"Let go of my hand, asshole!"

Curran let go, and I rubbed my wrist. "Damn it, don't you know how to talk?"

He stared at me, uncomprehending. I reached for the lamp, remembered that the magic was up, and took a candle from the night table instead. I struck a match. The narrow blade of a candle flame flared into existence. Curran stood before me, his eyes wide, unblinking. Tiny red marks covered his face and hands, blending into a uniform coat of crimson. I reached out and touched his palm. Magic stung my fingertips. Blood. Curran was covered with blood, miniscule drops of it swelling from every pore. He had broken through my ward and it had exerted a price.


He gave no indication of hearing me. He must be dazed from shattering the spell.

The headache pounded at my skull like a hammer. Gaining my feet, I took Curran by the hand, led him to the bathroom, and nudged him into the shower. I turned on the cold water and let the icy cascade splash on his face.

Lowering the toilet cover, I sat down and rested my head on my hands. The water poured. I would've killed for an aspirin.

Curran drew a sharp ragged breath and exhaled. Awareness crept into his eyes. "Cold," he said. Shuddering, he shut off the water and shook himself. The drops extinguished the candle and darkness swallowed us.

I reached blindly and threw a towel at him. Finding the door, I started toward the kitchen. Halfway through the short hallway something fell onto my head. I leaped to the side and grabbed at it. My fingers held a twig.

What the hell?

I looked up and saw the night sky. A large, irregular-shaped hole gaped in my roof. Curran had picked the highest point of the building, where the ward would be the weakest and punched through the ward and the roof with it.

I ground my teeth, went into the kitchen, and found a feylantern. With a little coaxing, it ignited, its gentle blue flame spreading soft light. Curran appeared in the doorway.

"You broke my roof," I told him.

"It was easier than the door," he said. "I knocked. You didn't answer."

I rubbed my temples. From now on, no more wine.

Something clanked. I looked up. Curran put my dagger on the table.

"How's your shoulder?"

"Sore," he said.

Telling him that I had been aiming for his throat wasn't in my best interest.

"You were right," he said. "It's not over."

"I know," I said softly.

"There is an upir."

"I know."

"He has Derek."

I stared at him.

"I sent Derek and Corwin to the Wood," Curran said. "He attacked them at the pickup point and took Derek. The last Corwin remembers, the kid had a broken leg, but was alive."

"What about Corwin?"

"He's hurt," Curran said.

"How bad?"

"He's dying."


We stood on the porch, shoulder to shoulder, the night stretching before us.

"I see him." A reptilian-looking thing crouched in the branches of the poplar, its long scaly tail wrapped around a tree limb. The watcher Bono had left to keep an eye on me.

"We can't kill it. Bono thinks I'll sit in the house and hide behind my wards. If we kill it, he's going to know. He has some sort of telepathic bond with them."

Curran strode to the tree. The thing watched him with huge round eyes. Curran jumped, caught a low branch, and pulled himself onto it. The reptilian monster hissed. I went to the shed and brought back a coil of cable wire. Curran grabbed the thing by the neck. It squealed and let go of the branch. He hurled it down and I stepped on it and tied the wire around its neck. Its skin was translucent and colored pale olive, glistening with transparent scales. Curran jumped down and we tied the other end around the tree.

We headed toward the ley line.

WE SAT ON A NARROW WOODEN PLATFORM, hastily thrown together from bits of discarded lumber. They were called ley taxis, cheap wooden constructs that lay in stacks near every ley point. Nothing living could ride the ley line without having some sort of support under its feet. If you were foolish enough to try, the magic current would sever your legs just above the knee.

The ley line dragged us north toward Atlanta at nearly ninety miles an hour. Magic held the taxi completely immobile, so much so that it appeared the rough wooden platform hung still, while the planet merrily rotated past it.

"Explain the bone ward to me again," Curran said quietly.

"He killed the vampires and fed on them. The flesh he consumed created the bond between their bones and him. By bringing the bones inside and binding them to the stone foundation and the walls, I forced him to fight against himself. It's nearly impossible to break this kind of ward. I had also dropped the ward-markers all around the yard so he would have a clear passage to my porch. He was too happy to see me to notice."

"You baited him?"


"So the bone ward can be reversed, but blood wards can be overcome by a person of similar blood?"

"Apples and oranges," I said dully. I felt tired and restless at the same time. "The blood ward draws its power directly from the blood, while the Rock-Wood-Bone ward is an environmental ward. It draws power from the magic itself. The presence of bones just defines it, similar to a lens that allows only light of a certain color to pass. He can't enter my house when magic is up. And since he is magic, he must be too weak to try during tech."

I watched the planet rotate by, the darkness-drowned valleys and hills rolling on both sides of us. Poor Derek. I clenched my teeth.

"Don't," Curran said.

"I should've found somebody to listen." We didn't look at each other, choosing instead to stare into the night's face.

"Wouldn't have mattered," Curran said. "I would've still sent them to the Wood. It was the safest place for them."

"In retrospect, it all fits." My voice was bitter. "He was Ghastek's journeyman, right in the middle of the People's recon crew. He knew when vamps went out and where they headed. He knew which route your people took coming back into the city from Keep. And he spent all his free time picking up women at the bar." I leaned back. I'd had the benefit of Anna's vision and I still missed it. "So stupid."

Curran didn't say anything.

The stars shone bright, mocking us from above, laughing at two humans on a piece of junk. I closed my eyes, but sleep refused to come.

"I put a broken bottle into his throat," I said.

"I saw the bloody glass."

Tags: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Vampires
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
Articles you may like