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Authors: Dicey Grenor

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But as I reached
the door, I caught a backhand from her huge, clawed hand that sent me back in
the direction I’d just left.

Shaking my head of
the daze, I screamed again, “PUUUNCH! Get your bitch!”

He appeared in
front of me, his back to me, hands out at his side in that familiar
non-threatening approach. He was trying to calm her down. Help her see reason.

Fuck that. Kill
the bitch.

He wasn’t going to
do that, but thankfully, he wouldn’t let her kill me either.

Once he saw logic
wasn’t working, and she was rearing her head back to send another burst my way,
he quickly grabbed me from the floor and leaped across the room out of the
fiery path. Then he dropped to all fours, jerking, popping, expanding…and
expanding some more until his clothes ripped and his long, black locks turned
in to fur and spread over his whole gigantic body. His face elongated. His
ears, hands, and feet too until a huge charcoal black wolf occupied the space
where Punch used to be.

Just in time to
pounce on Fire before she had a chance to light her torch again.

The large black
werewolf was magnificent as it sprang up and forward, landing in such a way
that sent them both rolling along the floor, slamming into the dresser.

Good thing the
room was larger than my average motel room—another point for staying at Franco’s
sanctuary. With only a bed, a nightstand, and one large dresser with a mirror,
they had room to fight, though not much.

And good thing
Punch was huge. He just may have a shot at handling her.

Except they ended
with him on his back and Fire foaming at the mouth so bad, it ran from her
fierce, snarling mouth to his face. He screamed with each drop, and each drop
dissolved his skin. Apparently, her dragon saliva boiled like water and burned
like acid.

His claws were
wrapped around her
neck,
hers around his and neither
looked like they were going to budge. If either used their teeth, the other
would be fatally wounded. So that wasn’t the plan. The beasts were just making
a show for dominance. They’d be dead-locked indefinitely if it wasn’t for her
acid drips.

Maybe I should
have
ran
when I had the chance instead of inciting
her, but I couldn’t let Punch go out like that. Especially since he was
defending me against the woman he loved after saving me several times already. “Get
off him you red bitch!” I screamed as I jumped on her back and started pounding
my fists into her skull.

She let out
another horrible war cry but I didn’t let go. I’d pound a hole in her ugly head
before I let her up and give her a chance to blow fire towards me again.

Pound, pound,
pound…

Suddenly, I was
air-born again. Only this time I didn’t smash into anything. I remained
mid-air, levitating the way Max had done earlier. But I didn’t have that power.
What the…

Then Fire was
air-born. Next, Punch.

All the snarling
and howling and screaming stopped. Time stood still.

A shirtless
Franco, covered in tattoos, emerged from the doorway looking pissed.
So pissed that he cursed in Spanish for a while before reprimanding
us in English.
“You goddamn, children! How dare you fight in
my
house.
You are all guests here.” There was more Spanish
cursing accompanied with hand gestures then more calmly he said, “Do NOT
do
that again.
Ever.
How many times
must I say ‘we are all
supernaturals
and must stick
together’.
Huh? Whoever cannot live—or in your case, Willow,
un-live—by that motto can get the fuck out of Hades right
now.
There’s the door.” He pointed to it for effect.

We all looked like
unhappily scolded children, none making a move to leave.

Tension began to
ease from the room and I began floating back down to the floor. How the hell
did he do that?

“Fire, I told
Punch to care for her. Blame me.” She looked down at the floor, though I couldn’t
tell if it was in shame or out of respect for Franco. He walked to her and
patted her head. “Do not be jealous, my child. Her heart belongs to her
maistre
and whatever affections she’s capable of is
bestowed on a human. And Punch only loves you, though his body responds as a
man’s.”

Not sure I would
have been able to calm down by now if I had seen
Remi
or Aaron
laid
up with another woman, but hey—whatever
worked. Blood transfusions were intimate, but at least Punch and I had not had
sex. And we were definitely not in love.

As Franco
comforted her, smoke blew from Fire’s tennis ball-sized nostrils. Not able to
stand the sight of her any longer, I looked closer at Franco’s tattoos instead.
I’d never seen him without clothes, never knew how plentiful they were. They
extended from his lower neck to all the way down to the base of his wrist where
a shirt would cover him. My guess was they went even lower in to his slacks
covering the lower half of his body.

The patterns were
intricately designed with angles and colors and shapes, so much detail they
looked like everything and nothing simultaneously. The more I looked, the more
the patterns seemed to re-shape, re-form.
Spelling out words,
drawing pictures, showing faces.
Oozing energy.
How odd…

I leaned closer as
a familiar set of eyes began forming. Sapphires so intense, so disarming, I
reached out and ran my thumb across Franco’s skin where they appeared to beckon
to me.

He jerked, dropped
Fire and stood. “Never touch my tattoos,” he said icily.

But I’d already
gotten a jolt of energy along with an image from his skin where it whispered to
me. I’d already read the drawings, felt their essences…discovered his source of
power.

Franco was not
covered in merely ink. Each pattern told a story, held a history…a life. The
sapphire eyes had belonged to Ivan as the rest of Franco’s tattoos belonged to
other claimed souls.

My mouth gaped. “So
that’s where…”

“Yes. That’s where
I keep my souls,” he said.

 
 
 
 

Chapter 32

 

It had been one
hell of an evening. Extraordinary events had transpired while just getting on
the internet seemed like mission impossible. Would have to do that later since
I had already spent
waaaay
too much time in the
middle of Punch and Fire’s drama.

Or causing them
drama, depending on how you looked at it.

But never mind
them. According to the clock, too much time had already passed.

Leaving Franco to
mediate insecurities and relational issues between Fire and Punch, I showered
and dressed in a hurry. Other matters needed tending now that it was dark.

And I was feeling
great! Punch’s energy soared through me like electricity. Whistling and humming
were uncharacteristic of me, but here I was doing both along to the thumping
beat as I walked through Hades to the back exit, out into the night air.

Ah, yes. It was
good to be undead.

Once I picked up
the medallion from
Saybree
, I’d mosey myself back
over to Aaron’s, maybe make a deal with
Remi
so Aaron
and I could pick up where we had left off. Yeah. Give him a shot at an orgasm
of a lifetime. And since his place didn’t have fire-breathing jealous
girlfriends on the loose, maybe I could give
Remi’s
proposal some consideration. We could at least talk about…

WHACK!

Never even saw it
coming. All I knew was a huge, heavy object had slammed into the back of my
head and I now had a mouthful of dirt and was hovering close to
unconsciousness.
    
Had Monroe and his
Get Fresh crew come back for me?

Was it the same
person or persons who had killed Ivan?

I hadn’t seen or
smelled anyone. And since Punch and Franco were down in the basement, I was on
my own.

I tried to get up.
Somebody’s
gonna
pay for
th

WHACK! WHACK!

Okay. Nothing I
could do about that. I saw a two-by-four drop to the ground next to my head,
then
it was lights out.

When I first
awakened, I realized I was hanging upside down by chains binding my legs. My
arms were bound too, behind my back and judging by how bad my skin was burning,
the chains were silver.

Next, I realized I
had the migraine from hell and someone was standing close by. And oh, yeah—I
was naked.

Well, that made
sense. As twisted as it was, I understood how obsessed some patrons could be.
Evidently, this one wanted a little hanky-panky on the side. My performances
weren’t gratifying enough.
Fine.
Hopefully, if I did
everything asked, I would be set free soon.

“You know, I don’t
have to be upside down to fuck you,” I said, my head throbbing with each word.

No answer.

“I know you’re
there,” I said, opening my eyes to look around. Bright light made my migraine
worse so I squeezed them shut again, but not before I saw the black boots and
denim legs.

Still
no answer.

“Please let me
down. The fuck will be better if I’m comfortable. I’ll lie real still until you’re
done.”

No movement. No
sound. Just the steady beat of his heart—at least I thought it was a “he”.
Boots were too big for a woman.

“You’ve got a nice
rack, Sleepy Willow,” he drawled.

Definitely
a “he”.
And I thought I knew that voice. “So are you
gonna
let me down so you can suck on them?”

“I don’t think so.”

Yep. I’d heard the
voice before. “Look, Mister. I don’t know what you’re in to but I specialize in
necrophilia. If you want some
dom
/sub stuff, you
should have taken Bloody
Valentina
.”

“You always call
me Mister,” he chuckled. “My name’s Dario.”

Dario? Dario. I
didn’t know a Dario. I called
him
Mister?

“Well, Dario, if
you want some pussy, can we go ahead and get it over with? I have some errands
to run before morning.”

He laughed
heartily like I was Jerry Seinfeld doing standup. “Willow, I’m not interested
in your pussy. Sorry to disappoint you.”

Wait a minute—that
voice belonged to someone I’d called Mister. Someone who wasn’t interested in
fucking and had hit me over the head and dragged me back to this…

“You attacked me
in the club, didn’t
you!
” I said, angry as hell.

And
frightened.

“Bingo. I knew you’d
figure it out. Being a bloodsucker must make you smarter too.”

I blinked rapidly.
So the silver chains weren’t by accident.
 

How did I keep
finding myself in deep shit?

“You’re an agent?”
I asked
,
surprised VET would have sent another agent
after Monroe had been working so steadfastly.

“Nope.
Try again.”

Left only one
other type of person
dumb
enough to chase vampires.
“Bounty hunter.”
Which meant he could be
bought.
“Let me down and I’ll pay you whatever VET is offering.”

“I’m not
interested in money either.” He had walked closer to me, his heart beating
louder, but not faster. He was cool as a cucumber.

Meticulous.
Deadly.

“What do you want
from me, Dario?” The sinking feeling in my stomach told me
Saybree
had been right about this guy.
You will see your attacker again. He will not
stop until he captures you because his motivation goes beyond the bounty on
your head,
she’d said.

“Revenge,” he said
quietly. “I want you to suffer the way you made my wife and
child
suffer
and then I’m going to drain you and kill you just like you did
them.”

What???

At least now I
knew why I was upside down.
Easier to drain my body from the
heaviest end first.
Easier to clean up too.

So far he had been
calm, but I needed to see his face to gauge his emotions, to see whether he was
rational enough to comprehend what I was about to say. “Listen to me, Dario. I
have
never
killed anyone.”

“LIAR!” he yelled,
slicing a blade across my body.

I yelled too. He
was definitely NOT rational.

“You bloodsuckers
are all the same. That’s what you do—kill, destroy lives. Never thinking of
consequences because you’re soulless animals,” he said.

My thigh, groin,
stomach, and underneath my breast all stung from the invasion and my blood ran
down to the floor. He had cut deep, but I was full of Punch’s blood, his power.
I could already feel the wounds healing twice as fast as they normally did. At
this rate, I’d be completely healed in less than a minute.

Hope he didn’t
notice since he was bent on making me suffer.

He sighed. “You’re
healing much faster than I expected. You must have just fed from someone. I’ll
have to go slower to make it last longer.”

He’d done his
homework and was astute on vampire biology. Not good.

He put a picture
on the floor underneath my head of a smiling blonde woman holding a child
look-alike. “This is the family you took from me,” he sobbed.

Though familiar
with Stockholm
Syndrome
, I felt no empathy.
Nevertheless, I realized he was probably too overcome with pain, anguish, and
loss to listen to me. I still had to try sounding genuine. “I’m sorry they’re
dead, but I have never seen them before.” The last part was true.

BOOK: 1 Dicey Grenor
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