Chains of darkness, p.16
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       Chains of Darkness, p.16

         Part #2 of Men in Chains series by Caris Roane
 
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  Lucian drew his own blade from his battle leathers. He circled, watching Salazar’s dark eyes as he turned his blade in his hand. Salazar lunged. Lucian shifted away from the strike, but Salazar’s momentum brought him close. Lucian struck down hard on Salazar’s arm. He heard the snap of bone. Salazar shouted in pain then began to shift to altered flight.

  But Lucian caught him midair, preventing his escape, and with his Ancestral power kicking into high gear he threw Salazar against the red-crystal wall to the right of the stage. Dislodged crystals flew everywhere.

  The entire theater was alive with battling vampires, but Lucian needed to make sure that he had control of both men. He glanced to his left and saw that Arsen was out cold; one of Rumy’s men stood guard over him, nodding to Lucian.

  Turning, Lucian saw that Salazar was rising up quickly. Lucian body-slammed him back into the wall. Salazar’s head connected and a cracking sound ensued. He slid the rest of the way to the floor and fell inert.

  Lucian reached down and felt for his pulse. Good. The bastard still lived.

  At the same moment he sensed an attack coming from behind him. He went with his instinct and dove out of the way, which sent a bodyguard’s dagger hard into the stone wall of the cave.

  Lucian, on the floor, flung his dagger before the vampire had even turned in his direction. He halted mid-flight, dropping to the tile floor, both hands on the hilt of the blade. Lucian took out his thinnest chain, got behind the man, and decapitated him. Blood spurted everywhere.

  Killing like this was damn messy work.

  He turned and saw that Rumy’s men fought hard. Time to get to work. He whisked one of his long battle chains from his leathers and started the weapon spinning. Using levitated flight, he maneuvered swiftly, up and down then sideways.

  One of Salazar’s men had just killed one of Rumy’s.

  Lucian gave the whirring chain a jerk of his arm, a flick of his wrist, and the chain wrapped around the vampire’s throat. He tugged swiftly, pulling the man backward. The man struggled trying to get the chain from around his throat.

  Lucian drew close and drove his blade deep. He left the chains where they were, felt movement behind him, turned and met a ramped-up vampire. He blocked the arm that held one blade, then blocked a second blade in his opponent’s other hand.

  Lucian threw himself in a quick slide against the vampire’s feet, knocking him off-balance and onto the floor. He slammed an elbow into one arm and grabbed the blade; before the man, could bring his other arm close, Lucian slashed deep across his wrist. The vampire screamed.

  Lucian continued on in this way, helping Rumy’s men to finally gain control of the remaining security force. Within fifteen minutes, the theater fell silent.

  Turning around toward the stage, he saw that Rumy had brought in a second team and that both Salazar and Arsen were bound in preternaturally charged chains. Those two weren’t going anywhere.

  Lucian headed toward the dominant Salazar.

  Leaning against the red-crystal-encrusted wall, Salazar said, “I’d heard you’d somehow escaped Daniel’s grasp. But I never imagined you’d fight so dirty given what a Boy Scout you are.”

  Lucian sneered. “You don’t know me at all, Salazar. I’ve been after you for years and now I have you. Your business is done.”

  Salazar frowned and his lips formed a tight line, but he looked away.

  Rumy called out orders, and his security team stuck close to both him and the traffickers. Shortly after, a medical team arrived to care for the wounded and the dead, followed by a serious cleanup and repair crew. The theater would be restored completely within the next few hours. Rumy had one hell of an organization. He could run a small country.

  Approaching Lucian, he suggested they move their party to his interrogation room.

  “Good idea,” Lucian replied, but his gaze raked the stage where Claire had given her show and distracted the men enough to put Arsen and Salazar in their current predicament. “But I can’t go without Claire.”

  “That’s right. Your proximity issue.”

  Absently, he touched the chains.

  Hey, you there? He sent the words softly, not wanting to scare her. But even as he spoke telepathically, he felt a tremor run through him. Battling did that to a vampire, increased his blood-needs. He even felt the familiar sensation of more blood-madness on the way.

  Yes. Is everything okay?

  He gave her a quick rundown, adding that Rumy wanted to take Arsen and Salazar to his interrogation room.

  I’ve got my robe on, but my clothes are back at the photo shoot.

  His mind wanted to slide all the way there, but he protected himself and pulled his thoughts back, focusing on what was important right now. Her robe would have to do.

  Come to me so that I can fly you with the men.

  Okay.

  She appeared a few seconds later at the top of the runway. Rumy’s team had charge of Salazar and Arsen.

  Rumy ordered his men to take their captives to the interrogation room, then took off. As a group, the vampires shifted to altered flight and disappeared.

  Lucian flew to Claire, then held out his arm to her. With a deep sigh and her eyes filling with tears, she stepped onto his booted foot. She slid her arm around his neck and buried her face against his throat. I can’t tell you how glad I am that the runway show is over.

  Me, too. Understatement. But you did really well and your shields held, which gave us the advantage we needed. He drew in a deep breath. You ready to find out what these bastards know about the extinction weapon?

  She smiled. Hell, yeah.

  He chuckled softly, then flew her down and down.

  He arrived with her at Rumy’s interrogation room, a black granite space large enough to house a couple of tanks. Lucian felt the location, deep in the cavern system, which made sense given the downward trajectory.

  Rumy had Arsen and Salazar seated in chairs, each spattered with blood.

  He didn’t want her here, though, not for this, not with the stubborn expressions on the men’s faces. Listen, they’re not going to give up their information easily. Maybe you should wait in the adjoining room for a while, just until they’re ready to talk.

  Claire glanced around. Maybe I should.

  Lucian took her through a doorway into a smaller office. She sank into one of the chairs, looking relieved.

  When he returned, one of Rumy’s men drew his fist back to punch Arsen, but Lucian called out, “Please. Allow me.”

  Part of him wanted to beat both these men to a bloody pulp for all that they had done and what they represented in his world. The vampires now gathered around clearly felt the same way.

  But he had something far more important to accomplish, and now that he had Ancestral power his approach was completely different.

  “You got a new idea, boss?”

  Lucian glanced at Rumy and nodded. He ignored Salazar since the man was the stronger of the two and went straight for Arsen’s head. He put his hand over his skull and let the power flow.

  Arsen blinked then started to scream.

  Lucian sent the words straight into Arsen’s mind. Tell me what I need to know and the pain stops.

  Lucian knew exactly what that pain felt like. Daniel had hurt him in a similar way.

  About ten seconds later Arsen cried out, “I’ll tell everything.” Tears streamed down his cheeks.

  Salazar tried to argue with him, but Arsen lifted his bound hands and said, “Just how the hell do you think we’ll ever get out of this? We’ll be lucky to be alive in the next ten minutes.”

  Salazar’s eyes glazed over and his chin sank. “Tell them. It doesn’t matter anymore.”

  Arsen met Lucian’s hard stare. “I suppose you want to know about the extinction weapon.”

  “First, I want to know one thing. Assuming you have information on where to locate this weapon, why would you turn even one scrap of a clue over to Daniel Briggs?”

  “For thirty mil
lion.”

  Lucian shook his head. “You fucking bastard. No, let me rephrase that: You fucking idiot. If Daniel gets hold of that weapon, what do you think will happen to you? Do you think he wouldn’t be able to find you, or your clubs, or whatever disguises you can create or buy? Do you not understand that ever since Daniel took over the Council of Ancestrals he’s become the most powerful vampire on the planet? So what exactly do you think he intends to do with an extinction weapon?”

  Arsen stared up at him for a long moment. Even Salazar murmured, “Shit.”

  Lucian shook his head. “So you’re both telling me that until this moment, it never occurred to you that Daniel might use this weapon against you? You never thought it possible that Daniel would show up at your compound one day, hold the weapon to your head, then politely ask for his money back, oh, and maybe the keys to your organization?”

  He tossed up both hands, shaking his head. “How the hell did the pair of you build an empire together? No, don’t answer that. Just tell me where the fuck I can find the weapon before I kill you both right now for your sheer stupidity.”

  Arsen spoke quickly. “We went on the hunt ourselves, tortured any number of our sources, and hit on a promising clue.”

  “A clue.”

  “Look, rumors have been around for decades about these weapons. Scientists who developed them worried about their potential. Some of them were hidden or left clues to their locations. We tracked one of these rumors all the way to what turned out to be a layering of disguises neither of us could penetrate. Either the weapon is behind those disguises or there’s a clue to its whereabouts.”

  “And where is this exactly?”

  “In Siberia at the River of Lights Resort, on the gondola ride. You have to take the tour, then use altered flight at a certain point. First, though, you have to recognize the disguise or see beyond it or something, and neither of us could. We were just putting out feelers to see if there was an Ancestral around with disguise-penetrating abilities when Eve sent us her invitation.”

  He then coughed up two specific details: a ninety-degree bend in the underground river, and a pillar of stone shaped like a serpent.

  “How did you come by this information?”

  Arsen shrugged, then spoke oh-so-casually. “We tortured a bunch of different vampires. Each knew something. And we had it confirmed when we went on that ride.”

  Lucian glanced at Rumy. “I’ll want to get over there, the sooner the better.”

  “I’ll arrange for tickets, boss.”

  “Aren’t they booked months in advance?”

  Rumy just lifted a brow and made the call. Two minutes later he said, “Thanks.” He ended the call, then tapped his phone again. He told one of his team to look for an email from Siberia. “Okay, good. Just print them out and bring them here. Now.” He returned his phone to the pocket of his tailored slacks. “Stay tight. I’ll have something for you in a few secs.”

  He rocked on his heels, his brows pinched, an unusual expression for Rumy.

  A moment later one of his security team arrived, passing straight through the wall, and handed him a sheet of paper.

  Rumy offered it to Lucian. “You have two entrance passes for the River of Lights at midnight, and you’re welcome.”

  Lucian stared at the piece of paper. “How the hell did you do this?”

  Rumy just smiled. “You still have no idea how well connected I am.”

  “You mean how much dirt you have on everyone.”

  “Well, that, too.”

  Without warning, a tremor hit Lucian hard. This time his stomach cramped. “Shit.” He looked around, wishing Claire was close.

  You need me?

  The chains had done their talking so there was no point pretending. I do.

  Is it okay to come in there now?

  It’s fine. We’ve got what we need and the boys are in good shape.

  Claire opened the door. At the sight of her, Lucian’s heart warmed up something fierce. How had she become so important to him in such a ridiculously short time?

  Salazar whistled softly. “Just look at that red hair.”

  Lucian glared. Salazar lifted his chain-bound hands. “Sorry. Apologies.”

  Lucian turned to Rumy. “You’ll take it from here?”

  “I’ve got a call in to Gabriel. I’ve decided to let him handle these two. He’ll know what needs to be done.”

  “I couldn’t agree more. I’ll be in touch after Siberia.”

  Rumy nodded.

  Lucian crossed the room to Claire, unwilling to let her get too close to the captives.

  He immediately drew her into his arms, then held her tight for a long moment. Thank you for all you did.

  You’re welcome. She rubbed his back. So what happened with Tweety Bird and his companion?

  Lucian relayed what they’d discovered, adding that he now had tickets for the midnight ride.

  It all sounds so strange. Your world actually has something called a light show in Siberia?

  He stroked her cheek. Yeah, I’ve never been there. A little too vanilla for my tastes.

  Sounds like it. But it also sounds like the best lead we’ve had.

  Couldn’t agree more. He glanced around. But it looks like we’ve got a couple of hours to kill. What would you like to do? Want to head back to the suite?

  I could really use a shower, but I left my clothes at the photo shoot. Okay if we head back there first?

  Absolutely.

  When he drew back, Lucian held out his arm and Claire stepped up on his foot, holding her robe together with one hand. She wrapped her free arm around his neck. Just as he slid his arm around her waist then slipped into altered flight, she kissed him.

  CHAPTER 10

  Claire let the kiss linger. She’d been wanting to try this for a long time, to see if it was even possible to kiss Lucian while in the middle of altered flight. Apparently, it was.

  Claire, what you can do to me. But I’ll have to find someplace to land if you keep this up.

  She drew back and smiled, hugging him, thankful that the ordeal was over. She held Lucian tight, feeling ridiculously safe in his arms while they passed through all kinds of solid matter. She marveled that she’d only been engaged in altered flight for a few days, but the movement in front of her eyes had come to look like soft swirling mist, nothing that could hurt her at all.

  When he slowed and shifted to fly at a steep upward angle, she knew they were drawing near Eve’s specialty room, where the photo shoot had taken place. She recalled the short arched hallway leading to the room she had forbidden Lucian to enter.

  The timing seemed perfect.

  On an instinctive level, she knew Eve had wanted her to see the separate room. The setup spoke of dominance play, and of Lucian, in a way that Claire understood because of the shared chains.

  The darkness she sensed in Lucian had resulted from his childhood torture, from the pain he carried around in him because he’d once been bound in chains. He needed to let go of something deep within, and letting him have control of her might just help. She wasn’t even sure she understood why this might be true, but she felt a profound need to allow the experience, as much for herself as for Lucian.

  She had always lived a kind of safe life, choosing her path carefully, pursuing a profession that made sense to her in terms of building a stable future for herself. On the other hand, her social life had always been a mystery, since she’d never been satisfied with the men she’d dated. And she’d known a number of good men, with strong careers, determined to get ahead, qualities she valued. Yet she’d never felt completely drawn to them, as though something was missing.

  Now she flew with a vampire and felt more like herself than she ever had before. So what did that say about her, about what she needed from a man and from life? Another mystery.

  He landed her near the bench he’d sat on earlier, during the photo shoot. The hallway was opposite. “So what’s in there you didn’t want me to se
e?”

  She could feel he was getting worked up, and not just from his desire for her. His blood-madness moved at the edges of his mind once more.

  She stood in front of him and put her hands on his face. “We need to get cleaned up. Lucian, look at me.”

  He dragged his gaze away from the hall. “What?” He scowled, his temper suddenly short. He drew in a quick breath, flared his nostrils, and squinted.

  “You’re in pain, aren’t you?”

  “Yes. A little. What’s in the room, Claire?”

  She slid her right hand down his arm, all the way to touch his palm. She interlaced her fingers with his, then drew him toward the bathroom. “I want you showered up. How about we do that together?”

  His eyes fell to half-mast, and a soft growl formed at the back of his throat. It was something only a vampire could do—that soft growl—and she loved it.

  She led him to the shower, which turned out to be a deep open space, big enough for both of them.

  But right now she had something else in mind. She turned the water on for him, then gestured for him to precede her.

  He never took his eyes off her as he stripped, stepped in, and started lathering. She ignored the blood that washed down the drain. He’d been dirty from battle. He’d needed a good scrubbing. “Are you joining me?”

  She shook her head. “I just want to watch.” Claire had never been so hungry for a man.

  When he soaped himself low so that his fist worked his thickening column up and down, she slowly opened the upper portion of her robe.

  His gaze dropped to her cleavage and then to her bare breasts, held upright and pushed together by the costume. Her nipples were now like hard beads.

  “Get rid of the robe.”

  That was what she wanted, right now, right here, with Lucian. She wanted him telling her what to do, commanding her. She dropped the robe.

  He rinsed, shut the water off, and ran a towel over his body. Drawing close, he stroked the sides of her bare, supported breasts with his palms, then licked down the deep line of her cleavage, thumbing her nipples.

 
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