Warrior (Relentless #4)(5)

by Karen Lynch

My thoughts were interrupted by an attractive blonde who approached me wearing an inviting smile.

“Hi. Want to dance?”

I stared at the girl, not because of her question, but because my demon suddenly stirred as it detected the presence of another Mori. Chris was too far away for it to be him, so that left the blonde girl. But she was young, and there was no way a Mohiri teenager would be out alone in a club. Plus, we had no strongholds in Maine.

The sensation began to fade, and my eyes were drawn instead to a dark-haired girl passing behind the blonde. I could only see the other girl’s back before she entered the ladies’ restroom, but she looked young. I watched the door, waiting for her to reappear.

The blonde girl made a sound, reminding me of her invitation to dance. I declined and went back to watching the restroom, not wanting to miss the dark-haired girl when she came out. As far as I knew, there were no female warriors working in Portland at the moment. So why would one of them be here, partying with human college students? And why was she here without her team, especially with all the vampire activity in the area?

A few minutes later, I frowned when the restroom door opened and the girl came out. She was younger than I’d expected, and pretty. She wore little makeup, and there was something about her expression, a wary innocence that made her look out of place here. She was too young to be a warrior and too old to be an orphan. Obviously human.

Behind the girl, two blondes left the restroom arguing loudly. The brunette shook her head and gave an eye roll that made the corner of my mouth twitch. I was curious about her even though she was not Mohiri as I’d suspected, and I watched her stop to let the other women pass her.

One of the blondes screamed an obscenity and gave her companion a shove just as they moved past the girl. Her friend stumbled backward, flailing her arms and colliding with the dark-haired girl. I took a step away from the wall as the two of them fell. The girl hit the floor hard, and I heard her grunt in pain as the heavier blonde landed on top of her.

I started toward them as a man grabbed the blonde’s arms and lifted her off the girl.

“Is she all right?” someone asked when I reached the girl and looked down at her dazed expression.

I bent and waved a hand in front of her face. “Are you okay?”

She blinked and tried to sit up. “Um, I think so,” she replied in a low, husky voice that made my breath catch.

I reached for her hand to help her up, and as soon as our fingers touched, a warm tingle shot through mine. My Mori quivered with recognition and…excitement? There was no doubt in my mind that the girl was Mohiri. But how was that possible? How was I able to sense her one minute and not in the next? And how could I have gotten this close to her and not sensed anything until we touched? Most importantly, what was she doing here instead of living in a stronghold?

The girl dropped my hand and looked up at me, her cheeks pink and her full lips parted in a timid smile. Her eyes met mine, and I sucked in a sharp breath as I stared into beautiful green eyes framed by long dark lashes. If the eyes truly are the windows to the soul then I knew I was looking at one of the purest souls I had ever seen. I was only dimly aware of my Mori pressing forward and the strange fluttering sensation coming from the demon. All I could focus on was the feeling that I’d somehow met this girl before, even though I knew it was impossible. I never would have forgotten those eyes or that face.

Realizing we were only inches apart, I took a step back. She looked away, and I felt strangely bereft and more than a little confused by my reaction to her. I’d seen thousands of beautiful women in my life, and not one of them had drawn me in the way this slip of a girl did.

Her eyes lifted to mine again, and she smiled. “Sorry, I must have banged my head harder than I thought.”

The wave of emotions that slammed into me nearly drove me to my knees. Something base and primal welled up inside my chest, and I was gripped by an almost uncontrollable need to touch the girl.

What the hell? I clenched my teeth as I fought the insane urge as well as my agitated Mori. I hadn’t lost control of my demon since I was a child, and it shocked me to my core that I was fighting it now.

It took me several seconds to realize the girl had left, and I looked around in time to see her disappearing into the crowd.

Who is she? Mohiri, obviously, but what was she doing here alone? She was at least seventeen or eighteen – too old to be an orphan. More importantly, why were my Mori and I so damn affected by her?

Something caught the light at my feet, and I bent to pick it up. As soon as I touched the warm silver cross, I knew it was hers. The cross was old, and something told me she would be upset if she lost it.

It wasn’t hard to guess where she’d gone, and when I stepped out onto the deck, I found her alone at the rail, staring out into the night. She rubbed her temple, and I wondered if she had hurt herself when she fell.

The sight of her brought on another disturbing jumble of emotions – want, protectiveness, desire, fear – and I started to turn around and go back inside. I couldn’t deal with this now – whatever this was. I’d find Chris, have him talk to her and find out her story.

A soft sigh drew my attention back to the girl, and my gut clenched at how small and vulnerable she looked out here alone. Something about her tugged at me in a way I could not comprehend, and I found myself walking toward her.

“I believe this is yours.”

She gasped and spun, staring at the broken necklace hanging from my fingers. Her hand went to her neck, and then she reached for the necklace cautiously as if she half expected me to grab her.

“Thank you,” she said softly as she tucked it away in her pocket.

I studied her face, confused by what I was sensing and feeling. She was definitely Mohiri, of that I had no doubt, but her Mori was so quiet it seemed to be asleep. When two Mohiri get within a few feet of each other, our demons sense each other. My Mori was desperately trying to reach out to the girl’s Mori, but it wasn’t getting a response. I was mystified by my demon’s strong need to connect with this particular Mori, and by my own attraction to the girl.

“Are you done?”

Her blunt question shook me from my musings, and I stared at her in surprise. Tonight I had been approached and flirted with by more women than I could count, but this girl plainly wanted nothing to do with me. For some reason that thought did not sit well with me.

“You’re a bit young for this place,” I said sorely.