“You’re going to die, demon!” Beth yelled, her voice rising above the flames. “You’re both going to burn!”
Zane glanced up and saw the flames rolling over the ceiling. Looked like clouds of fire. Not. Good.
“You should have joined us when you had the chance.” More laughter from Beth. “Now I’ll just burn you until there’s nothing left.”
The hell she would.
Zane threw up his hands, pushing a powerful wave of energy at her just as Beth’s flames came for him again. The flames froze in mid-air, caught between them, and Beth screamed.
“She won’t be able to … handle it….” Jana coughed again and pushed against him. “Not the first time … not…”
The flames swelled. They shoved against his hold. Burned so hot.
“The ceiling’s gonna fall. …” Jana jerked from beneath him. “We’ve got to get out of here!” Her hands grabbed at his arms. ”Come on!”
Beth screamed again, a loud, desperate cry as she fell to her knees. The flames erupted, shooting across the room, and chunks of the ceiling fell down, crashing onto the floor.
He ran with Jana, holding back the fire and charging for the door. The smoke, heavy and gray, blocked their path, but they barreled straight through it and, with his help, through the flames.
Beth’s yells followed them, blending with the piercing alarm, and the crackle of the fire.
He and Jana thundered down the hallway. Guards were running, hell-bent on getting away from the flames so they didn’t even toss him or Jana a second glance. The guards sure didn’t try to stop them. Too busy running.
Zane risked a glance behind him. The fire was destroying everything, burning so bright. Sending screams of terror into the air. As he watched, two men appeared near the back wall. Chameleons being forced out of their camouflage because of the fire’s heat. One of the bastards was the one who’d attacked Jana.
He was burning, screaming as he fell to the ground. The flames flared higher around him and the other chameleon. Trapping them, killing them.
Zane’s legs pumped as he searched for a way out of the nightmare. Not Jana’s fire. What the hell had happened? And why hadn’t Jana mentioned that Beth was an Ignitor?
Fuck. Just when he’d thought he could trust her …
They burst through some double doors and out into the night. Jana sucked in deep gulps of air and fell to her knees.
The clean air almost seemed to burn his lungs. “Jana …” His voice sounded like gravel.
Her head turned toward him. Her eyes were wet with tears. From the smoke? Or something more?
“Why didn’t you tell me?” He lifted her up and carried her farther away from that burning building and the screams that echoed inside. “Why didn’t you tell me what Beth could do?”
She just shook her head.
“Fuck.” He sat her down near the edge of the swamp. “Stay here.”
She grabbed his arms. “Where … are you going?” she rasped.
“I’ve got a friend in there. I’m not leaving her for the flames.” He wouldn’t leave Catalina to her worst nightmare.
“Friend?” Her brow wrinkled. Ash stained her cheeks. “With … Perseus?”
Yeah, okay, that sounded screwed. “Just stay here, okay?” But even as he said the words, he knew she’d be gone when he came back. It was her perfect chance to run. “They’ve got supernaturals caged in there.” His voice grew stronger with every word, just as those flames were growing stronger with every second that passed. “I’m not letting them burn.”
Perseus was dying tonight, burning to the ground, but they weren’t taking the paranormals out with them.
He whirled away from Jana and ran right back into the fire.
Jana shook her head, stunned, as Zane disappeared into the smoke again. What was he thinking? Didn’t he realize those flames weren’t going to stop? They were blazing out of control. Even a level ten couldn’t fight them-not with an Ignitor constantly charging them up. The first fire is always the hottest. Too strong. Can’t stop it.
She lifted a shaking hand to her head. Oh, God, how had this happened? One minute, that girl had been running toward her, and Jana had been getting her charge strong enough to blast, then—
Then Beth had been in control of the flames.
And I’d had nothing.
Jana had been surrounded by fire but, for the first time, completely at its mercy. If Zane hadn’t come in there, she would have died.
Her eyes squeezed shut. I’ve got a friend in there. I’m not leaving her for the flames. Beth had taunted him about a friend. We’ve got a friend of yours waiting to meet you.
She stumbled to her feet. A guard ran out of the smoke. He didn’t glance her way. He just raced for the truck parked near the line of twisted trees.
Trying to get away?
She sucked in another breath and went after him. “Hey, hey, wait!”
He grabbed the door handle and wrenched open the door.
He swung around to face her. Jana slammed her fist into his face. She might not have her fire right then, but she wasn’t helpless.
The guy sank to the ground. She went with him, patting his pockets, finding his keys, a cell phone, and-yes!-a gun. Jana tucked the gun into the waistband of her jeans and glanced back at the fire. Zane was in there. Other paranormals were trapped inside. She looked down at her hands. Cell phone. Keys. The perfect time to escape. There were no more ties to her past. Perseus wouldn’t come after her. She could get away clean.
But Zane was in the fire.
She punched in a quick series of numbers on the cell phone. Numbers she’d memorized earlier, when she’d seen Zane make one of his calls. The phone rang once, twice—
“Who the hell is this?” a snarling voice demanded.
Jana’s fingers tightened around the phone. “I’m calling about Zane Wynter.” She didn’t have a whole lot of time to waste.
“Zane?” The voice quieted. “Is he okay?”
“Kinda hard to say.” She bit her lip and rose, stepping away from the fallen guard and keeping his keys. She had to strain to make her voice louder and clearer when she said, “He’s in the fire right now.”
“I don’t know where we are,” she said. “Some damn swamp.”
Other voices murmured in the background, then he told her, “Just keep the phone on. We can find you.”