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|Jacob(Nightwalkers #1) by Jacquelyn Frank|
pain as they finally opened a counterattack.
Noah released a ball of fire, catapulting it at the necromancer with shocking speed. The necromancer muttered a rapid spell and the fireball struck an invisible barrier not a foot away from its target. Noah swore under his breath even as Jacob focused his thoughts. Noah felt the room’s atmosphere change and saw the necromancer shudder. Jacob narrowed his effect, not wishing to bring the entire building down on their heads as he manipulated gravity. The necromancer staggered under his own increasing weight, falling to his knees.
Then suddenly Jacob was struck with a powerful feedback of his own power. It crashed into him, sweeping him off his feet and slamming him to the ground with a cough of stolen breath. He’d never experienced this before. His exposure to the dealings with necromancers in history was limited to the hunt of the Transformed. It was Elijah who had the best experience in defeating these creatures. He found a new respect for the Warrior Captain as he realized the necromancer was far more dangerous than he and Noah were giving him credit for.
The necromancer was smiling toothily, clearly enjoying their frustrated attempts at attacking him. Then he flung out his hands as he muttered another spell. This time the hail of iron that swept toward them was a flock of blades like those of a circular saw, filling the room with a whining sound as they spun through the air toward them. Jacob and Noah uttered the exact same profanity as they burst into smoke and dust, barely escaping injury.
“That’s right, spawn!” the necromancer mocked. “Get away while the getting’s good. I have more ways of throwing iron at you then you can ever imagine!”
“We need to get out of here. We are hindering Jacob and Noah’s battle. They can’t go full bore with us in the building,” Legna said quickly.
Gideon disappeared instantly and Elijah grabbed his imprisoned necromancer by the back of his neck and scattered himself to the wind. Legna hurried up the stairway of crates Isabella had taken to the window so she could see outside. She focused on a nearby street corner and then disappeared from the building with a silent pop, reappearing on her chosen corner.
She turned to face the males as they rematerialized next to her.
“Yeah, yeah, I know all about it,” Isabella muttered as the altered Demon circled her in an obscene dance of lusting interest.
They weren’t too far from the building they’d just left, down in a sloped pit of freshly hoed dirt, apparently a new construction site of some sort. Isabella was aware of Jacob’s struggles with the necromancer in the building behind her, but she mostly concentrated on the lewd contemplations of the Transformed Demon before her. She glanced around, wondering if any of the construction equipment would provide some much-needed iron weaponry. But iron was an outdated metal, steel long since being the choice for its strength and resistance to corrosion.
The Demon’s nostrils flared as it repeatedly took in her scent, its forked tongue licking up and down one of its longest fangs with obvious avarice.
“Come on, handsome, you know you want it,” she invited silkily, tossing back her hair so she could flaunt the lush curves of her body. She sounded pretty confident to herself, which was actually quite amazing considering her heart was about to beat right out of her chest with her anxiety. Could she do this without an iron weapon?
Remember, little flower…
Her mind was suddenly filled with image after image of her training with Elijah, as well as the hand-to-hand victories she had achieved with so little effort ever since this adventure into her new life had begun. It had been instinct that had carried her through, and it was instinct combined with training that would make her even more easily victorious.
The Demon lunged for her, falling onto the ground and scrabbling in the dirt when his target moved too fast for him to comprehend. It rose up on all fours, snorting and shaking off dust like a dog shakes off water, turning to see where she had gone. She was standing exactly where he had been when he’d started his attack, brushing invisible dirt from her silver dress’s skirt.
The Transformed stared at her in confusion for a moment, sniffing warily to see if she was the same target he’d just tried to obtain. This time it was he who moved too fast for her to distinguish, his claws rending the silky fabric of her dress as she jumped away at the last minute. She gasped in shock as her side blossomed in pain once more, this time with the added injury of dirty talons breaking through her fragile skin. The Demon backhanded her across the face, knocking her right off her feet and sending her down into the dirt with a sprawling cough. He fumbled across to her, clambering over her body, clutching and groping at her with slimy, clawed hands.
Noah’s head jerked around when Jacob suddenly snarled out his mate’s name. It was clear the Enforcer’s focus was torn in that moment between two battles, and Noah needed him to focus on only one. He grabbed Jacob by the sleeve, jerking him out of range of the necromancer’s latest attack, slamming him physically into a nearby wall in a way that got his full attention.
“Pay attention!” Noah growled at him.
Jacob’s outrage served to treble Bella’s, the two blending within her heart and soul and propelling her reaction. She reached up and raked her fingernails over the foul creature’s eyes. It reared back instantly, howling in pain and anger. Isabella pivoted on the ground with her hip, her legs flying with impressive force toward the Demon’s head. There was a satisfying crack when the two met.
Once the Demon had fallen, the little Enforcer went at him with both barrels. She fought like a wildcat, plotting each strike to its most vulnerable spots with predatory cunning. If anyone had seen her, they might have thought she was toying with the powerful creature, playing with him like a child plays with unpalatable food on its plate. The Demon yowled with hurting and frustration as the soft, pretty toy he’d wanted turned on him with the vengeance of twenty hells.
Bella muttered a swift plea to Jacob’s Destiny before she launched herself full strength at the Demon, her hand clutching into a fierce fist as she targeted the distorted ribcage that protected its poisonous heart.
The cry of a wildcat wailed through the night.
Jacob and Noah tried to rush the necromancer in their insubstantial forms, but he’d thrown up another barrier to keep them at bay. The Enforcer and the King dropped to their feet in full form.
“How the hell do we get close to him?”
“The others are out of the structure. We do not need to get close to him any more,” Jacob announced darkly. He threw his arms out wide and literally rocked the world.
The necromancer was unprepared for the earthquake and his instinctive human reaction of fear as the building started to fall down around him. It broke his concentration, and Noah took advantage of it in a heartbeat. He threw out an enormous ball of heat, causing everything burnable to combust. He only spared the area immediately around Jacob. The room exploded in flame. The necromancer screamed as his ridiculous cloak and all the rest of his clothing turned to instant ash. The scent of burning flesh filled the air.
And just like that, in an instant of time, the battle was over.
Jacob and Noah left the inferno. Noah was in no danger, but Jacob could only bear the heat for so long. They appeared on the sidewalk beside the others, dragging the scent of smoke and soot with them.
“Hmm, cozy campfire, brother dear,” Legna laughed, throwing her arms around him and letting him hug her with the devastating relief in his heart.
“Are you okay? Tell me you are okay,” he said fiercely, practically squeezing the breath out of her body.
“I am fine, Noah. Nothing happened to me. Gideon said it was because of Isabella.”
“Thank Destiny,” he said feverishly. “Thank Destiny for Isabella.”
“Where is Isabella?”
Everyone went still and they all turned to face Jacob.
“Don’t you know?” Elijah asked.
“No. I cannot… She is not with me… ” He cocked his head as if listening for something. “Wait… she is close… and she is upset. Damn it, she is crying.”
As if it had been choreographed, all but Elijah left the sidewalk, each in their own fashion, hustling after the dust devil that was Jacob.
Jacob whipped into solid form on the ground of the construction site, turning around sharply to seek out his Bella. Relief washed through him when he saw her sitting on a log several yards away. He ran over to her with the speed of a cheetah, skidding to a halt in the dusty dirt that surrounded her.
She looked up when he spoke, and Jacob couldn’t help the choked gasp that escaped him. The sound was echoed several times as the others caught up to him. Isabella was covered in dirt, soot, and what could only be described as goo. The cleanest place on her was the two rivers of skin on her face that had been washed clean by her tears.
And then there was her hair. It stuck out in short, crispy spikes, little tendrils of smoke still curling up out of the charred mass.
Bella burst into fresh tears, sobbing with such wretched misery that Jacob dropped to his knees and gathered her up against himself.
“Aw, sweetheart, hush. It will be okay,” he soothed, hugging her and comforting her as best he could. “What happened?” She smelled awful, looked awful, but for the most part appeared undamaged, and nothing could have relieved Jacob more. He welcomed the vitality and emotion of her tears. She was crying, embarrassed and mad as hell at herself for some reason he couldn’t fathom in that moment, but she was alive and safe and in his arms where she belonged. Nothing else mattered.
“I… I forgot… ” she hiccupped miserably. “It’s so stupid.” She shuddered with another sob. “I forgot that after you kill the thing it… it bursts into flames! Oh, Jacob… Jacob, I burned all my hair off!” she wailed piteously.
Jacob turned his face aside, trying for all he was worth to not even think about laughing. If she caught wind of an ounce of humor from him, she would no doubt murder him on the spot. It was difficult, though, because the flood of his relief backed the wash of humor that bubbled up in him.
Unfortunately, Noah didn’t exercise the same amount of control. He made a muffled sound of poorly repressed laughter, earning himself a backhanded smack in the head from his little sister.
“Noah! Do not dare!” Legna hissed.
“I am sorry, Bella,” the King stammered around his escaping laughter, “but I cannot help it!”
“Fine,” Isabella sniffled indignantly. “You go ahead and laugh. I deserve it.” She turned her eyes up to Noah, the spark of temper in them too quick for Jacob to catch. “After all, I burned you bald, Noah, and I’m sure you looked twice as ridiculous as I do now!”
“Bella!” Legna gasped incredulously, popping out a laugh as her brother’s humor instantly faded and he flushed red as a rose.
Then Bella laughed, a short sound that was half giggle and half sob.
“I suppose I look pretty funny. And I know how hard you’re trying not to laugh, Jacob, so you might as well give up.”
“No, I will not laugh at you, little flower. I am too relieved to have you back to laugh.”
Bella swiped at her tears with dirty hands, causing a wild swirling pattern to appear in the dirt on her cheeks. She looked up at him with sheepish eyes.
“Can we go home? I need a shower.”
“Of course we can,” he told her, scooping her up against him as he regained his feet. “You had a hard night’s work tonight, my little Enforcer. A shower is the least of what you deserve.”
“Did you get them all? Oh, of course you did. You’re you.” She sniffed away the last of her tears. “I’m glad. That means”—she was hit with a yawn, finishing her thought around the distortion it caused “—no one can hurt Legna anymore.”
“We were lucky that they were not very strong overall. I have seen far more powerful necromancers, and they are not so easy to defeat,” Noah said, his tone sounding a little more than grave.
“Thank you, Isabella.” Legna reached to squeeze the little Enforcer’s dirty hand affectionately. “And do not worry about your hair. Gideon can fix it. Right, Gideon?”
“If you desire it.”
Legna paused and looked up into the Demon’s steady silver eyes, wondering why he’d worded his response in such a way. Was it her imagination, or had he directed that to her and not to Bella? However, he seemed just as indifferent as always, and she shrugged it off.
“And do not forget,” Legna said eagerly to Isabella. “Tonight is still your wedding night!”
“Provided we finish the ceremony before the moon drops,” Noah remarked.
“Uh… not to spoil that idea,” Isabella piped up, “but I think I broke a rib or something.”
“Oh, hell!” Jacob exclaimed, gingerly setting her back on her feet. “Why didn’t you say so? Carrying you like that must hurt!”
“This is a fact,” Gideon agreed, “considering she has broken three ribs and suffered deep lacerations. Beneath all that charred fabric, she is bleeding quite extensively.”
“Oh. Well, I guess that’s why it hurts,” Isabella noted with a wry little laugh.
“You think?” Legna said dryly.
“I cannot heal you in my astral body. I will await your return to Noah’s home.”
Gideon winked out in a sparkle of white light.
“That’s easy for him to say.”
“Not to worry, Bella,” Legna called as she backpedaled away from Isabella swiftly. “Legna’s travel agency is at your service.”