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|Adam(Nightwalkers #6) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“Oh my God. It’ll be a full-time job.”
And protecting her had already become Kane’s full-time job, it seemed. All of her consultations were now conducted with Kane right outside the door, making sure everyone inside was behaving themselves. If she cried out for him, he was always a quick teleport away. Ever since the fiasco with Noah losing control in his mad efforts to obtain Kestra, Kane refused to take any chances with her safety. Perhaps he wasn’t as old and as strong as some of the Demons that came to her, and perhaps he might not win against them in a head-to-head, but he was damn well going to give it his all.
And she loved him for that. For that and a thousand other reasons. She had worried early on, a bit secretly, that they might grow a little bit bored of each other as time went on. That it would be exhausting being in each other’s brains all of the time. Instead the very opposite had proved true. There wasn’t all that wasted time wandering around wishing for this and that from her man. The minute something occurred to her, he heard it and responded. And vice versa. It had to be the most unselfish, reciprocal, and generous relationship she’d ever known.
And now here she was, in the middle of the overwhelming city of Tokyo, where she didn’t know a single word of Japanese and kind of stood out like a sore thumb with her wild curls of red hair and her obvious touristy behavior. And this just because she’d had the passing thought earlier that she would love to eat and shop in Tokyo one day. Kane had suggested there was no time like the present, since they were so close.
So here she was, gazing into outrageous storefront windows, some with live moving people in them, showing off fashions and jewels. Corrine stared and watched and didn’t care if she was playing the American tourist.
“Oh, excuse me,” someone said after bumping into her.
Corrine instantly picked up on the sound of English, after spending nearly thirty minutes immersed in the Japanese chatter of people on their cell phones or having conversations she didn’t have a hope of understanding. Kane would be there soon enough, but for the moment it was a relief to make a familiar connection.
“You speak English?” she asked the athletic-looking brunette. She was fair-skinned and willowy, her hair cut at short angles, shaping the dramatic bone structure of her beautiful face.
“Yes,” she said with a smile. “First time in Tokyo?” she asked.
“Yes. I’m getting better at traveling, but it still amazes me what a culture shock some places can be. But not in a bad way. Look at all of this! There’s so much light.”
“I know.” The brunette didn’t seem as impressed. Clearly she was well traveled and very familiar with her surroundings.
“Well, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hold you up,” Corrine said apologetically.
“Not at all. I’m the one who almost plowed you down.” She stepped closer, smiling with a strange sort of discomfort. It was the first indication Corrine had that she wasn’t being entirely genuine. “I have a few moments,” she said. “Can I help you do a little shopping or something? I love to shop.”
“Well, actually I’m waiting for my husband,” Corrine said, her feeling of unease growing. She couldn’t figure out why she was uneasy, but she was learning more and more to go with her instincts.
“It will only be a few minutes. We can go in this store right here,” the brunette said softly.
And just like that, the pitch in her voice seemed to change. She met Corrine’s eyes directly, their bottomless brown suddenly compelling. Corrine felt drawn in and she wondered, with a mental laugh, why she had been so uptight about the generosity of a stranger. She really was so pretty and so sweet. Truly harmless.
“Come with me, Corrine,” the woman said in dulcet tones that seemed to defy the noise and hustle going on all around them. All those distractions faded away as Corrine connected to this stranger in such a soulful way.
“What’s your name?” Corrine asked with a genuine hunger to know. She suddenly wanted to know everything about her.
“Sana,” she replied. “How pretty you are, Corrine,” Sana said, reaching to stroke a graceful pair of fingertips down the side of the redhead’s cheek. “You want to come with me right now, don’t you?”
“Oh yes,” Corrine agreed.
In her head, the shout of the voice she knew as well as her own was cold and sharp, shocking like icy water dashed across her senses. Corrine stepped back suddenly, surprised to see how close she had gotten to Sana. They were practically embracing.
No, sweetheart! Look away from her eyes and do not meet them again, Kane instructed her sharply. She is a Vampire and is trying to mesmerize you with her mind. And no doubt she is realizing this instant that you are breaking free of her spell. You need to get away from her!
Corrine felt her heart jolt into overdrive as an aggressive change washed down Sana’s body. Corrine looked away from her and desperately sought some kind of safety. But what safety could there possibly be for a defenseless Druid facing off against a powerful Vampire? And Corrine was no idiot. She knew there was only one reason a Vampire would want to lure her away.
The only thing she had going for her was the fact that they were in a crowd of humans. As a rule Vampires didn’t do things that might expose their true nature to the human public.
But rogue Vampires didn’t really much care about Vampire rules and regulations, and she was willing to bet this one could give a merry shit whether attacking her in public drew some attention.
“Touch me, and the Demon King and all his brethren will hunt you into the ground. You, Sana. Personally. My husband will see to that,” Corrine promised in a low hiss of threat.
The Vampire smiled. She clearly didn’t seem to care about the prospect of being the target of all Demons everywhere.
“I’m going to devour you,” she said in a low sort of growl.
Then she reached out and grabbed Corrine by the collar of her shirt, jerking her up close against her body. Sana opened her mouth, flexing a wicked-looking set of fangs.
Then she jerked sharply, her body turning a little oddly.
Suddenly she seemed to dissolve away right before Corrine’s shocked eyes. And as the Vampire disappeared, a second woman appeared, little dots of black-and-white at first, like a low-resolution photograph viewed too close. Slowly her image focused into the picture of a small woman with exotic features, eyes of indeterminate color, and long, black and gray hair.
The Vampire was nowhere to be seen.
“There’s a pack more of them right around the corner. They’ll be on us in a second. Come with me!”
I don’t know who this is! I can’t even tell what she is! I am coming, Corrine. I’m almost there!
She could feel his imminent arrival. She knew he was close and rushing to get to her.
“What ... ?”
“Ah hell, Corrine, why do you always have to over-think things?” the young woman said with exasperation. Then she grabbed Corrine by the wrist. The sensation that came over Corrine was like turning into champagne, little bits of herself fizzing and bubbling away. Before she faded completely, she saw a cadre of Vampires rushing at her from all directions. But their grasping hands went right through her and the mysterious woman. Then she was gone in a swirl of white and black. When her body rushed back together, she found herself on another street in Tokyo, this one perhaps only blocks away from her previous location. She was struck by a wave of incredible nausea.
“That will pass,” the dark-haired girl said with scant compassion. But to be fair, she was distracted by checking their surroundings for any further threat. “Kane is almost here. Instants away. He will be happy to know that this time he wasn’t too late.” Her strangely shaded eyes fixed on Corrine’s for a moment. “This probably won’t make sense to you for a long time. If ever. Just know that you have avoided danger. You are safe. That’s all that matters.”
Then a huge shift in air pressure heralded the thunderous appearance of Corrine’s mate, the black cloud of sulfuric smoke accompanying him out of control as it tended to be when he was upset or emotionally stressed. His skills as a Mind Demon altered the perceptions of all the humans nearby, so that they saw none of it for what it was. And by the time the smoke cleared and his arms wrapped around her, the mysterious dark-haired girl was gone.
“Okay, what the hell was that?” Corrine demanded as her husband swept her up tight to his body and prepared to teleport them far away and to better-assured safety.
“A hell of a guardian angel,” Kane said, and he breathed a sigh of relief into her beautiful riot of red hair.
Now that he had hold of her, nothing could hurt her.
He teleported them away.
The young female Demon reappeared on the Tokyo street in the midst of four angry Vampires that had been cheated out of a powerful meal. Sure, they had been instructed to keep Corrine alive, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t feast on her quite a bit in the process.
They had seen her. Recognized her. And she couldn’t take the chance that they would report back about her actions. That would ruin everything. So she whipped out the dart gun she had used earlier and shot the loaded dart into the left eye of the first Vamp, sending him down into a screaming fit of pain. The second grabbed her by her hair, forcing her to turn hard around and head-butt her right at the zygomatic arch. The maneuver cut open a gash in her face, but it also sent shards of bone shooting into the Vampire’s frontal brain, dropping her like dead weight.
She pulled a modified ice pick from her belt as she whirled to stuff it and her fist as far as she could through the soft throat of the third Vamp, severing the brain at its stem.
By the time she jerked her hand and weapon back, the fourth Vampire had come to the conclusion that he wanted no part of someone who could take out three of his brethren in under sixty seconds.
He began to run.
She really did hate to run.
Jasmine moaned with the incredible pleasure racing through her veins, like the pulse she normally didn’t have. But something about this Demon brought every last part of her to life, from breath to heartbeat to stunning multidimensional emotions. More than anything, he brought pleasure. The stroke of his hands as they mapped her body completely from head to toe was unparalleled. He made her want to crawl out of her clothes, to strip down to utter nakedness and just rub her bare skin all over his. The craving was as dizzying as it was overwhelming.
“No,” she cried a bit painfully, the word a cross between a moan and a whine. “Demon bitch. I have to go get her. I cannot ...”
Jasmine felt the bitter taste of the word in her mind and it was a powerful countercoup to the incredible pleasure he was making her feel. It was, perhaps, the only thing strong enough to entice her away from all the promises his touch and closeness and extraordinarily sexy body were tempting her with. Oh, how she wanted all of those things he was trying to give her. She was not afraid to admit that she had wanted them for quite some time.
But she wanted them free of this albatross swinging from her neck. She had to find her white whale and destroy it before it had the chance to hurt anyone else. She couldn’t be at peace, couldn’t relax and enjoy this new state of being, until she had extracted this poison from her life. From everyone’s life.
Adam felt what she felt the very instant it fell over her. He felt the passion of her hatred for Ruth, and for the first time Ruth became more than just an average quarry to him. He felt Jasmine’s pain and frustration. He recalled her most significant battle with Ruth as if he had been there himself the day Jasmine, Damien, and Syreena had stumbled upon the traitor Demon and her avaricious Vampire mate in the woods and almost lost their lives to her cunning ability to fight and spellcast. Because of Jasmine’s experience, he was finally able to appreciate the enemy he was hunting. For the first time he was forced to question the wisdom of taking her on alone.
“Jasmine,” he said, his voice rough with the physical need for her that still flooded him. “We will get your Demon. But perhaps we should reconsider facing her alone.”
And just like that, she turned cold in his arms. She pushed him away, stumbling to her feet as she jerked her clothing back into place and tried to run her hands through her tousled hair, as if smoothing the look of it would make everything they had shared disappear.
“Horseshit,” she sputtered. “Are you turning soft on me now, Enforcer?”
“Far from soft,” he reminded her wryly as he drew himself to his feet and his full height. His body was heavily and quite obviously aroused. He adjusted himself a little bit, drawing her attention to the fact against her immediate will.
God, I have got to get me some of that, she thought fiercely.
It made Adam smile to hear it. Regardless of what she wanted or felt about anything else, she wholly admitted to herself that she craved him. As angry as she might be at him in the moment, she had to acknowledge that their attraction was not going to simply stop because she willed it to be so. She wasn’t going to be able to brush him away like a few tangles in her hair.
“Fine! All right! I am hot for your body and all of that,” she blurted out with exasperation. “That doesn’t mean I’m not going to be all kinds of pissed off if you back out of this on me! I’m not stupid and I’m not so arrogant as to think I could take her on by myself,” she said hotly. “I need you. The Enforcer. This is what you do! You snap Demons back in line. And if they won’t get back in line, you do what needs to be done. I need that, Adam. I need you to come with me and do what needs to be done! That last fight she had Nico on her side and yes, it made her unbelievably strong, but you killed him. He’s dead now! She’s all alone, except for the odd minion or two. We have to strike now before she can recoup, before she can start to recruit new blood, take a new mate or even start Summoning more Demons to use against us.”