Make me, p.17

Make Me, page 17

 

Make Me
 


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font   Night Mode Off   Night Mode


  “Is she there?” Dan asked.

  “No. Dina isn’t performing tonight, and the woman at the door said she’s probably at home.”

  “Did you get an address?” Dan asked.

  Austin tipped his hat back and grinned. “Well, the little lady didn’t want to give it to me, but I managed to convince her.” He handed a napkin with writing on it to Dan.

  I wondered if he’d controlled her mind or if he’d won it from her with his natural charm. He could definitely be charming when it suited him.

  Fang snorted. DON’T TELL ME YOU HAVE THE HOTS FOR AUSTIN.

  Don’t be ridiculous. He’s a vampire—one of the undead. It was Lola who had the hots for him. As she did for every man.

  SOME MORE THAN OTHERS.

  Shut up.

  Dan and Austin both plugged the address into their map apps. “Is it near that Mexican restaurant?” I asked.

  Dan shook his head. “No, but that doesn’t mean anything. The kidnapper could have called from anywhere, to try and throw us off.”

  I reached for the napkin. “Here, let me have that. I’ll tell David there’s a change in plans.”

  “Okay.” Dan slapped the dashboard and glanced at Austin. “Let’s go. You drive, I’ll navigate.”

  Austin grinned, but did as Dan told him. As we drove to Dina’s house, we made a plan of sorts. I warned Dan I’d have to use Lola on him before any confrontation to keep Dina from enthralling him. He didn’t like it, but at least he saw the necessity.

  We pulled up a couple of houses away from Dina’s address in a nice neighborhood. “Do you sense anything, Fang?”

  NO. BUT LIGHTS ARE ON IN SOME OF THE WINDOWS.

  Yeah, I’d noticed that. “Fang doesn’t sense anything,” I told the men.

  “Why don’t you ring the doorbell and we’ll hide on either side?” Dan asked.

  “It wouldn’t do any good,” I explained. “You’re men. She’ll be able to sense you, and it will make her suspicious. Remember, we want her to think we don’t suspect her.”

  Dan and I had voted not to wait on backup. Since Dina was at home, she wouldn’t have the same firepower to draw on as she would at the club. With any luck, she’d be alone. “Okay, I’m going to have Lola grab onto you now,” I warned Dan. Austin didn’t seem to mind, but I knew Dan would hate it.

  I slid Lola’s tendrils into both of them slowly, more cautious than I’d ever been before. Interesting. Austin’s chakras were wide open and welcoming, but Dan’s were stiff and tight. I left them in control of their actions, but held on just enough so that Dina couldn’t get her hooks into them.

  They stood behind and slightly to the side of me as I rang the doorbell. It took a few moments, but Dina opened the door wearing a negligee I wouldn’t be caught dead in—baby blue with ruffles and flowers and girly things all over it. And she was showing off that cleavage she was so proud of.

  JEALOUS? Fang asked.

  Hardly. Boobs that big would just get in the way.

  “Oh, look,” she mocked. “It’s the Slayer, and she’s brought along a couple of snacks. For me?”

  How many men did she need, for heaven’s sake? I knew power like this could be heady and addictive, but it was also a great responsibility. One she didn’t seem to know how to handle.

  I ignored her attempt to get my goat. And my guys. “No. We have some more questions about the kidnapping and thought you might be able to help us.”

  She opened the door wider and pulled someone to her side with a malicious smile. Shade, dressed in nothing but jeans, with bare feet and a defiant expression. My heart clenched.

  BOY, SHE REALLY DOESN’T LIKE YOU, Fang said.

  No news there. I glanced at Shade, but all he did was glare at me. The hell of it was, I wasn’t sure why. Did he think I was barging in, checking up on him, not trusting him to do his job? Or was it something more personal?

  “Do come in,” Dina cooed and waved us to an elegant living room that looked like something straight out of the 1920s, with lots of white, glass, curves, and other Art Deco touches. Business must be doing well. “But not him,” she said, pointing at Fang with a frown. “I don’t want him shedding dog hair all over my house.”

  I CAN’T HELP IT, Fang said, sounding embarrassed.

  She was just trying to get his goat now, and so I told him. Ignore her. Maybe you can sort of check the place out while we talk. Let me know what she’s thinking while you’re at it.

  YEAH, AND I’M GONNA SHED ALL OVER EVERYTHING. MAYBE EVEN DO SOMETHING MORE RUDE.

  I bit back a laugh and followed Dina into the living room. She plopped down in the love seat and petted Shade like he was a toy dog. The contact ensured that I could look straight into his eyes. Austin and Dan both gave me warning looks, but I knew better than to react. That’s what she wanted.

  I DON’T SENSE ANY OTHER DEMONS IN THE HOUSE, Fang reported.

  Good.

  “So, what do you want this time?” she asked. “I told you I don’t know anything about the kidnapping.” She suddenly froze. “Do you have information that someone is after me?”

  I wanted to let her believe that, I really did, but it wasn’t part of the plan. “No, but we have reason to believe the kidnapper is one of your demons—a man.”

  “Ridiculous,” she said, relaxing. “My men don’t do anything without my knowledge.”

  And that was the problem. What is she thinking? I asked Fang.

  NOTHING USEFUL. I CAN ONLY CATCH SURFACE THOUGHTS. ASK HER SOMETHING ELSE.

  “Well, in case someone slipped by you, I wondered if you’d listen to a message, see if you recognize the voice.” If she did, maybe she’d think about where my friends were being held.

  She shrugged. “Why not?” Dina thrust her hand out imperiously, demanding the phone.

  I brought up the voice mail and played it.

  She frowned. “It does sound familiar, but I’m not sure…” Then her eyes widened and she jumped to her feet, screaming, “You idiot!”

  What the hell? Everyone else jumped to their feet, except for Shade.

  Dina threw the phone at me and missed. Austin caught it, thank heavens.

  Dina raved, “I should have known.”

  “Known what?” I asked, confused. This hadn’t gone at all like I expected.

  “That’s the mage demon I sent to New Orleans.”

  Oh, crap.

  Chapter Twenty

  Micah sprawled on the mattress, spent. The woman in the house next door still slept, and though he tried, he couldn’t get her to wake up or acknowledge him. He had to think of something he hadn’t tried yet.

  DON’T STOP, Princess said, pawing at him. I WANT TO LEAVE.

  He stroked her fur. “I do, too, but I need to rest for a moment.” He hadn’t known that using his power for an extended period of time could be so exhausting.

  She flopped down with a huff. MY HELLHOUND WILL RESCUE ME.

  “That wouldn’t hurt my pride a bit,” Micah acknowledged wearily. “We can hope that Fang and Val are tracking us down this very minute.”

  YOU DON’T BELIEVE THEY ARE.

  No, he didn’t. If Val had a clue where they were, she would’ve been here by now. But, knowing Val, she’d never settle for a partial victory. She’d go for the whole enchilada—try to keep the books and rescue them. If she didn’t get them killed in the process.

  I DON’T WANT TO DIE, Princess whined.

  Micah felt strangely protective toward the selfish spaniel. “I don’t either, so let me see what I can do about that.” He hoped he wouldn’t be too late to stop Lilith from doing the unthinkable with Gwen’s body.

  How long had it been since she left? Asmodeus had taken his phone, so he had no way to tell the time. It felt like hours had passed, but he didn’t trust his sense of time in this situation. How long would it take to find a vampire willing to turn her? It wasn’t something he’d ever needed to know, so he had no clue. Days, hours… minutes? She seemed very confident she
d be able to find a sire right away.

  Micah shook his head. He couldn’t give up hope. He had to get out of here and stop her.

  He gave up on the sleeping woman and concentrated. Maybe there’d be another woman nearby who was awake and susceptible.

  This time he shut out the world, shut out all concerns, and went deep inside himself as he closed his eyes, dredging up every particle of incubus power he could scrounge. He paused for a moment, then thrust the tendrils out into the world, seeking a woman… one who was awake and willing.

  He went farther than he ever had before, farther than he ever believed possible. He brushed across several other sleeping, unresponsive targets before he finally found one that seemed to yield a bit. Maybe she was only partially asleep.

  Micah thrust his energy into her pleasure centers, urging her to wake, to help him. The response was tentative at first, then became more focused, more pliable.

  Finally.

  Val had been able to send messages to her subjects along the energy path, so he should be able to do the same. Get up, he urged. Rise and shine. For me.

  He felt her acquiescence, and assumed she’d risen. Excellent. Now go to the phone.

  She hesitated, and he concentrated everything he had on her. This had better work. He was at his very limit. Go to the phone, he repeated, gritting his teeth and gripping the edges of the mattress.

  He felt her obey his command. When she stopped moving, he said, Now dial this number…

  “That looks painful.”

  The unexpected voice startled him into letting go of the strands. No, no! He reached for them again, but they felt limp and drained. Useless.

  He opened his eyes to see Lilith standing in the doorway again, wearing Gwen’s body.

  “Well, well. What were you doing?” she asked, cocking her head in curiosity. Her smile suggested she knew exactly what an incubus on a bed might be doing.

  He wasn’t about to explain. “Lifting weights,” he snapped.

  “Fine, don’t tell me,” Lilith shot back.

  “What do you want?” Micah asked, closing his eyes against the exhaustion. Was she here to taunt him again?

  “I thought you might like to see what I’ve done with this body, see the new me.”

  His eyes flew open and he searched her body with his gaze. She didn’t look any different. Then again, vampires usually didn’t. “You didn’t have time to find a vampire,” he said, hoping he was right.

  She shrugged. “Like it was hard. Ever hear about the colony of bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge?”

  “Vampires don’t turn into bats,” Micah said, managing to sit up. “That’s a myth. Besides, the bats aren’t there this time of year.”

  “Yes, it is a myth, sadly. But that doesn’t mean vampires don’t hang out there to, you know, encourage the rubes to believe it.”

  “I don’t believe you.”

  “Why not?”

  “You don’t look like you’ve been drained of blood.”

  She laughed. “How quaint. You believe what you see in the movies.”

  Feeling a little uncertain now, he asked, “Isn’t that how it works?” He didn’t know of anyone who had actually witnessed a vampire being sired.

  “Well, there is an exchange of blood, but it doesn’t require buckets of the stuff.”

  “How much?”

  “Oh, he didn’t charge much, just the use of my body for a roll in the hay. It was kind of fun.”

  He closed his eyes in pain. She was obviously trying to get to him. Unfortunately, it was working. In fact, she was trying so hard, maybe she was lying. “If you were really turned tonight, wouldn’t you be lethargic, unable to move yet?” Maybe mindless?

  “No, quite the contrary. It takes very little time for the conversion to happen. My blood mingled with his, creating a chain reaction. A few sips of that heady wine is all it took to let the change sweep over me. The vampire virus, if you’d like to call it that, kills all life in the cells in a matter of moments, replacing them with vampire vitality.” She fanned herself with one hand. “It’s a hell of a rush.”

  It certainly sounded plausible, but he couldn’t believe it. “Why would you do that?”

  “Hello? Immortality? I’ve been dead and I didn’t like it. This time around, I plan to be here a looong time.” She ran her hands down Gwen’s sides. “It’ll take a little bit to get this body in shape, but I have lots of time. Forever, in fact.”

  Micah bristled at the aspersions on Gwen’s appearance. He liked her just the way she was. He still couldn’t believe it, still couldn’t imagine someone choosing an undead existence. “Prove it.”

  She sauntered a little closer. “You want proof? Here’s proof.” She pulled aside her collar and there, on her carotid artery, were two punctures.

  No.

  She flew at him inhumanly fast, grabbed the front of his shirt and hauled him to his feet, then slammed him against the wall with the strength of five men. “How’s this?” she asked and bared her fangs. “Proof enough?”

  Chapter Twenty-One

  I stood there, staring at Dina, feeling stunned. No wonder the demon kidnapper wanted the books. He was a mage demon. So why had Gwen told me he was a fire demon?

  MAYBE YOU MISUNDERSTOOD HER, Fang said. OR MAYBE THAT’S THE ONE ABILITY THE MAGE DEMON CHOSE TO KEEP.

  Maybe. “That changes things.”

  I didn’t realize I’d spoken aloud until Dan said, “No, it doesn’t. Gwen is still in danger. You hand over the books, she goes free. Simple as that.”

  “No,” Dina said. “You have no idea what a mage demon could do with those books. The word apocalypse mean anything to you?”

  “She’s right,” Austin agreed. “We can’t turn over the books to him. We have to find a different way.”

  They started arguing, all but Shade, and didn’t stop until I put two fingers to my lips and let out a piercing whistle. When they quieted, I said, “I have a better idea.”

  Dina’s gaze narrowed. “What is it?”

  Ignoring her, I said, “I’ll need Shade. He helped capture the last mage demon and sent him to another dimension.”

  Dina shook her head. “No way. I heard what happened when Shade grew angry. He lost control and almost let more full demons into this world. Why do you think I’ve been keeping him so happy?”

  Huh? That’s why she was so chummy with Shade? “He’d never intentionally do that. In fact, he tried to kill himself to keep that very thing from happening.” I reached for him with Lola, to pry him from Dina’s clutches, but it was no use. She had him first, so I couldn’t get even a tiny hold on him.

  “You don’t need me,” Shade said, his voice calm and even. Dina’s influence, I’m sure. “You’ve never needed me. You have all the resources of the two Demon Undergrounds, the New Blood Movement, and the Special Crimes Unit to fall back on. I think you can handle one mage demon.”

  I hoped he was right, but I wasn’t sure we could pull it off without getting Micah, Gwen and Princess killed. But convincing him would take too long. “Who is he?” I asked Dina. “The mage demon. What’s his name?” Maybe Dan could do a search on credit cards or something.

  She made an impatient gesture. “He called himself Asmodeus. That can’t be a real name.”

  “King of the demons,” Shade murmured.

  No way. He wasn’t going to rule any kingdom I was a part of. “Come on,” I told my guys. “Let’s go.”

  Fang met us at the door. Dina followed. “Aren’t you going to help me find the kidnapper?”

  I noticed she didn’t offer to help us. Not that I’d accept it. I still didn’t trust her.

  WE DON’T NEED YOUR HELP, Fang said. BACK OFF, BITCH. WE HAVE FRIENDS TO SAVE.

  I couldn’t have said it better myself. We hurried back out to Austin’s car.

  “What’s your plan?” Dan asked.

  “The books, I presume?” Austin asked as he opened the trunk where I’d stashed the girly backpack.
r />   “Right.” I grabbed the backpack and closed the trunk. “Let’s get out of here.”

  We all piled back into the car as another vehicle pulled up in front of Dina’s house. David, Pia, the large Ludwig, and the Memory Eater had arrived.

  I rolled down the window and waved at them. “Follow us!”

  Pia waved back in acknowledgment and Austin got the hell out of Dodge. I pulled the books out, cursing myself for not understanding what they were trying to tell me in the first place. Why hadn’t I realized it was a mage demon who wanted the books? It should have been obvious. Mage demons were the only ones who could use their whole potential, besides keepers like me. The fire demon angle had thrown me off.

  DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP, Fang said. WE ALL MADE THAT MISTAKE. LOTS OF DEMONS WANT THE BOOKS AND THE POWER THEY REPRESENT. LOOK AT DINA.

  “You look at Dina,” I muttered. “I don’t want to.”

  Dan twisted around in the seat to glare at me. “What are you doing? Do you actually have a plan?”

  One of the books was glowing softly. “Yes, I—” My phone rang and I held up one finger as I looked at it. “I don’t know the number. This might be Asmodeus.” I answered it.

  “Do you have the books?” the kidnapper asked.

  “Yes, and I’m almost to Austin,” I said, trying to buy us a little more time.

  “Ask for proof of life,” Dan said in a fierce whisper.

  I nodded back at him. “Are my friends okay? Can I talk to them?”

  “They’re fine. Here, I’ll prove it.”

  “Val, it’s me,” Gwen said. “We’re all alive. But please, do everything he says.” With a relieved smile, I nodded at Dan and gave him a thumbs-up.

  The mage demon came back on. “Okay, here’s how it’s gonna work. You come alone and bring me the books at a place I specify, then I’ll tell you where you can find your friends.”

  “How do I know you’ll keep your part of the bargain?”

  “You don’t,” he said, sounding arrogant. “You’re just gonna have to trust me.”

  Yeah, right. But I let him think he’d won. “You promise you won’t hurt them?” I asked.

  Dan looked like he was about to say something, but Fang jumped up to place his paws on the back of Dan’s seat and growled at him. The hellhound could read my mind, so he knew my plan.

 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll