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  • Home > Rebecca Zanetti > Dark Protectors > Shadowed (Page 33)     
    Shadowed(Dark Protectors #6) by Rebecca Zanetti
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    Willa wrinkled her nose. “I’d rather kill you with Jase watching.” She pointed at Janie, and Janie cried out in pain.

    Brenna struggled against the bindings, kicking out her legs.

    Janie hissed, and blood shot from her ears.

    Fire lanced down Brenna’s arms, and her ties smoldered away. She leaped across the room to tackle Willa into the bed. They rolled over, and Brenna punched the demon in the nose.

    Willa howled and grabbed her face.

    Icepicks attacked Brenna’s mind, and she yanked away, her brain weeping.

    Willa kicked her in the chin, and she hit the carpet.

    Enough of this shit. Brenna drew deep for power, forming a plasma ball in her hands.

    Willa slowly turned and wiped blood off her mouth. Images of brutalized people shot into Brenna’s brain. Pain cascaded down her spine.

    She threw the plasma at Willa.

    Willa jumped out of the way, and the fireball zipped over Janie’s head to crash into the wall. Janie yelped and teetered on the chair.

    Shit. “Sorry, Jane.” Brenna leaped to her feet, forming more plasma.

    Willa ran toward the door, and Janie tripped her with a foot. The demon slammed headfirst into the wall. She turned around, gasping, and yanked a double-edged knife from her boot.

    “Go near my niece, and I’ll burn you alive,” Brenna warned, fire dancing down her arms.

    A plasma ball zinged to hit the painting above the bed. Crap. She still didn’t have control.

    Willa gasped. “You’re burning your own painting?”

    “I never could get the blue hues right.” Brenna angled closer to Janie. She had to be careful not to hit Janie with fire.

    Willa clutched the knife and inched toward Janie.

    Brenna threw a ball, hitting Willa square in the chest. The weapon lifted the demon, hurling her at the wall above the door. She dropped with a loud thump. Snarling, she lunged at Janie, knife out.

    Brenna’s fire fizzled out.

    Janie twisted at the last second, taking the cut to the shoulder.

    Brenna jumped across the room and tackled Willa, arms punching. The demon wrapped her legs around Brenna’s torso and flipped them over, plunging with the knife.

    Brenna turned her head at the last second, and the knife sank into the stone. “You bitch.” She grabbed Willa’s arm and yanked her off.

    Willa crab-walked back to lean against the bed. “I don’t need weapons against you, witch.” Lifting her head, she sent out vibrations of energy that cut through the oxygen with a hiss.

    A hot poker split Brenna’s brain in two. Janie’s shriek of pain drowned out Brenna’s sob. God. Lightbulbs exploded behind her eyelids. Images of death filled her mind while pain reached for her soul.

    Gasping, she forced her eyes open.

    Janie’s high-pitched cry chilled down Brenna’s spine. She was a witch and a member of the Coven Nine. No fucking demoness was going to ruin her brain. Her hand shaking, she yanked the knife from the floor.

    Willa smiled, sending pain tinged with mental poison to cut through Brenna’s cerebellum.

    “Nice try.” Brenna flew across the room, landing on the demoness. Using all her strength, she plunged the knife in Willa’s throat.

    Shock filled Willa’s eyes, and she fell to the side.

    The images and pain disappeared.

    Grunting, Brenna straddled the demon and twisted first right and then left. Blood spurted up to burn her face and neck. Willa’s head rolled free.

    Sliding off the body, Brenna turned her head and retched into the corner. The smell of death and vomit made her puke harder.

    God. She’d killed.

    Slowly, she turned to find Janie staring wide-eyed at her. “Are you all right?” Janie asked.

    “No.” Brenna staggered to stand. The room pitched. Sparks shot from her fingertips to start the bedspread on fire. She dashed forward and yanked it to the ground, stomping out the flames.

    Then, grabbing the bloody knife, she stumbled toward Janie to cut the zip ties. “We have to get out of here.”

    Janie nodded and slipped an arm around Brenna’s shoulders. “Lean on me.”

    The door flew open, and Malco stood on the other side. He took one look at the scene. “Willa!”

    Brenna shoved Janie behind her and tried to gather plasma.

    The demon backhanded her across the face, and she flew into the wall. Darkness wavered over her vision. She shot out, aiming for his gut. He punched her in the cheek, and stars exploded behind her eyes.

    She dropped to the bloody ground, unconscious.

    Chapter 29

    Jase narrowed all fear, all focus, to the battle at hand. The second the helicopter touched down, he leapt out and ran for hell.

    Talen set the charges and told everybody to get low.

    Jase ducked behind a large rock, his rifle out and ready to shoot.

    Dage grabbed his shoulder. “You cover the entrance.”

    “You’ll need me—I can shield more than most of you.” The idea of heading into the earth made his head spin and his legs weaken. “Brenna’s down there, Dage. I have to go.”

    Dage eyed him, indecision crossing his still bruised face. “All right. But the second panic sets in, you move topside.”

    “I will.” His gut churned like he’d just fallen out of a plane. Brenna was down there. He didn’t have a choice. God, please let her still be alive. Janie, too. The thought of the demons hurting either woman filled him with a rage he thought he’d banished. For now, he’d dig deep and use it. They’d turned him into one cold bastard, and now they’d regret it.

    The front entrance exploded out. Debris, rock, and a demon’s head flew by. Jase swallowed and released the safety on his gun.

    Dage turned and ran toward the burning hole. Jase steeled his shoulders and followed.

    Charred rock surrounded him, and the scent of burned flesh slid down his throat to land in his gut. Tendrils spread out, and he gagged.

    Then he froze.

    He flashed back into survivor mode and stopped feeling. His thoughts narrowed in focus, his muscles relaxed. No emotion, no doubt, no humanity remained.

    As a vampire, as a warrior, he often had to dig deep to find humanity. Now, easily and with a hint of relief, he let it slide away.

    He ran downstairs with rocks falling all around him, on him, cutting into his flesh. The pain he welcomed. Lifting his chin, he waited.

    The first mental wave from the demons below sliced into his brain, and he sucked it deeper. Deeper into his mind, deeper into his soul. They’d taught him not only to deal with agony but to enjoy it. Sad but true.

    So, he took the pain deeper, and turned agony into strength. One he’d shove down their gullets until they choked.

    Dage growled low and stumbled.

    Jase grabbed his shoulder and leaned in. “Take in the pain and twist it. You’re the damn king. Do it.”

    Dage sucked in air and nodded. “Got it.”

    Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. Either way, his brother would survive.

    They reached the bottom of the stairs to face two pathways. Instinct and vibrations told Jase where to go, and he kicked an opening in the rock in front of him to reveal a third corridor. “I’ve got this one. Check in every five minutes.”

    His brothers nodded, and headed down the other ways.

    Good. The most power came from this direction, and it was time. Time to take back what was his. His mind flashed to Brenna, and he tripped. Damn it. Shoving any thought of her into the back of his brain, he ran full-bore into the darkened passageway.

    The walls morphed around him, reaching for him.

    So he welcomed their presence and increased his pace.

    Two demons rushed out of an alcove, and he attacked them like a man possessed, firing into their chests. One knocked the gun from his hand, and he reached for twin knives in his belt.

    He plunged the blades into the demons’ necks, shoving until steel met rock. One demon hung in place, eyes wide. “Been preparing for this, assholes.”

    Following the first demon to the ground, Jase twisted right and left until the head rolled free.

    The other guy sent out a wave of devastating images and pain. Jase smiled and tilted his head to the side. “That all you got?”

    The demon’s eyes widened. Then he jerked away from the wall and lunged at Jase, the knife still embedded in his throat.

    Jase pivoted and reached for the handle while grabbing the demon’s hair and yanking down. The demon’s spine split apart, and he cried out, falling. Jase straddled him and quickly decapitated him before sliding the blade free.

    Wiping the blood on his shirtsleeve, he ran down the corridor toward the vibrations of power. The sound of gunfire and dying men filtered behind him, but he couldn’t worry about the fight. He needed to find Brenna.

    The brand on his hand pulsed with angry demand, an odd reassurance that she was still alive. He’d know if she’d been killed.

    He followed the twisting and turning corridor, somehow knowing it led to the leaders. For five years he’d studied them when his brain still worked. The passageway narrowed, the rocks reaching for him. “Later,” he muttered to the suddenly morphing faces. The ground rumbled above him. So many layers and tons of earth ready to fall on his head.

    Damn it. He had to hold it together.

    The scent of oranges chilled him through. Willa. He paused and then turned a corner to see a door in the rock. The scent came from the other side. The idea of walking into any room of Willa’s splashed bile up his throat. Had Willa gotten hold of Brenna and Janie?

    Tightening his grip on the knife, he kicked open the door.

    The smell of blood and death slammed into him. Panic shoved him inside. Blood covered a white rug, and Willa’s head faced him, eyes wide. Her body lay several feet away. Willa was dead.

    He exhaled, glancing around the room. Emotions slid in—he was glad he hadn’t had to kill a woman, and he would’ve ended her.

    Small vibrations of energy centered him. Brenna’s energy. She’d been in the room.

    Had she killed Willa? Regret filled him. Brenna shouldn’t have to kill.

    Damn it. No emotions.

    He shook his head and once again tried to focus. Turning, he followed the corridor farther down until reaching another door. Dark energy, ruthlessly held in check, slid under the doorway. Malco.

    Jase forced emotion into nothingness and planted his boot near the doorknob. The door opened to reveal a large cell with rock walls and floor. One miserable lightbulb hung from the ceiling, swinging back and forth.

    Malco held Janie against his chest, a jagged-edged knife to her vulnerable throat. Brenna lay facedown over in the corner.

    Jase’s heart clutched hard.

    Janie’s eyes widened until the black iris banished all the blue. “She’s knocked out—not dead.”

    “Yet,” Malco said, his lip curling. He stood well over six feet, pale face, black eyes, and white hair. A purebred monster. “Took you long enough to find me.”

    Jase lowered his knife to his side. “Let them go. I’m the one you want.”

    “In due time.” Malco eyed the long scar along Jase’s jaw. “Remember when I gave you that pretty memento?”

    “Somewhat.” Jase forced a shrug. His nightmares were filled with the days of getting tortured until he wanted to die. But some memories brought dark pleasure. “You wanted so badly for me to beg.” He tilted his head to the side, studying the man who couldn’t quite break him. “Yet I never did, did I?”

    “Oh, you would’ve begged.” Malco drew Janie up to her tiptoes, and she leaned her head back against his chest as he pressed the knife closer. “But Suri thought you were too close to breaking, and it was time to let you go.”

    By nearly decapitating him. “Five years, and you couldn’t do it, asshole.” A small trickle of blood ran down Janie’s pale throat, and Jase bit back a growl, angling to the side. “Where is Suri, anyway?”

    “He had personal business.” Malco shrugged. “Figured I could handle you.”

    “You never could before,” Jase murmured. The bastard held Janie tight—no way to throw an elbow or a punch. He glanced down at Brenna’s back, which moved as she breathed. Thank God.

    An odd electric blue glow filtered along her arm. He frowned, squinting, and the glimmer disappeared. The damn solstice would occur in minutes, and he had to get her conscious and ready to block the power, if possible. But under the circumstances, maybe blocking would be impossible. If so, he had to figure out a way to help her, maybe by taking some of the power himself. As her mate, he should be able to siphon from her.

    His grip relaxed on the knife handle. “How about you stop hiding behind the little human and face me? It’s about time we did this, don’t you think?”

    “Soon enough.” Malco lowered his nose to Janie’s hair and took a deep breath. “The human smells like life.” Then he smiled. “Caeca invidia est.”

    Jase’s head jerked back. His body went still. Panic flushed through his lungs. He couldn’t move.

    Malco laughed. “I figured you hadn’t found that trigger. The others, sure. But we made sure one was buried deep enough even Kane couldn’t find it.”

    Jase bit his tongue, trying to move his arms. They remained at his sides.

    Malco flashed sharp incisors. “Kill the witch, Kayrs.”

    The knife wavered in his hand, but Jase’s body pivoted and moved toward Brenna. Dropping to his haunches, he grabbed her shoulder and flipped her over. A dark purple bruise cascaded along her right cheekbone. His hand trembled as he traced the wound with his fingers.

    “Put the knife to her breast,” Malco said softly.

    Jase fought his body, but his arm lifted until the edge of the knife pressed above Brenna’s heart.

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