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|Shadowed(Dark Protectors #6) by Rebecca Zanetti|
“Is it possible?” Dage asked.
“Shit if I know. Though, well, I doubt it. Brenna’s power seems to be in the form of fire. Nothing subtle there.” Although the pretty woman was very subtle, her power was not.
“Yeah. That’s what I thought.” Dage nodded. “It’d be cool if she could somehow harness the power into an energy source. Something long-lasting.”
“I wish I understood more about it—even Brenna is in the dark.”
“Well, she’s just been trying to survive the last decade.”
Jase grimaced. “Yes, and her power is returning because of the comet. What happens when the comet leaves?” Would Brenna still be vulnerable to the poisoning again? “Her blood isn’t any different than it was before we mated.”
“Give it time.”
Jase nodded. “I will.” Now that he had his brain on straight, he’d give Brenna all the time she wanted. He needed to go apologize to her. The hurt in her eyes earlier still made his gut ache. Trying to balance himself with his healthier hand, he moved to stand.
“Where you going?” Talen asked from his position near the door.
“Need to talk to Brenna,” Jase muttered, his eyes swimming. Just how much internal damage had Dage inflicted, anyway? He glared at the king.
The king grinned.
Talen snorted. “Your mate boarded a plane nearly two hours ago—bound for Ireland. Dumbass.”
Jase swayed. Damn it. “She actually left me?” An unexpected hurt sliced through his chest.
“Of course she left you.” Talen shook his head. “Now get off your ass and go get her back.”
Jase nodded. “Yeah. Good plan.”
Dage stood and groaned as he clutched his ribs. “Wait a minute. If you don’t want her, let her go. Bren deserves it.”
“I do want her.” Jase tried out his healing ankle.
“She deserves more,” Dage muttered.
She did deserve more. Jase stilled, flashes of pretty Brenna filtering through his mind. His heart finally relaxed. The idea of living without her hurt more than anything he’d ever felt. “I love her, Dage.”
The king smiled. “It’s about time—go get her.”
Jase nodded. “I’m gonna have to grovel.”
“Hell, yes.” Talen opened the door. “Maybe I’ll come and watch.”
Conn slid into view, his eyes a wild green.
Jase paused, his gut clenching. “What?”
“Brenna’s plane went down over Mexico. The pilot called in an attack.” Conn grabbed Talen’s arm. “Janie was on the plane.”
Talen shook him off. “What do you mean, Janie was on the plane?”
Conn shrugged. “When the pilot called in, he reported Janie was there. I don’t know anything else.”
The world stopped spinning and narrowed to the moment. Jase stood up straight. “How long ago?”
“Ten minutes.” Conn eyed his watch. “I have teams ready to go—wheels up in five minutes.”
Jase paused, glancing at Dage. “The demons have a base in the Nevada desert.” A fact he’d learned from torturing the demon earlier. He rubbed his head, his mind spinning. “If the plane went down in Mexico, they’re probably not there any longer.”
Dage nodded. “We’ll take two copters to Nevada, and the other two will hit Mexico just in case.” He loped into an uneven jog. “Let’s suit up.”
Jase sprinted to keep up, his ankles and wounded legs protesting. Drawing on fear, drawing on fury, he shoved the pain into a box to be opened later.
The Realm had missiles at headquarters to take out anyone who came too close. It made sense other species would have the same.
But over the Mexican desert?
He shook his head. Could be the Kurjans, or it could be a rival shifter clan. But deep down, where terror liked to ferment, the truth lived.
The demons had Brenna.
Brenna stumbled down the stairs toward the cell. The rocks above her pressed in. God. How had Jase survived living for five years in a rock cell? She bit her lip as power coursed through her. Now wasn’t the time to burn the demons. Soon, though.
Janie crashed into her back, and Brenna’s face smacked the rock wall.
“Oops,” the demon guard said. He opened a door and shoved her inside. She hit the ground and rolled, her hands still tied.
Janie landed next to her in a heap. “Asshole,” she muttered, swinging her legs around to sit. Dust billowed up from the hard ground.
The door slammed shut.
Brenna eyed Janie. The woman had been silent during the two-hour helicopter ride until they’d landed in the middle of what looked like the Nevada desert. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine.” Janie took a deep breath. “The guard took my knife. Now, I’m wondering if I should meditate and call Zane and Kalin. Let Zane’s people and the Kurjans converge on the demons here.”
“Then what?” Brenna asked.
“That’s why I haven’t quite called.” Janie looked over her shoulder and started rubbing her zip tie on a shard of rock. “I’m not sure what would happen next. Maybe I’ll just call Zane.”
How odd to be able to meditate and cast your thoughts across the earth. “Our pilots called in the attack. The vampires and my people should at least have an idea of where we are.”
“The vampires are your people now, too.” Janie’s binds released. “Hell, yeah.”
Brenna sent fire down her arms to smolder on the zip ties. They burned apart.
Janie grinned. “Show-off.”
“I’ve been practicing control. Thank goodness it’s finally paying off.” Brenna stood and peered at the new lock in the door. “How do you feel about fire?”
“Love fire.” Janie leaned closer. “Could you melt the lock?”
“Maybe. Or maybe just throw a plasma ball into the rock wall and see what happens.” Brenna scratched her head. While she wasn’t sure why the demons wanted her, she knew why they wanted Janie. Her niece wasn’t going to be forced to mate anybody on her watch. “We need to make a move, I think.”
Janie nodded. “Okay. Door or wall?”
“Let’s try the door first.” Brenna shoved her pinkie in the lock, and sent fire into the metal. Her finger burned. “Ouch,” she hissed, yanking her hand free.
Janie frowned and leaned down. “It didn’t work.”
No kidding. “Okay. Back up.” Pushing Janie behind her, Brenna slowly formed a green plasma ball in her hands. It wavered, glowing, gathering power. Then, swinging her arm back, she threw it at the wall.
The plasma hit with the sound of a bat cracking, burrowing a foot in before fluttering out. The smell of burning ozone and scattering dirt filled the room.
“Nice job,” Janie said, leaning around Brenna. “Hit it in the same spot, and we might get all the way through.”
Brenna nodded and put her hands together.
The door opened, and pain cut into her head. The demon guard pointed a gun at Janie. “Come with me, witch.”
Brenna shook her head, biting her lip at the pain. “I think I’ll stay here.”
The instant attack dropped her to her knees. Janie fell next to her.
Brenna’s eyes filled with tears.
The demon grabbed her arm and dragged her from the cell, locking the door. “When I ask you to come, you come.” He yanked her to stand, and the attack stopped. “Understand?”
“I’m going to burn the heart from your chest,” she hissed, her vision wavering.
“Sounds like fun.” He poked her in the back with the barrel of a gun, prodding her along. They wound through tunnels, twisted to and fro, until she finally lost all sense of direction.
He knocked on a door set into rock. The door opened, and he pushed her inside a plush bedroom with a sitting area. Motioning to a floral chair, he shoved her down.
She sat with a plop, her hands catching on the wooden arms.
Yanking out zip ties, he secured her wrists on the arms. “We wouldn’t want you throwing fire, witch.” Whistling a tune from the roaring twenties, he sauntered from the room.
Brenna glanced around. A large bed took up the corner with one of her paintings above it. A silhouette of two people making love, she’d painted it several years ago. The blue of the background still wasn’t quite right.
The door opened, and Willa glided inside. Female demons were notoriously tiny, and this one more than most. The muted light caught on her silvery hair, making it nearly glow. In contrast, her black eyes seemed fathomless. She moved toward a bar on the opposite wall and poured herself a drink.
Brenna tested the ties. They were tight.
Willa turned around, long skirt swishing. “So we meet again, witch.”
Brenna forced a bored expression. “Good thing, because I want my painting back.” The painting had disappeared from a Dublin museum about a decade ago.
“Finders, keepers.” Willa took a deep drink of the brew. “Jase Kayrs admired it so often while in my bedroom in Scotland.”
“Your bedroom is in the earth?” Brenna snorted. “Your people hide you, do they?”
Willa flashed her teeth. “I like the earth. So did Jase. That man can kiss, can’t he?”
Brenna smirked. “Jase never kissed you.”
“The hell he didn’t. Grabbed my ass and shoved his tongue as far down my throat as he could.” Willa’s hand slid along her side, her face flushing. “He was amazing. Every time.”
Brenna bit back a gag. “So how did you fall short?”
“Excuse me?” Black eyes flashed.
“Gee, Willa. I slept with him once, and he planted the huge old Kayrs marking on my ass. You had five years with him—hungry, weak, and desperate. Yet you couldn’t clinch the deal?” Brenna tapped her foot on the Persian rug. “Pathetic.”
Willa snarled, and waves of pain shot through Brenna’s eyes into her brain. She gasped, her vision disappearing. Only darkness remained.
Slowly, the attack stopped. Willa sipped her drink. “That old marking on your ass really has ruined everything, now hasn’t it?”
Great. Pissing off the psycho demon was a wonderful idea. Brenna took a deep breath, thankful she could see again. “I really don’t know what you mean.”
“Well, I can’t mate him now, even after I kill you.” Willa sighed.
That was true. Matings were forever, and there were no do-overs for the vampires. Brenna concentrated on sending energy to the bottom of her hands. If she kept the power low, could she hide the plasma? “Jase would never have mated you.”
“Maybe, maybe not. But that means he doesn’t get to mate anyone else.” Willa pouted out her lip, looking about sixteen. “He’ll trade himself for you, and then I’ll teach him what a mistake he made. Of course, you’ll die, too. He’ll get to watch that one.”
“If you trade me, you can’t kill me.” The woman was nuttier than Brenna’s aunt Dottie’s cobbler.
“Oh, we’ll do a double-cross at the trade.” Willa frowned. “Or I’ll trade you and then take you out from a distance with Jase watching.” She clapped her hands together. “Yes. That’s a much better plan.”
Whoa. Brenna needed to get out of there. “Does Suri know you’ve made a move here?”
“No. My brother doesn’t see the big picture.” Willa sighed. “Malco does know, however. He’ll do whatever I want.” Her sly smile made Brenna want to puke. “Jase knows Malco. I think Malco blinded Jase for a week once.”
Fury cascaded up Brenna’s spine, and green danced along her arms. She snuffed it out.
Willa stared thoughtfully over her glass. “I heard you lost your powers. Something about a poisoning.”
“They’re coming back.” Brenna smiled sweetly. “Since I mated Jase.”
A knock sounded at the door, and the guard brought in Janie. “Are you sure about this?” he asked Willa.
Willa nodded and gestured toward the other guest chair.
The saliva dried up in Brenna’s mouth. “What are you doing?”
The guard shoved Janie into a chair and zip-tied her hands. “Well, it’s been fun.” He disappeared through the doorway.
Willa blew out air. “So you’re the famous Kayrs psychic?”
Janie eyed Brenna and then Willa. “So you’re the crazy bitch who failed at getting my uncle Jase naked.”
Willa smiled. “Yes, well, you’re his punishment for that.”
“Punishment?” Brenna tried to lean forward.
“Yes. I don’t need two of you for the trade, so Jase’s lovely niece here dies for his transgressions.” Willa set down the glass. “Since she’s a human, I can make her brain explode through her ears.”
Janie paled. “What’s plan B?”
Brenna struggled against the ties. “Wait a minute. Don’t you know who she is?”
“Yes, I do.” Willa held her hands out toward Janie. “In fact, my people are split whether she should be put down or allowed to mate. My brother wants her put down, and I agree.”
“But she’s prophesied to change the world.” Panic had Brenna seeing red.
“We like the world the way it is,” Willa patiently explained. “Don’t worry. I’ll give you the chance to tell Jase all about her death. How fun will that be?”
The chick was seriously nuts. “No—wait. Blow my brains instead.”