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       Paranormal Hunter Box Set, Books 1-3: Sonnet Vale, Phantom City, & Demon Touched, p.7

           Gena D. Lutz
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  Then, it was Anya who brought Sonnet another round. But instead of a stiff drink, the demon had placed a glass of water with lemon in front of her.

  “Thank you,” Sonnet said, switching out the glasses.

  She took a long sip from the rim. If she kept upping her liquid intake, at that rate, she’d be running to the ladies’ room in no time.

  Anya’s tiny blue hand came down over the top of Sonnet’s fingers.

  “You survived that monster, dear one, and that’s what matters.”

  The unexpected kindness from the mindreading demon took Sonnet by surprise. And then their eyes met in a moment of solidarity that only women who’d been through a similar situation could share.

  Anya flew backwards, fist jabbing against the black lacey corset snug around her hips.

  “Then the damn vampire bit her. Yada-yada, and that’s all you guys need to know.”

  Bane cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck.

  “I’m sorry. Had I known, I never would have—”

  “Would’ve what, you blood-suckin’ leach?” Ryker interrupted.

  Sonnet let out an exasperated breath, even though she was secretly glad that the subject was being changed.

  “Come on, guys, stop it. Ryker, Bane didn’t do anything to me. And I don’t know why I have to explain anything to you, anyway, secret werewolf guy.”

  With a wink, Anya said, “They’re all yours, girl. Have fun with that. Roll Tide!”

  Sonnet looked at her with a tiny grin as Anya then hovered off to the other side of the bar.

  Chapter Fifteen

  A few minutes later, Remy appeared. He laughed, a menacing sound.

  “I’ve found your vampire, Sonnet, the hunter. Do we have a deal or not?”

  Bane piped in, “Is there any other way? Anything else you’ll bargain for? I’ll give you another century.”

  The last part was said in a rushed whisper, like it hurt to even speak the words.

  “That’s a tempting offer, Bane. But no.”

  “Why do you want my blood?” she asked.

  “As I mentioned before, I would like to know what kind of demon you are. Consider me curious.”

  “And what happens if you don’t like what you find? Will you hurt me or my friends?”

  Remy’s eyes went abyss-type black, his hair shifting in black silken sheets, like a restless tide, only to abruptly stop as he smiled wide, showing off the longest and sharpest set of fangs she’d ever seen.

  She gulped down an oh shit.

  “I promise that if your blood is displeasing to my palate, no harm will come to you or your friends because of it.”

  Sonnet scanned the bar. There weren’t many customers patronizing the darkly hued establishment, with some of them occupying a few of the barstools sitting a ways down from her. She looked over her shoulder and saw a couple more people spread out, sitting at round tables on the main floor.

  “You wanna do this here?”

  The demon nodded and said, “Here’s as good a place as any.”

  She gave the customers a final look and held out her arm.

  “All right. You have a deal.”

  Remy took her hand, but instead of shaking it, he turned it over, palm up, and ran a finger across her wrist. His touch gave off a butterfly sensation that she instantly hated.

  Sonnet’s eyes went wide, and she snatched her hand back, cradling it to her chest.

  “No. Your fangs are not touchin’ me.”

  After a grunt of displeasure, Remy stood straight.

  “Very well. How do you propose we do this, then?”

  Sonnet looked at Bane and smiled bitterly.

  “Would you bite me?”

  A smiled jerked at the corner of his mouth.

  “Are you sure?”

  She nodded.

  “You trust me enough?”

  Sonnet realized then that she did trust him.

  “I do.”

  Bane reached over and lifted her hand from where it rested against her chest. He held it gently, like her body was the frailest of things.

  “Then, of course, I will do it. I’d be honored to, little fox.”

  She couldn’t help stiffening as she readied herself for the worst.

  “Do it,” she hissed between clenched teeth.

  The strike was so quick that she barely felt it. Sonnet peeled open one eye and stared down at her wrist. Two tiny dots of red welled there. It was a minuscule amount of blood; not enough of it was shed to spill from the wound.

  She was expecting to feel the same horrific pain she’d felt during the only other time she’d been bitten. Bane’s bite was, to her amazement, kind of nice.

  Remy chuckled loudly, pulling Sonnet’s gaze up. Once the demon knew he had her full attention, he licked his lips.

  Bane’s snarl was fierce, and he bared his fangs.

  “You know, you’re one sick bastard, Remy.”

  Remy gave Bane a hard, assessing look.

  “We can’t all be saints.”

  Then the demon struck Sonnet’s flesh... hard. His fangs pierced the two little holes that Bane had readied for him, making the wound wider and deeper.

  Shock, mixed with nausea, assaulted Sonnet’s senses, and her heart jack-hammered out of control. Instead of feeling terror or panic, she felt enraged at the nerve of the asshole who would take from her what she did not offer—her flesh. She forced her hand to clench, giving the demon his fill. But her instincts warred with her to strike out, to take the son of a bitch’s heart. Somehow, her cooler head prevailed.

  Ryker and Bane weren’t feeling as accommodating. Both of them flew like a rocket blast from out of their seats. However, before they could even lay a finger on the demon, Remy lifted his hand with a forward thrust, and the vampire and the werewolf were flung backwards, across the bar.

  “That’s enough!” Sonnet boomed, her voice deeper than she’d ever heard it.

  Remy’s gaze rose from her wrist, his black orbs swirling blood-red, with darkly lashed lids lowered in pleasure. After one last pull from her wound, he broke contact. He lifted his finger to one of his pointy fangs and slashed a cut at the tip of it. He then swiped the bloody digit across her wound.

  “I won’t dare leave a scar on such supple flesh.”

  Sonnet had to stop her hand from jumping to the scar at her neck, which was itching to be touched. She refused to satisfy the demand with any kind of reaction other than indifference.

  “You got your price, so where’s the dude?”

  She could hear grunts and moans coming from behind her, the sounds of Ryker and Bane trying to get to her, no doubt. But she refused to break eye contact with the demon to find out for sure.

  Remy raised his hand. Sonnet’s eyes widened, and she went stiff, expecting to be thrown backwards, like the men. But instead of being launched into the air, the demon used his fingers to snap out a demand to someone or something unseen. A few seconds later, two ordinary-looking men appeared from around the corner, with a very pissed-off fang-baring vampire held captive between them.

  “Your offender, as ordered,” one of the men said.

  The vampire’s snarling abruptly ended the moment he caught site of Remy. His short bright red hair was flattened like a helmet to his head in waves. It appeared to be stiff, like he used way too much hair product. Underneath blonde scrunched-up brows, he gave Remy a questioning glance.

  “What have I done to offend you, my king?”

  Sonnet’s mouth dropped open at the title he used to address Remy.

  No freakin’ way!

  She swung her head around, in search of Bane and Ryker. She needed confirmation. And with Remy’s attention on the new guy, she wanted to see if they were okay. She spotted them across the room, up against the far wall. They were uncrumpling from an apparent fall, picking themselves up off of the floor, with some pretty angry looks on their faces.

  “King?” Sonnet mouthed to Bane as he walked towards her, his eyes
watching her lips move.

  He glanced over at Remy and then back to her. He nodded.

  Sonnet’s head moved back around slowly.

  In a flat voice she asked, “How do I know it’s him?”

  “Because, divine hunter, once you strike a bargain with a demon, it’s seared across your soul. It secretes as a promise, rushing through the blood in your veins. There’s always room for misinterpretation, but never for lies. I promised you Donovan, the vampire Bane asked for. See for yourself.” He looked over at the trio of men. “Donovan, won’t you join us?”

  The men holding him captive shoved him forward by the shoulders. He stumbled but caught himself before he fell to the red carpet. He smiled at Remy. It was forced, but he wouldn’t dare show any displeasure. When he reached the king, he bowed.

  “How can I help?”

  Remy’s eyes flickered to Sonnet as he said to Donovan, “Remove your shirt.”

  Shrugging, he crossed his arms and grabbed the edge of his green shirt in both hands. He then pulled it up and over his head, tossing it to land on the floor at his feet. His green eyes never wavered from Remy, waiting for the king’s next order with stoic features.

  Remy smiled, pleased. He glanced over at Bane, who was standing next to Sonnet.

  “Is this the vampire you were searching for?”

  He nodded once, staring at the bull’s-eye tattoo etched across the man’s chest.

  “It is.”

  Donovan shot Bane a death glare as he asked, “What the fuck, man?”

  The hair on the back of Sonnet’s neck rose. She was thinking that was more than likely the one who kidnapped Kelly. Taking a long look at the marking across his chest, she thought, Unless there’s another vampire with the same tattoo. She had to be sure, which meant she was going to need a little more proof.

  Suddenly, she realized that every eye was on her, their silence pounding at her ears. She reminded herself that was her ball game, and it was time to either shoot or pass the ball. Swallowing a nervous lump, she pushed off the bar and walked over to him. Keeping herself a few feet away, but in front of him, she looked up.

  “Where’d you get your ink done?”

  Donovan stared down his nose at her with disgust that reached to crinkle the corners of his eyes.

  “Fuck you, bitch.”

  Reminding herself that she had a vampire, a werewolf, and a demon king behind her for back up, she took a full step forward. In the same move, she reached behind her and pulled out the stake from her waistband, pressing the silver tip of it to the bared flesh over his heart, until the pressure dimpled the skin.

  Sonnet asked again, “One more time, asshole. Where did you get your work done?”

  The look Donovan gave her was vicious.

  Between clenched teeth, he said, “There’s only one place that can mark a vampire permanently, you twit. Immortal Ink.”

  For some reason, the name sounded familiar.

  “Where can I find this place... Immortal Ink?”

  Donovan’s laugh took her by surprise, making her press the tip of the stake harder into his flesh. He didn’t even flinch.

  “Is this chick serious?” he said to someone behind her.

  Bane answered, “Deadly so.”

  That shut him up. He stared back down at Sonnet, seeming confused, deflated.

  “The tattoo parlor’s right across the street from this buildin’.”

  She’d seen the shop’s sign when she first entered the city. Sonnet put the stake away. She turned her back on Donovan and looked up at Bane.

  “If there’s a place to hold this asshat while I double check somethin’, that would be great.”

  “That can be arranged,” Bane said as he pulled a gold coin out of his pocket and tossed it to Remy. “Can you tuck Donny away for a while for Sonnet?”

  Remy snatched the coin out of the air with a pleased glint in his eye.

  “Consider it done.”

  The vampire didn’t struggle against his captors as they gripped him by the arms, but he sent his glare over to Bane.

  “I’ll kill you for this, traitor,” Donny hissed as he was dragged away. He spat on the ground. “You chose a hunter over your own kind, you piece of shit.”

  “What a terrible mess,” Remy said coolly. “I hope she’s worth it.”

  Bane sent his gaze darting between the king of demons and the vampire he’d just sent up the river.

  “She’s worth that and more.”

  Sonnet reached between them, heart pounding, and swiped her fingers across the top of Bane’s hand.

  “Thank you,” she whispered.

  Walking back behind the bar, Remy said in an irate tone, “I’d love to stick around and be a witness to all of your lovey-dovey crap, but I have a city to run.”

  Sonnet leapt forward, out of control. She landed with half of her body on one of the barstools in front of Remy, and the other half pushed up against the bar. She let out a small grunt of pain and glanced behind her with surprise at Bane. He was shocked, too, but more amused. She turned back to face the demon.

  “Remy wait! Before you go, can you tell me what you found out after tastin’ my blood?”

  He stopped in his tracks and whipped around with a cold grin.

  “I’ll be keeping that information to myself for now. It was a pleasure meeting you, hunter.”

  Sonnet gave him a frosty look, waiting for another response, because that one sucked balls. But instead of supplying her with a more satisfying explanation, the demon flashed out, disappearing from sight.

  “That guy’s a real asshole.”

  Sonnet huffed while pushing away from the bar. What could he gain by keeping the origins of her bloodline from her? If he thought he was going to get more of her blood by holding out, he was dead wrong.

  Ryker dropped into one of the chairs across from her, pulled out a cigarette from his pocket, and lit it.

  “When you’re as powerful as he is, I guess you can afford to be an ass.”

  Bane gave her a sideways glance.

  “If you’re ready, I’ll escort you across the street to Immortal Ink. I know the owner there, and she’ll be more willing to talk to you if I’m there.”

  “That makes sense.”

  “What about me?” Ryker asked after exhaling a stream of smoke.

  “You can stay here or go home. But you’re not coming with us,” Bane said.

  “Fuck you, leach. I don’t take orders from you.”

  Sonnet walked over to Ryker.

  “We got this. I’ll see ya later, okay?”

  Ryker looked back and forth between Sonnet and Bane, studying them both with a predator’s gaze. After taking another drag from his cigarette, he nodded.

  “All right. If that’s what you want.”

  “It is.”

  He stood, turning his back on Bane.

  “I usually stay in the forest with my pack, but I’m gonna grab a room here, so I can be close if anything goes wrong.” His features softened as he gripped Sonnet by both shoulders. “If you need anything at all, come find me.”

  “She’ll be fine,” Bane all but snarled.

  Ryker’s head swung around, and he rumbled a warning to Bane, “She better be, asshole.”

  Sonnet stepped away and walked around both males. She didn’t understand why her safety meant so much to Ryker, but she appreciated the sentiment.

  “If anything goes wrong, I’ll find you, okay?”

  That seemed to satisfy him, judging by the way his expression relaxed.

  “That’s all I ask,” Ryker said.

  At the same time, Bane’s face washed blank. He looked wounded, as if his pride had been knocked down a few pegs. She walked past him, heading towards the door. There was no time to stick around to stroke a couple of alpha males’ egos. That kind of project could take all day.

  Chapter Sixteen

  “It will be daylight soon on the other side of the city shroud,” Bane told Sonnet as they exited Clu
b Nightshade. “We’ll need to stay here for the night.”

  She gazed up into the city sky. It was clear and bright, with a full moon that was enormous. It hung like a bright lamp, shining over all the streets and buildings.

  Sonnet looked down at her watch. It was five a.m.

  “Is it always nighttime here?”

  Bane grabbed her by the hand and pulled her across the street.

  “It is. And there’s always a full moon in the sky. The environment compliments the needs of all the supernatural species who reside within the shroud.”

  They hopped the curb and stopped in front of a single-story shop that had a red neon sign in the window that blinked Open.

  “Who made the shroud?”

  “Some say the city has always been here, like the sky or the mountains. But I think it was a powerful demon who created it, a demon even more powerful than Remy.”

  She thought about that. It seemed pretty farfetched that a place like that could simply be. Someone had to have fashioned it or conjured it up. And since it was in her nature to hunt down answers, that was a mystery she decided she needed to solve. But it would have to come later, after she resolved her current predicament.

  Before they entered, Bane stepped in close. His scent coated her with a euphoric sense of comfort. She could feel the heat from his body on her skin, a fact she thought odd, because rumor had it that a vampire should be as cold as the dead.

  Reaching out, he brushed some hair from her face.

  “You handled yourself remarkably well with Remy. You’re just full of surprises, always keeping me on my toes.”

  She looked up at him, her features questioning.

  “I wish I could claim all that credit, but to be honest, I was scared shitless, Bane.”

  The next thing Sonnet knew, Bane’s face was an inch from hers.

  “Remy is feared by everyone, and rightly so. But you are the only one who has ever challenged him. So that means you’re either stupid or extremely brave. And after what you said about the vampire who attacked you,” he hesitated, gauging her reaction, “you are obviously one of the bravest people I’ve ever met. He bit you, little fox, and instead of flipping your shit, you took control over the situation.”

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