She laughed with delight. “You speak with such arrogance. How young you are.” She turned to look at herself in the mirror behind the bar. “Come out, my children.”
Burke stepped out of Lucan’s office.
He barely glanced at his tresora. “Not now, Herbert.”
Burke didn’t reply or stop walking toward Alisa. He stopped to stand behind her, his eyes and expression blank. From the office and the supply room and behind the bars, more of Lucan’s mortal servants appeared. They walked in silence and gathered around the prostitute, forming a wall of bodies.
“Herbert,” Lucan said carefully. “You belong to me. You serve me. Get away from that woman.”
His tresora didn’t move.
“Your man had a stronger will than the others,” Alisa informed him. “It took me near half an hour to bring him around. It is a bit easier when they have need, like this one’s craving for oblivion.” She patted her own cheek. “When they are wanting, then they give themselves to me almost at once. Once I bathe in their beauty, then they are mine forever.”
Two young human males entered the club. Between them they dragged a struggling young female – Samantha’s friend, Chris.
“Let me go.” Chris writhed as she tried to fight free of their hold. She stopped when she saw Lucan. “Luc, help me.”
In spite of himself, he took a step toward her.
“Stay where you are, my lord,” Alisa warned, “Or I will have Gerald and Stephen snap her neck.”
Each of the boys holding Chris seized her throat with one hand.
“An impressive show of talent,” Lucan said, sounding bored. “But not one I find particularly threatening. You may, of course, kill as many of my mortals as you wish. They are rapid breeders. I can always acquire more after I find you and scatter your remains to the winds.”
“Lucan,” Chris gasped, her young, pale face appalled.
“What of your lady Samantha?” Alisa inquired sweetly. “Burke was kind enough to tell me of the great love you have for your sygkenis. Can you replace her so easily?”
“She can’t get to Sam,” Chris shouted. “She can only do this to humans—” she choked as the boys holding her tightened their hands on her neck.
Light bulbs began to pop in their sockets, sending down showers of sparks as Lucan’s eyes narrowed. “You do not touch Samantha and live.”
“I do not have to, my lord.” Alisa glanced at Burke, who took out a pistol and raised it in a shaking hand. Sweat poured down his face as his lips pressed together, and his expression turned to one of pain, but then Alisa rested a hand on his shoulder, and Burke fired.
The copper round caught Lucan in the upper arm, knocking him back against the bar. When he found his footing, he grabbed his shoulder and felt the bloody holes on both sides, indicating that the copper round had gone through and out of his flesh.
“That is what one mortal who reluctantly serves me will do,” she said as she took the gun away from Burke. “Imagine how efficient three hundred who have given themselves wholly over to me are.”
“Who are you?” When she didn’t answer, he said, “What do you want?”
“That is more like it.” Alisa smiled. “Let us retire to your chamber of business, and there we will discuss terms.” #
Samantha arrived at Infusion as soon as her head cleared enough for her to drive. Seeing through the eyes of a human turned into a zombie had left her feeling sick and unclean, as if even the vision had somehow polluted her soul. At least now she understood the intruder’s talent, and what had happened to Luce Figueroa. She could warn Lucan and together they’d hunt down this bastard and force him to free the people he used like puppets.
The front entrance to the club was not guarded, making Sam wonder where the hell Rafael and the men were. She stepped inside and almost on the body of one of their bartenders. Bending down, she checked his pulse; he had been knocked out but otherwise seemed unharmed. As she looked across the club she saw other bodies, and hurried over to the next.
Someone had come into the club and knocked out every single human in the place, including Burke. It had to be the Kyn who had taken over Wilson and Luce, and when she heard voices coming from Lucan’s office, she broke into a flat run.
Of all the things Sam had expected to see when she kicked open the door, Lucan in the arms of another woman was not one of them. For a moment all she could do was stand there and watch the skinny redhead stick her tongue in her lover’s mouth.
No wonder he didn’t want me down here. Her shock turned into a slow, simmering outrage. “Am I interrupting?”
Lucan pulled the redhead’s clinging hands from around his neck and pushed her away. “The lady is leaving now.”
“Do not forget what I told you, Golden One.” The redhead brushed a final kiss over his lips before slipping out of the office.
“Golden one?” Sam clenched her fists to keep from drawing her weapon. “Are you kidding me?”
“It is not what you are thinking.” Lucan wouldn’t look at her. “I did not invite her here, nor did I ask her to touch me.”
“Yeah, I could see how hard you were fighting her off.” She turned to go, but found herself being spun around. “Oh, you don’t want to do this with me right now. Not when I’m carrying copper rounds.”
“You must listen.” He jerked her against him and folded his arms around her in a painful hold. “I am sending you to Orlando,” he whispered against her ear, as if it were a secret. “Tonight. You will stay with the Kyn at the Realm.”
“Excuse me.” She had to speak loudly to hear herself over the roaring in her head. “Did you just say you’re kicking me out?”
“Samantha, please.” He tucked her head under his chin. “I cannot explain, but you must trust me. You have to go. Now.”
“Trust you, but get out. After I find you with a hooker.” She had to use her Kyn strength to pull free. “Lucan, we’re not human anymore, and we’re certainly not married. You just have to say it’s over. Which I think you’ve pretty much done here by sucking face with that skank.”
“It is not over.” His eyes turned to chrome, and then he glanced at the door before he lowered his voice again. “I do this for your protection.”
“From who? Your new girlfriend?” She laughed. “I think I can take her.”
“No.” His pupils contracted and his fangs emerged as he seized her shoulders. “I am your liege lord, and you will obey me, damn you. You are not to go anywhere near her, do you hear?”
“Perfectly.” She slapped him. “You son of a bitch.”
He didn’t stop her when she left this time. It was only outside the office did she smell his scent and his blood, and saw the fresh stain on her sleeve.
She remembered the last time she had seen the whore he’d had in his arms. The girl had come to the club looking for him about a year ago. He hadn’t even bothered to see or speak to her personally, but had told Burke to give her some money and send her away. When Sam had asked him about her, he explained that she had been one of the mortals he’d paid to use for blood and sex. She’d taunted him about his past bad behavior coming back to haunt him.
He’d sniffed and pretended to be offended. There is nothing wrong with such arrangements. After several hundred years, a certain amount of skill and professionalism have their own attractions.
A guy as gorgeous as you, with all your superpowers, paying for it. She had laughed. That is utterly ridiculous.
He’d pulled her into his arms. Fortunately I don’t have to anymore.
Back then the hooker had been vaguely attractive, in a tawdry, working girl fashion. Tonight she’d looked twenty years older, her face and body rack-thin and her skin pasty from what must have been a long stretch of malnutrition and drug dependence.
Samantha knew she wasn’t perfect, and that she and Lucan had their problems. She imagined he had a long list of complaints about her and how many ways she annoyed him. But there was love, too; love that had changed both of them. They had been loners who had been lucky enough to find each other, and after a wrenching series of tragedies and heart aches, they had fallen in love. Fate had done the impossible and seen to it that they would always be together. Lucan might never be completely happy with who she was, but she knew he would never deliberately hurt her or destroy what they had.
Not without very good reasons.
I do this for your protection.
She shook off the anger and breathed in. The strong smell of gun powder tainted the air. That and the blood stain convinced her to turn around and go back. She looked through a gap in the door, and saw him tearing the remains of his shirt from his torso, throwing it to the floor in disgust. At some point during the evening, every glass object in his office had shattered – and it hadn’t been during their confrontation.
Sam came in and watched him pour a healthy amount of whisky over the still-oozing wound. “Did she threaten to shoot me, too?”
Lucan’s head snapped up. “I told you to get out of here.”
“I remember.” She closed the door and picked up the remnants of his shirt. “Christ, she got her stink all over you.”
“I do not have time for this. Where is Rafael?” He tried to go around her, but halted as she wrapped her arm around his waist. “For God’s sake, Samantha, go.”
“Not going. Not this time.” She looked up into his eyes, and saw pain and fear behind the anger. “She was sent here, wasn’t she? By the zombie lord. He made her do this – all of this – to hurt me.” She felt him shake. “And you.”
He rested his forehead against hers. “I’ll find him,” he murmured. “When I do, I’m going to tear him apart. Slowly. Limb by limb. And I’m going to enjoy it.” He raised his head. “Until I do, you will never be safe. Neither will any of these damn mortals around us.”