Home > The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(9)

The Bitten (Vampire Huntress Legend #4)(9)
Author: L.A. Banks

"Fuck talking," Jose said, tears standing in his eyes. "Kill this bastard, finish it, right here, right now!"

"Hold up," Rider said, and pulled his gun barrel back, pointing it to the ceiling away from Carlos. "The only thing that is making sense is that he brought her here."

Mike nodded with Dan and Marlene.

"Speak," Shabazz ordered, his jaw pulsing with rage.

"She bit me," Carlos said, his voice low, shame almost burning the words from his mouth.

For a moment, no one spoke. Jose looked away and folded his arms over his chest. Finally, Rider was the first to break the silence with a full, tension-relieving belly laugh.

"Damn, man, is that all? You almost got yourself smoked in here because we thought she'd really turned." Rider glanced around and watched his teammates begin to slowly relax. "Oh, God help us all. Young bucks. Well..."

But Rider's voice trailed off as Damali brought both hands to . the sides of her head and winced.

"Yeah," Carlos said with more authority in his tone. "Like I said. She bit me. Dropped two inches of fang in my jugular and came away with a coupla quarts. You feeling me?" He glanced at each member of the team, vindicated yet sad that their semi-amused expressions had gone ashen.

"You weren't complaining when - "

"D, that's our business. I ain't going there, not here in front of everyone," Carlos warned. "I just want to ask Marlene why. How could something like this happen?" Even the now-drawn weapons couldn't keep him from materializing in the middle of the kitchen floor and pacing. However, he kept his motions slow and steady as he stopped in front of Marlene, his eyes searching her wise ones for answers. "Mar, you gotta believe me. I didn't mean for this to happen to her."

"Y'all young bloods never do," Marlene said flatly, swallowing hard and fighting back tears. "Everybody drop your weapons. Shit. This is a family crisis. I'll rip his f**king heart out myself with my bare hands if he fangs-up in my presence. Right now we need answers."

Nobody moved as Marlene brushed past them and left the room. The fact that Marlene had cursed, like that, and had pushed a master vampire out of her way without a trace of fear was not lost on a soul in the room, especially not Carlos.

"I knew she would take it hard... but..." Damali said in a far-off tone, her eyes following the path Marlene had taken. "But shit happens."

"You okay, D?" Jose said, his voice strident with worry. He went to her side and placed a hand on her shoulder. She touched it and nodded yes, but Jose never drew away from her.

"Look, man, I'm sorry," Carlos muttered, trying to offer Shabazz a truce, even if an allegiance was impossible. But his glance kept traveling back to where Jose stood - way too close to his woman.

"Save it, motherfucker. If Marlene can come up with a cure, then I might forgive you. If not, I will smoke you, if it's the last thing I do."

The expression on Shabazz's face went beyond rage. His gaze was straight ahead, looking past Carlos down the hall in the direction Marlene had gone, totally stoic. Carlos simply nodded. He knew that place where Shabazz was, well past rage and so totally done that there were no words. He'd lived there most of his human existence.

"Once a dealer, always a dealer, right, Rivera? Damn, man, I expected better from you. D is like your family, but you got her all turned out with that 'first hit's on me' vampire bullshit." Big Mike sucked his teeth. "I might never forgive your trifling ass."

Carlos nodded and studied the terra-cotta tile floor. He could dig it. What was there to say? They would never understand.

It felt like it took twenty years for Marlene to come back into the room, and if looks could have killed, they'd all be goners, especially him. She shot each one of them the most lethal glare he'd ever seen, then slammed a huge black leather-bound book in the center of the kitchen table.

"The Temt Tchaas has nothing in here to deal with a situation like this!" Marlene rubbed her palms over her face. "Does Father Patrick know about this yet? Does he?"

"No," Carlos muttered. "I'm going to tell him later tonight."

Damali hung her head. "Ouch. I forgot about the priests."

"Well you two need to take it from the top and explain exactly what happened - so maybe, just maybe, I can jook-up some sort of antidote... I just don't know. How far gone is she?"

The fifty-million-dollar question, and he didn't have an answer. "I don't know," Carlos said honestly, tension winding its way down his spinal column. Suddenly he looked at Jose hard. "If you know like I know, you need to back up off her, man." The two men's eyes locked in a silent standoff, until finally Jose left Damali's side.

"Oh, that's just beautiful," Rider said, slapping his forehead. "The man lays down a turn bite, and as a master, doesn't even know when - "

"That's the point!" Carlos shouted. "I never did! I mean, I never meant to turn her; there was no will behind the action. No intent, man, for real."

"So, you all just talk about me like I'm not here, why don't you?" Damali was on her feet.

"Okay, okay, okay," Marlene said quickly. "Everybody take a deep breath. Let's summon calm so we can get some answers. If I have to conjure, then I need a brainstorm, and information, and plenty of prayers." She cast a hard glare at Damali. "And, yes, you will have to suffer through each one of those prayers, sister. Have a seat. It might be a long night."

Quiet filled the kitchen as Marlene took a deep breath, closed her eyes, then let it out slowly to center herself. She said nothing for what seemed like a long time, and then finally opened her eyes, her gaze going right for Carlos.

"Talk to me," Marlene said in a quiet voice. There was no judgment in her tone this time, just a weariness that he could appreciate. "How many times have you bitten her?"

The question caused him to glance at Damali, who shrugged and looked down at the floor. Total humiliation stripped him in front of her team. He should know things like this - but they just didn't understand what being with her was like. "I don't know," he finally admitted. "A lot."

"Jesus H. Christ!" Rider said, disgusted, kicking over a kitchen chair and walking to stand by Shabazz.

   
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