Speaking of Erron, we needed some answers. “Not to be rude or anything,” I said, “but why are you helping us?”

“You set off my warded alarms earlier. I ignored the Peeping Tom routine because I figured you were just harmless fans. But when the fight started, we felt the magic. I sent Ziggy”— he jerked his head to indicate the drummer, who’d just run off—“to check and he said a big battle was going down by the cemetery.” Erron shrugged. “The other guys in the band are human. But Ziggy and me decided to pitch in.”

I frowned at him. “But why help us at all? You seemed pretty content enjoying your”— I cleared my throat— “gimp.”

He nodded to confirm the truth of that statement. “It’s true. However, when Ziggy let me know the vamps you were fighting were using magic, I knew immediately they were Caste vamps. Easy decision then.”

“What are you doing in New Orleans?” Adam asked.

“We’re headlining Voodoo Fest on Halloween. My agent bought me the house as a tax shelter six months ago. The gig gave us an excuse to come christen it.”

I nodded. “Well, we appreciate the help. I’m Sabina, by the way. The naked one is Giguhl.” I jerked my head. “And that’s Adam.”

Adam and the recreant mage eyed one another for a moment. Finally, Erron said, “You’re an Adherent?”

Adam tensed. “Worse than that, I’m afraid. I’m a Pythian Guard.”

“Priceless,” Erron laughed. “Give Orpheus my regards.”

“We gonna have a problem here?” Adam asked. I watched the two men for signs of violence, ready to back up Adam if necessary.

But Erron’s expression sobered. “Nah. If there’s one thing I hate worse than Hekate Council ass kissers, it’s Caste members.”

Adam relaxed a tad and nodded. Then both males resumed their scan of the immediate area. Giguhl and I traded speculative glances. The exchange between the mages surprised me. This recreant thing was obviously a bigger deal than I thought at first.

More than the tension, something else was bothering me about the cemetery. I put a hand on Adam’s arm. “Do you feel that?”

Adam shot me a worried look. “What?”

“The ground is vibrating.” But that wasn’t it exactly, either. It was subtle, almost like white noise, except palpable.

“Anyone picking up movement?” Adam whispered.

“Not me,” Giguhl said.

I shook my head. The smell of copper was weaker here, and my gut told me the coast was clear for the moment. But I knew better than to relax.

“So what’s your story, Red?” Erron asked. “Why are you fighting vamps, being one yourself?

“I’m mixed-blood, actually. The Caste vamps are working with my grandmother, who wants to wipe my mage half of the family from the planet.”

Erron took that in stride. “Cool.”

“Any chance one of you could whip us up some new hardware?”

Adam jumped in before Erron could offer. “I got it.” He did his thing and handed over a brand-spanking-new gun. The handgrip warmed quickly in my palm. “And before you ask, yes, I remembered the apple bullets this time.”

I grinned at him. On the list of things I liked best about Adam, his ability to conjure weaponry tied for third with his adorable dimples.

Erron nudged my arm. “There’s Zig.”

I looked up to see the Rockabilly guy walking toward us. Instead of speaking, however, his hands moved with lightning speed. Sign language? Since when are mages deaf? Or drummers, for that matter? Adam and I exchanged a look. But he looked less surprised than I felt.

“Ziggy says that there’s a clear path to the wall on the other side. We could flash out, but if we do that, they’ll keep coming back. They always do. I suggest we move toward the wall to draw them out. Face them down and end this now.”

Erron and Ziggy looked to Adam. It rankled that they assumed he was calling the shots. But as a Pythian Guard, Adam had as much— if not more— tactical experience and training as me. Still, my pride took a bit of a ding.

“Sabina?” Adam said. “You cool with that plan?”

I smiled widely at the mancy and saluted. “Yes, sir.”

His lips quirked. “Let’s move.”

We ducked and ran around the crypt we’d been hiding behind. Given the trick the Count had pulled earlier, I thought it best to have more than just the gun. So I reached into my boot for the knife I kept there for special occasions. I didn’t think it’d do much damage against these guys, but I’d take any small advantage I could get at that point.

We forged a serpentine path through the maze of crypts and columbaria. The cemetery wasn’t huge, but the height of the structures and the way they were crammed together meant lots of hiding places for enemies. Finally, I could see the wall on the opposite end of the place ahead. We rushed past a large mausoleum, dedicated to a fraternal order of some sort.

And stumbled headlong into the Count’s creepy gang.

Everyone went still. The leader of the mysterious vamps tipped his chin and held out a gallant hand. “Shall we?” He held out his cane— with the blade hidden back inside— as if he actually expected me to just shrug and come along.

Adam and Erron answered the question for me with a couple of bolts of f**k-you-very-much. But this time, the vamps expected it. They scattered and rolled to avoid the strike. The magic slammed two vamps in the back and ricocheted into the caretaker’s shack, which shuddered and spat bricks to the ground like broken teeth.

I delivered two bullets into the downed vamps while I had the chance. Their cinders swirled away in the breeze.

The other eight scattered. Two— the Count and a female— flanked us, and the others took to the vault roofs.

“Go up, G!” I shouted as I ran toward the Count. From the corner of my eye, I saw Adam head toward the female. Erron and Ziggy ran farther into the cemetery after the others, including Red Sonja.

The Count smiled eagerly and beckoned me with his fingers. I stuck the gun in my waistband and lunged for him. I’d use the gun only when I knew he couldn’t use magic to disarm me again.

He flew to meet me. And when I say flew, I mean his feet literally left the ground. We slammed into each other. He weighed more, so when we fell I was at the disadvantage. I rolled quickly to avoid any restraining holds. As I did, I kicked out, the heel of my boot punching into his chest.

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