I dismissed that pitiful scene because something far more interesting demanded my attention. A female vampire bent over a female’s neck and eagerly slurped at the bloody wound. “Cadence?” I said carefully.
The female vamp’s head jerked up. Her fangs and chin were covered in red and her eyes were dilated full black. The girl between her legs looked up more slowly, but the instant those two hopeless blue eyes met mine, I knew we’d found our girl.
“Cadence.” Louder now. Not a request for attention. A demand.
Unlike the other inhabitants of the house, Cadence looked relatively healthy. Her skin wasn’t covered in scabs and her body hadn’t begun to waste away into a heroin skeleton. But her arms were covered in alternating needle tracks and fang marks. And those eyes were too haunted.
“I told you to leave,” Iggy said from across the room.
“I know.” I kept my eyes on Cadence. “I’m not a very good listener.”
Slowly, the vampire straddling Cadence pulled back. She didn’t bother to wipe the blood from her face.
She flashed her gray fangs and growled, “No one wants you here.”
I speared the junkie with a glare that would have made a sober being think twice about crossing me. With casual slowness, I raised my gun and pointed it between her black-hole eyes. “Get the f**k out of here before I deliver something even more toxic than smack to your system.”
She laughed, the sound not unlike an ass’s bray. “You stupid bitch. Bullets won’t hurt me.” She spread her arms wide, as if daring me to shoot her.
“You’re right. The bullets won’t hurt you until the apple cider embedded in their core takes effect.”
Her eyes widened. Apples were vampire Kryptonite. It went back to the origins of our race in the Garden of Eden and Eve’s apple, which robbed humans of their mortality. Since Lilith, the mother of our race, had already fled the garden by then, she’d remained immortal. As her children, vampires were also immortal—unless their blood was exposed to the forbidden fruit.
The vampiress shot a worried glance at Iggy. His face morphed into a pained expression. Apparently this was all too taxing for his system.
The vampiress grew bored waiting for his reply and clapped her hands together. Sparks flashed between her fingers. “I’ll zap you before the bullet leaves the barrel.” She’d been drinking mage blood, which meant she could do rudimentary magic. But she couldn’t control the power enough to be a real threat, and besides, I was a motherfucking Chthonic demigoddess.
Before I could inform her of this fact, a throat cleared. I turned to see Adam standing behind us. “If you don’t leave right now, that bullet will be the least of your f**king problems.” He raised his hands. An arc of bright blue power flashed from his fingers to hit a chandelier overhead. The next instant the light fixture crashed down in a spray of crystal and metal not a foot from where the vamp-bitch stood.
After that, she was nothing but a blur of red as she fled past us. Iggy followed, hot on her tail.
I hoped she would wise up enough to just remain scarce until we left, but as tweaked as she was, she’d probably shamble back with reinforcements.
Adam rushed across the room, where a shell-shocked Cadence remained on the floor. If the altercation with the vampire had scared her, she didn’t show it. In fact, when Adam reached for her, she scrambled away, albeit sluggishly. “Don’t touch me!”
“Cadence, it’s me—Adam.”
“I know who you are,” she hissed. “Get out! I have nothing to say to you.”
“I have plenty to say. Later. In the meantime, we’re leaving.”
“Not me,” she said. Her tone was languorous and thick. “But you’re welcome to go.”
A gasp sounded from the doorway. I rounded and saw Brooks try to rush in just before Adam restrained him.
“Candy!” Tears ran down Brooks’s face. “What are you doing to yourself? Listen to Adam. It’s time to leave, baby girl.”
She licked her lips and shot Adam an angry glance. “I can’t believe you brought Brooks here.”
“I can’t believe you brought yourself here. What the f**k, Cadence?”
Cadence pulled herself into a standing position with unsteady movements. “Take your judgment and get the f**k out, Adam.”
See, this was where things were going to get hairy. No one, but no one, talked to my male that way. Especially not junky ex-girlfriends we’d risked our necks to save. My first instinct was to forcibly remove her from the house, but given her anger and the drugs skewing her judgment, chances were good one or the both of us would get seriously injured. I tensed with indecision but quickly received a nudge from the demon cat on my shoulder.
“Let him handle it,” the cat hissed in a low tone.
“I know you’re angry,” I said in a calm voice. “But you’re not punishing anyone but yourself.”
Her eyes snapped toward me. “Who the f**k are you?”
My mouth fell open. I shouldn’t have been surprised she didn’t know me, but I was. Before I could tell her, Adam stepped between us, blocking me from her sight. “Don’t worry about her right now.”
My eyes narrowed.
“Let me take you out of here,” he said in his most persuasive tone. Then he whispered things I couldn’t hear.
I clenched my fists and tried to remind myself he was just trying to get her to agree. Still, it wasn’t easy to watch.
“It hurts, Adam.” Her voice wobbled. “I just don’t want to hurt anymore.”
He nodded and took a cautious step forward. “I know it does.” When she didn’t balk at his advance, he took a couple more steps. “But I’m here because I care about you. Let me help you.”
“You can’t help me.” Her words were thick, like her tongue had swollen to twice its normal size. “No one can.” She swayed on her feet.
Adam rushed forward to grab her. She tried to fight off his assistance but stumbled into his arms instead. I stood nearby feeling helpless. She thought drugs could erase her pain, but she was wrong. Only time and getting real with yourself could heal emotional wounds.
Cadence sobbed into Adam’s chest. He patted her back and murmured soothing words, but his gaze was on me. He raised his brows to ask what our next move was.
“What the f**k is going on in here?” a male voice boomed from the doorway.
I turned slowly to see a man standing in the doorway with a small army of vampire tweakers behind him. He wore the collar of a holy man, but the long bleached hair, blue jeans, and crocodile boots ruined the pious look of the ensemble.