Home > Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark #11)(7)

Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark #11)(7)
Author: Kresley Cole

She stowed her phone back on her belt, then crossed to a back all ey behind a five-story hotel. Without warning, she leapt to a balcony on the fourth floor, easily jogging along the rail before scaling to the roof.

There he saw her hunch down at the edge, her ears twitching once more as she searched for her prey.

A perfect killer.

If it weren't for the Order, immortals would likely rule the earth.

Recently, several had made strikes against well -known human leaders around the world. His commander, Preston Webb, had told him, "Even the more moderate species are aggressing on us, son.

Any tenuous truce has fal en by the wayside."

There truly was to be war between the species. As ever, Webb was right-

Declan lost sight of her. He hastened around to the front of the building, then cased the next, but he didn't see her on any of the roofs. Where the hel was she? He tore up and down streets, head craning.

In the distance, he heard what sounded like an explosion. Seconds later, he got a cal on his earpiece from the leader of his backup unit. When Declan answered, he heard a war zone on the other end.

Yel ing. Gunfire. Was that groaning metal?

"Magister, the target..."

"You weren't ordered to engage her!"

"Sir, she found us!"

His men were the prey. The example killing.

Fuck! He raced toward the sounds, turning a corner. He spotted her maybe half a mile away along a riverside quay downtown.

Never had he seen anything like the scene there.

One of their three black vans was on the bank of the river, upended on its gril . A second lay on its side in the street, with claw marks carved down its length. Bodies of slain soldiers sprawled all around it.

Declan sprinted, unable to reach her before she struck out, swirling with those swords like a tornado, slicing down men with unfathomable speed.

A dozen more soldiers had opened fire on her with their laserlike charge throwers. But those powerful weapons weren't slowing her.

Hair whipping all around her face, she took the electricity, seeming to consume it. Lips curling, she stabbed her swords back into their sheaths and opened her arms wide.

Her lids briefly slid shut in pleasure.

As he ran, he inexplicably shuddered in reaction. Thoughts arose that never should, impulses long denied. ...

"That all you got, muthafuckas?" She glowed brighter, il uminating the street. "I like electricity, you dumbasses! Hit me with another."

They did. She sucked it in. The streetlights surrounding her began to flare from her radiant energy.

"Know what else? I'm a freaking conduit." She caught a jolt in one hand, and channeled it back with her other. She hit one soldier, exploding him into the air, kil ing him instantly.

Rage erupted within Declan. The strength and speed he fought so hard to hide rose to the fore. Blood pumped to his muscles, his thoughts dimming. Like a blur, he closed in on her, unsheathing his sword as he ran.

"You want some of this?" She turned to another soldier, shooting again. "How 'bout you?" And again.

Declan stole behind her, wrapping one arm around her neck to yank her back into him. He inhaled her scent, felt her body, hesitated. Stab her, incapacitate her.

When she thrashed against his chest with inconceivable strength, his training took over and he planted his sword into her side, twisting the blade within her.

Lightning struck nearby. She gasped at the pain. A debilitating wound, even for an immortal.

Blood bubbled from her lips and poured from the gash. Her little body trembled against him, her skin cooling as her light dimmed.

Wrong! his mind screamed. Dizziness hit him as that familiar tension multiplied, knotting every one of his muscles, nearly crippling him. He swayed, quickly withdrawing his blade.

Without him supporting her, she col apsed, curling up on the filthy street. As blood streamed from her side, she narrowed her eyes up at him. They were bright silver, bril iant. Her blond lashes seemed to glitter all around them. Two tears spilled.

Wrong.

He clenched the hilt of his bloody sword, his gut churning until he almost vomited.

"You," she bit out. She gazed at him with recognition, brows drawing together as if with ... betrayal.

"You'll pay."

Some of the remaining soldiers stared at the exchange in confusion. Reminded of his mission, Declan grated, "Bag her."

Disabled by her wound, she couldn't defend herself as two soldiers bound her wrists behind her back.

She drew a breath to shriek, but they slapped a special tape over her mouth. Another pair descended on her, one with a black sack for her head and another with a sedative-fil ed syringe. She struggled wildly as they tightened the sack over her.

Once they'd administered the sedative, her body twitched twice, then fel limp. Utterly defenseless.

This creature had demonstrated monstrous power. Now she lay as if dead.

His men disarmed her, then tossed her into the sole functioning van. Her shirt rode up, revealing the bloody wound Declan had given her.

Why was he sickened? He raked his hand through his hair, then squeezed his forehead. His skul felt like it was splitting.

A thousand times he'd struck, col ecting enemies to be taken back to the Order's compound. What was different about this one?

"Magister?" a soldier said. "Are you all right, sir?"

Declan gazed at their captive, then down at his gloved hands, noting how they shook. No, I'm not f**kin' all right! He'd almost wished his hands had been bare when he'd taken her. To feel a woman's flesh after so long ...

He'd craved touching her even as he'd stabbed her.

Sick.

Declan peered at the soldier. As he coldly said, "Of course, I'm all right," he thought, They're being led by a madman.

Chapter THREE

In the transport plane's cabin, Declan scuffed to the bed, only partial y dried off from his recent shower.

He shed the towel around his hips, then fel back on the foam mattress. Shoving the heels of his palms against his eyes, he rubbed til his lids stung.

His fatigue wasn't surprising. Whenever he un-leashed his abilities, he suffered acute exhaustion, which was one of the reasons he took medicine to diminish them. Plus, he seldom slept on these hunting trips.

Just hours after the Valkyrie, he and his remaining men had set back out and bagged an easily captured witch. Now, at last, he could return home.

He should be out cold, but the tension within him wound even tighter. For as long as he could remember, he'd felt a constant pain in his chest coupled with a punishing anxiety that ate at the pit of his gut. To this, he added frequent nightmares about a fiend at his back, his body gored by steel, and a woman's screams.

That harrowing sense of loss ...

He cal ed it the strain. Because even as a lad, he'd known it would break him one day.

His medicine helped, but those nightly injections couldn't quel it completely. It proved too strong, too pervasive.

Right now, the strain was grueling, and he'd depleted his travel supply yesterday. They were still hours away from their isolated destination-a secret instal ation in the stormy southern Pacific. Which meant hours before he could score more.

Declan supposed it was his fate always to be injecting something.

The ride was jarring, the weather turbulent. He didn't mind flying, had trained as a pilot, but this nauseated even him.

Or maybe it was the aftereffects of this night's work.

The betrayed look in the Valkyrie's eyes still con-founded him. When capturing immortals, he'd been critical y injured, even bespel ed once; but never had one looked at him with recognition and then ... hurt.

As if he'd broken the gravest promise.

Never had he nearly vomited in the midst of a capture.

He lifted the rubber-edged dog tags hanging around his neck. Behind one, he'd soldered a smallmedal ion, an old Irish charm for luck. His da had bought it for him when Declan was a lad. At times like this, Declan would rub his thumb over it, though no luck had ever come of it.

It was a reminder of what her kind had cost him, what they were capable of.

The Valkyrie had kil ed ten of his men.

And yet he couldn't stop himself from glancing at his cabin door. She was in the transport bay. He could reach it easily from here.

What is this? Why did Declan feel like he'd die if he didn't see her that second?

He recal ed that expression of ecstasy on her face-and the way he'd responded. He remembered his thoughts at that moment, was shamed by the ideas that had arisen.

To touch that glowing skin, to be burned by it ...

When he'd seized her in his arms, he'd nearly groaned. That had been the most his body had touched a female's in years. Her scent and curves had tantalized him.

But in the end, his training had taken over, and he'd stabbed her.

He reached beside the bed, col ecting the sword he always kept close. He unsheathed it, turning it back and forth in the muted cabin light. Crimson still stained the blade near the hilt.

How much blood it has spilled. Immortal blood.

Just two nights ago, he'd used it to capture an ancient vampire, one that had kil ed thousands of humans over its unending lifetime, like a silent plague.

Preston Webb had given Declan the blade for his Order initiation, tell ing him, "Your family would have been proud, son."

If they hadn't been tortured by detrus creatures right before my eyes.

Right alongside me ...

Best that they hadn't survived. Else they'd be as f**ked in the head as Declan was. And his brother, Colm? Who'd had his throat slit at fifteen years old?

Colm had been the lucky one.

With an inward shake, Declan sheathed the sword. Why am I thinking about that night now? He'd buried those memories deep; his medicine helped keep them there.

He'd been considering doubling up on his doses for months. Now he decided it was time. Which meant he'd need to see his "pusher" upon returning to the island. For now, he could do nothing but wait.

Another glance at the door ...

When Regin woke, she was bound and gagged, with a hood over her head and her body strapped to a gurney of some sort. She could tell she was on a plane, could scent saltwater miles beneath them.

Can this night get any worse?

Memories flooded her consciousness: shadowy men shooting her with electricity ... her bliss from said electricity ... a large male with uncanny speed getting the drop on her. ...

He'd stabbed her in the side? The pain still throbbing there confirmed her injury-

Ah, gods! He'd been Aidan, returned once more.

She felt crazed, almost laughing hysterical y. Had she thought this night couldn't get any worse? Aidan, have you come to perish gruesomely? Then I'm your girl!

But never in his other lifetimes had he harmed her. If he was truly Aidan, then surely those other men were evil, and he'd had to play along.

By twisting the knife?

He'd been so fast, powerful. No surprise there. In each reincarnation, he'd been a berserker, even if he hadn't known it.

No matter what, she had to get away from him. She strained against the bindings securing her wrists behind her back. Nothing. Likely unbreakable. And that injection had probably weakened her.

Forced to lie here, bound, in pitch darkness.

Regin didn't have Zen, wasn't insane like Nix or laser-focused like Lucia. Each second like this, in a plane taking her farther from where she needed to be, was maddening. "Oh, You'll fly out tonight," Nix had told her. Yuk it up. You're so going to pay.

But why would Nix do this? Especial y after the bomb she'd dropped on Regin right before they'd separated on Bourbon Street: "When Cruach rises this time, he'l ring in the apocalypse. Every sentient being on earth will become infected with the need to sacrifice whoever they love most."

Uh, man down here, Nix. One fewer apocalypse aversion associate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, soothsayer-

The click of a door sounded. Then footsteps. Someone sat next to her. She could feel tension rolling off him, knew it was Aidan.

Who for some reason had gutted her in a dirty street.

He rose, paced, then sat once more. He said nothing, didn't move, but she knew his gaze was raking over her.

When she remembered to breathe, he said, "Awake already." A faint accent tinged his deep voice, but she couldn't place it. He pulled her hood off.

She blinked against the low light, noting details as he came into focus. Dear gods, he was big, as tal as the original warlord she'd almost fal en in love with.

He was dressed all in black, from his jacket and combat pants to his gloves. His skin was pale, stark against the pitch-black hair that hung down past his forehead, partial y concealing scars on one cheek.

He was middle-aged, probably upper thirties, with a strong jaw, broad cheekbones-and Aidan's eyes. In this face, they looked cold.

Though for one brief moment tonight, they'd glowed with a berserker's light-the tell tale sign she'd spied while bleeding out in the street.

Aidan. She hadn't imagined it. Hel , she'd been sensing his reincarnation for three decades, had been warned by Nix for just as long.

"I have questions for you, Valkyrie."

Oh, I've got some for you, too. Like why you did a blender on my insides.

"Answer them truthful y, and you won't be harmed more this night."

This night? Final y, she nodded. With one gloved hand, he reached for her mouth. With his other, he shoved a cocked pistol against her temple. "I know a gunshot won't kil you. But it'l shut you up. Try one of your Valkyrie shrieks, and I'll put a bul et in your brain."

Definitely not an act. Great. Her Viking had come back wrong. She'd figured it would have to happen sooner or later. Hello, later.

All the effort she'd gone through to flee from him these past decades, to spare his current life, was for nothing.

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