Home > Hellion (Relentless #7)(9)

Hellion (Relentless #7)(9)
Author: Karen Lynch

I hated to admit it, but Raoul was right. I’d dealt with arrogant males before, but none of them had aggravated me as much as Hamid did. Maybe it was because I’d built him up in my head since the first time I saw him, and the real version didn’t live up to the fantasy. Physically, he was perfect, but his personality put a damper on any physical attraction I had to him.

I shrugged. “I guess some people just don’t mesh.”

Raoul took a long drink of water. “I know it’s not an ideal situation and Hamid can be a little abrasive, but he’s the best at what he does. Do your job and stay out of his way, and he’ll be gone soon enough.”

A little abrasive? I wanted to laugh at Raoul’s description of Hamid. Instead, I nodded. This investigation was far more important than my bruised ego or Hamid’s overinflated one. I’d take Raoul’s advice and steer clear of our visitor so he could focus solely on his job. The less I saw of Hamid Safir, the happier I would be.

* * *

I killed my bike engine outside the garage and pulled off my helmet, grimacing when my hair stuck out in all directions. I could only imagine how bad it looked after the last few hours. I ran my fingers through it and groaned at the tacky wetness clinging to some of the strands. Vampire blood was a bitch to get out once it started to dry.

Dismounting, I laid the helmet on my seat and walked through the garage toward the door to the kitchen. Normally, the house was quiet at night, except for whomever was manning the control room. I was surprised when I entered the kitchen and saw Vivian sitting at the dining room table, working on a laptop. I hadn’t spent any time with her since Hamid had arrived three days ago. The downside of avoiding him was that he was usually with Vivian, so I didn’t get to see much of her either. He might be a colossal butthead, but I liked Vivian.

Vivian looked up when I walked in. Her eyes widened, and then she let out a burst of laughter.

I tossed my keys on the counter. “That bad, huh?”

“I’d hate to see the other guy,” she said, grinning.

I smiled back. “The other guy is now a pile of ash, along with his three friends.”

Male voices drifted from the other side of the house, and I looked in that direction as Raoul entered the living room with Hamid and Orias. They stopped walking when they saw me, all wearing different expressions. Raoul was amused, Orias looked surprised, and Hamid’s forehead was creased. Was that concern in his eyes? Surely not. I blinked, and it was gone.

Orias hadn’t changed a bit in the three years since I’d last seen him. He wore a dark blue suit, minus the tie, and his long black hair was tied back at his nape. I was pretty sure he was Native American, but we’d never gotten around to discussing our ancestry.

His dark eyes narrowed on me as recognition set in. “Still wreaking havoc, I see,” he drawled.

I tipped my chin at the satchel he carried over one shoulder, which contained the demon he used to strengthen his own power. “Still have your little pet, I see.”

Vivian looked from me to the warlock. “You two know each other?”

“Orias and I go way back,” I said.

“Indeed.” He harrumphed and placed a hand protectively over the satchel. “In one visit to my place, you and your friends managed to wreck my reception area, scare away half a dozen clients, and kill another. And then I had to rebuild my home after Price’s followers came for retribution.”

“We didn’t start that fight,” I argued. But we sure as hell had ended it.

“Wait.” Vivian stared at me. “You killed Stefan Price?”

“Regretfully, no. I helped, but Sara did most of the work.”

Stefan Price was an old vampire, over one hundred and fifty years old, who had been very good at evading our warriors. During our first visit to Orias, Price had shown up and attacked Sara. She and I had faced him down, but she’d been the one to kill him. Someday, I’d encounter another vampire like Price, and that kill would be all mine.

Vivian nodded appreciatively. “Going up against a vampire that strong is impressive for such a young warrior.”

“Actually, I was still a trainee then.” I could feel Hamid watching me, and I resisted shooting him a smug look. I made a point of ignoring him as much as I could, not an easy feat with someone whose presence seemed to fill any room he entered.

“You really are a young Nikolas,” Vivian said, making her my new favorite person.

Raoul waved at me. “Do I want to know?”

I glanced down at my clothes, which were covered in blood. “We found four vampires lurking around outside a homeless shelter. Probably thought they’d find an easy meal. As you can see, they didn’t go without a fight.”

He glanced at his watch. “You’ve had a busy night already, and it’s barely ten o’clock.”

“Yep. I only came back to clean up because I can’t ride around looking like this. I’m meeting up with Mason and Brock again in an hour.”

“There are only three of you on your team?” Hamid asked in a disapproving tone.

Forced to acknowledge him, I met his eyes. “We never patrol in full teams.” As if he didn’t already know that.

“These are not normal circumstances,” he said. “Young warriors should be on teams with seasoned warriors.”

“Like you?” I retorted.

“Yes.”

His gaze swept over me, taking in my bloody, disheveled appearance. I cursed my traitorous body when warmth unfurled in my stomach despite my dislike for the warrior.

“Thanks, but we’re good. And Brock has more than enough experience,” I said with a hint of innuendo, enjoying the flash of annoyance in his eyes.

“Besides,” I continued, “we haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary since you brought in that spider demon.” The one that should have been my kill.

“Kraas demon,” he corrected me.

I gave the others a questioning look. “I thought we had no record of it on file.”

“We don’t,” Raoul said. “Kelvan searched the demon archives and found several entries about the demon based on the description. It’s a lower demon in the same class as a bazerat or Lamprey demon.”

“Way to go, Kelvan.” Who knew that a reclusive Vrell demon living alone with his cat would become one of our most valuable allies? “Then it’s a species of demon we overlooked?” I exhaled in relief. If the demon archives had a record of the Kraas demon, it hadn’t come through the barrier as we’d feared.

“The demon archives include species that have never left their dimension,” Raoul said, killing my happy moment. “According to Kelvan, the Kraas demon is one of them.”

I frowned. “So, aside from knowing what it’s called, we’re back to where we started.”

Vivian nodded. “Pretty much.”

“Then I guess I’ll leave you to it.” I turned toward the hallway that led to my room.

“Did you know you have a big rip in the back of your jeans?” Vivian asked.

“Yes, and these were my favorite pair. They made my butt look great.” I put my hand over the tear that bared half my ass and looked over my shoulder at her. “This job is hell on the wardrobe.”

Everyone laughed, everyone except Hamid, that was. I glanced at him, expecting to see his usual glare, but instead I found his gaze fixed squarely on my backside. His eyes lifted to mine, and my breath caught at the heat that flared in his for several seconds.

What do you know? I’d been starting to wonder if there was actually a robot beneath that handsome exterior. Looked like he was a red-blooded male after all. I lifted one corner of my mouth in a half smile that let him know I’d caught him checking me out. He answered with a scowl.

I left feeling like I’d finally won a round against him. It was a small victory, but I’d take it.

Chapter 4

I stared at the blank report on the monitor with distaste before I began the boring task of recording the incident at the homeless shelter last night. Brock, Mason, and I had drawn straws to see who would get stuck writing up the report today, and I’d lost. I suspected those two had cheated because Brock was good with that sleight of hand stuff. I couldn’t prove it, so here I was.

The door to Raoul’s office opened, and I heard the rumble of a deep voice.

“Until we know what we’re dealing with, I think it would be best,” Hamid said as he emerged from the office.

Raoul walked out behind him. “That might be a bit drastic, and we don’t exactly have a need for a day patrol.”

Day patrol? I stood so fast I nearly turned my chair over in the process.

“What are you talking about?” I demanded, even though I had a damn good idea what Hamid was suggesting.

“It’s nothing,” Raoul said calmly.

“I heard you mention day patrol. You can’t be serious.” Patrolling during the day would be like going to an amusement park when all the rides are closed. Boring as hell and a waste of time.

Hamid faced me. “I believe we haven’t seen the last of the demon activity here, and I think it would be safer to keep new warriors off night patrols for now.”

“I don’t think so,” I said as angry indignation flooded me.

He continued as if I hadn’t spoken. “I plan to make the recommendation to the Council today.”

I clenched my jaw so hard it hurt. “You can send it to them tied up with a pretty bow for all I care. But the only way you’re keeping me here at night is if you shackle me to my bed.”

His nostrils flared, but I was fuming too much to care if I pissed him off.

Mason’s laugh came from the door that led to the garage. “We’ve only been gone a few days, and you guys have resorted to shackles.”

I turned my glare on him and Brock. “You won’t find it funny when you’re spending your nights in here playing solitaire.”

His grin faded as he took in our serious faces. “What do you mean?”

I pointed an accusing finger at Hamid. “He wants to put you and me on day patrol.”

Mason’s mouth felt open in dismay. “What?”

Brock shook his head. “That makes no sense. It’s a total waste of manpower.”

I folded my arms across my chest. “Exactly. And I didn’t train for years just to sit around and do nothing when there is work to be done.”

Hamid maintained his infuriatingly impassive expression. “Most new warriors spend the first few years at a stronghold, or they are given less dangerous field assignments. They rarely work in cities like Los Angeles.”

“Rarely, but not always,” I countered. “Most new warriors don’t have as much experience as I did by the time I finished training. Plus, Tristan doesn’t have a problem with me being in L.A.”

“Neither does the leader of Longstone, who sent me here,” Mason added.

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