Taste of Torment Page 34

“Then let’s get to the nearest balcony.” Hunkering low, we stayed close to the wall. Bullets shattered the glass of the ground floor windows as we swiftly made our way to the staircase and dashed to the first floor at vampire momentum. I led the way as we barged into one of the bedrooms and made a beeline for the balcony. I released two small energy balls; one destroyed the glass doors that led to the balcony, and the other energy ball smashed the balcony doors of the neighbouring Residence Hall.

Aware that our pursuers would be in the building by now, we didn’t even slightly hesitate as we leaped to the balcony opposite us and rolled to the side to take cover behind the wall. “Wait here,” said Jared. “Let them follow.”

Seconds later, two armed vampires landed on the balcony and darted into the bedroom. The poor bastards didn’t even see it coming; before they sensed we were there, Jared attacked the first one with a high-voltage electricity bolt, and I buried a thermal energy beam in the chest of the second pursuer. Two more came, but I popped up my shield while Jared took them out.

Satisfied that no more were coming, Jared teleported us out of the building. We appeared beside Chico behind what was left of the restaurant.

He jerked in surprise at our sudden arrival and put a hand to his chest. “You scared twenty years off my life.”

“That would be hard to do, considering you’re immortal,” snickered Harvey before returning his attention to the battle ahead, using his gift to keep as many of the attackers at bay as he could. I noticed that although the squad, Ava, Cristiano, and Jude had created one long line, the squad had stayed close to those I liked to pair them up with…although, two were missing. I tensed. “Where are Damien and Reuben?”

“Inside the building,” replied Stuart.

“Why are they inside?”

“Well, because half of Damien’s skull has been bashed in and, though he’s okay – albeit dazed – he won’t be healing any time soon. And Reuben’s in some kind of catatonic state.”

Shit. Paige would have been a great help right now, but I doubted I’d get her away from Langley unless the boys were actually dying. I couldn’t really blame her for being so focused on getting to him. I had every intention of hunting down Dana and Eloise soon, and I certainly intended to ensure that Covington died tonight. If we were going down, he was coming with us.

A great number of Covington’s vampires were attempting to reach the restaurant, coming at us from all directions. Some repeatedly took cover behind rubble while others were just boldly charging at the crumbling building. “Why are they so determined to get in here?” I asked, throwing energy balls and beams.

It was Denny who answered. “They know we’re protecting people here.” A sly smile curved his mouth. “Or, at least, they think we are. Harvey suggested that we make it look like we’re protecting people by guarding the building; that way it would not only mean that the vampires made themselves clear targets by coming at us, but it would also draw them away from the bunker underneath the Command Centre, which seems to be the only one that wasn’t infiltrated. There are a lot of people hiding in there. Fletcher, Norm, and Lucy are among them.”

That truly was an excellent idea from Harvey. But…“Are they totally alone?”

“No. Two from the legion have stayed in the bunker with them, just in case someone” He cut himself off as a large web suddenly shot toward us and engulfed Max. Oh, f**k. But before the Keja had the chance to use the web to drag Max to him, Jude was at his side with that knife of hers and slicing through it. Free, Max coughed as he jumped to his feet.

Before any of us could act, another web came and this time enveloped Stuart. But the Keja responsible had picked the wrong vampire, because Stuart simply exploded into particles and easily escaped. Before the vampire had the chance to create another web, Jared took him out.

The sight of someone shifting shape caught my attention. I watched as a Pagori changed into a buffalo. A buffalo? That was a new one. Realising that the buffalo was charging at an unsuspecting Chico, I screamed, “Chico, six o’ clock!” Knowing better than to hesitate, he turned and exhaled a mouthful of thorns. The second they met their target, the buffalo burst into ashes. Well thank f**k for that.

Three vampires charged at Ava and Cristiano, who had together just fought off five. They had always worked well as a team. A ripple of psychic energy travelled through the air toward their attackers – a ripple that I knew was coming from Salem’s psychic punch. It destroyed the vampires instantly.

Hearing a pain-filled growl, I pivoted to see Denny battling off a Pagori that was slicing at him with…claws? David cursed and then narrowed his eyes at the Pagori – a sure sign that he was using his gift. Just like that, the dick was dead. Denny jumped to his feet, thanking David, but then he staggered and blinked hard. The slices on his face and arms didn’t appear to be healing well. Poisonous claws. Hopefully the poison wouldn’t be powerful enough to do anything other than put him asleep for a while. If the poison seemed to be fatal, I’d have to get Paige’s help.

“I’ll put him inside the building with Damien and Reuben,” said Butch as he began dragging Denny away.

Clearly taking advantage of the fact that David didn’t have Butch’s shield protecting him, a vampire with a sickeningly elongated, lizard-like tongue came at David. I cracked my whip at the Pagori, locked it around his waist and smashed his body into the ground so hard that plenty of bones cracked. His glowing amber eyes locked onto me and he snarled. Jared projected a bolt of lightning at him, reducing him to ashes.

I went to thank Jared, but then I was knocked to the ground by Harvey as elasticated limbs shot out to grab me. In a blink, I remoulded my whip into an energy ball and threw it at my attacker. Apparently, however, I’d missed my target because those limbs reached for me again. But before they could touch me, a cry of pain rang in the air and the limbs became nothing but ashes. I suspected Jared had been my saviour, but I wasn’t sure.

I’d just bounced to my feet when something came hurtling through the air…a huge fireball. Everybody ducked, but it hit the building. I released a flow of water out of my palms that quickly killed the flames. But then came another fireball, and another, and another, and another, and no amount of water was fighting the large flames that were now engulfing the building. The vampires were obviously trying to smoke people out, unaware that the only ones inside were the three injured squad members.

I grabbed Jared’s arm. “Teleport Damien, Reuben, and Denny out of there, take them to the bunker under the Command Centre. We don’t have enough manpower to protect them and fight.” It was true. We were outnumbered, and we were fighting a losing battle, but not a bloody chance would I give up.

Jared hesitated, running a hand through his hair. “Sam…”

I understood his anxiety. The last time he’d put other people before me, he’d come back to find me bitten by a tainted vampire. “This is different. I have ten people with me. Damien, Reuben, and Denny will die if you don’t move them, and I can’t afford to leave the fight this time.”

Nodding, he gave me a hard kiss. Pulling back, he rushed into the building with me at his side. I helped a weak Denny and a clearly in pain Damien to their feet while Jared slung Reuben over his shoulder. Once Denny and Damien held tight to Jared, all four of them disappeared. Only then was I satisfied enough to leave the building – not happy to find that instead of seeking cover again, the squad had charged into the battle, trying to penetrate the large protective circle of vampires that undoubtedly shielded Covington. While Chico, Salem, Max, and Stuart worked on attacking the circle, Harvey, David, and Butch defended them – just like in training – along with Jude, Ava, and Cristiano.

Hearing a crazy laugh behind me, I realised that the restaurant was being swarmed by vampires who were clearly waiting for the people they believed were inside to finally leave. Forming a large, boiling hot fireball – the likes of which I’d never been able to create before becoming a hybrid – I launched it at the building. It instantly exploded, and so did the vampires surrounding it. Ha.

My dark amusement died a swift death when there was a loud battle cry. Twirling, I gaped as what seemed like hundreds of vampires practically stampeded onto the battlefield through the now broken security gates. Oh f**k. I was about to attack them, but then I made out Quentin and some of his vampires. There was also Antonio’s Sire, Wes, and many from his line. In addition, there were the High Masters and their vampires…And they were all helping us destroy Covington’s vampires. Relief, gratefulness, and satisfaction flooded me. I realised just then that I’d truly expected to die tonight; had expected most of us to die. Now I had hope that

I jolted and cried out as white-hot pain pierced my chest. Shocked, I looked down to see a long, metal pole protruding out of my body. It had to be wreckage from the destruction around us, my stunned mind pointlessly deduced. Slowly turning, I found Eloise smirking smugly at me as she toyed with her mane. Oh, the mad bitch had stabbed me.

She winced in mock sympathy. “Ooh, that looks like it hurts.”

It didn’t hurt, it burned and throbbed and caused the most agonising pain to pound through my chest, making the rest of my body feel cold. I wanted to fall to my knees and cry out. It was sheer anger alone that kept me standing. Her smug smile only served to increase my anger. She thought she’d get away with that? She thought that she was oh so clever and had ended me? Ha. All she’d done was save me the trouble of hunting her down. The pole had narrowly missed my heart, thank God. I doubted that even a fast-healing hybrid could have come back from that.

Most likely sensing the agony blasting through me, Jared appeared in front of me. He gaped, reaching out to grab the pole. But then, as if afraid that he’d only worsen the pain, he quickly dropped his hands. At Eloise’s laugh, he snarled at her. “You f**king bitch!”

“I’m so glad that you could be here for this, Jared.” Eloise tsked at me. “Just because my gift to hide my scent” – well that explained why she’d thought I wouldn’t sense that she had paid my apartment a little visit – “is defensive doesn’t mean that I’m defenceless, Sam. I did tell you that you would die tonight.”

“And I told you,” I began, slowly pulling the pole out of my chest, “that I’d kill you.” With the pole finally out of my body, my skin instantly knitted together. Eloise blanched. “And I will.”

Chapter Seventeen

(Sam)

How could I not relish the utter shock on Eloise’s face just then? I slung the huge pole aside. “Go help the squad, Jared. This bitch is mine.”

Jared sighed at Eloise, shaking his head sadly. “You really should have known better.” He then smiled at me. I could sense his amusement. “Have fun, baby.”

Oh I bloody would. This waste of skin and fangs had had this coming since the evening she arrived. Jared kissed my temple, and then he was gone…and I was so, so happy because I could finally do what I’d been fantasising about doing for weeks. “Just think. If you had a better aim, someone would be laying a bunch of roses over my ashes right about now.” Using the energy clinging to me, I conjured my energy whip and lashed it tauntingly at Eloise.

She jerked back, gulping. “You’re going to attack someone who’s unarmed?”

“Yep.”

Her eyes bulged. “But that’s not fair!”

“Fair? You want to talk about fair?” I lashed the whip at her legs, slicing the skin. “It wasn’t fair when you tried to kill me – particularly since you slyly attacked me from behind. It wasn’t fair when you spent weeks trying to make my life hell. It wasn’t fair when you repeatedly flirted with Jared, my mate. And it really, really, really wasn’t fair when you betrayed the entire Hollow and almost caused the death of everyone in it.”

I slashed the whip along her chest, making her cry out. “Look at the destruction around you, Eloise. If you hadn’t betrayed us by telling Covington where the tunnels were, he couldn’t have invaded the place like this. And all these people wouldn’t be dead. So am I going to kill you? Yes. Yes, I am. And I’m going to enjoy it.” I lashed the whip again, curling it around her body and pinning her arms to her sides. That usual smug glint was absent now. “You weren’t fair to us, so tell me why I should be fair to you?”

To my total shock and horror, the whip suddenly split – yes, split – and Eloise dropped to the ground. When the portion of the whip that was wrapped around her body faded away, she quickly scrambled to her feet. That was when I saw Dana in my peripheral vision coming towards us, holding a large energy axe. I was betting that she had been aiming for me, not the whip.

“Impressive,” said Dana. That squeaky voice was annoying as shit. “The whip, I mean. I’ve never been able to conjure one of those. This is more my thing anyway.” She waved the axe around. Smug once more, Eloise laughed in delight, though the sound was shaky.

“Two against one?” How typical of them to take advantage of the fact that I was on my own. “Fine, if that’s how you want it. Novo.” A red Dexter hissed as he left his tattoo form, and was now curled around my leg. Eloise and Dana stiffened. “I figure this evens out the playing field a little.” I gently coaxed him to the ground. He stayed there with most of his body raised from the floor, ready to strike. He hissed at Eloise, making her gulp. Oh she knew just how badly he wanted to take a bite out of her. He’d had her in his sights for a while.

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