Ember's Curse (Prime Wolf), p.6Gena D. Lutz
"It's okay. What happened next?"
She nodded her head at me and continued. "I ran into our apartment. I could hear footsteps and someone rummaging through our things. The smell of wolf was everywhere. I was just about to go check your room-that’s where the noise was coming from-when I was jumped from behind."
"Did you see who it was…the person that attacked you?" Nathan gently asked her.
"No, I didn't see him, but I could smell him, both of them. A vampire stabbed me from behind. I was able to fight him off of me, but as soon as I began to gain the advantage over the blood sucker, the wolf joined in." Harper leaned back against the couch and threw up her hands.
"That's about it. I got some good hits in but I figured it was lights out for me."
"What did you find at the crime scene?" Collin asked Milo.
Milo pulled his phone out of his pocket and began to press buttons. He turned it towards us so we could have a good view of the bright screen.
"I took several pictures of the top floor," he said, scrolling through them. "From what I could gather, it was supposed to be a quick get in, get out. Their major objective? Snatch as many wolves as possible. Harper had been just an obstacle in the way of that goal."
He pulled a Ziploc bag out of the same pocket and tossed it on the table in front of us.
"This was on the floor in apartment 4."
"That's our apartment," I interrupted Milo. I picked up the plastic baggy and inspected its contents. Reddish brown liquid coated the inside of the bag. A black tuft of fur was also sealed inside of it. "Is it werewolf?" I asked, handing it over to Collin.
"We believe so. It's also the only hard evidence that we were able to retrieve from the crime scene."
After a brief look at the hair, Collin handed it over to Harper. "Does this belong to the wolf that attacked you?"
Harper grabbed the plastic bag and opened it. The smell of blood and wolf immediately filled the air. "Yup, that belongs to the fleabag that jumped me. I will never forget his stench." She handed it back to Milo. He zipped it closed and pocketed it.
"We have some werewolves missing," Milo said, showing us a picture of an empty apartment. There were small streaks of blood on the walls and floor. The furniture was knocked over. All signs of a bloody battle. "This picture was taken from apartment 2." He then brought up a picture of an average looking man with brown hair and eyes. I recognized him immediately as my neighbor. "This is Jesse Long. It’s his apartment in that picture. I made a couple calls to his family and no one has seen or heard from him since yesterday."
My thoughts strayed for a moment to Jesse. He usually kept to himself, never caused any problems. The last time I talked to him was almost a week ago. He had brought over some junk mail of mine that accidentally found its way into his mailbox. He told me about a new girl he was dating. It was sad to think about.
"So, we have a missing werewolf and a wrecked apartment. Did you uncover anything else?" I asked him.
"There were two missing werewolves actually. Donna Vance from apartment 3 is missing as well. Neither wolf went easily, from the state of their apartments.
Milo flipped through a few more pictures and stopped on a gruesome image. Long, black hair fanned out on the hardwood floor. It soaked up the surrounding blood that it laid in, like a mop. Blank eyes stared blindly out from a stark white face. A decapitated body lay a couple feet away from the severed head.
"This is the occupant from apartment 1, Brandon Parker." Milo scrolled through a couple more images of the victim’s body and his apartment before shutting off his phone to put it away. He then spoke to Collin. "After everything I've seen and going over the minimal evidence I was able to uncover, it's looking like the Gatherers are most likely to blame for this."
Milo sat down on the stool now finished with his report, and stuck his hand into his jacket. Little Mojo practically jumped into his arms. I'd never seen a big burly werewolf so overcome by a tiny puffball. It was really cute. The dog licked his master in the face excitedly before settling down comfortably in his lap.
"It's official then," Collin announced, "this case has just become the responsibility of the Adelphi."
Does that mean what I think it means? I privately asked Collin.
It sure does, Kitten.
I smiled inwardly at the good news. I'm not obligated to report this to Tommy, I sent to him.
Nope...and as the leader of the Adelphi and head of this investigation, I formally request your help in finding the ones who attacked Harper and your pack.
I love it when you talk dirty to me, I replied back to him.
Collin had just given me the license to seek revenge on my enemies, and Tommy or Sylvia couldn't do anything about it. Life was good.
I helped pile the last of the three dead bodies against the wall in the corner of the garage. For some reason, I didn't feel bad for numbly tossing them aside like rubble. I guess it's tough not to harden your heart against anyone trying to harm you or the ones you love. Those men were nothing but the enemy to me. A case of kill or be killed. It was a simple choice really.
We had emptied their pockets before moving them, but only found a gum wrapper foil and a pack of cigarettes between them. They weren't carrying any identification, not even a set of car keys. The assassins were either dropped off or came in on foot. We also discovered that all three of them were human with traces of vamp blood in their system. Further proof, Milo said, that we were dealing with the Gatherers. They were known for keeping human minions. The blood in their system was a way for vampires to control them. Going by all the scars on the dead men's bodies, they were used a whole hell of a lot.
"That’s the last of them," I said, wiping the sweat from my forehead. “What’s next?"
Collin covered the corpses with a tarp and sat down. He sat on the bench next to the potting soil and fertilizer that was stacked neatly on utility shelves. "We wait."
"We wait…for what?" I asked.
"We wait to see if they turn. If they have enough vamp tainted blood in their system, there's a good chance that they will."
I walked over to the metal shelves and started rifling through the odds and ends. After only a few seconds, I found what I was looking for. Two long wooden stakes used for gardening. They were kind of on the flimsy side for stabbing with, but with enough strength and accuracy behind the swing, it would do the trick. I tossed one of the stakes to Collin.
"Here…just in case you’re right."
Collin caught the impromptu weapon and tested his grip on it. He looked at me with a silly grin and nodded his head.
"Looks like my woman has been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer," he said with approval.
I sprinted across the room and ran up the side of the wall. Before I reached the ceiling, I tossed myself back into a flip. I landed in a kneel with one hand on the ground and the other, stake clad hand, behind my back. I gave Collin a wicked smile and arched my brow.
"Buffy rides the bench when it's my turn up at bat," I said. It felt good to play around a little but my fun was soon interrupted by the garage door lifting open. I pushed myself up and went over next to Collin who had also stood at the sound of the squeaky noise.
"Are you expecting someone?" I asked him.
Yes. The head of clean up and disposal, Tegan Knox. She'll manage the crime scene at your apartment building.
A green van pulled into the now cramped garage. Tegan turned off the engine and hopped out of the vehicle. "Hi boss."
"Hi Sport. How was class tonight?"
"You know how I do. Kicked the shit out of all the boys, just waiting for the instructors to get a clue and switch me to a higher level," she said as a cocky grin spread across her heavily made up face. The diamond studs pierced into her deep dimples gleamed when they caught the light, making her smile sparkle even more.
"There's more to learn in that class than just ass kicking, Tegan. How are your test scores?"
"Ummm...getting better?" she said. The cockiness instantly evaporated and she looked like a teenager about to be grounded by her father. Wait a minute.
Who exactly is this young girl to you? I asked nervously.
He must have read my mind because he chuckled before he replied. She is my niece, he sent back. And don't let the innocent act fool ya. She is very bright and knows exactly what she's doing. You don't get a position with the Adelphi, at such a young age without being smart and a little bit devious.
I took a better look at Collin’s niece. She looked like she was twenty years old at the most. Her hair was dark blue and spiked up with tons of hair product. Her eyes were still down cast but I watched as she every so often peeked up at Collin to see if her little act was working on him. Those steel blue eyes held a wealth of intelligence. Well I'll be damned, he was right. She was a little bit of a manipulator. I liked her immediately.
"We have an apartment building full of blood and a dead body to take care of," he said, walking over to Tegan and giving her a hello hug. "We will discuss your grades later with your parents."
She hugged her uncle back and looked over his shoulder at me. "Who’s the babe?" she asked as she stepped away from him.
Collin walked back over to me and took my hand. "This is my girlfriend, Ember. Be nice to her."
"Hi Ember," she said with a little wave. "Don't listen to the old guy. I'm always nice."
"I'm sure you are," I chuckled. "Nice to meet you."
The family meet and greet was wonderful but unfortunately it was cut short all too soon. Tegan’s welcoming smile turned into a scary grimace. She tore the stake out of Collin’s hand and in one graceful leap, jumped over the hood of the van. She disappeared behind it in the direction of the dead bodies. They weren't piled up nice and neat like before. They were up and moving, and they were completely consumed by thirst.
A vampire’s first thought upon awakening is always one of blood and sex, both at the same time was usual. The older the vamp, the easier it was for them to control the overwhelming urges of their kind. The victims never lived through it if they were human and the vamp was newly turned. They were also stronger as newborns. This wasn't going to be pleasant.
I grabbed my own stake and threw it at Collin. He looked at me confused but took it. "I work better with my claws anyways," I said, running toward the action. "Just try to keep up."
Those kinds of comments could emasculate a man.
It's a good thing my man knows how badass he is then.
By the time I reached the brawl, Tegan had already gained the attention of the newly turned vampires. Well, all of them except for one. A lone shivering newborn was curled up tight into himself, rocking back and forth in the corner away from the others.
The goth princess moved around the flailing kicks and lightening quick jabs of the other two, like a ballerina executing the dance of her career. She was lethal and darkly exquisite.
I watched patiently on for an opening so I could try to insert myself seamlessly into the battle, but my help wasn't needed. No one’s was. She could handle this fight perfectly fine on her own.
"I am feeling awkwardly unneeded right now," I said to Collin who was standing a few feet away leaning lazily against the wall.
"Welcome to my world, sexy lady. Tegan is a force all of her own."
That "force" delivered a roundhouse kick to one of the attacking vamps, and while in mid-turn from said kick, used the momentum from it to push the stake up and under the rib cage of the second one. The garden stake sunk effortlessly into his heart. "One down," Tegan said, letting the now dead vampire slide limply from her weapon and turned to face the other. “One more leach to go."
She twirled the blood soaked stake like a baton. Blood splattered everywhere; across the walls, floor, and all over Tegan’s clothes and face. Nathan was going to be pissed off at the mess she was making.
The remaining vampire rushed Tegan. She jumped into the air and brought her leg up for a kick to his head. Right before her boot made contact, he grabbed her calf with both hands. Spinning in a circle, he twirled her into the brick wall. She fell to the ground on her side and the air rushed out of her. Tegan pushed herself up and onto her feet. She wiped the blood that trailed down her hairline from a fresh cut and charged.
The vampire bared his fangs and hissed before he launched himself at her as well. They crashed together, legs and claws flailing. The vampire got his arms securely around her and began to squeeze. Tegan yelled in pain from the constriction. Her arms were trapped against her body under his hold. She began to chant words I'd never heard before. Her eyes were closed and frown lines creased her forehead. Collin raced for his niece to help her, but slammed into an invisible barrier a few feet before reaching her.
"What the hell?" he yelled, rushing the clear wall again to no avail. "Tegan. Let me through!" If she heard Collin screaming for her, she didn't let on. Tegan just kept up the melodic chant. Her lips moved frantically and small wisps of smoke started trickling out from under the vampires black fatigues. A horrid smell reached me and I covered my mouth and nose with my shirt. It smelled like rotten flesh set to boil.
The vampire dropped his hold on her but she still kept up her chant without missing a beat. Light spilled out all around her. Every part of her lit up like a light bulb. Oddly enough, the bright light only hit the vampire she was fighting. The other one was still safely tucked away in the corner.
There was an agonizing scream, along with unknown liquid gurgling out from between the burning man’s lips. Flames burst out and licked across his contorted face. Then after a short few seconds, all that was left of him was a pile of ash on the ground. It happened so fast I had to rub my eyes to try to clear them before I could take another look. Still that's all that remained of him.
Collin’s constant pounding on the invisible barrier abruptly ended and he rushed to Tegan’s side. He reached her just in time to catch her from toppling to the floor. Her body was limp and she had turned as pale as a ghost.
I moved myself from the spot I had been rooted to and ran to her as well.
"Ember, I heard screaming...is everything okay?" Harper yelled at me as she and the guys barreled through the door, almost falling on top of each other. "What reeks?" she gasped, pinching her nose.
"The assassins turned into vampires," I said, pointing to the charred remains. “Tegan, Collin’s niece, incinerated that one." I then pointed to the other dead vampire. "She staked him through the heart."
Nathan shook his head and started to laugh hysterically. He could barely take a breath from laughing so hard.
"Have you lost your damn mind?" Harper asked him.
Collin walked past all of us with Tegan in his arms. He stopped by Nathan and gave him a death glare. "Keep it up and I'll take you out back to beat some damn sense into you."
Nathan struggled to speak. He grabbed Collin by the shoulder before he could pass and stopped him. "I meant no disrespect," he said seriously. "It's just that every time I fall asleep, I wake up to dead bodies and the women I care about either half dead or passed out." He shrugged his shoulders, completely sobered. "It was my way of letting all the tension and frustration out, I guess...sorry man."
Sparkles of light covered the entirety of Tegan’s body. She was still pale and weak but her eyes had already opened to the world around her a while ago. White fur replaced the brilliant light that hovered over her body like a second skin. She had been spontaneously shifting into wolf form for quite some time now.
"She is looking so much better Collin," I said, setting a change of clothes onto the table next to Tegan’s sick bed. "I don't get it...why can't she stop shifting?"
Collin folded me into his arms and gave me a tender kiss. His body was slightly shivering. His niece must have given him an even bigger scare than I'd initially thought.
"She is healing herself. Using that much power drains her," he answered me while setting his chin on top of my head and letting out a deep sigh. "The spell she used tonight is the one she uses to clean up bodies...dead ones. Using her power on the living could tap her out completely. Her wolf is in the process of trying to save her life."
"Her eyes are open so I'm assuming that's a good sign, right?" I asked.
"Yes, my love. It's a very good sign. She will live through this." Collin gave me one more squeeze then walked over to Tegan’s side. "But will she live through the wrath of her mother once she finds out about the forbidden spell her daughter foolishly cast? That's another matter entirely."
"I believe it," I said with a shiver of my own. "In my experience, witches aren't known for their kindness."
"I know your family doesn't have the best track record with them. What Alexandra did to your family centuries ago was cruel. But trust me, my darling. Not all witches are evil."
I watched Collin dress his niece’s tiny little body. She had finally stopped shifting and was now breathing heavily from exhaustion. One or two shifts were a bitch on a werewolf's body...let alone several. She would be out of commission for a while.
"Milo and I are going to take her back to the compound. Are you going to be alright here with the newborn vamp?"
"I'll be fine," I reassured him. "I have Harper and Nathan here to help me. Just worry about getting her home where she can heal safely."
"Why hasn't he tried to attack us? He must have incredible will power," Harper asked while inching her way closer to the newborn vampire. She held a bag of blood out in front of her to try to coax the skittish vamp out of the corner.
"He looks scared more than anything," I said, kneeling down next to her. "Here, let me try." I took the bag from her and set it down in front of him. He lifted his head, which he had hidden behind his crossed arms, and peeked over them at me. I signaled at Nathan and Harper to back off and did the same thing myself, slowly, so as not to spook him.
Ember's Curse (Prime Wolf) by Gena D. Lutz / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes