Figuring I might as well admit defeat, I let the gun dangle between my legs. “He was in a hurry, all right. He was on his way to attack us.”

“Anyway, after that, I called in every vamp I know in the area for a powwow. Only it wasn’t to recruit them.”

“You were warning them to skip town?” Adam said, shooting me a look.

She nodded. “Fat lot of good it did. Only a handful decided to run.”

I leaned back against the couch cushions. “And the rest? Do they plan on working for Lavinia?”

“Nope. The rest of us are staying to fight for our city.”

A humorless laugh escaped my lips. “Then you’re all fools.”

“All right,” Mac said. “That’s enough. You’ve gotten your explanation. Now get the hell out.”

“No, wait,” Georgia said. When Mac made disgusted noises, she held out a hand for patience. “Why are we fools for not allowing a bully to push us around?”

I sighed from deep in my chest. The kind of sigh you take before you break bad news to a trusting soul. “Well, Georgia, the answer to your question is this: Lavinia Kane isn’t just a bully, she’s the godsdamned Alpha Domina. Just because you live in New Orleans instead of Los Angeles is no excuse not to understand what that title means.”

Georgia shrugged. “So she’s powerful.”

I snorted. “Not just powerful, Georgia. Ancient. She’s seen empires rise and fall. She’s killed more vampires than you’ve met in your lifetime. Created rivers of blood in the streets of both the Old and New Worlds. And when she wants something, she won’t stop until it’s hers. So, yes, I believe you and your friends are fools for even considering the possibility you could defeat her.”

Georgia tipped her head to the side. “Didn’t Mac tell me you aim to kill Lavinia Kane?”

I licked my lips. “I do.”

A slow smile spread across Georgia’s lips. “Well then, darlin’, I guess that makes us both fools, doesn’t it?”

I liked this Georgia. She had spirit and a refreshing lack of bullshit. “You have no idea.”

“Save your breath,” Mac said. “She’s leaving tonight.”

Georgia’s smile disappeared. “Like hell I am. If you’re staying, I’m staying, and that’s final.”

Mac glanced at me before pulling Georgia aside for a whispered argument. In order to give them privacy, I turned toward Adam and waved Giguhl over. The mage blew out a long breath.

“How you holding up, mancy?”

“I’ll live. If Mac doesn’t turn that shotgun on us, that is.”

“Oh, please, she’s just mad we found out she’s dating a vampire. I’ll just tell her that secret’s safe with us and that will be that.” That earned me two incredulous looks.

The conversation across the room escalated into a full-on shouting match. “….. don’t let her put thoughts in your head. She’s a nut job.” Mac didn’t even try to pretend she wasn’t talking about me. In fact, she pointed a finger in my direction as she yelled, “She’ll get you killed.”

“I think we need to get something straight,” Georgia said, her voice icy. “I only like tops in bed. When the clothes go back on, you lose the right to boss me around.”

“On second thought,” I said. “Maybe they need some privacy.”

I stood and made my way for the door. Adam and Giguhl lagged behind, each enjoying the show too much to leave.

“I think they’re about to kiss,” Giguhl hissed.

I rolled my eyes and grabbed Adam by the ear. “Let’s go.” He yelped and rose immediately. I released his lobe and pushed him toward the door, careful not to nudge his wound.

Giguhl got less careful treatment and had to be forcibly pulled from the room. If we were lucky, the ladies would have furious makeup sex later. Then maybe Mac wouldn’t come after me with that shotgun for pulling a gun on her girlfriend over a misunderstanding.

A crash sounded from inside the apartment.

Then again, maybe I should have taken the shotgun.


In the dream, brass cuffs bound my hands to an overhead rafter. A werewolf in full-moon beast form pointed a shotgun at my face. Just beyond the light pool of a single bare bulb, the silhouette of a male paced in the shadows. Every now and then, the dim light caught the shock of red hair on his head.

“Who are you?” I demanded, yanking painfully with my wrists.

He paused. Turned. I still couldn’t make out a face. “We’ve known each other since the beginning.”

He stepped forward into the light. I gasped. He was beautiful. Too beautiful. Long cardinal-red hair, olive skin, eyes the color of wet emeralds. Tall and finely muscled. Not the bulk of a body builder, but the grace of a Greek statue. David instead of Goliath. Everything too perfect to be anything but evil.

“I don’t know you.”

He placed a hand over his heart and closed his eyes. Like my words wounded him. “My beloved Lamashtu . Soon we will be reunited. Forever.”

Blood dripped down my wrist, my arms, to spill on the concrete floor. “You’re a lunatic.”

He looked up, his irises darker now. Crazier. “Remind her where her heart is. Who her master is.”

The were stepped forward. Jabbed the cold metal into my breastbone. “I don’t know you!” I yelled.

The ominous double click of the pump action.

His slimy smile evaporated. He whispered, “Where’s my f**king owl?”

Boom !

I woke with a start. My breath labored, and cold sweat coated my chest. I rubbed at it, relieved to find unbroken skin. A green claw appeared in front of my face. The scent of coffee from the mug it held went a long way toward calming me.

I groped for it, but the claw moved out of range.

“You’re gonna have to get out of bed first,” Giguhl said, sounding amused.

Right, like that was going to happen. “Go away,” I groaned, rolling over to burrow back into the pillows and blankets.

My tormentor ripped the pillow away. Unholy light and frigid air hit my face.

“Don’t make me hurt you, G.”

“I’d like to see you try, trampire.” The covers disappeared next. “Now get up and shake a leg.”

I rolled over to deliver a well-deserved glare at my minion. “What time is it?”

He stood just out of kicking range, waving the mug in the air like bait. “Four.”