Vampire's Witch, page 11
Serena blinked and opened her mouth but snapped it shut. There was no use arguing or trying to get her mother to see that there was another side to the situation. All her mother could see right now was what had been done to that all-important status of untainted witch blood.
“Goodbye, Mother.” Serena turned and led the way out of the house.
Her shoulders sagged. It had been even worse than she’d imagined. She hadn’t even faced her sisters and she felt drained. Her mother wouldn’t soften her position anytime soon. The woman knew how to hold on to her anger and always had. Serena doubted she’d hear from her within two months.
Marcus’ hand moved in small circles on her back. Serena let the warmth of his hand and his obvious desire to comfort her flow into her. He guided her around to the passenger side of the car and urged her into the seat. Feeling a little numb, she sat back and let him take control. She didn’t have the energy to fight with him about it.
“She’ll call you, Serena. This was all a surprise to her and she hadn’t known anything about you changing. She does love you.” Marcus turned to her after he slid behind the wheel. He reached across the seat and gently patted her thigh.
“It’s going to take her a long time to calm down enough to even think about doing that. My mother doesn’t forgive easily and as far as she’s concerned, I’ve ruined everything. You weren’t exactly helpful in certain parts of the conversation. I appreciate the support but…” She let her voice trail off and closed her eyes. Resting her head against the back of the seat, she thought about everything that had happened. She wished things could have gone differently.
“What do you mean I wasn’t much help at times?” he asked.
She opened her eyes and saw that he’d turned to face her. She almost couldn’t believe he’d asked that. He’d been there for the entire fiasco but the disbelief on his face was real. He didn’t know what she meant.
“Let’s see. First, there’s the ‘finally meeting you’. Have you known me longer than I’ve known you? The short time we’ve known each other doesn’t qualify for a ‘finally’.” She drummed her fingers lightly on the seat.
His mouth kicked up briefly. “You know I didn’t mean it that way.”
“That’s the way my mother heard it. That’s exactly the way I heard it.” She looked forward gritting her teeth. She felt so tired. “Can we go? I’d like to get home.”
He started the car and pulled out of the driveway. When they were on the road, she looked over at him. She knew the words hadn’t been intentional. It didn’t change the effect they’d had on her mother. She didn’t totally blame him. It had been a bad situation for the start. Even if he’d said nothing or not been there, it probably wouldn’t have ended any differently.
“It’s going to be all right,” Marcus said. “She’ll come around and call you. In the end, what you are won’t matter. You’re her daughter.”
She sighed and nodded, knowing it was the truth. “Eventually. I’d hoped to think of a way to make it easier for her to accept it but I don’t think there would have been any way to tell it and have her react any differently.”
“It wasn’t going to be easy news to break. You’re her daughter and she wants what she considers the best for you,” he said easily.
She shook her head. It had already been a long day and they still had to see if they could track down Daniel tonight.
Marcus looked around the club. He was a little on edge after what had happened the last time they’d confronted Daniel. He didn’t want Serena hurt again during the hunt. She needed to see to her own health and he’d talked to her about it. He wanted her to set a physical blocking shield around her anytime they encountered Daniel. His horror at seeing her hurt had been a little offset by the stunning discovery that she was almost a full vix. For a few precious moments, he hadn’t even been able to move. He’d wanted to go over to her and hold her but his feet had seemed frozen to the floor. That had been the one thing he’d never have guessed she’d be hiding.
He walked deeper into the throng of people. Jason would arrive as backup a little later. He was helping a group of Protectorate men until other vampires arrived. Marcus wasn’t worried. If anything happened, everyone would converge on the club where Daniel had been sighted. Nothing would be done until help arrived unless Daniel made some sort of threatening action. The man had escaped too often. Marcus wanted him caught. Serena would be in danger until he was finally off the streets.
“Ready to do a walk around?” He looked down at Serena, his voice just loud enough for her to hear.
She smiled. Confidence shone from her eyes and her stance was relaxed. She looked a little cocky and definitely unafraid. “You really think it’s necessary?”
She pointedly looked around the room. The bar was filled with cowboys and truckers. He and Serena stood out a little in the room even though they were dressed in jeans and button-down shirts. He had to admit she had a point. It wasn’t the type of place they’d found Daniel over the last few days. Daniel wouldn’t fit in with this crowd but they had to make sure and then wait and watch until there was news on where exactly Daniel was, if he showed tonight.
They walked around the bar, arm in arm. His eyes swept the groups of people. He didn’t see anyone who even looked like Daniel. Marcus knew the rogue wouldn’t try to disguise himself. The man was too sure of himself to try even something as simple as dyeing his hair another color. It would still be blond. He wouldn’t dress in the well-worn jeans and western shirts most of these men wore. He favored designer labels and edgier clothing.
“I don’t see any sign of the man.” She cast a long glance over the dancing couples.
“I haven’t spotted him either. Let’s go sit at the bar and keep an eye on anyone who comes into the club.” Marcus unhooked his arm from hers and slipped it around her waist, guiding her around the various groups to the bar.
She slid onto the padded chair. Marcus ordered them both sodas. The last thing they needed was to cloud their minds with alcohol. He looked over at her. She seemed a little distracted but he knew that when they had to face Daniel, she’d do what was needed. She’d been quieter since the talk with her mother. Now that he knew what she’d been holding back, a little brooding was to be expected. He turned in the seat and looked out over the dancers. No sign of Daniel yet.
A hand touched his arm. He realized that it was Serena even as her hand patted him again and again. He turned to see what she needed. She wasn’t looking at him. Her head was turned and her eyes locked somewhere near the doors. She glanced quickly over her shoulder at him. Her eyes were wide and her mouth slightly open. She looked stunned.
“He’s here and he’s coming straight for us.” Her voice was barely audible over the music.
Marcus moved so he could get a clear look in that direction even as he reached for his cell phone. Daniel strode straight toward them. Marcus could see the rogue’s eyes were fixed on both of them. Marcus lifted the phone. He felt a brush of cloth just before a woman bumped into him, knocking his phone out of his hand. The phone hit floor and there was a distinct crunch as the woman pressed closer to the bar. Marcus cursed under his breath. He’d never thought Daniel would come looking for him. The possibility hadn’t even entered his mind. From Daniel’s fixed stare and relaxed walk, Marcus had no doubt that was just what was happening.
“Give me your phone, Serena, and make sure you put the shields around yourself.” Marcus didn’t take his eyes off Daniel. The man was treacherous and he wasn’t giving him an opportunity to strike. He had to get the others here to help with the capture.
Serena put her phone in his hand. Out the corner of his eyes, he saw her hold out her hand. He didn’t see anything in her palm but he smelled a slight sharp odor and felt a pulling sensation. She made a small tossing motion. He wondered what that had been about but didn’t worry. He knew he’d probably find out about it soon.
He dialed a number on the touch screen. Daniel
Marcus heard a single ring before the phone Jason answered. “Hello.”
“Get everyone here. He’s here now.” Marcus didn’t explain any more.
Jason drew in a sharp breath and the call ended. Marcus wasn’t worried about that. Jason had people to contact but he knew they wouldn’t be alone for long. Jason and others would be here as soon as possible.
Water suddenly began raining down over them and the lights brightened as a ringing alarm sounded. The music stopped and a male voice directed everyone to the exits.
Marcus smiled as he realized that this was what Serena had been doing. He thoroughly approved of the plan. The people were leaving the building and Daniel’s time had just become very limited. Daniel wouldn’t wait long now that other vampires were on the way.
“You’re ruining my fun, witch. Or should that be vix? I’m sure they’ll find many ways to use your talent. Another useful tool for the Council. Just be aware that the Council is notorious for discarding their tools when they’re no longer useful.” Daniel shook his head slowly but looked confident and totally relaxed.
“It’s part of my job to make sure you don’t get to play your games. I happen to like it.” She shrugged and smiled. The mischievous tilt of her mouth made him want to see that expression under very different circumstances.
Marcus straightened. He saw her glance at him. He knew she had to be wondering about parts of Daniel’s remark but her focus was on the rogue and the fight. She’d ask about it later if she was that curious. Most of the people had left the building but there was one group near the end of the bar as well as one woman who was staring at Daniel. He’d flashed his fangs a few times. Marcus guessed the woman was too scared to move.
“She’ll get tired of playing by your rules. Are you going to put her down at the Council’s orders when the time comes?” Daniel’s tone taunted.
“It won’t happen. She won’t go rogue like you did. She’s not weak.” Marcus shook his head. He wasn’t going to get into an argument with Daniel. If Serena had been inclined to abuse her powers, she’d have had trouble with the Witches’ Council. He’d checked. She’d never even been reprimanded.
Marcus saw Daniel’s hand move just a little. He wondered about it, but the frown on Daniel’s face began to give him a clue as to what might have happened. Daniel’s trusted backup plan was magic. The thought was confirmed when the rogue sent a glare toward Serena.
“No magic for you today. It’s not going to be that easy.” Serena drawled, but Marcus could hear the humor in her voice.
Daniel lunged forward. His hands slashed toward Marcus’ face. Marcus jerked back and the hands flew past his chin. Surprise slammed through him. He’d never expected Daniel to actually physically attack him. Daniel was smaller and not as experienced. Marcus swung. His fist slammed into Daniel’s jaw. Daniel stumbled back but came back fighting. Marcus knew he had to get away from the bar and the chairs there. They limited his movement too much and gave Daniel an advantage.
Marcus took a punch on the shoulder. He felt Serena’s shoulder against his arm just before he gave Daniel a hard shove. He moved forward, away from the bar, away from Serena. Marcus watched Daniel and waited to see if the man would attack when he no longer had an easy target.
Daniel’s foot slashed out in a vicious kick. Marcus grunted as the man’s shoe slammed into his arm. He drove his fist into Daniel’s gut. Daniel doubled over and spun away. Marcus grinned. It felt good to get his hands on the man who’d caused so much trouble.
“You’re not as tough as they make you out to be. I think I’m going to be ripping your throat out tonight.” Daniel bared his teeth.
Marcus was more than willing to let the man talk. If he wanted, he could rant until the other hunters arrived. Daniel lunged forward. Marcus felt a sharp pain on his arm but he knew Daniel hadn’t touched him. Marcus shoved his hand back but didn’t touch anything. Daniel’s hand collided with Marcus’ jaw. Light exploded across Marcus’ vision. He kept his hands up in guard and tried to clear the spots from his vision. He vaguely heard a thump and some scrabbling to the side but Daniel was still in front of him. He couldn’t turn his attention away from Daniel. Marcus could see the man’s outline, though it was fuzzy.
Marcus felt warm liquid running down his arm and smelled his own blood. He knew he’d been cut or stabbed but he didn’t have time to worry about it. He blinked clearing his vision a little more. Daniel rushed forward, his fists flying and his feet lashing out. Marcus blocked and slammed his fist into Daniel’s face. He drove his knee into Daniel’s ribs. Daniel grunted and tore away from Marcus. He spun and ran for the door.
Marcus took a few steps after Daniel but stopped when he heard a female groan and more thumping. He turned and saw Serena straddled over a woman. The sight was vaguely arousing. When he saw that Serena was struggling to keep the woman’s hands away from the handle of a knife, he rushed forward to help. He kicked the blade across the room. He grabbed the woman’s hands and Serena scrambled off her.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t see her until she was almost to you. I couldn’t get her before she’d stabbed you.” Serena moved up behind him and checked the wound. Her fingers gently probed at his arm.
“You kept her from doing any more damage. What does it look like?” He pulled the wild red-haired woman to her feet, keeping hold of her.
“It’s fairly deep and long. Is it going to heal on its own or will you need stitches like I did? How fast do vampires heal?” Serena asked.
“We heal fairly fast but if it’s as deep as you say, I’ll probably need a couple of stitches.” Marcus looked down at his arm, trying to get a look at the cut. He could see the blood but not the cut.
Serena came back with a cloth and pressed it to the cut. The doors to the club slammed open. Men rushed into the club. Protectorate guards and vampires swarmed through the bar. Jason was at the front of the group.
“Did Daniel get away already?” Jason asked. “Who’s the woman?”
“She stabbed me while I was fighting Daniel. Serena kept her from doing more damage.” Marcus looked down at the woman he held. The Protectorate would charge her but she’d be back on the streets by tomorrow. At least they knew of her now. “Daniel apparently has a few allies we don’t know about.”
“We’ll hand your assailant over to the Protectorate. Why don’t you go get that checked?” Jason took the cursing redheaded woman.
“Marcus, let me have the keys. I’ll drive and you can give me directions to the doctor you took me to see.” Serena held out her hand.
Marcus pulled the cloth away from his arm and turned it, trying again to see the wound. “I think the bleeding has slowed enough. There’s really no need to go to the trouble of driving all the way over there when it’s not necessary.”
“It is necessary. Jason, have that blade tested. He targeted Marcus tonight. Is there a poison that would kill a vampire?” Serena pushed the cloth back onto the wound.
Marcus almost smiled at her take-charge attitude. She was probably being a little too overprotective but she did have a point. Daniel had to have had someone following them to have known where they were. If Daniel had trailed them here, he had to have a reason.
Jason frowned and he looked like he was taking her comment very seriously. “There isn’t any poison that would be easily delivered on a blade that would be even close to fatal but there’s a drug that can make a vampire go almost crazy.”
Jason waved to one of the passing vampires. He handed the woman off to the man. “Take her to the Protectorate operatives. Tell them she was aiding the rogue and injured one of us. I’m going with Marcus and Serena to the doctor.”
Marcus raised his eyebrows. Now Jason was taki
“It might not have been but if it was, she won’t be able to handle you if the drug takes hold while you’re alone. Do you want to chance hurting her?” Jason leveled a hard glare at him.
Marcus got the point. As sure as he was that Daniel hadn’t drugged him, there was a small chance he had. If he had, that drug would drive all rational thought out of his mind, leaving a raging madness in its place. He could very easily hurt or kill her before anyone could get there to help her. If for no other reason than her safety, he had to go see the doctor. It shouldn’t take long before they knew for certain if he’d been drugged by that swipe of the blade.
Serena sat beside Marcus in the back of the car. She looked at Marcus and bit her lip. How could he look so calm? That damn rogue had targeted them. If he’d had a chance, she was certain he would have killed them but she knew he hadn’t counted on that. She’d never come closer to using her magic with intent of deadly force than she had tonight.
When she’d seen the flash of that blade in the light, she’d almost stopped the woman permanently. If the woman had aimed the knife at his back, she didn’t know if she would have been able to resist the impulse. Serena hadn’t had time to analyze what she was feeling at the time. She’d seen the blade and started running. Now she could see that there’d been more than concern for another person behind the rush of panic and anger. It had been something very deep.
“How are you feeling?” Jason glanced into the rearview mirror as he drove.
Serena drew here eyes up to Marcus’ face. He looked a little pale but he didn’t seem to be under the effects of a drug. His breath came a little fast and his hands were clenched at his side. She hoped he was right and he hadn’t been poisoned.
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