Illusions night roamers.., p.1

Illusions (Night Roamers #4), page 1

 

Illusions (Night Roamers #4)
 


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Illusions (Night Roamers #4)


  Copyright © 2014 Kristen Middleton

  Cover by Book Cover By Design

  Edited by C.J. Pinard

  The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without express written permission of the author.

  A huge thank you to:

  Those who’ve encouraged, inspired, and supported me on this new journey.

  Chapter One

  

  The clanging of metal echoed throughout the dark, musty dungeon. The prisoner, his wrists tethered above his shoulders, slowly raised his head.

  A woman spoke. “Is he conscious?”

  “Barely,” replied the guard.

  “Let’s remedy that then, shall we?” she replied, a smile in her voice.

  The echo of footsteps moved through the corridor toward his cell, and he clenched his jaw when she stopped outside of the metal bars, grinning like the Cheshire cat.

  “Oh, honey, you don’t look so good,” she mocked as the guard unlocked the door. “I’ll bet you’d love a little snack. How long has it been? Two weeks?”

  It had been much longer. His hunger was now so brutal that he’d started hallucinating. The only thing that kept him sane was the possibility of escape and revenge against the monster standing before him.

  “Nothing entices me more than an arrogant vampire at my mercy,” she stated, smiling in approval as she stepped inside his cell.

  He glared at her as she moved around him like a lioness, circling her prey.

  She clucked her tongue. “Have nothing to say? Still not interested in begging for my forgiveness?”

  He didn’t give her the satisfaction of a response. He just continued to stare at her with loathing.

  “Dear… dear… you certainly don’t appear happy to see me,” she said, feigning sadness. “I’m somewhat hurt.”

  He sighed and looked away, refusing to let her needle him. He knew it would only end in more savagery from the guard if he opened his mouth and told her what he really felt.

  “Don’t you dare dismiss me,” she growled, poking him in the chest with a long painted nail. “Who in the hell do you think you are?!”

  Her touch undid him. He snapped his head back. “Don’t you fucking touch me!”

  A smile tugged at her lips. “Don’t touch you?”

  He gritted his teeth. “You heard me.”

  “I will do whatever I want to you.”

  “Why are you doing this?” he growled. “I’ve done nothing to you!”

  “Nothing? This is your penance,” she said, raising her voice. “You caused this! Hell, you should be happy that I haven’t ended your life, just like you tried ending mine.”

  That’s right. He’d almost forgotten.

  His lips tilted at that memory.

  Her eyes narrowed. “Oh, that amuses you? You know, I would have given you everything, but you threw it all away. And for what? A little mortal whore?”

  His smile faltered

  She smirked. “What’s wrong? Do you miss her?”

  He looked away.

  She drew her hand up toward his cheek. “Miss her caresses?”

  He flinched before her fingertips reached his skin.

  She lowered her hand. “You’re wasting your time, pining for her. She doesn’t miss you one bit. In fact, she despises you.”

  “No,” he whispered hoarsely.

  “Oh yes,” she replied, her eyes sparkling. “And because you’re in here, there is absolutely nothing that you can do about it.” Her smile widened. “Nothing at all.”

  Grief and longing made his chest ache. He’d tried to forget about the girl, to ease the pain of missing her. But his heart allowed him no mercy. Even now, images of her warm smile and flawless, pale skin were his only light in the darkness.

  His keeper’s eyes searched his. “I would have given you everything, you know. Power, money, me…” Her eyes welled up and she blinked back the tears. “You’re nothing but a pathetic fool.” She turned to the guard. “He’s a fool. Don’t you agree?”

  The guard, a tall, burly vampire with long, black hair and a tattoo of a cobra that ran across his collarbone, nodded. “Yes. You’re too good for the likes of him. I’d die for you. Any of us would die for you.”

  She smiled in gratitude. “Thank you, Godrick.”

  He took a step closer, his massive girth making her appear almost delicate. “If you’d like, I’ll kill him this instant. I will prove my loyalty to you and make him suffer like he’s never suffered before.”

  Her smile was beaming. “I’m quite sure you would do it in a heartbeat, but that won’t be necessary.”

  “Just tell me when…” said the guard. “Your wish is my command.”

  “You’re so sweet, but when the time comes, I will be the one to end his life. In fact, I want to look into his eyes when it happens.” Her eyes grew brighter. “Watch him beg for mercy.”

  Godrick nodded. “Yes. Of course.”

  She patted the guard’s thick bicep. “But I do applaud your commitment to me, Godrick. It’s very refreshing after what I went through with our little prisoner. I have to admit – he never praised me the way that you have. Never.”

  “He’s a waste of oxygen,” replied the guard with a sneer, “and obviously a very stupid fool.”

  She chuckled. “You’re probably right. Speaking of space,” she poked the prisoner in the stomach. “There seems to be a little too much in his ribcage. We mustn’t let him fade away to nothing, as much as that would please me. Why don’t you go and fetch the girl?”

  “Of course. Right away,” said the guard, walking away.

  She turned back to the prisoner. “He’s right. I am too good for you. It’s quite obvious.”

  He ignored her.

  “You used to find me irresistible,” she whispered, tracing a finger down his bare chest. She stopped at the fly of his jeans and he noticed that her pupils were large and dark.

  So, she does still desire me…

  The wheels in his head began to turn.

  “Sometimes, you even bowed to my every whim…” she said.

  He knew that wasn’t true, but in her screwed up mind, she believed it.

  She traced a finger along his zipper. “You still want me. I knew it,” she said, staring at him in triumph, as his jeans tightened around his hips. “Don’t you?”

  He bit back the truth. To most, she was a vision of beauty, with her shiny blonde hair, high cheekbones, and full lips. To him, she was nothing more than a leper and his sudden excitement had nothing to do with her. It had everything to do with vengeance.

  She grabbed him by the neck and stared up into his icy blue eyes. “Fortunately for you, I’ve been merciful. I don’t know why, but I still have this soft spot for you.” She sighed. “Anyone else? I would have ripped them apart by now.”

  He knew her feelings for him had nothing to do with love. It was an obsession. A poison.

  Just then, the guard brought in a young woman. She was in her early twenties, voluptuous, and had large, green eyes that were glazed over.

  “Come here,” ordered his keeper.

  The compliant slave stepped forward.

  His captor turned back to him. “So, just like before – I’m going to let you feed. Then Godrick is going to beat the hell out of you. How does that sound?”

  Sighing, he looked away.

  She moved to his ear and whispered. “I will
break you eventually. You know that, don’t you?”

  It took all of his willpower not to slam his forehead against hers. He knew if he did, he’d never get the chance to scape.

  She licked her lips, leaned forward, and trailed her tongue across his cheek. “Even if I have to bring your little slut here and shove a stake through her heart. Along with her boyfriend. What’s his name?” She snapped her fingers. “Oh, yes – Duncan?”

  His nostrils flared.

  She laughed wickedly. “Didn’t expect that one, did you? They are together now. In every way. And, I’m quite sure that she would rather die than let you touch her again. But not Duncan. He touches her every night. In places that you will never know again.”

  He pulled at his chains, rage burning a hole inside of him as he pictured them together.

  She stepped back, her eyes hard and cruel. “She loathes you. Believes that you’ve deceived her, Ethan. Believes that it was you who offered her to the lycan.”

  He froze and stared at Faye in disbelief.

  “She’ll never trust you again. You broke her heart,” she said, smiling bitterly. “Just like you did mine.”

  “No,” he rasped. “You’re lying.”

  With her eyes gleaming triumphantly, she stepped back and transformed herself into him. She grinned darkly. “Am I?”

  Chapter Two

  Nikki

  

  Mom’s bogus funeral was held on Friday afternoon at Our Savior’s, a small Baptist church on the outskirts of the town. Nathan and I drove together, while Duncan snuck over to Victor’s cabin in search of some kind of evidence that would prove she was still alive. Although we’d been staking out his place the last few nights, it was clear that Victor had moved her to a remote location.

  “They must be having the service outside,” remarked Nathan as we pulled up in his Mustang. Surprisingly, Victor had released it to him the week before, explaining that our mother would have wanted it that way. We both agreed that he was only trying to placate us and get us out of his hair while he continued his schemes.

  I noticed a small group of people huddled behind the church, near the gravestones in the back cemetery, and smiled wryly. “Makes sense. Victor would probably fry if he walked into a holy place.”

  “Sorry,” replied Nathan, tapping the steering wheel with his fingers nervously, “but, I think it’s vampires that can’t step into church or onto any type of sacred ground.”

  I snorted. “Seriously? That’s just based on movies and you know it. I believe that we already proved that I’m not afraid of crosses.” I looked up toward the sky. “Nor the sun. Well, not very much, at least,” I added, pulling my shades closer to my face.

  He shrugged. “Hey, I’m just saying that you might want to be a little extra cautious. Take your time walking into the church. Maybe test it out. You know, in case you start to melt or something.”

  “Nathan, I believe you’re thinking of the witch from the Wizard of Oz. Anyway, just because my DNA has been altered, doesn’t mean that I’m an enemy of the church. Heck, I pray, just about every night that mom is alive and well.”

  His lips twisted into a sardonic grin. “You’d better change your prayer, now that she’s a vampire and already dead.”

  I rolled my eyes. “We’re not dead. We just have different eating requirements and,” I sneered, “can kick your mortal ass faster than you can fart.”

  “Don’t think just because you can kick my ass, you have the upper hand,” he sneered back. “I now have an arsenal of wooden stakes and hammers.” He reached under the seat and pulled out a Forty-Four Magnum. “Plus, I have this bad boy.”

  I gasped. Nathan’s only experience with guns included a BB and a Twenty-Two. This was an entirely new ballgame. “Jesus. Isn’t that a little overkill?”

  He quickly shoved it back under the seat. “Relax. Duncan gave it to me. Along with a shitload of silver bullets.”

  “Silver bullets? Where did he find those?”

  “Sonny had a couple of boxes, I guess.”

  I rubbed my forehead and sighed. “I guess you should have some kind of protection, especially against those monsters. Duncan and I can’t be around you twenty-four-seven.”

  His face darkened. “And you shouldn’t have to be. If I were actually one of you, there wouldn’t be a problem.”

  I stared at him in disbelief. “You seriously do not want this.”

  He grunted. “Says the girl who can fly anywhere in the world without a plane ticket. Look, you have no idea what it’s like knowing that my sister can throw me across the room like a Frisbee. It’s humiliating.”

  “To me it’s a curse, not a gift.”

  “It’s only a curse if you don’t want it. Maybe, I do.”

  “Nathan, you do realize that if you were one of us, you couldn’t eat the way that you do now. I mean, that’s like one of your favorite pastimes.”

  He frowned. “Well, yeah. I know.”

  “No more burgers or ice cream. And forget about your late-night pizza orders. There is no delivery service for what we have to consume.”

  “So, I’d have to give up food. I’d learn to deal with it.”

  “And you could really deal with a diet of blood to survive? I mean, you can barely look at the supply in the refrigerator without getting sick to your stomach.”

  He raised his hand in protest. “Okay, yeah, the blood thing is pretty messed up.”

  “Damn right it is. I’m telling you, I’d rather go back to being normal than having these so-called gifts that you’re obsessing over. And so would Duncan.”

  His eyes narrowed. “Speaking of blood, you’re looking kind of pale. When was the last time you fed?”

  “Why, you scared?” I teased.

  “Ha… ha… Seriously, though. When was the last time you fed?”

  I shrugged. “I don’t know. Three days? Maybe four?”

  “You need to keep up on that,” he replied sternly. “Not only does it make you weaker, but I don’t need to have to watch my back.”

  “You don’t trust me?” I asked, my feelings hurt. “You know I’d never do anything to hurt you.”

  “I trust you. I just don’t trust your appetite. Celeste had told me that if you go without it for too long, it can make you delirious. Soon, the hunger begins to control you and nobody is safe.”

  “Celeste is a special kind of lunatic,” I replied dryly. “She isn’t normal. Even for a Roamer.”

  “So, you’re saying that you’re feeling fine, even though it’s been a few days since you’ve fed?”

  “I’m fine,” I lied, not wanting to worry him. “I’m not even thinking about blood right now.” Admittedly, my stomach had begun to clench hungrily as soon as he’d brought up blood. But, he was my brother. I’d hurt myself before I ever hurt him.

  His eyes narrowed. “You certainly don’t look fine.”

  I pulled the visor down and stared at my porcelain reflection. I was definitely due for a fix. “I guess that I should have put a little makeup on,” I said, shutting the visor. “Well, at least it’s almost winter. Everyone is pale.”

  “Good thing this isn’t shorts weather,” he replied. “I’d hate to see your pasty legs.”

  “You and me both,” I replied.

  Today, I wore long, black slacks, a black turtleneck sweater, and a long, black leather jacket. Nathan had said I looked like a character from the movie The Matrix, with my hair pulled back and the glasses.

  “Just keep your sunglasses on. Nobody will notice. They’ll think you’re just pale from being miserable. Hey.” He sat up straighter. “It looks like Victor is getting a ride from that piece of shit, Drake.”

  I watched in my side-view mirror, as a black Cadillac Seville pulled up on the other side of the parking lot. Both doors opened and the two men, both wearing expensively tailored black suits, got out and began walking toward the cemetery. Victor, who was clutching a copper-colored urn, nodded and smiled grimly at us they passed.


  “Yeah, like that’s proof that mom’s actually dead,” said Nathan, shaking his head in disgust. “So much for the casket. He must think we’re really stupid.”

  “I told you this thing was bullshit,” I said, opening the door.

  Quietly, we followed them to the group of people huddled at the edge of the graveyard. Victor and Drake barely acknowledged us.

  ‘I’m so sorry for your loss,” said an older woman, looking past Victor at me and Nathan. She had ebony skin and her dark eyes were soft. She smiled sympathetically. “I never met your mama, but I’m sure she was a wonderful woman. I’m Maddie, by the way.”

  “Thank you. She was a wonderful woman,” I replied. “And, I’m Nikki. This is my brother, Nathan.”

  “Nice to meet you both,” answered Maddie.

  Nathan nodded solemnly. “Nice meeting you too, ma’am.”

  There were two other women who offered their condolences, greeting us warmly. All of them were strangers, but I could tell that they really wanted to show compassion and support. It made me appreciate the town even more.

  “Pastor Sherman,” said Victor, his voice grave. “Thank you for rearranging your schedule at such a short notice. I appreciate you doing the eulogy for Anne.”

  The pastor, an older, dark-skinned man with kind, brown eyes and shortly-cropped gray hair, put a hand on Victor’s shoulder. “It’s my pleasure. I’m so very sorry for your loss.”

  Victor, the clever actor that he thought he was, nodded his head and looked away, as if having a difficult time. “Yes, thank you. It has been a very trying time for our family.”

  “Just remember that your wife is in a better place now,” he answered, releasing his hand. “A place she will no longer feel any pain or suffering.”

  Victor nodded.

  “I see you brought the urn,” stated the pastor.

  Even though I was sure that the urn didn’t contain mom’s ashes, something told me that it was someone’s.

  I glanced at Drake, who was now watching me through his sunglasses, and wondered if the ashes were actually Ethan’s. Part of me still hated him and yet, another part grieved for the bastard.

 
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