Vampire huntress rebel a.., p.8

Vampire Huntress (Rebel Angels Book 1), page 8

 

Vampire Huntress (Rebel Angels Book 1)
 



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  When Evie glanced between us, I was surprised by the wetness trickling down her cheeks. She nodded, but before she could reach my cuffs, she was stopped by Da.

  ‘Train?’ Da’s lip curled, before he raised the brush even higher, stroking it from base to tip, one — two — three — times. Rebel paled. Da bit his lip savagely, trailing the white fur through the crimson, as if the fox had only just been torn bloody. ‘Vulpes Vulpes.’ The crystals hummed, a dangerous, furious whine. Da barked again, ‘Vulpes Vulpes.’

  The walls shook; the fox brushes hanging as trophies thumped a beat.

  Rebel clasped my hand, dragging me back towards the door, without once looking away from his scarlet mouthed Da.

  ‘I knew I hated spell lobbers,’ I muttered, clinging to Rebel.

  Then in the centre of the crystal London, a tail appeared.

  A fox’s brush. Bushy and black-fringed.

  Then heavy flanks and a huge rusty-red body, larger than any regular fox. But then regular foxes didn’t materialise body part by body part like a screwed-up version of the Cheshire Cat. Black paws, legs, and finally a narrow head with pointed black ears and…

  Dangerous but intelligent amber eyes, studying me.

  I froze. The fox’s unblinking scrutiny called to the dark under my skin.

  ‘Send them back,’ Rebel pleaded. ‘We don’t need Spark and Blaze.’

  That’s when the second fox materialised at the large fox’s shoulder.

  Except, this fox appeared all in a rush, like it was late. Bright red, with a brilliant white throat, chest and white-tipped tail, it was as pretty as its brother. It ducked its head and whined, nuzzling the first fox.

  Then it too turned its green gaze towards me.

  ‘You wished to train,’ Da nodded at the foxes. Their tails lifted. ‘Now train.’

  When the foxes stalked towards us, we backed away.

  The witches had set new demons on us. Creatures they were using to hurt — train — us.

  Just like I’d used and hurt Rebel.

  The foxes prowled closer, baring their sharp thin teeth.

  8

  When Rebel reached for my hand, my first instinct was to pull back.

  The foxes watched us with their sharp eyes as they prowled either side of the hissing map towards us.

  The walls in the shadowy Great Hall trembled; the curtains swayed in a wild dance. I grabbed Rebel’s fingers between mine, unnerved. The handcuffs clinked, cold against my skin.

  What the hell did it matter if I’d used Rebel or he was an Addict? Fam was fam, these demons were free, and our arses were being hunted.

  ‘Bolt!’ Rebel hauled me after him through the hallway.

  There was the skitter of claws on the oak floors behind us. A primal fear spiked my adrenaline.

  Rebel booted open the rough side-door, and we scrambled through to the stone terrace.

  Rusty-red on one side, bright red on the other.

  The foxes circled hungrily.

  We dodged through the stone pieces of the giant red and green chess set, as the foxes slunk close to the ground on either side, into the thickets of thorny rose bushes, stripped bare in winter, before weaving in and out between the stems.

  I pricked myself on a thorn, and watched the blood bead; well, I’d wanted to be Sleeping Beauty.

  I frowned. ‘So, which of these bastards is Spark?’

  ‘The one with green eyes and white tail,’ Rebel spun round, his wings beating, as Spark danced towards him, before retreating. The little wallad was playing us. ‘The big fellah with amber eyes and black paws? That’s Blaze. They’re brothers. Christ…’

  Blaze had jumped from the bushes and sunk his canines into Rebel’s ankle.

  I swirled with fury that the fox had tasted my angel. Taken blood that should only be mine.

  Yet Rebel’s blood was his own; I’d never enslave him. I wasn’t like Bisi.

  Was I?

  When Spark tried the same trick on me, I booted him in the head. He rolled onto his back and wriggled, whining.

  ‘Lay off,’ Rebel panted, trying to prise Blaze off his ankle, ‘don’t hurt the idiots.’

  ‘You’re joking?’ I met Blaze’s serious stare with a snarl, and he let go of Rebel’s leg.

  Blaze lashed his tail back and forth and bounded over to his brother. He nudged Spark with a nip that made Spark yelp, and together they skulked deeper into the gardens.

  Rebel had snapped my boyfriend’s neck like it was a game at a funfair but he drew the line at kicking a magic fox?

  Rebel took one limping step towards the mansion.

  A furious guttural chattering howl. Dark shapes flittered fast across the path.

  ‘They’re after hounding us. It’s a fox hunt in reverse.’ Rebel’s mouth became a tight line. ‘Sometimes you can’t face the worst. You have to hide.’ He drew me towards a maze of high privet hedges; foxes were pruned into the topiary like plant gargoyles. I pulled back, but he shook his head. ‘No other way, Feathers.’

  ‘Not until you tell me why we’re hiding from a pair of juiced foxes.’

  ‘They’re Blood Familiars.’ Rebel fiddled with the skull on his bondage trousers. ‘Da owns them. Please, they’ve been ordered to hurt us.’

  Rebel knew because he’d suffered this training before.

  That was all it took to kick my arse into dashing after him down the gravel paths of the maze. Every twist and turn was as familiar as the routine in the study for Rebel.

  I trusted Rebel because otherwise I was lost.

  Howls.

  As we darted to the centre of the maze, they echoed around us. I remembered the slice of those teeth biting into Rebel’s ankle, noticing the blood trail he left behind like breadcrumbs for the foxes.

  The howls were closer. The familiars’ hot panted breath on my boots. Flashes of red.

  The centre of the maze arose up ahead like the holy land.

  Rebel hobbled towards the fountain, which was a carved marble rose, blossoming open and as if being born from it, a fox and a wolf. The fountain wasn’t running because it’d been frozen to ice.

  I snorted. This was the big prize that would save us?

  Rebel clambered over the lip of the fountain, before skidding across the thick ice to the statue of the fox.

  I stared at him blankly. ‘For real?’

  He slipped, bumping to his arse. ‘They don’t cross ice. Muppets can swim though; I found that out the hard way.’

  I slapped my hand against my thigh. ‘Then step-up and work the bastards.’

  Amber and green beamed out of the dark. The two brothers stalked into the centre of the maze.

  Towards us.

  ‘Spark and Blaze don’t have a choice. They’re under my family’s power.’ Rebel was clutching hard to the fountain; his breath came in dragon puffs. He looked troubled and distant as he murmured, ‘And I refuse to hurt slaves.’

  ‘Even if they’re about to hurt me?’

  The Blood Familiars slunk closer in ever decreasing circles. They held their brushes — one black and one white — proudly aloft, chattering. Never once did they look away from me.

  ‘Princess,’ Rebel hissed, flapping his wings in agonised indecision, ‘please will you stir yourself?’

  Blaze rested back on his haunches next to Spark, and I sensed it. The moment he’d signalled to his brother for the attack.

  Yet as they leapt through the air towards me, I didn’t hesitate. I wrenched off my sunglasses, and then held out my handcuffed hands.

  The familiars didn’t stop.

  Then I was being knocked backwards, the air driven from my lungs. I hit my head on the gravel path.

  Rebel’s cries, shrieking whines, and soft heavy creatures trampling me.

  I shoved at the handfuls of dense silky fur, until I could sit up. The two foxes crouched, with their ears pressed to their skulls, whining and doing everything but batting their eyelashes at me in submission.

  It’d been a ris
k, taken on nothing but the urging of the shadows under my skin. A certainty the familiars would recognise its power.

  Spark nudged his head cautiously into my hand.

  ‘What did you do?’ Rebel murmured, ‘I’ve never seen them like this.’

  I grinned. ‘I tamed them. Now I’m top boy.’ I stroked Blaze’s back. ‘They’re mine.’

  When I slipped on my sunglasses, I was still high: I welcomed the surge of strength. This was flying, no longer prisoner to the dark but mistress of it.

  Until Rebel’s cautious hand on my shoulder. ‘You’re taking slaves?’

  I surveyed the fox brothers cowering at my feet. Then ran my hand lightly over their heads, tickling behind Spark’s ears. He glanced up at me, through laughing green eyes. ‘No, bro, I’m freeing them.’

  I marched back towards the house, with the foxes trotting at my heels.

  When I burst into the Great Hall, with the Blood Familiars winding around me like my guard dogs, the Deadmans startled. Then they gawped at me, as if I was the one with the magic.

  ‘Training’s over,’ I held out my handcuffed wrists, ‘time to free me.’

  Da glanced at Ma, for once uncertain. Then he abandoned the rose quartz crystals he’d been examining and prowled towards me, the grisly brush, stained with his own blood, still at his neck. He scowled at the familiars. ‘I see you have mastered my children. Very clever.’

  I tilted my head. ‘You have daddy issues. And your kids are going Hackney style.’

  Da snatched my hands, roughly pulling them forward, before a snarl from the familiars stilled him.

  ‘Zach, go and wait for me for me in the study.’ Da’s intent gaze never left mine, as he withdrew a key from his waistcoat pocket, and the handcuffs clattered to the floorboards. ‘You seem to have forgotten important lessons.’ I saw the struggle, but Rebel still nodded, before disappearing out into the hallway. ‘You may dominate my children, but not my angel.’

  The Blood Familiars’ tails lashed.

  ‘I freed your familiars. And I will free Rebel. Just like I’ll get free. And when I do, you’ll be the one in the dark.’

  Da stepped back, as if I’d bitten him.

  Yeah, I was flying.

  The short coal-black sword flamed in the bleak underground cellar, like the eclipse of a violet sun.

  Rebel trembled as he held the sword, his wings vibrating.

  I lounged against the wall, next to a cobwebbed wire rack of pricey bottles of wine, Spark and Blaze smart at my heels. I smirked, when the Deadmans dropped to their knees in worship.

  Was it possible to worship a prisoner?

  When the witches had opened the iron trapdoor, shoving us down the stone steps into the musty pitch-black cellar, I’d been dreading the shooter to the head or wand action into gargoyle.

  Instead?

  Da had spun the lock on a fire-proof safe that hung on the wall, before reverentially drawing out a sword.

  Rebel had stared at him in confusion. ‘My Eclipse? But you said—’

  ‘You’ve earned your sword back.’ Da had lifted out a light leather harness that was threaded with gold and a scabbard, which he’d thrown to Rebel. ‘You deserve to wear it again.’

  ‘Thank you,’ Rebel had murmured, shucking his leathers and buckling the harness and scabbard between his folded wings. ‘Does this mean I’m not grounded?’

  Da had glanced at me and then the Blood Familiars, who’d bared a flash of sharp canine. ‘It means, boy, someone convinced me to free you. I do not believe you can be trusted. You ran once. Abandoning others is what you do, is it not? But we shall see. Do you prefer prisoner, or hunter?’

  Something in me had thrilled at hunter. And between hunter or prisoner? I’d train any way Rebel wanted to become even a half-arsed angel without wings, if I’d also be a huntress.

  A flash of hot thrumming excitement had shot through me.

  I’d needed Rebel. And part of me…?

  Wanted him.

  Da had finally passed Rebel the sword, although he’d hesitated at the last moment, and his hands had met Rebel’s. They’d both tugged on the hilt, before at last Da had let go.

  ‘This is your choice,’ Da had stared at me, swiping his forehead with his russet handkerchief. ‘Are we safe now?’

  Then Rebel had raised the sword, his thumb caressing the sparkling crescent moon hilt. He’d been lost in it; I’d recognised the surge of power, the same as mine, curling through him. He’d shuddered as he’d whispered, ‘Eclipse’.

  Then the sword had blazed to life, Rebel’s wings had burst wide, and the witches had prostrated themselves at his feet.

  What had I just freed? And could I trust Rebel?

  I shrank back against the damp wall, away from the zoned angel; the pretty punk was flying.

  When the flame cooled, Rebel swung to me. His pupils were dilated and his skin feverish. ‘See, princess, I’m more than an Addict. I’m Zachriel — the Rebel — and this is Eclipse,’ he slashed the sword in an overexcited cross through the air. ‘I’ve made a hash of things but I’m free now and—’

  ‘Blitzed. You’re broken, so how about you put the sword down?’

  ‘If I were mad, I would! I’m a hunter. I’m on the hunt.’

  ‘You’re tripping.’ I stepped towards him.

  Rebel didn’t even hesitate. He raised Eclipse to my throat.

  9

  Slash, stab, slice… A shank could carve your skin in a thousand ways. I was intimate with every single one but I’d never heard skin sizzle on the tip of a blade…smelt it sear…until it was my own.

  And it was Rebel’s sword pressed to my throat.

  Bad angel. Rebel had warned me. Why hadn’t I wanted to believe?

  Shocked, I held my breath, resting my hands on the silky heads of the two foxes who’d leapt up in the shadows of the cellar. The Blood Familiars squirmed but didn’t attack.

  ‘Rebel,’ I entreated softly.

  Rebel’s gaze was glazed, but there was a flash of recognition and pain. Then he twirled and drifted up the stone steps.

  Lost, confused, and blitzed.

  He was going to get himself hurt. Thrown in gaol. Or dead.

  I curled to the concrete floor, wrapping my arms around the familiars.

  Spark whined, nudging me. His green eyes, which were rimmed with thick black lashes, were thoughtful, as he rested his chin on my shoulder. His brother arched his back, on guard.

  ‘Still believe you can trust him?’ Da asked, shoving himself to his feet. He dusted off his suit with efficient flicks. ‘Actions have consequences, little girl.’

  Evie burst up, like a rose sprung to violent life. Ma grasped her waist, holding her back.

  ‘Interlopers who hurt angels,’ Evie spat, her fingers clawed around the petals at her throat, ‘must face their own worst terrors. My wicked love has left you alone, who shall save you now?’

  Ma smiled, deadly as a panther, loosening her hold on Evie.

  I stiffened, pressing back against the wall.

  Rebel had held me in the safety of his wings all night. We’d plotted how to both free and control my powers. But now he’d left me here with his family who wanted me dead.

  Evie was right: Rebel had abandoned me. Like every other bastard man.

  Da frowned, but his shoulders were stooped. ‘Go to your room. Now.’

  I jumped at his urgency, glimpsing the savage fire in Ma and Evie’s eyes, as they prowled towards me.

  I bolted.

  There was no use pretending. I was still as much a prisoner as when I’d worn handcuffs.

  Yet I was the wallad who’d freed Rebel. He wasn’t tame at my heel like the foxes. He was wild and free.

  And he’d left me because of a sword called Eclipse and the call of the hunt.

  When I heard the creak on the stairs and hurried whispers in the galley outside my doorway that night, I slipped out from under the wolf throw and crept to my bedroom door.

  Rebel’s paine
d groan and stumbled step.

  I hesitated with my fingers clutched around the doorknob, shaking with the effort not to throw it open and…

  The question was whether I’d boot Rebel in the balls for burning and then abandoning me, or snog him for coming back, before chaining him to the bed, so he couldn’t leave me again.

  I rested my forehead against the cold oak door, before slipping down onto my knees.

  I frowned at the shock of Rebel’s emotions; his fear and shame spun a web around me, which I ripped down as fast it touched my skin.

  Why the hell had Rebel kidnapped me and forced me to…feel?

  I slipped out into the hallway, shuffling along in my bare feet to peer around the crack of Da and Ma’s bedroom, as if I was spying on a boyfriend’s parents.

  Rebel was stretched bound across the bed. His wrists and ankles were strapped in hard leather cuffs, even if he lay on gold silk sheets. The air was thick with the scent of cinnamon, candles cast cavorting shadows, and the room was a sunburst of sensual velvets and damask.

  Rebel had been stripped naked, except for his spiked collar, whilst Da and Ma in their dressing gowns crawled over him like he was a sacrifice.

  When Rebel’s eyes screwed shut in pain, I clenched my fists.

  Slashes.

  There were scarlet gashes across Rebel’s chest, as if he’d been repeatedly knifed.

  The memory shot through me of a blade at my neck, and then slicing Gizem’s cheek.

  Who — what — had Rebel been hunting?

  I’d been scorched by his sword. Yet someone — or something — had managed to knife him, like a bear’s claws raking his guts.

  Had the other angels done this? The ones he hid from?

  Rebel moaned, as Ma swabbed at the blood tearing from the wounds with balled cotton wool. Then as she kissed him, hard and possessive.

  I stiffened.

  Da circled one of Rebel’s nipples into a peak, before bending his head to the other and lapping. Rebel squirmed in his bonds but couldn’t move away.

  I realised the Deadmans had stopped Rebel escaping, exactly as I’d imagined doing. But now I saw it…?

 

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