Warrior (Relentless #4)(17)

by Karen Lynch

Before I told Tristan about Sara, I needed proof of her identity. By the time I made it to the town limits, I’d called Dax and put him to work looking into Sara’s background, particularly her parents’ marriage and her father’s death. If there was anything to uncover, Dax would find it.

That left me with one job to do. If Sara would not leave Maine, I’d make Maine safe for her. I would scour Portland until I was confident there wasn’t a vampire in the city and Eli was no longer a threat to her.

Saturday night, we had cleaned out the house the vampire had sent us to, capturing two vampires and disposing of another three. If our informant had been honest with us, there were at least two more vampires running around Portland along with Eli, unless the three of them had turned tail and run.

But I’d seen Eli’s hunger when he had to let Sara go. His was not the face of someone who was going to give up easily. I’d seen it before, a vampire fixating on a human to the point of obsession. And Eli had to know Sara was Mohiri after being that close to her. Vampires loved the taste of our blood, and the younger the Mohiri, the purer the blood.

* * *

I spent the rest of the evening helping Erik and his team set up the new safe house we had established in Portland. The discovery of so many vampires in the city had necessitated a Mohiri presence for the time being. We still had no clue what had drawn Eli and his brethren here in the first place. We had the two vampires from Saturday night on lockdown, and a few days without feeding would make them talk if they knew anything.

The next morning, there was a voice mail from Dax by the time I got out of the shower. I returned his call, and he confirmed what I’d already known. Daniel Grey had been married to a Madeline Croix until his death ten years ago. There was even a black and white photo of the couple that had accompanied an article in the Portland Press Herald about his grisly murder. Strangely though, Sara was not mentioned in the article.

After I hung up, I sat on the bed, thinking about the conversation I’d be having with Tristan soon. My thoughts inevitably turned to Sara, and I wondered how she was faring after our talk yesterday. Would she be less resistant to the Mohiri if she knew she had family among them? She’d been very defensive when I’d mentioned her leaving and adamant that her family was here. I was afraid any more revelations might be too much for her.

Chris was in the kitchen making breakfast when I went downstairs. We lived mostly off restaurant and bar food on the road, and both of us enjoyed a home-cooked meal when we could get one. Luckily for me, Chris liked to cook and he was good at it.

He shot me a questioning look when I walked into the kitchen, and I knew he was waiting for me to tell him where I’d disappeared to yesterday. We’d been friends a long time, and there wasn’t much we kept from each other. But I found myself reluctant to talk about Sara.

“Did you call Paulette to take care of your orphan?” He slid scrambled eggs and sausage onto a plate and held it out to me.

I took the plate and sat at the counter. “No. I decided to take care of it myself.”

He spun around, sending bits of egg flying off the spatula in his hand. “You did?”

I dug into my eggs, ignoring his stare. “It was your idea.”

“Yes, but I didn’t think you’d take me seriously.” He glanced up at the ceiling as if he suspected I had her locked away upstairs. “What happened?”

I gave him a wry smile. “She wasn’t exactly happy to see me or to discover what she is. And she was more than clear that she is not leaving Maine.”

“What did she –?”

I pointed at the stove. “Your eggs are burning.”

“Shit!” He grabbed his smoking pan of eggs and started scraping them into the garbage disposal. He filled the pan with soapy water and turned back to me. “We’ll have to send Paulette to talk to her. She’s the best with orphans. We can’t leave the girl here unprotected.”

“I have no intention of leaving her.” I carried my plate to the sink and washed it.

Chris’s brows drew together. “What aren’t you telling me?”

I dried the plate and put it away, listening for other people in the house. “Where are the others?”

“They went to Boston early this morning to grab the rest of their stuff. Why?”

I picked up my cell phone and walked into the living room. “Because I’d rather keep this conversation between the three of us.”

“The three of us?”

I sat on the couch, and he sat across from me. “You, me, and Tristan,” I said before I dialed the number.

Tristan picked up on the second ring. “What did you find?” he asked when he realized who was calling.

“More than we expected.” I looked at Chris, who was watching me with open curiosity. “It was vampires who took those girls. There were ten of them holed up in a house, and we took care of five of them. We have two locked up, and we’re looking for the last three.”

“Ten. That’s an unusually large number. Did you find out why they were in Portland?”

“Not yet, but we will,” Chris answered.

There was a short silence on the other end of the line. “Why do I get the feeling there is more to this than you’re telling me?” Tristan said.

“There is.” I took a breath. “We found an orphan. We saved her from the vampire we’re hunting now.”

“Is she okay?” Concern flooded Tristan’s voice. “Have you called Paulette? What about the girl’s mother? Did she survive the attack?”

I waited for the barrage of questions to end. “She is unhurt, and her parent was not involved in the attack. We ran into the girl at a bar on Friday night.”

“A bar?” Tristan echoed incredulously. “What on Earth was a child doing at a bar?”

“That’s the thing.” Chris leaned forward with his arms resting on his knees. “She’s not a child, at least not a young one. She’s seventeen.”

Tristan inhaled sharply. “How is that possible? You’re sure she is Mohiri?”

“I’ve never been surer of anything in my life,” I replied, drawing Chris’s scrutiny again. “I’ve been around her several times, and I was able to sense her Mori each time. I went to visit her yesterday, and I learned some things about her that, frankly, shocked the hell out of me. I had Dax look into her background to confirm what I suspected before I told you.”