In order to cause the enemy to come of their own volition, extend some [apparent] profit. In order to prevent the enemy from coming forth, show them [the potential] harm.

- Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Se wo were fi na wo sankofa yenki.

(It is not a taboo to go back and retrieve what you forgot.)

- Sankofa proverb

PROLOGUE

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Standing in the Middle of Hell...

Carlos assessed his situation fast. Payback for all that he'd done in life was a true bitch. There was no way out. He was dead. Or, more like half dead - undead - a vampire. Topside, he had a woman who he'd give his life for. Perhaps, to some extent, he already had... only to find out that the sister he was protecting was a vampire huntress. Not to mention the fact that the woman he wanted more than his next breath was surrounded by a gang of weapons-toting brothers and an off-the-hook momma who could fight. Crazy.

The old vampires had called Damali a Neteru, and then thinking him ignorant and stupid, and being themselves arrogant, had attempted to simplify the concept for him by describing her as a slayer. Carlos smiled. The tension in their faces was a dead giveaway that, for all their power, they couldn't hide. Yeah, they had reason to worry.

But didn't they realize what he'd known all his life? Now dead, there was no loss of that knowledge about what she was - special. Always had been, to him. There was no simplifying Damali. Neteru fit her. To call her anything else would be a clumsy summation of what she was.

His awareness from just a quick hit of Nuit's throne had given him a glimpse of all who had hunted vampires in the past. For centuries humans had cast spells, or those with mild forms of extrasensory awareness had come for what was now, unfortunately, his kind. Shamans had performed rituals and secret societies had made their own legends. But this one, this huntress... a Neteru was divinely created and specially anointed. Damali was something that he could not put into words.

Carlos drew a hard breath just thinking about her. This woman could shift the balance of world power, realign the energies in the universe. She had every gift to go along with her force of nature - not all of them realized, but definitely there, waiting - and a team of seasoned hunters at her side to give guidance, then ultimately follow her lead. From her womb great empires could be birthed, on the side of light or dark, and she held the key: her choice in the matter - the ultimate power of free will. The sister had divine authority. Even the old boys were awed, nervous, and craved what she had come by as a birthright.

And she is mine...

But he couldn't worry about all that right now.

Above ground, he had the Asian, Russian, Dominican, and Jamaican drug mobs, plus the federal authorities and another master vampire, looking for his head on a silver platter. Beneath the earth's surface, he had the entire Vampire Council on his ass. And now he was about to receive a tour of Hell itself.

This was beyond fucked up.


Tags: L.A. Banks Vampire Huntress Legend Vampires
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