Warrior (Relentless #4)

by Karen Lynch

Chapter 1

“I’ll gut this bitch if you take another step, Mohiri.”

I fingered the hilt of my sword as I studied the vampire pressed back against the wall with the human girl dangling by her throat in front of him. The girl’s face was a mask of terror when the vampire’s claws drew blood from her throat. I could feel her staring at me, silently pleading with me to save her.

I kept my attention on the vampire. “If you think the human will save you from me, you are sadly mistaken, my friend.”

He shifted from one foot to the other, his eyes darting around for another means of escape. He knew what I was, and he also had to know there was no way he was leaving this place alive. I had to convince him not to take the girl down with him.

From another part of the house, a scream rang out and was quickly cut short.

The vampire’s eyes widened, and the hand around the girl’s throat shook. “You protect humans. You won’t do anything that will hurt her.”

My gaze locked with his. “I do protect them, but I’m a hunter above all else. Seeing her blood on your hands will only make me hungrier for the kill.”

He swallowed hard, glancing at the door four feet away from him.

I made the decision easier for him and moved two feet in the other direction. I even lowered my sword to let him think he had a sporting chance.

The girl cried out as he threw her at me. I caught her with one arm and set her aside.

The vampire sped toward the door. He was fast – at least fifty years old.

I was faster. My sword sliced through the side of his throat. He croaked and clamped his hand over the wound, but not before blood sprayed across the Victorian-style wallpaper and the pale blue carpet.

The girl screamed.

I went after the vampire, who staggered to the door. Bringing my sword up, I skewered him through the heart with enough force to embed the tip of my blade in the wall behind him. I yanked it free, and he crumpled to the floor.

Chris appeared in the doorway, his own sword dripping blood. “That’s the last of them. I found a human male upstairs. He’s lost a lot of blood, but he’ll live.”

“Good.”

We’d discovered four teenagers in the nest of seven vampires. That two of the humans had survived was a small miracle.

The girl whimpered.

Chris stood his sword against the wall and approached her slowly. “It’s okay. You’re safe now.”

She threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his waist as she sobbed. Chris gave me a helpless look, and I shrugged. There was nothing I could do for the girl he wasn’t doing already.

I pulled out my cell and nodded toward the door. “Looks like you have the situation under control. I’ll call Denis and tell him to send a cleanup crew.”

The night was warm and muggy when I left the house and called the local unit to give them the address. I also let them know we had a couple of human teenagers needing medical attention. I waited for ten minutes until they pulled up in front of the house, and then I walked down the street to where Chris and I had parked our bikes in the driveway of an empty house.

Pulling off my bloody T-shirt, I found a clean spot and wiped my face. I used the shirt to wipe down my sword before I stowed the weapon away in the sheath that ran along the bottom of my seat.

I was donning a clean shirt when Chris walked up to me. “Why is it they never cling to you like that?” he asked as he went to his bike.

I laughed at his sullen expression. “Must be your smile that draws them to you.”

He yanked off his shirt. “It wouldn’t kill you to comfort them every now and then.”

“But you are so good at it.” I sat on my bike and waited for him to clean up. “I keep them alive and kill the bad guys.”

I didn’t need to add that I had no clue how to handle an overwrought teenager. Unlike Chris, I didn’t associate with humans on any kind of personal level. They were my job. I protected them and kept them safe from the monsters they didn’t know existed. As a warrior, it was better to remain detached. Closeness created emotions, and emotions created distractions. Distractions got you or the people you were protecting killed.

Chris scoffed and mounted his bike. “Beer?”

“Sounds good.”

Thirty minutes later, freshly showered and changed, we walked into the bar down the street from our hotel. We found a table against the back wall, and I sat facing the door. I liked to know who – or what – was coming and going from a place while I was there.

A pretty blonde waitress came over to take our drink orders, and her red lips curved into an inviting smile when she looked from Chris to me.

“What can I get for you gentlemen?”

We ordered whatever they had on tap and a couple of burgers. The waitress lingered at the table for a moment before she went off to put in our order.

Chris leaned back and ran a hand through his blond hair. “I’d call that a good night’s work.”

“Yes.”

My eyes swept the bar. At a corner table a young couple was making out, oblivious to everyone around them. I wouldn’t have noticed them if I hadn’t caught the gleam of silver in the male’s eyes. Incubus. Most of the sex demons were careful not to harm humans when they fed from them, but there were some who loved the thrill of the kill. I wasn’t sure yet which way this one swung.

A laugh drew my attention back to Chris. I shot him a questioning look.

“You are so predictable, my friend.” He inclined his head toward the incubus. “We haven’t had our first beer, and you’re already looking for your next fight.”

“Just keeping an eye on things.”

The waitress returned with two glasses of draft and set them before us.

Chris picked up his beer and drank deeply. “Relax. I saw the two of them in here last night. If he was going to hurt her, he would have done it by now.”

He was right. An incubus intent on killing his victim would do it within a few hours. He certainly wouldn’t come back for a second date.

I gave the pair one last glance then turned my attention to my beer. I preferred a nice aged Scotch, but the rich lager was good for quenching thirst. I downed half the contents before I set the glass down and stretched out my legs beneath the table.

Chris looked at me as if he was waiting for me to say something. When I didn’t, he said, “So, you want to stick around here for a few days?”