Home > The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(31)

The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(31)
Author: L.A. Banks

His line-knowledge was enough to tell him what they'd done to her. But he'd gambled that they'd never go that far. This was the old way, followed up with a medieval, Vatican-style cleansing. All he could do was send healing thoughts to her and hope. If he'd known they were going to go the Full Monte and not just dust her quick... or even just accept her back with a few modern tests... But, then, hindsight was always twenty-twenty.

The pain was so intense that she slipped in and out of consciousness, feeling hot, then cold, now warm again. A brightness just beyond her lids made her try to cover her eyes to block it at first, but then the warm sensation against the back of her hand made her reach for it. An eerie peace covered her, and she felt like she was floating away. She reached harder toward the source of comfort, anything to stop the pain.

She tasted tears and could feel them slide from beneath her shut lids, down the sides of her face. Light, blessed light, her mind seized upon it, remembering, holding the image of the light in the long tunnel... yearning for it, seeing bright forms in it that she couldn't quite make out - but that she knew meant her no harm - were calling to her, beckoning, reaching for her to touch her hands and pull her... then she saw a pair of deep-set, concerned eyes, and a strong hand extended toward her. She grasped it, heaved, and sucked in a shuddering breath, then opened her eyes to Shabazz.

"Come back to us, baby," Shabazz whispered. "Please, darlin', just come back."

The images around her were blurry. The point of the Isis blade was centered over her chest, held by an old man in a blue robe. The glint of silver made her squint.

"Wait, Father Pat," Marlene said loudly. "Look at her skin! The wounds are healing."

The blue image moved away with the silver. Faces slowly came into focus. The burns on her body began to abate, and a shiver ran through her, then became a sudden seizure. A white blanket immediately covered her, and through her eyelids she could almost see shadows of Marlene's frantic motions passing over her.

"She's going into shock," Marlene yelled. "Bring her out, turn off the lights. Circle of three! Healing touch. Bring her out!"

He sat on the front balcony railing of the mansion for a long time, his head back, his eyes closed, his thoughts centralized... stroking her hair with his mind, his fingers gently caressing every blistered, scarred surface on her battered body. His will for her to live transferring through the night air; his hope an airborne message, her torture - his torture.

"I would give my life... let the pain come to me," he whispered to the nothingness. "Bring her out," he murmured. "Just bring her out." They were supposed to be professionals at this; he'd trusted them, and had banked on their knowledge. But something was going very wrong.

Patience began sliding down a very slippery slope within his mind. Damali was still screaming. This was her trial, and she had to ride it out - take it like a woman, that had been her choice. But they were botching the job, and she had no concept of what level of torture a bite purge could inflict. Panic had been his enemy, now it was his best friend. They were botching the f**king job... hell no. Amateurs!

His hand reached toward her, flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone, love of his life, spirit inside his spirit. Angry, thunderous storm clouds split the blackening sky and gathered above his head as his thoughts concentrated. Every power that he'd come into, every lifetime that had been held within the dark throne, ran down his arm, burned his fingertips black as the energy exited his body, lit the night, and resounded with a sonic boom.

A shock wave rocked the compound. All lights went out and not even the generators booted up.

"Heads up, people," Shabazz said fast. "The brother obviously ain't having this shit."

"Stay with her," Marlene said, as Damali convulsed and stopped breathing. "Keep the circle unbroken around her."

"Are you people f**king nuts?" a voice said, ricocheting off the walls in a low, even baritone. "You should have brought her out slower!"

On the last part of his statement, the back bedroom wall blew out as Carlos's form materialized. Mike leveled, aimed, and fired his cannon, discharging a hallowed-earth grenade that knocked his shoulder back.

The team watched as the shell spiraled, slowed, and stopped, hovering inches from the target. Jose stepped forward, but hesitated, weapon drawn.

"Do not make me take a body up in this joint," Carlos warned. "I didn't come here for that. I came for my woman."

As other weapons discharged, he stepped aside and let the cannon shell whiz by him to explode in a dirt hill beyond the ridge梥ending every bullet behind it like heat-seeking missiles with a wave of his hand.

"I told you I was not in the frame of mind!" Carlos snarled between his teeth and walked calmly toward the bed.

Ignoring the stricken faces around him, Carlos stooped and picked Damali's limp form up in his arms, the white blanket billowing in the wind.

"You do not think we're just going to stand here and let you walk out of here with our baby girl" Shabazz said, catching the Isis from Father Patrick's toss.

Jose was holding his empty gun with two hands. "Word. You ain't taking D nowhere, man!"

Rider was on his flank, crossbow raised. "Not." Carlos reached out his hand, breaking Shabazz's hold on the Isis, drawing it toward him. The sword spiraled and lodged into a cinder block behind Carlos. "I'll bring her back when she's better," he said, retracting his fangs.

He turned and stepped over the wall line with Damali in his arms. He grabbed her sword from the wall, resealed the compound, rebooted the lights, and was gone.

When he landed on the mansion porch, his Hell-dogs immediately lunged at him. He drove the Isis blade into the dirt, slowing their now-stalking advance. The garlic and incense and prayers Damali trailed had obviously confused their senses, bristled the hair on their backs, and formed acid foam at their jaws.

"No!" he ordered, making them completely stop, sniff around confused, and retch up half digested body parts. "Not this scent, either," he said, his voice dropping to a threatening low that cowed their aggression. "Never."

"Stay. Guard. Watch," he said, turning his back on them and taking Damali into the house.

Chapter Eight

Numb,, Berkfield punched the code into the garage-door opener that he'd been given by the scientist. He waited as the door slowly opened and stood, transfixed, in the same spot where he'd been when Carlos disappeared. Every belief he'd once held had been shattered. In a place beyond fear, he stood watching the horizon - traumatized.

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