I brushed dark ringlets away from Nico’s face while she slept. She looked so peaceful during this time, not angry with me, which she tended to get quite often. I did love her, but I wasn’t about to say it to her because then she’d want everything else that went with those three big words. I sure as hell wasn’t ready for that yet.
I heard my phone vibrate on the floor, still in my jeans’ pocket, and I carefully crawled over Nico to snatch them up and pull the phone out. It was a text message from Trent about Seth. I saw the event as it happened, but I was a bit preoccupied with a mission at the time. I sighed and whipped out a quick message to my twin, then leaned over and kissed Nico’s cheek before climbing out of bed to dress. Nico moaned and turned to the side.
“Leaving so soon?” her soft voice floated across the bed.
My eyes flicked to meet hers in their half open state, looking quite seductive, which made me want to crawl right back into bed. “Yeah, I have to get over to Trent’s house.” I buttoned my jeans, and then quickly added, “Something bad has happened.”
“How bad?” she asked as she sat up, one arm supporting her body while the other held the sheet to her chest.
“Death,” I replied.
“Anything I can do?”
I eyed her and tilted my head to the side. “Not unless you can reattach a vampyre’s head.”
She shook her head. “Who was it?”
“Seth,” I said and sat down on the edge of the bed to pull my boots on.
I felt her come up behind me, and she rested her chin on my shoulder as her right arm wrapped around me. “I’m sorry, Shawn.”
I shrugged. “Shit happens.” My head turned to the side. “You watch your back, you hear me?”
“Why don’t you watch it for me?” she said and kissed my bare shoulder.
I chuckled. “I’ll be back later tonight.”
“Don’t forget my money,” she said and sat back as I turned to her.
My hand glided along the side of her face. “Of course, Nico. Once the ki … job I did is confirmed, I’ll have plenty of money.” I grinned. “You like motorcycles?”
Her brow arched. “Why, are you buying one?”
“Was thinking about it,” I replied.
“That could be fun,” she said.
“Cool,” I said and kissed the tip of her nose before standing up. “Did I leave any shirts here? I don’t want to wear that one I showed up in.”
She nodded. “Check the second drawer of my dresser.”
I pulled the drawer open and found a few of my shirts. “Damn, I’m surprised you didn’t throw these out … or burn them.” I plucked a black t-shirt out and pulled it on over my head.
“I knew you’d be back,” she said with a laugh.
I stepped up to the edge of the bed. “You did, huh? I’ll have to try harder to keep you in the dark.”
Nico rose to her knees in front of me, the sheet falling away. “I’d like to see you try that.”
My eyes took in every detail of her naked curvy body, and I grinned. “You’re distracting me.” Nico’s body was a perfect hourglass … 36 – 24 – 36, my favorite numbers.
She smiled. “That’s a good thing. You don’t distract easily.”
I laughed. “How true that is.” I leaned forward, kissing her while slipping my arms around her waist, holding that perfect nakedness against me. “I promise I’ll come back tonight.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Shawn.” She batted long eyelashes at me, so I knew she only teased, but at the same time, she was dead serious.
“Oh, I’m going to keep this one,” I said. “But I have to go now.” I kissed her again, and then turned to leave the bedroom with an unfathomable reluctance to retrieve my weapons. Once I had them back in place, I heard Nico in the kitchen. I looked up, through the doorway, and decided against going out there. Just leave, man. You already said goodbye. But something gnawed at me, telling me I shouldn’t leave yet. I passed the feeling off as a side effect from the odd bullet. Speaking of which … I leaned over the table and plucked it from the bowl, and then pocketed it before vanishing to Trent’s house, where I interrupted his memorial video game.
I was about to phase with Trent to go see Grant after we discovered that little journal message in the game, when a voice drifted through my mind.
Okay, it was more of a shout.
Thousands of miles away, I stood at Trent’s side and jerked when I heard my name screamed in the distance. “Fuck.” What do you need?
I need you to come to me NOW! Cianán replied through the mind link.
On my way, I said. “Shit.” I turned to Trent. “Hey, I have to go to Ireland again first. Wanna come with?”
Trent glared at me. “Fuck no!”
“Chicken,” I replied and vanished to Cianán’s newest castle, which was similar to his last one on the cliffs. This particular one was in a different province of Ireland, but there were still cliffs. Cianán really liked that shit for some reason. I supposed it gave him the option to throw people over them when they pissed him off, which was something I wasn’t about to do—piss Cianán off, that is. I had no problem with throwing someone over the side of a cliff. In fact, I can think of a few people I’d love to throw over that bitch.
I appeared in the hall outside Cianán’s room and knocked on the door.
“Enter,” Cianán said.
I swallowed, prepared myself for the view with a deep breath (although there really isn’t much you can do to prepare for that shit) and turned the knob. The door creaked open in typical cliché castle right out of fucking Bram Stoker’s Dracula fashion, and I controlled the shiver that wanted to race up my goddamn spine. I stepped inside the dimly lit room, eyes immediately focusing on the blood-covered bed. “Whoa, um, I’ll have someone clean that up for you.”
“It matters not,” Cianán replied from the dark corner near the bureau. My eyes flicked over to see the shadow standing there, eyes glowing red. I’m waiting for bats to start flying around the fucking room now.
“I could hire some servants,” I suggested.
Cianán scoffed and hissed at me, and quickly drew up his long-fingered hand, aiming toward the bed. A shower of red sparks brightened the room, and when I looked to the bed again, it was clean and made.
I nodded. “Okay then. Are you in need of more blood?”
“No, I do not require blood at this time,” he replied. “I wish to know why—” He stepped forward so that I could see his face in the light. “—I look like this.” It was then I noticed the mirror in pieces all over the dresser and floor.
I wasn’t frightened by many things—shit, I was just in Hell recently and that place was full of nightmares—but seeing Cianán’s blood-red eyes watch me intently from his leathery pale greenish face reminded me of Nosferatu, and that fucker was just plain creepy looking. His once long blonde hair was now only a stringy white mess of tangles and missing from the top of his head. His ears were all pointy too, making him look like a cross between elf and goblin. I’d heard stories, about how not all vampyres became beautiful upon their transformation, how some took on the more grotesque look, but I’d never seen anything like that which stood before me.
I shook my head. “I don’t know why you look this way, my lord.”
Cianán growled and turned quickly, heading for the window. “How am I to go out in the world looking like this?”
I smirked and shoved my hands in my front jeans’ pockets. “Well, it’d certainly give the effect you wished to create before.”
“You do not amuse me, Shawn,” he snarled.
“Sorry, but really, your power has grown over the last year,” I replied. “Just think of what you could do with it, and with looking like this.” I stepped forward. “You wished to create chaos and terror. I think that with this look, you’ll achieve such an effect.”
Cianán smiled and turned from his view of the ocean to pierce me with his eyes. “And this is the reason I chose you, my child, for you are the only one who sees that which I envision.”
I bowed my head. “Of course.”
Cianán straightened to his full height, which was much taller than before, towering over my frame. “Where is your brother? Why has he not come to see me?”
“He has been quite busy, my lord,” I replied. “The Cabale are … killing us. Locations have had to change. Seth was recently killed, and Kenneth of Cearbhall’s line.”
Cianán cocked a brow. “Seth?” He struggled with his memory, trying to recall the vampyre. “Was he one of mine?”
“Yes,” I replied. “The technical genius? The one who tried to teach you how to use a computer?”
“Ah, yes. Curious thing, that is,” he said with a nod. “He is dead?” I nodded. “Why did I not see it?”
My brow arched. “Perhaps because I changed you. He would no longer be linked to you directly.”
Cianán smirked. I knew what he was thinking. That’d make me his master. He obviously didn’t think I realized this, so I just let him believe whatever the hell he wanted for the time being, but he hadn’t yet noticed I wasn’t calling him Master. “How many do you have now?”
“Any that I have created are long dead,” I replied. “Most have been killed by The Cabale or other slayers. The last by Trent.”
“Rayven, correct?” Cianán asked.
“Yes,” I said, surprised by his memory of it. “Tore her to pieces a few weeks ago, the night I returned you.”
Cianán drew in a breath, likely catching the scent of ocean air. All I could smell was fish. There’s a reason I lived in the fucking desert. “She served her purpose. You did well.”
“Thank you,” I replied with a small bow of my head.
As though a memory drifted through his mind, Cianán closed his eyes and inhaled deeply once more. “Tell me what has happened to Kylie.”
Ah, of course. I’d been waiting for that one. “I don’t really know other than she’s with Grant in Phoenix,” I said. “I haven’t seen her since that night.” Which was true.
Cianán’s body tensed, but he gave a short nod. “I see. What about Trystan? Have you seen her?”
“No one has,” I replied. “She seems to have disappeared.”
“Disappeared?” he asked with an arched brow. “Well, she does tend to do that. I do hope she was not taken back to Hell, but if this is the case, I shall have to return there to retrieve her.”
I hoped he wouldn’t ask me to go with him into Hell. I hated that fucking place, although it was amusing to see the imps torture Rayven.
Cianán scratched his neck with long fingers as he stared out the window once again. “I am curious what it would take to return me to my former self, to rid of this look. Perhaps Lorelei could help. What do you think, Shawn?”
“She died that night,” I replied. “Moroc killed both her and Mahlon.”
“Is there anyone left?” Cianán snapped.
I stepped back as the monster took a step toward me. “Just Grant and Kylie, and a few others besides Trent and me.”
“I need Trystan,” Cianán growled. “Find her.”
“Yes, of course,” I said and quickly vanished back to Trent’s home before he made any other requests. Trent wasn’t there. Then I remembered where we were about to go before Cianán yelled for me. I found Trent in my mind and ported to his side.
Grant’s eyes flashed with anger the second I appeared, and he roared as he lunged for me. He picked me up by the neck and slammed me against the wall. “Where. Is. He?”
“Grant, stop it,” a female’s voice drifted around the bulky fucker. I swear, I think he’d grown in size since he became Dasul. I saw a hand slide over Grant’s shoulder and she stepped around him, a vision of grace and beauty with her emerald eyes and long auburn hair. Ooh, it got longer. “Put him down.”
Thank God. “Hey, Kylie,” I choked out. Grant let go and I fell to the floor.
She smiled sweetly as always, which just sent blood rushing to places it shouldn’t be going with her because Grant already wanted me dead. Grant growled and probably would have pushed me up against the wall again if Kylie hadn’t stepped between us. It’s the only indication I had that he might have known my thoughts regarding his beautiful wife.
“Look, I just came to talk to Trent,” I said and rubbed my neck. “I don’t want to cause any trouble or get into it with you.”
Kylie stepped forward and ran her delicate fingers down the side of my face. “Something’s different about you, Shawn. What have you been up to?”
“Huh? Nothing,” I replied and shook my head.
A grin split her lips and she giggled. “Right, okay.”
Trent stood to the side, helpless when it came to these two. “That was a stupid move.”
I shrugged. “If it wasn’t important, I wouldn’t have shown up.”
Grant snorted. “What the hell do you want? It’s not enough you brought that bastard back?”
I cocked a brow at him. “Excuse me, but I think your wife helped with that one by bringing him back to flesh first.”
Grant growled again and tried to push past Kylie, but she wasn’t letting him. “Grant, he’s right, I gave Cianán life again. He only gave him unlife.”
“He’s more powerful when he’s undead,” Grant snapped. “And he fucking knew that.”
My arms snapped out to the sides. “So, what do you want from me, Grant? Huh? My head? Fucking take it. I’m sick of this shit.” I bowed my head in a manner for him to take it easily with his sword, which I knew was close by. Grant didn’t travel far without his sword anymore.
Kylie slapped the back of my head. “Stop being so dramatic.”
Grant chuckled. “Alright Shawn, talk to your twin.” He pulled Kylie away from me and they wandered off to their kitchen.
I looked around, realizing I was in their house now, and whistled. “Damn nice place they have here.”
Trent sighed. “What was so important?”
I walked over to my brother and leaned into him, keeping my voice as quiet as possible. “We have to find Trystan.”
Trent’s head turned as he eyed me, his blue eye meeting my green directly. “You can’t be serious. How in the hell are we supposed to do that?”
I shrugged. “Well, she’s human now, isn’t she? Grant took her magic from her, right? Shouldn’t be too difficult.”
“Yeah, she’s human, and yes, Grant took her magic,” Trent said. “I’m sure that explains why she up and disappeared completely.”
“Well, Cianán wants her and we need to find her,” I stated. “Believe me, we don’t want him pissed off right now.”
“Oh, just fucking great,” Trent said and slapped his hands against his jeans as his hands dropped to his sides. “Where do we start? She was last seen at Mahlon’s and I’m not going anywhere near that house with The Cabale watching it.”
I sighed heavily. “Where would a Druid sorceress be?”
“Obviously in a forest,” Trent replied. “Let’s start with Ireland, since that’s their homeland.”
“Yeah, okay,” I said and slapped a hand against my forehead. “Fuck.”
“What’s wrong?” Trent asked as he stood up.
I growled. “Nico. I’m supposed to go see her tonight.”
“You just saw her,” Trent said.
“Yeah, but I need to go back,” I replied. “Go see if you can find any others to help. I think they’re in Italy. Watch out for Dana.”
“Hell, I saw that,” Trent said. “Stupid Gino.”
“He never was that bright,” I replied. “I’ll meet you at the circle. Oh, and see if Grant or Kylie knows anything about that journal.”
Trent nodded and I vanished to Nico’s home. I walked into the kitchen for some water before I returned to her bedroom where she was likely fast asleep after drinking her tea. Only, I stopped cold when I saw her favorite mug in pieces on the tile floor. My senses kicked in and I started scanning the house from where I stood in the darkness, listening for heartbeats, sniffing the air for the scent of other humans, eyes penetrating the shadows. Nothing. Not even Nico. I ran back to her bedroom just to check anyway. She wasn’t there. Anger surged through me like I’d never felt before.
“Fuck,” I snapped and began searching the house for anything that would tell me what happened to her or who took her. Whoever it was, I was going to rip them to pieces for taking my mate from me, even if it was a trap.
Yeah, I can’t believe I said that either.