Read Only Human Online

Authors: Candace Blevins

Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Urban, #Erotica, #Bdsm

Only Human (10 page)

BOOK: Only Human
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I didn’t want to bring this up, but Aaron needed to know before we arrived. “If you can keep some distance between Denny and me, I’d appreciate it. If you can’t, I’ll deal with it, but I don’t know how he’ll react.”

“I wasn’t aware you knew each other.”

“We do, and the end wasn’t pretty. I know he’s a good cop, but he’s an ass in his personal life. If you can keep me away from him, I’d appreciate it.”

Aaron sighed and said, “Like you said, he’s a good cop. He’s also turning out to be a good police chief, and we’re fortunate to have him on our side.”

My temper got the best of me, and I told him, “Denny may be a good police chief, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this makes him a good man. I knew him when he was a lowly detective, and it was obvious his aspirations were to run things even way back then. He wanted to rise up and be in charge, and he didn’t care who he had to step on to make it happen. He’s hurt a lot of people in order to rise to the top — people he called friends, and some who were more than friends. He is
not
a good man.”

“Are you telling me you dated him when he was a detective? That would have made you, what? Eighteen? Twenty?”

I crossed my arms over my chest and looked straight ahead. “I don’t want to talk about it but don’t make assumptions. Where are the fires and explosions?”

He sighed.
Again
. I never heard this particular sigh when he dealt with the men, but at that moment I didn’t care. Later, I’d chastise myself for not being more professional, and for going all
female
on him when we should’ve been talking about the operation. For now though, I didn’t give a shit.

“Where else?” he answered. “The backside of Snodgrass Hill. We’re supposed to be met by a squad car a few roads over.” He paused as he negotiated a turn. “It’s just you, me, and Nathan tonight. I’d like to call in the wolves, but with the fire department on the scene we’ll draw too much attention if we bring in more than a few of us.”

“With so many people around, I’m guessing Denny will want to stick with us to make sure we don’t get hassled, arrested, or shot by one of the good guys.” I sighed. “I don’t like him, but I don’t want him hurt, either. One of us will have to babysit him the whole time, which means there’ll be only two of us fighting offensively. Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“Breaking in new law enforcement personnel — letting them see the realities and figure out how they’re going to respond within their own moral code — is always a trick. He was briefed by the former chief, and I’ve talked to him as well, but he’s still getting used to the realities of it, and coming to terms with the fact he can’t work within the justice system he believes in with such zeal. We’ll have to protect him as best we can, but be careful about giving him orders. As chief, he’ll consider himself in control. Try to let him keep the illusion.”

Aaron stopped to pick up Nathan in front of his house and there was someone with him. Nathan looked at Aaron and Aaron nodded in assent, and then Nathan opened the rear passenger door and he and the other man slid into the backseat as Nathan said, “I figured we’d need one more, he won’t be much good fighting but he can keep Denny from getting hurt, I think.”

I spoke up, “We were just talking about that, good thinking. Do you want to introduce us?”

Nathan just looked at me, so Aaron introduced us as he drove. “Kirsten, this is Panda. Panda, Kirsten.” He looked at me and added, “He’s one of Nathan’s lions, and he’s great to have at your back when battling anything from this plane of existence, but he’s never fought something from another realm so he’s going to be out of his element.” He looked in the rear view mirror at Nathan and asked, “I assume you outfitted him?”

“I gave him salt soaked clothes, but his boots don’t have any protection.”

I turned and looked him over. “Hello, Panda. Nice to meet you. I’m Kirsten. Fighting these things is what I’m good at, so if I tell you to do something, do it. Don’t ask why, and don’t think about whether it makes sense or not, because it may not. However, if I say to do it, there’s a reason. Even hard-headed, persnickety Nathan tends to listen to me when these things are around, right Nathan?”

One corner of his lip curled up. An
almost
-smile, which pretty much floored me.

“Yeah. As unlikely as it may seem, she knows what she’s doing.” Nathan told Panda. “She and Aaron are usually on the same page with things, so you don’t have to worry about who to listen to. If they happen to give two sets of instructions then follow whoever gave the last order because it probably means plans have changed. She and Aaron may both take flight, don’t let it freak you out. Kirsten has more of a straight up and hover thing, but Aaron can actually fly around a little, even in human form.”

He paused and Aaron told Panda, “Your job tonight is to keep the police chief alive. He isn’t happy about having to call us in, as he’s most comfortable working through the system. However, in order to save lives, so far he’s called me when he comes upon the supernatural, but he still wants to tell us what to do even though he knows nothing about how to handle it. We’ll need him close to us tonight because the place will be crawling with cops and firemen, and he’ll need to tell them it’s okay for us to be there. However, this means once we start fighting we’ll have to keep him safe. You up to it?”

“He’ll be fine,” Nathan assured us.

Aaron trusted Nathan, so he nodded and glanced at me before looking back to the road. “Kirsten, you need to be super careful with your laser tonight. If you kill something by taking its heart and head, Denny’ll realize it looks just like our second murder victim, and any use of your laser at all will look like the murder weapon for both bodies.”

“You want me to blow up their heads instead tonight? You usually want me to keep that trick under wraps.”

“No. Not unless you must. Just be careful around Denny. Tonight, it might be better to just injure them enough to send them back.”

We reached the city limits and a patrol car pulled out in front of us and escorted us through town with lights flashing. I could see the smoke in the distance, and smelled it when we were still a few miles away.

We followed the car to the backside of the battlefield and parked in a residential neighborhood. The officer motioned us out of Aaron’s SUV and into a squad car, and drove us past the fire trucks and barricades. He rolled his window down and spoke to a few people on his way through, and my throat and eyes burned as the acrid smoke smell grew stronger. I figured I could use it as an excuse for my facemask when I put it on later, if someone asked.

We pulled to a stop with a close-up view of Chief Edward Denton ordering people around, totally in his element.

Denny has aged well. I frequently see him on television in short news clips, but seeing him in person was different. He’s six foot four inches tall, and the touch of grey in his black hair makes him look distinguished, not old. His sharp features and thin, wiry muscles exude strength and power.

However, despite the authority he wears like a perfectly tailored suit, I’m no longer the least bit attracted to him.

The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.

Denny nodded to Aaron as we neared, and he motioned the driver to get out as he stepped towards the car. Aaron was in the front passenger seat, and I sat directly behind the driver’s seat, with Panda in the middle and Nathan on his other side. I was certain Denny hadn’t noticed me, and wasn’t looking forward to his realizing I was working with Aaron.

He turned the car and drove away from the battlefield, but only a few blocks before he pointed to an unlit field and said, “I believe they came this direction.”

We got out and Aaron took to the air to look around. I took the bull by horns and introduced Denny to Panda as if it hadn’t been more than a decade since Denny and I had seen each other.

“Denny, this is Panda. Panda, this is Chief Denton.” I faced Denny and worked my gloves on as I told him, “Panda’s in charge of making sure you stay alive tonight.”

“And who’ll make sure you stay alive?” Denny asked, his eyes full of surprise, concern, and something else I didn’t want to define.

I ignored the question and headed into the field with Nathan.

Twenty feet into the field, my shields literally vibrated with evil.
Damn
. At least a half dozen, off to our right somewhere in the woods. I very quietly told Nathan, and we adjusted our trajectory almost in step with each other. I may not like Nathan much to hang out with him, but he’s great to have by my side in a fight. Though, he almost got both of us killed a few times before he started admitting that maybe he should listen to me when we’re up against evil beings from another realm.

I still wasn’t sure what we were walking towards. I don’t like calling them demons because, while it’s probably as good a word for them as anything else, I think it gives them more power than they deserve.

Various things that can be called to our world from another, and several of them have the ability to make explosions. Unfortunately, one of those things was an actual full-sized demon, as in the opposite of an angel. We don’t see them very often, usually it’s a lesser something or other that gets called up, and I was
really
hoping these were just the little three feet tall green and orange annoying beasties who threw fire and some sort of poison. We could handle six plus of them, I wasn’t so sure about six full-sized demons.

And then they stepped out of the woods and I forced my fear into the background as I looked at seven large, evil, ugly, and scary-as-fuck demons.

I focused on the job, ignored my emotional reactions, and took stock of what I knew. The demons were powerful, but judging from the energy of the two closest, they weren’t the upper echelon, thank goodness. However, they were powerful enough I needed to take the offensive
now
.

I took a breath of the cool night air and prepared to fire up my laser. I didn’t think Denny could see from here and I wanted to kill these bastards. I pointed at the biggest demon and let the killing energy rip out of my fingertips and streak towards his chest. Once I’d pierced his heart I went straight up and then right, left, and back right to take his head off. When I do this, they die, they don’t just get sent back to wherever they came from. The other six scattered as I killed the first, and Aaron managed to take one down while Nathan had another engaged. One of them streaked towards me and I aimed at him and let the energy stream from me into him, but he locked some sort of shield around him, and it absorbed the laser — draining me. I shut the flow of energy down as quickly as I could, but I was suddenly drained beyond the point where I could just refill and go again. I could barely stand on my own, and felt myself wavering, but I used every ounce of physical stamina I could muster to stay upright, pull a throwing knife, and fling it towards him.

Whatever his shield was made of didn’t deflect the knife and it went into his chest, a perfect throw. It wouldn’t kill him, and likely wouldn’t even send him back, but it would take him out of the action a few minutes, at least.

The other three demons were headed to the squad car, and I had no idea where Panda had taken Denny. I spoke in a normal voice to tell Panda to get the chief to the middle of the field, and I forced my muscles to walk towards the three demons likely headed their way. I heard fighting and assumed it was Panda trying to engage them and I sprinted, even though I knew I was using the last of my physical energy and would likely collapse soon. I wasn’t sure if my mind was playing tricks on me or not, when I arrived to see Abbott taking down the last of them.

When I realized he’d taken care of all three (not dead, but injured enough they’d have to choose to either die here or go home to heal) I turned on my heel to make sure Nathan and Aaron were okay.

“We’re good,” Aaron assured me. “All but one are either dead or have gone back to their realm.”

I looked at the spot where the one I’d taken down with my knife should be, and noted my knife wasn’t on the ground, as it would be if he’d gone back to his plane of existence.

Aaron pulled me to him and quietly told me to incinerate the body of the one I’d killed.

“I can’t,” I told him. “I’m completely drained.”

He grabbed my hands and pushed energy into me, fast enough it hurt, but it was enough I could focus heat inside the chest cavity of the body on the ground and blow it up, then do the same with the head.

He kept pushing energy in, but there was too much going on for me to accept it, and he backed off when I screamed in pain. Ignoring his look, I barked orders at Nathan to take off and look for the one that got away, looked at Aaron to let him know we had a job to do and I didn’t want to talk about it, and then headed off to look for the remaining demon as well.

Aaron had given me enough energy to keep me standing and moving at least a few minutes, but not enough to do anything metaphysical.

We covered the wooded area until we reached a small subdivision, but none of us could get a location on him. A demon running around on our plane of existence was worse than bad, but even worse, I had a horrible feeling this was an upper echelon demon. I’d never seen anyone or anything who could shield themselves from my laser, much less drain me in the process. I’d felt the energy of the first two and assumed they would all be the same type or level or whatever. Next time I’d feel the entire group.

Denny joined us, and I looked at him, all business as I asked, “Any leads on finding whoever brought these things here? I need to know what they did to bring them, and I need to know if they have any control over the one who got away. Do you have any idea how bad things can get if this one can run around and wreak chaos on things with no one controlling him?”

“Sorry, Kirsten,” Denny said, his tone also professional — a cop talking to a civilian. I didn’t take it personal, though, as he’d used the same tone with Aaron.

“We didn’t know anything at all until explosions and fires started,” Denny continued as he looked around, and back to us. “I saw someone else fighting them. Where did he go? Is he with your group?”

BOOK: Only Human
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