Suddenly the force of the guilt was overwhelming, and there was a new emotion too: self-loathing. I had the sensation of being stuck in a pit with emotions that weren’t my own clinging to me and trying to devour me.
“You agreed not to manipulate her emotions,” warned Antonio.
“And I’m not.” Victor was utterly unaffected by Antonio’s air of authority, I realised. That was probably a lot to do with the fact that he was a fruitcake. “You must have noticed by now that my Sam can be temperamental. One minute she’s furious, the next minute she’s calm, and then all of a sudden she develops a sense of humour.”
As usual, he was coming across as reasonable and fair while making me out to be the pain in the backside. Planting the seed of suspicion was a specialty of his. Plus, he knew that falsely accusing me of doing things or being things was likely to crack me.
“She did a runner because she was angry with me, not because she doesn’t love me or want to be with me. Isn’t that right, Sam, luv?”
God I wanted to smack him. I wanted to scream out to Antonio that Victor was a lying, manipulative twat and not to listen to a word he said. Victor knew this. But I didn’t do those things, because I knew that the more energy I spent trying to defend myself the weaker I would be to his power. “What is it you want?”
Victor’s smile disappeared but his friendly, caring tone remained. “I just want you to come home, luv. What else would I want?”
“No.” The word was no more than a whisper. It had hurt to get out, especially since a part of me hated myself for saying something so awful. Self-loathing.
Good girl. I could almost feel Jared’s pride.
“No?” giggled Victor. He took a few steps toward me.
Simultaneously another emotion came crashing down on me. Desire. It stirred low in my stomach. My thighs instantly clenched and I had to swallow back a moan.
“Don’t be daft, luv. Come to me.” He opened his arms and I almost did go.
What’s he trying to make you feel now?
He wants me to want him.
A second later Victor’s head whipped to face Jared and I felt a million times lighter as the saddle of emotions slipped away from me. I could only guess that Jared must have sent a telepathic thought to Victor that he really didn’t like.
I spoke quickly, “You’ve come to hear it from me so here it is: I’m not going back with you, Victor. I’m asking you to free me from your hold.”
Victor snickered. “I bet you’re very pleased with yourself, aren’t you; getting picked for the legion tryouts and then getting hired by Antonio as a Commander. You just remember that I’m the one who made you and I’m the one who taught you how to use your gift -”
“Taught isn’t the word I’d use,” I spat.
“- and every single strength you have you owe to me. You wouldn’t be where you are now if it weren’t for me.”
I smiled. “Then you only have yourself to blame for Antonio offering me a position then, don’t you?”
His snarl was loud and feral, making Nero and Achilles bark.
“Victor, will you release me from your hold?”
“Never,” he growled. No surprise there. “You’re mine.”
I turned my attention to the Latino-looking bloke on the sofa. “Antonio, you’ve witnessed me say I don’t want to leave with him, will you grant me release from his hold?”
Victor pivoted on the spot and bore his teeth at Antonio. “She’s mine.” The guards were beside their Grand High Master in less than a second.
Antonio, completely unfazed by Victor’s behaviour, said calmly, “Samantha Parker, I release you from your Sire’s hold with immediate effect.”
No one else felt it but me. That surge of black, bottomless hatred, that seething need to cause pain. It was coursing through Victor, I could sense it. Then there was a snap within him, I felt that too. Antonio’s guards were quick and would have easily apprehended Victor before he reached Antonio, but I didn’t think about that when I saw him ready to pounce. All I thought about was defending Antonio.
Soaking up the energy around me, I felt it swirl in my grasp and I blasted it out of my palm in the form of a thermal beam; a long, silver ray of hot energy that buried itself into Victor’s abdomen and burned him from the inside out: his favourite thing for me to do to his marks.
He cried and writhed and fell to his knees, and I felt that same pain...Like being torn open and sliced by a boiling hot knife while heat shot through my body, singing my extremities. And then he disappeared in the flame and disintegrated completely. It was my turn to cry out.
I couldn’t believe she’d done it. Not many vampires would kill their Sires. It was the same feeling of killing a parent; even if they were a total ass you respected that they created you and you had a special link with them – in most cases, anyway. Plus, the physical pain of destroying that link and killing your Sire was, from everything I’d heard, unbearable. It could even make vampires ill, it was the only thing that could.
So there Sam was on her knees, gritting her teeth against an agony that I could only imagine.
I was the first to react. It was pure instinct to kneel beside her and pull her to me and envelope her with my arms. I half-expected her to push me away – what with her being as stubborn as she was. But instead she buried her face in my chest while her hands clamped down tightly on my arms. An ear-piercing whine still escaped her mouth despite how much she ground her teeth together. She was shaking so hard she was more or less convulsing. I couldn’t even tell where the pain was coming from.
“What hurts?” I asked Luther and Antonio as they rushed over to her. The dogs where making slight howling sounds. “Will it be her stomach, her head – what?”
Luther gazed down at her with sympathy. “The pain supposedly hits every single part of your body.”
I sighed out of my nose. I wanted to punch something. “How long will it last?”
“She could be like this for minutes or hours,” replied Antonio, running a hand over her hair but she didn’t seem to feel it. I wasn’t even sure if she knew who was holding her.
It BURNS! The pain was obvious in her mental voice.
“Brave little thing, isn’t she,” said one of the guards.
“A very extraordinary young lady,” commented Luther.
Just then her body shook hard and blood poured out of her mouth and drenched my t-shirt.