Home > The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(32)

The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(32)
Author: L.A. Banks

He didn't move as a black van without windows pulled into his driveway. He just stared at it. But when six burly guys climbed out of it bearing a strange crest on their black fatigues, the hair stood up on his arms.

"Where's the old guy with the white hair?"

Berkfield began to back up as he spoke. The scream that was bubbling within his chest never reached his throat as two icy hands held the sides of his head from behind. He couldn't speak, couldn't move. Paralysis swept through his body.

"Dr. Zeitloff was a problem," a strangely accented voice murmured close to his ear. "He's dead. Your protector is battling a Guardian team and coping with domestic problems with his wife. And you, my friend, are soon going to become my living key."

"Did you see that shit?" Rider said quietly, sitting down slowly on the edge of the bed.

"He walked through every prayer line we'd laid down," Father Patrick whispered, looking at the team members.

"He more like blew through them," Shabazz muttered. "Even for a council master... shit."

"How can a vampire, regardless of level, be immune to prayers, garlic, holy water..." Marlene's question trailed off as her fingers touched the repaired wall.

"He's hybridizing," Father Patrick said, running his fingers through his shock of white hair. "She's in him, as much as he's in her," the elder cleric said in a far-off tone. "They've soul-joined... that's why he could speak the name of the Almighty, break the new line - but he didn't attack."

"What have we got here, Father?" Big Mike asked as he lowered his weapon. "He's still all vamp and if the traditional methods don't work..."

For a moment no one spoke as the impact of what they were now facing settled into their awareness.

"We need the team of seven around the table so I can try to locate them." Marlene looked at Father Patrick. "Then you and I can link thoughts, and the three remaining members of the Covenant can find the lair."

"Yeah, Mar, but that ritual needs a twelve-man team." Shabazz looked at the clerics. "Carlos had always been your fifth man over with the Covenant, a dark Guardian - but a Guardian nonetheless. It's a risk that his energy might get pulled into the mix."

"We don't have a choice," Marlene said quietly, despair making her voice barely audible.

"We just saw how strong he's gotten, Marlene," Rider said, taking sides with Shabazz, and glancing around the team for agreement. "We can search for her by day. Forget the mind lock to her. If she's still alive, Carlos is all inside her head."

"I'll take the weight," Jose said fast. "I'll go in with Marlene, if you all won't." His intense gaze swept the team. "She went to Hell for me to break Dee Dee's bond, that's the least I can do."

Father Patrick nodded. "Marlene's right. Time is of the essence, and the risk is of no consequence." He gave Jose a nod of respect. "We'll still have to do a daylight recovery... but we need not waste another moment in divining her location tonight. They'll be on the move from this point forward as a mated vampire pair."

Every place her skin touched his, sizzled. Carlos pulled in a deep breath and covered Damali's mouth and nose with his lips, and pushed the breath of life into her lungs.

When she didn't respond, he willed himself not to panic. He dropped to his knees on the foyer floor, laying her flat, as he massaged her heart, continued to breathe for her, with her, into her, spitting out the nasty taste of whatever they'd made her swallow in the process, until he was left with no option but to pound on her chest.

Her body convulsed, shivered, and her eyes opened, glassy and dead. The sight of it nearly stole his breath, and he scooped her up, taking the stairs two at a time, too rattled to even dematerialize. Dashing down the hall, he willed on the shower, thrust her into the cold spray and began gently washing the horrible oils and residues off her pretty brown skin.

Fury roiled within him. They should have brought her out of the turn slowly. But not this - a total flat-line.

"C'mon, baby. Come back to me. Fight it. I'll take the pain梔on't run from it!"

He lathered her hair and skin and hands, gradually warming the water by will, hoping that would help her to slowly come around, stepping into the shower with her to keep her lifeless body pressed to his, sending her his life force, breathing into her, cleaning her, begging her with his mind to come back.

A sob of total defeat claimed him as he rocked her and just held her head against his shoulder, petting her drenched locks, finally abandoning his attempts to revive her.

How many lifetimes would he have to live through to purge this pain? "Oh, God... I'm so sorry... for everything," he whispered, his head back, eyes closed against the splash of the spray in his face. "Don't do this. Don't take her away from me like this."

The water beating against the tiles droned out his quiet sobs. He stood there, just rocking her, nuzzling her cold body, trying to build enough acceptance to will his legs to move her out of the shower. There was no way to make this right, no game to play, no option to explore. There was only one ultimate power that held sway now. He believed now. The dark side didn't have nothin' on this.

Carlos drew a ragged breath and let it out slowly. He'd take her back home so they could give her a proper burial on hallowed ground... Then he'd take the Isis, allow them to plant it hard in the center of his chest - with honor. That was the only way to go out. His baby was right. Always had been.

A sudden gasp passed through her body, into his chest, and into his splayed palms upon her back. It forced him to jerk his head down, to roughly take her jaw into his hand. He shook her hard, grabbed the hair at her skull when a flicker of life stirred within her. He frantically tilted her head, and covered her mouth again, forcing another breath into her, then slapped her face hard.

She opened her eyes, stunned, disoriented, weakened, her irises glittering gold then normalizing to deep brown. He breathed into her again, until she gasped on her own, and began coughing and sputtering, while she clung to him. As he held her head hard against his shoulder, he felt her jaw fill, and instinctively knew that she needed to feed.

He tilted her head back, lifting her mouth to his throat. At first, her strike was weak, clumsy, but he held her to him, letting her renew herself, siphon slowly. Then the siphon changed, becoming more aggressive as she filled herself, fought to live, battled to survive at any cost.

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