His vision was so bad that he was just as comfortable
with total blindness. Focusing on his hearing, he sorted through the beats
of the music, isolating the shuffling of feet, the whisper of words, the
sound of another glass hitting the floor. If he ran into something, he
didn't care. Whether it was a chair, a table, a human, he'd just walk
over the damn thing.
He sensed Darius clearly because his was the only body in the place that
wasn't reeking of panic.
Although even the warrior was on edge tonight.
Wrath opened his eyes when he stood in front of the other vampire. Darius
was a blurry shape, his dark coloring and black clothes the only information
Wrath's vision gave him.
"Where'd Tohrment go?" he asked as he caught a whiff of scotch.
"He's taking a breather. Thanks for coming."
Wrath lowered himself into a chair. He stared straight ahead and watched
the crowd gradually swallow up the path he'd made.
The pounding beat of Ludacris faded into old school Cypress Hill.
This was going to be good. Darius was a real straight-shooter who knew
Wrath couldn't stand having his time wasted. If there was silence, something
Darius tipped back his beer then let out a deep breath. "My lord-"
“If you want something from me, don’t lead with that,”
Wrath drawled, sensing a waitress approaching them. He had the impression
of big breasts and a strip of flesh between her tight shirt and her short
“You need a drink?” she asked slowly.
He was tempted to suggest she lay herself on the table and let him go
to work on her carotid.
Human blood wouldn’t keep him alive for long, but it sure as hell
tasted better than watered-down alcohol.
“Not right now,” he said. His tight smile spiked her anxiety
and gave her a shot of lust at the same time. He took her scent into his
Not interested, he thought.
The waitress nodded, but didn’t move away. She kept staring at him,
her short blonde hair a halo in the darkness around her face. Spellbound,
she seemed to have forgotten her own name, much less her job.
And how annoying was that.
Darius shifted impatiently.
“That’s all,” he muttered. “We’re good.”
As she backed up, getting lost in the crowd, Wrath heard Darius clear
his throat. “Thanks for coming.”
“You already said that.”
“Yeah. Right. Ah, you and I go way back.”
“We’ve fought some damn good fights together. Cut down a lot
Wrath nodded. The Black Dagger Brotherhood had been protecting the race
against the Lessening Society for generations. There was Darius. Tohrment.
The four others. The brothers were vastly outnumbered by lessers, de-souled
humans who served a nasty-ass master, the Omega. But Wrath and his warriors
managed to hold their own.
And then some.
Darius cleared his throat. “After all these years-”
“D, you’ve got to cut to the point. Marissa needs to do a
little business tonight.”
“Do you want to use your room at my place again? You know I don’t
let anyone else stay there.” Darius let out an awkward laugh. “No
doubt her brother would prefer you not show up at his house.”
Wrath crossed his arms over his chest, pushing the table out with his
boot to give himself a little more room.
He didn’t give a crap that Marissa’s brother had delicate
sensibilities and was offended by the life Wrath lived. Havers was a snob
and a dilettante who had his head up his ass. He was totally incapable
of understanding the kind of enemies the race had and what it took to
defend the population.
Wrath wasn’t about to play dandy while civilians were getting slaughtered.
He needed to be in the field with his warriors, not taking up space on
some throne. So Havers could shove it.
Although Marissa shouldn’t have to deal with her brother’s
“I just might take you up on that offer.”
“I have a daughter.”
Wrath slowly turned his head. “Since when?”
“Who’s the mother?”
“You don’t know her. And she, ah, she died.”
Darius’s sorrow rose up around him, the acrid smell of old pain
cutting through the stench of human sweat, alcohol, and sex in the club.
“How old is she?” Wrath demanded. He had a feeling where this
might be headed.
Wrath cursed under his breath. “Don’t ask me, Darius. Don’t
ask me to do it.”
“I have to. My lord, your blood is-”
“Call me that again and I’ll close your mouth for you. Permanently.”
“You don’t understand. She’s-”
Wrath started to get up. Darius’s hand grasped his forearm and then
was quickly removed.
“So she might not survive the transition if she goes through it.
Look, if you help her, at least she has a chance of living. Your blood
is so strong, it would increase the likelihood of her making it through
the change as a half-breed. I’m not asking you to take her on as
a shellan. Or to protect her because I can do that. I’m just trying
to... Please. My other sons are dead. She’s all that could be left
of me. And I... her mother is one I loved.”
If it had been anyone else, Wrath would have used his favorite pair of
words, fuck and off. As far as he was concerned, there were only two good
positions for a human. A female on her back. And a male face down and
But Darius was almost a friend. Or would have been one, if Wrath had let
him get close.
As Wrath stood up, he closed his eyes. Hatred washed through him, directed
into the center of his own chest. He despised himself for walking away,
but he just wasn’t the kind of male who could help some poor half-breed
through such a painful and dangerous time. Gentleness, mercy, they were
not in his make up.
“I can’t do it. Not even for you.”
Darius’s agony hit him in a great swell and Wrath actually swayed
under the emotion’s force.
He squeezed the vampire’s shoulder.
“If you really love her, do her a favor. Ask someone else.”
Wrath turned and stalked out of the bar. On his way to the door, he wiped
the memory of himself from every human cerebral cortex in the place. The
strong ones would think they had dreamed him. The weak ones wouldn’t
remember him at all.
Out on the street, he headed for a dark corner behind Screamer’s
so that he could dematerialize. He passed a woman getting felt up by some
guy in the shadows, a bum who’d collapsed in a stupor, a drug dealer
arguing on a cell phone about the going price for crack.
Wrath knew the moment he was followed. And who it was. The sweet smell
of baby powder was a dead giveaway.
He smiled widely, opened his leather jacket, and took out one of his hira
shuriken. The stainless steel throwing star felt comfortable in his palm.
Three ounces of death ready to hit the air waves.
With the weapon in his hand, Wrath didn’t change his stride, even
though he wanted to rush into the shadows. He was spoiling for a fight
after shutting down Darius and the Lessening Society member behind him
had perfect fucking timing.
Killing the soulless human was just what he needed to take the edge off.
As he drew the lesser into the dense darkness, Wrath’s body primed
for the fight, his heart pumping steadily, the muscles in his arms and
thighs twitching in anticipation. His ears picked up the sound of a gun
being cocked and he triangulated the weapon’s aim. It was pointed
at the back of his head.
In a fluid motion, he wheeled around just as the bullet exploded out of
the muzzle. He ducked and threw the star which flashed silver and twirled
in a deadly arc. It caught the lesser right in the neck, splitting his
throat open before continuing on its path into the darkness. The gun dropped
to the ground, clattering across the asphalt.
The lesser grabbed his neck with both hands and fell to his knees.
Wrath walked over and went through its pockets. He took the wallet and
the cell phone he found and put them into his jacket.
And then he withdrew a long, black-bladed knife from his chest holster.
He was disappointed the fight hadn’t lasted longer, but going by
the dark, curly hair and relatively inept attack, this was a new recruit.
With a quick thrust, he pushed the lesser on to its back, flipped the
weapon in the air and caught the handle with a swipe of his palm. The
blade plunged into flesh, cut through bone, reached the black heart.
With a strangled sound, the lesser disintegrated.
Wrath wiped the blade off on his leather pants, slipped it back where
it belonged, and stood up. He looked around. And then dematerialized himself.
© Copyright 2005 by Jessica Bird
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