his friend’s bloodline.

“Sheldon,” Lisette repeated, trying to wrap her mind around it.

Sheldon was twenty-one or -two now, she thought. And so green. He was the kid brother everyone picked on and teased. The screwup. The prankster.

He wasn’t the no-shit, tough-as-nails kind of guy who usually attracted Tracy.

“Are you . . . interested in him?” Lisette asked hesitantly.

“No,” Tracy insisted. “No, of course not.” She chewed a thumbnail, brows drawn down in a troubled V. “I mean, that would be crazy, right?”

Certifiable. “Well . . .” Lisette wasn’t sure what to say. “He is handsome. If he looks as good without clothes in real life as he did in your dream, I can see the physical appeal.”

“He does,” Tracy admitted grudgingly. “I accidentally saw him na**d once when I was at Richart’s.”

“How did you manage that?”

Tracy rolled her eyes. “He was changing with his damned door open, and I walked past. The boy goes commando under those tight black pants and has no shame.”

“The boy is built,” Lisette pointed out, oddly surprised by the knowledge. It was going to be strange to see him in person again after seeing him na**d and aroused in Tracy’s dream.

And feeling his hands on her.

She suppressed a shudder.

“But he’s just that,” Tracy responded. “He’s a boy. He’s so . . .”

“Young?”

“Yes. He’s like a puppy. All exuberance and energy and mischief.”

“All qualities that might not be so bad in a lover.”

Tracy laughed. “And inexperience?”

“With a body like that, I’m pretty sure that’s not something you’d have to worry about.”

“Maybe not with sex, but with everything else.”

“I don’t know,” Lisette murmured. “Now that I think about it, he’s come a long way in the past couple of years. He kicked ass when he backed up Richart and Étienne at Krysta’s house that time. And apparently did so again when we stormed the mercenaries’ compound.”

   
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