Authors: Laurann Dohner
Tags: #Romance, #Erotica, #Paranormal, #Vampires
He sighed. “Some will die but let’s try to avoid it as much as possible.”
Blaron leapt first, landing quietly above. He pulled a cell phone out of his kilt. “I’ll tell the wolves.”
Lethal crossed to the bar then joined his friend in the rafters. It was dark, the lights off. The humans wouldn’t see them if any made it past the guards. The distant sound of a grunt reached his ears. It had begun. His fangs elongated as he peered across the space at Blaron.
“It’s done. I told them to avoid kills if possible,” the other vampire whispered. “They aren’t happy.”
“Nor am I.”
The sight of Blaron’s white teeth flashing in a grin irritated him.
“You’re getting soft. Perhaps it’s time to change your name to Lenient.”
“Fuck you,” he hissed. “You’re one to talk. Your Matty has two kittens. You used to call them the devil’s spawn.”
“They are to keep her company while I’m at work.” He shrugged. “They stopped hissing at me. Cute critters if they were minus the claws. They tore up the curtains. They make the lass happy though so I just bought new ones.”
It was Lethal’s turn to smile. “We could use some softening from a woman’s touch.”
“Aye,” Blaron agreed. “But after we deal with the hunters.” He cocked his head. “Hear that?”
Lethal gripped the hilt of his sword. “They believe they are sneaking in the back. The lucky fools have no idea we’ll try to spare their lives.”
Three humans holding crossbows crept along the far wall by the dance floor. Scuffling sounds came from the alley as the wolves subdued the rest of the hunters.
Blaron jumped first, landing just feet away from two of the trio that had made it inside. His sword flashed in the dim light as it struck wood, smashing one of the weapons. He used his free hand to knock the second human away.
Lethal landed behind the third human, who was attempting to shoot his best friend with a stake. The human didn’t seem aware of his presence until he cried out as the weapon was torn from his grasp. Lethal struck the man in the face hard enough to knock him flat then pounced, pinning him.
He allowed his fangs to show as he hissed, enjoying the instant horror that showed on the human’s face. One glance assured him Blaron had the other two subdued. He returned his focus to the hunter under him.
“You thought it would be easy to invade our club?”
“Fuck you,” the human grunted.
“You’re the one fucked.” Lethal cocked his head and heard some of the wolves talking nearby. They wouldn’t be so relaxed with their conversations if there was still any threat present. “Your hunters have been dealt with.” He lowered his face, his eyes glowing. “Who is in charge?”
“I am.” The man was terrified but he didn’t plead for his life.
“What is your name?”
The guy sealed his lips, refusing to answer. Lethal put some power behind his glare. “Tell me your name.”
“You are Lacey’s team leader?” The male attempted to resist the power of his gaze but couldn’t.
“What did you do with the video from the warehouse? Tell me where to find it. How many copies are there?”
“Just one. It’s on a file drive in the glove compartment of my car.”
“Where is your car?”
“Two streets over. Red Mustang.”
Lethal growled loudly. A moment later a wolf appeared. He ordered him to retrieve the drive from the vehicle. The wolf took off at a run. Lethal glared down at the hunter again. “Does anyone besides you and the hunters with you know about this club?”
“That’s lucky.” Blaron sighed.
“Were you able to get inside the heads of the two others? I hate running across humans with a natural immunity to mind control.”
“Notice how quiet they’ve been?” Blaron chuckled. “It amazes me that they are hunters. They are shitty ones since only a glare silenced them.”
“They hunt from a distance.” He’d never forget how he’d been taken but Lacey wasn’t going to work for Jeff anymore. He’d make sure they didn’t take down any more vampires. “Let’s just wipe their minds.”
“These are hunters,” his friend reminded him. “They probably have a lot of stuff around their homes as reminders of what they do.”
“True.” A mind wipe could fail if something triggered distinct memories.
“We’ll need to ask your human.”
He really wanted Lacey kept out of it but she’d have proof that he’d kept his word by not killing her team. At least he hoped they’d all survived. He should have asked the wolf who’d come but his priority had been securing any video of him and Lacey in that warehouse. He kept hold of Jeff as he hauled him up to his feet.
“I’m going to take this one to see Lacey. Round up the survivors and bring them all in here. We’ll handle this situation even if we have to question each one, make a list of anything that might trigger their memories, and send the wolves to destroy it.”
“What if they told their friends or their women?”
Lethal bit back a curse. “We’ll have to wipe a lot of minds.”
“For sure.” Blaron didn’t sound any happier at the prospect. “What a mess.”
He couldn’t agree more.
“It’s probably for the best we aren’t killing them all.” Blaron chuckled. “Despite my instincts prodding me to.”
“The old days.” Lethal could remember how good it had felt taking out an enemy. “We’ve evolved though.”
“Aye. A shame, isn’t it?”
Lethal flashed him a toothy grin. “I plead the Fifth. I’ll be back.” He spun the human, holding him by the back of his neck and pushed him forward.
Blaron unlocked the door to the basement and opened it. “Good luck.”
“He’s alive. That will score me some points.”
The human struggled but was no match for his strength as he forced him down the stairs. Mora lowered the gun when she saw that the hunter was controlled by Lethal.
“Let me in there and then go home. Things are calm upstairs.”
She removed the bar across the door that had kept Lacey locked inside and pushed it open. “Thank you.”
He winked and shoved the hunter through the door, into the office. Lacey was standing in the middle of the room, holding the knife. She relaxed only slightly when she saw him but her focus returned to the human he held.
“Jeff.” Her tone was soft.
“You backstabbing bitch.”
Lethal’s temper flared as he snarled at the hunter. “Don’t call her names.” He wanted to break the jerk’s neck but refrained.
Lacey was stunned at seeing Jeff but she wasn’t surprised by his accusation. Lethal stood behind him, his fingers wrapped firmly around her boss’s throat. They wore similar, furious expressions. She lowered the knife and placed it on the edge of the desk.
“I didn’t kill him. We’re going to interview them to see what we need to do to make sure their memories don’t return.”
“I don’t understand.” She looked at Lethal for clarification.
“Any triggers they might have around their homes or anywhere they frequent could prompt flashbacks. We don’t want them recovering memories.”
“That could happen?”
“Yes.” He didn’t look pleased either. “Hunters keep souvenirs and other possessions that are a constant reminder of what they do.”
She bit her lip, thinking about it. “Why don’t you just make them think they were paranoid and a bit crazy but they are getting better? You know? Like they made up vampires but now they know the truth. Make them believe you don’t really exist.”
Lethal smiled. “It could work.”
“Damn you to hell, Lacey,” Jeff spit out. “We trusted you.”
She stepped closer. It was doubtful he’d listen to reason but she wanted to try. “These aren’t the vamps who killed your brother or my sister. Not all of them murder humans. You’re still alive, right? Why? Think about it. Mindless monsters would have taken you out. You wouldn’t be standing here right now. You’d be dead.”
He glared at her.
“They are people, Jeff. Some are good, some are really bad. I’m not so blinded by Beth’s murder that I’m willing to annihilate an entire race for what one did. We got it wrong. Can you understand that? They hunt murderers too. We’re on the same side.”
“Bullshit. They got to you.”
“You’ve known me for three years. Can’t you just think about what I’m saying? No one has gotten to me. I just listened to reason.”
“Your sister would roll in her grave.”
“No. She wouldn’t. Beth wouldn’t want me to blindly hate them all for what one did to her. Don’t tell me anything about my sister. She had a big heart and would be proud that I’m not living with bitterness anymore.”
“Sir?” The male voice came from the doorway.
Lethal turned his head. “What?”
“Ten of them survived. One shot himself in the head. We couldn’t stop him. He died from the injury. I apologize.”
“It’s all right. Thanks for the information, Danny. Take all of them to the dance floor. I’ll be up with this one in a moment.”
“Yes, sir.” He disappeared through the door.
“Did you hear that?” Jeff spat. “It’s all right that one of ours is dead. These are the bastards you’re working for now.”
“I also heard that he shot himself. He was probably scared.” She hated that a life had been lost but she wasn’t going to blame the vampires or werewolves for it. They could have killed everyone but hadn’t. “It’s horrible but they didn’t pull the trigger.”
“You turned your back on your own kind, for them.”
Jeff refused to listen. She could see he’d already made up his mind that anything she said would be tainted somehow. He honestly believed she’d betrayed the team and had become a player for the other side. She wasn’t surprised. It had been a lot for her to take in, too, and she’d seen more, had more time.
“I’m sorry you don’t believe me.” She looked at Lethal. “Go ahead and take him upstairs. Nothing I can say will do any good.” She paused. “Thank you for not hurting anyone.”
“It matters to you so it matters to me. I’ll try your suggestion when I get inside his mind. I’ll plant the thought that they should get rid of all reminders of their past fantasies that vampires are real.”
“I won’t forget,” Jeff swore. “I’ll come back and destroy every damn bloodsucker in this nest.” He lifted a hand and pointed at Lacey. “I’ll get you too, bitch. I’m going to enjoy hearing your screams.”
She started to speak, tried to think of something that would get through to Jeff, but stopped. She was done trying to talk sense into her old boss. Her gaze lifted to Lethal. He seemed to understand as he turned Jeff around and forced him toward the door.
They had almost reached it when Jeff suddenly dropped to his knees, knocking Lethal off balance. Lacey saw her boss grab for his ankle. Her eyes widened when he pulled a gun. Lethal snarled and tried to grab it but Jeff had surprise on his side.
Three loud shots filled the office and she saw the flashes from the barrel. It was horrific watching the man she loved fall backward. Blood flowed from his chest where each bullet had stuck—one of them directly over his heart.
“Lethal!” She ran toward him.
He hit the floor and grabbed his chest. Jeff rose and pointed the gun directly at Lethal’s face, ready to unload the rest of the clip at close range. Lacey tackled him before he could fire again. The bullets probably wouldn’t kill Lethal but they might really hurt him.
She slammed hard into Jeff. They crashed to the floor and pain tore through her side as another loud explosion came from the gun. She fought, attempting to wrestle the gun from his fingers. She was horrified. She’d been shot.
Both her hands clutched the wrist holding the weapon so she couldn’t stop him from using his other hand as he withdrew a stake from his belt. She caught sight of it just before he plunged it into her chest. She screamed in agony.
“Lacey!” Lethal bellowed, his deep voice thunderous.
Jeff was torn away and a loud crash sounded. She turned her head in time to watch him slump to the floor after slamming into one of the desks. His neck was at an odd angle. Her view of him was obstructed as Lethal crouched over her, still bleeding heavily.
The horror in his eyes told her the truth of her grim situation. She glanced down, the pain quickly fading as shock set in. The thick piece of wood was embedded in her chest. Her gaze lifted to Lethal.
“He thought I was a vampire. What a fucking idiot.”
“Lacey.” The hands touching her trembled. He hesitated to touch the stake. “I need to pull it out.”
It hurt worse coming out than it had going in. She almost blacked out but the hand pressed between her breasts, applying pressure to the gaping wound, caused enough pain to keep her conscious.
“Some of your blood will heal me, won’t it?”
Tears filled his eyes as she stared into them.
“Shit. You cry red. That’s not good.”
“This is too traumatic.” He glanced down her body, paling. “You’re shot too.”
The dull throbbing in her side assured her of that. “I’m going to die?”
“No.” His voice deepened as he leaned in. “I won’t let you.”
She felt weaker, colder, and knew life was slipping away. “Will…you feeding me…some blood…fix all this?”
“No.” His free hand lifted. “I have to turn you.”
“I’m not letting you die. This injury is too severe to fix with a little blood, Lacey.”
Footsteps pounded toward the doorway and Blaron suddenly appeared. “What happened?”
“Make sure he’s dead.”
She hoped the son of a bitch was dead. He’d staked her. As if shooting her wasn’t enough.
“Fuck.” Blaron rushed across the room to check on Jeff. “He’s dead.”
“We’re going to need fresh blood. Hurry!”
She concentrated on Lethal. Even with red tears filling his eyes, they were pretty.
“Lacey? Say yes.”
He would turn her into a vampire or she’d die. She wasn’t ready for that yet—death or being a bloodsucker. Sometimes hard choices had to be made though. She made hers.
“Don’t let me go.”
He bit into his flesh with so much force that she flinched. The sound reminded her of biting into an apple. There was no time to ponder that though as he shoved his bleeding wrist against her mouth.