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|A Blood Seduction(Vamp City #1) by Pamela Palmer|
"You feel it," Arturo said with surprise.
"I do. And I see it. I'm wondering if I could pass through on my own."
He cocked his head. "It would be a good thing to know. Try, cara."
"It won't hurt me if I fail?"
"No. It should not."
He released her, and she turned toward the wall. If the magic sucked her through as that first sunbeam had, she'd immediately come back for Zack if Arturo didn't send him through himself. But as she reached out to the Shimmer, her fingers encountered a rubbery surface. A split second later, she was sitting on her butt in the dirt.
Arturo chuckled. "Question answered."
Quinn rose, dusted off her pants, and met Arturo's amusement with a disgruntled look. He pulled her into his arms and kissed her thoroughly one last time, then pulled away, tenderness in his eyes. "I shall miss you, Quinn."
Feeling a rush of tenderness for him in return, she kissed his cheek. "And I you." She turned to see Kassius waiting with the horses and lifted her hand. "Thank you."
He nodded gravely.
Arturo motioned her over. "Give me your hands, both of you." When she and Zack had done so, Arturo lifted their joined hands to the front, urging them to step forward.
This time, the wall embraced her, dancing over her flesh like tiny ions, tickling coolly. And then she was through, stepping into the bright sunshine, Arturo's hand no longer in hers. Zack was beside her, squinting against the brightness as the deafening noise of their world bombarded ears grown accustomed to quiet.
"We did it," Zack breathed. "Fuck me, but we're out of there."
Quinn turned back, still able to see the Shimmer, but nothing on the other side. No one.
"Good-bye, Arturo," she said quietly, then took Zack's hand and started home.
"She believes you've freed her," Kassius commented, as they rode through the Nod a short while later, pretending to search for the sorceress like the rest of Cristoff's men.
Arturo shrugged. "She believes many things . . . that I cannot leave Vamp City, that she and her brother should stay in the area, and that I have no way to follow her if she does leave."
"You have a way to track her this time?"
"I do. I would not make that mistake twice."
"Have you told her any truths?"
Arturo smiled. "There was truth between us." Their bodies had spoken with profound honesty though what exactly that meant, he couldn't say.
"What did you tell her to make her believe she's no longer needed to save V.C.?"
"That Grant is more powerful than she is."
Kassius snorted. "It's a wonder your nose doesn't grow long enough to spear your next meal from twenty paces. And I assume you failed to tell her about her brother?"
"Certainly. There was no need to alarm her. Better for her to think their lives can return to normal."
"I can't fault that. I'm still not entirely sure what I saw when I drank from her."
"We'll figure it out. When the equinox nears, I'll collect them both." He smiled. "Cristoff will praise me for finding the sorceress at last. He need never know I was responsible for her escape in the first place. Or that I've known where she was all along."
Kassius shook his head. "I thought your loyalty to him had finally begun to wane."
"Never. He's my master as he is yours."
"He's a sadistic bastard, and we both know it."
Arturo shrugged. "We are what we are." But the thought of Quinn in Cristoff's hands again, suffering his wrath, chilled him. He told himself he didn't care, that he was as heartless a bastard as his master.
But he knew his own lies too well to be fooled.
"Will you leave her to her own devices, now? Or keep an eye on her?"
A grin spread across Arturo's mouth. "I mean to keep a very close eye on her. As soon as night falls, I plan to take the Jeep through the Boundary and stay with Micah for a day or two as I catch up with my work on my computer." He turned to his friend with regret. "I wish you could accompany me."
"As do I."
Arturo's lie to Quinn had been a small one. While he and Micah and a handful of others were still able to come and go through the Boundary Circle at will, most vampires had been caught by the magic and were firmly stuck inside. Kassius, unfortunately, was one of them. As was Bram.
"I will not let anything happen to our sorceress, Kas. She will renew the magic when the time is right. Vamp City will be saved."
He'd given Quinn a reprieve.
But from the first moment she'd stepped into Vamp City, her fate had been sealed.