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Rusted veins, p.10
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       Rusted Veins, p.10

         Part #5. 5 of Sabina Kane series by Jaye Wells
 
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Page 10

 

  “Ouch! Godsdammit!” I shouted. “This is my favorite shirt. ”

  The Reverend’s expression morphed from satisfied to terrified. “But…but why aren’t you dead? That was an apple cider bullet. ”

  I smiled wide enough to flaunt my fangs. “I’m a demigoddess, dumbass. ” I marched forward and grabbed the gun from his hand. “Fuck!”

  The good news was I was fine, except for the searing pain to both my shoulder and my pride. The bad news was, the gunshot spurred Damascus and his goons to speed up their entry. The front door crashed open, quickly followed by the sounds of boots on stairs. “We’ve got to go, Red!” Adam yelled.

  I realized then that if we tried to fight our way out of the drug den, we’d all be leaving with more holes than we entered with. No, walking out wasn’t an option. That left—

  “Circle up!” I coldcocked the Reverend in the face with the butt of his own gun. His eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed in a heap. Behind him, the junkies slunk away like rats deserting a sinking ship.

  I adjusted Giguhl on my shoulder and moved in at the same time Damascus appeared in the doorway. His gaze hit mine like a punch. My hand itched to challenge the son of a bitch. But my instinct to fight was overridden by the stronger desire to ensure the safety of the beings I cared about. “Hold on, everyone!”

  Just as Damascus ran toward our small group, the vortex rose and we disappeared. His voice followed us into the void. “This isn’t over!”

  He was right about that much, but his comeuppance would have to wait until Cadence was stable. Dammit.

  * * *

  When we got back to Zen’s shop, we materialized in her sitting room. The voodooienne was elsewhere, so I sent Giguhl off to find her. Meanwhile, Adam carried Cadence’s weight to the sofa. She was in and out of consciousness. I preferred her passed out because consciousness brought with it angry sobs that wracked her whole body.

  While Brooks knelt next to Cadence and covered her with a blanket, I pulled Adam aside.

  He blew out a long breath. “Gods, she’s in bad shape. ”

  “No shit,” I said. “Let’s hope Zen’s got the patience to get her through the detox. ”

  He frowned at me. “She’s a mage. It shouldn’t take as long to get the junk out of her system. ”

  I sighed. “It won’t take long, but it’s more extreme than what humans go through because of the speed. ”

  As if on cue, Cadence started retching. Brooks yelped and leapt back. Thinking quickly, I grabbed a nearby trash can and swooped it under her face just in time for the projectile vomiting to begin. The mixture was a pungent slurry of puke and black bile.

  It was at that moment that Zen and Giguhl ran into the room. “What the hell?” the voodoo priestess demanded.

  “Her body’s ridding itself of the drugs,” I said, trying to avoid the splash zone.

  Giguhl cringed back. “It smells like Satan’s taint!”

  Zen disappeared into the kitchen off the salon and soon the sound of running water reached us over the noise of Cadence’s heaves.

  Brooks whimpered and moved restlessly from foot to foot, clearly not sure how to help. Over her shoulder Zen said, “Brooks, go get the ginger root from my workroom. ”

  The Changeling hesitated. But Zen shot Giguhl a look that communicated it was his job to get the faery out of the way. “C’mon,” the demon cat said. “I’ll help you. ”

  Reluctantly, the faery picked up the cat and the pair exited. I moved closer now that the area around the couch had cleared out. “Ginger root isn’t going to help with this nausea. ”

  The priestess rubbed Cadence’s back and nodded absently. “Yeah, I don’t have any in the workroom anyway. ”

  “Then why—” I stopped myself, realizing she’d just been trying to get rid of the audience. “Actually, why don’t Adam and I go see if we can help them, too?”

  Zen shot me a grateful look. “Thanks, Sabina. ”

  With one last look at Cadence’s pale, sweat-covered face, I grabbed Adam’s arm and pushed him out the door. Zen might have thought I was just trying to give Cadence some privacy, but honestly, I was having some trouble being in the room. The smell alone was bad enough, but worse was seeing Cadence so weak and pitiful. It’s not that I didn’t feel bad for her, but being around that kind of vulnerability always made me edgy.

  * * *

  OCTOBER 31—Halloween

  On Halloween afternoon, the news ran a story about how the old Breaux mansion on Lee Circle mysteriously burned to the ground overnight. When the anchors began speculating about the cause, I turned off the TV and went to join Giguhl on the couch. He was back in his demon form since we were in Zen’s private living quarters. So when he looked at me, his black lips and goat-pupil eyes flashed a worried expression.

  “Was it him?” He nodded to the door.

  I nodded but didn’t say anything. Adam had left just before sunrise claiming he needed some time alone. He’d returned a couple hours earlier without a word and resumed his vigil by Cadence’s side.

  On the one hand I totally got it. The things going down in that house were downright evil. It couldn’t have been easy to see the woman he once wanted to spend his life with being used by vampires looking for a fix. But on the other hand—well, I’m not proud of the other hand. That hand was wondering if seeing her in that situation had woken up some latent feelings for his former love. The kind that made him commit wildly romantic gestures.

  He’s never burned down a crack den for me, I thought.

  “Don’t be an idiot,” Giguhl said.

  I paused. I knew I hadn’t said anything out loud. “What?”

  “I can tell your brain is going places it best not go. That Mancy loves you more than anything in this world. Don’t let jealousy make you do some stupid thing. ”

  I crossed my arms. “I’m not an idiot. ”

  “Sure you are. ”

  “Thanks, G. ”

  He nudged me with his shoulder. “Sabina, we’re all idiots when it comes to love. Trust me, if one of Valva’s exes showed up, you would see me do some epically ridiculous shit. And if that happened, I would also hope you could smack me around a little and remind me to get a grip. ”

  I pressed my lips together. “Maybe you’re right. ”

  “Um, hello? I’m wise as shit. You should totally listen to me all the time. ”

  I shot him a look.

  He frowned. “Most of the time, anyway. ”

  I nodded. “Sometimes you do drop some epic truths on my ass. ”

  “Damn straight. ”

  I sighed. “Okay, so I won’t go all psycho girlfriend here, but I still feel like shit. ”

  “Understandable,” my best friend said. “But you shouldn’t take that out on Adam. You should take it out on Damascus White. ”

  I smiled, appreciating him trying to point out the positives. “Thanks for trying to cheer me up, but I’m afraid that honor will fall to Nyx since she appointed him. ” I’d called her the minute we’d gotten Cadence stable. She’d insisted I stay out of it to keep the peace among the races. Since he worked for her, it was up to her to deliver punishment.

  “Maybe she’ll let us help torture him a little,” he said, still sounding hopeful.

  I sighed. “A girl can dream. It’s been a long time since I got to kick some serious ass. ”

  What I didn’t say was that part of me was relieved not to have to deal with Damascus. For once it was nice to let someone else deal with a clusterfuck. I still wanted Damascus to pay for what he’d done to Cadence and gods only knew how many other innocent people, but I trusted Nyx to deliver swift and potent retribution.

  My cell phone rang and the screen told me it was Queen Maeve calling. I groaned out loud. I considered ignoring it, but I’d basically threatened her to give me an answer on the were issue before Samhain or I’d crack some metaphorical
skulls. “Hey, Maeve. ”

  She made a squeaky noise to indicate her displeasure over my informal address. “Sabina,” she said in a sour tone, “I have Michael Romulus conferenced in. ”

  “Sabina,” the werewolf said in his deep voice.

  “Does the fact that you’re both calling mean you’ve reached an agreement?”

  “Yes,” Maeve said. Michael made an assenting tone to support her answer.

  My shoulders lowered from beneath my ears. I hadn’t realized until that moment how much I longed for good news. “That’s great. ”

  “There’s just one little addendum,” Michael continued in a more hesitant tone. “We’ll need your approval to move forward with it. ”

  My high hopes began to plummet. “What is it?”

  “I will only sign the treaty if there’s a section added forbidding mating between fae and weres in my territory,” Maeve stated in an imperious tone.

  My mouth fell open. “Maeve, that flies in the face of all the progress we’ve made in tearing down those old walls. ”

  “As it happens, I agree with her,” Michael cut in. “Our race has struggled too long to keep our population strong and pure to begin diluting it with weak fae blood. ”

  Maeve made an annoyed sound and added, “And my court has maintained its purity for millennia. It would be a shame to taint it with such primitive genes. ”

  I sighed. “And if I refuse to allow the addendum?”

  “Then I will refuse to allow the migration of any and all were packs into my lands. ”

  My shoulders fell. As much as I wanted to promote a more accepting attitude among the Dark Races for mixed-bloods, it took a long time to change thinking on such ingrained attitudes. “I’m not happy with this at all. Changing the rules again so soon might encourage rebellion, especially among the younger members of your races. ” I sighed and bit the bullet. “But if this is the only way to reach a peaceful conclusion to negotiations, I’ll allow it. ”
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