Home > The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(36)

The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(36)
Author: L.A. Banks

"The scent, is it vampire?"

"No," Jose said on a heavy exhale. "Female, straight up."

"Mar," Rider said. "He found Damali. Think he's got a lock with our girl."

"Yeah, bro," Jose said, slowly. "Roses... blood ... oh, baby."

Marlene stiffened. "Roses... are they outside?"

"No," Jose whispered. "Red everywhere..."

"He's picking up tactical senses, which is beyond his gift range. Mar, pull him out."

"No, Shabazz," she said through clenched teeth. "He saw a color, which means that he's got a visual, something we haven't been able to get."

Shabazz eased back in his chair, casting a concerned glance around the team. Father Lopez stepped forward, bringing the other three Covenant members to the table with him, walking almost in lockstep with them so they wouldn't lose their protective directional position. Father Lopez laid his hand on Jose's shoulder.

"I'll connect with him directly, stay with his spirit to guide him and to be a second source of strength." Father Lopez looked away shyly. "I feel things... and no offense, but I picked it up before Shabazz and J.L. did. I guess I'm a tactical sensor, too."

"Good," Rider said, nodding. "We almost lost our brother once before to some freak accident and I don't want to go there again."

"No he," Big Mike said.

Once Father Lopez was squarely at Jose's back, Marlene began her inquiry again, pushing harder for answers.

"Red," she told Jose, "concentrate on red. Is it blood?"

"No, soft..." he said and sighed. "Satin and roses."

"Why am I not surprised?" Rider asked, blowing his breath out hard.

"Rider, please," Marlene warned. "Jose, baby, open your mind's eye wider. Let Father Lopez's energy help you. Work with it."

"It's all in the air... Neteru," Jose said, taking in a deep breath and shuddering. "Her skin is like butter... and her throat." He licked his lips, and squeezed his shut eyes tighter.

The group went still.

"Where?" Marlene's voice was strained. Her gaze bore into Jose as sweat coursed down the sides of his face.

Father Patrick put his hand on Marlene's shoulders. "Steady, Mar. You'll lose the connection if you panic."

"In the mansion - "

All of a sudden Father Lopez dropped his hands from Jose's shoulders and backed away from the group, hugging his arms about himself. "I cannot do it," he said, shaking his head. "No."

"What did you feel, or see?" Father Patrick asked.

"It wasn't what I saw," Father Lopez said quietly. "It was what I felt." He staggered over to the wall, and leaned against it. The front of his black robe had a darkening stain that spread down his leg.

The team watched horrified as blood splattered the top of his shoe and oozed out onto the floor.

"It's his femoral artery! Break circle! Now!" Rider yelled.

Shabazz and Big Mike leapt forward and caught Father Lopez before he hit the ground. They slowly laid him on the floor. Two Guardians held their hands against the wound, applying pressure to the young cleric's inner thigh. J.L. ripped off his belt, and tossed it to Shabazz. Rider held the cleric's head up from the floor as his Guardian brothers worked to stop the hemorrhage. Marlene kept one hand on Jose's shoulders, Imam Asula kept one hand on the other. Father Patrick and Monk Lin covered their fallen brother with prayers, while the rest of the team stood in the distance, poised to act but not sure what to do.

Snatching the bowie knife from his hip, Rider passed the blade to Shabazz, who pushed up Father Lopez's robe and cut a long slit in the wounded cleric's pants. There was so much blood, they couldn't see the extent of the wound.

"Get some holy water to clean the site," Big Mike yelled to Dan, who immediately dashed away and came back with a plastic jug from the weapon's room containing what Mike had requested.

Shabazz doused the wound. Father Lopez screamed and convulsed. Marlene gasped when she saw two puncture wounds on the young man's inner thigh.

"Oh, shit, he bit her!" Marlene shrieked, breaking the connection. "He's bleeding her out!"

"No he's not," Jose said in a low, sensual tone. "She bit him."

"What!" Father Patrick said, staring at Jose in shock. He looked down at Lopez and slapped his face. "C'mon, son."

But just as quickly, the two puncture wounds sealed and the flow of blood stopped. Slowly, Father Lopez roused, his face ashen before it flushed a deep red, his breaths uneven.

He crossed himself, and struggled to sit up. The other guardians helped him.

"Oh, my God! Oh Father Christ!" he said, his voice fracturing as he pushed hands away from him and made the sign of the cross over his chest again. "She bit me... never in my life - "

"Steady," Father Patrick said, soothing the distraught junior priest. "What happened? Tell us exactly what happened."

Father Lopez shook his head, and shut his eyes tightly.

"Please, son..."

Father Lopez covered his face with his hands and breathed slowly. "I am so ashamed. Don't ask me to tell you with a woman in the room."

Rider threw up his hands. "Y'all gonna make me start smoking again. I'll tell you what the hell happened." He raked his fingers through his hair, hocked and spit in the wastebasket. "Blood f**ks with my sinuses," he muttered, dismissing the group's glare. "She went down on hombre and took out his femoral artery at the moment of truth. Lopez and Jose were locked in on the master, not Damali."

Rider nodded in Jose's direction, causing everyone to look toward Jose. "Shabazz was right, shoulda pulled the man out. No human male can go the distance of a full vamp seduction. Get Jose unlocked before he has a f**king heart attack."

The group quickly moved toward the young guardian. Jose's head hung down, one hand on his forehead. His forearm braced him on the table, his fist clenched, and the muscle in his jaw working. His T-shirt stuck to his back.

"Shit," he said in a voice so deep and so unnatural for Jose that for a moment no one moved. His fist pounded on the table, his breathing escalated, his eyes rolled beneath his lids. When he moaned low in his throat, Marlene grabbed him by the shoulders and hauled off and slapped him. Jose just gave her a lazy, satisfied laugh.

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