Home > The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(29)

The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(29)
Author: L.A. Banks

The fact that Carlos knew where his family was headed made Berkfield bold. "I will blow you away if you come near my family. We clear?"

Carlos nodded. "I want them safe, too. So you can dispense with the drama. I wouldn't have gone through all the trouble to put all of you under my protective seal if I wanted you dead. Use your brain. Think."

Berkfield lowered his weapon. Carlos mentioned a protective seal, the same thing the scientist had said. "I need some answers."

Carlos nodded. "We both do." He walked over to the workbench and leaned against it, folding his arms. "You're a good man, Berkfield. That's why I'm here."

Berkfield just stared at Carlos for a moment. "I've been losing my mind, seeing crazy things, thinking..."

"You haven't lost your mind," Carlos said in a quiet voice. "But the whole thing is insane."

"I want this seal off of me! Whatever this shit is you did - some black magic bullshit, I don't know, but I - "

"In these unstable times, you do not want my mark off of you," Carlos said very slowly. "I gave you all the drug dealers, kingpins, led you to drug busts that would have taken years, and - "

"But I did not agree to sell my soul for it, and didn't agree to a deal with the Devil."

"Correct," Carlos said, beginning to lose patience. "Which is the only reason you're still standing here."

Silence had created a stalemate, and after a moment, Carlos let out his breath hard, pushing away from the workbench.

"Listen, Berkfield. I gave you a lot of information when you needed it, now I need some help."

When Berkfield didn't respond, Carlos pressed on. "Something very valuable was stolen from my territory by a human, but if it falls into the wrong hands, it could be disastrous. My empire is very - "

"Empire?" Berkfield said, cutting him off. Then he chuckled and rubbed his moist palm over his balding scalp. "I've lost my damned mind. I'm worried about vampires and werewolves and madness, and you're still just a drug lord." He shook his head and put the safety on his weapon.

Carlos studied the man before him. Time was of the essence and Damali's purging process was shattering his nerves. To make Berkfield understand, he went for shock value.

"Let me explain this to you slowly and carefully, and I'm going to stand here and not make a sudden move toward you so that your dumb ass doesn't have a heart attack," Carlos said in a smooth tone. He allowed his fangs to lower inch by inch as his body mass doubled, annoyance flickering his pupils gold and red. "I am of the highest level of my kind. There's an entire empire of us out there. But you got lucky. I've marked you. Not for food, not for bait, not to be a human slave, but have given you a protection voucher." Sending a dark current toward Berkfield, he slammed the garage door closed behind them and sealed the barrel of his gun.

He could feel Berkfield's heart beating erratically, a scream lodging in the man's throat. His blood pressure was spiking, his jaw had gone slack, and his bladder was about to empty. Carlos waved his hand to assist the human. "Chill, man," Carlos said as calmly as he could while normalizing. "I'm not here to hurt you - never will. All right?"

Berkfield clutched his chest and staggered toward the wall to slump against it. "What do you want?"

"Information," Carlos said coolly.

"About what?"

Carlos considered where to begin and sighed. "I didn't start off like this, hombre. I got jacked in the woods where you found my shit. I had the same reaction you're having now. Thought I'd have a f**king heart attack. But, bottom line is, I am what I am. Only good thing about it is that I can serve a little justice from this side, now. So, in that regard, we're compadres."

Berkfield's hand went to his cross and he fingered it nervously as he spoke. "You've been helping me all along? From behind the scenes? But you're dead?"

"Fucked up, ain't it?" Carlos shook his head.

"And Damali Richards..."

"She's all red-blooded human, but, yeah, she's my woman." Carlos smiled. "So, I can't be that bad."

"My family - "

"Is in the safest place on the planet," Carlos said, all amusement gone from his tone once again. "With the clerics on hallowed ground. Your gut hunch was right about sending them there."

"You said you needed information," Berkfield rasped, his voice cracking.

"Yeah. Seems some scientists have been dicking around with Mother Nature, magnetic fields - the kinda shit that keeps my universe somewhat separated from yours. They're doing experiments, trying to find the ultimate weapon, and may have opened up Pandora's box." Carlos began pacing. "Some places I can't go. Only a human can get inside to do the detective work, which is your specialty." He looked at Berkfield hard. "So this is where you come in. One of the master vampires, guys with power almost as serious as mine, may have come stateside and hijacked a key to one of the biblical seals. If he's able to open that seal, then everything you learned in Catholic school will go down. All Hell will literally break loose, hombre. You feel me?"

"I don't understand. What can I do? I'm just a - "

"You're just a man with knowledge beyond the average man. You've got skills for finding shit, and I need you on the case to bring me that key before some crazy shit jumps off."

Berkfield shook his head. "You think I'm a fool? If I did know where this so-called biblical key was, why would I give it to you? A demon? I did learn something about - "

"You will give it to me because your alternatives are very limited. The master who stole it isn't going to stand in your garage, have a nice chat, and negotiate with you." Carlos sent a searing strip of flame across the garage to make his point. "He will rip your f**king human heart out. He will turn your wife and children into the undead. He will do things to you that will make you know that Hell exists. So, my goal is to try to spare you that experience." Carlos took in a deep breath to steady himself and put out the flames. "Because you are under my seal, I know your every move. A scientist came to you, let's start there. What do scientists want with it?"

Confusion riddled Berkfield as he tried to process all that he'd witnessed and been told. "I was in the garage, had just come in, and they doped me up, I went out, and when I woke up I was in a military van."

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