If it had been socially acceptable, or more importantly, legal, I would have had a two-handed axe strapped to my back, or even a two-handed sword. Ahh, but an axe was my favorite. A sword could behead, but an axe was made for it. And chances were, if I needed a weapon to kill something, that something needed to lose it’s head in order to die. I had a gun at my ankle, but with two angry druids invading my domain, what I longed for was an axe. I had one somewhat close by. It was strapped to the bottom of my desk, because paranoia could be called a religion to some of us. But going for it was really just a wistful fancy at this point. I couldn’t kill these druids. One did not kill a druid if one wanted to stay off the radar. A druid’s death would not go unnoticed or unexplored. And it would never go unavenged. Even those at the very bottom of the druid food chain were protected. It was a fact that if you were born supernatural, in any way, you wanted to be born druid. I had wished for the privilege more than once, even though I hated most of them.

I couldn’t decide if it was good or bad that they seemed to be as surprised to see me as I was to see them. One thing was for certain. It was damned unlucky.

Michael was the first to recover, cursing fluently. He was relatively short for a druid, no more than six feet tall. His coarse, light-brown hair was cut into a harsh buzz-cut, as though he wanted to fuss with it as little as possible. He pushed black shades to the top of his head, pinning me with his angry dark-brown eyes.

The other one, Mav, didn’t say a word. He just turned, punching a hole into the nearest wall. I was tempted to tell him he’d have to pay for that, but I really didn’t want to bother.

Mav was a few inches taller than his partner, but shared the same coloring. I seemed to recall that they were distant cousins.

“We could kill her now. We could just bury her in the desert,” Mav said to Michael, his back still to me. “No one ever has to know. We could just eliminate this can of worms, once and for all.”

I flashed a half-sneer at Michael, who’d never taken his malevolent gaze off of my face. “I’d love to see you try,” I told them both. I knew they’d never kill me. That kind of disobedience just didn’t happen in the druid world. And there was an order from higher up that I was not to be killed. Not to mention the little detail that they had no clue in the world how to actually get the deed accomplished. Taking all of that into consideration, I suddenly had an idea. Admittedly, it was not a great idea, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice. Actually, the more I worked out the details in my head, I realized that it was a borderline terrible idea, but I was certain it would buy me some time. And time was what I needed. I would be the first to admit that I was a shameless runner, though even I knew that was nothing to be proud of. But running like a coward meant that I had developed some pretty extensive evasive skills over the years. I could work wonders with a head start. And no one knew better than I did that sometimes a head start had a price.

Michael was shaking his head at me slowly. “No, we won’t kill you-“ he began, but Mav interrupted him.

“Do you have any idea what he was like when you left?” Mav asked me, his eyes scary. “He was a mad thing for months. Did you hear what he did in the arena? No one even knew he had that in him. You made him into that! And when he gave up looking for you, he turned bitter, and we all suffered. We all had to pay because of your f**king games!” His voice was a growl by the end. I was taken aback when I saw that his eyes weren’t human any longer. I had always thought that Mav’s powers were limited to far below the level of the beastcall. “Are you even sorry for what you did?” he asked. I couldn’t help but notice that he’d given me a better opening than I could have maneuvered for myself. That was helpful.

I shrugged, giving him a pointedly bored look. “He got over it,” I told him. “I hear he’s doing more than fine. You’ve never had a younger Arch-“

Before I could finish, he was across the room, backhanding me. The blow knocked me off my feet. “Whore!” His voice was nearly a howl.

It took a lot more self-control than I cared to admit not to retaliate to both the blow and the word, but I made myself at least appear calm. “I hear he’s interviewing applicants to replace me nightly,” I dared to say, standing up to face him again. I saw the punch coming, and braced myself. The back of my head hit the wall at the back of the room. I saw stars.

CHAPTER TWO

Happy Place

 Not fighting back was much harder than I had thought it would be. My nails dug so hard into my palms that I felt the skin split. My plan would be much more effective, though, if I didn’t leave a scratch on either one of them. I repeated this to myself, over and over again.

I thought that watching me fly across the room actually made Mav feel better. He was noticeably calmer when he said, “You and your sister haven’t registered with us for over five years.” Actually, it was closer to seven, but I wasn’t going to correct him. He continued, “I know I don’t have to tell you the kind of trouble I could give you for that. In addition, you were both registered as weather-witches. You’re gonna have to do better than that this time. You don’t have a high-ranking boyfriend to protect you anymore.” He was downright smug by the end of his little spiel.

“Are you implying that I’m not a weather-witch?” I asked him. I wasn’t, of course. Not even close.

“Don’t push me,” he snarled.

I tried to smile pleasantly at him, but knew I fell far from the mark. “Would you like me to go make it rain? Or better yet, I could make it about a hundred and ten degrees outside, with no humidity. That one’s my specialty.” Yes, it was a bad Vegas weather joke. They didn’t laugh, either.

I got a hard punch in the stomach for the comment. I spit out a large mouthful of blood.

“You are going to give us some straight answers, Jillian, or we will be making you very sorry,” Michael threatened.

“In that case, I should tell you that my name hasn’t been Jillian for years.” He slapped me for that comment.

“You’re going to tell me what you really are, or I swear I’ll make you sorry,” Mav said.

“I’m not telling you a damn thing. You couldn’t beat it out of me. I doubt you could even hold me down long enough to try,” I said, and it was a dare that I knew these knuckleheads couldn’t resist. I’d learned a long time ago that if you suggested something to someone, if it was something they had already wanted to do, something they were already considering, they would almost always take you up on it. This was especially true if you were dealing with idiots.


Tags: R.K. Lilley Heretic Daughters Vampires
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