Authors: Kathi S. Barton
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
World Castle Publishing, LLC
Copyright © Kathi S. Barton 2015
Hardback ISBN: 9781629892733
Print ISBN: 9781629892740
eBook ISBN: 9781629892757
First Edition World Castle Publishing, LLC June 12, 2015
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews.
Cover: Karen Fuller
Editor: Eric Johnston
Editor: Maxine Bringenberg
Table of Contents
His arms ached and his body was spent. Davis wasn’t sure, but he thought perhaps he might have liked a nap before getting out of bed today. Laughing to himself, he leaned back against the wall where he had cornered several of the malefactors to kill them and closed his eyes. Sliding down the wall to the ground seemed as natural to him as breathing did. He kept his sword in his hand just in the event one of the malefactors decided he needed to be killed again.
There were only the three of them out trying to save the world…him, Skylar, and Remy. But there were—and he knew this to be fact rather than an exaggeration—millions of the malefactors. Just today Jarvis had told them that at the rate they, the malefactors, were going, they would achieve world domination in about seven months. Not good.
Something hit him in the forehead as he lay there. He didn’t care at this point if the entire building fell on him so long as he got a moment’s rest. But when a second thing hit him, he opened his eyes to see the woman across from him picking up something else to hit him with.
As soon as she stood up and looked his way, she stood as still as a deer in headlights. Fear might have been in her eyes, but he could see that she was more determined than anything. He wondered what she was doing out this late.
“You aren’t dead.” Davis shook his head and watched her as she dropped the handful of stones she’d gathered. “What are these?”
Davis looked around. There were perhaps fifty headless malefactors around him. If the woman could see them, then she was either a shifter or she had a bit of magic in herself. Davis looked back at her before answering.
“We call them malefactors. They’re trying to take over the world. You can see them?” She nodded. “Would you like to tell me why you were abusing my poor old body?”
“I thought you were dead.” She pointed to his left where his sword was still curled within his hand. “I would have come closer to check, but that thing scared me a bit. It’s pretty sharp looking.”
“It is.” He watched her, not sure what to think of her until she turned to leave. “Wait. Where are you going? And for that matter, you should be home, not out on the streets this late.”
He knew the moment it came out of his mouth that he’d pissed her off. She went from concerned citizen to pissed-off woman in six seconds flat. And Christ, it was a beautiful sight to behold.
“I’m not a street walker, you imbecile. Did it ever occur to you that I might be getting off work just now? And that it does not include me lying on my back with a dick in one of my orifices?” He opened his mouth to tell her he was sorry when she cut him off. “If you say to me that you are sorry for what you said, I will come over there and remove your head with your own sword. A person cannot assume something like that and think a simple sorry will suffice.”
Davis stood up. It was one thing to be reprimanded by a woman, but to be down on his ass while she did it was something altogether different. As soon as he stood up, she backed up until she was pressed against the wall across from him. He didn’t feel good about scaring her, but it did make him feel good that she wasn’t stupid enough to think he was harmless.
“I’m not going to hurt you.” She nodded but didn’t move. “I just wanted to apologize to you for my stupidity and to stand while doing so.”
“Stay over there.” He nodded and stood still. She was afraid of him. And for some reason that saddened Davis. “I’m going to leave you now that I know you’re all right. And if you follow me, I’ll call the police. Not that I think they’d have any better luck with you than these things did, but you never know. Maybe they’ll shoot first.”
“You want me dead?” He took a step toward her then, thinking only to show her that he was harmless. But she shied away from him by turning into the wall. “I told you I’d never hurt you. And I’m a man of my word.”
The malefactor came around the corner closest to her before she answered him. Not that he’d really asked her a question, but he wanted her not to be afraid of him. As he pulled his sword free of the dirty ally, he moved toward her.
The thing was going to touch her, and Davis knew that if it did she’d be hurt. Their touch nowadays would harm almost as badly as their bite. Several thousand people had died just from that alone, and it was making his job more and more difficult the stronger these things seemed to get. When he lifted the sword up to remove the monster’s head, the woman dropped to the ground. He had no idea if she thought he was going to hurt her or if she’d seen the malefactor. As soon as his sword touched the monster, she screamed.
The fucking thing had touched her.
After killing the malefactor, Davis bent to pick up the woman, who was still screaming. The pain, he knew, was unbearable. But when he was injured it healed quickly, and he had been stung by their venom so many times he was pretty sure he was immune to it.
As he made his way to the car, he held her tightly against him. She fought the pain, he knew, but she got him a couple of times in the mouth. Blood poured from the wound and all he wanted to do was help her. As he put her in the car, Skylar came around the building.
“I’ll take her.” He snatched her back. The woman was his. Skylar took a step back as well and stared at him. The feeling of…possessiveness was more than the murderous rage he’d felt when killing malefactors. “Davis?”
“I don’t know what’s going on, but the thought of you touching her is making me want to hurt you. Please just stay back.” Skylar nodded. “I have to help her. I know that she’s going to be sick, might even die, but I have to help her.”
“Okay.” Skylar moved in his direction again, this time much slower with her hands behind her back. When she spread out her wings, an impressive sight every time he saw it, she smiled at him. “I can take her back to the house much quicker than you can. And Remy can take you. That way she’ll get treatment much faster.”
“I don’t know.” Remy came up beside him, and Davis growled again. Instead of saying anything, Remy moved to Skylar. “What the fuck is wrong with me? I have never wanted to hurt either of you before.”
“I don’t know.” Skylar moved again, this time taking the woman from him. Just as he reached for her again to take her back, Skylar took to the skies. He looked at Remy, who had been quiet up until now.
“You want me to take you or drive you in the car?” Davis looked at the dark spot in the sky. “Either way is fine with me, but you know that she’s already going to be cared for either way.”
“Fly, but no funny stuff. I’ve had a shitty night so far, and you doing those loop-de-loops isn’t what I want right now.” Remy put his hands around him and held him to his chest. Davis wasn’t a homophobe or anything, but the big body pressed to his back was a little disconcerting. But before he could say anything, he was in the air.
Flying with this couple was amazing. They could go up so fast that it made him slightly dizzy, but as soon as they would level out, taking to the route they were going, things settled quickly. The view was outstanding, and the wind rushing over his body was…well, it could make a man forget all his woes for a bit.
He could see the malefactors better from here, of course. They moved in and out of buildings and cars like it was their business. He supposed in a way that it was. It had been four weeks since they’d had the encounter with Benton, and things had gotten much worse than they were before. Not just the number of them, but also how they killed.
“We’re not even maintaining them, are we?” Remy said that they weren’t. “I don’t know how much more we can do by ourselves. We’re not even making a dent in them.”
“Not to mention they are doubling their efforts to get into the compound.” He could see that now. They were just over their home and there were hundreds of the malefactors pushing their way around the boundaries. One adventurous group was building a scaffold to get in, and Davis was a little afraid that it might work. “It won’t work either. As soon as they get over the land, they’ll be killed. It’s like we have a bubble around us.”
Davis was glad for that. He needed his place to unwind, and if he had to think about the monsters getting in, he had no idea what he’d do. He was getting very little sleep now. But the work they were doing, it just seemed to be getting them nowhere.
As soon as his feet touched the ground, he took off for the house. The clinic was on the lower levels, so he took the stairs three at a time. Skylar met him at the bottom of the stairs. He might have thought she was going to tell him the woman hadn’t made it, but he could hear her screams.
“What do you know about her?” Davis started to go around her, but she sidestepped him. “It’s important that you tell me, Davis. She’s in bad shape.”
“Nothing. She threw a rock at me when she thought I was dead.” That sounded horrible, so he rephrased it. “I was resting, and she could see the malefactors that I’d killed. She was curious as to whether or not I was dead and didn’t want to come close to me with the sword so readily out.”
“She saw them then?” He nodded. “Weston thinks she’s not human. I haven’t a clue what she is, but I also say she’s not human for sure. But you know him. Weston is as tight lipped as you are about things.”
“Yes. He has to check and double check things five times.” He looked over her shoulder again. “Can I see her now? I need to see her, Skylar, and short of me tossing you across the room to get to her, I’d very much like for you to get out of my way.”
Her laughter made him smile, and she moved. As he entered the room where they were all working on her, he nearly stepped out again. They had her arm, where the malefactor had touched her, open all the way from elbow to wrist, trying to stop the poison.
They’d learned that splitting open the flesh, a horrid and painful thing in and of itself, would drain the poison off more quickly. Remy and Skylar were completely immune to the way it affected everyone else, but then they were invincible so far as he could tell.
Davis walked to the gurney and put his hand on her head. He had no idea why he thought it would calm her, but as soon as his fingers touched her, she lay back and quieted down. Davis looked down into the most gorgeous blue eyes he’d ever seen when she looked right at him.
“You’re going to be just fine.” Her gaze was glazed in pain, but she nodded at him. “Just let them work on you and when they’re sure that the poison won’t reach your heart, they’ll let you go, okay?”
“It hurts.” He nodded at her. “My mom. I have to tell her that I’m going to be late. She’ll worry so much.”
“I’ll tell her. What’s her name and address?” But she started screaming again, and he looked down at her arm. The blue blister that appeared there was nothing he’d ever seen before, and when she suddenly went quiet, he knew she was dead. Davis felt as if someone had taken his heart right out of his chest and stomped it.
Skylar sat near the bed and watched the woman. They knew nothing about her other than she’d been in a bad place at a bad time. And that for some reason, Davis would not leave her, unless Skylar or one of the other women were with her. He’d just gone up a few minutes ago to get something to eat and to shower. Skylar leaned forward and put her hand on the woman’s chest.
The memories flooded her, not all of them good either. Most of them, as a matter of fact, were horrific, and she wondered why the girl was still alive. The man in her life, whoever he was, was not going to live long if Davis found out about him. Which would be soon if Skylar had anything to say about it.
He hit her nearly daily. And an older woman was in her memories as well. She wondered if that was her mother, but had no way of knowing. The memories were so painful that they were all she could find in the hurt woman’s mind. The man had to go was all that she could think of.
Skylar wasn’t even sure how he was related to the young woman, but the bastard was a major factor in their lives. Sorting through the memories and thoughts, Skylar found a little bit about the woman.
She was a registered nurse, and she worked at County General. When Skylar focused on her name badge, she could see that her name was Vicki Carver. Making a mental note about the name and workplace, she dug just a little deeper.
The man’s name was Randall, and he was her half-brother. Not what she had expected, but very little these days made her pause. The woman, however, was only his stepmother, Margarita, but mother to Vicki. As she went deeper still, she was happy to see that the man had gotten his comeuppance more often than not recently. But not long ago he had knocked Margarita down a flight of stairs and hurt her badly.
“Skylar?” She looked at Davis as she stayed in the girl’s mind to keep searching. “Is she going to be all right here? Do I need to go and get her mom?”
Skylar nodded before speaking. “Her mom is in a wheelchair. I can’t tell yet if it’s permanent, but I doubt it. And she’s very independent. There’s a man, this woman’s half-brother, who is abusive to them both. I’m not sure where he is now. But she’s not really afraid of him.” Davis sat down as she continued. “You should know that she has no idea that she’s not human. I’m not sure what she is, but I have a feeling that whatever it is, she got it from her father, who she has only a passing knowledge of that I can find.”
“I’ll see to her mom as soon as she wakes up. It might be better if she goes with me, don’t you think?” Skylar nodded and leaned back in the chair, taking her hand from the woman. Davis looked at the woman as he continued. “You think she’s not going to like me? I want you to know that I’ve thought this over, and I think she might be something more than just a woman I have rescued.”