|Home > Rebecca Zanetti > Dark Protectors > Shadowed (Page 15)|
|Shadowed(Dark Protectors #6) by Rebecca Zanetti|
Why hadn’t the world exploded? If the trade was in three hours, surely they’d tracked him. Garrett settled his stance, ready to fight when they arrived. Any moment now.
The two helicopters flew low enough to avoid radar and dropped into a vacant field three blocks from the metal building set into the industrial park.
Jase jumped to the ground, shoving his earpiece more securely into his ear.
Talen’s voice came through loud and clear. “Three teams. One—take the front entrance. Two—take the back. Three—scale the fishing headquarters to the east, approach the target via rooftops. It’s a two-story building—set up for offices on level two and an old iron business on level one. Has been vacant for over a decade. Everyone wait for the go order.”
Jase tucked his rifle along his back and followed Conn toward the east building. Moira and a squad waited to protect the helicopter. Talen had stuck Conn and Kane on Jase duty, while he took a team, and Max, Dage’s bodyguard, flanked the king. There was a time Jase would’ve taken and led the third team. Not today, apparently.
He easily climbed up the rickety fire escape and reached the roof. Bending low, he ran along rooftops, jumping several yards from building to building, finally reaching the one adjacent to the Kurjan encampment. A quick study showed an innocuous metal building with darkened windows. He gulped air. It would be seriously dark inside if the lights went out. So he tapped his ear communicator as Conn and Kane took position. “Team three in position.”
The other teams checked in.
“Go,” Talen ordered.
Jase jumped the distance to the metal building, hitting and rolling to his feet. Staying low, he ran across the slippery metal to the locked door. “Fire in the hole.” He fired several shots into the lock and kicked the door open.
Conn dashed inside, weapon out. Jase followed, with Kane protecting his back as they ran down a series of metal stairs. He breathed in relief when Conn kicked the door to the second floor. The stairwell was too tight.
Conn swept left, Jase right, and Kane stayed low through a hallway littered with garbage, crumbled drywall, and exposed rebar.
Windows cut into the walls up high, while closed doors lined the hallway. One by one, they swept the abandoned rooms. Gunfire echoed from the first floor in short bursts. They’d cleared the fifth room when a glint caught Jase’s eye.
He held up his hand for all to stop. As he dropped to his haunches, his gaze traveled the tripwire to the explosive hidden by some boards. His breath caught, and he slowed his heartbeat. Drawing wire cutters from his boot, he leaned forward and cut the wire. A second wire had been strung a foot away. He tilted his head so his brothers saw and then inched forward to dismantle that wire, as well.
They needed to step lightly.
His earpiece buzzed. “Any sighting?” Talen asked, gunfire peppering in the background.
“Negative for team three,” Conn said.
“Negative for team one, but we found a stairwell,” Dage said. “We’re heading down now.”
Jase stretched to his full height, turning a doorknob to enter a room. A battered desk sat in the middle, and a closed door was in the wall. The hair on the back of his neck rose. The first closet they’d seen—if it was a closet. He and Talen settled into position, guns trained on the door as Conn inched along the wall and yanked it open. A long, dark stairwell led down. A hidden stairwell?
Panic heated Jase’s breath.
“Cover me,” Conn whispered as he produced a flashlight and headed down. Talen stepped into the stairwell, gun pointing down. Jase turned to cover the hallway. His mind spun, and his gut clenched. His brother was walking down into hell. Sweat rolled down Jase’s back.
Damn panic attacks.
A tortured moan filtered across the hallway from a closed room. Garrett! Jase’s head jerked up. His legs leapt into motion before his brain could bellow a caution.
“Wait—” Talen yelled, leaping for him.
Jase’s foot hit a tripwire, and a loud click echoed. Talen caught his shoulders and threw him just as the device detonated.
Then the world slowed.
Jase flew through the air, all sound disappearing until he smashed into the block wall. With the rush of a sonic shriek, sound pierced his ears. Pain crumpled his bones. He slid to the floor, his vision going black. The gun clunked next to him. A body landed solidly on his legs.
God. Talen. Jase shook his head, his body screaming. His vision returned, tinged with red. Smoke filled the air along with an odd buzzing. Or maybe that was in his head. He tried to focus, but the hallway took on a surreal tint. Using his good hand, he rolled his brother over.
Talen coughed, blood dribbling out of his mouth.
Thank God. He was alive. This was Jase’s fault. He’d forgotten all his training and had almost gotten his brother killed. Jase shook him and grabbed his vest. “Get up.”
Three Kurjans ran out of the room at the end, hissing through yellow fangs. Shit. Jase dropped his brother and crawled over him as a shield. The closest Kurjan pointed a green gun and fired.
Pain ripped into Jase’s chest, and he flew back into the center of the hallway. At least a couple of the bullets had missed the vest, damn it. Blood bubbled up from his chest, and he coughed it out. Blades of damage ripped into his lungs.
Conn stormed out of the room, bullets spraying.
Talen shoved up, gun out and firing.
Jase grabbed his pistol, aimed in the general direction of the Kurjans, and fired.
Dizziness caught him. He swayed and fell back, sparks detonating behind his eyes as his head hit the floor. Then, he was out.
Jase awoke to find himself sandwiched between Talen and Conn in the back of the helicopter as it descended through a blowing rainstorm. Dusk had fallen. Man, they’d been at the warehouse all day. He hoped they’d found Garrett.
Jase shook his head. “Status?” he croaked.
Talen didn’t open his eyes, and a sense of healing came from him. Good. He was repairing the damage Jase had caused.
Conn kept his gaze out the window. “Garrett wasn’t there. His tracker led to the basement, but it was hidden in some rock. We have four injured, two dead.”
Damn it. Two bullets were still burrowed deep in Jase’s upper chest. He’d lost the ability to push them out mentally, the same way he’d lost the ability to alter the elements. Those gifts took mental concentration, and for some reason, he couldn’t focus long enough to make it happen. “It was a trap.”
“A good one,” Conn muttered.
Guilt pierced sharper than the bullets. Jase nodded. “I know.”
The helicopter set down.
Dage looked over his shoulder. “Report to the infirmary.”
Jase slid from the helicopter. “I’m fine. Going home.” Without a backward glance, he fought the pain and jogged through the storm. Lightning flashed, not nearly as hot as the piercing gazes from his brothers.
They should’ve yelled at him. Shit. They should’ve beat the hell out of him. His actions had almost killed Talen.
He didn’t belong there anymore. It was time to find the demons and end this.
First he had to get the bullets out of his flesh.
Brenna stirred the stew on the stove. She’d ordered groceries, and a very nice vampire had delivered them. Moira had called to say they hadn’t found Garrett. She’d also mentioned Jase had been injured.
As a vampire, he’d probably be healed before he arrived home. So, Brenna had made dinner. By the time he showed up, they’d have a late meal. Though she’d reached out to every contact she had in the immortal world, nobody had a line on Garrett. Yet. But she was still waiting to hear from a couple, so maybe she’d have good news for him.
A thump echoed on the front porch. Brenna tilted her head. Another thump. Setting down the spoon, she hurried to open the door.
Jase fell inside.
Brenna gasped and reached for him, almost hitting her knees as she took his weight. He grabbed the wall for support and left a bloody handprint. Bruises and burns marred his face and exposed skin.
Panic shoved Brenna into motion. “You need a doctor.”
“No.” Half-leaning and half-tugging her along, he maneuvered them into the kitchen, where he dropped into a chair. “There’s a medical kit in the cupboard by the fridge.”
A medical kit? Was he freakin’ crazy? Her heart pounding so hard her ribs hurt, she stumbled to the counter and yanked out the metal box. “I’m not a doctor.”
“I know.” Groaning, he tried to unhinge his vest.
She placed the box on the table and slapped his hands. “Let me.” Ignoring his wince of pain, she pulled the Velcro free.
He exhaled sharply when she slid the vest over his head. Wounds dotted his upper chest—two bullet holes.
She leaned closer, and the scent of smoke and gunpowder assaulted her nose. “The bullets are still in?” That wasn’t possible.
“Yes.” Closing his eyes, he reached for the bottom of his tattered shirt and gasped in pain. “My healing abilities haven’t returned completely.”
Her breath caught. “Oh.” After years of being free? What the damn demons must’ve done to him. Then she grabbed his hands and stopped him. “Hold on.” Reaching for a junk drawer, she retrieved scissors and cut his shirt free. Stepping back, she stared.
Purple, red, and yellow bruises covered his torso along with plenty of blood still sliding from the bullet wounds. “What in the world?”
“Explosive.” Jase tipped back his head. “I don’t suppose you’d mind taking out the bullets?”
Bile surged from her stomach. “Why didn’t you go to the infirmary?”
“Why didn’t you tell your family you were dying?”
Good point. “I can get the bullets.” Probably. She eyed the sink in case she needed to puke. Her hands trembled, so she shook them out. Grabbing a scalpel, she peered closer at his injury. “Take a deep breath and hold it.”
He sucked in air, his eyes remaining closed.
She sliced a bigger opening in his wound.
He didn’t even twitch.
Okay. That had to have hurt. She clasped tweezers and slipped them into the hole. Blood spurted. Searching, she caught on something. Angling the metal closer, she pinched and tugged out a green bullet. His flesh made a squishy sound as the projectile was removed.
She swallowed several times and released the bullet onto the table. Then she went for the second wound. “Did you know that my people invented the lasers that turn into metal bullets upon hitting flesh?”
“Yes. Anything that includes altering matter to another state is usually from you crazy witches.” His lower lip tipped on the last.
She found the other bullet and removed it. “You’re just jealous.”
“Very.” He grimaced.
“Do I, ah, need to stitch you up?”
“No.” He lifted his head, desperation and anger sizzling in his eyes. “I can heal the holes now that the bullets are out.”
Brenna nodded and cleaned up the mess, turning to face him.
He sprawled in the chair, wounded and hurt. She shook her head. “What happened?”
“I forgot all my training and almost got my brother killed,” Jase whispered.
“Is he all right?” It didn’t really matter which brother, so she didn’t ask.
“Then it’s over.” She reached for him. “Let’s get you cleaned up so you stop bleeding all over this too-perfect house.”
He staggered up, and she helped him to the shower, removing his boots and pants.
He leaned against the wall. “Weren’t we just here?”
She turned on the steam. They had been, and she was in danger of getting her heart demolished by the need to save him. The silly, feminine urge to rescue. The fact that she recognized the problem didn’t mean her heart would protect itself. “Get in the shower.”
He slipped into the steam. Almost instantly, two broad hands yanked her under the spray.
“You’re bloody.” Jase angled his body to protect her face from the hot water.
She glanced down at her hands. Blood had already crusted in her nails. His blood.
“ ’Twas my first surgery.” The smile she tried to force trembled on her lips. Her stomach lurched.
“Easy now,” Jase murmured, turning and holding her hands under the stream. “You did a good job, Brenna Dunne.”
“Another skill for my résumé.” The fatal lilt of her voice echoed through the steam.
Jase cupped her chin, lifting her face and removing her fogging glasses. “I’m not going to let you die.”
The world blurred to heated steam and wet male.
“You should save yourself first.” She allowed him to turn her hands palms-up to wash away his blood. “Please.” The plea made her wince.
He stilled, and tugged her hands to his chest. “Why?”
Her gaze met his. Tears pricked the back of her eyes. “I want a chance. I deserve one.”
His eyes filled. “I know.”
“So give me one.” Maybe, just maybe, they could save each other and not be so alone in this damn world.
He studied her until she’d figured all her secrets had been delved into. Even so, turmoil chased across his face. Giving a short nod, he brushed wet hair away from her forehead. “All right.”
Her heart leapt. “All right?”
He shrugged. “All I can do is try. Whatever the hell that means.” For her. He was going to try for her. “I’ll help.”
“I know.” A thumb under her chin angled her face for his kiss. A soft brush of his lips against hers.