He sighed. “Listen, if you want I can have a word with the guys and tell them to get their acts together and start listening to you.”

“No need. They will.” He heard the confidence in my voice and his eyes immediately narrowed.

“What plan are you cooking up?” he asked suspiciously but with a smile.

“It’s already cooked, and it’s crispy round the edges.”

Still going to pretend you don’t want me? he asked as I advanced toward the door. I just thought you should know it’s not working too well. You’re far from Hollywood material.

Damn. At least I don’t shag a twig!

Your interest in my sex life adds further support to my argument.

Well file this away with all the info: you’re a prick.

It was far from shocking to find that the recruits were not waiting for me in the arena. I found them five or ten minutes later all on the basketball court. Chico, Butch, David, Max, Stuart and Damien were playing basketball while Reuben was observing. Denny and Harvey were deep in conversation about something and Salem was moonlight-bathing on one of the benches.

Max noticed me first and signalled to the others that I was coming. Most of them shrugged, unaffected. The others were pretending they hadn’t heard Max.

“So, you still think you don’t need me.” I folded my arms across my chest, squashing my bust so that my cle**age was more prominent. As expected, they all gave me their full attention. I wanted to see their faces when I acted on my plan.

“It’s just that we think we are okay as we are,” said Reuben.

Max’s face beamed with a cheeky smile. “Come on now, Sam, it’s not you. We just -”

“Don’t want to take orders off some chick,” finished Harvey in an arrogant tone. Damien and Stuart nodded in agreement. Wow, Jared had really been to work on this lot.

“It’s like Max said, it’s not you,” repeated Denny in a very soft, sensitive voice. “Why don’t you come hang out with us?”

“Yeah, hang out with us.” David seemed to have an inability to keep still.

I smiled at them and jiggled my head as if considering their offer. “Well I would...but I’m not convinced you don’t need some coaching.”

“Look, you’ve seen me in combat at the tryout.” Chico sounded bored. “Did I look like I needed help?”

“Same here,” said Butch.

“Help? No. But do I think you could both be better? Yes.”

Chico sniggered. “I exhale thorns. How much better can you get?”

I puffed. “Oh I don’t know…Can you emit them from your palms?”

“The horns come from within me.” His tone was stressing his opinion that I was dumb.

“You really think little poisonous horns are embedded inside you? Wrong. Your body produces toxins. These toxins travel in your blood, your entire body. They harden into horns the second that they meet the outside air. You can emit the toxins from your pores in just the same way. Your palms can be an outlet just the same as your breath can. Try it.”

Chico sniggered again and waved a hand at me dismissively before going to collect the basketball.

“You won’t even try? You’re that scared to fail? No wonder you never made Sergeant when you were in the police force. Got passed down for your brother too, didn’t you?”

Chico immediately stiffened. Slowly he swerved to look at me, his face grim and his jaw taut. “Where’d you hear that?”

“Oh I’m sorry, did I touch a nerve?” I knew I had. Preparing for a violent response, I absorbed the immediate energy, feeling it tingle and tickle as if eager to be released.

“You need to get away from here now, do you understand me?” His tone was deadly.

“Or you’ll spit some measly thorns at me?”

Without hesitation he forced out a heavy breath of poisonous thorns. Quickly I manipulated the energy I’d absorbed into the form of a hungry flame, burning the thorns to nothing.

“What about you, Butch? Think you can take me on?” I asked. I was a sponge of energy at this point. I was anticipating attacks from all angles and I needed to be prepared.

“You can fling all the flames you want at me, I’ll just negate them.”

“Negate this.” Before Butch could blink I had my energy whip in hand and slashed open his cheek with it. I knew that the crack of the whip would be too speedy for him to act in time. “You could have protected yourself, you know. All you’d have had to do was use the counteracting force you have to form a deflecting shield.”

“Negators can’t form shields.”

“Oh yes they can, Butch. I bet you’d love a shield that would help against emotional pain. Maybe then you wouldn’t still be feeling so raw about your mummy leaving you on the doorstep of a church.”

His eyes blazed red instantly and he came at me without thought. I let my hands shoot out in front of me and then spread them wide, pulling the energy to pop up my own shield. Butch ricocheted off it like a bouncy ball.

“Wouldn’t you like one of these, Butch? I can show you how to do it.”

He was too busy panting and sneering at me to answer.

“I’ve had an interesting afternoon talking to all your Sires and vampy friends. Turns out they were quite happy to divulge dark secrets. It must be jealousy because you were picked for the legion and they weren’t. Should I just carry on revealing them or shall we go to the arena now?”

“My Sire would never have told you anything,” said Stuart.

“Oh is that right? Would you bet your pride on that?” He seemed confident, how silly of him. “Come on, Stuart, shred yourself into nothing and come all the way over here and then I’ll only whisper to you what I was told. No one else has to know.”

He giggled at me without humour.

“You can’t move from where you’re stood when you do it?” I asked as if he’d said it first. “Not even when I’m telling everyone how you couldn’t protect your little sister and she became a drug addict and then a prostitute to pay for her addiction?” God he was pissed now: if looks could kill...

“And what about you, Damien?” I said. “Shall we share how just because your rich daddy left you bugger-all in his will you beat your brother half to death like an ignorant, bitter shit?”

“Bitch,” he cursed through his teeth.

“Sorry, didn’t catch that. Why don’t you astral project all the way over here and say it to my face? Oh that’s right, you can’t. Just like Reuben can’t weaken my power unless he holds on to me, not even when I tease him for the fact that his Sire abandoned him and he woke up to find nobody there to help him control his bloodlust and he more or less ate three people.”

Tags: Suzanne Wright Deep In Your Veins Vampires
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