For your listening pleasure this post: http://blip.fm/~zflpn (we tend to name the posts after songs, if you haven’t noticed that already)
I ported straight to Cianán’s castle, landing in the dark recesses of stone and what the fuck is that smell?–something along the lines of mold and mildew and just plain evil. I wondered if that last bit lingered on me for about two seconds before long fingers wrapped around my throat and lifted me from the floor. I grabbed the arm attached to that hand and struggled as my feet kicked the air. His glowing eyes hit me with a hard ruby stare.
“Where is she?”
I opened my mouth, gagged, and pointed to his hand. He dropped me and I landed in a crouch before springing back up while rubbing my neck. “Fuck, man, you need to stop doing that shit.”
He lurched a step forward, towering over me until I bent backward to look up at him. “Where?”
“Chillax, big guy, she’s here in Ireland somewhere,” I said and pushed him back so I could stand straight again. “I just saw her disappear. I’m assuming she’d head this way.” I could see the anger lines forming on his slimy face. “And before you get pissed, Trent’s already looking for her.”
His long eyebrow arched. “Trent? When will I see him, then? Soon, I hope.”
“Yeah, I’m sure it’ll be soon.” Unfortunately, my dear twin brother had no desire to see Cianán, in which I didn’t blame him one fucking bit. “Anyway, I’m gonna go scout around the area. Maybe hit the old place. Trystan might show up there.”
“Check the circle.” His gravelly voice hit my eardrums like sandpaper and I controlled the shudder wanting to creep through me.
“You got it,” I replied and raised my right foot to take a step into nothing.
He mumbled as he turned around and I vanished in that one step to the old oak tree that sat at the head of the circle. The cracked altar that had once been quartz now looked like it belonged in Stonehenge—dark and gray, covered in moss. Interesting, seeing as how it hadn’t been that long ago that Grant cracked it with his sword, thus destroying the entire thing, its power, and pissing Cianán the hell off once again. Grant enjoyed pissing off our father whenever and however possible.
I blew out a breath as my eyes skimmed the area, then turned to the right and took a step, this time appearing in the courtyard of Cianán’s old castle on the cliffs in Northern Ireland. Hated to say it, but I missed the place a bit. It’s pretty damn roomy and no one bothered us because unless you were a vamp, the place was damn near impossible to penetrate. The new place was similar, but on a smaller scale.
I took in a deep breath of moist Irish air, closed my eyes, and listened to the wind.
Until my twin popped in. “Find anything yet?”
“No,” I said. “Hey Thalia, s’up?”
Her purple—yes, purple—lips split into a smile. “Hey Shawn.” The lips matched her outfit, which consisted of a lot of black too, just like her hair.
I looked at Trent again, who seemed a bit twitchy. “So hey, I think I saw Trystan leaving the slayer compound, and I think she had Nico with her.”
“You think?” he said behind the façade of … something.
I attempted to pinpoint whatever the hell it was, but couldn’t. “Well, they were far away and vanished right as I peered around the corner, but who the hell else is going to escape a place like that via vine?” His brow knitted together, as did Thalia’s. From her, I expected it, since she didn’t know Trystan. “There were freakin’ vines coming out of the building everywhere.” I arched my right brow. “You know, because Trystan’s a fucking Druid sorceress and into all that nature shit?”
“Oh, yeah, I remember that,” Trent said.
I rolled my eyes and slapped his noggin. “You all right up there? Jesus.”
He slapped my hand away. “I’m fine. You sure it was Nico, though?”
I nodded. “Had to be. The minute I hit the area, I felt her. Then the feeling vanished when she did.”
“Gotcha,” he replied. “So, where do you think they went?”
I told him where I’d checked and that it really only left one place, though neither of us could figure out how Trystan would find it, given that she’d likely never been there before. But when it came to Cianán, that bitch was like a hound.
“Well then, guess we should head over there,” Trent said, reluctance obvious in his strained voice. Ah, maybe that’s what was bothering him. He’d be seeing Cianán soon.
I nodded, turned to the right and took a step, appearing near the new castle on the cliffs—outside this time. Nico’s blood thrummed through my body the instant my feet hit the earth—the advantage of having fed from her within the last twenty-four hours. She was near.
Then a scream filtered through the castle walls and dread washed over me.
I ported inside to find Cianán draining her. My vision turned red. I vaguely recall Trent trying to stop me. It didn’t matter. I ripped Cianán’s head back away from her neck. When he dropped her in the midst of his scream, I threw him against the far wall and fell to my knees next to Nico. Now I understood why Grant hated him. This felt like the story I’d heard countless times. I picked her up and held her close to my chest. The wound on her neck was so great, I wasn’t sure if I could fix it. I tried to lick it closed, but it was too big. My hand ran over her hair, smoothing it back, brushing it away from her closed eyes. She was so pale.
“Nico?” I grabbed her hand and squeezed, but she didn’t respond. “C’mon, babe, how can I tell you those words you want to hear if you fucking die on me?”
“You could try …” my twin began.
“NO! I will not change her!” I pulled her closer and kissed her forehead, whispering, “I can’t. I won’t. Not her.”
Trent silently stepped away from me, but then I heard Thalia whimper and looked up to find Cianán approaching. I hissed at him and moved Nico to a better position so I could defend.
“Stay the fuck away or I’ll fucking kill you,” I growled. Shock hit his face, then anger as he began his approach again. I carefully laid Nico on the floor and stepped over her. “I’m serious, Cianán. Don’t think I can? Try me. I made you.”
That stopped him. He realized that I knew I was the master now. Seriously, the guy underestimated me.
“I did not know she belonged to you,” he said with a bow of his head.
“I am so sorry, Shawn,” Trystan said from the shadows. “It happened too quickly.”
“Well, now you fucking do and if she dies, I’m taking your life too.” I glared at him, then in Trystan’s general direction because she was like a ghost, and then stepped back over Nico and knelt at her side once more. “Shit.” Then I remembered the part of her that made her special, the reason her blood could heal and tasted so goddamn divine. I bit into my wrist and opened her mouth. “C’mon babe, drink up.” My blood in heavy droplets fell upon her lips and crashed into her mouth.
“But I thought you didn’t want to do that,” Trent said quickly as he stepped up next to me.
I shook my head. “I’m not changing her. Just giving her what she needs.” I looked up at my twin. “She’s dhampyr.”
His eyes grew wide. “Shut the fuck up. I thought they didn’t exist.”
“She’s the only one of her kind,” I whispered and massaged her throat to work the blood down. I propped her head against my bent knee and leaned forward. “C’mon Nico. Work with me here.”
Silence stilled around us for an eternity as I stared at her, willing her back to the living.
She gasped in a rush of breath, and I breathed out in relief and pulled her against me. “Thank fucking God.” I then looked up at Cianán and Trystan. “Not a fucking word of this gets out into the world. She’ll be hunted more than we are.”
Cianán nodded. “Understood.” It was then that I noticed he wasn’t looking quite as green as before, and his hair had grown in thicker.
“It seems she’s fixed you with that little snack,” I said. “You’re changing.”
He spread his hands out before him and grinned. “Then I would thank her for the donation.”
“You’ll do more than that,” I snapped. “You’ll treat her like the fucking queen she is to you.”
He bowed his head. “Of course.”
My twin’s voice flew in a flurry through my mind with never-ending questions I couldn’t answer just yet, so I ignored them and focused on Nico.
Her big brown eyes looked into mine. I cocked a smile at her. “Bitch. You had to go and almost die to get me to say I love you.”
She giggled, and it was the most beautiful goddamn sound I’d ever heard.