“I’m curious; can you tap into the natural elements?” I’d always been able to do it, but I’d found that controlling them wasn’t an easy feat. As an ice-cold wind whipped me up and flung me at a large piece of rubble, I cracked my head hard. “I’ll take that as a yes.” But the wind hadn’t been able to send me very far away, I noted. Even with my hybrid energy giving her gift a boost, she hadn’t coped too well with the natural elements.

Feeling the wound on my head instantly heal, I quickly got to my feet and strode towards Dana…who, I then noticed, was weirdly smirking at something behind me. I might have thought it was a trick to distract me, but I could hear footsteps in the grass.

“Looks like it’s about to become three against one.”

Rather than glance over my shoulder, I turned slightly, allowing me to keep my peripheral vision on both Dana and Eloise as I swiftly checked who was seemingly coming to join us. Well, f**k a duck. Joy. I didn’t move as she approached. I’d let them all think that I was scared, let them think that my death was a sure thing, and that I was ready to admit defeat. With Dexter as back-up, there were still pretty good odds that I’d come out of this alive.

When Joy reached my side, she stopped, glaring hard. I expected an attack and inwardly braced myself for one, but instead she swerved to face the others and focused her gaze on Eloise. Joy’s irises were then glowing amber as pure hatred contorted her expression. She pointed at Eloise. “I want her.” Joy briefly glimpsed at me as she added, “I despise you, but it would be kind of…inconvenient if you died, because Jared would die with you. But her…she has to die. She made him betray me.”

Well, no, that wasn’t quite what had happened. Jared had never been her partner, and they had never been exclusive. But Joy had never been normal, so she saw the world a little differently. “You can have her…as long as you make it painful.”

Joy curled her upper lip at Eloise. “That I can do.” Then she morphed into a man twice her size and advanced on the bitch. Huh. I hadn’t seen that coming.

I shrugged at Dana. “Looks like it’s just you and me now. And it’s time for you to go home to Fraggle Rock.”

The axe was suddenly back in Dana’s hand and swinging forcefully at my head. I jerked back, wagging my finger. Conjuring my whip, I lashed it at her legs, leaving deep gouges in her flesh. Off balance, she stumbled and lost her grip on her axe, which winked out. Not giving her the chance to conjure it again, I held my hands up and sent flames shooting out of my palms. Her skin sizzled and blistered, and her high-pitched scream was piercing enough to crack windows. Honestly, I was surprised that my ear drums hadn’t burst. Tapping into the element of water, she did her best to put out the flames.

Hearing a cry of agony, I briefly glanced at Eloise and Joy – oh yeah, Joy was definitely putting her through some serious pain. I was pretty sure that I’d just heard Eloise’s spine snap. Crap, that had to hurt like f**k.

As Dana’s scream faded, I looked back to see that her flesh was half-healed and her gaze was dark and sparkling with fury. “You burned me! You f**king burned me!”

Well, yeah. Had she been expecting mercy or something? I blinked rapidly, baffled. “I thought I’d been pretty clear when I said that I’d make you suffer. Oh, you thought I was all talk?” I gave her a gentle, pitying smile. “No, luv. You’re not the first person I’ve hurt, and you won’t be the last.”

Seeming a mixture of incredulous and wary, she shook her head. “You’re crazy.”

“A little,” I allowed. “But mostly it’s just that I have a violent reaction to silly little bitches like you. And like I said, no one hurts my mate.” Then my whip was in my hand again and I slashed her face with it.

With a loud cry, she flinched away. To her credit, she recovered quickly, conjuring a large boulder to shield her. I simply sucked in the energy from the boulder, making it crumble to pieces. But apparently she’d been ready for that; her axe was back and she aimed for my legs this time. I jumped, barely dodging the weapon. She slammed her palm into my chest hard enough to send me zooming backwards. I hit a tree, making the breath whoosh out of me.

Dana smirked. “Hurts, doesn’t it?”

It did, actually. Dusting off the pants of my brand new suit, which was torn, singed, and stained with blood – Fletcher was going to go ballistic – I got to my feet. Then, before the movement had time to register in her brain, I conjured a small energy ball and fired it at Dana. It caught her shoulder, and the impact knocked her to the ground once again. Of course I could have thrown an energy ball deadly enough to kill her as opposed to simply knock her down. But death by energy ball didn’t seem painful enough for someone who had hurt Jared. Death by Dexter’s venom, however…Yeah, that sounded much better. And he was clearly hoping to join the fun, because he was slithering around her, hissing. Eyeing him warily, she froze, obviously worried about making any sudden movements.

As I came to stand at her feet, Dexter moved his intelligent gaze to me. I knew he wanted permission to attack…so I gave it to him. At my nod, he immediately spat venom into her eyes. Crying out, she scrubbed madly at her eyes. That was when Dexter struck – in a movement that was a pure blur, he bit her upper arm. Again, she cried out, flinching away from him. But it made no difference – there was no dodging Dexter: he bit her again, this time on her leg.

“Dexter’s venom is pretty cool, you know,” I told her as he began to curl around my body once more. “A single bite can put a vampire through a truly ugly experience. Stage one is temporary blindness. Stage two is temporary mental disorientation. And stage three is temporary paralysis. Lucky for you, however, you’ll get to escape all that…because a second bite is fatal. Yep, it causes an all-consuming, agonising pain that’s swiftly followed by death. But I think you’re already coming to realise that, aren’t you?”

Her agonised cries told me that, yes, she was. Maybe I should have felt bad for her. Maybe I should have wanted to end her pain. But this person had thrown an energy ball at Jared and laughed at his pain. She had been part of the plan to take over The Hollow, and she had enjoyed every second of the pain that she had put me through. Furthermore, she would happily have killed me if she could have done. So there was simply no ounce of mercy in my system.

I turned away from her, and that was when I saw that Joy, now back in her own form, was standing over a pile of ashes. Eloise was dead. Fabulous. Realising that Joy was watching me rather intently, I tensed. Responding to that, Dexter – who was now twined around my waist – hissed warningly at her. Had she changed her mind about having a duel? I hoped not. A part of me felt a little sorry for her and I did kind of appreciate that she hadn’t joined the other two bitches in trying to kill me. Besides, what I most wanted right then was to get to Jared.


Tags: Suzanne Wright Deep In Your Veins Vampires
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