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Created darkly, p.9
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       Created Darkly, p.9

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  I looked down at my dagger, wanting to punch myself for the idea that came to me. Instincts be damned. I was hesitant to follow through with that one. Rafe’s groans returned me from my thoughts. He was frightened, suffering because of my delay. The last thing I wanted to do was feed a freakin’ vampire.

  “Sorry,” I said, feeling responsible for his suffering.

  He smiled at me through another groan.

  In the next instant, the copper color of his eyes disappeared behind dilating pupils. I knew the sign for what it was; he was close to death.

  I grabbed the dagger at my waist, but then I paused. I took a breath and sliced through the flesh of my forearm.

  “Kris!” Rush yelled at me.

  Jude’s protest of my actions was not far behind. I ignored both their worried calls and leaned over my vampire.

  “Drink,” I said into Rafe’s ear, pushing the cut flesh of my arm up against his still lips.

  At first, nothing happened. I rubbed my hand through his dark hair and urged him on again. “Fill your mouth with life, vampire. Awaken for me.”

  I felt like a different person when I said those words. It was so unlike me to invite a vampire willingly to my vein, but it felt right in that moment. Rafe’s lips began to twitch, and then they opened. My blood slipped over his tongue, pouring into his mouth. The copper shone bright in his eager eyes, signs of his immortal life renewed. He sucked greedily, each pull sending tingles of warmth through my belly. After a short time, the vampire released his suction and smiled up at me.

  “Thank you, mistress,” he said, before licking his tongue over my shallow wound, knitting the cut flesh back together after a few glistening, wet passes.

  I stood, feeling light headed and embarrassed over how I had lost myself to the ritual. Rafe sat up, lifting his arms. He stared at them in awe. He flexed his long fingers and patted his chest and neck, then moved up to touch his face. A smile bloomed bright as a vivid red rose on a sunny day across his face, sending chills down my spine. For a second, I was happy with what my magic had wrought, fiercely proud of the life I created with my bare hands. But then my euphoric mood shattered, because I caught a glimpse of them—two sharp fangs. Candle light glinted off the harsh, pointy weapons as he grinned. I kicked at the salt on the ground. The protective barrier fell, and the men rushed to my side.

  “It worked,” I whispered.

  Jude went to hug me, but his ethereal form ended up falling right through me. He floated back a few feet, and instead, hovered as close to me as he could. I felt cheated of the warmth of his former body and swore to replicate the magic from before that had made it possible for me to touch him. I would find a way to make my best friend whole.

  “Thank you,” Rafe said again. His voice was filled with sincerity.

  He shifted his legs over the table and stood. I ignored the sexuality pouring off of him. I was used to it; I regularly hunted and killed his kind.

  “If you want to thank me, then do so by making me a promise.”

  He smiled, flashing those insufferable fangs. “Of course.”

  “Promise to never take a human’s life. Not even accidently, while feeding. Can you do that?” I raised a brow.

  I knew the request was a far-fetched one. It was in a vampire’s nature to hunt and kill his prey. I was already expecting him to lie, but I owed it to myself and any human he may come across before I could send him back to the grave, to at least give it the ole college try.

  Rafe sat back down on the table. He ran a steady hand over his chest; he thumbed the eagle wings that covered his left pectoral muscle. His fingers roamed, traveling down farther, until they brushed across the thick ridges of his eight-pack. His body was something akin to a miracle…my creation. I couldn’t help thinking of him as mine. A life created darkly, but my creation, never the less.

  He let his hands fall to the table, and with a turn of his thick neck, he looked at me with a set of bronze-colored bedroom eyes. Shocked, I realized that his copper orbs held a glow of compassion and understanding in them; that confused me. All the other vampires I’d come in contact with before were obviously killers, feral in their lust for blood. There was no hiding their wildness. Rationally, I could contribute their crazed state to the fact that those vamps knew I was about to end their worthless lives, but even before they were aware of that, their eyes told the tale of vile acts and lunacy against humans. That’s the kind of sick stuff you can’t hide behind a fake smile and hard abs…interesting.

  Rafe nodded. Holding his right hand over his eagle mark, he vowed, “I promise you, my beautiful Creator, I will never take a human’s life.”

  He stood, his naked body swaying like the hypnotic swing of a pendulum as he made his way across the room. Okay, the sight of his rock-hard body was a little tougher to ignore than his come-hither stare. The man radiated sex appeal.

  Rush gave me an odd side look. Was he jealous?

  The vampire stopped in front of me, so tall that he hovered, and bowed at the waist. When he rose, he did so with a smile and a wink for me. “No accidents, no murdering, nothing of the sort…got it. All life is precious,” he said.

  I couldn’t help my slight smile. Rafe was a charmer, but for some reason, I believed the truth in his words.

  “I’m glad that’s settled.”

  Maybe I wouldn’t have to kill him, which could be a good thing, because even though it was sudden, I kind of liked that vampire. But only that one—no others.

  I looked over to the phantom standing off to the side, watching us intently.

  “What’s next?” I asked, exhausted, fumbling my words a little.

  “We wait to hear from the boss man.”

  “Okay, then. I guess we’ll stand around with our thumbs up our butts while we wait for the king to call.”

  Rafe laughed. “You’re cute.”

  “She’s not interested,” Rush hissed, his back up like a lion about to pounce.

  Geez, rub your ass against the man once and all of a sudden, he thinks he has claim over it. Well, I did shove my tongue down his throat like I was drilling for oil…but still.

  “Settle it down, boys; now’s not the time for that kind of crap.” I brushed Rush’s silly behavior off and freed myself from the cumbersome robe. “Here,” I said, tossing it at Rafe. “Use this to cover up with.”

  “That’s the best thing I’ve heard all day,” Rush said.

  Jude laughed. The men in my life were exhausting.

  Chapter Fourteen

  The phantom’s phone rang. I pushed up from the wall and listened while he answered.

  “It was a success,” I heard him mumble. “No, the vampire seems fine. There is one thing, though.”

  The phantom turned his back to us. We had stayed as far away from him as the room allowed while we waited, all of us anxious to leave. Even Rafe sat composed on the ground next to me, not saying a word. His head was down, resting upon his crossed arms, which were balancing on his knees. He hadn’t tried to bite me once. One more gold star on the blood-sucker’s report card.

  “She marked him,” the phantom whispered. He shouldn’t have bothered; the stone walls bounced his hushed voice throughout the room. We could hear everything. “I don’t know. I wasn’t close enough to get a good look. I think wings of some sort.” He listened, and then said, “Okay, yup. Not a problem.” He hung up the phone.

  The phantom brought his hand to his forehead and scratched it. “Looks like you’re free to go. Boss says we’ll finish this tomorrow night.”

  I jumped to my feet. “If you think I’m going to leave my sister alone with him for another minute, you have a crack in that thick skull of yours.”

  The phantom threw his hands out as I stormed towards him. I looked down at my palms and noticed that I had inadvertently turned on the juice. My hands sought his energy, wanting to yank him out of the body he was squatting in. I wanted to wrap him into a little ball and shoot him straight to Hell, where he belonged. The monster bac
ked up. He was cowering away from the light in my hands, looking scared, and rightfully so.

  “You took longer than expected. Boss says tomorrow night or nothing,” he said. His voice wavered, but he cocked his chin up, pretending not to be afraid.

  I didn’t believe the ‘nothing’ part. Wolf needed me enough to go to great lengths to orchestrate it all.

  “Screw you,” I said, creeping closer. My hands twitched, filling up with more power.

  His arm swung out, the swift and careless motion knocking over the two lit candles that sat on the shelf. They snuffed themselves out before causing any kind of damage. He shuffled back, pushing himself against the wall and the table. I had him cornered.

  “You’re not such a tough guy now, are you?” Jude piped in from behind me.

  I swung my head around and shot him a glare. “Jude,” my deep tone warned before turning back.

  “Sheez, he’s an asshole, Kris. I couldn’t help myself,” Jude grumbled.

  I ignored the man, the vampire, and the ghost gathered behind me, and I focused all my attention on the phantom. “How am I supposed to know if my sister’s okay? I need proof of life, at the very least.”

  “I’m not playing your silly little games,” he said as he lunged to the left. The jerk almost made it past me, but I jumped, grabbing his shoe and wrenching his foot to the side. He let out a howl. Apparently, even though he didn’t own his host’s body, he still felt any pain inflicted against it like it was his own.

  “Fucking bitch,” he hissed between clenched teeth. “Let me go.”

  Rafe sauntered over with that notorious grin of his in place. His movements were lazy; his attitude, nonchalant. “Need any help?”

  I grunted, “Nuh-uh. Got this.” I kept a vice-like grip on the phantom’s leg, applying more pressure every time the scumbag attempted to wrench it from me.

  “All right, then. Thought I’d offer.” He all but hummed, leaning against the table. Well, good for him. At least, someone was getting a kick out of it.

  “I’ll let you go as soon as you get Wolf back on the phone.” Man, that guy was strong. It was taking every bit of strength I had, plus my entire body weight, to keep him down. Suddenly, there was a tug at my waist. I kept the death grip I had on the bottom half of the phantom’s body while I looked over my shoulder to find Rush trying to yank me off the guy.

  “Back off,” I ordered, while holding onto my squirming prey like a pit bull locked onto a bone.

  Rush kept tugging on me. Rafe leaned over, and with a firm grip, grabbed Rush’s shoulder. “You heard the lady.”

  The next thing I knew, the tugging stopped, but what followed wasn’t good. Rush turned, and with a full-throttle swing, punched Rafe square in his jaw—the lovely jaw I just made. I could hear it loud and clear when Rush’s knuckles made impact with Rafe’s chin. I cringed and ducked down as if it were my own face getting smashed in. I had no choice but to let the phantom underneath me go. He scrambled out of my grip and then tore off out the door before I could even say “boo.”

  I cursed, hopped to my feet, and jumped in between the two guys squaring off on each other.

  “I don’t know if I can take another second of this crap.” My arms trembled, and my hands pressed against both men’s chests, while I tried to hold the two of them apart. I looked at Rush. “Go home.”

  He looked at me and his body relaxed, easing the pressure against my hand. I dropped my arms.

  “I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me. There’s just something about him,” Rush sneered, his brows crunched together as he shot an agonizing look over my shoulder at the vampire behind me. “He rubs me the wrong way.”

  “So you let that prick get away because Rafe rubs you wrong? Are you serious?”

  “No, I went after your vampire because he grabbed me, and yes, because I can’t stand him. But I pulled you off the phantom because you were killing him.”

  “I was what?”

  “Your hands,” he said, pointing down at them. “They were draining him. Couldn’t you feel it?” Rush nodded gravely. “I had a hunch you wouldn’t want that to happen, with him being our go-between, and all.”

  I looked down at my hands. They looked harmless enough. A little dirty from the mud and salt that I was working with, but other than that, pink and smooth.

  “Is all this normal? I mean, normal magic use for Creators?” I asked him.

  Rush frowned, his pretty boy features tensing, making him look more rugged. “In all my years of practice and study, I have never seen or heard of what you are able to do with your magic. Maybe this is why your family is revered by all of the others.”

  “I don’t understand.”

  “Phantoms are evil, Kris. We can’t control them; they are lost to us. They are so consumed by their hate and spite for whomever they believe has wronged them that their spirits never get a chance to rest. And after enough years of wallowing in this darkness and resentment, they turn into something unnatural, no longer ghosts or entities that we can save or return to their original vessels as vampires. Instead, they create enough dark energy of their own that it enables them to steal the bodies of the innocent. Once they’ve hunkered down inside a human, that human is lost. But somehow, you almost drew the phantom out. That’s not something a Creator should be able to do.”

  Rush then turned to look at Rafe. He walked over to him. The vampire held his hands out in front of him and said, “Chill man. We’re cool.” Rush reached over and pulled Rafe’s robe open, baring the vampire’s chest. “Hey!” He batted Rush’s hand away. “We’ll never be that cool, dude.”

  I stifled a laugh. Rush gave him an exasperated look. “This is also a first, Kris,” he said, getting my attention. “Normally, Creators don’t mark the vampires they bring back. But somehow, you marked him up pretty good. It seems to me, you and your magic are something special. But I always knew that.”

  I looked down at my hands. They were white-knuckled into a fist; I’d been squeezing them the whole time. I opened them wide, stretching out my fingers. I needed to relax, and I knew how to make that happen. “I need a drink.”

  “You’re not alone there,” Rush said.

  “Well, isn’t that a coincidence? I happen to know of a great place. It’s right off the boardwalk and stays open late. I wouldn’t mind joining you if it’s cool,” Rafe said, looking at me.

  I shrugged, and as soon as I did, Jude appeared beside me, a look of uneasiness on his face. I loved him for being so concerned over me, but I was in a right bitchy mood and in no need of soothing. I was in the mood, however, for a good buzz.

  “I’ll be fine, Jude. As a matter of fact, would you like to come to the bar with us? Have a little fun?”

  He looked down at himself. “I’m afraid I’m not much of a drinker these days. I’ll head on home and check on things there.”

  Something flitted through his eyes. Was it regret, or sadness, maybe? I had a feeling it had something to do with being thrust back into a spectral form. He’d only been corporeal for an hour or so, but that hour had given him a sweet taste of something he couldn’t have…at least, for the moment. Jude gave me a smile and a wink, and then, poof! He was gone.

  I rubbed my fingers over my eyes, yearning to sit on a barstool, talk with complete strangers, and do something mindless, for a change. I wanted to forget about Kristina Chase, Necromancer, for a few hours and become someone whose only complaint was not enough tequila in her drink.

  I looked at Rafe. He smiled as he held the door open for me. I hid a chuckle when Rush walked through it instead. “Thanks man, you’re a real gentleman,” Rush said with a sly grin.

  Yup, that was exactly what I needed—a night out with two smart-ass, sexy-as-sin men. Let the mind numbing begin.

  Chapter Fifteen

  I stepped into the short line that formed in front of Devil’s Playground. Rush pushed right behind me. Rafe had excused himself a few minutes earlier, after we parked behind the club and exited Rush
s car.

  “Do you smell that?” I asked Rush. I turned, stepped out of line, and followed the scent.

  He stepped out and followed me. “No. What does it smell like?”

  “Coppery…like human blood.”

  I picked up my pace, the scent leading me around the building on the opposite side from where we’d parked. I paused just inside the mouth of a dark alley. Oh, how I loved alleyways. Breeding and feeding grounds for blood-suckers. I searched the shadows, stopping on the darkened forms of two people. The man was tall, towering over the female he had in his arms. The woman was against the wall, half her body hidden from view. My eyes lit red, and so did Rush’s. His light was muted because of the contacts he still wore. I stepped forward, but Rush grabbed my arm. I looked at him. He shook his head.

  “She looks consenting, Kris.”

  I frowned. “How would you know?”

  I let him pull me back against him. My breathing was quick and shallow. I really must’ve been tired; it had been a long day. He pointed at the vampire and the human woman he held in his embrace.

  “If you look closely, you can see how gently he holds her. Notice how he caresses her back like it’s a precious gift. Vampires who take, do so greedily. Not tenderly.”

  My eyes traced the path of the vampire’s hand. It smoothed over her arm, caressing pale skin. When his fingers reached her neck, the opposite side from where he was sucking, I noticed two puncture wounds seeping thin lines of crimson blood, gleaming wet against the moonlight. The woman pushed against the vampire’s chest, and he stopped drinking. They claimed each other’s mouths in a scorching kiss—not at all the picture of a ravenous animal like I was used to. It was obvious that she was consenting.

  My blood ran hot, and my body ached with lust. Watching the two, like a licentious voyeur, had left me in a needful state. It was time to get out of there and into the bar.

  “Thanks for stopping me from doing something I would have regretted,” I said, grabbing Rush’s hand and leading him out of the alleyway.

 
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