Home > Once Bitten (Shadow Guild: The Rebel #1)(12)

Once Bitten (Shadow Guild: The Rebel #1)(12)
Author: Linsey Hall

They passed by, and I moved faster.

Finally, I found the nightclub part of the tower. It was early in the day and still fairly empty, and no one paid attention to me as I strode through. In the small entry chamber between the bar and the outside, the hostess stood at her podium. I stepped into the room, and she blinked at me, clearly confused.

“Thanks, it was great.” I nodded at her and strode quickly to the door.

“But the Devil—”

I didn’t hear the rest of her words because I was sprinting outside. The two guards looked at me, their sharp eyes seeing too keenly.

Did they know I was on the run?

The one on the left raised his wrist to his lips, and I remembered him speaking into a device there.

He was calling the Devil.

The other reached for my arm, and I flinched away.

He was too fast. His hand closed around my bicep.

“Hey!” I tried to jerk away, but he was too strong.

Movement flashed in front of me, everything happening so quickly that I almost couldn’t process it. A woman with short blonde hair appeared, and then came a flash of light and faint blue dust. It enveloped me, nearly blinding me. The guards froze solid, totally unmoving.

“Come on!” Mac’s voice sounded through the dust.

I blinked, trying to pull away from the guard. His grip was like iron, and it was nearly impossible to break.

Mac appeared through the mist. “You’re killing me. Come on.”

I gripped the frozen guard’s hand tight and yanked at the fingers, finally breaking free.

“This way.” Mac turned and disappeared through the blue mist.

I followed her, coughing as we ran out into the open square. The mist dissipated, and I sucked in a deep breath. “Thanks, Mac.”

“No problem.” She grinned at me.

“Was that the same freezing potion I used?”

“Yeah. Eve had an identical one, and since you’d already made yourself immune…”

“It worked.” I rubbed my forehead, heart still pounding as we exited the square and entered a narrow street. “Seriously. You saved my bacon. Thank you.”

“Anytime.” She looked over her shoulder, expression wary. “No one is coming yet.”

I looked back, still able to see the Devil’s tower across the square. It looked silent and empty, the two guards out front standing eerily still. “When will they wake up?”

“Three or four hours, maybe,” Mac said. “Give or take.”

“Same for the Devil?”

“Maybe less for him. Eve said that stronger supernaturals can break free more quickly.”

“Shit.”

“Do you need to get out of town?”

“I don’t know.” Memories flashed in my mind. “I think he wanted to…bite me.”

“Bite you?”

“He’s a vampire, right? Don’t sound so surprised.”

“Yeah, but I’ve never heard of him biting anyone. He’s pretty famous around town for not sampling the wares at his club. Or any of the blood bars, for that matter.”

I cringed. “Blood bars?”

“Not as creepy as you’d imagine. Mostly.”

“Do vampires, um…drink you to death?”

“They can. Definitely. But they don’t always.”

“So they aren’t compelled to?”

“When they’re recently turned, they might be. But not older ones.”

“Not the Devil, then.”

“No. But I’d still be wary of him.”

“Hell, yeah.”

She stopped in front of her green door. The savory scent of roasted meat wafted toward me, and I realized that Mac’s flat was right over a kebab place. How had I not noticed that?

“He didn’t try to control your mind?” she asked.

“I don’t think so. I thought my head might have felt a bit weird, but I didn’t feel like I was doing anything I didn’t want to do.”

“Hmm. You’d have felt it.”

“Maybe it doesn’t work on me.”

“Then that would make you very special, indeed.”

Special to the Devil? I wasn’t sure I liked my odds of coming out of that alive.

“Come on up,” Mac said. “We need to get off the street.”

“He could get us out here?”

“If he really wanted to.”

“Lead the way.” Next time I saw him—if there was a next time—I needed to be in complete control.

Honestly, I hoped he wasn’t the killer so I wouldn’t have to see him again.

Mac unlocked the door and hurried up to her flat. I followed, stepping into the welcoming interior behind her. It was as small and cluttered as we’d left it, but after my brush with death at the Devil’s place, it looked extra good to me.

Mac spun around. “Okay. It’s basically dinnertime, and I’m starving. We need food for this.” She went to the small window that looked out over the street and pushed it up. A cool breeze rushed in, and she glanced over her shoulder at me. “What do you like for a kebab takeaway?”

“Anything, really.”

“Doner kebab, then?”

My stomach grumbled at the mention of the roasted meat. “That’ll do.”

“Coming right up.” She grabbed a little notepad off the table next to the window and scrawled some words onto it. Then she tore it off and picked up a bucket that sat beneath the window. A rope had been tied around the bucket’s handle. She tossed the paper in the bucket, then lowered it out the window. After a few seconds, she wrapped the other end of the rope around a metal gizmo that was attached to the wall. A cleat, I thought it was called, a fixture normally found on docks.

She turned back to me, a proud grin on her face. “Like my system?”

I looked between her and the rope that extended out the window, imagining the bucket swinging over the street. “Genius.”

Her grin widened. “I like to think so. They should notice it soon.” She strode to the small door that led to the kitchen. “Want some wine?”

“Yes.” The word burst from me, sounding a little too desperate.

Mac laughed. “Had a long day?”

“Let’s just say I wanted more than tea when I met you earlier at your pub.” I followed her into the little kitchen and accepted the glass of wine she handed me.

“What did you find out?” She handed me a glass of white wine, and I took it gratefully.

“He wants me to check the body for any missing organs.” I explained the whole encounter, watching as her frown deepened. “I think maybe he didn’t do it.”

“Maybe he didn’t. But that’s weird, though—the missing organs. Does he think a necromancer is involved?”

I nearly choked on my wine. “Necromancer? Like, raising the dead?”

“And other death magic, yeah.”

“Well, shit.” Just the idea made my stomach turn. Had Beatrix been killed by a necromancer? My eyes pricked with sudden tears.

“What wrong?” Mac asked.

“Um…” Should I tell her? I drew in a deep, uncertain breath. But I wanted to talk about Beatrix. “My best friend—only friend, really—was killed last year.”

“Oh, no.” Mac gripped my arm.

“I found her in an alley with her head bashed in. I was too late to save her, and—” I choked on a sob.

Mac pulled me into a tight hug, and something thawed inside me. I hugged her back, composing myself, then pulled away. “Anyway, I was too late. But she had a tiny spiral burn mark under her throat . . . the same mark that was on the dead guy I found.”

“A necromancer’s mark.”

My gaze flashed up to her. “What?”

“Magic often leaves a mark. If she was killed in the name of necromancy, a mark would have been left on her skin.”

“Oh, my God. Does that mean Beatrix is a . . . a . . .”

I faltered, unable to say it.

“A zombie?” Mac shook her head. “Not if you saw her body. That would be highly unusual. Something else about her death was used for the necromancer’s magic.”

“I did see it.” My head spun. “So necromancers don’t just bring back the dead?”

“No. They also use death in their magic.”

I nodded, trying to make peace with it. “The Devil might also think it’s a necromancer, then.”

“He either saw the mark on the body, or he made one to throw you off the scent.”

The necromancer might be a false lead? That meant the Devil might still be responsible. I struggled to believe it, but I had to consider everything. I remembered the feeling of him stalking me. He was a killer, there was no doubt. Whether he’d killed the guy in the alley was up for debate.

A shout sounded from the distance, and I realized it was coming through the living room.

Mac’s face brightened. “That will be dinner!”

She hurried into the living room and leaned out the window “Thanks, Berat!”

When she hauled on the rope, the bucket appeared, and she grabbed it and brought it inside. Reaching in, she retrieved a stack of takeaway containers, all glass.

I eyed them, impressed and grateful for the distraction. “Fancy.”

“Reusable.” She grinned. “Better for the environment.”

“You’ve got a good system worked out.”

“It’s the reason I’d never leave here. I don’t even have to ring them to order my takeaway.”

We settled down at the little table in the corner and dug in. The kebab was the best I’d ever had, and I swallowed with delight before talking. “Is there magic in this?”

“Probably.” She shrugged. “It’s not exactly legal—not here in Guild City, at least. But I think they’ve cut a deal with the Devil.”

“The same Devil I just spoke to?”

   
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