Dark Side of the Moon (Page 17)

Dark Side of the Moon (Dark-Hunter #10)(17)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Leo nodded.

"Then-" Ravyn’s voice broke off as he felt a sharp stab in his shoulder. The sting of it made his arm start to tingle and burn immediately. "What was that?"

He met Otto’s scowl.

"What?" Leo asked.

Ravyn couldn’t speak. It felt as if his tongue was swollen so large that it wouldn’t move. His head started throbbing. His vision blurred and dimmed.

"He’s hit!" Otto shouted. He handed Susan the keys for his Jaguar before he grabbed Ravyn around the waist and pulled him toward the car. "Get us out of here. Now. Leo, take Ravyn’s car and run."

Susan fished the keys from Ravyn’s pocket and tossed them to Leo.

Leo dashed off to comply.

Susan barely had time to recover before she saw the brigade of five Daimons coming out of the alley to their left. Four men and one woman, they walked with determined strides in a killers’ formation with the sharp Seattle wind billowing out their long coats. Each one wore a pair of dark wraparound sunglasses and held a sharp, stern face that said they were out for blood.

Their blood.

Her heart hammering, she got into the car and turned the key in the ignition at the same time Otto shoved Ravyn into the backseat. Something hard struck the hood.

Startled, she looked up to see a male Daimon standing on the hood, baring fangs at her as he drew a gun out of the folds of his coat to shoot through the windshield.

"Screw you, ass**le," she snarled, putting the car in reverse and cutting the wheel even though Otto still had the car door open. The Daimon went flying as the car slung sideways. She laid her weight on the brakes, causing the car door to slam shut as Otto let out a foul curse from the backseat.

"Buckle up and hang on," she warned him, dropping the gearshift into drive. She stomped the gas and headed for the others, who quickly dove out of her path. "Damn, I missed them."

"Where did you learn to drive like that?" Otto asked.

"I was a reporter, Otto. You ever notice that reporters rank up there with lawyers and politicians in terms of public opinion? There’s a lot of people in the world who’d like to hurt us. As soon as I got my first job out of college, Jimmy made me take self-defense classes in both martial arts and driving. Believe me, I can J- and K-turn with the best of them." She glanced into the rearview mirror to see Ravyn trying to stay awake. "What happened back there? Is he okay?"

Otto pulled a small dart out of Ravyn’s shoulder, then sniffed the tip of it. "Apparently, they tranked him."

"Can they do that?"

He met her gaze in the rearview mirror. "The answer should be no. Dark-Hunters as a rule are impervious to drugs of any kind, but since he’s part animal, it appears he’s a little different, and whatever the drug, it worked on him."

Susan glanced all around the car to make sure they weren’t being followed by the Daimons, then slowed down so as not to draw any attention from the police. The traffic appeared normal, but then what did she know about normal? All her preconceived notions about that had been splintered the instant Ravyn walked into her life.

"Where am I headed?" she asked Otto.

He sighed. "Good question. I only wish I had an answer. I’m sure between the police and the Daimons, they have both Ravyn’s house and your place staked out."

Not to mention, her house was a crime scene. She couldn’t go to the Addams house. Leo’s house was too far… "Where’s your house, Otto?"

"New Orleans."

That was the last place she expected him to answer with. "That’s really not useful."

"Iknow."

"Where are you living here?"

"I was living with the Addamses."

That was even less helpful. Fine. She only knew of one place that was safe for them.

She glanced at the men in the backseat. Otto watched the traffic even more carefully than she was doing while he fidgeted with his armpit under his jacket. "You got some kind of rash there, Otto?"

He frowned. "What?"

"You keep scratching at your arm like that and people are going to think you’ve gone mad or something."

He snorted. "I want to keep my hand close to my gun… just in case."

That should scare the crap out of her, but instead it made her feel a little less tense. She glanced at Ravyn, who was slumped over against the other window. His long black hair obscured his face but she could still see the bruises on his neck from where the collar had almost killed him. If anyone had had a worse day than her, it would be Ravyn. And he had yet to voice a single complaint. That amazed her. He had more strength and courage than anyone she’d ever met before, and it made her wonder how his family could have turned their backs on him.

Maybe it was because she had no family of her own that she understood its value, but one thing was certain; if she ever had someone like him in her life, she’d fight to keep him, no matter what.

"How’s Puss in Boots doing?" she asked Otto.

"Out cold."

Susan let out a tired breath. The day was really starting to get to her and she just wanted a minute to sit down and have five seconds of peace. A moment to catch her breath before something else was thrown at her. Since lunch, her life had been careening madly out of control.

Was this what she had to look forward to as a Squire? If it was, then Leo could shove it. Granted, as a reporter, she loved the thrill of the chase, but this was entirely different. Give her a regular human killer any day over one who could attack without warning and vanish into thin air.

If this was normal, then it went a long way in explaining why Leo was such a rank toad most days at work.

"So is this how you guys live your lives? One major disaster after another?"

Otto gave a short laugh. "No. Not really. It’s usually rather quiet. There’s something here in Seattle specifically that’s behind this uproar."

That made her feel a little better… well not really. She still felt like crap. "Any idea who’s behind it?"

"Apollites," he said dryly. "Big ones, with a few Daimons thrown in for fun."

"Har, har, Otto. I’m serious." Susan gripped the wheel tighter as she remembered the look on Jimmy’s face in the shelter. "My friend Jimmy said to me earlier today that some of the police were working with the vampires. I thought he was nuts, but now I’m not so sure."

"That doesn’t make sense, though. I can understand the Hollywood generation who fall for it, but cops? They have more sense than that."

"Unless someone higher up the food chain is sending them out. Think about it. I saw the list earlier. You guys have people all over the government. Why couldn’t they?"

"For one thing, there’s not as many of them who can walk in daylight."

"Yes, but there are a lot of cops on night shifts. How do you know they’re not Apollites covering up the murders their people are committing?"

"Now that isn’t unheard of. A lot of them do that. But this is more organized than that. They’re not just Apollites and Daimons attacking. They have humans working with them."

"Which plays right into what Jimmy was saying. He told me that this ran high up. There has to be a human leading them."

Otto stroked his chin in thought. "What exactly did Jimmy know?"

Susan took a deep breath as she tried to remember everything. "It started a couple of years ago. He’d have these isolated incidents of college students or runaways who turned up missing. Every now and again, they’d even find a body. The cases would be solved, but he’d never see the reports. At first he didn’t think anything about it. But a few months ago, they started getting more frequent, and that’s when he became suspicious."

"Did you ever investigate it?"

Pain sliced through her. "No. I can’t show my face at City Hall. I’d be laughed outside before I could even begin my research."

She met Otto’s sympathetic glance in the mirror, but he made no comment. "Were the disappearances all in a certain area?"

"Ravenna. In and around the area where the Happy Hunting Ground is."

"That would make sense, wouldn’t it?"

She nodded. "I think Jimmy was right. Someone fairly high up is interfering and helping the Daimons. Someone like the mayor, maybe."

Otto made a noise of disagreement. "He’s too high up. He couldn’t push that many members of the police department around without someone getting suspicious."

"Yeah, not to mention that it started before he took office." Susan chewed her lip as she considered more suspects. "What about the commissioner?"

"That’s more a possibility. Or maybe a detective?"

"No, Jimmy said it went higher than that."

Otto nodded. "He’d be the one to know."

Her heart clenched remembering the fact that Jimmy couldn’t tell her anything now.

Damn, if only she had a clue of some kind…

"There has to be a reason for this. Are you sure they’ve never attempted something like this before?"

"Positive. And in my mind, I can’t imagine what would prompt a cop to help a vampire prey on other humans, especially a high ranking one."

"But it is happening."

Otto nodded. "Whatever’s going on though, I’m thinking Cael needs to be replaced since he’s obviously distracted and not paying attention to what the humans and Daimons are doing. "

She could understand that. "Is it normal for a Dark-Hunter to date an Apollite?"

"No. Hell, no. I’ve never heard of a Dark-Hunter hooking up with an Apollite before. The only time anything close to this has happened was with Wolf, and he wasn’t technically a Dark-Hunter. He was just a human who got caught up in this by a Norse god. Dark-Hunters aren’t supposed to date anyone at all. And marriage is strictly forbidden."

That had to stink. She couldn’t even begin to wrap her mind around that concept. "So they live for eternity, but they’re never allowed to have a significant other of any kind?"

"That’s the deal."

"That sucks."

"Yeah," Otto agreed. "It does, but as Ash would say, when you sign with the devil, you’re bound to get burned. "

"Ash?"

"The Dark-Hunter leader, Acheron."

She remembered reading about him earlier. Although there wasn’t much on him other than he was rather eccentric and hard for a Squire to get ahold of. "How old is he?"

"Eleven thousand plus years."

Her jaw dropped as she imagined a shriveled up old man who looked like Merlin from a King Arthur movie. "That’s a long time to putter about."

"Yeah," Otto said with a light laugh, "it is."

They fell silent as Susan ran all of the information through her mind, but honestly at this point, she was beginning to have information overload.

She slowed as they neared the Serengeti.

Otto cursed as he realized her destination. "You can’t take him in there again, Susan. "

She parked on the curb, near the back door. "You got a better idea?"

She expected him to argue. Instead, he held a hand up to tell her to wait, while he pulled out his phone and pressed a button.

"Hey, where are you?" He looked up at her as he listened. "We’re right behind the club with Ravyn. He’s down for the count. Care to come out here and lend me a hand getting him inside?" He held the phone away from his ear and she heard the commotion from the other end before he pressed it back to his head. "I know, but where else can we take him?" He paused. "Yeah, I’ll see you in a sec."

Susan leaned over the seat. "Was that Kyl?"

"Yes, and for the record, he thinks you’re insane, too."

"Oh, goodie. But I guess that’s only fair since I think he’s psychotic."

Otto’s eyes sparked. "No thinking about it, he is psychotic. Which makes him great in a fight. C’mon, let’s get this over with."

Susan looked around the darkened street before she got out. The back door of the club opened to show Kyl joining them. Susan held open the car door so that he and Otto could get Ravyn out. The two of them had to struggle under the weight of him and they weren’t exactly gentle. In fact, they banged his head on the roof, trying to get him out.

She cringed in sympathy. "That’ll leave a mark I have no intention of explaining."

Otto gave her a harsh glare as he grunted. Leo parked Ravyn’s car near theirs, then went to hold the back door open.

Kyl staggered forward with Ravyn between him and Otto. "What happened to him?"

"We have no idea," Susan said as she shut the car door. "The Daimons hit him with some kind of trank."

Kyl paused for an instant until Otto dragged Ravyn forward. "I didn’t know a Dark-Hunter could go down on a trank."

Otto gave him a dry stare. "Well, we learn something new every day."

Susan stood back as they reached the door to give them enough room to get inside.

They’d barely gotten in the back of the building before their route was blocked off by Ravyn’s father.

"What the hell is this?" he growled angrily.

It was Otto who answered. "Ravyn’s been hurt."

"Then dump him on the street with the rest of the garbage."