Home > Tegan's Return (The Ultimate Power #2)(12)

Tegan's Return (The Ultimate Power #2)(12)
Author: L.H. Cosway

Which is silly, really, really silly. Because a moment later something hard and solid whacks me on the head. I feel somebody’s arms fold tight around me and drag me down the pathway, just before the darkness enfolds me completely.

When I wake up I get about five seconds of a reprieve, before an almighty headache hits me and bile rises up in my stomach. I must have a concussion. I’m sitting on cold concrete with my back pressed against a wall. I expect to find myself in some sort of a cell or a basement, but a cool, fresh breeze drifts past me and I realise that I’m sitting on Finn’s front porch. Then a big, wet tongue licks right down my cheek and I turn to see Wolf’s worried brown eyes gazing at me intently. What the hell?

My coat is slung over my lap, and the cold hits me since I’ve only got a thin t-shirt on. A pulsing, stinging sensation crawls over the inside of my lower arm, and I look down to find a big white bandage secured firmly around it. Oh f**k.

Quickly, I unwrap the bandage. What I see makes my heart drop to the floor. A nasty red circle lies on the surface of my skin, like some kind of sadistic nurse had gone to work on me with a wide gauge needle. It’s all jagged and rough where the skin has been pierced. Somebody has stolen from me. Oh God. Whoever it was that knocked me out withdrew an unknown amount of blood from my body, and judging from my dizziness it wasn’t a small amount.

I look at the dog beside me and grimace. “Some bodyguard you turned out to be.”

Then I grab a hold of Wolf’s thick fur and pull myself up, he doesn’t complain, but he is emitting a small high pitched whining noise. I place a kiss on his head as I stand up, in gratitude of his worry, even if he wasn’t able to protect me from my attacker. I can’t believe there was a time when I’d been wary of this dog. He’s an absolute sweetheart.

I slot Finn’s spare key into the door and just as I step inside I know I’m going to vomit. I can’t hold it back any more. I dash up the stairs and make it to the bathroom just in time for me to close the door and throw up into the toilet bowl. I feel like complete shit, and it doesn’t take long for me to empty the entire contents of my stomach.

Wolf is still by my side and he rubs his warm muzzle into my neck. The back of my head is thumping. I savour the dog’s heat, since throwing up has made my temperature drop considerably. I flush the toilet and go into my room, immediately falling down onto the bed. I pull off my jeans and crawl under the blankets. Wolf hops up onto the mattress and settles in beside me. I put my arm around his furry neck and the weakness of blood loss causes me to drift off into a black, dreamless slumber.

Chapter Eight

Laughing with a Mouth of Blood

I wake up because somebody’s shaking me with both of their hands gripping tightly onto my shoulders. I make a disgruntled noise and wave them away, but they continue to shake me. Reluctantly I open my sleep encrusted eyes to find Finn hovering above me, his blue eyes lined with worry.

“Leave me alone Finn, I’m sleeping,” I tell him in a raspy voice.

“What the hell happened to you Tegan?” Finn asks, his tone urgent, demanding explanation.

My mind is foggy when I answer. “Nothing, I’m just trying to get some sleep for God’s sake.”

“You were supposed to go to Crimson tonight, I was waiting nearby doing surveillance for hours and you never showed. Then when I tried calling your phone there was no answer. I thought you’d been hurt or something. I get back here and find you passed out on the bed with one almighty bloody bruise on your arm. Normally that wouldn’t be cause for concern, but with you I think that any sign of blood loss is fairly catastrophic.”

I sit up, rubbing my eyes as the memories of what happened flood back into my head. I glance at the clock beside the bed, it reads 05:56. I slept through yesterday evening and most of the night. Finn sits back, positioning himself at the end of the mattress.

“Something weird happened yesterday,” I begin, and Finn’s eyes watch me closely as I explain. “I’d been walking home from Rita’s and somebody attacked me and knocked me out. When I woke up I was sitting on your doorstep with a bandage on my arm, a massive concussion and the stark realisation that someone had stolen my blood.”

Finn drags a hand through his hair, he looks tired, clearly he hasn’t had a wink of sleep all night. “Fuck,” he curses low and gravelly.

“Have you any idea who it might have been?” I ask, worry sticking heavily to my words.

“There isn’t anyone, that’s the problem. Nobody else knows, unless you told someone who can’t be trusted?” He eyes me suspiciously now.

“Believe me Finn, I will never tell another person about this. I’m a complete wreck as it is, I have no intention of adding to my anxiety, thank you very much.”

Finn stands up from the bed. “You’re going to need to be extra vigilant from now on. I don’t know who took your blood, but there’s a good chance they’ll trip up and make themselves known eventually.”

I grab my jeans from the floor and slip them on. Finn watches me for a minute before declaring, “Come on downstairs, you look like you could use some breakfast.”

He cooks a big pot of oatmeal and then serves me up a bowl of it laden with fruit and honey. I’ve never been a fan of porridge, but this stuff is delicious. It coats my stomach with a nice thick lining after my bout of vomiting yesterday evening. When I’m finished I go upstairs and climb back into bed, telling Finn I’m still not feeling the best after all the blood loss. He just looks at me with an oddly concerned expression on his face as he quietly washes our bowls in the sink.

I fall into a dazed state of consciousness, not asleep but certainly not awake by any means. My skin crawls with the thoughts of some stranger touching me while I’d been unconscious, sticking a needle in my arm to withdraw blood. It could have been anyone. The worst thing is that I haven’t got a single clue as to their identity. Of course, one of those I am trusting to keep my secret could have betrayed me, but that explanation just doesn’t seem to strike me as likely. Somehow the truth of who I am has seeped outside of the small circle of people who know, and I’m determined to discover how that has happened.

A few hours later the bedroom door opens. Finn and Wolf both slip inside and join me on the bed. Finn’s got his laptop with him and he quietly goes about starting up a movie for us to watch. I make a disgruntled noise to indicate that I’m in no mood for company, but Finn simply chuckles and gives me a good natured smack on the rump as the opening scene for Goodfellas begins to play. After a few minutes I give in and turn around to watch it, I’ve always had a soft spot for a young Ray Liotta.

By the end of the movie I’m feeling distinctly better, and Finn makes me a huge sandwich for lunch with cold cuts and lettuce leaves. We return to my bed and this time we watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, while having an animated debate about what was Jack Nicholson’s best film. I make a half-hearted argument for his role as the Joker in Batman, but in the end we both agree on The Shining, which we then proceed to watch after a dinner that consists of steak, gravy and mashed potatoes.

As the night rolls in I realise that I’ve warmed to Finn substantially, and after spending the entire day watching movies together I can safely say that I now regard him as a close friend. I’m sure he had to cancel a few arrangements in order to spend the day vegging out with me. I think he knew I needed the companionship after what happened yesterday.

Once the sky falls to darkness I know that I’ve got to go and see Ethan again, because time is quickly getting on and I still haven’t made much headway in finding out where the vampires are keeping Rebecca. I hop into the shower for a quick wash before throwing on a clean white blouse, black jeans and boots. Finn stands in the doorway as I lace them up.

“You ready to put on yet another Oscar winning performance tonight?” He asks with amusement. I may have to act when it comes to disguising my reasons for being back in Tribane, but even I have to admit that my actions are nothing but genuine when it comes to interacting with Ethan.

“Of course,” I reply, shrugging into my coat.

Finn drops me off a couple of streets away from Crimson, so as not to attract any attention. He’s well known among the vamps as one of the best slayers in the DOH, and I don’t think things would turn out very well if a vampire were to recognise me associating with a man whose day job consists of doing his best to kill them off one by one.

The club isn’t as busy as the last time I’d been here, and I go to sit by the bar, knocking back a shot of vodka in one go. Just a little Dutch courage. The stool beside mine creaks and a recognisable silky female voice addresses the barman. “A glass of red wine please, Robert.”

I turn a little in my seat to find Eliza perched beside me, her almond shaped eyes scanning me as though taking inventory. She takes a delicate sip from her wine glass, then makes a tut tut noise through her sharp white teeth while shaking her head. “Silly girl, Ethan will not be pleased when he discovers you’ve been giving blood elsewhere.”

I gesture for the barman to pour me another shot. “What are you talking about?” I try to put as much confidence into my voice as possible, but it still comes out a little shaky.

“You have a lot to learn about our kind, honey, we can sense blood in so many different ways, scent, quality, consistency, quantity,” she says this last part with venom in her tone, and it makes me wince. “You have lost quite a substantial amount of blood very recently, and I know for a fact that it wasn’t donated to Ethan.”

“I had a little accident,” I tell her in a low voice.

Eliza laughs cruelly. “Lies will do you no good in the long run.” A beatific smile spreads across her perfect face. “I’m quite looking forward to watching Ethan punish you for this betrayal. Then you will be gone and things can get back to normal.”

I pick up the shot and knock it back before rising from my stool. “Jealousy is a very unattractive characteristic, Eliza.” I turn to leave, but her cold, claw-like hand grabs my wrist like a vice.

“You think you can speak to me like that, do you have any idea of who my father is?”

I glare at her. “I don’t really care about who he is, but I do know what he is, and that is a creepy f**king bastard.” I have to physically restrain myself from adding “child stealing” before “bastard”. I can’t allow losing my temper to blow my cover, but I do want to put Eliza in her place. Unfortunately, my anger has caused me to momentarily forget that she’s almost two hundred years old and a million times stronger than me. Her cold, predator’s eyes turn scarlet.

She just about rips my arm out of the socket as she slams me back against the bar, hatred seeping from her every pore as her transformed eyes cut into me like a blade. I can feel her hand on my wrist tighten, and I pray that she doesn’t crush any bones.

“I don’t think I possess the patience to wait for Ethan to punish you, I think I’ll have to start the proceedings myself,” she hisses, her eyes now glowing ruby red. She raises her fist into the air and things seem to move in slow motion as it descends on me.

I scrunch up my eyes in anticipation of the blow, but just when her fist is about to make contact with my face, somebody rips her away. I peer about in surprise to see Dru with her arms tight around Eliza’s waist, holding her back from me.

“Now, now princess, that’s no way for a lady to conduct herself, is it?” says Dru, her expression showing that she is half amused and half bewildered by Eliza’s behaviour.

I slump back against the bar in relief that I have narrowly avoided a black eye or a broken nose, I’m not exactly certain which part of my face Eliza had been aiming for. She struggles against Dru’s hold, but she doesn’t seem to be making any progress in breaking free.

Dru glances at me and laughs. “Good to see you again darlin’, I heard you were back. You’re looking well.”

“Thanks,” I reply on a nervous cough. Eliza is still glaring at me with bloody murder in her eyes.

“Let go of me Drusilla,” she spits.

“Not until you’ve calmed down sweet cheeks. Come on now, I never thought you were the kind of girl to indulge in bar fights.”

“You didn’t hear what that little bitch said about my father,” Eliza is still fuming, and I think this might be a good moment to get as far away from her as possible. It doesn’t look like she’s going to calm down any time soon.

Dru’s gaze returns to me and there’s a quizzical expression on her face when she asks, “What did you say about the Governor?”

I shrug. “Some girls are just too sensitive about their daddies,” and then I walk away toward the back of the club, leaving Dru to take care of Eliza. I rush through the staff door, heading in the direction of Ethan’s office, hoping I’ll find him there because I don’t know if I can rely on Dru to keep Eliza from ripping my eyes out for much longer.

I’m in such a rush to get away from Eliza and somewhere safe that I forget to knock on Ethan’s office door before I enter. I twist the handle and step inside, but what I find on the other side is not at all pleasant. A young blond woman wearing a short black dress is slumped across Ethan’s leather couch, her head resting against a pillow, her bloody neck exposed. Ethan is standing close to her, wiping his mouth with a crisp white handkerchief. He doesn’t look at all regretful either, he looks happy, full of life and energy. A soft chuckle escapes him. What the hell?

As soon as my boot hits the floor his red eyes and bloodied lips turn to me, my hand is cold and clammy as it rests on the door knob. My name escapes his mouth, but I can barely hear it for my heart is beating out a fierce rhythm that resonates through my skull. I let go of the handle and turn from the room, running down the corridor like a victim fleeing an axe murderer.

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