Vampire huntress rebel a.., p.22

Vampire Huntress (Rebel Angels Book 1), page 22

 

Vampire Huntress (Rebel Angels Book 1)
 


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  Then Rebel grinned, bouncing up on his toes. ‘Let’s put it down to six of one and half a dozen of the other. I came back, so I did.’

  I looked away. ‘Right now, Ash is risking his wings for Anarchy. Because you wouldn’t.’

  Rebel flushed, hugging his leathers closer around himself. He gave a curt nod and marched to Eclipse. He braced his foot against the wall, heaving the blade free in a sludge flurry of plaster. ‘I made a balls of teaching you to be a vampire hunter,’ he muttered, wiping clean his sword, before sheathing it, ‘you’re the vampire saviour.’

  When I followed Rebel, turning him gently by the shoulders, he steeled himself, as if expecting to be clouted. Love is pain… What else had I ever given him? ‘I sent the Brigadier into that Psycho Hotel, like a soldier into battle. If he’s ganked, it’s on me.’

  Rebel’s smile was soft. He rubbed my shoulder. ‘Let’s rescue these dopes then.’ He strode to the computer, before flopping into the chair. ‘Is this all part of the plan, Feathers?’

  I pushed my earpiece back in and turned to the screen.

  Three naked vampires in a tangle on the silver bed, curves and hardness writhing in the silk, moans, wet kisses, and slaps.

  Stephanie stretched along the bed like a goddess being worshipped, as Anarchy sprawled on his side, directed by her hand at the back of his neck to snog her lips and neck. At each hiss of harder, soldier, Ash screwed her, his wings beating up and down in time with his thrusts.

  ‘Not part of the plan…?’ Rebel ventured.

  ‘Not my plan.’ I snatched the Spike doll, twisting its head fully off, before hurling it across the bedroom.

  Rebel lifted his eyebrow. ‘Toy murder aside, the muppets may not have had a choice.’

  I was going to hurl.

  Suddenly, Stephanie convulsed, clutching the silk sheets. Ash held her down, curling his wings around her, whilst she shrieked. Then her eyes rolled back, and she collapsed.

  ‘Hell, he’s screwed her to death,’ I breathed, staring at the screen.

  ‘Not dead, just blacked out,’ I jumped at Ash’s whisper, ‘and either I heard the angels because being used as a dildo flew me to heaven — note the sarcasm — or your possessive boyfriend reached the end of his leash and came back.’ When Rebel growled, Ash laughed. ‘That’s the sound of your kinky angel.’

  Rebel tilted his head at me, but I shrugged helplessly. ‘No matter how much of a legend you are in bed, Ash, that skank shouldn’t be comatose.’

  Ash hurled Anarchy’s tattered blue jeans at him, before scrambling into his own clothes. ‘It’s a Seducer thing. A secret superpower. She wanted it.’

  I bit my tongue, not expecting the scorching surge of jealousy. ‘Superpowers save people. How does…?’

  ‘It’s how the Brigadier feeds,’ Rebel glanced at me. ‘Take them to heaven and then…hell.’

  Ash’s shoulder’s slumped as he buttoned up his shirt. ‘Not hell. Just a quick nap in heaven, and I… They don’t die, and we don’t feed from the unwilling.’

  ‘We don’t,’ Anarchy slipped his arms around Ash’s neck just for a moment. ‘The Pure are the wankers who take by force.’

  Rebel snorted. ‘See now why I didn’t… Why I can’t Fall?’

  Ash grabbed his coat, and the camera jerked, whilst he pulled it on. Then he slunk around the room, sliding the bugs safely out of sight.

  I licked my dry lips. ‘Just get your arses back here.’

  ‘I can’t, princess,’ Anarchy’s small hands clasped the front of Ash’s army coat, as if he could hold my hand. ‘I’m sorry you wasted your time trying to rescue me. But I’m one of theirs now. They’d burn the world to find me.’

  ‘I’d burn the world to keep you.’ I didn’t know if I was talking about Anarchy or Jade, but I knew I couldn’t lose them both. My fingers trembled, as I caressed the edges of the monitor. ‘If Ash escapes and you don’t, then they’ll punish—’

  ‘It just gives them another excuse.’ Anarchy peered at the camera. His face was pinched. ‘I’m Stephanie’s wankering pet; no one can change that. But I hear everything. How there’s some big project in Hackney. How the Pure are divided between Eden and Stephanie. I’ll be your secret agent. Behind enemy lines.’

  Ash stroked Anarchy’s curls. ‘This isn’t a game, mate.’

  ‘I know, but look what the wankers did to me.’ Anarchy fell to his knees, bowing his wingless back. When he looked back at Ash, his cheeks were streaked with tears. ‘I can’t return to the Fallen. You know what they’d do to me.’

  ‘I’d hide you,’ Ash pleaded, grasping Anarchy’s shoulders.

  Anarchy shook his head. ‘You reckon I’d risk that? Give them a reason to hurt you, even worse than they already do?’

  How did the Fallen hurt Ash? He was a Brigadier with a wealthy arsed apartment.

  Except, maybe there was a reason he didn’t live with the other vampires.

  Maybe he was an outcast too.

  Rebel was watching the exchange thoughtfully. To my surprise, he hooked our pinkies together.

  ‘Please,’ Ash ran his hands down from Anarchy’s shoulders to his arms, ‘don’t do this. We’ll figure something out.’

  The silver sheets stirred, as Stephanie roused from her orgasm blood high. I wished Ash had torn out her throat. ‘Darlings, that was…acceptable,’ she purred, ‘but who gave you permission to dress? A cleansing session will remind you to be good little soldiers.’

  Stephanie slid round on the bed.

  ‘Out,’ I hollered into the earpiece, ‘now.’

  Ash slipped off his coat, before hugging Anarchy. ‘See you, mate.’

  Smash — Ash booted the high window in a shatter of glass.

  Stephanie screeched.

  Then Ash dived out into the black.

  Abandoning Anarchy to the Pure.

  Ash crouched in the stone courtyard behind the apartment, his coat a scarlet pool spilling around him in the snow.

  There was no breeze, only the cutting freeze of the night air. A broken shed leaned against the corner of the courtyard; white shrouded it ghost-like.

  Ash stared up at the starless sky, which was blindfolded by cloud, as if he could fly back to Anarchy.

  Save him.

  If anyone understood what Ash had lost, it was me. Yet Drake had offered me a Judas choice. And I had one more night to make it.

  I could still save my sister: her blood didn’t have to stain my hands bloody.

  Sacrifice Rebel and Ash. Forget the danger to the Utopia Estate from the Pure. Go over to the side of the angels…and I wouldn’t have to suffer this torment in the snow as well.

  Did it make me a monster that if Drake appeared, I’d choose my sister?

  I leaned in the frame of the back door, rubbing my arms against the cold, as I asked, ‘Would you trust Commander Drake?’

  Ash slipped on the slushy snow, his coat a tail around him. Finally, he looked away from the stars. He scrubbed his hand across his face. ‘As much as I’d trust Darth Vader.’

  ‘So, the real question is, who’s the Emperor?’

  Ash’s lips thinned, before he turned his head. ‘Why the need to know about Sexy Snake Drake?’

  I crossed my arms. ‘Is the bastard true to his word?’

  ‘Not the same as trust,’ Ash wiped the tears in his eyes away with his sleeve, like I hadn’t already seen them. After a moment, he nodded. ‘One soldier to another, in matters of war, he’s true to it.’

  What wars, J? These angels and vampires have been fighting for centuries. It’s gang warfare.

  Worse than you can imagine. Bones and feathers, carnage and genocide…

  ‘But outside the battlefield…?’ Ash twisted his hands together. ‘It depends how badly Drake wants something. Or the Emperor does.’ He sprang to his feet, his shoulders straightening. ‘None of us are free, Violet, light or dark.’

  ‘And just how dark is Drake? Is he a human killer?’

  Ash laughed. ‘I’m glad yo
u’re over the vampires being the Big Bads here, but save some of that for the angel boys. Humans are like heroin to angels. They’re addicted, or else they’re the preachers punishing the Addicts and flushing the heroin down the loo. One dead human is just one less Addict to Drake.’

  I paled: Jade and the missing Hackney kids were nothing but heroin to the angels. Humans reduced to a drug.

  Even if I went with Drake to Angel World, how could I trust him not to kill the kids anyway? To him, they were the cause of an addiction.

  When I’d tortured Tiny Fang in the freezing water of the Thames, before blistering fire down his cheek, Rebel had towered over me, insisting we had a duty to kill only to save others.

  Drake? He didn’t sound like that.

  He wasn’t righteous: he was a zealot.

  Rebel had been trained to believe himself a bad angel. But if Rebel was bad, then so was I, Anarchy, and Ash too.

  We were all rebels.

  I didn’t belong in Drake’s screwed-up world. Yet if I didn’t choose him, my sister died.

  Ash was at my side, his hard arms around me, before I even knew I’d let out the sniffle.

  Two flashes of red leapt from the stone wall.

  My Blood Familiars.

  Blaze and Spark wound around my ankles, their bellies close to the ground, whining. Spark fluttered his long eyelashes at me, grinning with his green eyes.

  I grabbed Spark by his whippy tail, swiping Blaze across his upturned muzzle.

  The familiars yipped but didn’t struggle.

  I tilted my chin, struggling to keep my voice low. I remembered the terrifying loss when the familiars had abandoned me in Hackney Cemetery. ‘Reckoned I was your Keeper, foxies? Maybe I should chain you in that kennel, yeah?’

  ‘Nay, please…’ Spark whimpered, his tail quivering in my hand, ‘we’re sorry, sorry, sorry—’

  ‘Told you I wasn’t into the kinky mistress vibe.’ I let go of Spark’s tail, stroking his head, until he nudged into my hand. ‘But you’re the ones who left me.’

  When I glanced at Ash, he’d lounged back against the doorframe, with his hands behind his head.

  Had he heard fox radio…?

  ‘Urban foxes are a menace,’ Ash grinned. ‘I feed the little mischiefs whenever they show up. We all need a home.’ He hunkered down beside Blaze, running his hand through his thick fur. ‘Especially Blood Familiars. Earl Grey and a biscuit for us. And an apple for you, gorgeous?’

  Blaze snapped at Ash’s nose; Ash fell back with a laugh.

  ‘Leave go, you dunderhead,’ Blaze snarled, ‘we belong to our Keeper now.’

  I guess the familiars did also use telepathy on Ash. So, they trusted him then? But I was the one who’d slept in his arms…

  Ash’s expression darkened. ‘You don’t belong to any one.’

  ‘We’ll all belong to the Pure, so we will, if Eden’s Utopia Project works,’ Rebel shoved between us out of the apartment. He hopped from one foot to the other, clutching the earpiece that still buzzed with feed from the bugs Ash had planted in Stephanie’s hotel room.

  I straightened.

  If humans were only heroin to angels, were they only blood to the Pure?

  Rebel ignored Ash, cast a curious glance at the Blood Familiars, and passed me the earpiece.

  ‘…a mistake, darling,’ Stephanie’s steel wrapped in silk drawl from the earpiece, ‘the soldiers think you’re weak. They want to feast—’

  ‘To purify the world, we must look to a new age,’ Eden, and sharper than I’d heard before, ‘and copy the humans’ tricks, until we nest cuckooing amongst them. We’ll drink from my Utopia fountain and purify the Fallen. Then I will be King. After that—’

  ‘The angels.’ Stephanie laughed.

  ‘Poor lost Zachriel,’ Eden sighed dreamily, ‘and my monster.’

  I ripped out the earpiece, shaking.

  Think before you jump into the middle of a war.

  Eden’s on my turf. Utopia. Gizem and her sis…the wingless bastards fed from her. It’s why she wore a towel around her neck: to hide the marks.

  Are you forgetting you’ve been a blood donor to a baby vamp too?

  Yeah, like I could forget the thrill of saving Rebel with my blood. The bondage punk is mine because we both wanted it. But the Pure are taking, not asking. How’d you like to be nothing but a burger in a bar?

  Maybe it’s all any of us are: food to a predator.

  ‘Violet?’ Ash asked gently, ‘are you OK?’

  ‘I’m the Bitch of Utopia.’ Violet surged through me, violent and righteous. ‘No Pure king will take that title.’

  ‘Holy Mary preserve us, we misfits are after saving the world then,’ Rebel quirked his soft lips. ‘Because Utopia is only the test run. London’s the ancient seat, but we angels — and vampires — are like rats.’

  ‘We’re everywhere,’ Ash nodded. ‘If we don’t stop Eden nesting in Utopia, we’ll all end up like Anarchy. And humans around the world will be tasty fast-food snacks.’

  I glanced around at the punk, Seducer, and brother foxes, hovering between the snow of the courtyard and the dark of the apartment.

  My army.

  ‘Then get ready bitches because we’re going to war.’ I hid my trembling hands in the pockets of my jacket.

  If I saved the world, I condemned my sister to die.

  My army against the legions of the Pure consisted of two ancient enemies, who hated each other, and a pair of Blood Familiars who’d abandoned me.

  Standing there, our gazes met: we’d battle together.

  But we also knew that we’d all die.

  25

  Sometimes kisses are a revelation.

  But sometimes, in the wartime heat of goodbyes before the fiery fury of battle, they’re also a mistake.

  Especially if they taste of sugar and blood.

  Rebel had overheard Eden on the earpiece ordering a limo to drive him out to Tower Block B on the Utopia Estate.

  Gizem’s block.

  Stephanie and Anarchy were to stay behind in charge of business at the hotel.

  We’d known then where to take the fight to Eden. How to save Utopia.

  Yet tonight was also the deadline for Drake’s ultimatum: Return to Angel World or Drake would kill Jade.

  I hunkered with Rebel in the dank graffiti sprayed stairwell in my old tower block, across from the one now controlled by the Pure; Eden’s new gang made Bisi’s look like kids playing at gangster.

  Toben’s soldiers had once done their deals in this concrete stairwell, when it’d been splice, rather than blood, which was the food on the Estate.

  I banged the heel of my boot against the wall, glowering at the floor. The tang of urine mingling with the spicy bursts of old dinners was reassuringly familiar.

  And human.

  Blaze and Spark were red shadows patrolling the block, whilst Ash took command of the tech side with his gadgets.

  Yet I had to wrap my arms around my middle, not to yank Commander Drake through my mind and onto the floor at my feet.

  Not to betray the world for my sister.

  Betray Rebel.

  Lips, gentle on my forehead.

  I glanced up, as Rebel kissed me.

  Then Rebel rested his cheek against mine. ‘I promised to protect you. And I will.’

  ‘Did you miss the part where I’m now top boy?’ I gripped his chin. ‘I’m the bitch with the flames.’

  ‘Don’t,’ he whispered. His gaze was searching, and I squirmed. ‘I’ll kneel for you, but only if I fight by your side. Or do you want to rule like Eden?’

  My cheeks pinked. I shook my head.

  ‘Have you forgotten what I’ve lost? What the git did to my family?’

  I wished I could forget. But his family’s true love — sacrifice — I got that now.

  ‘Ash’s lost someone too.’ I traced my finger across Rebel’s lower lip to silence his protest. ‘I had to watch — twice — whilst Anarchy was sacrificed to thos
e fanatics. Angels hate vampires: cheers for the newsflash. But now we have to unite against the Big Bad. And that’s Eden.’

  ‘Inspired for battle, so I am,’ Rebel smirked. ‘This could be Agincourt.’

  I laughed, smacking his nose. Then, without realising I meant to, I snogged him.

  His lips tasted of sugar and blood. His tongue twined gently with mine, until I thrust deeper.

  When he pulled back, his cheeks flushed, he opened and closed his mouth, unable to know what to say, before he tilted his head and asked, ‘Does this mean you’ve taken me off your List of Asses to Kick?’

  ‘Could be.’ I licked along his lips, until they parted.

  Then I clutched him by the shoulders and snogged him again.

  ‘007 at your service…’ Ash slunk into the stairwell, balancing an Apple laptop and bundle of tech on the ledge, before noticing the kiss.

  Then Ash roared, marching towards us into battle. He hauled Rebel up and away from me by his collar.

  My lips kissed air.

  Mistake, mashing your sweet lips with pretty in punk when you’re trying to hold together a peace accord with his love rival.

  I didn’t blow the bastard; I only kissed him.

  A kiss is life. Powerful. Love. I’m sorry you don’t understand that yet...

  Ash smashed Rebel back against the opposite wall. I winced at the crunch. ‘I was giving you the benefit, mate, but now you’ll tell her.’

  I pushed myself up. ‘Tell me what?’ I asked flatly.

  ‘Dry up, vampire,’ Rebel spat, struggling, ‘and get your filthy hands off me.’

  Ash stiffened, weakness shanked. He lowered his head. Then he yanked off Rebel’s leathers, so fast Rebel yelped. He pulled out Rebel’s bent wing. ‘This is the last night before he Falls,’ his voice was clipped, ‘we vampires can sense each other when we’re close.’

  ‘Lay off, git, I’d die before I turned into a dirty thing, like you.’

  Snap — Ash cracked Rebel’s bent wing at the violet tip.

  Rebel wailed, clawing at Ash.

  Ash plucked handfuls of grey feathers, tearing them from Rebel’s broken wing.

  At last, I shook myself awake from the shock, diving to Ash. I hooked my arm around his throat, pulling him back. He choked but didn’t struggle. I chucked him to the opposite side of the stairwell.

 
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