Home > Sex and the Single Vamp(14)

Sex and the Single Vamp(14)
Author: Robin Covington

“It’s very nice to meet you, Beatrice.” Cici attempted to remove her hand from the woman’s grip, but she couldn’t without wrenching it away. Some people were touchers—they needed to maintain contact while they talked to you. Cici wasn’t a fan, but you rolled with it when you had a potential client in front of you.

“Yes, it would be hard to miss your constant media appearances about your business. You’re quite vocal and exceedingly talented at spreading your particular message.”

“Um…thanks?” She thought there was a compliment in there somewhere. Cici glanced at Deacon, his face a blank wall as he regarded their visitor, his body coiled to respond; she was relieved to have him near. This woman gave her the creeps.

Beatrice continued, her voice startlingly loud as she tightened her grip on Cici’s hand. “Now you will return to what you were. Abominations are wrenched from the veil and cast into the wild.”

“What?” Cici tried to yank her hand out of this woman’s grasp, but it tightened into a viselike hold. She was batshit crazycakes and Cici didn’t give a shit about decorum.

“Okay, lady. Wacko hour is over. Time to move on.” Deacon stepped forward, placing his hand over the other woman’s as he tried to drag her away. Cici felt the surge of electricity as it entered Deacon’s body, throwing him back several feet. He jumped to his feet, yelling into his commons unit on his lapel for Andy to “get his ass in here”.

People scattered, putting distance between them and the scene unfolding before them. Just across the room she spotted Andy, bounding down the stairs and hurtling toward her at a breakneck pace. Deacon advanced on the woman again, his expression murderous. But Beatrice kept going, her intonation growing louder and more strident as she rolled though a litany that spoke of deviants and asking someone to rain down locusts, blood, and all kinds of Old Testament shit on Cici.

The words were scary but not as frightening as the tightness in her chest, the pressure closing down on her throat. She didn’t need to breathe, but her body was in agony as something was wrenched out of her. It was white-hot lava pouring through her veins, pooling in her gut, burning her from the inside.

Deacon roared up beside her, his fist coming down on Beatrice’s face in a punch that should have knocked the woman out but she remained standing. Her blood-filled smile was cold and her eyes were black with the hate roiling out of her in waves that were almost visible to the na**d eye.

Deacon turned to Cici, wrapping her in his arms as he struggled to get her away from the madwoman, but she couldn’t feel him. It was as if he didn’t touch her at all—as if one of them were fog.

It was her. She was the fog. She was slipping away.

Cici clawed against him, trying to gain purchase and use him as an anchor as she slid down his body to the floor. Her legs were useless, she couldn’t speak or yell, though she could see clearly as Beatrice ended her incantation and cast away Cici’s hand like a piece of trash. Andy, accompanied by two more of Deacon’s crew, grabbed her from behind; she put up no fight.

Triumph shone in her eyes and in her ghoulish smile. The last thing Cici thought as she slipped into the blackness was how Beatrice’s elaborately styled hair was still in perfect condition. The chick hadn’t even broken a sweat as she worked her weird mojo.

When she came to, the first thing she noticed was all the yelling.

Cici had no idea how long she’d been out, but she came back to the embassy party with a jolt, her body surging upward as she bolted out of her unconscious state. Deacon held her close as he barked out orders to everyone swirling around them and she sagged against his chest and wrapped her arms around his neck, grateful to feel his strength.

He stood suddenly, sweeping her up in his arms, and she gasped, inhaling sharply as her world tilted on its axis. Her breath caught in her throat and she began to cough, eyes watering as she cleared her throat.

And then it hit her.

She was breathing. A steady intake and outtake of oxygen into lungs that hadn’t worked for over two hundred years. For something that should have been an autopilot function, her brain strained to follow the rhythm, coughing and choking as her inhale and exhale stuttered like an amateur.

Fuck.

She released a hold on his neck and ran trembling fingers over the skin of her left breast, until she found what she was looking for. A heartbeat. Steady and true.

When she looked up, Deacon stared down at her, his eyes wide with shock. “Cici?”

“Deacon,” she croaked out, swallowing hard to remove the thick, hot lump of fear lodged in her throat. “I’m alive.”

Chapter Thirteen

Deacon hadn’t wanted to kill something so much in decades.

He wanted to reach across the table in the small, smelly interrogation room of the police station, grab Beatrice Park, and take her apart piece by piece until she resembled a macabre jigsaw puzzle. The only thing standing between the witch and a slow, painful death was her knowledge of who the leader of FAR might be and his firm belief that he could get her to talk.

He just needed Ramirez to leave him alone with her for a few minutes.

“Forget it, Deacon. I’m not leaving,” Ramirez said from where he leaned on the door. “I shouldn’t have let you in here to begin with, and if you hurt the suspect, my ass will be in a sling.”

“They’ll never know you had anything to do with it. We already hacked in and looped the video surveillance feed in the building. No one even has to know we were in here,” he said as he paced along his side of the table. The woman looked so ordinary, suburban…nice. She’d walked up and he’d didn’t suspect anything until she’d started in with all the ooga booga witchcraft. And by then it had been too f**king late.

“You hacked into the surveillance system? How?” Ramirez asked.

“I did the hacking, actually,” Andy said from the other side of the room. “And you’re better off not knowing.”

“Jesus,” Ramirez huffed out as he ran a big hand over his face, his eyes grim and troubled. “I’m so f**ked. I can kiss that nice retirement good-bye.”

“You can come work for me,” Deacon said, his patience already ten miles past the breaking point. Even with the hack job, it would only be a matter of time before somebody came looking for Ramirez and the cold bitch eyeballing him across the expanse of scratched Formica tabletop.

The beast, dangerous and violent, coiled beneath the surface of the veneer cast by the tuxedo and civilized behavior. This woman was going to tell him what she knew and then he’d make her regret ever putting her hands on Cici.

Deacon stalked around the table, grabbed Beatrice by the arms, and wrenched her up from her chair, which teetered back and crashed to the ground. He’d jerked her so violently that her head snapped to the side, but all she did was smile up at him, the malevolence of it rivaling any enemy he’d faced on a battlefield. Some people were crazy—this bitch was just mean.

“Deacon.” Ramirez stepped forward.

“Back. The. Fuck. Up,” Deacon growled, never breaking eye contact with Beatrice. He waited for the sound of Ramirez moving back to his original position before continuing. “Who do you work for?”

She smiled wider and the crazy dancing through her eyes made him queasy. Maybe he’d underestimated just how on the edge she was. “You already know the answer. Why are you wasting your time with stupid questions?”

“Fine. Let me clarify. I want the name and everything you know about the person who told you to do this. Don’t leave anything out that might piss me off and make me come back to get you.”

“I don’t know his name. We met in several locations.” She tossed her head back with a shrug. “I know what he is, how much he despises our kind. I wouldn’t have met him in a private location.”

“So why? Why help someone who hates what you are?”

“The money.” She laughed as if he were the dumbest f**k on the planet. “He paid me a shitload of money to kill the Trent woman. Do you like all your clients, Mr. Deacon?”

“But you didn’t kill her. She’s living and breathing right now and getting checked over by a doctor.” He shoved her back, enjoying her stumbling lurch until she caught herself with her handcuffed hands. “How’s your employer going to feel about your failure?”

“I didn’t fail.” She tossed her head to get the hair out of her face; his manhandling had finally made a dent in the iron-bitch defense she wore and the small, mean part of him was inordinately pleased to see her disheveled and off-kilter. “I did kill her. Slowly. Day by day. She’s dying a little with every breath and one day the end will come. It could be fast like a car wreck, but I’m hoping it’s slow, painful, and agonizing as her body betrays her with a ravaging disease. Being human will do that to you.”

Deacon moved before the impulse even registered with his brain. He wrapped his fingers around Beatrice’s neck and slammed her against the wall, her legs kicking out as she struggled against him. Her fingers scrabbled against his hand, awkward and useless with the zip-tie cuffs binding her wrists together.

He watched her gasp for air, eyes bulging as the panic rose in her and fed the beast in him. He’d killed before, people he didn’t know and with whom he had no personal grudge; it was the job of being a soldier. He slept fine at night, never haunted by the ones he’d dispatched to hell without a backward glance. He wasn’t wired that way and had long ago stopped worrying about what it said about his soul. But this bitch was personal.

Her words played over and over in his mind as the rage burned hotter and hotter. He needed to let it consume him, to eradicate the arctic cold knot that bloomed in his chest with the truth of her words. His Cici was mortal and he was now faced with a future where he would sit by helpless as age or disease ravaged her body and her mind. And one day—a day chosen by the fickle fates—she would leave him to face the rest of his existence without her.

It scared him shitless, and he could barely remain on his feet under the avalanche of icy cold fear barreling down on him. For a man who’d been convinced he’d never need another person so much, the realization that he’d been lying to himself for so many years was mind-blowing.

His voice when he spoke was steadier than he thought possible. “I’m going to let you breathe so you can tell me how to reverse the curse. Nod if you understand.”

She nodded as best she could with his fingers clamped down around her neck, but he got the message.

“If you don’t tell me what I want to know, I will snap your neck.” He drew in close, fangs bared on a growl that caused her to whimper. She cast anxious glances in Ramirez’s direction, but quickly snapped them back to him when he tightened his grip. “I don’t give a f**k about the police or any of their rules so don’t think that’s going to stop me. They can’t do anything to me. I know it. They know it. I’m un-fucking-touchable”—he leaned in close enough to kiss her—“but you’re not.”

“I can’t reverse the curse.”

“Bullshit. You better tell me or I see a painful but non-fatal injury in your immediate future.”

“I don’t.” She licked her lips, tears squeezing out of the corner of her eyes and running down her cheeks. The perfectly applied makeup began to run and her ravaged appearance told him she wasn’t as young as she appeared at the party. “He had another witch prepare the incantation. I can’t reverse what I didn’t create.”

“Who is the other witch?”

“I don’t know.”

Fuck. He’d known the answer before he’d asked it. This a**hole was smart and he’d made sure that undoing the damage wouldn’t be so easy. It was something Deacon would have done, and he would have admired the guy’s strategy at any other time.

“Well, you’re proving to be less than useful so far,” he growled into her face. “Any chance you know who this guy is?”

“No,” she wheezed out, her lips turning blue with the lack of oxygen getting to her extremities. “He’s human. Descended from a long line of FAR leaders. He paid me in cash.” She gasped, clutching at his lapel in a silent plea to let go of her. “He hates you.”

“Explain,” Deacon said, letting up a little so that she could explain herself.

“He hates you. Something you did…he’s”—she swallowed hard, her voice harsh and low with the effort to speak—“he’s avenging them.”

Fuck. He shook his head. There was no way this was really about him. All this crap started with Cici’s business before he was brought into the picture. And while he didn’t conceal his past with her, it wasn’t public knowledge.

“Yes. He knows all about you, your past. He sent me to hurt her in order to hurt you.” She shuddered as his hand slackened at her throat, as her words sunk in. “Something you did brought this on her head. You killed her.”

Deacon stepped back from her and watched as she slid to the ground, a crumpled mess of designer gown, wild hair, and smeared makeup. She clutched at her throat, gasping to suck air into lungs that were now in hyperdrive. He could hear her heartbeat, rapid with fear, and it reminded him of Cici.

Mortal. Vulnerable. Human.

“I’m done with this worthless piece of shit, Ramirez.” He turned swiftly, long strides taking him to the door, which he opened with a doorjamb-cracking yank. “Whatever you find out from her, just put it in the police files and I’ll get it from there.”

“You’re an arrogant bastard,” Ramirez called after him.

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