Home > The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(23)

The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(23)
Author: L.A. Banks

As soon as it got dark, he knew he had to go to her, and he also knew that if they didn't get the seal or the key, he'd have to smoke her then stake himself... just to be sure the council wouldn't torture her. Ironic - that's just how her parents had died.

The options narrowed down to the basics: break her out, bring her to the lair so she could feed from the tanks, love her hard to stop the burn, and then find the key. The big question was, where? The other major question was, would he risk alerting Father Pat or Damali's squad? If the humans freaked and jumped the gun with a sloppy plan, then all their asses would be in a sling.

He needed more time to think. But time had never been a luxury he'd owned.

Chapter Six

Berkfield stood in the archway that separated his kitchen and dining room. He watched his wife move between the sink and the dishwasher, the counter television blaring a sitcom. He glanced up toward the ceiling, willing away sudden tears. The sound of heavy metal was coming from his son's room. Robert would go deaf by twenty, he mused, then sadness chased away the thought.

Before the scientist had briefly detained him, he knew for sure that his children would outlive him, no matter what statistics proved. He was a cop; he knew he might die young. His family was supposed to be inviolate. This was a perversion of the way things were meant to be. He closed his eyes to fight back the tears and listened for his daughter's voice, already knowing that Kristin was on the telephone with one of her girl friends. It pained him to think of the trauma he was about to visit upon them all.

His attention returned to his wife. She looked so pretty in her wrinkled khaki capri pants, her pink T-shirt, and little white sneakers. Marjorie was a pretty woman, still, at forty-two. Sure they'd had their ups and downs, but he still loved her smile, the way her eyes crinkled at the corners when she smiled... her form was rounder, softer these days, but it was also comforting and matched his own.

As she continued to bend and pivot and rinse dinner dishes, he found himself drawn to her. He watched the setting sun glisten in her short blond hair, and then reached out to cup her cheek.

She stopped, holding a dripping dish midair. "What's wrong, honey?"

He shook his head. "Nothing. I love you."

She set the dish down carefully, her eyes searching his face. "No one died at work, did they? Your new partner..."

He shook his head no and tucked a wisp of hair behind her ear. "No. Everything and everyone at work is fine. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you... how much I love you." He smiled. "Why don't you make me and the kids help you out more?"

Marjorie chuckled, and began working on clearing out the sink beside him. "Because it's easier not to fight with you guys and just get it done myself." She kissed his cheek. "Some battles you learn, over the years, are not worth the energy." She offered him a sly pout. "So, either you're angling for a second Wednesday night this week, or you just bought some more electronic gizmos that this house doesn't need. Which is it?"

He cast his gaze out past the breakfast nook to the sliding glass doors. How did a man protect his family from the night?

"I didn't buy any more stuff, and I'm getting used to rations," he said, trying to tease her.

"Oh, ho, ho... Very funny, Mr. Berkfield. You might have to get used to sleeping on the sofa, if you don't watch it."

Her laughter and the twinkle in her eyes made him know what he had to do. It broke his heart to steal her joy, but he wanted them all to survive. Even if this scientist had been wrong and was just a nutcase, it was better that his family not be around until he figured it out. Yet, the fact that the scientist had seen the same things he'd seen made him slow to judge the man as a lunatic. Deciding to err on the side of caution, Berkfield took his time to explain.

"Marj," he said quietly, in a tone that stilled her mirth, "I need you and the kids to tell people that you're going to visit your sister in Iowa for a while. There's this priest I met, uh... a Father Patrick that I need you to stay with for a bit." He waited until his wife nervously nodded. "Remember after what happened in the alley, I told you he came to me while I was looking for that guy, Rivera? If something happens to me, you and the kids will be safe with him. Do you understand?"

He caught the glass that was in her hand before it fell to the floor.

"There are some men I put away, years ago... I want you and the kids to lay low until it gets sorted out. I don't want you to go with anybody except the priest. I don't even want any of the guys at the office to know where you are, in case there's another bad apple in the department."

He watched tears fill her pretty blue-green eyes; he almost couldn't breathe as she wrapped one arm around her waist and covered her mouth. He stared at her glistening tears, loving how one eye seemed blue and one seemed green. It was as though he needed to recall every facet of her in great detail and brand the memory of it into his mind.

"I knew this would happen one day," she whispered. "You've put so many criminals away..."

She touched his cheek and he drew her into an embrace, burying his face against her neck.

"The children..." Her voice faltered and he hugged her tighter.

"Only trust that priest. Only him," he said, firmly holding her back from him to look into her eyes. There was no way in the world he would entrust the lives of his family to some unknown group of mad scientists that had abducted him and threatened him in his own driveway.

"When my old partner went bad, Father Pat came to me and told me a lot of things were happening around Carlos Rivera that I didn't understand. But he's a man of the cloth, and he said if Rivera's word ever got shaky or if he was compromised, to come to him immediately for safe harbor. He's linked to the Vatican, and they have resources that can keep you safe and comfortable until this all blows over."

"You're going with us, right? You aren't staying here!"

He cradled his wife in his arms and kissed the crown of her head. "No, honey. I have to bring closure to this thing, and I want you and the kids safe until this is finished. I'll be all right. Just go with the priest, tonight. Call a few girlfriends and spread the word that you're visiting relatives, and then make the call. I'll joke around with the guys about hanging out for beers while you and the kids are in Iowa. I want everyone to think everything is fine, got it?"

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