Vampire's Witch, page 4
“And we’re supposed to just be lovers who can’t keep our hands off each other long enough to get to a room.” She slid a hand up to his shoulder. She focused on the fact that this was just a technique to keep an eye on the rogue. Her body didn’t really believe it. She wanted nothing more than to relax against him and let the feelings flow.
“Nothing that intense. Just two people enjoying each other and a little light play.” He leaned down and let his lips brush over the shell of her ear.
“The…friend won’t recognize you? He hasn’t met you?” she asked, tilting her head, wanting to feel his lips on her neck. A disappointed groan rolled from her lips when his mouth lifted away without more than a brief brush.
“No, he won’t recognize me. I don’t think he even knows of me.” Marcus’ hand roved up and down her back. “He’s standing. Three of the women are walking away with him. How long will that glamour hold?”
Serena barely resisted the impulse to turn her head and look at the man. As much as she wanted to know exactly what he was doing, she knew she couldn’t give him any idea he was being watched. They had to catch him before he hurt or killed anyone else.
“As long as he has the power for it.” She drew her fingers up the back of his neck, more because she wanted to touch him than to keep her lover role.
“They’re heading for the door,” he whispered. His lips tugged at her earlobe.
“Are we going to follow them?” She bit her lip. Now that they’d found the man, she didn’t want to let him disappear again.
“Not us. We’ve been too close to him. He might just recognize us. Someone else will take close surveillance. We’ll meet up with a few of the others and stay at a distance but close enough that we can help if needed.” His arms tightened briefly in a reassuring hug.
“What’s he doing? Is it time to go find the others yet?” She slanted a look up at him when moments passed with nothing more than the thrum of the music pulsing around them.
“No, he’s still here. He’s near the bar. It looks like he’s leaving two of the women here. They don’t seem to want to stay.” He tipped up her chin with one finger and gave her a quick kiss.
“How badly are they resisting his orders? Are they clinging to him and crying and pleading?” She took the opportunity to find out a little about the rogue’s power levels. At least the amount he was prepared to expend on this spell.
“No crying or pleading. They just look vaguely disappointed. One of them took a step toward him but not more than that. Does that tell you something?” he asked, leaning back to get a look at her face.
“He’s not using very much power. I don’t know if he doesn’t have much or if he didn’t feel the need to use a more-powerful spell.” Serena leaned into him, relaxing as she waited to see what happened next. Despite the fact that the vampire suspected of going rogue was going to leave with a woman. She did wonder what he knew that she didn’t.
“So do you think that you can handle him when the time comes?” His head cocked to the side and he seemed just curious about it although for a moment she wondered if he was teasing her.
“I’ll handle him, magic-wise. You really don’t seem worried that the woman’s going off with him alone.” She slid a glance toward the bar but didn’t see either the vampire or any of the women who’d been with him.
“This isn’t his pattern for killing. He’s probably already fed tonight. My guess is that this is just sex. He’ll be followed and watched of course but she should be safe.” He stepped back and curled an arm around her shoulders. “Let’s walk toward the door, find Jason and leave.”
“That sounds good.” She looked around the bar, trying to find the other man.
There were too many other people here for her to easily spot him. It was going to be a long night. They wouldn’t be stopping the watch until they were sure the woman was safe and away from the rogue.
After finding Jason, they left and met up with a few of the other vampires and four Protectorate agents. The sun was coming up when they saw the woman walking out of the hotel. Men would stay to follow him and hopefully keep track of him. Marcus escorted Serena to her door. She turned to open the door but his hand on her shoulder stopped and turned her to face him. He kissed her, his hands cupping her buttocks. She didn’t have time to think before his lips settled over hers. She just reacted, enjoying the firm claiming. Her tongue slid against his.
Lifting his mouth away, he stared at her with open hunger. “I don’t want to leave you but I want you awake when I make love to you. I’ll pick you up tomorrow.”
This time she didn’t argue or insist that she meet him at the Protectorate headquarters. He wouldn’t listen. Right now she didn’t have the wits to argue it with him when a simple kiss had sent an arc of energy sizzling through her body. She opened the door and slipped into her apartment before he could kiss her again. Leaning against the door, she exhaled loudly. It was getting harder to resist him. The rogue vampire definitely wasn’t stupid. Somehow he lost the men following him nearly every day. Tomorrow, she had her next appointment with the doctor. She’d just have to hope that she wasn’t needed during that time.
The distinctive ring of his cell phone drew Marcus’ eyes away from the latest reports of illegal paranormal activity in the city. He opened his desk drawer and pulled the small phone out, looking at the number before he answered the call. When he saw the name of one of the men he’d posted to follow Serena, he answered it. They hadn’t called him before about any of her movements or visitors. He knew this had to be important. He tried to push down the rush of fear.
“Is something wrong?” he asked, not waiting for a greeting or small talk. He wanted the facts now so he could do whatever was needed to keep her safe.
“Nothing’s wrong. She’s still safe and is in no danger,” James Rule reported.
Marcus relaxed and took a deep breath. Since she wasn’t in danger, they must have learned something important. “What do I need to know?”
“We just followed your witch to the offices of Doctor Alexander. She’s been inside for a good thirty minutes.” James’ voice held no emotion. He was just reporting the facts.
Marcus just sat there stunned. What would Serena be doing at the offices of one of the doctors most well-known for helping women hide their conversions? The doctor had been caught at least four times helping women block the change. It was interesting that she’d chosen that doctor but he was relatively sure she hadn’t been bitten. That would have been reported since she did most of her work with the Protectorate. Lately, that organization had been very good at giving the names of those who’d been bitten. She would have only encountered vampires in her work with them.
“Keep an eye on her.” He leaned back in his chair and thought about where this information fit in the puzzle of what she was hiding.
She was keeping a secret. Could she be ill? She hadn’t seemed sick. She certainly didn’t act as if she was ill. He was going to get the truth. Today about her visit to the doctor and later about whatever secret she was holding. He was beginning to think it was very important.
The matter was still uppermost in his mind when he knocked on her door. It was earlier than he usually arrived at her apartment. He intended to speak with her before they went to follow the rogue. Tonight they knew exactly where he was. Ringing the bell, he waited for her to open the door. She wouldn’t be expecting him yet and shouldn’t even be getting dressed yet. He heard a soft sigh and a click as the door opened.
“Hello, Marcus. Is there something you needed to ask that couldn’t be answered over a phone or are you just impatient to hunt your rogue tonight?” She leaned against the doorjamb, holding on to the doorknob in her hand, not giving him the space to enter.
He stepped forward and gently pushed on the door. “Yes, I want the answers to some very important questions. Now step back and let me in. We have things to talk about.”
“What?” She frowned at him. Her han
“We’ll discuss this in the privacy of your apartment. Move, or would you rather I went through full protocol and called Steven to join us?” He crossed his arms and waited to see her reaction.
Her eyes widened and he caught the scent of her fear. She swallowed and took a slow step back, opening the door wide. He saw a wary watchfulness in her gaze. If he hadn’t already suspected she had something to hide, he would have known it in that moment. Her reaction was a sure giveaway.
He walked over to the slate-gray couch. Deep red and blue-green pillows had been placed at each end. Sitting down, he waited until she’d taken a seat on a gray chair across from him.
“What do you want?” she asked in a tight voice.
“What were you doing at Dr. Alexander’s office today?” He sat back and kept his eyes on her face.
Her mouth dropped open but a moment later she snapped it closed. Her lashes dropped down, shielding her witchy green eyes. Her head tilted to the side and she drummed her fingers on the cushioned arm of the chair.
“I had an appointment with him. You have someone following me?” Her voice was low, angry.
“I told you I wouldn’t leave you unprotected. Why did you have an appointment with him?” he asked, wondering just what answer she would give him.
“What do you have against Dr. Alexander? He’s the primary doctor for almost every witch I know. It’s not exactly easy finding someone who’s familiar with how certain medicines react with magic.” She shrugged, her lips curved in a tight smile.
Every muscle in her body was taut. Her voice might have been soft and matter-of-fact but her body language told the tale. The doctor might be the primary physician for many witches but he knew there was more to her story than she was telling.
“He’s one of the most notorious doctors in the city for hiding or false reporting the results of women known to have been bitten. We’ve caught him at least four times.” Marcus smiled and watched with interest as her hands tightened into fists.
“Well, I doubt he could run an entire practice on just the few women who react to a vampire bite.” Serena smiled but didn’t say any more than that.
“So what did you have to see him about?” Marcus decided to press for specifics. If she wanted to play games, he would call her on it when he caught her in a lie.
“He ran some tests and I had to talk to him about sleep aids. I haven’t been sleeping much more than a few hours at a time lately. Since I haven’t ever used them, I needed to know about possible side effects for a witch.” She met his eyes briefly before looking out the window.
“And did he give you something for it?” He pushed just a little more.
“No, he advised a bedtime routine and plenty of exercise first. I have to give that time to start working before we try any meds. Muscle relaxants and sedatives can have some unwanted effects on a witch’s ability.” She leaned back against the cushion and crossed her legs.
He didn’t miss the way her smile softened or how her body had relaxed. She thought she’d answered all of his questions and erased his suspicions. For now he’d let her believe that. There was no use confronting her until he had proof that she was lying.
“What kind of unwanted effects? Do they block your power?” He’d never given much thought to how witchcraft and pharmaceuticals would mix. It did make sense that the drugs would work a little differently than they would on a normal human.
“A lot of magic is backed by intent. Sedatives and muscle relaxants can weaken a witch’s control. So if she wants to go swimming or even dreams about it, she might wake up with her home flooded.” Serena’s hands spread and she looked significantly at the floor. “You can understand why they’re used only in certain controlled circumstances.”
“That would be a very bad side effect,” Marcus admitted. He didn’t doubt that the side effects were true enough but he knew she was using the story as a cover. Pushing her right now wouldn’t get him anywhere.
* * * * *
Serena still felt a little nervous about Marcus’ visit hours later. A fast bass beat pounded through the club. The noise didn’t drive the worries from her mind. She wondered if he’d actually believed her. He’d seemed to take her story at face value. She just had a feeling that something was going on beneath the surface. Maybe she was being a little paranoid.
“Stay close. He’s here and tonight he doesn’t seem to be out to impress the ladies.” Marcus leaned close. His hot breath fanned over her ear.
She looked around the club, trying to find the man. If Marcus could see him, she should be able to spot him. Her eyes traveled over the crowd around them. She almost missed him. He wasn’t using a glamour tonight. His blond hair seemed a little dull and he looked very average today. She couldn’t understand why he wasn’t using the spell. He certainly wouldn’t get very many volunteers with the way he looked tonight.
She looked back over her shoulder to the man following just behind her. “Why isn’t he—”
Marcus’ hands tightened on her shoulders. “This isn’t about luring a woman to him. It’s about the hunt.”
She felt a shiver run down her back. She’d known that Daniel had attacked and killed at least one person but she’d never thought about how he chose them or how far he took his predatory behavior. It was just more reason he had to be stopped in any way possible.
“When? Is there a pattern?” she asked. If there was, maybe they could get ahead of him and set a trap for him.
“No pattern in where he takes them. There are some similarities in what he does. He usually chooses a small group of people.” His words just carried to her.
Her shoulders slumped. There was nothing to do but wait and watch. They’d have to hope they could get to him before he could kill anyone. And that they caught him the first time. He’d be much harder to track and catch once he knew he was truly hunted even though he had to suspect.
“Let’s move. We don’t want him to know we’re watching him.” Marcus’ arm tightened.
She turned and they moved back into the crowd. They were so close that she felt his thigh brush against hers with every step. He led her to the bar and ordered her a cola. Serena sipped at it as they waited there. She couldn’t help feeling nervous. Someone could die if they didn’t keep track of Daniel. So much depended on other people. She knew if she was close enough she could block or counteract any magic he used but the lack of control frustrated her.
“A little nervous?” Marcus asked.
“Anxious, hoping things don’t go wrong,” she admitted.
“We’ll catch him.”
She sighed. She knew that they would eventually catch the man. It was the time between now and then that worried her. After a rogue was first confronted, he usually became twice as dangerous. He’d kill anyone who got in his way.
Beside her, Marcus tensed. She looked over at him and saw his head tilt a little to the side. He looked as if he were listening to something. What could he be hearing?
“We have to go. He’s leaving the bar, following a group of four.” Marcus’ hand fastened at her wrist.
Almost as soon as he touched her, he began moving. She stumbled a little but caught up as a group of people moved into his way. Her heels slowed her a bit. She wished she could kick them off. Dressing for the clubs made moving fast a challenge. She wasn’t the type of woman who could sprint in stilettos. She couldn’t figure out how he knew Daniel was stalking those people. Marcus certainly couldn’t see him.
“How do you know what he’s doing? Is it some kind of vampire trick?” she asked just lowed enough for him to hear. Was it some kind of vampire ability she’d never heard a hint of in the rumors or bits of knowledge she’d picked up?
He tapped his right ear as he leaned down. “Small wireless earbud. Let’s go.”
She nodded. They wove a path through the crowded club to the doors. Finally they managed to get out onto the street. Serena loo
“They’re in a car and he’s following in his. Right now they’re not in danger. At their next stop, he’ll probably attack. Especially if they’re only letting one person out of the car.” He urged her to the car at the curb where Caine waited for them.
She’d been surprised to see the man. Every other time they’d hunted Daniel, Jason had accompanied them. She slipped into the backseat. Marcus closed the door and quickly took his seat in the front. The car pulled away from the building.
“Why don’t I get an earpiece so I can hear what’s happening?” she asked as she tightened her seat belt.
Caine drove aggressively. The black car zipped around a silver van in front of them that had the temerity to be going the speed limit. Where were these people and why was Caine driving so wildly? She’d been under the impression that they weren’t in any danger at the moment.
“You’re always with someone. There’s really no need for you to have one.” Marcus half turned in the seat to look back at her.
“I wouldn’t need a shadow if I had one of those lovely little earpieces. For now, we’ll let that go. Why is Caine driving like a maniac? Has there been bad news.” Her hands clenched.
“We just want to get you close enough to help before those two cars come to a stop. We have no idea where or when that will be,” Marcus said easily.
“You two heal a lot faster than I do. If he wrecks, I’m not going to be happy.” She folded her arms across her chest.
Cain whipped the car out into the oncoming lane. She saw a huge black truck racing toward them on the highway. Serena drew in a sharp breath and pressed back into the seat. The truck whizzed past with what seemed like only inches separating it and the side of the car. Her heart slammed inside her chest. Was he trying to get them into an accident? In spite of all of her worries, they weren’t in a wreck. Caine finally slowed the car and began following a dark blue car.
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