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Devils playground, p.12
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       Devil's Playground, p.12

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  “You, fools! Her hands are unbound!” Camille yelled.

  I stared into the eyes of the queen, who had just walked into the room. She was no longer cocky or bored. She looked terrified. Her eyes flashed out of the door behind her, and I knew exactly what she was thinking. She needed to get back to Rush, so she could control me again. I would be damned if I was going to let that happen. But before I could jump at her, she spun on her heels and bolted.

  I heard a loud scream and a rumbled shout, and then Camille sailed over my head, crashing into the wall on the other side of the room. She crumpled, unconscious, to the floor. Rafe stormed into the room shirtless, nostrils flaring and chest heaving in fury. He glanced around the room, stopping only when he saw me.

  “I’ll kill them all!” he roared.

  Solofar jumped behind his desk, his hands clenching and unclenching at his sides.

  “I would never have harmed her.”

  Sonny was frozen in place in the middle of the room. I’d caught a glimpse of the psychopath’s nefarious intentions for me earlier. They had been heavily embedded in his features, when he thought I was helpless, and for that alone, he would be the first to die. He opened his mouth, closed it tight, and then opened it again to beg for mercy.

  “I’m sorry.”

  I could feel a muscle tic in my jaw. His ‘sorry’ fell on deaf ears. I had no forgiveness in my heart for him. Sonny figured that fact out real quick. Even though I hadn’t struck out yet, he staggered back from me, like he’d taken a hit.

  I could feel myself smiling, basking in my power, as it built and raged to flow, untapped, beneath my skin. I drew from it, and white light penetrated my flesh, curling and churning like a sphere of deadly lightning, end over end, until I cradled a ball of light in each hand.

  “Run!”

  Solofar’s yell was cut short, as Rafe barreled into him, head first. Both of the vampires crashed into the desk.

  Sonny began to sidestep around me, toward the door.

  “We can talk this out,” he pleaded. His eyes got wide with an idea. “I can take you to the girls.”

  The time for negotiations was over. I closed the distance between us, wrapping my glowing hand around Sonny’s thick neck. His mouth gaped open, trying in vain to suck in air. I could hear furniture crashing in the background and screams, and then a splattering of warm liquid hit the back of my legs.

  I stared into Sonny’s eyes and watched, ticking down the seconds, until the last bit of life drained from them. Sonny must have been very young, because when he fell to the ground, with his life force depleted, it was left as a fleshy carcass, with stringy pieces of sinew hanging and his intestines still attached. When it came to killing vampires, it was a well-known fact that the older the vampire, the less of a mess there would be to clean up. But luckily, Sonny’s remains were not my problem.

  I looked at the warring vampires, just in time to watch, as Rafe ripped out the heart from Solofar’s chest in one swift motion. He looked at me with storming eyes, the pilfered organ still beating in his hand.

  “You know what to do with this,” he said, tossing it to me.

  The heart, dripping with blood, sailed through the air. After I caught it, the slimy hunk of muscle squirmed in my hand. I poured my energy into it, and it ignited with light. Within seconds, the beats slowed, and the organ shriveled to the size of a raisin.

  Across the room, Solofar fell to his knees, while his body shrunk in on itself, in perfect timing with his missing blood-pumper. And then, with a powdery ‘poof,’ both he and his heart turned to dust.

  It appeared as if the Harbingers of Death would be looking for a new leader soon if any of those vampire biker scumbags lived through the night.

  I glanced around the trashed office and asked, “Where is Camille?”

  Rafe walked over. He resembled a berserker, eyes wild, his body covered in blood.

  “She must have teleported out, while we were distracted.”

  Then it dawned on me, where she more than likely had gone.

  “Shit!” I said, bolting for the door. “Rush!”

  Chapter Sixteen

  I was moving at speeds so fast that I blew through the house like a tornado and escaped into the backyard through a door I barely saw. I was forced to stop running, when I realized I had no damn clue in which direction to go next.

  The waning moon was hidden behind thick cloud cover, and it took a second for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. When my vision grew crisp, I spied a creepy-looking barn, looming in the distance. The only thing separating the house from the barn was a chain-link fence and about an acre of grass-covered land.

  The skeleton limbs from surrounding tress, slapping against the bleached wooden exterior, hid a huge portion of the dilapidated building from view. But I was able to see enough of it to know that it was the perfect place to hide a bunch of women, and also, my Rush.

  I was terrified for them all. I didn’t know which side of the grave I’d find them in. For some of the women being held captive, I was almost certain that death was a sweeter serenade than the dark droning melody that life had been playing for them as of late. I needed to prepare myself for the worst. Finding corpses was a way more likely scenario than finding breathing bodies. I knew that. But I still had hope.

  I swallowed down a hard lump in my throat. The ground beneath my feet chilled my toes. I shuffled them around, as I pointed toward the distant building.

  “That’s where they’re probably keeping him, but I think it would be stupid to run in there, guns blazing. Camille has had plenty of time to set a trap for us.”

  Rafe walked up from behind, his wings tucked against his back, instead of magically putting them away, when he wasn’t using them. He gave me a solemn look.

  “There will be a trap; I’d stake my life on that.”

  I sighed and said, “I have a feeling that the steep price of that bet has all of our lives riding on it.”

  “Can we wait for reinforcements?”

  Shaking my head, I said, “No time.”

  I gave Rafe and his wings a thorough inspection and then grinned when an idea popped into my head.

  “No one knows that you can fly. And I have a pretty good idea about how we can use that fact to our advantage.”

  Understanding blossomed with his nod.

  “You’re a genius.”

  As I drew near him, I stopped and looked down at myself. I wasn’t exactly the skinniest woman. I took pride in my curves. I was slim, but by no means model thin.

  “Can you carry me and fly at the same time?”

  He had the nerve to laugh.

  “I carried your sister just fine, so I think I’ll be able to manage.”

  And then, just like that, I was swooped up into his arms.

  I grabbed his shoulders with both hands and squeezed.

  “Wait!”

  He tipped his chin down and raised his brow, asking, “Are you okay?”

  I gave a weak smile.

  “Yes, of course, I am. Why do you ask?”

  He let out another annoying chuckle and said, “You’re clawing at me like a waterlogged cat.”

  I looked at my fingers. All ten of my nails were dug deep into his flesh, threatening to break skin. I hadn’t noticed I was doing that. I retracted my claws.

  “Damn it, I’m sorry. It’s just, I’ve never flown before.”

  Dark eyes stared down, catching my hesitant gaze. And instead of more laughter, I found compassion beaming back at me.

  “Hold on as tight as you need to, Kris. Your special mojo is what made me a vampire in the first place. I can easily heal any damage you inflict upon me, especially if all it takes is a little bloodshed to make you feel better.”

  “Hey!” I said, smacking his large rounded pec muscle, which, I might add, was like hitting a brick wall. “It’s not like I’m some kind of blood-crazed psychopath. I don’t need to hurt people to make myself feel better.”

  My stomach dropped to my
toes, as Rafe leapt into the sky. The smell of warm copper assaulted my nostrils—blood sprayed out into the air in splatters, the stream coming from beneath my fingers, which were once again attached to Rafe’s shoulders.

  I ducked my head between the shelter of my arms and his chest.

  “Touché, vampire.”

  ***

  We landed on top of the barn in under a minute.

  “Be careful. The roof is flimsy. We can’t move around too much without being detected,” Rafe said, setting me down.

  The tips of my toes touched the tin roof first, and then I settled my weight the rest of the way onto the pads of my feet, being extra cautious, so as to not give away our location. I fought to keep my body from shivering. It was cold, and the wind beating down on my scantily clad body wasn’t helping.

  Rafe’s hand was on my shoulder. It was as if he was scared to let me out of his sight for even a second. I didn’t begrudge him his fear, because the last time he’d left me to my own devices, I’d been kidnapped.

  I felt sorry for the men in my life. One was being held captive below my very feet, and another was constantly jumping through hoops to protect me. And Jude, my poor ghostly companion…. I had given him a taste of the life he’d lost so many years ago, but my wild and unpredictable magic had cruelly ripped his beating heart away, leaving him incorporeal once again.

  It was official. For a man, loving me was a real bitch. It was much like walking through Hell, with glowing halos hovering over their heads.

  All three of them were incredible men, with kindness that sparked in their eyes and love that soothed me and filled a void of loneliness in my soul. That loyalty and unconditional love they carried for me had attracted the worst kind of monsters to them. And after what I’d done to Sonny, without blinking an eye, I was starting to believe that I could be one of those light-seeking fiends.

  I should leave, set each one of them free, but I loved them too much to do that. I wasn’t capable of being that good or that selfless. I’d grown to rely on Jude’s and Rafe’s brotherly companionships, their loyalty, and just being there when I needed them. As for Rush, I’d fallen completely, madly in love with the poor guy. He made me feel cherished and wanted. And dare I say, safe. I shook my head and sent up a silent prayer. If the guys intended to stick by my side, come what may, they were going to need all the blessings they could get.

  “I could never let you go.” My words came out as a whisper.

  Rafe turned to me with a curious frown and asked, “Why do you think you’d ever have to?”

  “Don’t mind me. I’m just thinking out loud.”

  “I’m not sure I like your train of thought.”

  “I’m not too fond of my crazy thoughts, either, but as of right now, I plan on being selfish.”

  “I don’t understand.”

  I wondered if even I understood myself, my crazy thoughts, or my foolish decisions. I came up with a resounding no.

  “Neither do I,” I said, hopefully ending a discussion I didn’t mean to instigate in the first place.

  He let it drop and began to sniff the air around us.

  “I can smell several humans and only a few vampires. Those are good odds for us.”

  I inspected the tin roof, looking for a way into the barn. Soon I spotted a sheet of wood covering a pretty big hole about ten feet away from us. And judging by the way it shook and lifted up underneath the pressure of the blowing wind, it was obvious that whoever had nailed the patch down had done a half-assed job of it.

  I pointed toward the flapping piece of wood, but with keen eyes, Rafe was already inspecting it.

  “That’s our way in,” I said.

  “I got it.”

  Rafe’s face hardened, and his wings flared out in preparation for flight. Large black and golden brown-colored wings began a slow beat, just fast enough to lift and carry him the short distance to the breach in the roof. He stopped in midflight, when he reached his destination. His brows furrowed with concentration, and I could see the wheels turning in his head.

  “Are you sure you want to go in this way?”

  My fists were clenched at my side, my bare feet itching to move, to run over to the hole and just jump down into the barn right then and there, where my love was. But I stayed put.

  Nodding, I said, “Yes.”

  “All right. Here goes nothing.”

  Hovering in place, Rafe reached down and tested the shoddy patch job by lifting one of the corners. It rose with barely any effort. He set the sheet of wood off to the side carefully, not making a sound. Scraping a hand through his dark hair, he turned and flew toward me.

  “Jump,” he said.

  He didn’t have to tell me twice. I pushed off the roof with the balls of my feet and leapt high into the air. Strong arms surrounded me, and as Rafe’s wings beat down, he tossed me up and over his back, before they lifted up.

  “Hold on.” His voice was deep and calm; however, I felt frantic.

  The air rushed from my lungs, and I scrambled to find room between the base of his wings and shoulder blades to hold on, as I landed, spread-eagle, on my stomach. His back was wide and muscled, plenty of grooves and bumps for my fingers to find purchase, but I needed to do so without interrupting the smooth beat of my vampire’s wings.

  Finally, my hands found the roundness of his shoulders, and I held on with all my strength. My knees came up, and I straddled and then squeezed them around the lower part of his waist. It was a tight fit, but after ducking, so his wings didn’t beat my face off, I had found a somewhat comfortable position to ride.

  “Are you ready?” Rafe called to me over his shoulder.

  We were hovering about 30 feet in the air, looking down at the barn.

  I was scared, but there was no way I was going to let my fear get in the way of saving those poor women or Rush. I nodded, but he couldn’t have seen it.

  “Someone is going to pay big time for all of this.”

  “Slow your roll, Kris. When we get in there, be careful. You’re no good to anyone if you’re dead.”

  I could feel a dangerous smile spread across my face, and for a second, I forgot that I was high above the hard unforgiving ground… without a damn parachute.

  “I do my best work after I’ve lost my shit, so being careful isn’t part of the program. Just promise me that no matter what happens, you’ll get ‘em all out, every single one of ‘em.”

  Rafe looked at me over his shoulder.

  “It’s not just Rush being held down there?”

  “These are the scumbags who kidnapped Alayna and killed Darcy. And I have a feeling there are more women being held somewhere on this land, more than likely, right down there,” I said, as my eyes moved to the barn.

  Rafe’s jaw clenched, and he dove toward the jagged hole in the tin roof. I tucked my head, clenched my knees, and gripped his shoulders tightly. My flesh crawled with building powe

  It was go time.

  Chapter Seventeen

  A rancid odor hung heavy in the air; it was the first thing that hit me, as Rafe flew us through the hole in the roof. It was a bit cramped, with his wings tucked around me, but after a masterful turn, they flared to life, just in time to land us safely on the ground.

  Every thought, sound, and smell slowed by degrees, as a sharp pain bit at my arm. I felt that sensation before the sound of a gunshot had even registered. Confused, I blinked several times. With wide-eyed despair, I watched blood emerge from a wound in my left bicep.

  A deep demanding voice, yelling, “Get down!” rang out through the space, cutting through the shock and horror of the fact that I’d just been shot.

  My head snapped toward Rush’s voice. I leaned forward, a hand across my stomach, as the relief of knowing he was okay almost knocked the breath from me. Gone completely was any concern for myself.

  “Rafe, get Kris the fuck out of the way!” Rush roared.

  I stiffened with perplexity. Wasn’t I supposed to be doing something?
<
br />   Menacing growls filled the room in thick waves that tickled my chest, invading me like the bass from a speaker. Hellhounds were somewhere in the barn.

  My lips parted. Still disoriented, I spun in slow circles, looking for them, but where they were, I didn’t know. Something was wrong. I looked down at my wound and gasped. It was no longer bleeding; instead, long black veiny lines were sprouting from it, running under my white flesh and circling my upper arm.

  “She’ll be dead soon without the antidote,” Camille said. Her voice sounded tinny, almost unreal.

  “She can fight it, just like before,” Rush said.

  My head was shaking, with realization of the situation setting in, as I met Camille’s gaze from across the room. She was standing between two midnight black Hellhounds, with a hand on each one of their massive heads. Her body waved in distortion, colors flowing in ribbons that made me dizzy.

  Is it real? Or is all that in my head?

  Those thoughts played on a loop, baffling me even further. One thing was for certain—I was fucked. I ran my hands over my face. No, I wasn’t going crazy. I’d been poisoned.

  Suddenly, my body prickled with heat. I knew without question that the building warmth was a good sign, because even through the disorientation, I recognized the feel of my own magic. Whatever paranormal force fed my hyper-acute strengths and supernatural abilities was rearing up for battle. It wasn’t time for surrender, not by a long shot.

  I watched with glee, as the blackness overrunning my veins lightened and then almost faded away completely, leaving a dark blue shade in its place.

  I smiled at Camille and said, “You’re wrong, bitch. You will be the one who dies here tonight, not me.”

  She grinned, showing me her pearly whites.

  “We’ll see about that.”

  Then I was pulled off of my feet from behind. My body was hefted into the air, and seconds later, my palms and knees slapped down hard onto a planked floor. It was dark, and I felt around the space, my fingers running into what felt like loose articles of clothing.

 
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