Pretty When She Dies (Page 16)

But this…

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She subconsciously licked her teeth.

“I enjoyed this,” she said softly.

It shamed her how much she had enjoyed killing Rob, but she could not deny it. The last two nights were a blur of bad luck and terrible actions. This one incident had taught her one thing for certain. She liked what she was now. For the first time in her life she knew exactly what she wanted.

She needed to find another of her kind. Someone to teach her how to control her powers and guide her as to what she should or should not do. Fuck Professor Sumner. She would find her own damn way and show him a thing or two about survival.

Tugging on her black jeans, she formulated a plan in her mind. It would take some time, but she was sure she could find one of her own kind. Hell, she'd go to freaking New Orleans if she had to. Fishing around on the floor, she found her socks and glared at the dead man as she pulled them on.

Maybe she was fucked up, but she had been fucked up ever since she walked in on her Dad doing her slutty cousin. Stomping her feet to get her boots on all the way, she glanced at the covered mirror. Flipping it off she walked over Rob's body and quickly packed up her bag.

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Hot anger filled her once more as she thought of Rob grabbing her and trying to rape her. It was far too reminiscent of what had happened between her and Professor Sumner. She would not let herself ever be in that situation again.

Picking up the pack of cigarettes, she pulled one out and tucked it between her lips. She lit it and took a deep drag and savored the moment. After shoving her hat onto her head, she yanked the door open and walked outside. Impulsively, not even sure if it was the smart thing to do, she vaulted over the rail and landed with a thud on the ground below. Nothing hurt, nothing felt sprained, nothing felt wrong.

Looking up she saw the night clerk staring at her through the window in shock. Walking over to the door, she yanked it open. She felt the dark power inside of her swelling up, and she said in a low voice, “Sleep.”

Without a word, the clerk fell face first onto the counter, hit it with a resounding smack, then slipped out of sight onto the floor. Sliding over the counter, Amaliya avoided landing on the man and headed for the small office visible beyond a cracked door. As she suspected, a series of three monitors was set up and an ancient VCR whirred loudly as it taped the scenes. Hitting eject, the tape slid easily into her hand. She would destroy it later, once she was far away from here.

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Climbing onto the counter, she sat and pondered her options. She could set Rob on fire and let the whole thing burn, but she had heard children in the other rooms. Her name wasn't recorded here and she could be a million different girls in Texas with her dark hair.

“Eh, fuck it,” she said. She slid off the counter and landed lightly on the floor.

She'd risk it. Besides, how could the cops ever think she could rip a man to bits?

Confident that she was okay, she walked out into the night and the glass door swung back with a soft whisper.

“We may have a serious problem,” Roberto decided as he stood, arms crossed over his chest, watching the large screen TV with great interest.

Cian looked up from where he sat at his glass and chrome desk nearby. His four flatscreen computer monitors were flashing a variety of images and text. His hazel eyes rimmed with dark lashes regarded the other man, then looked toward the TV. “What is it?”

“Cult killing in East Texas,” Roberto answered, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. He was on the slim and petite side of the scale in appearance, but had broad shoulders. His dark hair was sleek and swept back from his high brow. His green eyes flicked toward Cian. “It looks highly suspicious.”

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“Like something he would do?” Cian frowned and stood up sharply.

He was medium height despite his age. He was not exactly sure how old he was, but he was old enough. Clad in jeans and a black t-shirt, he did not look like the man behind countless successful business and companies sprawled across Texas. He looked like a young man in his late twenties with short, scruffy, brown hair.

“Something he would definitely do,” Roberto answered. “It's mass confusion and people in complete terror of Satanists.”

Bare feet padding across the floor, Cian peered at the TV for a long moment, watching and listening to the repeat of the evening news. His ever faithful human servant, revenant, or whatever the latest tag was from some gawdawful game or book, stood next to him rubbing his chin, and looking deeply thoughtful. Emulating Roberto, Cian crossed his arms and looked equally disturbed.

“It sounds like a fledgling kill,” Roberto decided.

“I agree. He probably turned someone and let them loose.” Cian collapsed into a leather and steel chair and let his legs sprawl out in front of him.

“They are probably already dead by now if they are this insane.”

“Not a clean transformation, I don't think,” Cian answered in his light Irish lilt.

“Should I go and check it out?” Roberto asked.

“No, not if he is still out there. I don't want you risking it,” Cian said firmly. Rubbing his face with his hands, he looked more and more upset. “Dammit. It's been so long since he has been heard of I had hoped that someone had finally found a way to kill the bastard.”

“It's hard to kill someone so old,” Roberto said with a soft sigh and turned down the sound on the TV with the remote.

Cian nodded slowly, and then tilted his head back. The soft lights of his loft apartment in downtown Austin gave off a warm glow and gave a nice sheen to the hardwood floors. He loved his home, but the mere thought of The Summoner being somewhere in Texas, no matter how big the state was, did not make him feel safe.

“God knows I tried to many times,” he finally said.

“I could go and see if the fledgling is still around and kill it before it causes more harm.”

“Too risky. You know the games he plays. He may be trying to lure me out of my territory. He'd use you as a pawn,” Cian answered.

“There may be more than one. They found one forest grave with an occupant and another that was empty.”

Cian shook his head and swore softly. His Gaelic accent was more pronounced when he was upset. “It sounds like he's either playing another one of his damn games or he is trying to lure me or someone else out. Someone who gives a damn about keeping us hidden behind the veil.”

Roberto sat in the chair across from him and leaned forward. Steepling his fingers together, he peered over them intently. “If there is a fledgling and it is mad and out there killing-”

“I'm getting married in two months,” Cian said sharply. “I worked hard for this life. You know it. I'm not about to leave my city to go out there and hunt a fledgling down and kill it. Most likely the fledging will get itself killed by the sun. It may already be dead.”

“What about those?” Roberto waved to the screen as it once more showed the parade of body bags being taken from the fraternity house.

“They won't rise unless blood was exchanged,” Cian assured him.

“But they could also rise as ghouls,” Roberto reminded him. “More dangerous than a fledgling at times.”

“I don't think so. Modern technology seems to have that phenomenon under control. Morgues, autopsies, and embalming. Pleasant ways to deter the mindless undead.” Cian rubbed his fingers along the curbed armrest of his chair. “Can we contact an independent contractor to deal with it?”

Roberto slowly sat back in his chair looking very thoughtful. His green eyes looked toward the Texas Capital building looming out of one of the windows. “Perhaps. I'll make inquiries. Since the purge of '78, not many want to deal with you.”

Cian shrugged. “You'll figure it out.”

“We could call in Summerfield,” Roberto suggested.

“He died of cancer a few months ago, remember? His son is taking over the hunt. I don't trust the son to keep my deal intact past his father's death.”

“Have you met him?”

“No, not yet.” Cian shook his head once more with disbelief. “I don't care for him to know my face. His father swore my file was destroyed and I believe him. It is best to keep quiet especially to keep Samantha safe.” The thought of his mortal fiancée made him sigh deeply. He had to keep her lovely innocence safe. It was tragic enough she was willing to take him on, despite knowing his true nature. But she drew out the good in him and he loved her for it.

“Find a necromancer if you can,” Cian said after a long beat. “The Summoner's power is all based in death.”

“Agreed.” Roberto rose to his feet, hearing the clear order in his master's voice.

“And keep an eye on the news statewide. If the fledgling is out there, I want to know where it is.”

Roberto nodded and elegantly walked away.

Cian, meanwhile, sprawled in his chair and let out a long, exaggerated sigh. “Great, just freaking great.”

Chapter Nine

Amaliya felt relieved when Dallas finally faded away into the horizon. The bus felt warm despite the cold air from the air conditioning vent that brushed over her arm. She sat close to the window watching the terrain slide into the pitch blackness of the night.

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