Night Play (Page 25)

Night Play (Dark-Hunter #6)(25)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Forget Hollywood, they had nothing on Vane’s speed and agility.

As Vane untied her hands, she could hear the wolf fighting and snarling. Bride threw her arms around his shoulders the instant she was free and held him close while the women tried to reach them, only to recoil off what appeared to be an invisible wall of some sort.

"Fury," Vane called.

The wolf came running to their side. The man chasing him also rebounded off the wall.

Fury materialized into a nak*d man and laughed evilly at their pursuers.

Bride was completely stunned by the appearance of Vane’s nak*d brother who, she had to admit, had a great body.

Oh, good grief, was no one what they appeared?

Vane snapped his fingers, and clothes appeared on Fury. Dare cursed at them. "I thought you said you killed Fury, Mother."

Fury raked Dare with a sneer of repugnance. "Oh, she tried her best, little brother. But animals are remarkable survivors." He looked at Bryani. "Aren’t we, Mother?"

Dare started for Fury, only to find himself slung backward by nothing. In fact, every man who tried to reach Bride, Fury, or Vane found himself thrown to the ground.

"What is this?" Dare snarled, striking the invisible wall with his sword.

Fury laughed again. "This is your worst nightmare, adelfos. Meet the eldest of our litter." He gestured toward Vane. "Vane’s powers make a mockery of everyone’s here, even Grandfather’s." He glanced at Bryani. "You were right, Mom. The blending of Arcadian and Katagaria blood did produce a sorcerer of unparalleled power. It just wasn’t me. Sorry."

Vane’s heart pounded as he listened and understood. Fury really was his brother. But that wasn’t important to him at the moment, only Bride’s safety was.

One of the Arcadian men came at Vane’s back. He spun about and blasted him away from them. "You’re lucky I’m not the animal you think I am," he growled at the Arcadians. "But if you ever come near my mate again, I will be."

Dare laughed cruelly. "Fine, take your woman. The full moon isn’t for another three weeks and that gives us plenty of time to hunt you down and kill you.

You have to sleep sometime. Then you’ll be ours."

Fury shook his head. "You didn’t hear a word I said about Vane, did you? It’s such a pity I wasn’t the one born with his power. I’d have killed all of you if I were. But I guess he’s a better man than I am."

Vane smiled coldly at his "human" brother. Dare looked much like Fang when Fang was human. It was a pity that their parents’ hatred of each other had come to this. That it had bred and poisoned a whole new generation.

But then, Vane had never thought to coexist with his Arcadian kin. They had thrown him out and written him off centuries ago.

Vane smiled evilly at Dare. "Unlike you, little brother, I don’t need no stinking moon to time-jump."

And in one blink, Vane, Bride, and Fury were back in New Orleans, safely inside Kyrian’s house.

"I think I need a Tylenol jug," Bride said as she staggered away from Vane and sat down on the nearest couch. "And a lot of vodka to wash it down."

Kyrian, Amanda, and Tabitha came running into the room.

"That was quick," Tabitha said. "Damn, Vane, you don’t mess around, do you?"

Vane ignored Tabitha’s question as he knelt in front of Bride. "Are you okay?"

"I don’t know," she answered honestly as she stared at him in numbed hysteria.

"My boyfriend is a dog, his mother’s psychotic, and I just nearly missed being the main attraction in some low-budget  p**n  flick, complete with bad costuming and food. I mean, what is this? ‘Welcome to the family, you now get to sleep with all my brothers, and I do mean all my brothers, cousins, friends, hell, everyone’? You know, most in-laws just bring over a casserole, not a four-hundred-year-old vendetta."

It was so good to be able to rant, but a part of her was still terrified.

Nothing felt secure to her now. Nothing.

"Am I safe, Vane? Or is someone else going to poof into the living room and grab me and take me who knows where? I don’t want to see Barney the real dinosaur with the nak*d cavemen chasing him! I don’t want to see anything except my normal life here in New Orleans."

Vane cupped her face in his hands. On some level, his touch comforted her. "You’re safe, Bride. I’m not going to let anyone else grab you. I swear it."

"And I can believe that, why?"

"Because I give you my word."

"Well, that just settles it all, huh?" Bride shook her head. "After this, I can’t wait to meet your father. I’ll bet he’s just a barrel full of laughs." She stared at Vane as the horror of the last few hours washed through her. "Any other freaky family traditions I need to know about? Bones hidden in the backyard? Crazy aunts? Fleas?"

She looked over at Fury. "I don’t have to sleep with him now, do I?"

Tabitha arched both her brows at that. "What kind of place did she go to?

Sounds like it could be fun."

"Wanna go?" Fury asked. "I can take you there."

"Fury," Vane snapped. "You have enough to answer for already. Don’t mess with the humans."

"Or Tabitha, either," Kyrian said.

Amanda elbowed him in the stomach.

"What?" Kyrian asked innocently.

Vane sat back on his heels and looked at Kyrian and Amanda over his shoulder. "I’ve got a shield on the house that should keep them out. Notice I said should. I have no idea what else the demon is capable of, especially if Amanda invites him into the house again."

"Nothing."

Bride looked up at the sound of a new deeply masculine voice. Now this was without a doubt the last person she expected to see here.

Though why she was surprised, she couldn’t imagine. At the rate things were happening, for all she knew the woman who rang up her groceries at the supermarket might very well be a were-snake or zombie.

Why not?

"Ash?" Bride asked, recognizing the extremely tall, and incredibly sexy, addition to the room.

At six feet eight, decked out in black leather and possessing an aura that could only be defined as pure sexual attraction, Ash Parthenopaeus was a hard man to miss.

"You know Acheron?" Vane asked her.

"Yeah, he comes into the shop every few months with a cute, albeit odd girlfriend who practically buys the whole place out." Bride looked back at Ash.

"You’re one of these weirdos, too, huh?"

"Guilty," Ash said, offering her a charming smile.

"Great," Bride breathed. "Anyone else I need to know about?"

The room’s occupants looked around sheepishly.

Vane stood up and faced Ash. "What do you know about Alastor?"

"That he’s leashed. Your mother bargained with him to kidnap the mates of you, Fury, and Fang. It’s a oneway ticket. He took Bride to your mother and there’s nothing she can do to negotiate with him anymore."

"Are you sure about that?"

Ash folded his arms over his chest. "I can put my personal guarantee on it."

"Then he’ll be back whenever Fang mates?" Fury asked.

"Yes," Ash said. "And to answer your next question, yes again. He’ll come for your mate, too."

Fury cursed.

"Sorry," Ash said. "But look on the bright side; your mother puts the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional."

"You’re not amusing, Ash," Vane said. "I thought you were going to protect Bride for me."

"I had intended to, but didn’t have time. Even I can’t be in two places at once."

"Pity," Vane said. "If you knew about Alastor, couldn’t you have told me about it before this?"

"You haven’t exactly been talking to me these last few months, Vane.

Besides, it’s not wise to interfere with the order of fate."

"I hate it when you start that fate crap. This is me, Acheron, not one of your friggin’ Dark-Hunters. I know what you are and I know what you can do.

Damn you for playing with us."

Fire snapped in Acheron’s eyes. "I’m not playing with you, wolf, and you better pray I never do."

By the look on Vane’s face, Bride could tell he wanted to strike out at Ash, but knew better than to try.

"What else do you know that you’re not telling me?" Vane asked him.

"Tons of stuff. The ultimate fate of the world. The next president. If the Saints will win this weekend. Hell, I even know the lottery numbers for tonight."

"Really?" Tabitha asked, perking up. "Want to share? Come on, Ash, I need the Powerball numbers. Please. Please, please share! I’ll even let Simi eat all the popcorn if you tell me."

Ash snorted, then turned toward Kyrian, Amanda, and Tabitha. "I think Vane needs some time alone with his brother and mate to talk."

Tabitha whined. "Ash, give me those numbers!"

He looked at Tabitha drolly. "Six."

Tabitha held up her hands and motioned to him for more. "And?"

"There’s definitely a six somewhere in the winning numbers."

"Oh, you suck, big time," Tabitha said, pouting for a second before she shrugged it off good-naturedly. "Well, now that we know Ash really is cruel and Vane isn’t a serial killer, I guess I better get back to my store." She paused by Ash’s side. "We still on for the movie Friday night?"

Ash nodded. "I’ll be there, same as always."

"Cool, see you then." Tabitha made a quick exit.

Kyrian stared at him with his mouth agape. "You’re dating Tabitha?"

Ash gave him a crooked grin. "No, but I find her highly entertaining. She screams the most fascinating things at the movie screen and eats more popcorn than Simi. I have to say, Tabby is definitely one of my favorite people."

"You’re a sick man, Ash," Kyrian said as he headed for the back of the house.

"I think you’re wonderful," Amanda said before she reached up and pulled his head down toward hers. She kissed Ash on the cheek. Releasing him, she turned in the direction Kyrian had headed off and raised her voice. "And my husband will be sleeping in the guest room for the next couple of nights."

The baby started crying upstairs.

"I’ve got her," Ash said, vanishing instantly.

Amanda paused by the couch. "I’ll be in the kitchen if anyone needs anything."

"Sure," Bride said. "You going to just poof out of here, too, Amanda?"

"I don’t have that ability." She touched Bride’s hand comfortingly. "I know how you feel, Bride. I really do. Like you, I thought my sister was a screaming loon, and have found out over the last couple of years that she is strangely wise. Just take deep breaths and believe in the impossible." She offered an encouraging smile to them, then left them alone.

"Well," Fury said as he rubbed the back of his neck. "I guess this is where you give me the heave-ho and I head out. You guys have a nice life."

"Wait," Vane said, standing up. "You really didn’t betray me, did you?"

"No. I only planned on betraying Stefan and his group to the Arcadians. It was a moral imperative that I screwed with their heads, not yours." He watched Vane warily. "I’ll be honest though, Vane. I hate you and you piss me off to no end.

You always have."

"Why? What did I ever do to you?"

"You have no idea," Fury said, his expression cold and angry. "Mom wasn’t always that nutcase you met. At least she wasn’t to me."

Fury met Bride’s gaze. "I’m really sorry for what she did to you, Bride. But you have to understand what the Katagaria took from them. After she was kidnapped by my father, they sent all their strati out to find her. While they were gone from the village, another Katagaria pack came in and slaughtered every child they could find. They raped and murdered most of the women. Those who survived only did so because they fought them off, and most of them, like our grandmother, were never right again. That’s why you didn’t see that many women in the town."

Fury sighed and turned back to Vane. "You don’t know about our Arcadian half.

Since the first birthing of our kind, there has been an Aristo in mother’s family in every generation. Her older brother, who was killed when she was taken, was one of them. Our grandfather was another. When she returned with me, Dare, and Star, they thought I would be one, too. I had a strange scent to me that they assumed was the power."

"But you’re not Arcadian."

Fury shook his head. "I was the yin to your yang. I was a human child, then when I hit puberty, my base form changed to that of the wolf."

Vane winced. He understood his brother a lot better than he cared to. "I’m sorry."

"Oh, you’ve no idea. You think you had it hard? At least Anya and Fang stayed by you. Protected you. I tried to hide, but the minute Dare found out what I’d become, he told Mom. She went, pardon the bad pun, medieval on my ass."

Vane didn’t expect anything less. His father would have done the same to him had he ever learned the truth. "She’s a Sentinel. It’s her job to kill the Katagaria."

"Yeah, I know. I was too young to fight her off. She attacked me with a vengeance unimaginable and tore me to shreds." Fury paused and flinched, as if the memory were hard for him even now. "I lay bleeding for days as I tried to hide from her and the others. You want to know why I can’t command magic worth a damn? No one ever taught me. Markus, for all his shortcomings, at least made sure the three of you were trained after you returned from your year of survival. For a hundred years, I was totally alone. I didn’t dare enter a Katagaria den for fear of them smelling the Arcadian scent on me. The only thing I’ve ever learned to pull off well is camouflaging my scent. For all you know, I could be lying to you now."