Home > The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(11)

The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(11)
Author: L.A. Banks

Damali stood and went to Carlos's side. "It wasn't his fault, y'all. It wasn't anybody's fault. I didn't know; he didn't know; you guys didn't know."

Her voice had become so tender that he almost reached for her.

"There was nothing to resist," she said, still defending him. "He was supposed to be a Guardian, and he is a good man. Carlos didn't want to turn me... it just sorta happened."

He had to get away from Damali's sweet words, so he concentrated instead on Marlene's eyes, the pain and anger he saw there. He had to stay focused, so the group's mother-seer could save Damali.

He just wished that he hadn't blocked the older woman's second sight from entering his lairs. Maybe she could have prevented this.

"We're not here to cast blame, honey." Marlene's voice was gentle. "But we have to find a solution, or by the end of the night..."

"The hunger is gonna hit her," Carlos said, giving his back to the group again.

When Damali touched his shoulder, he turned slowly and lifted her chin with one finger. "Baby... I'm so sorry. They're gonna have to lock you up, and seal you in a room without sunlight until - "

"Oh, hell no!" Damali snatched away from him, and started for the door, but stopped as Big Mike, Shabazz, and Rider blocked her exit.

"I might be the only one who can feed you, until Marlene figures out a way. Call me, if it gets real bad, and I promise, I'll come to you. From my veins is the only way, at the moment." Carlos looked at her team. "And you all are gonna have to be cool and let me in so she can feed. If she gets out I don't want her hunting alone - she might take a body. That can't happen. Or another male might approach her and feed her. That definitely can't happen."

"No, it can't," Marlene said, ignoring Damali's stricken expression.

"But there's one other problem," Carlos muttered.

"What the hell else could be worse than this?" Jose walked into the kitchen again to stand by Shabazz, Rider, and Big Mike.

"I think she's ripening early," Carlos said in a distant tone, his gaze going toward the window. "So you've gotta find a cure fast, because I won't be able to come in here and just feed her. Understand?"

"You have got to be bullshitting me." Rider let his back slam against the wall and he closed his eyes.

"Wish I were, man." Carlos went to Damali and touched her hair. "That's when the shit got really out of hand... last night. One hit of her fragrance, and I was near gone. If she hadn't siphoned me first, I would have flat-lined her. You have no idea how close it came to that."

Shabazz had taken two paces in Carlos's direction, but Big Mike grabbed the back of his shirt.

What could he say? It was the cold-blooded truth. Carlos spoke slowly; he needed them to understand. "A mind lock went down, she took a walk on the dark side with me. She bit me, took two quarts, and the virus is all through her... not just from my bites, but now from a total blood exchange - a double plunge. She woke up hungry, and watched me drop an international courier to feed her without batting an eyelash."

Fuck it. This wasn't the time for shame or games. Carlos looked at the group hard. "You remember what our international messengers look like, don't you?"

"Huge mothers," Big Mike replied, nodding. "She made you take one of those, then, forewarned is forearmed."

Both men nodded.

"But she didn't die," Marlene said in an urgent rush. "That may be our only hope."

"You sure she didn't?" Jose asked, his voice cracking from his obviously dry throat. "I mean, I'm not trying to be negative, or anything... but how do we know?" His eyes darted between Damali and Carlos, then back toward Marlene.

"Jose's got a point," Dan chimed in. "No offense."

"No offense taken. Definitely a valid point." Carlos could almost feel Marlene's gasp pass through his skeleton. "We shouldn't take anything for granted. There were periods when I wasn't conscious."

"C'mon, man," J.L. protested. "Wouldn't you know if she died on your watch, even if it happened during your daytime sleep?"

A slight smile tugged at Carlos's mouth. "That's not necessarily when I was out." They just didn't understand.

"Je�"

"Don't say it, Rider," Marlene warned, holding up her hand. "If she died in your arms, and came back... say within minutes... oh, I don't know."

"I will kill you," Jose said slowly, moving forward in preparation for a foolhardy lunge, but was stopped by Shabazz's arm.

"Gives a whole new meaning to petite mort," Rider chided, shaking his head.

"How about a grand mal seizure," Damali whispered, sidling up to Carlos. "Let's get out of here, baby. We told them enough... and I'm hungry. I can tell you're starved, too."

Again the room went stone-cold still.

"No," Carlos said firmly. "Baby, listen. I've gotta go to Hell, handle a few things - "

"Do you hear yourselves!" Rider was walking in a circle, arms outstretched. "Where's my f**king clip?"

"Got one you can borrow," Shabazz said, tossing Rider the spare ammo clip from his shoulder gear, and pulling Sleeping Beauty from his hip again.

Jose eyed the crossbow that Rider had discreetly taken from his side, noting that it was too far away for a quick grab. Opting for the available, he unsheathed a bowie knife, stripping it from Rider's belt. In a lightning move,J.L. had snatched the largest knife from the carving set, and had tossed Dan one that was only a bit smaller.

"I take it this has hallowed-earth-packed rhinos locked and loaded?" Rider asked Shabazz with a sneer in Carlos's direction.

"You know me, brother," Shabazz said in a tight voice.

"Would you people relax?" Damali said, thoroughly annoyed. "We're just going out and will be back in a few."

"No, D. They're right. That's how this all got started in the first place. Me and you were gonna go and just talk at Father Pat's... and it got crazy. Then, you were gonna take the shortcut home from Brazil, and wound up staying waaay too long in my Rio lair. Then, St. Lucia was supposed to be a one-night pit stop, but lasted longer. So, I'm out. Remember what I said - no humans, ever."

   
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