Unchained nr-1, page 25part #1 of Nephilim Rising Series
Standing on her tiptoes, she pressed into him while still holding his hand. She kissed him like she’d never kissed him before. Her lips bruised from the intensity, but Julian was all about it. He swept his free arm around her, growling against her parted lips.
“You have no idea what you’ve started,” he warned in a low voice. “I will take you right here, inches from the sidewalk.”
She started to tell him that she was completely down with that, but then she heard the eerie whining of a soul…and felt the shiver that accompanied a minion. It was so close, so unmistakable, that it shocked her to immobility for a second. This was what they needed—a deadhead and the minion that had coaxed the soul into the human.
Julian’s hand squeezed hers as he tipped his head back. “They’re right up there, aren’t they?”
“Yeah,” she said. She wiggled out of his embrace, pulled her hand free, and released her blades. “Really odd timing.”
She knew he was thinking the same thing. There were no such things as coincidences. Together, they started toward the ramp that led upstairs. Her eyes flickered over the shadows as they passed an unmanned security booth. She had a feeling she knew where the guard was.
The awareness increased, like an invisible finger trailing down her spine. She caught Julian’s brilliant gaze and nodded.
He glided in front of her and then simply disappeared. Show off. She rolled her eyes and broke into a light-footed run. Rounding the sixth ramp, she vaulted over the cement wall and landed in a crouch.
And she found the guard.
He stood beside a Mercedes, staring down at his dark uniform. A funny smile twisted his lips as he tugged on the material. The first thing a deadhead did when it came to was check out its clothes. It cracked her up. She laughed.
The deadhead jerked in her direction. He tipped his head to the side. “Nephilim.”
Straightening, she wiggled her fingers. “Hello. Nice night, huh? Mind telling me where your buddy is? I really don’t feel like looking for him.”
Actually, that was what Julian was doing. Popping in and out, tracking down the minion. It was still here; the tingling at the base of her neck told her so.
The security guard rushed her, and the adrenaline of the battle swept through her. Almost as good as sex, but not quite. She planted her booted foot in the deadhead’s chest, knocking him back several feet and to the ground.
The deadhead sprang up, letting out an inhuman growl. Lightning streaked across the sky. Seconds later, thunder crashed and echoed through the garage. Summer storms—Lily loved them.
When he came at her again, she spun around and grabbed him by the shoulder, preparing to deliver a deathblow. Another shiver, much more acute and potent, exploded along her nerves.
Several things happened next. Over the deadhead’s shoulder, the minion rushed down the lane. There was a flash of bright light, and then there was Julian, cutting the minion off with a mean clothesline. The minion hit the ground with a grunt, momentarily stunned.
Julian whirled around. “Lily!”
She dipped and kicked, taking the legs out from underneath the deadhead just as the air stirred unnaturally around her. Her heart stuttered as she leaped to her feet, twisting around.
Not even a few feet in front of her was Baal. “Hello, darling. Miss me?”
Shit. That was all Lily thought before rage took over, dampening the fear. “You son of a—”
Julian shot passed her, crashing into Baal first.
Baal hit the cement beam, laughing as Julian clasped him by the throat and lifted him off the ground. Unaffected by Baal’s abilities, Julian got all kinds of hands on with him. “Is that how you greet your brethren?” Baal asked, grasping Julian’s hands. “It’s not very polite.”
“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to kill you.” Julian slammed him back. “How badly I’ve wanted to hear you scream.”
“Oh.” Baal laughed. “Is it because your little Nephilim prefers my touch over yours? I bet she does. After all, my mark will stay with her long after you’re gone.”
Julian punched him in the nose. Dark blood spurted across Baal’s seductive face. “I’m going to kill you. Slowly.” Another punch. Then another that splattered more blood. “But before you take your last breath, you will get on your knees and beg Lily for her forgiveness. Do you understand me?”
She liked the sound of this.
The deadhead growled behind her. Pissed that she had to miss Julian beating the living tar out of Baal, she spun around to shove her blade into the deadhead’s chest. But that wasn’t what happened. The minion, back on his feet, slammed into her and knocked her aim off. Her blade dug into the deadhead’s shoulder.
“Shit,” she grunted, throwing the minion off as she aimed at the deadhead again. But the damn thing dodged her blow and bit her arm—fucking bit her arm! Yelping, she pulled back. Blood smeared her arm. “Jesus! You better not have rabies.”
“He likes the way you taste,” the minion taunted. “I know what I’d like to take a taste of, and it’s not your blood.”
Lily fell back, shaking off the pain. The minion and the deadhead circled her. Distracted by her scream, Julian had lost his grip on Baal, allowing the other Fallen to get a good punch in. Julian staggered back as the two grappled. Forcing herself to focus on her own fight was hard, but she did.
“Pretty little Nephilim,” the minion cooed. Icy-blond hair fell over his eyes. “Wanna take a walk on the dark side?”
“Really?” she said. “That’s the best you have?”
The minion sneered. “You’re already whoring it out for the Fallen. Shouldn’t take much for you to spread those—”
She shot forward, twisting to the side as she planted her foot right in his face. The minion’s head snapped back. “There,” she said. “My legs were spread. You like it?”
Howling, the minion’s face contorted, mouth dropped wide and gaping as he launched at her. They needed to keep a minion alive to question, so when she dipped under him and shoved the blade into his stomach, she knew he’d be down for the count but not out.
The minion hit the floor, twitching and making tiny, squealing noises as the silver infected him. She whipped around, spotting the deadhead near the exit to a lower ramp. Taking off after him, she spared a quick glance over her shoulder.
Julian had Baal on his back, throwing punch after punch. From what she could see, barely any of Baal’s face was recognizable. Maybe they wouldn’t need the minion after all.
“Hey,” she called out. “Where do you think you’re going?”
The deadhead rounded the ramp. She picked up speed, springing over the cement riser. Hitting the deadhead on the back, they crashed into the pavement.
Quickly, Lily rolled the deadhead under her. Straddling his hips, she raised her blade. “You shouldn’t bite and run off. It’s rude.”
The deadhead snapped at her again.
“What the hell is it with you and biting?” She brought down her hand, shoving the blade into his chest this time. “Man, I better not start foaming at the mouth.”
Popping onto her feet, she hurried back to where the minion and the brawling fallen angels were. She wondered if she would have to get some kind of shot after tonight.
Julian currently had Baal in a headlock. Good for him. Blood ran like rivers down Baal’s sneering face as he was thrust to his knees. Grabbing the minion by his hair, Lily forced him to sit up. Her eyes locked with Julian’s for a moment, and he winked. Only his lip was split. Otherwise his face looked like it normally did: perfect.
“So, do we keep both of them?” she asked, bringing the sharp edge of her blade to the minion’s throat. “They can be useful.”
“That’s up to you, sweetheart.” Julian tightened his arm around Baal’s neck. “But this one isn’t leaving here.”
“Lily,” Baal grunted, “I have som
Every cell in her body demanded that she run over there and kick him in the junk, but she ignored him. Looking down at her captive, she pressed the blade in. “Who is the Nephilim feeding names to the Fallen?”
“What?” the minion wheezed, clutching the wound in his stomach.
“You heard me. Don’t make me ask you again.” She dug her fingers into his hair, yanking his head back. “The second time won’t be as nice.”
“Lily, look at me,” Baal commanded.
“Shut up,” Julian said.
The minion made another pitiful rasping sound. “I’d rather have…you cut off my head than go against him.”
“Who? Go against who?” she demanded.
Baal laughed. “He’s not going to tell you anything.”
“Shut up,” Lily said, turning back to the minion. “We can make this hard or harder. Cooperate with me and that’s the difference between a painful death and a really painful death.”
It took quite a bit of convincing, and by the time the minion had started to talk, his throat looked like hamburger meat, and she’d lost count of how many times Julian had hit Baal.
“Okay. Okay,” the minion gasped. Little bubbles of blood frothed on his lips. Thank God he was starting to talk, because it was really grossing her out. “I don’t know who the Nephilim is. Wait! Wait.” He gasped, staring up at her with transparent eyes. “All I know is that he’s arrogant. He’s been…he’s been meeting with other minions, passing the info along. He ends up killing half the minions after they deliver the information.”
Lily’s eyes met Julian’s. Excitement bubbled in her. They were getting somewhere. “At least now we know it’s a guy.”
Julian arched a brow. “We knew that.”
“Party pooper,” she muttered, turning back to the minion. “What else do you know?”
“You stupid, fucking minion,” Baal growled.
“I’m growing weary of your mouth.” Julian sounded bored. “Keep it up, and I will rip out your tongue.”
“But not before I beg for her forgiveness?” asked Baal. He spat out a mouthful of blood. “Right?”
“So this Nephilim has been killing half of his contacts?” When the minion didn’t answer, she shook him. He was fading. The poison of the silver blade was doing its job slowly but surely. “Answer me!”
“Yes,” he gasped. “He thinks he’s…better than us, but the stupid shit doesn’t realize he’s turned.” A raspy, guttural laugh rose up through the minion. “All I’ve heard is that it’s a personal thing.”
All of this sounded like it could be Micah, except the personal thing. Arrogance was Micah’s middle name. “Details?”
The minion laughed again. “Don’t know any, but…that pisshead over there probably knows, goddamn Fallen.”
No honor among evil creatures of the damned. She almost laughed. “Who are the contacts running the information back to?”
There was pause, and the minion shuddered. “Asmodeus.”
“Christ,” Lily muttered. This was worse than she had originally thought.
“That’s all I know,” the minion said. “Now finish it.”
She’d never really tortured a minion for information before. Julian had dealt with the last one. She sent him a questioning look. He nodded.
“All right then, good night.” She slammed the blade through the minion’s chest. There was a gasp, and then he was no more.
“How’s the arm?” Julian asked.
She waved dismissively at the bite marks on her forearm. “I’ll live.”
“Why don’t you come over here and let me kiss it?” Baal suggested with a leer.
Wiping her hands on her pants, she slowly approached the two creatures. Eagerness crept over Baal’s face. His tongue darted out through his bloodied lips. Without stopping, she ignored Julian’s curious gaze and kicked Baal between the legs.
“Damn it!” Baal roared, doubling over as far as Julian allowed.
Julian chuckled. “That’s my girl.”
Lily knelt in front of Baal, careful to stay out of his grasp. “I think next time I’ll use my blade down there.”
Baal laughed harshly. “Then how will we be able to consummate our relationship?”
Bile rose in her throat. “You’re sick.”
“And your skin feels like Heaven when I mark it.”
She didn’t have a chance to react. Julian spun Baal around and coldcocked him in the face. Julian’s face contorted in rage as he pulled Baal up by his shirt and slammed him back down. This went on until she stepped forward, placing a hand on Julian.
“That’s enough,” she said quietly. “I know he can prove that it’s Micah betraying us.”
“He’s not going to tell you anything. Baal is Asmodeus’s little bitch now.” He flipped Baal back around, clasping his arms behind his back. “Believe it or not, but he is loyal to Asmodeus. I am curious as to how that happened.”
“Oh, you know how Asmodeus is. He asks for one goddamned favor and you’re stuck with him. He got me about four years ago. Haven’t quit him yet,” Baal said, as if they were discussing the weather and he wasn’t bleeding all over the place. “You’d know how that is, Julian. Huh?”
Grinning, Baal looked up at Lily. “But I…have something even better to tell you.”
“If you can’t tell me who’s been betraying the Sanctuary, then you have nothing I want to hear.”
Baal laughed. “You’re so naïve. It’s sexy.”
Her hands curled into fists. “Tell me who is betraying the Sanctuary. Is it Micah?”
“Micah?” Baal tried to stand, but Julian pressed on his back more. “I don’t know who the fuck that is, and I don’t care. And why do you care, little Lily pad? From what I hear, they’ve tossed you on your ass for shacking up with this one.” He jerked his head back at Julian. “Screwing the enemy? How deliciously cliché. You’re not the first, but you know that. That pretty blonde had spread her legs, too.”
“Do not talk about Anna,” she spat.
Another hoarse, wheezing laugh escaped him. “Tell me, was it worth being kicked out of the Sanctuary for him?”
Anger snapped along her skin. “I wasn’t kicked out.”
“Yet,” Baal murmured, lifting his head again to pierce her with the same vibrant, blue eyes Julian had. “Is his cock so good that it’s worth losing everything?”
“That’s it,” Julian snarled as he brought Baal to his feet. He looked at Lily. “He’s not going to tell you anything. You want to do the honors?”
Part of her wanted nothing more than to shove the blade deep into Baal’s throat, but there would never be another chance to capture a Fallen. A tiny flame of hope ignited in her that she could get him to talk. And if she just had to deal with his insults, she could live with that.
“Give me a few more minutes,” she said, drawing in a deep breath. “Do you know who the Nephilim is, Baal?”
His bloodied lips twisted into a smirk. “Yes. So do you.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Then it’s Micah?”
Baal sneered. “How about I make you a deal? I’ll tell you who it is if you let me tell you a secret.”
“Lily,” Julian warned. His powerful muscles bunched around Baal’s neck, surely choking him. “This isn’t wise.”
Maybe not, but she couldn’t care less what his secret was. “I need something that links Micah to you all. Just his name won’t work. I need evidence.”
“Sure. I can do that for you,” he said.
Hands clenching, she waited for him to continue.
“You have to come a little closer, darling.” Pain and anger flickered across his face when Julian’s arm tightened. “It’s kind of hard to talk with…this asshole choking me.”
“Don’t come any closer,” Julian warned, eyeing Baal. “He’s up to something.”
Lily took a cautious step forward anyway. “He’s always up to something.”
Moving inhumanly fast, Julian spun Baal around and slammed him into the cement beam. “Shut up,” Julian snarled. “Shut. The. Fuck. Up.” Each word punctuated with a brutal jab to the face.
Lily felt sick as images of faceless and nameless women assaulted her. That was Baal’s secret? She realized then he wouldn’t give her any information on Micah. He wanted to taunt her with his cruelty and sickness.
“That’s not all,” Baal gasped. A mouthful of blood ran down his chin. “I fucked—”
His words were cut off by a wet, sickening crunching sound. All these years Lily dreamed of the moment when she’d be able to watch the life go out of Baal’s eyes, but when it finally happened, she turned away. She felt hot and cold all at once. Nausea rose sharply.
Then there was silence, and all she could hear was the sound of her own ragged breathing. Seconds later, a flare of intense white light lit up the parking garage. Baal was no more. Her shoulders slumped as his words went on replay.
Strong arms surrounded her, turning her and holding her close. Lily tipped her head back. “Do…do you think he was telling the truth?”
Julian smoothed a hand down her cheek as he stared over her head. He didn’t answer.
Lily sighed. “All those women—”
“It’s not your fault,” he said, looking at her. “None of what Baal did is your fault.”
She knew it wasn’t, but it didn’t make it easier to swallow. “I guess I should’ve listened to you.”
Julian laughed, but there wasn’t any humor. “You’re Lily. I really didn’t expect you to listen to me, but I wish you had.” He bent, brushing his lips over her forehead. “At least it wasn’t a total waste. Baal is dead, and the information the minion provided may turn out valuable. And we now know it’s Asmodeus pulling the strings. That’s something.”