The sight of someone shifting shape caught my attention. I watched as a Pagori changed into a buffalo. A buffalo? That was a new one. Realising that the buffalo was charging at an unsuspecting Chico, I screamed, “Chico, six o’ clock!” Knowing better than to hesitate, he turned and exhaled a mouthful of thorns. The second they met their target, the buffalo burst into ashes. Well thank f**k for that.

Three vampires charged at Ava and Cristiano, who had together just fought off five. They had always worked well as a team. A ripple of psychic energy travelled through the air toward their attackers – a ripple that I knew was coming from Salem’s psychic punch. It destroyed the vampires instantly.

Hearing a pain-filled growl, I pivoted to see Denny battling off a Pagori that was slicing at him with…claws? David cursed and then narrowed his eyes at the Pagori – a sure sign that he was using his gift. Just like that, the dick was dead. Denny jumped to his feet, thanking David, but then he staggered and blinked hard. The slices on his face and arms didn’t appear to be healing well. Poisonous claws. Hopefully the poison wouldn’t be powerful enough to do anything other than put him asleep for a while. If the poison seemed to be fatal, I’d have to get Paige’s help.

“I’ll put him inside the building with Damien and Reuben,” said Butch as he began dragging Denny away.

Clearly taking advantage of the fact that David didn’t have Butch’s shield protecting him, a vampire with a sickeningly elongated, lizard-like tongue came at David. I cracked my whip at the Pagori, locked it around his waist and smashed his body into the ground so hard that plenty of bones cracked. His glowing amber eyes locked onto me and he snarled. Jared projected a bolt of lightning at him, reducing him to ashes.

I went to thank Jared, but then I was knocked to the ground by Harvey as elasticated limbs shot out to grab me. In a blink, I remoulded my whip into an energy ball and threw it at my attacker. Apparently, however, I’d missed my target because those limbs reached for me again. But before they could touch me, a cry of pain rang in the air and the limbs became nothing but ashes. I suspected Jared had been my saviour, but I wasn’t sure.

I’d just bounced to my feet when something came hurtling through the air…a huge fireball. Everybody ducked, but it hit the building. I released a flow of water out of my palms that quickly killed the flames. But then came another fireball, and another, and another, and another, and no amount of water was fighting the large flames that were now engulfing the building. The vampires were obviously trying to smoke people out, unaware that the only ones inside were the three injured squad members.

I grabbed Jared’s arm. “Teleport Damien, Reuben, and Denny out of there, take them to the bunker under the Command Centre. We don’t have enough manpower to protect them and fight.” It was true. We were outnumbered, and we were fighting a losing battle, but not a bloody chance would I give up.

Jared hesitated, running a hand through his hair. “Sam…”

I understood his anxiety. The last time he’d put other people before me, he’d come back to find me bitten by a tainted vampire. “This is different. I have ten people with me. Damien, Reuben, and Denny will die if you don’t move them, and I can’t afford to leave the fight this time.”

Nodding, he gave me a hard kiss. Pulling back, he rushed into the building with me at his side. I helped a weak Denny and a clearly in pain Damien to their feet while Jared slung Reuben over his shoulder. Once Denny and Damien held tight to Jared, all four of them disappeared. Only then was I satisfied enough to leave the building – not happy to find that instead of seeking cover again, the squad had charged into the battle, trying to penetrate the large protective circle of vampires that undoubtedly shielded Covington. While Chico, Salem, Max, and Stuart worked on attacking the circle, Harvey, David, and Butch defended them – just like in training – along with Jude, Ava, and Cristiano.

Hearing a crazy laugh behind me, I realised that the restaurant was being swarmed by vampires who were clearly waiting for the people they believed were inside to finally leave. Forming a large, boiling hot fireball – the likes of which I’d never been able to create before becoming a hybrid – I launched it at the building. It instantly exploded, and so did the vampires surrounding it. Ha.

My dark amusement died a swift death when there was a loud battle cry. Twirling, I gaped as what seemed like hundreds of vampires practically stampeded onto the battlefield through the now broken security gates. Oh f**k. I was about to attack them, but then I made out Quentin and some of his vampires. There was also Antonio’s Sire, Wes, and many from his line. In addition, there were the High Masters and their vampires…And they were all helping us destroy Covington’s vampires. Relief, gratefulness, and satisfaction flooded me. I realised just then that I’d truly expected to die tonight; had expected most of us to die. Now I had hope that?

I jolted and cried out as white-hot pain pierced my chest. Shocked, I looked down to see a long, metal pole protruding out of my body. It had to be wreckage from the destruction around us, my stunned mind pointlessly deduced. Slowly turning, I found Eloise smirking smugly at me as she toyed with her mane. Oh, the mad bitch had stabbed me.

She winced in mock sympathy. “Ooh, that looks like it hurts.”

It didn’t hurt, it burned and throbbed and caused the most agonising pain to pound through my chest, making the rest of my body feel cold. I wanted to fall to my knees and cry out. It was sheer anger alone that kept me standing. Her smug smile only served to increase my anger. She thought she’d get away with that? She thought that she was oh so clever and had ended me? Ha. All she’d done was save me the trouble of hunting her down. The pole had narrowly missed my heart, thank God. I doubted that even a fast-healing hybrid could have come back from that.

Most likely sensing the agony blasting through me, Jared appeared in front of me. He gaped, reaching out to grab the pole. But then, as if afraid that he’d only worsen the pain, he quickly dropped his hands. At Eloise’s laugh, he snarled at her. “You f**king bitch!”

“I’m so glad that you could be here for this, Jared.” Eloise tsked at me. “Just because my gift to hide my scent” – well that explained why she’d thought I wouldn’t sense that she had paid my apartment a little visit – “is defensive doesn’t mean that I’m defenceless, Sam. I did tell you that you would die tonight.”

Tags: Suzanne Wright Deep In Your Veins Vampires