This chapter is a bit short, just barely 2 Lit pages, so the teaser will be short as well at just under 1000 words. This chapter will also introduce a new character (not included in this snippet) whose bio I posted recently. You'll also get some info on our baddies. So, short chapter, lots of info. This should go live early next week but for now, enjoy the snippet!
There's a Fine Line...
Alicia aimlessly wandered the spacious gallery of the Pierces’ home, paying little attention to the elegant sculptures or the exquisite artwork that graced the large room. Francisco had vouched for the slender elf and called his sires home to discuss the spells the shaman wished to place around the estate at Blake’s behest. The two men had spoken of trivialities, the kind of small talk one indulges in at a cocktail party, while she had fumed in a barely civil silence and fled the moment Elizabeth had arrived. For all his talk of the importance of honesty, it seemed that Blake Simons held himself to a different standard than he did others.
He’d been attacked by six creatures – three from a totally different plane of existence – but didn’t feel she deserved to know. If he didn’t think she deserved to know when he wound up in a situation that could have meant injury or even death, then what did she deserve? Was she nothing more to him than what she’d originally feared: a quick and easy fuck? She snorted unhappily at the thought. He hadn’t even tried to have sex with her when she’d spent the night with him, so that was out.
Gripping her hands tightly to avoid grabbing the nearest priceless treasure and throwing it violently against the wall, Alicia stalked from the room, no longer trusting her self-control. With a manic gleam to her pearly black eyes, she entered the small gym on the ground floor and approached the punching bag hidden in the corner. Even during those horrible months with Markus, she’d never felt so angry and upset and betrayed. She was supposed to be his mate, not a plaything he could use then discard and forget. Tears ran down her cheeks as she attacked the heavy, cylindrical bag, uncaring of the bruises on her knuckles and unaware that her avian cries of rage and pain echoed through the empty room. Jagged tears were beginning to form in the thick leather when powerful hands clamped firmly but gently around her wrists.
“You’ll hurt yourself, Beautiful One.” Blake’s murmur as he pulled her back against his chest seemed to dispel all of her aggressive anger and left her feeling numb. She neither struggled nor responded to his touch, though the tears continued to fall in silent streams. “I’m sorry I didn’t call, Alicia. Though I’ve tried to convince myself that I was only trying to protect you, the truth is that there is no excuse for my actions.” Still holding her wrists, he wrapped her in his embrace and nuzzled tenderly into her hair.
“Were you hurt?” Alicia’s voice was low and hoarse from weeping, and she was thankful for the arms that held her. She was suddenly exhausted and doubted she could stand without aid for, as angry as she had been at him, she couldn’t refrain from asking.
“No, beautiful. They never even got that close.” Daring to place a light kiss upon her cheek, he tightened his hold when she sagged in relief. “There were six. Two vampires not much older than Johannes were being led by a third who might have passed his first century. They were still too human in their ways to be much of a threat, even had I been unarmed. I’m rarely unarmed.”
“You use weapons?” Still soft, her voice was slightly stronger and full of confused curiosity. A quick glance told him that her tears had slowed to a mere trickle, which lightened his heart considerably. Joyously, he chuckled softly at her disbelief and gave her a brief squeeze.
“Yes, my sweet. I prefer handguns in such situations, though I’ve trained in most firearms from shotguns to sniper rifles and everything in between. I keep the pistols out of sight unless they’re needed, and then they’re easily accessible. The younglings had little opportunity to do more than annoy me because I’d dirtied my suit.”
“You said six…”
“The other three were Mephits, small creatures commonly referred to as the cockroaches of Hell. They’re easily manipulated by those with a stronger will, but vicious when ordered to attack. They don’t just obey their masters, they enjoy it. Their pitiful existence is only made bearable by transferring their abuse onto others. They posed a problem simply because of their tendency to shoot bursts of hellfire at their opponents.” She shivered and his arms tightened around her. “Some singed hair and a ruined shirt was all they managed before they were eliminated, Beautiful One.”
“They were after me.”
“Not directly.” Blake sighed, wishing he didn’t have to reveal the reasoning behind the attack but unwilling to make another glaring error in judgment. He slid his hands from her wrists to entwine their fingers, his thumb stroking her wrist soothingly. “They were after me as a means of getting to you. The loss of a mate is a thousand times worse than the loss of a loved one, Alicia. Many fall into a despair so great they slowly waste away, while others can’t handle the pain and either go rogue or commit suicide. It is our belief that Malphas’ plan was to eliminate me in hopes you’d be more susceptible to his manipulations.”
“How could he think I’d have anything to do with him if he was responsible for taking you from me?”
“I don’t think he planned on us figuring that part out so soon, Beautiful One, or he has something more to use as leverage. What that may be, however, we don’t know. Yet.” When the silence stretched, with only the sound of their breathing to break it, Blake turned the precious human in his arms to face him and cupped her cheek tenderly. “Talk to me, Alicia. Yell, scream, hit me…whatever it takes, but tell me what you’re thinking right now.”