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Authors: Jackie Ivie

Tags: #vampires, #anthology, #Paranormal, #Romance, #vampire assassins league, #Short stories

4 - We Are Gathered

BOOK: 4 - We Are Gathered
11.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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We Are Gathered

by Jackie Ivie

A Vampire Assassins League Novella

“We Kill for Profit”

4th in series

 

 

Copyright 2011, Jackie Ivie

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portion thereof, in any form. This book may not be resold or uploaded for distribution to others.

This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

A brisk walk usually solved things, especially if fast steps and long strides were involved. That way a mind could wrap itself around a problem, while the body handled excess emotion as it tired itself out. It usually worked. Just not tonight. Against a coven.

Rori ground her teeth together and watched the street before her for any sign of recognition. Nothing looked familiar. She’d reached an old section of this little town. Nothing about the closed shops and clapboard houses behind their big wood fences looked familiar. She was lost, it was past midnight, and she had little against the night chill except a black shawl. It wasn’t even a warm one, since the requirement was color, not purpose. She’d been so stupid! She’d known it at the time, but wanted to fit in so badly…and for once she’d felt like she had.

The mist looked odd at the corner she was rapidly approaching; thick…and a little darker, despite its location beneath a street light. Rori slowed her steps, and that got her view fogged with exhalations of her own breath. It hadn’t felt this cold earlier. Not even in the little clearing of forest they’d used for their stupid ceremony. The vapor at the corner wasn’t dissipating. It was undulating, and thick enough now to hide a body. And that was the dumbest idea she’d yet had.

“Well…hello there.”

Rori jumped and whirled to face the speaker, then had to contend with a knot of reaction right in her throat. That’s why she opened her mouth and her jaw dropped. At least, that’s what she told herself. It had nothing to do with the vision of man standing at her side, looking down at her. Nothing.

The lump in her throat got more troublesome as it thumped along with her increasing heart rate. That was ridiculous. She’d seen handsome men before. The campus was littered with them, and every avenue of entertainment bombarded you with them. Not to mention nearly every ad for men’s cologne and underwear. Gorgeous men were everywhere. She’d just never met one in the flesh…and yet here he was. Solid. Real. Looking like he came out of a fantasy. He was tall. Neck-craning tall. Dark too. Lengthy black hair topped what looked like a black trench coat atop black slacks. And he was way over-the-top handsome, as if saving that for dessert.

“You shouldn’t be out.”

Rori didn’t answer. She wasn’t certain she could. Her mouth hadn’t closed and she didn’t think her voice functioned. She wasn’t even sure she could swallow, but tried, and the effort choked. That made him step closer, taking him to touching distance. The proximity jumbled her thoughts into mush. She wondered if he knew.

This was beyond stupid. And it was stopping. Right now. Rori stepped back a corresponding distance. He didn’t move from watching her. Expecting what? Conversation? If that’s what he wanted, it might be easier if she didn’t look at him while attempting it. And that was more absurdity. She didn’t make banal conversation. She wasn’t the talkative type. It was better to keep to one word answers. Her upbringing had taught the benefits of that. But if she didn’t think of something witty and interesting to reply - and soon – she’d forever regret it. She had a gorgeous male standing right in front of her waiting a reply, while a stray lock of shiny black hair moved slightly with every flick of the extremely long, black lash-line it was caught on, and she was tongue-tied. Great.

“Not tonight. And not alone.”

“Why?”

Her voice worked. It was a croak of sound. She cleared her throat instantly and suffered what might actually be a blush. She hadn’t had that reaction since…she couldn’t remember. Long enough in her past it was buried, and well before the parade of foster homes she’d endured.

He smiled, showing just a glimpse of white teeth and putting a dimple into place on one cheek. That was too much. Mother Nature had been too heavy-handed with this guy’s attributes. Not only was he spectacularly handsome, but he had a killer grin, too? Rori could tell. She didn’t need further demonstration.

“All sorts of things could happen.”

“Like what?”

“You could get accosted by a stranger.”

“Really?” Rori tried for a sarcastic air. It didn’t work. She sounded breathless and young even to her own ears. She also felt more chilled than before and wrapped her shawl tighter. It probably looked as gauche and awkward as it felt.

“You’re cold.”

“N-no.” The word trembled.

“Allow me.”

Without one word of intent, and little time, he whirled the coat off and had it about her shoulders, where it reached to the sidewalk beneath her. Rori knew that part. She was looking at the cement and trying to remember to breathe at the same time. The coat was silk lined and expensive. It smelled of leather and of male. Him. She took small breaths infused with the scent, and wondered why every blink of her eyes had a prism of color about it.

“Better?”

She nodded.

“Now, hold on.”

To what?

She almost said it, and a moment later watched as the sidewalk beneath her appeared to move away, at an extremely rapid pace. It matched her heartbeat. And her gasps. Rori narrowed her eyes, and damned both her roommates, Elizabeth and Naomi, again. She’d known not to believe they had a grasp on witchcraft, or had any idea what a real coven looked like. She’d just wanted to believe in them so much! And what had she got? A bad trip on some really bad dope. She was never trusting another soul again…not in this lifetime. Never. Ever.

“Keep to that. You’ll live longer.”

The apparition orchestrating their ascent said it, his voice tinted with a foreign accent she couldn’t place. She didn’t have any trouble hearing the amusement. It sounded like he mocked her. Rori stiffened, and then she pushed to gain release, and when that didn’t work, she struggled, gaining little more than a completely breathless state and sweat-soaked hair, too. He had arms that resembled iron bars, and the more she shoved at him, the tighter he wrapped them, until she ended up fully against his chest, looking up at a perfectly defined jaw, long hair that was wind-whipped, and this time when he chuckled, she knew he was mocking her.

 All of which had to be dealt with. She had to gain control of this, just like always. She wasn’t flying. She wasn’t in the arms of some super-hero. She wasn’t going to some unknown destination. She was suffering the ill-effects of that star-shaped spot Naomi had told her to place on her tongue. A bad trip. That’s what was happening. It wasn’t real.

Which meant, neither was he.

“Wrong deduction. Interesting…but wrong.”

He whispered it, and then winked. Rori gave him her best dead-pan look - the one that got her slapped more than once by her fourth foster-mother. She was good at it, and very proud of that fact. It usually got her exactly what she wanted: left alone. Nothing about him changed.

“What?”

“I’m very real.”

There wasn’t any way to avoid him. She was firmly in his grasp, and trying not to like it so much. The instant she thought it he sucked in on his cheeks, pursing his lips, and making them look totally kissable.

“Later. A lot later.”

“What?”

“I’ve got all sorts of plans for us. Later.”

“I don’t do guys I’ve just met. And I don’t go off with guys, either.”

“Both of which, you’re about to change.”

 “You’re an ass.”

The whiff of breath touching her nose demonstrated his amusement. He didn’t have to laugh.

“Please remember I did warn you.”

“About what?”

“Strangers.”

“You’re not so very strange.”

“No?”

He was looking down at her again, stealing her every breath with the impact of deep dark eyes. Rori licked her lips and watched him glance there before returning his gaze to hers.

“You want me to sum it up? Ok. I’ve been around you before. You’re not strange at all. Egotistical and self-absorbed, but not strange. But you’re always handsome.”

An eyebrow cocked up. Just one. And that sent her heart up another notch.

“That feels like a very solid six-pack you’ve got hidden beneath your clothes, and the more I look at you, the more I’m thinking you even have eye-liner on. Very Goth. And very eye-catching.”

“Eye-catching? Me?”

“You believe women all want you, you work at catching their attention, and you don’t get disappointed very often. Tell me I’m wrong.”

“You’re wrong.”

They were descending if her belly wasn’t lying. It was also colder. Much colder. And darker. And a lot quieter. And that started her shivering again. The next sensation was stone; solid stone. From flickers of lighting that didn’t help much, she could see stone. It was beneath her shoes and before her eyes – in every direction. This was another reason she’d never taken any street drugs. She didn’t want the hallucinations, and she didn’t like being out of control. And once she was out of this bad trip, she was putting a fat spell on Naomi. Why, if this got much worse, Rori was going after Naomi’s cat and familiar, Lady Jane, as well. She was into the second line of her spell when he spoke again.

“You readied?”

Rori’s eyes snapped open and she glared up at him. They should replace their fluorescent tubing. The flickers of light didn’t give her much to go by. There wasn’t enough light to make out much more than his face, and since even that light wasn’t steady, it made him look even more handsome. She could’ve sworn he knew her exact train of thought, too, as his lips conquered a smile.

“For what?”

She put the most acidic tone on her voice possible. It didn’t work. The fellow simply winked at her again, and lowered his voice into a low-toned whisper that was over-over-the-top dramatic. Rori narrowed her eyes, and then had to swallow to mute the flick of reaction that raced up her spine, raising hairs as it went.

“To meet the others.”

“What others?”

He was still using that low-throaty murmur of sound. It added to his foreign intonation of words, and all of that really added to his mystique. He probably knew that, too. She got a huff of breath at the bridge of her nose as she thought it, and if he thought that was getting a reaction, he was in for a surprise.

He’d loosened his grip on her, allowing her to rotate within the confines of his cape. It still smelled of leather and him, but there was an additional measure to it that meandered through her subconscious before she had it deciphered. The smell was more vivid because it was wet; dripping wet and leaving a ring of moisture that darkened on the stone surrounding her feet.

“We went through a bit of storm. Nothing much, I assure you.”

“Did I ask?”

“No need.”

He opened his cloak, gifting her with a rush that did nothing to conquer shivers, but proving one thing. He might be soaked, but she was perfectly dry, and encased with a full dose of static cling, since her dress sparked when she moved. The next moment, he moved past her to hang the cloak on an ornate iron-looking peg, right next to an equally ornate iron-looking sconce that held what looked to be a real torch. It was sending off flicks of light and a touch of smoke. All signs of a real working torch, secured about ten feet up on a very solid looking stone wall.

Where the hell am I?

“Tirgoviste Castle.”

“What?”

“You are in Tirgoviste Castle.”

“Bull—.” Rori clamped her lips shut on the rest of the expletive without one bit of thought over it. Swearing got you slapped, and then it got your mouth washed out. And then it just got you sent to a punishment closet for hours at a time while foster parents called for a removal. Cutting off words now was ingrained. And it probably wouldn’t make an apparition disappear anyway.

“Rori.”

Her head snapped back and she glared at him.

“How do you know my name?”

“I know lots more. Come. We waste time. You’re probably cold.”

“Oh. No. I like fresh air.”

“You’re shivering.”

Which was damned odd. If she had to have a bad trip, it shouldn’t include freezing with cold. Then again, she was probably out in the open elements, unconscious beneath a stinking rock, and that would certainly explain shivering.

“You are in Tirgoviste Castle, Rori. Not outside.”

“Stop reading my thoughts.”

“Cease making it so easy then.”

Nobody had ever told her that before. She wasn’t easy to read. She was known as a closed book, and furthermore, it was sealed. Rori drew a deep breath, tilted her head to look up at him, and ignored every whisper of attraction the view caused. She was always that way with Goth guys, and this one had it done perfectly. Black hair, tied back. Black eyes. Deep charcoal hued lashes, so thick they might as well be lined. Perfect features, set off perfectly with clothing that didn’t have much wiggle room in them. She’d been right, too. This guy definitely worked to catch a woman’s attention, and it included some major time in a gym. Spectacular looks like he claimed should get him more than enough validation from others. He needn’t bother flushing over her silent appraisal. And that was his fault for reading them. Rori swallowed and managed to find her voice.

BOOK: 4 - We Are Gathered
11.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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