|Home > Rebecca Zanetti > Dark Protectors > Shadowed (Page 4)|
|Shadowed(Dark Protectors #6) by Rebecca Zanetti|
Interesting. The natural power vibrating around vampires often made witches uneasy. Brenna glanced at Jase. While he made her uneasy, it wasn’t in exactly in a witch-type way. More like a female one.
Kane pressed his stack toward Viv. He then scanned the first page and reached for a marker to cross out several lines. “We agree to join our forces with yours to combat both demon and Kurjan attacks—but we will not follow your armies. We’ll bring our own.”
Viv nodded. “Fair enough.” She took a pen from her lawyer and added words to Kane’s document. “We’ll agree to share all scientific knowledge gleaned regarding genetic diseases and/or viruses that affect witches and vampire mates, but we will not agree to share knowledge gained regarding quantum physics or string theory.”
“Then neither will we,” Kane said. He flipped his top page and frowned as he read out loud. “Any such mating will occur within the next week, and thus this document becomes final.” He lifted an eyebrow and glanced at Brenna and Jase. “You two okay with that?”
Brenna’s mind spun. They expected her to sit quietly during such a discussion? She lifted her chin. “My lady parts will be available for said mating during the next two weeks.”
Jase barked out a laugh. “As will, ah, my gentlemanly parts.”
Heat climbed into Brenna’s face. “I believe we have an agreement.”
“Wait. You should demand multiple orgasms,” Jase said.
Brenna coughed. “Excellent point. I so demand.” Her shoulders started shaking as she tried to hold in laughter.
Jase chuckled, sounding much more like the man she used to know.
Viv’s eyebrows slanted down, and she pursed her lips. Conn looked at them like they were crazy.
Brenna bit her tongue to keep from laughing out loud.
Kane frowned. “Okay.” He read further and then crossed out several lines. “Any child born will be a vampire, and we will train him.”
“A vampire-witch,” Viv said. “We want equal time with any children to train them in our ways.”
Jase tapped his hand on the table and lost his smile. “My sons are not included in the document.”
Brenna started. Wow. She hadn’t thought about kids. If they had children, they’d be male. Vampires only made males with their mates, and the whole turning somebody into a vampire by biting them was just fiction. “There’s a good chance I’ve sustained enough internal damage that I’ll never have kids.” The idea cut a path of pain through her body. But Jase needed to know the truth before signing.
He slid his hand over hers. “Don’t worry about it.”
Conn narrowed his gaze. “Jase is planning to fight demons and go out with a glorious fire. I don’t think he’s planning to be around long enough to procreate.” Pure, pissed-off male echoed in Conn’s tone. Along with concern.
Viv swallowed. “In that case, why don’t we turn to the last page and discuss what happens if either party passes on?”
Brenna glanced toward Jase’s hard profile. He hadn’t denied his brother’s statement.
Damn. She’d truly be alone again.
Well, if she didn’t die first.
The rhythmic clomp clomp of Jase’s boots kept time with his beating thoughts as he jogged. Was he making a mistake? By mating sweet Brenna, he was quite possibly keeping her from ever mating again. From ever finding love.
Love existed for some people.
Vampires and their mates only got one mating . . . for eternity. Shouldn’t Brenna have a chance at the real thing?
He ran full-bore across the bridge, sending snow spraying. The storm continued to blast him with ice and snow. He ignored the pain and ran until his lungs compressed. Even then, he pushed on.
After sitting inside and listening to Kane negotiate his duties, Jase had all but leapt out the window for the outdoors. Even now, five years after being freed from an underground hell, the walls still closed in on him if he was inside for too long. He’d never again venture underground.
Brenna’s humor during the negotiations had caught him off guard. His laugh had been genuine.
A real laugh.
He frowned and increased his pace. Tree boughs extended over the quiet street, dripping with icicles. Beautiful and deadly.
Brenna was beautiful and delicate. Her pretty gray eyes held both humor and kindness. While her illness had thinned her, very pleasing curves filled out her business suits. His groin tightened.
His gut ached.
He hadn’t been with a woman since before he’d been taken. Before, he’d been with a lot of them. But now, damaged and so damn angry, he didn’t trust himself.
How would he keep Brenna safe? He wanted her—more than he’d hoped. More than he could control.
A buzz alerted him, and he tapped his ear communicator. “What?”
“Brenna just headed home,” Kane said. “You wanted me to inform you, right?”
“Right.” Jase pivoted to head toward the Liffey.
Kane cleared his throat. “I know you both signed the contract, but I don’t think that tonight, I mean—”
“Jesus, Kane. I just want to talk to her.” When the hell would his brothers stop tiptoeing around him? Sometimes Jase felt like he was still lost, and they were all still searching for him.
“Oh. Okay,” Kane said.
Jase closed his eyes and kept running, tuning in his other senses to guide him. Just in case the demons blinded him someday. “Why don’t you go home to your mate?”
“I will. Soon,” Kane muttered. “Amber staged a protest against some cosmetic company in Portland yesterday.”
Jase snorted. “I bet she’s running Dage ragged while you’re out of town.”
“Of that, I have no doubt. Be careful, Jase.” Kane disconnected the call.
Careful with what? Brenna? Or his plans to destroy the demon nation? The scent of winter, salt, and spruce filled Jase’s nose, and he opened his eyes. While he hadn’t broadcasted his intent, his brothers knew him. Or at least they used to know him.
Now he didn’t even know himself.
He reached the outside of Brenna’s apartment building within a few minutes. Tall and elegant, the structure housed three penthouses on the top floor. One belonged to Brenna, one to Moira, and the third to their cousins, three male enforcers. Somehow Brenna had talked one of the enforcers into selling her his place for an excellent price when she’d taken the seat on the Nine. Or so Moira had informed Jase.
Ice crackled beneath his heavy boots when he slowed to a stop. Twisting his torso, he stretched aching muscles. The hour of inverted push-ups before the three-hour run had strained his biceps more than he’d liked.
The hair on the back of his neck rose. He lifted his head, searching the nearly empty street. Nothing moved. Narrowing his eyes, he loped across the road to reach the gaping mouth of the parking garage. The slope headed underground.
His heart seized and then bolted into a faster pace than when he’d run. Even the thought of being underground made his head spin. Besides, something was down there.
Sweat broke out on his brow to be instantly chilled by a freezing wind.
A rumble echoed in the distance. Brenna’s red compact zoomed into view.
Vertigo caught Jase by surprise as the world began to swirl around him. Trees, falling snow, the top of the building, all seemed to roll like a drunken tornado. But he couldn’t let Brenna drive into the structure. Every instinct he had bellowed for him to stop her. He stepped to the middle of the entryway.
Brenna’s brakes engaged with a squeal, and her car skidded several feet to stop. The metal impacted his shins with pain, but not hard enough to knock him down.
She lurched forward, her eyes wide on his through the icy windshield. A crease formed between her brows, and she jumped out of the car. “What in the hell—”
Long strides propelled him around the vehicle to grab her arm. “I don’t know. Something—”
A beaten-up black van rolled around the north end of the street. Seconds later, another van blocked the south.
Jase swallowed. Inside him, ever-present anger bubbled closer to the surface. He searched for an escape. An engine ignited inside the garage, and a box van cut across the entrance, blocking the entryway.
“We’re surrounded,” Brenna whispered, her body stiffening.
“Yes.” Jase pressed her closer to the vehicle to better block her from all three waiting vehicles. “How strong are you?”
“Huh?” she asked.
“Since taking my blood. Can you fight?” How many people might be in the vans? If he locked Brenna in the car, would he have time to take them all out before somebody could get to her?
Her arm trembled. “I felt a little stronger for about an hour, but that’s it. My strength is . . . subpar.”
The angst in her voice cut through him. “Your own body has poisoned you from the inside for a decade, Bren. Anybody would have lost strength.” Damn it. He’d probably scare the shit out of her if he went all psycho to defend her. He eyed the van blocking the garage. The front window had been tinted so darkly he couldn’t see past it. A thought paused him. Were these witches or demons? Maybe they were there for him.
Fury lanced along his arms and tightened his legs, yet he kept his voice calm. “Do you recognize the vans?”
He opened his senses as wide as possible. While he’d lost many of his skills, he could still tell the difference between races. No demon vibrations filled the air. “I think they’re witches.”
As if on cue, the doors of all three vehicles slid open. Dressed in black, squads of five soldiers, men and women, stepped out of the vans. They carried green glowing guns—the guns of immortals. Damn it.
Jase kept his focus on the nearest group and stilled as he recognized the woman from the protest. The one who had told Brenna to resign.
The woman’s lips turned down as she lifted her weapon to point at him. “I’m sorry, Prince Kayrs.”
Panic slammed through Brenna, and she screamed in warning.
Then Jase moved quicker than she would’ve thought possible. He dropped and yanked her atop him. She landed on his hard body, air swooshing from her lungs. The laser bullet shot over the hood and downed a spruce. Wrenching the door open, he threw her inside the car.
Pain cascaded along her rib cage from striking the gearshift, and she grabbed the steering wheel for balance.
“Lock the door,” he ordered, slamming it shut. Pivoting, he leaped the several yards to crash into the shooter. He impacted with such force that they barreled into three of the soldiers protecting the woman’s back.
His hands and feet blurred they moved so quickly. Within a minute, all five soldiers lay on the ground, at least two of them with broken necks. Sure, they were immortal, but broken necks took a lot of recovery time. Brenna froze in the car, her heart galloping, her gaze on the deadly vampire.
He turned, his fangs low, his eyes a metallic vampire green.
The atmosphere leavened. Brenna gasped, her head whirling to see a male soldier from the north van throw a burning ball of plasma at Jase. She yelled in warning and shoved open the door.
Years ago, she could’ve used quantum physics to alter matter enough to create her own plasma and counter the attack. Now she could only scream.
The plasma hit Jase dead-center, lifting him several feet and throwing him into the stone above the garage. He impacted with the crash of a meteor hitting the earth. The stone splintered, sending shock waves to shake the building. Gravity took over, and he dropped to the ice.
Brenna shut the door and twisted the key in the ignition. The engine roared to life. While she didn’t have fire, she did have a ton of metal. Yanking the wheel, she turned the car and aimed straight for the north.
The lead witch’s hands gathered, and he created another plasma ball.
Blast it. Brenna punched the gas pedal. The car lurched forward and shot straight for the witch.
Brenna swerved, and the plasma ripped off the passenger side mirror. She pummeled her foot down and aimed for the witch. He tried to duck out of the way, but the car clipped his hip and sent him flying. Pulling to the left, she hit another soldier. This one smashed into her windshield and then fell to the side. She yanked the wheel, sending the car into a slide. The rear careened into the van.
Reaching under her seat, she removed a weapon. Then she jumped from the car, already firing. Did they think she wasn’t armed? Seriously?
Her first burst hit a soldier in the chest. He went down.
She continued spraying and shot the fourth soldier. A ball of plasma blasted into her wrist, and her weapon flew out of reach. Fiery pain ripped through her skin. Her eyes teared. Turning, she met the smiling face of the last standing person from this van. A woman she didn’t recognize held another plasma ball in her hands.
The woman smiled with sharp teeth. “I’d like to take you alive, Councilwoman, but our destiny is to kill you and end your plague.” She threw with impressive force.
Brenna dropped and slid across the ice, hitting the woman at the ankles. The woman fell and jabbed an elbow into Brenna’s gut.
Pain exploded in her stomach. She sucked in air and punched the woman in the nose. Blood spurted.
The woman punched up with an uppercut, hitting Brenna beneath the chin. Her head smacked back against the ice. Shards of pain flashed behind her eyes with bright sparks. Nausea uncoiled in her stomach.
Nails dug into her neck as the woman straddled her and squeezed. Brenna’s eyes flipped open, and she grabbed for the hands choking her. They struggled, the woman using her knees for leverage. Brenna flailed at strong biceps. Tears rolled from her eyes. Her lungs seized in agony.