“You’ve got issues,” I told him. I was mostly messing with him. I loved a good fight as much as he did. I just wasn’t all chipper about it.

He smiled happily, not in the least insulted. “I found one of Lynn’s flunkies. They’re getting the goth-tard bus ready to go.”

Lynn nodded. “Good. Let’s get out of here. We’ll leave these guys with the tent. My people should have the rest packed up in a matter of minutes.”

“Think these guys’ll be out long enough for me to grab an elephant ear on the way out?” Christian asked. Caleb gave him a borderline disgusted look. Lynn and I laughed.

As we made our way quickly to the parking lot, I pulled Lynn aside. I held my arm up. It was literally steaming. I was burning up again. She studied me closely, saying, “You ride with Caleb in Christian’s car. You’ll have to take one of my kiddies with you. We have a full house.”

“What about Caleb’s car?” I asked her.

“God only knows. He says he doesn’t have a car here. I have no idea how he got here.”

“The bus?” I joked.

“I have a feeling he didn’t take the bus, either.” We shared a long look. We had our reservations about Caleb. He was an ally, had even become a friend, but he was a concern. There was so much we still didn’t know about him, about his abilities and his loyalties. I could well understand his need to keep his own secrets; we did the same rather zealously, but it was still a concern. He had arrived with the first wave of the coming storm…

I ended up sprawled out in the cramped back of Christian’s porsche, with Caleb at the wheel. Luke, the submissive, was riding shotgun. Apparently he’d volunteered to ride with us. I wondered if he’d done it just to get a punishment from his girlfriend, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to ask. He kept his face in profile to me. He was shooting me worried glances from under his downcast lashes. Such demure looks from such a large man were disconcerting to me. I thought I had adapted well to this century, but perhaps I was a little sexist, after all.

I gasped as a wave of raw, painful heat swept through me. Not good. I started gasping and shuddering involuntarily. “What’s going on, Jillian?” Caleb’s voice drifted at me as if from a distance. I held on hard to consciousness.

“I don’t know, but I think I might be about to ruin Christian’s backseat,” I gasped out.

“What can I do?” Caleb asked, always practical.

I could literally smell smoke coming off of my clothes. I tried to answer him. The world went black.


Dangerous Backup

 I came to lying on a hard slab of concrete. I didn’t recognize my surroundings, but I knew immediately that I was in a cel. There were no windows, and the lighting was dim, but I could see well enough to know the man looming in the doorway. It was the only way in or out of the small room.

A worried Luke rushed past the still form of Caleb, apparently oblivious of the danger. He knelt by my head, a damp cloth in his hand. He pressed the cloth to my head, a concerned look on his face. Great. My own hunky nursemaid.

“Where are we?” I asked Caleb.

“Someplace safe.” He shot Luke a cold look. I saw that there was a fresh bruise on Luke’s cheek. It hadn’t been there before I’d blacked out. If I’d had to guess, I’d say he’d been bitch-slapped. “Luke assures me he’ll reveal it’s location to no one. I’ve assured him that he had better not, or I’ll teach him the true nature of pain. Those little games he plays have done nothing to prepare him for the kinds of tortures I can devise.”

Luke looked suitably scared. He was nodding jerkily. “I swear.”

Caleb’s cold stare turned back to me. His face was it’s usual expressionless mask, but I could feel something warmer under the surface. Anger, maybe. “It’s time for you to give me some answers, Jillian.”

I sat up, fury almost blinding me as I felt the shackles on my wrists and ankles as I moved. The bastard had taken full advantage at my first sign of weakness. I gave Luke a murderous look when he moved to help me. He backed off, head bowed.

I schooled my features into passivity, meeting Caleb’s cold gaze with my own. My fury would not help me here. I wanted to rip his head off, but I still needed his backup more, and I couldn’t fathom the extent of his betrayal just yet. “So I’m your prisoner? Care to explain what you’re doing, Caleb?”

“What the f**k happened to you in that car?”

I gave him a disgruntled look. “I told you I don’t know what that was about in the car. I’ve been having…episodes. I can’t explain them.”

He set his hands on his hips. No, that was wrong. He had them resting on the hilts of two guns riding his hips. “You’re going to give me answers, Jillian. I’ve been kept in the dark for far too long where you and your sister are concerned. I have a real problem with you knowing more about me than I do about you.”

I curled my lip at him. “Are you threatening me?”

“I’m determined,” he said ominously. Well, that sure sounded like a yes.

I didn’t have to feel down my body to know he’d removed my weapons. You know it’s a bad week when even your backup turns on you.

“What are you?” he asked. Well, that was direct.

“Do you have another room that Luke could wait in?” I asked pointedly.

Caleb shifted, waving Luke out. Luke went, casting me sad, worried glances. I nodded at the door. He closed it softly behind him.

“What are you? Both of you? I know that you have different powers, and I don’t understand it. Some shit is about to go down in this town, and I sure as hell don’t plan to stay in the dark about the people I’m fighting with.”

It was almost a relief that this was all he wanted to know. I’d had the horrible thought that he was in league with my relatives. If they were in town, he could have been holding me for them. I was still pissed, but slightly less worried. I remained cautious, though. Caleb was not someone to take lightly. I debated for awhile what to tell him. He could threaten me all he wanted, but the truth was, he couldn’t torture me into telling him anything I wasn’t willing to. But we’d known him for long enough, and he’d seen us do enough strange things, that I was considering just telling him the truth. Besides, if he was going to turn on us, it wasn’t as though he didn’t already have enough ammo to help take us down.

Tags: R.K. Lilley Heretic Daughters Vampires
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