Home > Hellion (Relentless #7)(2)

Hellion (Relentless #7)(2)
Author: Karen Lynch

The three of them took off running, and I eased myself into a sitting position on the ground. My leg and head hurt, and I could feel a bad headache coming on. On top of that, my change of clothes were on the ground and Lana had made off with my backpack.

The tears I’d been holding back threatened again, and I swallowed past a lump in my throat. Why did everything have to be so hard?

“Are you okay, sweetheart?” asked a gentle voice.

My head jerked up in surprise, and I stared at the woman I hadn’t even heard approach. She was tall and pretty with kind blue eyes and long blonde hair in a ponytail. She wore jeans and black boots, and I thought I could see the hilt of a knife peeking out of the top of one boot.

I didn’t speak as I watched her come closer until she was only a few feet away. I let out a soft gasp when a strange sense of recognition filled me. I’d never felt anything like it before, but I knew instinctively that it was something big.

The woman’s eyes widened, telling me she felt it, too. She crouched in front of me. “I’m Paulette. What is your name?”

“Jordan,” I whispered, unsure of why I was telling a complete stranger my name. But something about her told me I could trust her.

“How old are you?” she asked gently.

“Ten.”

Shock flashed in her eyes before she smiled again. “Where’s your family, sweetheart?”

“Got none,” I replied defensively. My mom had given me up when I was four, and none of her family had wanted me. As far as I was concerned, I had no family.

If Paulette was surprised by my answer, she didn’t show it. “How long have you been living on the street?”

I shrugged. “Not long. A few weeks.”

She laid a hand on my foot, and a strange emotion that felt like joy surged in me. I knew in that moment Paulette was like me.

“Do…you have a voice inside, too?” I asked her breathlessly.

Her smile grew brighter. “Yes, I do.”

My chest tightened. All my life, people looked at me like I was crazy when I mentioned the voice. Paulette acted like it was perfectly normal. And she said she had a voice, too.

“Do you want to know something else?” she asked softly.

I nodded.

“I’m from a place where everyone has a voice in them, just like you and me. And we have children your age. Would you like to live there?”

I chewed the inside of my cheek. Paulette seemed nice, but every adult I’d met had acted like I was crazy and shoved me in one awful home after another. I’d rather take my chances on the street than go back to living like that.

“Is it a foster home?” I asked.

“No. It’s kind of like a little town. There’s a playground and a school, and you’ll have your own room in a nice house.”

“I don’t like school.” I rubbed my hands on my jeans, remembering the fights, the taunts, the suspensions.

She smiled. “I think you’ll like this school. It’s a special one where you’ll learn all kinds of cool stuff, and you’ll train to be a warrior like me.”

My whole body perked up at that. “A warrior? For real, like with a sword?”

“Would you like that?”

I nodded eagerly. “Yes!”

“Good.” Paulette stood and held out a hand to me.

I stared at it for a long moment before I put my smaller hand in hers and let her help me up. I stumbled when I put weight on my sore leg, but she caught me and kept me from falling.

I looked down at my pitiful possessions strewn across the pavement. Maybe I could get new clothes and a toothbrush where I was going.

Paulette squeezed my hand. “We’ll get you all new things when we get home.”

“And a sword?” I asked hopefully.

She chuckled. “I think we’ll start you out with a practice one. But I can already tell you’re going to be a fine warrior, Jordan.”

I beamed at her. “I’m going to be the best warrior ever.”

Chapter 1

“What do you say we hit up Suave tonight?”

Mason grunted. “Can we discuss this later? Little busy here.”

“Pfft.” I swung my sword, the blade slicing cleanly through the throat of one of the two vampires I was facing off against. Her eyes took on that shocked, angry look vampires always got when they realized their worthless life was over, and she crumpled to the floor.

Behind me, a vampire shrieked in pain, and I knew Mason was holding his own.

“Don’t think you’re getting out of it again,” I said, turning my attention to my remaining opponent. “You promised to hit the club with me.”

Mason groaned, and I smiled at the male vampire whose gaze was darting between me and the nearest doorway. He was calculating whether or not he was faster than I was.

“Go for it.” I waved my free hand at the door. “I’ll even give you a head start.”

He didn’t think twice. He bolted for the door, and true to my word, I didn’t run after him.

“What are you doing?” Mason asked incredulously. “You’re letting him go?”

“Please.” I scoffed and drew the knife strapped to my thigh. A flick of my wrist sent the weapon into the back of the fleeing vampire. He screamed as the silver blade burned him from the inside out, but he kept staggering forward.

I sighed as I went after him. I really had to work on my throwing skills. I’d been at least an inch off his heart.

The vampire stumbled past the concession stand, where the smell of stale popcorn and butter still hung in the air even though the movie theater had been closed for over a year. I caught up to him near the entrance to one of the theaters and plunged my sword into his back, making sure to hit his heart this time. He gasped and collapsed, his body sliding off my blade.

“Heads-up, Jordan and Mason,” Raoul called over the comm. “Two coming your way.”

I straightened and spun to see two vampires sprinting toward Mason from the opposite direction. I ran to intercept. “On it.”

Mason was still fighting his opponent, so I engaged the newcomers alone. Their speed told me they were young, like most vampires we encountered, though still a little faster than I was. It annoyed the hell out of me that I’d have to wait years to build up the speed of the older warriors like Raoul. Whose brilliant idea was it to create a race of vampire hunters that took a century to reach their full strength?

The vampires snarled and came straight at me. I gripped my sword, ready for them. What I lacked in speed, I made up for in combat. I had better be good after sparring regularly for months with Nikolas Danshov. I’d also trained briefly with Desmund Ashworth. They were two of the best swordsmen alive, and I was going to join their ranks one day.

The first vampire took a swipe at me, and I relieved him of one of his hands. He screamed and clutched his bloody stump.

“What?” I quirked an eyebrow at him. “It’s not like you’re going to need it.”

If there was one thing I knew about vampires, it was how badly they reacted to taunts. He bellowed and lunged at me. I removed his head. A little messy but effective.

Running feet drew my attention to the second vampire, who was making an escape. I shot a look at Mason and saw he didn’t need my help finishing off his kill. Then I set off in pursuit.

The vampire disappeared through a door, and I yanked it open to see him racing up a flight of stairs. The building had three floors, and we were on the bottom. My gut told me he was headed for the roof. We were close enough to the neighboring buildings for him to make his escape that way.

I sped up the stairs, my eyes on the figure two flights above, frantically trying to kick down a door.

“Jordan, where are you?” Mason asked over the comm.

“Stairs,” I replied. “Have one going for the roof.”

Raoul cut in. “Wait for your partner, Jordan.”

The door above me crashed open, and a rush of cool night air hit me.

“My partner better get his ass in gear because I’m not letting this bastard get away.”

I could hear swearing on the other end as I ran through the roof access door that now hung on its hinges. I caught sight of my quarry as he leaped to the roof of the next building.

“He’s jumped to the bakery roof,” I informed the team as I went after him.

I landed on the other roof as the vampire sped to the opposite edge to jump again. Obviously, no one had told him he could survive a three-story fall, or he wouldn’t be making it so easy for me to follow him. I’d survive three stories, too, but not without some bruises, and he’d most likely get away.

The next roof was a story lower. This time, the vampire jumped down to the alley between the buildings.

I followed suit, wincing as the shock of the landing traveled up my legs. Maybe it was time to invest in more practical boots for work. Heels were hot, but combat boots were a lot better for jumping off buildings.

The vampire sped away, and I put on a burst of speed to close the distance between us. He ducked through a door into another building. I went in after him.

I came up short when I found myself in what looked like a storage area of some kind. The room didn’t hold my interest as much as the three vampires I was suddenly facing.

The one I’d been chasing smiled, showing off his snakelike fangs. “Looks like you’re outnumbered. Your friends won’t save you now.”

I shrugged. “That whole damsel in distress bit is not really my thing anyway. So, who wants to go first?”

“Me.” The biggest one, who looked like he’d been a thirtysomething biker when he was changed, licked his lips. “I’m going to rip your guts out and eat them while you watch.”

I made a face. “Someone’s been watching The Walking Dead too much.”

“You won’t be cracking jokes when I’m done with you,” he said as the three of them spread out, trying to surround me.

I kept my back to the door so the most they could do was form a semicircle. Holding my sword in a relaxed grip, I waited for them to make the first move.

My friend from the theater and the third vampire, who looked like he’d been a computer nerd in his former life, rushed me from either side. Twisting, I ran my blade through the stomach of Nerd Guy and sent a high kick to the throat of the other. It was a move I’d been practicing for weeks, and I was kind of bummed no one was there to see it.

Both vampires went down, and I turned my attention to the ex-biker as he charged. He swung a clawed hand at me, and I ducked, coming up behind him. Before he could turn around, I drove my sword into his heart.

The vampire with the gut wound writhed on the floor, so I went after the other one. He’d recovered from the blow I’d given him, but instead of helping his friends, he was running for the door. Bending, I whipped a blade from my boot and threw it. He let out a choked cry, and I did a fist pump because my aim had been perfect this time.

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