Vampire huntress rebel a.., p.11

Vampire Huntress (Rebel Angels Book 1), page 11

 

Vampire Huntress (Rebel Angels Book 1)
 


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  The pack of vampires jostled and joked their way across Kingston Bridge under the snow-wreathed moon. Except, only the tingling in my shoulder blades that Rebel had taught me to notice told me they weren’t humans.

  Kids.

  They looked like a gang of college kids with a kiss of the Emo, with their arms slung around each other, snogging and balancing along the ledge above the frozen waters.

  They reminded me of Jade.

  Except, Rebel had sworn this gang had been ripping out the throats of humans at the local park. Vampires of the fangs, claws, and blood thirsty variety.

  Not like me. At least, that’s what I told myself.

  I hunkered on the bank of the icy river in the shadows, fidgeting against the cold. Rebel lay sprawled on his back — a real snow angel — his wings wide either side.

  Finally, our prey straggled past: the last in the gang.

  The vampire was tiny. His hair was sprayed in a pink spike, his pretty bowed lips pierced, and his clothes black, ripped, and out punked Rebel. He flicked distracted through an app on his iPhone, as he fell further behind.

  Separated from the herd.

  It takes a fierce warrior to shake their thing at baby vamps.

  He looks like a sweet cherub, but I’ll go with demon child.

  Rebel winked at me, before screwing shut his eyes.

  Slam.

  You could see the moment Tiny Fang tasted the sugary sweetness. His pupils dilated and he swallowed.

  Slam.

  Tiny Fang juddered.

  Slam.

  Gang forgotten, iPhone dropped, and Tiny Fang scrambled down the cold bank towards Rebel.

  Trap set.

  ‘Can you hear me, mate?’ Tiny Fang crouched next to Rebel, and I tensed. ‘What happened?’ He gnawed at his beringed lip, caressing his hand over Rebel’s bent wing. ‘Sodding wankers always hurt—’

  When Rebel surged up, Tiny Fang let out a shocked eep.

  Rebel enveloped the vampire in his mottled wings, like he was comforting Tiny Fang on his knee. Yet at the same time, Rebel slipped a leather ball gag around Tiny Fang’s head, forcing it between his snapping fangs, before padlocking it on.

  ‘I’m sorry, little one,’ Rebel muttered, stroking over Tiny Fang’s shaking shoulders.

  Then Rebel shoved the vampire sacrificial off his knee towards me: the gladiator waiting for him.

  And the vampire was the lion, although one with his jaw wired shut.

  Tiny Fang’s stare at me was confused terror, and back at Rebel sprawled in the snow, outraged betrayal.

  I didn’t blame him, but I had Rebel to impress. This was my first fight, and no false vampire solidarity would risk me showing Rebel what I’d learnt.

  Then Tiny Fang snarled around the ball gag, and his steel nails descended.

  The lion still had his claws.

  Don’t con yourself. This isn’t a fight. It’s an execution.

  The pretty vampire was made for riding, not slaying. Let him go.

  Sometimes, J, bastards are made for both riding and slaying. These beautiful kids are the enemy.

  Humans need saving. I’m training to be strong enough to find my sister. And that means right now I’m a vampire hunter, yeah?

  Executing is what I do.

  Executing isn’t something you do. It’s what you are. Do you want to be the destroyer?

  It’s your choice. It always was.

  I swallowed, circling Tiny Fang, slow and predatory.

  The vampire crouched, his dark eyes assessing. Then he sprang in a slashing whirlwind, faster than I’d even seen Rebel move.

  I hollered, as his claws carved through my shoulder. I bent over, pressing my hand to the gashes that burned and throbbed like I’d been savaged by a big cat.

  The pain ignited my rage. I couldn’t hold it back.

  I hooked Tiny Fang under the chin, and he staggered, breathing hard through his nose.

  When Tiny Fang leapt at me again, a pink-and-black doll in the vast white, I twirled out of reach of his claws and booted him in the back. He sprawled into a snowbank, struggling onto his front through the icy chill — a snow vampire — just as I shot violet fire at his right hand.

  Tiny Fang’s scream was muffled by his gag into a gurgle. Searing flames skipped around his skin like evil fae in the winter night. His claws shrivelled back into his knuckles.

  When I swaggered towards Tiny Fang, he shrank back into the snow, as if I was a wrathful god.

  We stared at each other in silence.

  Then I unleashed the fire on his left hand.

  Tiny Fang howled, arching from side-to-side in agony. His blackened hands were thrown out on either side of him, stark against the white snow.

  Hands and fire.

  Tiny Fang was babbling something desperately through his gag.

  Begging, pleading, praying?

  It didn’t matter.

  Tiny Fang trembled, as I leant over him, balancing my hands on either side of his small head.

  One twist and the bloke’s neck would be… But I hesitated.

  Fury still boiled inside, unsatisfied.

  Too quick, it whispered, too easy.

  I glanced back at Rebel, who watched from his seat on the bank.

  The Custodian deserved a show.

  I grinned, whispering into Tiny Fang’s ear, ‘Run, pretty vampire.’

  Shocked, Tiny Fang stared at me, before struggling to push up from the crumbling snowbank with his blistered hands. Then he stumbled towards the frozen curl of the river.

  I counted to ten, studying my nails, because even a bitch has to give the prey a chance. ‘Coming, ready or not.’

  The angelic righteousness swelled; I laughed. I hadn’t expected the buzz and flood of adrenaline. I was high on it, and the chase had only just begun.

  Tiny Fang skidded on the ice, thudding to his knees. I waited until he’d hauled himself to his feet. Then I threw a blast at the ice directly underneath him.

  Tiny Fang disappeared into the hole in the ice.

  I sauntered onto the slippery river, over to the jagged black hole. Looking down into the freezing river, a pink head surfaced, burnt hands scrabbling to hold onto the side and not be swept away.

  When I crouched down and considered him, Tiny Fang’s eyes were wide and pleading.

  This your choice. Destroyer or saviour.

  How is any of this my choice?

  I smiled, stroking my hand through Tiny Fang’s soaking hair. ‘You’re It, pretty vampire.’

  Then I grasped Tiny Fang by his hair and hauled him out of the river.

  Tiny Fang could’ve skewered me. I would’ve skewered me, despite the pain in my hands. But he didn’t. The wallad even looked grateful. He just lay on the ice, his skin tinged blue by the cold, shivering.

  I shook my head.

  Then he flung himself on his stomach and squirmed away, in the feeblest escape attempt I’d ever seen. Yet it was enough to ignite the vampiric power underneath the angelic, entwining them. I dragged him back by his leg, flipping him onto his back.

  It wouldn’t have mattered at that moment if he’d been human. The vampire was nothing more than my enemy. And I’d caught him.

  Tiny Fang shook and sobbed, whilst I held out his arms crucifixion-style, pinning them with my knees. I trailed a flaming finger down his cheek, watching as it left a blistering trail, before I reached to rip open his t-shirt.

  A sudden burst of wind blasted across my face, before a dark shadow swallowed me.

  Broken out of my violent refuge, I looked up.

  Rebel towered over us, his gaze coldly furious. ‘Kill him.’

  Tiny Fang cast Rebel the same look of gratitude, he’d earlier shown me.

  I crushed Tiny Fang’s throat, and he screamed.

  Crackle — the blaze brightened and then…

  Silence.

  Triumphant, I bounced up. But all joy died, when I caught the disgust on Rebel’s face.

  ‘Had a deadl
y brilliant time tonight then, Feathers?’ Rebel’s tone was tight and hard. ‘Playing your little games?’

  Unsure, I shifted from foot to foot, whilst Rebel dropped to one knee and tenderly closed Tiny Fang’s eyes. ‘He’s a fine red mist. Didn’t you watch? I went for the hands and—’

  ‘I watched all right,’ Rebel gently scattered the herbs over Tiny Fang’s body, like scattering ashes at a funeral, and the vampire burned down to a black stain on the river’s ice. ‘I watched you enjoy the kill. How it amused you. I watched two monsters in the snow.’

  My breath came in short gasps. The cold suddenly chilled through me; I hugged myself.

  No one had ever been proud of me before. The Bitch of Utopia demanded respect, not pride. But somehow, making Rebel proud of me tonight had mattered.

  And I’d failed.

  ‘You wanted me to—’

  ‘Go for the quick kill.’ Rebel stood, wiping his hands down his trousers like he could wipe clean his role in Tiny Fang’s execution. ‘A hunter brings death to save others. We’re not after getting off on it, or we’ll become monsters too.’

  The explosion burst from me, catching Rebel’s shoulder in a shower of sparks and spinning him back along the ice.

  ‘What am I?’ I howled.

  He panted, his expression softening. ‘Different. Like me.’ He straightened: an angel with a bent wing, still awe-inspiring in his punk bondage disguise. ‘You wanted to know why the others were hunting us? It’s because we’re different. The gits would call it imperfect or impure. That’s why we can’t be the same as them. We have to be better.’

  When I nodded, he smiled.

  Yet in the hunt, there’d been both hurt and control. And I’d craved them both.

  Destroyer or saviour. That was the true choice. And now I’d had a taste of death, I knew how tempting the thrill was to become the destroyer.

  12

  Teachers had never picked me to be an angel in the school Christmas nativity plays. That honour had gone to the geek kids with shiny haloes and even shinier parents to make them out of tinsel.

  Yet because no one had wanted me, I’d watched and built up my own fantasy, where angels hadn’t been spoilt brats in dresses prancing through the heavens but powerful, terrifying, and dark.

  And strong enough to save me.

  Every night after my third Christmas in Jerusalem Children’s Home, I’d prayed an angel would come for me.

  That they’d want me as their own.

  Every night no one had answered, apart from J, who’d always lived in my head. Except for when I’d tried to question him about who he truly was, and then he’d pull the silent act on me.

  Once, J had ignored me for a whole week as punishment.

  I’d stumbled around in such a frantic panic that he’d abandoned me, my teachers had even called the children’s home.

  I’d learned my lesson.

  At last, J had told me to stop calling to the angels, so I had. Yet deep down, I never let go of the hope that one would save me from my human life.

  Then Rebel fell from the ceiling, and it was too late.

  I was all grown up, I wasn’t human, and I no longer believed angels would want me as their own.

  Half an angel wouldn’t be good enough, just as I’d never been picked for the nativity plays.

  And now it was Christmas Eve again, I didn’t want to hide any more.

  It was time to face the real world.

  As if enthralled, I tiptoed down the wooden stairs towards the Great Hall, drawn by Rob Dougan’s gritty, bluesy vocals that itched into my soul.

  Slam.

  A surge of coppery sweetness hit me; Rebel was in the Great Hall.

  Then Rebel laughed, followed by Evie’s throaty giggle.

  I gritted my teeth as I peered round at the vast crystal map of London. “Furious Angels” exploded in an anguished, epic burst of drums and orchestral violins.

  Rebel (wings out, grey and violet dappled), hung mistletoe and holly from the beams and around the wolf throws and fox brushes. The cold air was rich with cinnamon.

  Rebel was happy: his content clawed me through our bond.

  Evie clasped her arms around Rebel’s shoulders, swaying to the beat, as Ma and Da lounged on a pile of rose cushions like sultans, sipping egg nog from goblets.

  Rebel’s family.

  I crossed my arms, hugging myself.

  At Christmas in Jerusalem, we had a competition for the most screwed-up Christmas. Real life stories because none of us had to use make believe.

  To the winner?

  The honour of telling the spookiest story to freak out the newbies.

  Jade had loved the tradition.

  I missed Jade. I missed…

  Humanity.

  My chest tightened. I was breathing too fast but couldn’t fight it.

  Hell, was this what Rebel had experienced in the box or Jade in her panic attacks?

  My heart thundered. Sweat dripped from my forehead. Terror shook me like a tiger had me cornered.

  Evie grinned, snaking around Rebel. She snogged him, drawing him into the dance.

  As the song climaxed in a soulful howl, Evie swung Rebel across rose quartz London like they’d conquered the human world.

  ‘See, love is pain, angel mine.’ Evie paused under the mistletoe.

  I fell to my knees, struggling to breathe, as Evie raked her nails through Rebel’s wings, only for his wail to be swallowed in her kiss.

  I’d allowed myself to relax, safe in the routine of my training. But the bitch who’d tried to murder me was snogging — hurting — Rebel. Because she only knew one destructive version of love.

  How had I forgotten, even for a moment, that this was a witches’ lair? I wasn’t a guest to be trained, I was a prisoner.

  Yet I’d craved to let out the forces, which had been trapped inside for twenty-one years. I’d been greedy for a taste of death.

  Rebel had offered it, and I’d devoured it.

  I cringed when I remembered Rebel’s disgust at my display with the pink-haired punk. My hands trembled at the memory of how I’d executed Tiny Fang.

  Yet that was the mirage to keep me from finding my sister.

  My heart slowed. I could breathe again, now the fog had lifted.

  I clutched Jade’s necklace. Whether she was with the angels or not human…it didn’t matter. I’d save her, just like the angels had never saved me.

  For the past week, I’d watched at night, whilst Rebel had crept out through the side-door, and then flitted away through the woods.

  Da had asked whether I trusted Rebel. Yet every morning, I wondered what I’d unleashed on the night.

  I had one final glance at Rebel. He was sprawled in front of Ma and Da now, with his head cradled in Da’s lap. Da’s fingers carded his hair. Ma stroked circles through his feathers.

  Rebel purred, his eyes closed.

  My fists clenched: it didn’t look like the bastard would miss me…

  Then I pushed myself to my feet, slinking up the stairs. I snatched my khaki jacket from my bedroom, before slipping into Evie’s.

  The skank had hidden her iPhone after I’d stolen it, but you’re not the Bitch of Utopia without having skills.

  Where would Evie hide her stash?

  I sneered round at the scarlet, silk, and glitter. Under the bed, bedside table, and wardrobe were all too obvious.

  Then my lip curled. The trophy cabinet. I bet Evie reckoned it was ironic.

  This was one trophy I was winning.

  I slid open the glass, tipping the trophies onto the bed, until a sleek iPhone was revealed.

  I grinned. ‘Trophy Thief of Kingston Upon Thames.’

  When I shoved the mobile into my pocket, my fingers brushed the prickly corners of the wicker angel effigy, which bound me to Rebel.

  I plucked out the effigy, crushing it under my boot.

  Freedom flared brighter than it had in weeks.

  Evie’s casement window opene
d outwards on a hinge; the frozen ground was a long way down.

  Ivy flourished around the leaded window pane. I swung my foot out into the thick tendrils: I wasn’t a princess waiting to be saved.

  For the first time since I’d been dragged into this supernatural world, I set out on a quest.

  Alone.

  Two wide frightened green eyes stared up at me through a frizz of fringe.

  Bang — the apartment’s door caught on its chain.

  ‘Go get your mum, Aylin.’ I smiled.

  ‘Mummy says not to talk to strangers.’

  ‘Then what are you doing opening the door? Learn some basics, before your auntie Feathers goes Hulk that you disrespected her with the label stranger.’

  A gasp. Crash, as the door slammed. Whispers.

  I sighed, leaning against the rough graffiti tagged wall of floor eleven, Tower Block B. The corners were junked with used needles and dirty nappies. The concrete stairwell reeked of urine.

  I was coming home for Christmas. Or the closest thing I had left: Gizem’s home.

  When the battered door swung open, I fought not to force myself into their human world.

  Then I caught sight of Gizem.

  She slouched in a stained white bathrobe, with a towel around her neck; her scar stood out livid down her ashen cheek. Her hair wound like black snake corpses down her shoulders, and her eyes were just as lifeless.

  It was like the sun had died.

  Aylin peeked around her mum, wearing pink pyjamas with fluffy winged angels. She clutched The Night Before Christmas. I snorted; when Gizem had tried to read that story to me as a kid, I’d chucked it at her head.

  ‘Get into bed,’ Gizem ran her hand down Aylin’s hair, never taking her gaze from mine, ‘I’ll be in to read your book soon.’

  ‘And Father Christmas? Will he… If I go to sleep, will he visit tonight?’

  I raised an eyebrow, but Gizem didn’t smile, she just pushed Aylin towards her room. ‘Bed. Now.’

  Then Gizem shoved me deeper into the urine stinking corridor, before closing the door behind her. ‘What are you doing? Showing up at my yard?’

 
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