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Created darkly, p.12
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       Created Darkly, p.12

           Gena D. Lutz
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  “Is there a good reason why you pulled a gun out in my club?” Devil asked in a warning tone while clearing his throat. The man was observant, or I was sloppy.

  Rafe frowned, looked between Devil and me, and then scanned the room. “What’s going on, Kris?” he asked.

  I closed my eyes and focused once again on the tremor of dread that rode the air around me. Something wasn’t right, and that something was making me feel rattled. I looked over at the two vampires; their eyes glossed with confusion. I said, “I’m sorry about the gun, but something’s about to go down.”

  Rush stood up, moving in next to me like a guard dog. The gesture was nice, but all I could think about was how our bodies’ proximity might encumber my accuracy in regard to aiming and shooting my gun. That thought might seem odd to most people, but for me, it was second nature. I was always alone when I hunted down and killed vampires. There was no one to aid me in those dark alleyways when my life was in grave danger, so I had learned how to become efficient in one-on-one combat.

  I bore a really nasty scar on the back of my right shoulder and another one, ragged and puckered, on my lower back to prove it. The scars had been put there by two different vampires. Both of them had bitten me, their fangs ripping through my flesh like warm butter. The scars from those bites itched at the memory. That hurt!

  “I’m scared, Devil. Maybe we should leave.” Addie’s voice trembled.

  Devil pushed out of his seat and rushed to Addison’s side. He banded a strong arm around her shoulders. He shot a perturbed look at me while trailing his fingers across Addie’s neck to calm her. He growled, “That’s enough, Kris. Put that gun away and shut up. You’re setting everyone’s nerves on edge. Nothing is going to happen. No one would dare cause trouble here.”

  If only Devil’s statement had been true. Without warning, the stage lights extinguished, and the music, which had taken me and the room over earlier, fizzled out. The building was thrown headlong into darkness. Then all at once, I heard glass shattering around me and people screaming. A loud booming sound shook the ground beneath my feet.

  I found myself face down, on top of our table; it was broken into several pieces. My ears began to ring, and I could feel several parts of my body being pelted with glass, small shards of it burrowing under my skin, along with splinters of wood. And if that wasn’t enough, smoke began to fill the room. Suffocating tendrils crept down my throat, quickly filling my burning lungs. I coughed, trying to clear out my airway, to no avail. No amount of hacking was going to help. I couldn’t breathe, talk, or even move. I could still see vague images around me, even though they were out of focus, unclear. But what I could make out over the smoke and debris was a grizzly scene—a room resembling a place that truly lived up to its name, Devil’s Playground.

  Chapter Eighteen

  Worry pulsed with each beat of my heart while I watched in horror as Kristina’s body was lifted up like a tethered marionette and thrown through the table. The explosion that caused it had produced sound waves so intense that it had jumbled everything and everyone inside the club’s confines like objects in a shaken snow globe, while leaving the club’s walls intact. I knew what kind of device was being used against the bar and its patrons. I knew because it was a special weapon issued solely for the Center. We called the bombs Audibles, because the blast waves that emanated from them were made up of sound, not heat.

  I had been so consumed by Kristina being injured that I hadn’t noticed the barstool careening across the room, heading right towards me. It hit me square in the chest, knocking the wind out of me. I drew in a few long, strangled breaths and shook off the pain. I could hardly hear the battle raging around me or feel my feet hit the littered ground as I made my way over to Kristina. My heart never stopped thumping. It beat like I was on speed, never slowing.

  My only thoughts were wrapped around one person… Kristina. When I reached her, my finger went straight to her neck. After a few tense moments, I felt her pulse tap against my fingertips; she was alive. Before I knew what I was doing, I gently pushed the hair from her eyes, tucking it behind her ear, and gave her curved brow a kiss. I was able to breathe again as my forehead rested against hers. But my relief was short-lived, as I remembered that we were both still in grave danger. I raised my head and put my arm around her waist, pulling her into my arms. I struggled to tear my eyes from her, so I could scan the room.

  Three figures appeared out of the gloomy dust. I could tell that two of the three were men by the broad set of their shoulders and the way they walked with their legs, and not their hips. But the third silhouette was definitely female, with curves and a shift in her gait that was both confident and seductive. The woman jumped onto the stage. With hand signals, she ordered the two men with her to stay back. They obeyed.

  I stayed hunched and hidden as I watched the woman creep across the stage with purpose. She didn’t stop until she reached Devil’s women. One of them was out cold or dead, her body spread limp across the stage. The other woman, who was whimpering with fear, began to crawl backwards, away from the woman stalking towards her.

  “What’s happening?” a deep voice demanded from beside me.

  My head swung towards the voice, my eyes landing on Rafe. He was busy pushing debris from his body. His shirt lay open, ripped from the blast, exposing the eagle mark on his left pec. He had been knocked unconscious by the blast. Confusion set hard in the crease of his brow. It took little time for understanding to flood his expression. His mark flashed a bright white as soon as he caught sight of Kristina and the state she was in. The vampire growled a deep, low rumble that brought his fangs out. He threw his head back and let out a piercing yell. The woman on stage, who was holding a gun to the temple of the whimpering woman’s head, froze when she heard the guttural call of death. She yelled an order to her men, and all three of them turned their attention on us.

  “Fucking perfect!” I seethed. “Are you going to throw a fit like a little bitch, or can you shut up and help me get Kris to safety?”

  The look Rafe threw at me was scorching. “You can take her up there,” he said, pointing to the second floor staircase. “I’ll take care of those pieces of shit.”

  “You’re newly made, which means you won’t heal super-fast. Try not to get shot too many times.” And with that, I hefted Kristina’s petite body and stood.

  “Where do you think you’re going in such a hurry, pretty boy?” a feminine voice mocked from behind me. “I have my gun trained on the back of your skull, so unless you want your brains scattered all over your pretty, little blood-whore, I’d suggest you turn around and stay a while.”

  The sounds of Rafe in the midst of battle filled the room; the two men must have attacked him while the woman behind me chose to go after us.

  “I will kill you if you hurt her.” It was a promise I made with sincerity, and I was certain my voice rang with dire truth.

  I began to turn around, tucking Kristina’s unconscious body closer and deeper into my arms. She snuggled in close to my chest; surprisingly, my rapid heartbeat didn’t jar her awake. My mind worked frantically to find a way to keep her safe, but the only course of action left for me was going along with the woman’s demands. I couldn’t risk taking a bullet in the back; the chances of it traveling clean through my body and hitting hers were too great.

  “If you cooperate with me, I promise no harm will come to you or your slave.”

  Slave? All at once, I understood the woman’s hostility towards me…well, part of it, anyway. She thought I was a vampire and was convinced that Kristina was my drudge or bride.

  “I am not a vampire,” I said, turning around to face her.

  When my eyes landed on my assailant, we both took in a shocked breath. I felt a deadly expression take over the contours of my face, and the woman in front of me lowered her gun.

  “I didn’t recognize you, sir,” she pushed out between trembling lips.

  She lifted her fingers to her mouth, never relinquis
hing her gaze from mine, and whistled loudly. Several feet away, the men who had been taking down Rafe stopped their assault and awaited further orders from their leader. Both the soldiers’ strength was impressive. It wasn’t an easy feat to take down a vampire. Newly made or not, a vampire held the strength of ten men.

  She made another one of her secret signals, and the men fell in line behind her. Rafe pushed off the ground and stood on unsteady legs. Blood poured from a deep slash across the bridge of his nose. He limped over and leaned against a table, which was miraculously still standing in one piece, and smiled a big fangy grin at his attackers.

  “A couple more minutes, and I would have had both of you,” he mumbled.

  Ignoring Rafe, I pointed a stern finger at Duska. “You have a lot of explaining to do.”

  She holstered her gun. The men behind her stayed as stiff as a board. If I hadn’t noticed the rise and fall of their chests, I would have thought they were robots trained to follow her every command. If only my family’s servants obeyed so well. I mentally threw glaring daggers at Conrad’s granddaughter.


  Blacking out definitely does have its advantages. You get to miss out on all the pain that being smack dab in the middle of an explosion causes your body. But much like adrenaline, once the cradling arms of oblivion fade away, the agony of reality comes barreling back. I couldn’t help it. I screamed. Pain racked my body, hitting me like a freight train, before I was even able to fully crack open my eyes.

  “Kris, everything will be okay. Just be still.” I felt a slight shift of my body and a cool cloth being placed over my brow. “Do any of you have something to give her for the pain?” I heard Rush grit out between his teeth.

  I believe it was Devil who said, “Yeah. I have some oxy. Be right back.”

  I tried to sit up, but Rush nudged me back down. “Give it a minute. I want to make sure you’re all right. You’ve been out for a couple of hours.”

  If that was true, that would put the time at around five o’clock in morning. I bounced my hand off the side of my breast, checking for the cell phone I’d stashed there. I breathed a sigh of relief when I found it. Missing Wolf’s phone call would be disastrous. The patting motion sent a twinge up my shoulder, so I did what Rush said and stayed put.

  It wasn’t just my shoulder that was injured. My whole body ached, and my right hip was on fire. I opened my eyes and searched for Devil. I really needed those pain pills.

  Instead of Devil, I saw a room full of people I didn’t know. There was a young lady staring at me from across the room, and two unassuming males stood by her side. She looked familiar, with medium-length black hair that was straight as a line. Dark lashes outlined a pair of bright green eyes. She was dressed head to toe in dust-covered leather, and her beautiful face had a fresh cut across the cheek. She was maybe five-seven, and her build was curvy, but toned. She had a thick tension around her that screamed Don’t fuck with me! But my mouth opened to say something, anyway. I never was any good at erring on the side of caution.

  “Who are you?” I asked in a clipped tone. At that point, niceties were a thing of the past. I needed to catch up with the rest of the class fast. I was lying injured in a room full of people, only two of whom I knew, and even those two were only acquaintances to me. I looked up at Rush, who was gently cradling me in his lap, and realized rather quickly, part of that thought was wrong. Rush had become more to me than an acquaintance, but in what sense was yet to be determined.

  I flicked my eyes back to the familiar stranger who was walking towards me. The muscles in her toned arms slightly bulged as she moved, stretching the sleeves of her tight jacket. The girl obviously hit the gym hard, and on a regular basis.

  Against the protests of Rush’s arms trying to hold me still, I sat up. Big mistake, that was. The buzz I had earlier paled in comparison to the way my head was spinning due to the sudden movement.

  “Stay back, Duska. You’re making Kris nervous,” Rush said.

  The woman Rush had called ‘Duska’ stopped in her tracks. She folded her arms and looked at the ceiling. “Fine.” She huffed. “I can speak to her from here. It’s just rude.”

  “You know her, then,” I stated.

  “Her family works for mine. They span centuries in our service.” Rush’s face was set with grim lines as he sent a reprimanding glare Duska’s way. “She knows what she did tonight is strictly forbidden and punishable by death. She has disgraced her family’s name.”

  Duska flinched like she’d been slapped across the face, but quickly hid her pain by lifting a prideful chin. It made me feel sorry for her and envy her strength, all in the same go.

  “What could she have possibly done to deserve all that venom?” I asked, truly curious.

  “She deserves far more than my stern words, Kris. Duska, along with her jolly band of morons here, is responsible for tonight’s attack on Devil’s Playground.”

  My mouth dropped open. I didn’t feel sorry for Duska anymore, funny that. If she and the two men standing beside her were the ones responsible for the attack on Devil’s Playground, which left me and probably countless others injured or dead, then why were they not in handcuffs, being hauled off to jail? Or rather, how did they escape death by Devil’s own hand? I asked the obvious question, “Why hasn’t action been taken against them?”

  “Because apparently, these three terrorists are on the same mission you are,” Devil answered for Rush. He had caught the tail end of the conversation as he walked into the room, or his vampire hearing was good enough to hear through walls—one of the two…or both. “In consideration for you, my best friend’s Creator, I held off judgment until you woke up.”

  “Um, okay. I appreciate that, but how, or more importantly, why is it my place to judge? Duska is Rush’s problem, not mine.”

  “Hey,” Duska said, her face showing offense.

  “Sorry, lady, I don’t know you. And from what I’ve seen so far, that might be a good thing. I have my own problems to work out. It’s as simple as that.”

  Speaking of which, the pain in my hip flared wide, crawling down to reach the space right above my knee. The agony left me panting, but I tried to cover it up by taking deeper breaths. Devil must have noticed, because he rushed over with a glass of water and dumped a couple pills in my hand. “Thanks,” I whispered, and shoved the pills into my mouth, swallowing them down between several gulps of water.

  Creators healed faster than a human, but in comparison to a vampire’s ability to regenerate, we healed at a snail’s pace. All in all, I would be hurt for several more hours, but after that, my body would be as good as new and in tip-top shape to save my sister.

  Duska said, “I can’t change what I’ve done, and I’m certainly nobody’s problem, least of all, yours. But it seems we have something, or rather, someone in common. It’s why I came here and thought I had reason to attack.”

  “Oh yeah?” I pushed out between breaths. “This should be good.”

  Duska uncrossed her arms and reached inside her jacket pocket. She pulled out a folded photo and shot a look over at Rush. “Can I show her?”

  With Rush’s approval, Duska crossed the space between us in three long and confident strides. She didn’t move like someone who took orders, but like someone who should be giving them. Regardless, she obeyed Rush with little complaint.

  She handed me the photograph, reluctant to let it go. She seemed attached to it. The picture was worn out and creased, torn a bit at the edges, but I could tell the picture had been taken recently. I knew because of the image it reflected. It was the smiling face of my sister; she was standing next to the same woman who stood in front of me. Torra and Duska had their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders. It was a show of camaraderie and friendship. I handed the photo back to Duska. My heart ached; stress, lies, and my injuries weighing heavy on my body. More and more, I was beginning to realize that I didn’t know my sister at all.

  “Tell me why you showed up here, guns
blazing, in search of Torra. And while you’re at it, I want to know how you two even know each other.”

  Chapter Nineteen

  Duska sat on the edge of the coffee table, her knees inches from mine. The proximity was a bit unnerving; I would have felt more comfortable if she had kept her distance. I was feeling much like an injured animal in that moment, and I just wanted time and my own space, so I could lick my wounds and heal in peace.

  “I met Torra at the Center three years ago.”

  “That’s around the same time our mother left,” I said.

  She leaned forward, settling her crossed arms against her knees, which were also crossed, and rested her chin in her cupped hand. “I suppose it was. Anyway, it was all part of my job as Kissa’s assistant to help educate Torra on the more tedious aspects of her magical abilities. Right from the start, she excelled at the craft. She was one of the strongest beholders I’ve seen. And that’s saying a lot, considering how many I’ve run into, being a part of the Center and the Davis household.”

  Rush grumped and huffed beside me while he listened to her explain her connection to Torra. It was obvious that he wasn’t planning to keep Duska on as a part of his household for much longer. After the night’s antics, I didn’t blame him. With apprehension written all over her face, she continued on with her story. She kept shifting her worried eyes to Rush every few seconds. It was as if she was expecting him to do something, and whatever it was, she wasn’t looking forward to it.

  “We became friends instantly,” Duska said, her tone pitched a little lower than when she’d first started. She broke off her story, her face full of worry. “It was only natural for us to do what we did.”

  “What did you do?” I asked.

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