I couldn’t work out whether when he said he thought of me as his he meant he actually wanted me to be. He’d said he couldn’t shake the feeling off, but he’d said it in such an aggravated voice that I didn’t know whether to take that as him meaning that he wanted to shake it off and it annoyed him that he couldn’t, or that he wasn’t going to try. There was a big difference between someone saying they felt like you were theirs and them wanting to claim you as theirs. Once a vampire claimed someone for their own they bound themselves to them with a Binding Ceremony (a vampy wedding) and they never took anyone else after that. I couldn’t envision Jared making that kind of commitment with anyone.
God, if anything at all happened to him…
Even the thought of that was a lot to bear. I already knew exactly what it would feel like to lose him because I’d felt it with Bryce. But I suspected that it would hurt more with Jared. What I knew for a downright fact was that if I lost him tonight to Bennington’s crew I’d kill every last one of them. Where the hell were they? It had to be around midnight now.
You okay? Jared. I guessed he must have sensed my mental restlessness.
Just wishing we could get this over with. Patience isn’t a quality of mine.
Oh but you do have plenty of qualities to compensate for that. There was no mistaking what kind of qualities he was talking about.
How you can be thinking about sex right now is anyone’s guess.
Thinking about you makes me think about sex.
I had to smile at that. Then don’t think about me.
I already tried that, failed miserably.
After about ten seconds he came back with, No, it’s still not working.
Please don’t tell me you have a hard-on, I joked. But there was no response. Nothing. It made the hush about the rainforest feel even worse. Jared? No answer. Jared, don’t ignore me you’ve got me nervous now.
A few seconds later he responded: They’re here. That was Evan contacting me. A few of the animals told Alora that a load of vamps have just been teleported to the outer edge of the North.
That meant they were no less than a hundred feet away. Stretching out my senses, I searched our surroundings. I can hear them. Alert the squad. I waited while, telepathically, he relayed to the recruits what he had told me. We’ve been over this formation a thousand times so they better remember it or I’ll jam bamboo up their arses.
As the vampires neared, the tension in the rainforest seemed to increase. There were eight in total. Most had red tints to their irises whereas two had amber. Their nervousness and apprehensiveness was apparent in the air. I watched as, wearing clothes as dark as ours, they moved separately and stealthily through the trees. No covering each other’s backs or working as a team? This couldn’t be Bennington’s real army of firecrackers then; these were obviously the expendables sent in to test the waters.
Things were going exactly as Jared predicted then.
As he’d suggested earlier, we let the group of expendables pass by. Letting Bennington believe he’d found himself a safe passage was the way to draw him out. An effective method to getting to people who were difficult to reach was to make them come to you. We knew Evan’s and Lou’s squads could take care of the expendables.
Minutes went by but there were no more vamps. I wondered if any had teleported to the South, East or West yet. We doubted that Bennington would attack from all sides; he was too much of a Bulldozer. He liked to just barrel right into the thick of things. But his allies were a different matter.
Evan’s just been in touch; the expendables are nothing but ashes now, Jared told me.
It was a few minutes later before there was more movement. This time it was a group of ten and they were all Pagoris. I literally held my breath as I waited for the squad to act as Jared and I had instructed. Suddenly, the ten stopped dead and swerved their heads slightly – and I knew that Max had stolen each of their senses. Quick as anything Chico appeared from behind a protruding tree trunk and shot the ten with thorns, and because Reuben had amplified Chico’s gift the thorns had placed the vamps into a long but temporary coma. Of course we could kill them but we didn’t want the scent of blood in the air or a lot of noise going on and we especially didn’t want to waste time and energy on people in comas. Besides, Antonio had expressed a wish to have some live captives.
Before the ten vampires’ bodies could flop to the ground, Max, Salem, Reuben, Harvey, Stuart and Denny were there silently hurling them up on to the tree branches to be hidden. A silent sigh of relief left me. It was over in seconds. So far so good.
More minutes of nothing passed and I started to wonder if something had tipped Bennington off. Then I heard a large number approaching.
Twenty heading this way, announced Jared. I knew that each time he announced something to me he was also informing the squad. We let them pass us and then pick them off from behind using the formation we went over at dusk.
This cluster of Pagori vamps was more covert than the others. They each moved fluidly and silently, covering each other and reaching out with their senses. As such, they got a terrible shock when Max stole them. Before they could blindly use their gifts and hint at what was happening, Chico was there again exhaling his thorns while Salem dealt some psychic punches and Denny reached out from the canopy, shooting green, sticky ooze out of his hands to trap some of the vamps and bounce them up to him. Again the squad hid them in the trees and again I gave a silent sigh when all went effectively.
It was only about forty seconds or so before more came. Thirty this time. Because they were all slightly spaced out it meant that Max couldn’t encompass all of them to steal their senses. Shit. Do you think if we let them pass Evan could take care of the first ten or fifteen and then we’ll pick off the rest from behind?
That was exactly what I was thinking. If they pass they can’t retreat. Five seconds or so later Jared informed me, Evan’s squad will be taking on the first half.
Just as covert as the last lot, these Pagoris noiselessly made their way along the forest floor. One came dangerously close to where I was hid and then halted. The amount of energy I had absorbed was begging to be released, and I was expecting that I would need to do exactly that to defend myself. But then the tall, stocky Pagori continued onwards. Relief coursed through me. If we could get rid of this group without drawing attention we would have gotten rid of fifty eight in total and that was bound to make Bennington feel confident and secure and get him moving.