Home > Brimstone Bound (Firebrand #1)(17)

Brimstone Bound (Firebrand #1)(17)
Author: Helen Harper

My heart was like a dead weight in my chest and my soul felt even more leaden. Passing a hand over my eyes, I moved back into the room before realising where I was. It was an honest-to-goodness weapons room. I forgot all about Jeremy and gazed round in open-mouthed astonishment. The last thing I’d been expecting was something on this scale.

All four walls were covered with hanging weaponry. On one side there were crossbows, on another daggers. To my right, there was a mind-boggling collection of swords; in front of me were numerous throwing implements, from small axes to gleaming shuriken. Bloody shuriken. I stared. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before.

I walked over to the swords and touched the blade of an elaborately curved scimitar. It was coated in dust, but I still nicked myself on its lethal edge. I pulled away, sucking at the bead of blood. I wondered if the likes of Lucinda Barnes had any knowledge of this room. The idea that all this weaponry was simply lying around for the taking was barely credible.

Something itched at the back of my mind and I looked at the wall of daggers. Huh. I stepped closer. Every spot was filled. If I’d needed further confirmation that Tony hadn’t slit my throat, this full complement of weaponry provided it. The dust proved that none of these blades had been touched in years. I didn’t need a forensic team to tell me that none of them had been used in my murder.

‘Tony,’ I whispered.

The chilling reminder of why I was there galvanised me. Shaking off my guilt, I marched to the crossbows. I didn’t like the thought of waving a dagger or a sword around, especially given my recent up-close-and-personal experience with sharp blades, but I could get behind a crossbow. Surely it would be like a gun, point and shoot? Right?

I scanned the various shapes and sizes and picked one that was a useful matte black colour and looked reasonably simple to use. I ignored the bows that had scopes; I wasn’t planning to shoot anyone from a distance. This was for self-defence and close calls only.

The crossbow was far heavier than I’d expected as I hefted it from one hand to the other. I wouldn’t be able to hold it upright for more than a few seconds. I grimaced and replaced it, then chose another one which proved to be considerably lighter.

I closed one eye and practised aiming at a random spot on the wall before examining the bow’s spring mechanism. It didn’t look complicated. Spotting a chest in the far corner, I opened it. It contained silver-tipped bolts, designed to take out werewolves, vampires and anything in between. I licked my lips nervously and picked one up.

Loading the crossbow was difficult. I fiddled for ages before realising that there was a foot stirrup. I slid in the bolt and tugged on the strings until they latched it into place, raised the crossbow up, aimed for the wooden door and fired.

Nothing happened. There wasn’t even a faint jolt. I frowned and looked over the crossbow again until I finally spotted the safety button. Ah-ha. Using my thumb, I flicked it. A moment later, I tried shooting again.

I missed the door by a good metre and the bolt thudded into the wall, embedding itself in the plaster between two daggers. I hissed. Hitting a target would take far more time and practice. Then again, I didn’t actually want to kill anyone; the purpose of taking the crossbow was to ensure that no one killed me. It was a deterrent. By carrying it, at least I’d look like I meant business even if nothing was further from the truth.

I reloaded, this time double checking that the safety was on rather than off. I could do without shooting myself in the foot. Then, because this was all about appearances, I grabbed a black-lined quiver and filled it with more bolts before looping it over my shoulder. Glancing at my own dark reflection in the window, I smiled grimly. I was ready.

Chapter Twelve

Max’s replacement didn’t look at me when I walked outside. I ignored the bellman rather than asking him what Jeremy had said and risking giving myself away to someone who seemed to hate my guts.

I marched in the direction of St James’s Road and the DeVane Hotel. I’d try and find Tallulah before breaching the expensive hotel. If the car was anywhere in the vicinity, she wouldn’t be hard to spot. I held the crossbow loosely at my side, doing my best to appear casual about it, because nothing proclaims confidence more than relaxed insouciance.

It still wasn’t late and there were quite a few people out on the streets. I passed three young men who I was certain were werewolves. They goggled at me, stared at the crossbow in my hand then darted off, no doubt to tattle to their wolfy superiors. Let them. I meant business and I didn’t care who knew it. The more supes who were wary of me, the better.

I nodded at the tourists who stopped to check me out, and frowned in warning at the woman who was approaching to ask for a selfie. She pulled back and I kept walking, maintaining a good pace but not hurrying. I didn’t want to appear panicked to anyone watching me.

I made a point of avoiding St Erbin’s Church. Regardless of my weapon and my bravado, I had limits – and the dark streets were making me jumpy, no matter how much I acted to the contrary.

I skirted round St James’s Park, taking care to stay out of the deepest shadows. The traffic was reasonably light but there were still plenty of cars passing. More than one driver beeped their horn at me, though I wasn’t sure why. Hello, I can see you and I’ve noted that you’re carrying a lethal weapon in your hand? Or something to that effect.

I didn’t react, but I was glad to be noticed. Their attention made it less likely that I’d be grabbed from the bushes on my right. I did cut across into a side street when I spotted two police officers out on patrol, though; The last thing I wanted was to explain myself to them, even if we were on the same side.

St James’s Road was wide and stretched for about a mile. I turned and walked northwards towards the Thames river, which lay not far beyond. I kept my eyes peeled for any sign of Tallulah. There wasn’t much on-street parking here, but that wouldn’t have stopped Tony.

I walked past a sports field and a church and passed beneath the boughs of several large trees before emerging at a crossroads. The road continued; I was just about to cross over when I noted a Tesco Express and a leather-clad woman standing outside it. She had long black hair tied into a plait. From her tightly bound corset to her knee-high stiletto boots, her clothes screamed ‘look at me’. But it wasn’t her showy attire that gave me pause, it was her red-lipsticked smile and the glimpse of pearly-white fangs.

I walked towards her. When she saw me coming, she licked her lips in predatory anticipation. Then her eyes dropped to my crossbow and her expression changed.

‘Good evening,’ I called as I approached.

‘Why are you carrying that thing?’ she asked, dispensing with any niceties and getting straight to the point. She spoke with a rough London accent that was at odds with her immaculate appearance. ‘Only Supe Squad are allowed shit like that.’ She paused. ‘Unless you’re looking for trouble.’

Her last comment was more for herself than me. She was trying to convince herself that she wasn’t scared. Two days earlier, I wouldn’t have been able to recognise that.

‘Well,’ I answered with a smile, ‘as it turns out I am with Supe Squad.’

‘No, you ain’t.’

I raised an eyebrow. ‘So you know DC Brown?’

‘’Course I know him. Everyone knows him.’

I kept my eyes on her face and adjusted my grip on the crossbow so she didn’t forget I was holding it – and that it was loaded. Go me. I could be intimidating, after all.

‘When was the last time you saw him?’ I asked.

She didn’t answer. Instead, she curled her lips into a sneer. ‘He don’t carry that shit with him. Not ever.’

I didn’t flinch. ‘That’s his choice.’

The vamp looked me up and down, her confidence growing until a thought occurred to her and she took a step back. ‘Wait,’ she said. ‘Are you D’Artagnan?’

I froze. How in hell had she heard that name? ‘How do you know that?’ I demanded.

She paled. ‘I’m sorry,’ she whispered. She lifted her chin. ‘You were asking about Brown. The last time I saw him was Thursday.’

Thursday was a lifetime ago, long before the thought of Supe Squad had occurred to me, but I wasn’t about to ignore her sudden willingness to answer my questions. ‘You’re sure?’

She nodded. ‘He was on Brewer Street. He hangs out there quite a lot.’

My eyes narrowed. ‘Anywhere in particular?’

‘Usually the Pulteney.’

‘That’s a pub?’

‘Yeah.’ The vamp sucked her bottom lip; it made her fangs protrude more than normal. It wasn’t an alluring look. ‘I helped you, right? I answered your questions?’

‘I have one more. How did you know I was called D’Artagnan? Where did you hear that name?’ If she hadn’t seen Tony since Thursday, it certainly hadn’t been from him.

Her eyes flicked nervously from side to side. ‘Everyone knows.’

‘Everyone?’

The vamp stared at me, then her muscles tensed and she sprang away. I blinked. She moved so fast that I didn’t even see where she’d gone. I glowered at the spot where she’d been standing. I had a strong suspicion I knew who’d told everyone my nickname. I also had a strong suspicion that he’d appear out of nowhere again very soon.

***

With no sign of Tallulah on St James’s Street – and not a flicker of a shadow from any other vampires – I wheeled round and headed for the DeVane. It was so close that Tony could conceivably have driven there without getting picked up again by ANPR. If he’d parked there and was now sitting at the bar sipping a champagne cocktail, I’d kill him myself. My fingers tightened around the crossbow. Oh God. I hoped against hope that was exactly what he was doing.

There was something about the façade of the hotel that always made me think of Paris. Not that I’d ever been to Paris, but I’d seen enough of the French capital on television to know that the glitzy DeVane was designed with that intention. I’d never set foot inside it – why would I have? It was the sort of place that’s very existence made someone on my salary feel inadequate.

   
Hot Series
» Vampire Academy Series read online
» Crossfire Series read online
» Fifty Shades trilogy read online
» Kate Daniels Series read online
» Black Dagger Brotherhood Series read online
» Cassandra Palmer Series read online
» Rosemary Beach Series read online
» Sea Breeze Series read online
» Too Far Series read online
» Shatter Me Series read online
» Thoughtless Series read online
» Marriage to a Billionaire Series read online
Most Popular
» Brimstone Bound (Firebrand #1)
» Fallen Academy: Year Three (Fallen Academy
» Fallen Academy: Year Two (Fallen Academy #2
» Fallen Academy: Year One (Fallen Academy #1
» Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8)
» Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7)
» Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson #2)
» Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)
» Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega #4)
» Fair Game (Alpha & Omega #3)
» Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega #2)
» Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega #1)