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Created darkly, p.14
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       Created Darkly, p.14

           Gena D. Lutz
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  “Did Duska and her men make it out of here alive?” I asked. It was obvious that someone, or ones, had just been the vampire’s morning snack.

  Shrewd eyes glistened as Devil chuckled. “The least those punks could do was fill my belly for their impudence. And yes, they still live. I never kill my prey. I’m a catch and release kind of hunter. The most they’ll suffer is a few dizzy spells. They got off easy, if you ask me. I thought I was going to have two new drudges to add to my collection. It’s a shame your girlfriend has such a big heart.”

  “She’s not my girlfriend.”

  “Is that so? I could cut the tension between you two with my fangs,” he joked as he smiled wide enough to make his point—two very sharp ones that still held traces of blood.

  “That’s what I said. I think they should screw and get it over with,” Rafe said, joining in on one of my more miserable moments.

  “Who should screw?” a familiar feminine voice asked.

  Kristina walked into the room alone. Addison hadn’t returned with her; she must have decided to retire for the day. Kristina was wearing a pair of blue-jean overalls with a red tank top underneath. Her boots hung loosely in her hands, and she had a black tote bag hanging over her shoulder. I assumed that’s where she had stored her gun and her other set of clothing.

  Embarrassed, I hid my face behind my hands by rubbing my eyes like I was beat. After a real yawn, I said, “That was nothing, but stupid guy talk. Are you ready to go?”

  Her eyes jumped between us; she looked pretty tired, too. “Yup, I’m more than ready. Do you mind dropping me by my car?”

  “I’d much rather take you straight home to bed. I mean, so you can go to bed alone…of course.” I stumbled over my words like a complete dumb-ass. “I can pick you up later today and take you to your car after you’ve rested.”

  Kristina gave me a peculiar look, but then she smiled. “That’s an even better idea. Thanks, Rush.”

  We walked towards the door. I placed my hand against her lower back without thinking and steered her gently in front of me and through the open doorway. Incredibly, she didn’t pull away; she let me guide her. I looked back and waved a good-bye to the two vampires. Devil nodded back and continued to drink his drink.

  Rafe, on the other hand, wrapped his arms around himself and started miming two people hugging. He then puckered up and proceeded to blow kisses at me. I had to restrain myself from back-tracking over to him, so I could ring his smart-ass neck. Instead, my arm flew up and behind me, and I flipped the bastard off.

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Twenty minutes later, Rush and I arrived at my house. I breathed a sigh of relief when I spotted a messy mop of hair poking through the curtains that shaded the front window. As soon as he saw me, Jude’s quirky smile spread across his face to reach his eyes. Before I could blink, he vanished out of sight. He seemed glad to see me. I hoped that wonderful smile meant he had forgiven me for staying out all night, even though I didn’t deserve to be let off so easily. I should have been home with him, because I knew he was just as worried about Torra as I was, but Jude was ever the forgiving type. I needed to become a better friend to him.

  I opened the car door and stepped out into the chilled morning. Wind kissed my warm skin, making me shiver. Lights from the overhead street lanterns had been turned off for the day, but I could still hear a slight buzz emanating from inside the steel poles. The intensity of harnessing another form of life, the potent spark which created electricity, had always called to me like a kindred spirit. Closing my eyes, I took everything in. I let nature and the buzz from the electrical current ride me until I felt at ease, almost recharged. I opened my eyes in time to see Rush exiting the vehicle. I waved him back.

  “I’m good from here,” I said, shoving the door harder than I intended. I flinched when it slammed shut.

  “Are you sure? I could walk you to your door and make sure you get inside safely.”

  “That’s not necessary. Thanks again for your help and the ride home.”

  He looked strained as he opened his mouth to argue the point, but decided against it. Then I realized what I had done, what I was giving up by sending him away, and I wanted to kick myself for it. I did want him to walk me to my door, and I also wanted what could possibly happen afterward. There was nothing I could do that would change the flow of circumstance I had just inadvertently created. Well, short of throwing myself at him, that is. I was so stupid. With a nod and wave, he hopped back into the car and took off down the road.

  “Well, hell,” I muttered as I watched his car disappear. “That’ll teach me to play hard to get.”

  “I thought he’d never leave.”

  I turned around, startled. Duska was standing at the side of my house with an eerie smirk on her face. She was strapped to the nines, with guns and knives covering every available space on her body. All of a sudden, four men swarmed out from behind the house. It took them seconds to surround and close me in; I had nowhere to run. I shoved my hand into the duffle bag hanging from my shoulder and grabbed the gun inside. I didn’t pull it out; instead, I decided to keep my only weapon hidden and at the ready.

  “I’ve heard of making a grand entrance, but really, Duska, a simple knock on the door would have sufficed,” I said in a level tone. I ignored the men surrounding me and kept my eyes locked on the weapon-shrouded Ms. Rambo. At the moment, she was the real threat.

  “I had to ensure the safety of my men. Especially after your vampire friend half-drained two of them.” She smirked. “Safe passage out? What a crock of shit. Vampires never keep their word.” She all but spat the accusation at me.

  “You blew up Devil’s bar, injured his bride, and yet, you still live to tell the tale! I’d say you ended up on the winning side of that deal.” I couldn’t believe I was standing there defending the honor of a vampire. What a difference a day makes.

  She holstered the gun that was in her hand and walked over, stopping a few feet in front of me, and leaned forward. “I did that for Torra…your sister,” she said with a hiss as if she was accusing me of something. She could choke on her misguided sentiments; no one wanted to find Torra more than me.

  “What do you want, Duska?” I volleyed back with equal hostility.

  She rocked back on her heels and set her hands on her hips. The scowl covering her face relaxed and she was once again smirking. “I came here for you. I figured you’re the key to finding Torra, and I’ve decided to help.”

  “I told you before that no one is allowed to help me, so if you’d be so kind as to call off your goons, I’d like to go inside now and get some rest.”

  “I heard you loud and clear, Kris. But let me ask you something. Don’t you think it’s foolish of you to let Wolf make up all the rules of the game? There’s a reason he is the ‘bad’ guy. Men like him don’t follow the rules, not even their own. I think we should start making up our own rules and throw a wrench in this asshole’s plan.”

  I paused, pretending to consider her proposition. But in reality, my brain was churning, trying to figure out an escape plan. I was one hundred percent positive that woman intended to take me with her, whether I liked it or not. She certainly had the manpower for it. One Chase kidnapping a week was enough, in my opinion, so I wasn’t about to go quietly. I stared at my front door, only ten feet in front of me. If I could just get past her men, I’d be home free.

  Then the sound of squealing tires came out of nowhere. I watched as a dark vehicle jumped the curb in front of the house and came to a jolting stop in the yard. Rush flew out of the car, and with two guns pointed at the group surrounding me, he yelled, “Get the fuck away from her now! Duska, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll back away.”

  Surprised and with their guard down, everyone jerked around to look at Rush. I used the distraction to my best advantage, pulling my own gun and kneeling down into a crouch. I then tucked into a ball and rolled backwards, sailing between the legs of the two men who were standing behind m
e. I rolled twice, pushing off the ground with my inherent strength, making me nothing but a blur before I jumped back to my feet and pointed my gun at them. They never knew what hit ‘em. Sometimes it was useful, being a necromancer.

  Boy, was I glad to see Rush. Jude popped in beside me. He had been inside the car with Rush when it jumped the curb. That would explain how Rush knew I was in trouble.

  “I thought you could use a little help,” Jude said.

  Side glancing, I winked at him and smiled. “You’re the best friend ever. Do you know that?”

  “I do, but it’s always nice to hear.”

  “I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” I said calmly to Duska.

  A flicker of annoyance crossed her face, and she lowered her left hand. With a pushing motion, she directed her men back. All five vampire hunters began to back away in the directions from which they had come. Even though we were outnumbered, our brute strength and the sway Rush had over Duska worked to our advantage.

  “You’re batting for the wrong team, Kris,” Duska said, still in motion. “The Center and the monsters they create abuse the power they have. Both my friends have become pawns and victims to this struggle. Help us make things right.”

  “I’m on team Chase; it’s that simple. I realize your heart’s in the right place, and in your own screwed-up way, you think you’re doing what’s best, but you’re going about it the wrong way. Guns, explosives, attempted kidnappings?” I shook my head. “Leave my sister to me. I promise I’ll bring her home safe.”

  “You’re really not going to let me help you. You’re insane.” She finally figured out that no matter how high handed or how hard she tried to convince me otherwise, I wasn’t about to let her in on my plans to save Torra.

  “More like crazy, senseless, and foolish. But I’ve learned to work with my shortcomings,” I replied.

  Duska cleared her throat. “Rush, will you tell my grandfather that I’m sorry I disappointed him and that I stayed with your family as long as I could for him?”

  A dark gloom surrounded Rush. It wasn’t anything you could see with your eyes. It was more of an oppressive presence that could only be felt by the soul. “Are you sure you want to do this to him?” His words were guttural.

  Duska holstered her weapon and sighed. “I’m finished with pretending, hiding who I am. Your species creates vampires, and I am human. There is no honor between humans and vampires; there can’t be. Vampires will always have the upper hand over us. We are their food source, Kris. And lest you forget, they are stronger and more ruthless, and they live with a dark magic inside them that prompts them to kill us for their own preservation. Survival is the ultimate motivation, the purest of instincts. I choose to follow mine, and they tell me to kill them all.” She turned and walked forward, her shoulders knocking between two of her men who were still inching their way backwards. Before she rounded the corner to disappear behind the house, she stopped and looked over her shoulder at me. “Your sister feels the same way I do, Kris.” After dropping that bombshell on me, she disappeared from sight.

  Yeah, and at one point, so did I.

  Silence ensued. Then Rush walked over to his car, opened the door, and piled in. A few minutes later, his car was properly parked at the curb, and we were stomping up the porch stairs. Without a word, I opened the door and stepped inside. I turned around and looked at him with an exhausted half-smile, holding the door to let him come in. There was no use arguing the matter, after what had happened. There was no way Rush was going to leave me alone, and I was pretty sure I didn’t want him to.

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  After a few hours of sleep, I got up and took two mugs from the cabinet above the coffee maker. After that, I poured freshly ground coffee beans into a filter and pushed the button on the machine that soon filled the house with a bouquet of heavenly roast. I loved my coffee. I was a zombie without it, and that’s why I spared no expense when it came to the quality and quantity I always kept on hand. It was my guilty pleasure.

  “Mmm-hmm…. There’s no better way to wake up; a beautiful woman in the kitchen making coffee. Is their enough for me?” Rush called out from the living room.

  “It depends. Are you talking about the woman in the kitchen or her yummy coffee?”

  “If I’m lucky enough to have a choice, there’s no contest, Kris. I’ll always choose you.” The seductive pitch sent a spearhead of lust shooting straight through me.

  After the missed opportunity earlier that morning, I had decided that because of the way Rush had grown on me like barnacles on a ship, I would allow things to progress naturally and stop fighting my feelings for him. After all, they had spiraled way beyond my control. It was time to get my flirt on, so I went to him.

  Rush pulled the covers down to his waist, revealing a muscled chest. With hooded eyes accompanied by a sly smirk, he slid his arm behind his head and reclined against the pillow. If I didn’t love my coffee so much, I would have dropped the cups in my hands right then and there. Good grief, the man looked incredibly hot. As his lips parted, twisting into a sexy grin, all I could do was stand there like a dumb-ass and stare.

  He held out his hand, and with my mind reeling from what he’d just said about always choosing me, I placed the coffee mug into it. I took a sip out of my own and batted my eyes. I hoped the liquid would wet my dry lips and calm the dizziness I had going on. I pushed at his leg. It was crooked up underneath the blanket. He moved it over, so I could take a seat next to him.

  After taking a sip from his own steaming cup, he leaned over and placed it on the coffee table. The blanket pulled lower, down his body as he stretched, exposing his side and the curve of his hip. The lower portion of his body was only inches from being uncovered. Oh lords, my fingers ached to yank the blanket off him, so I could drink my fill of his ripped physique. But like the coward I was, I hid my blush behind my mug as I took another long drink and made my eyes focus on something safer—something not even remotely tantalizing or sexy. My eyes zeroed in on the curtains across the room. They did the trick for about two seconds.

  “I was really impressed with the way you handled the situation over at Devil’s Playground. I know I don’t have to tell you how easily it could have spun out of control,” he said.

  Rush placed his hand on my knee. The skin to skin contact made heat flare up my leg. Not stopping its path of erotic destruction there, the fire spread into other places. I was close to having a southern belle moment by fanning myself to cool down.

  “Believe me, after being injured, and then finding out Duska not only betrayed your trust, but she also happens to know my sister? Let’s just say keeping my cool was hard, but someone had to keep a level head. And I’m pretty sure Duska won’t be holding up her end of the bargain.”

  “Which part?”

  I reclined, leaning against his knees. The way his legs were covered by the blanket resembled a tiny teepee. A rousing game of cowboys and Indians played out in my head, complete with me wearing a feather headdress and him pointing his long, loaded pistol at me.

  “All of it. Pitching in to clean up the bar and working there to pay off some of the repairs caused by the explosion.”

  Rush’s hand began to move, gently rubbing my knee. I swallowed hard.

  “I can speak with her grandfather, Conrad. Unlike his granddaughter, he is very loyal to me.”

  “No, I’m not going to bother with her anymore. I have a strong feeling we’re all better off with her gone. I’ve decided to help out over at Devil’s place myself. I’m going to put in for some vacation time at the casino; they owe me a month’s paid leave. I plan on breaking the news to Devil as soon as Torra is safe and sound.”

  Rush took the mug I had nervously clutched between my hands and placed it next to his on the table. “That’s very noble of you. I’m not sure how I feel about sharing you with a bunch of vampires, though. You may develop a yearning for fangs.”

  He cradled my face between his hands. He had taken his
contacts out before he went to bed a few hours prior, so I was staring deep into his smoke-grey eyes, almost tumbling into the depths of them.

  “I gave him my word. Unlike Duska, I keep my promises.” My words trickled out with warm breath that played against his lips.

  I drew my fingers across his chiseled jaw, the stubbles tickling the tips, making me want to play with it more. I leaned in and gave him a light kiss there instead. Licking my lips, I waited for him to pull me against him. Rush didn’t disappoint.

  I found myself on his lap, the blanket on the floor. It left his naked body bared to me. He devoured my lips and drank me in, the very air in my lungs. I pushed away from the kiss for a second, just long enough to take in a breath, before plunging back inside. Our tongues danced, gliding like spools of loosened silk, playing against each other.

  Rush’s voice came out rugged and breathless. “I must have you. I need to be deep inside of you.”

  I turned and repositioned myself, straddling his lap, both of my knees around his waist. I could feel his hardened length pressed against my wet core as I brought myself down on him, pushing and grinding myself over him.

  I moaned, “I’m not stopping you.”

  With eager abandon, he licked and nibbled a path of pleasure up my neck and over my chin, sucking my bottom lip into his mouth; he let out a deep growl. After the sound that punctuated his need for me, he slid the tip of my chin into his mouth. He gave it a gentle nibble and a long suck before releasing it to yank my shirt over my head. I wasn’t wearing a bra, so his hands went straight to my breasts; smooth thumbs began a slow caress over my straining nipples.

  His hands shook like a school boy experiencing his first sexual encounter in his eagerness to touch me. I leaned in against his trembling palms. Throwing my head back, I gave him unrestricted access to my body, free rein to do with it as he pleased.

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