Footsteps pounded outside. Sounded like guards were racing toward them.
Beth’s face hardened. Her hand lifted, and she stabbed a finger in the air toward Jana. “The demon is going to die. If he won’t help us, then we’ll rip him apart.”
Shit. So much for playing nice. Now the mask was gone and she was back to seeing the real Beth.
“But first…” Beth said, pausing as the guards spilled into the room. “First we’re taking that fire from you. We’re taking it, and we’re going to make sure you’re nothing but a corpse when we leave this room.”
Now, this was the Beth she knew and hated. “Bring it, bitch.” Jana let the charge shoot through her. “If you think you’re strong enough, come on.” A line of fire split the floor between them. Charge more. Charge. “Let’s see if you still like my fire.”
“Shoot her!” Beth screamed at the guards. “Not the head or the heart, but shoot her! Take her down!”
The bullets flew through the air as the flames blazed higher.
Zane scooped up Catalina and held her tight. He ran out of the room and into the narrow hallway. That screaming alarm pierced his ears. A constant, high-pitched wail that threatened to burst his ear drums. He blasted his power out in waves, knocking back every guard he saw as he shoved his energy at them.
Jana. He needed to get to her. He didn’t know how long her charge would last and—
“Zane?” Catalina’s breathy voice. He glanced down. Her eyes were fluttering open. Witches were so incredibly strong. He’d figured that she would wake up fast.
He put his back against the nearest wall and eased Catalina to her feet. “What the hell are you doing here?” The last time he’d seen her, they’d both been in a shit-forsaken vampire hell. The vamps had surrounded Catalina with fire. Burn, witch. He’d gotten to her in time, saved her from the touch of fire, but she’d still left. Still left because …
“I’m not the one for you. “ Her words echoed through his mind. Catalina had scryed to see the future, and what she’d seen had made her run.
He hadn’t heard from her in months. Had she been here the whole time? Trapped by Perseus?
“It’s not like I wanted to be here.” Her breath shuddered out, and she yanked up the sleeve of her shirt. There, on her upper arm, he saw two thin white lines. Scars. No, hell, no. Binding marks. He’d only seen them once before in his life, but he knew what they were-marks to bind a witch’s power.
“I don’t have a coven to protect me.” Her gaze was steady, proud. “When the agents came to me, I didn’t realize what they had planned for me, not until it was too late.”
Until the first binding mark appeared.
“Three marks,” she whispered and he heard her, even with the wailing alarm. “Three and I’m completely helpless. With two”-she swallowed—“my powers became so weak, I wasn’t able to fight back against the bastards.”
Shit. “I’m getting you out of here.”
But she shook her head. “There are others here. I won’t leave them.”
“A wolf shifter … and a vampire. I won’t leave them.”
A woman’s scream ripped through the air. Jana. He lunged forward. Catalina grabbed his arm. “They want you. They’ve seen what you can do. If they can keep you here, if they can use you—”
“No one’s gonna f**king use me.”
“They were going to kill me two days ago,” she told him, her lips trembling. “Then they realized I knew you. I’m alive just because—”
Another scream. Jana. He broke Catalina’s hold. “Cat, get out of here! Run, and I’ll find you!” But first, he was getting
“I’m alive because I told them your weakness.” Her whispered words floated behind him. “I’m sorry, Zane.” He spun back to face her. “Cat?”
Her shoulders were slumped. Her head down. “They were going to put on the third bind. I didn’t have a choice. They know about—”
The drugs. Shit.
She looked up at him. A tear tracked down her cheek. “I’m sorry.”
The screams had stopped. He could smell smoke drifting in the air. Coming closer. “Fire’s coming.” Catalina’s weakness. “Get out. Just run!”
Fear had her eyes flaring wide, but she shook her head. “Not without the others.” She stumbled down the hallway, lifting her hand toward him. “Come with me, Zane. Don’t go back, they’re waiting for you! It’s all a trap.”
He knew it, but … “They’ve got someone I—” Someone, what? Someone he needed? Someone he sure as shit wouldn’t leave behind? She didn’t leave me. “I’m not leaving her,” was all he said.
Catalina’s lips parted, and her eyes seemed to lose a bit of focus. The shift in her glance always happened when she used her magic. “No.” A bit sad. “You can’t leave her.”
There wasn’t time to waste. Zane ran down the hall, bellowing Jana’s name.
A mass of swirling and crackling flames shot down the hallway. He shoved the fire to the side even as water poured down from the sprinklers above him. What the hell?
The door to the holding room was open. He rushed inside, and the smoke shoved its way down his throat. “Jana! Jana, pull back the fire!”
But Jana was lying in the middle of the room with her hair a black curtain around her face. Flames ate at the walls and the ceiling.
Beth stood near those flames, her body swaying.
Hell. He poured his power out as he fought the flames. The heat scorched his flesh.
The fire retreated from him, and he leapt to Jana’s side. She was slowly pushing herself up.
“Pull it back,” he growled, locking his fingers around her arms as he drew her close. “It’s okay, baby, I’m here now, you can ease up on the f—”
She blinked at him. Her eyes were tired, weak, and dark blue.
He heard the laughter then. Wild, wicked laughter. He turned his head and found Beth staring at him-with eyes gone dark red.
“N-not me …” Jana whispered as her hands twisted to hold tight to him. Her nails sank into his skin. “Not a-anymore.”
Another ball of flames shot straight at him. He threw his body over Jana’s even as he sent the fire slamming into the south-side wall with a psychic surge of energy. Jana coughed beneath him and shuddered.