Beneath streetlights that weren’t working, Jamys studied the tall building beyond the empty walkway. It appeared to be a hotel that had been closed; the lawns were a tangle of overgrown grass and weeds, the outside walls had been heavily painted with graffiti, and sheets of plywood had been nailed over the windows on the lower floors.
“That’s the Sunset Sails.” Chris told him. “I didn’t know it was still here. It was supposed to be demolished over the summer.”
Abandoned buildings made excellent hiding places for rogue Kyn. Jamys opened the car door but turned back to put his hand on the girl’s shoulder. Keep your promise and remain in the car.
“You’re not going in there alone,” she told him. “You don’t even have a knife on you.”
I will not enter the building. I have but to see if she did.
Chris didn’t look happy. “You better stay where I can see you, or I’m calling the boss.”
As soon as Jamys stepped over the rusted chain stretched across the long drive, the fresh scents of other mortals bombarded him. He stood, breathing and sorting through them until he found the one he wanted. She had sat for a time on a wall to the right of the chain. Her scent led from there toward the abandoned building’s front entrance.
Slowly he trailed the girl’s scent, until he felt something else and stopped halfway to the hotel’s doors.
The air around him pressed in, and unseen hands caressed his face. As he jerked back, he heard a laugh, and words in a low, guttural language, which suddenly changed to the ancient French he had spoken during his human life.
There is nothing you want here, dark one.
Jamys staggered back as the invisible hands slammed into him, almost knocking him off his feet. Both the hands and the voice belonged to a Kyn with a talent something like his. He could feel it, although his unseen attacker had much more power to draw on. They both might be able to speak through their minds, but the strange Kyn was using something else, a power unlike anything he’d encountered among his kind.
The girl in the red dress came walking down the drive, halting a few feet away from him.
Run away now, the voice in his head commanded, and I will not send my children after you.
Who are you? Why have you come here? Jamys seized the girl’s arm. Tell me.
Her dark eyes widened. “I’m Luce,” she choked out. “My name is Luce.”
Jamys realized that her speaking voice did not match the tone of the one in his mind – in fact, that voice had gone silent. Did you kill the man found in the restaurant?
“No. Heresabat did. The boy was almost all used up anyway.” Tears spilled from her dark lashes. “It still has me and all the others.”
How does he use you? How is he controlling you?
“Heresabat takes our blood and our strength. It keeps it young. It traps us inside and uses us. I can’t fight it.”
The girl spoke of the Kyn as an it, not a he. Jamys had the feeling it was not because to the girl the Kyn seemed like a monster. Is Heresabat a male or a female?
“I can’t tell.” She staggered a little as his talent began to affect her balance. “You have to help us. It won’t—“ she stopped as soon as he took his hand away from her, and the fear disappeared from her face. Without another word she pulled out a copper dagger and slashed at his face.
Jamys turned just in time to save his eyes, and felt the burn of the blade slice through his scalp. As he brought up his arms to protect his face, someone grabbed him from behind and yanked him around.
“Come on.” Chris wrapped her arm around his neck and pulled him away from Luce. Jamys picked her up, holding her against his chest as he ran for the car. He didn’t look back until he pushed Chris inside, but as he turned to face Luce he saw dozens of other humans had joined her on the driveway, and more were pouring out of the front of the hotel. Most were dressed in red jackets, dresses or pants, which for a moment made Jamys think of the enormous crowd of customer representatives used in commercials and advertising by a popular mobile phone company.
“Get in here.” Chris slid over to the wheel. “Hurry.”
He climbed in, and she took off before he could close the door.
“What the hell was that?” she panted as she glanced back. “Why did she cut you? Are you okay?”
Using his sleeve, Jamys wiped the blood from his face and probed the head wound. Long strands of his hair fell into his lap, but the edges of the gash were beginning to slowly close. He used his other hand to touch Chris. I’m not hurt badly. Do not take me back to the club.
“We are so going back to the club,” she snapped. “I’m going to tell Lucan exactly what that bitch did to you.”
We cannot lead her to him.
Chris braked suddenly, stopping the car in the middle of the road. “Why the hell not?” she demanded. “He’ll come down here and bust her into a million pieces.”
She is being used by her Kyn master. I think he came here to challenge Lucan, Jamys thought of the terror in Luce’s eyes, and what she had told him. He will not face the suzerain himself. He will send the humans he’s controlling.
Chris flinched as a horn blared behind them. “How many humans does he have in there?”
The scents that had filled his head in the drive had been too many to count, but he had felt the span of her borrowed power. Hundreds.
“We need to think this through,” she said as she accelerated. “I’ll take you to my place.”
A short time later Chris led Jamys up the stairwell of an apartment building and into a flat on top floor. She didn’t give him time to admire the neat red and black décor, but guided him through it to her privy, which was done in stark, icy white. He had stopped bleeding, but took care not to touch anything.
She left him and brought back a small steel-backed chair with a black vinyl seat cushion. “Sit down.”
He wanted to tell her he could clean up by himself, but she already had a small kit out and was tearing open a packet of gauze pads.
“You’re a mess,” she muttered as she dampened a pad and began cleaning the streaks of dried blood from his face. “You shouldn’t have left your blades back at the club. I know you guys are all about the honor and stuff, but that was dumb.”
He raised his brows.
“Don’t get all Kyn on me,” Chris told him. “She could have blinded you.” She finished wiping his face and carefully pushed aside what was left of his hair to look at the wound. “It’s closed, but it’s not healed. You need blood.” She began rolling up her sleeve.
Jamys caught her arm. No, Chris.
She glared at him. “It’s part of my job.”
I will not feed on you.
“The honor thing is getting really old and tired now.” She yanked down her sleeve. “I keep some bloodwine in the fridge for Sam. I’ll get you a glass.” She stalked out.
Jamys stood and looked at his face in the mirror. Luce’s blade had hacked off most of the hair on the side of his head; he was lucky not to have lost an ear. He searched through the kit until he found a small pair of scissors and went to work on the rest. By the time Chris returned with the bloodwine he had filled her small trash can with cuttings.
“I liked it better long.” She handed him the glass and took the scissors. Shadowed crescents rimmed her eyes, and he could almost feel how exhausted she was. “Sit down and let me do the back.”
Jamys sat and sipped from the glass, closing his eyes as the rejuvenating warmth of the bloodwine spread through him. His head felt oddly light without the length of his hair, and the gentle brush of Chris’s fingers soothed him.
“It’ll probably grow back in a week,” she said as she snipped. “I wish mine would. Last year I went blonde, huge mistake, and then I tried to dye it over with this gorgeous purple color. It ended up the color of sewer sludge.”
He drained the glass and set it aside, but the taste lingered on his lips. He needed to leave and hunt, but Chris’s luscious scent filled his head. When she came around to stand in front of him he latched onto her wrist.
“Ouch.” She grimaced. “Little sore there.”
He turned her wrist over and saw the stained bandage she’d wrapped around it, and then looked at her pale face. What have you done?
“I kinda lied to you. I don’t keep any bloodwine in the fridge for Sam.” She tried to smile. “It’s okay. I’ve got six pints, and you needed the boost.”
She’d bled herself for him. If he could have cursed, he would have. He lifted her into his arms and carried her out, looking this way and that until he found the room where she slept.
“This is nice,” Chris murmured as he placed her on her bed. “Just like in the movies.” When he tried to straighten she tugged on his shirt. “I’m cold.”
He wasn’t, not with the force of her blood coursing through him. He eased down beside her, gathering her close and pulling the black and white geometric bedspread over her shivering body.
“I’d really love to have sex with you,” she whispered, “but I think I’m going to be criminally stupid and pass out now.” Her eyelids slowly closed, and her body relaxed.
He checked her bandage to make sure she hadn’t cut herself too deeply, then rose from the bed to stand at the window. Sunrise was only a few minutes away. He glanced at the telephone on the bedside table. He needed to warn Lucan about the Kyn who had come here, but even if he could speak, he doubted they would believe what he told them.
Behind him, Chris whimpered, and Jamys went to her. He placed a hand on her forehead. All will be well, my little friend, he lied to her. Forget what has happened tonight and rest now.
When he was sure she slept peacefully, he found her car keys and slipped out of the apartment. As he went downstairs, he didn’t see the girl in the sparkling red dress step out of the shadows at the back of the landing.
Sam eased out from under the heavy weight of her sleeping lover, and took her clothes from the closet before sneaking out of their bedroom to dress. She never needed to rest as long as Lucan did during the day – one more oddity of her adjustment to being made Kyn – and knew after the hours they’d spent making love that he’d probably stay conked out until dusk. That would give her the time she needed to follow up with Tenderson and see if there was any evidence linking Jamys Durand to the victim.