Bittersweet seraphim, p.18
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       Bittersweet Seraphim, p.18

           Debra Anastasia
 
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  Seriana could hardly draw a breath. He was on top of her, whispering.

  “I need them to think this is done,” he explained. “Are you okay?”

  Everything was in the right spot for them to mate, except her sheet still covered her. She shivered as her body responded to his primal movements. She wanted to tilt her pelvis up to meet his. She didn’t.

  “There are cameras on us. Tell me, Seriana. How did you avoid your grandfather all this time?”

  He was calm as he caressed her. Anyone watching would assume they were doing anything but having a conversation.

  “We ran. My brothers and I. My mother—”

  “I know her. She’s very brave. I’m sorry to see her back. I hoped she had escaped.”

  Seriana’s eyes began to adjust to the dim light. She put her hands on his face. “Surely you have a name?”

  “I’m sure I did, but I don’t remember it. I want to escape, and I would like to keep you. All these years, the only steady diet I’ve had is you. Facts about you, sometimes clothing with your scent, a fuzzy picture. I’ve not had blood in…a long time.” He pulled her hands from his cheeks and kissed her palms, inhaling deeply.

  “I want to name you.” She leaned forward and kissed his forehead. It was a crazy place to fall for someone, but as much as he’d been conditioned for her, she felt her heart had somehow been conditioned for him.

  He growled. “And I want to claim you.”

  He thrust deeper, her sheet working its way up her thighs. She twisted her hips until there was nothing between them but want.

  He paused before entering her, tension rippling through his body at the effort. She hooked her legs around his back and tilted her pelvis up. With one strong motion he was in.

  Seriana gasped. It was in every sense a mating. Her permission had unlocked something in him he’d been holding back. He went at her relentlessly, religiously. She could not hope to keep up and instead just hung on for the ride. He began biting her and moaning in a way that sounded like he was gearing up for a fight.

  “Come with me,” he growled around his words, daring her to lose control. Seriana forgot the camera, forgot the fear. His scent and his presence pressing into her released the vampire. She pushed when he pushed and met him in the middle. He’d been fast before; he was incredible now. She increased her tempo until she just had to bite his shoulder. His blood poured into her mouth as his release poured between her legs. Ecstasy blinded her, and he grabbed a fistful of her hair and a handful of her ass as he left his DNA embedded deep inside her.

  “Your name is Mine,” she whispered as he collapsed on top of her.

  Dean came to as Violent stroked his head. She was blurry at first, but then he could see the concern in her face.

  “You live. That brought back some horrible memories.”

  She wasn’t smiling. She helped him sit up.

  “Seri?”

  “She lives as well.” Violent pointed to the screen.

  The two figures lay in a heap on the floor, caressing each other.

  “No.” He bit his lip as he saw his sister locked in an embrace with the beast man.

  “Do not overreact or they’ll shock you again.” Violent seemed less interested in making a pass at Dean. Her eyes scanned the large room outside their cage.

  He punched his own hand a few times. “Where’s my mother?”

  “He took her. She fought and was shocked as well.” Violent pulled him to his feet like he was a ragdoll.

  “Grandfather?” Dean looked at the audience and was surprised to see just a few half-breeds lingering. They looked distracted.

  He was about to ask what had happened when he felt it. Something deep in his body recognized the hum in the air. Hell. It pulled at him, offering power as easy as breathing.

  “You feel it? Yes. Things will change. We do not want to be trapped when the minions come.” Violent made sure he was stable before she went to the cage’s bars.

  “The minions are getting out?” Dean felt fuzzy. He massaged his head.

  “Oh, yes. Like rats from a sinking ship. They will likely hate the half-breeds being drawn to the place right now.”

  Dean walked as close as he could get to the screen, unable to look away, though he desperately wanted to avoid seeing anything indecent. He needed to protect his sister, even just by watching over her, but he couldn’t make sense of this. The man seemed to be gentle with her, as best as he could tell from the streaky heat images.

  “Why would they hate them?” Dean asked as an afterthought.

  “Well, handsome, they’ll realize that some minions have escaped and procreated. Jealousy is one of Hell’s driving forces. They’ll want what others have had. It will be a frenzy of death, and the humans will be involved—eventually if not immediately.” Violent motioned to a skinny half-breed left in the audience.

  Dean touched the bars of the cage, sickened that they were the bones of beings just like him. His grandfather was a single-minded asshole. He glanced over his shoulder to watch Violent turn on her version of charm.

  “You’re a small, worthless half-breed. What name do you think I should call you?” Violent was gorgeous enough to get away with the way she talked.

  “Lunge.” The young half-breed’s Adam’s apple bobbed up and down.

  “You are able to resist the call of Hell?” Violent leaned closer to the bars, inviting him with her vivid eyes.

  “Um, Vittorio has me collared for shock. So I, um, can’t.” Lunge shifted from one foot to the other.

  “How barbaric. You deserve the freedom of a plant.” Violent bit her index finger gently. She was shameless.

  “Okay.” The half-breed was transfixed by Violent, totally missing her weird words.

  “So let me and my lover out of this cage. I’ll introduce you to some lovely trees.”

  Dean tossed up his hands. It was the worst bribe in the history of bribes.

  “Can’t let you out. Don’t even know how.” The tree talk had obviously set off alarms for Lunge.

  Dean sprinted to Violent’s side and tried to grab the half-breed. He scurried away.

  Violent turned on him. “Now you scared him off!” Her gaze drifted past his face to Seri’s screen behind him, and her eyes widened a bit. She pulled Dean into a hug and whispered in his ear. “Your sister and the nude one are not on the screen anymore. Don’t look.”

  Dean hid his alarm with a fake smile. Had his sister escaped? Did the man take her somewhere? Then he had a chilling feeling. What if she was too dead to register with the heat sensors?

  Seriana followed Mine as he snaked through a passage in the basement. He found them both coveralls hanging in a closet. She shrugged off her wet sheet after she’d pulled them on.

  “Where are we going?” She quickly plaited her hair to get it out of her eyes.

  “Away. We will live in the forest.” He held out his hand, serious.

  “I have to get my mother and brother. I won’t leave without them.” She tugged on his hand.

  “We are family now. Just you and me.” He picked her up and strode toward a long hallway.

  She touched his lips and he stopped, eyes flashing with lust.

  “They make me happy. I can be with you if I’m happy.” She watched as he considered her words.

  Mine looked from her mouth to her eyes. “We have little time.”

  Leaving her mother and brother behind wasn’t going to work. Ever. She put that determination in her eyes and simply said, “Please.”

  Exhaling loudly, he set her down. “I’ve been in a cage for longer than you’ve been alive. But I’ll go with you.”

  She touched his shoulder and smiled. “How is it you’re so kind? When you’ve had nothing of the sort.”

  “An angel visited me in my dreams. Many times.” Mine took her hand and pulled her toward an old heating vent, not witnessing her shock.

  Seri knew only one angel, of course, but she felt certain it was her Emma that somehow gave this
man his kindness. A wave of peace washed over her. Things might just be playing out exactly as they were supposed to.

  Mine pulled himself into the old vent and held out a thick, strong arm for her. She climbed up the wall and into his arms. He kissed her again. As they inched through the heating vent, Mine revealed his plan.

  “The tops of the cages have a weakness. The builder was hungry and sloppy when he built the lids. That is how I was able to get us out of the mating cage. You will stay here, and I will decimate the half-breeds and free your family.” He put his fingers to his lips and motioned for her to stay. Mine scanned the open room through the vent. He whispered to himself, “Two, four, nine altogether.”

  He removed the grate slowly and dropped to the floor at least twenty feet below. He landed in a crouch. He looked once at her, probably to make sure she was staying in place. But as soon as he’d begun battling the half-breeds, Seriana dropped down into the room as well. Mine was ferocious, a swirl of punches and kicks, and he paused only to jab or readjust his fighting stance. A look passed between them as Seriana pulled a male half-breed out of the circle that had formed around Mine. She could see he was angry with her.

  She turned her attention to the male and neatly crippled him by busting his kneecaps in quick succession. When she turned back to Mine, the rest of the half-breeds were scattered on the floor. She smiled at him, pleased that she’d been able to help. He shook his head but waved her over.

  “Well done. Get to the top of your brother’s cage. Don’t touch the water. Will the minion help?” Mine hopped up carefully, looking for Rebecca.

  Seriana approached Dean’s cage. He lay still and Violent cuddled him. As Seri approached, she hissed.

  “Is Dean okay?” Seriana carefully pulled herself up to the top of the cage.

  Violent addressed Mine instead. “The old man’s daughter was taken.”

  “Is Dean all right?” Seriana was getting worried.

  “They shocked him too much. He’s still alive. I’m trying to get him to feed.” Violent sat back a bit on her heels, and Seri could see the red staining her neck and chest.

  Mine landed softly next to Seriana. “We need to move fast. The reminder shock is coming.”

  Confused, she shook her head. Mine pointed to a large antique clock. “Every hour the shock is released. It reminds anyone in a watery cage who’s in charge.”

  The clock was just seconds from the hour.

  “He won’t make it through another one,” Mine observed. “I’ve seen a lot of healthier looking half-breeds die from it.” He went to work on the top of the cage, trying to locate the weak spot.

  “If you open that, I might leave Dean. I will go to heed the call of my master.” Violent cuddled him closer.

  Seriana joined Mine, frantically tugging on the bone bars while he methodically checked each one. “You have to help us, Violent. That’s my brother.”

  The clock tolled an unnervingly loud strike. It was midnight, so at least they had twelve bells.

  Mine seemed unaffected by the noise, and Seriana began beating on the cage. “Why will you go?” she asked. Violent made no sense, as usual.

  “Lucifer calls. I’ll have no choice. I don’t want to leave him. I don’t want him to die.” Violent hugged Dean even closer.

  Seriana lost count of the strikes, but there had been so many. She couldn’t watch as her brother was shocked to death. “Be strong, Violent. You can do this.”

  With the last strike, Mine ripped open the cage, and Violent tossed Dean to them as if he were made of paper, seeming to fight her own legs’ will to jump. She took the shock that would have killed him by herself.

  Seriana and Mine dragged Dean through the hole in the cage while Violent convulsed. It was awful. She began to froth at the mouth, her purple eyes rolling in her head.

  Mine had already jumped from the cage with Dean on his back. “Come, lover. They wake.”

  The shock had roused some of the half-breeds, who were now pulling themselves to sitting. Seriana watched Violent collapse, even as she growled at her.

  “Go. Take Dean,” she demanded. And then Violent slumped to the ground.

  But Seriana couldn’t leave her. It was stupid, and Violent probably deserved to be stuck in a cage, but she was proud of her momentary selflessness—even if she was delusional. Seri dropped into the watery cage as soon as the shock seemed to dissipate, and pulled the minion onto her back. She jumped, almost touching the top bar. Mine fought his way back through the groggy half-breeds and climbed to the top of the cage. He offered his hand awkwardly as he shuffled Dean on his back.

  Seriana didn’t have time to smile, but she jumped with all her might, and Mine pulled them from the cage. They took off, each juggling their burden. They had to abandon hope of going back through the heating vent and went straight for the front door.

  The half-breeds gave chase, and Seriana was grateful when Violent began to move. Seriana spoke over her shoulder, “You okay, V?”

  The minion responded by wiggling off her back. She turned and faced the half-breeds instead of running. Seriana stopped next to her, and Mine and Dean joined the lineup. Her brother looked barely conscious, but at least he could stand. Every deep breath seemed to give him more life.

  Mine growled, and Violent matched it. The battle was now unfair, and the half-breeds didn’t stand a chance. The massacre was so swift it was almost funny. Mine and Violent were just so much stronger. Within moments, a handful of half-breeds littered the ground.

  When the danger had passed, Seriana went to her brother. “You all right? It was dicey for a minute.”

  He nodded. “Mom’s with him again. We can’t slow down. Are you okay?” He seemed to be remembering her mating. He gave Mine a deadly stare.

  “Yes, I’m great. He’s been trapped just like we were. We’re friends.”

  Her brother looked doubtful.

  “No, really.” She looked over to see Violent now fighting an inner battle.

  “V?” Dean staggered toward her, gaining balance with every step.

  “Must not go. Must go. My king calls. Forgive me, Dean.” In an instant, Violent was pulled from the group as if on a string. One second she was there, and the next, just a small imprint in the grass remained where her feet had been.

  Seriana watched as her brother turned the way Violent had been pulled. Mine did the same. Then Seriana felt it too. Deep in her core. Half her very cells were shaking, begging her to return. They began to run, as if they did not have a choice. Lucifer was calling all of his spawn home.

  Chapter 30

  Emma flew as high as she could into the dark sky and took in the astounding full moon. The rush of the air was fantastic, and the gorgeous moon lit the ground like daylight. She tried not to cry at the thought of leaving Jack, but it was the only thing she could think to do. And Everett was the cause of it all. She circled. It was a gorgeous night—no clouds, a gentle breeze—a beautiful night to die.

  Everett emerged from Hell with flames streaming from his back. Smoke hissed as he hit the open air, lighting the scene around him. She didn’t doubt he’d win their battle, but she wanted to buy Jack time to get everyone out. Before Everett could reach her, Emma used her seraph powers for good. She prayed for the safety of all those in Hell, for Kate and Jason to have happiness, and lastly, she prayed for Jack’s lost soul.

  God,

  I know I’ve not done You justice. But Jack’s soul was the only one he had to offer. He shouldn’t lose it because I had to help him. I wish I knew Your plan, because following my heart seems to hurt people. I love You, and I know I’ll be extinguished soon. My soul’s no good to me now, so please take it and let Jack have his back.

  I love You,

  Emma

  She felt Everett’s breath behind her before he spoke.

  “Praying? You are such a predictable whore. You’ll never learn.”

  Emma could feel the heat from his flame wings. She opened her eyes and sighed. She was sick o
f him. She might even be past hating him. She just wished he wasn’t such a pain in her ass.

  “When I’m done with you? I’ll go after Jack and all those minions and half minions. I’ll kill anyone who’s ever smiled at you.”

  And that was it. Emma decided she wasn’t dying. She was going to fucking win.

  She stilled her wings and dropped, grabbing fistfuls of her feathers as she fell. Then she caught herself and flew past him again, flinging her feathers into the night. They turned into dripping silver throwing stars though her only thought accompanying their release had been: Death!

  Jason watched as Jack fell to his knees, apparently despondent over Emma’s departure, and felt bad for the jerk for about a second. He quickly forgot him as he watched the minions approach. The barrier was down, and they came uninhibited. The dragon whipped its tail around the group and pulled them in close, spewing fire. Jason tried to orient himself in their flailing arms and legs as he was pressed against the dragon’s scales. He felt Kate’s soft skin and pulled her closer. The glow from her palms had diminished. Jack’s face was close, so Jason took the opportunity to slap it. The former Devil sneered at him but did not retaliate.

  “Now what?” Jason asked.

  Jack was all elbows, trying to give himself more room. Nero, Ransom, and the poodle wiggled around. “Now? Emma dies, so I could give a rat’s ass about any of this. I tried. I failed. We die. Next question?” He tried to light a cigarette.

  Kate gasped. “Look!”

  Jason and Jack came to a mutual pause in giving each other dirty looks. He looked up to see minions climbing through the holes Everett and Emma had punched into the ceiling. Then a huge whoosh sent a bunch of minions falling back through. Everett fell on top of the pile, covered in glittering silver stars and bleeding everywhere.

 
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