Haunted Prey Ch. 11bypurefire©
The men were loading up the car when Lindsay heard the ragged breathing usually associated with a wounded animal.
"What the fuck is that?" Liam asked.
Lindsay said nothing as he stalked forward slowly, preparing himself for what was to come. His senses quickly went on alert as Alexis took position at his side. As the garage door slowly lifted, he held his hands up, ready to shock the life out of the first thing that moved. His hands then dropped in dread, however, as he watched Brock collapse. He, along with Alexis and Liam rushed forward. Brock's breathing was extremely shallow; it didn't look as if he was breathing at all. Blood gushed from gaping wounds all over his body. His left eye looked crushed in. His right arm was severely broken. "What happened?" Lindsay demanded.
"Do you honestly think he'll be able to talk right now?" Liam asked as he took Brock's hands in his. Almost immediately, his ability to heal wounds took effect, slowly closing the open wounds on Brock's body.
Lindsay wasn't in the mood to listen to reason. "Brock, where is Alauria?" He shrugged off the hand Alexis placed on his back, but kept himself from lifting the injured man by the scruff of his neck to get the answer he needed. His attention was momentarily turned when a golden horse approached slowly with a blood soaked Maels draped over its back. The leader of the Naguals looked in even worse condition than Brock did, which only told Lindsay that he'd taken point in protecting Alauria while Brock and Hunter watched his back. But both Hunter and Alauria were missing.
"I'll get to him in a minute," Liam said as he continued to work on Brock. He was relieved to see that the worst of the wounds had healed and that the chalky pallor of his skin had brightened. "Set him over there," he said with a jerk of his chin.
"Hurry up," Lindsay commanded. "I need to know what happened."
"We all do," Alexis said. It wasn't only Alauria he had to worry about; Maels was extremely important to his kind. If he decided to hold a grudge, it meant war between the Naguals and The Brethren. With everything that was happening already, he couldn't afford the added stress. "She's fine, Lindsay."
"Don't start that diplomatic shit with me," Lindsay growled. Until she was safely in his arms once more, he would continue to think the worst. And that meant he would be volatile until he got the answers he needed.
"Why don't you check on Maels?" Jameson suggested. He'd wisely decided to continue to load the truck so that they would be able to leave immediately after Maels and Brock were taken care of. He also wanted to calm everyone down; raised voices would alert Charisma to trouble and the last thing he wanted to do was have her panic and trigger another one of her untapped abilities when he had to leave her.
"Why don't you?" Lindsay countered, "He should have known better than to-" He stopped when the horse angrily snorted and stomped one of its front hooves. "Don't you start," he warned. He focused his attention on the area surrounding the garage, hoping that the threat was near. He needed to fight, to get the anger and aggression out of his system so that he could deal with the situation rationally. "Liam, God damn it, hurry the fuck up."
"You're going to quit ordering me around like I'm some bitch," Liam warned. Finally done with Brock, he took a moment to collect himself before he moved to Maels. The Nagual leader was in even worse shape than Brock; his face was completely swollen and Liam didn't need a medical degree to know that the majority of bones in his body were crushed. "This is going to take a while," he said to the horse.
Lindsay rushed over to Brock the second the newly healed man regained consciousness. "What happened, Brock?"
"We underestimated their numbers," he murmured groggily. His head was heavy, and his body throbbed with a dull ache that was more annoying than uncomfortable. "They wanted us to see the scouts we told you about. We were ambushed."
"Where is Alauria?"
Brock shook his head at Lindsay's question. "I don't know."
"What do you remember?" Alexis asked.
"She was on the phone with her mother, then the car was hit. We rolled," he groaned out the last statement as his head began to throb.
"And then?" Lindsay asked when Brock took too long to answer.
"Give him a minute," Alexis said.
Brock took several breaths in an effort to force energy into his system before he said, "We managed to get her out of the car before they grabbed her. We were outnumbered." Which wouldn't have been a problem if they didn't have a human to protect.
"Where is Hunter?" Alexis asked.
The anguish in Brock's voice sobered Lindsay. It wasn't supposed to go down like this. With Brock's recount of the unprecedented events, he had his answer. Raife had Alauria. "They have her," he said out loud.
"Yes," Brock agreed, "We were not enough."
Lindsay heard the unspoken accusation. He'd left them to face demons he should have gotten rid of centuries ago. For a moment, he wanted to scream in frustration. Was there anything else he was supposed to deal with in the next five minutes? Wasn't what he had to deal with enough? "Liam, are you done yet?"
"Give him a minute," Jameson advised, "We have time to save her."
"How in the hell would you know?" Lindsay asked impatiently. The second he looked at his brother's face, he remembered the story Alexis told him and regretted his words. Jameson would know well about whether there was enough time to save a loved one; he'd lost someone he considered a sister just months before. "We need to go."
"You go ahead," Alexis ordered as he threw the keys to his truck at his agitated brother, "We'll meet you there."
"And don't go in there with guns blazing for fuck's sake," Liam added.
Lindsay barely heard a word that was said; the second he had the keys in his hands, he ran to the truck and nearly ripped the door off in his haste to get in. He wasted no time shoving the key into the ignition and starting the car. Within moments, he was speeding out of the massive garage, silently thankful that Alexis had thought to move everyone out of his way. They didn't know Raife like he did; while she wouldn't kill Alauria until he'd arrived, she'd make sure that a severe beating was given, if only to assert her superiority to a human. Lindsay couldn't afford that; Alauria had been through enough because of him. He would be damned if he let history repeat itself.
* * * * *
Alauria had no idea where she was. Upon initial inspection, it seemed as if she was in some sort of corporate office building catered to Goths. Black walls seemed to overemphasize red furniture and silver accents. As two Prygorian demons dragged her through the building, she was able to see other menacing looking demons seated peacefully as they all waited to conduct their personal business. A seemingly human secretary sat behind a large black desk littered with paperwork, paperweights, and preserved organs. While many of the organs were undoubtedly human, there were several jars filled with body parts she'd never seen before. Alauria wasn't sure if it was the liquid used to preserve the parts or the parts themselves that glowed ominously in the faint sunlight. She wondered how it was possible for the demons to act so calm when the windows had no coverings on them and the building was in the center of the metropolitan area. And then she realized that the building owner would have been smart enough to invest in tinted windows. Demons could see out, but passers-by could not see in. Clever.
Behind the secretary was a large display case filled with weapons Alauria had never seen before. Based on the crusted blood on the selection, the weapons weren't only decorative. They were an in-the-face warning to the demons in the waiting room. Don't mess around on someone else's territory or your blood would be the next. That should have scared the life out of her.
It only served to set her blood to a boil.
Alauria's memory of the attack on Maels' truck was foggy due to her increasing tendency to black out or faint during life or death situations. She did remember the conversation she had with her mother and then the car rolling down the road. Things after that only came to her in flashes, like looking at snapshots taken at a party. Mael's on top of her. The long blade of a sword puncturing the roof of the truck. The sight of the three dozen or so Prygorians as she was pulled out of the car. She shuddered when she remembered witnessing Maels being taken down by three demons that got past Hunter and Brock. Her stomach churned when she remembered the sounds of Hunter's tortured scream as his limbs were pulled from his body. After that, she'd awoken to a hard blow delivered by one of her captors determined to bring her back to consciousness. And now she was here, waiting for the unknown.
"I'll tell Raife that you're here," the secretary said. Her heavy southern accent was lyrical and pleasing to listen to. So out of place with a room filled with demons.
Alauria watched and listened as the secretary informed the Prygorian leader of her arrival and felt her heart rate race uncontrollably. She was about to meet the infamous Raife, and then she would die some sick and painful death as a warped act of revenge. For a moment she worried about her mother and Raedyn. How would they react to the news of her sudden death? What would Lindsay tell them?
Alauria was pulled out of her thoughts when she was nudged forward. She gulped nervously, then forced herself to keep a straight face. If she showed any sign of the fear raging through her, she was lost. Strength was the key; it might allow her a semi-easy death. At least she hoped so. She barely looked at anything but the Grecian tiled floor that seemed to make the hallway longer than it actually was. Those tiles led to heavy looking mahogany doors embossed with the initials R.P. Raife Prygorian, perchance? Or did she go by Rachel during business hours.
"Walk, human," one of the demons commanded gruffly when she instinctively slowed her pace.
Her fear reverted to anger once more and for a moment, Alauria was glad for that; anger made her hold herself taller. It also made her speak without thinking and knowing her track record for saying the wrong thing when she was upset, she was in for a really bad meeting. Again, she forced herself to concentrate on her facial expression and her general demeanor. As she was shuffled into the spacious office, she took a deep breath and looked around. Dozens of shelves were lined with weapons and preserved organs. There was also a display of degrees and certifications. A demon with a brain; who'd have thought?
There was nothing soft about the room. Everything was dark with harsh angles and shadowed light. The recessed lighting of the tall ceilings did nothing to balance the harsh effect of the dark crimson tones of the room. Even the black leather couches looked dangerous, despite the fact that a small fluffy white kitten curled itself on the backrest.
"You may leave us."
Alauria looked around again, desperate to find the body that belonged to the extremely pleasant and husky voice. But there was no one other than the two demons that were quick to exit the room. A deep breath helped her to calm herself and remain still. Raife no doubt wanted her to panic and begin begging for mercy, just so that she could prove that Lindsay made a mistake dating a human. Yea, like she would give the sick and sadistic demon the satisfaction.
Endless minutes passed as Alaurai waited for Raife to show herself. She concentrated on the sleeping cat, as it was the only comfortable object in the room. She focused on the soft rise and fall of the cat's chest as it sucked in the cool air of the room. It was funny; the air in the room was quite cool and comfortable, but as she breathed in the air, it felt as if she was sucking in the burning air of an overly heated room. The feeling only made the blood rush through her veins faster; so fast that she could hear the frantic beat of her heart. Through it, she heard the faint sounds of breathing. It was so close she could almost feel it. The sound circled her slowly, the stalking orbit of a predator as it evaluated the juiciest morsel to bite into.
"This is what he's betrayed me for?"
Though she wanted to, Alauria refused to answer the question. The only response she could think of was an insult, and while it would have afforded her a quick death, she was curious; she wanted to know what Raife looked like. Would she be as ugly as the other Prygorian demons she'd encountered, or would she look different, considering she was a female? There was also the fact that she wanted a good look at her competition; wasn't there some unspoken rule that competitors had a right to look at each other before there was any kind of bloodshed?
There was an audible sniffing to her left, one that had her raising a brow in expectation.
"His scent is all over you."
"That's what usually happens when you share a bed with a man." The comment served to get her a sound blow to the face. Alauria's head snapped right as she placed a hand to the left side of her face. She tasted her blood, and a new mix of anger and fear coursed through her. She would not cower; Lindsay deserved a woman strong enough to face any enemy.
"I've killed for less, you insipid human."
"You're going to kill me anyway, right? I might was well say what's on my mind." Alauria found herself tilting her head curiously when Raife made herself visible. She'd chosen her human form, one Alauria immediately recognized. "You're the woman..." The woman who stared at her oddly the night Lindsay stood her up. There was no mistaking the tall athletic build, the vivid blue eyes, or even the long, dirty blonde hair that framed a face even the most beautiful of women would envy. Flawless alabaster skin highlighted full pink lips and a slightly upturned nose. A menacing smile displayed charming dimples. She even dressed exceptionally; a chocolate brown three-piece suit with a skirt so short it could have doubled as a tube top and a mint green blouse for a splash of color. Brown pumps completed the look and added height to her frame.
"You have a good memory." Raife looked at the woman, the human in front of her and shook her head in disgust. "I really thought he would have at least dignified his downgrade with someone attractive."
"I guess he's more interested in quality rather than presentation these days." The remark was rewarded with another blow. "You can dish it out, but you sure can't take it."
"Oh, I can take it, little girl." Raife took a dangerous step forward and looked down at the human. "But I can only take so much before I have to act."
"And for someone a couple of hundred years old, you sure do act like a spoiled child."
"Alauria, isn't it?"
"Yes, and you're Raife, formerly known as Rachel."
"Ah, so he's told you who I am." For a moment, Raife was disappointed; Lindsay never told anyone about his relationship with her. She knew this because she had spies everywhere. That he told the annoying human about their love meant that she wasn't just a human to him. That was unacceptable.
"Yes, his pathetic ex who can't seem to move on." This time Raife's blow had her thrown in the air for a moment before she landed hard on the floor. Alauria knew she was making a grave mistake by provoking the demon, but her anger made her forget to be practical. "Honestly," she said as she wiped the blood off her mouth, "how many times does he have to shut you down before you get a clue?" She cried out when Raife fisted a hand in her dark hair and dragged her to stand by the curling locks.
"He and I made promises, you stupid girl. We swore to love no one else and I have kept my part of the deal."
"Then you're an idiot." Alauria puffed out a hard breath as she was punched in the stomach. She felt as if her stomach would empty itself and for a moment she wished it would; it wouldn't have been much, but it would have been nice to ruin Raife's expensive suede pumps. "When a man breaks up with you, all promises made become null and void."
"Not if all reasons for his not returning are removed from the equation."
"You think killing me is going to give you want you want?"
"Maybe." Raife held a hand out and used her powers to manifest a long, curved knife. She felt her lips quirk at Alauria's wide eyed look. "But I want him to watch you die. We both know he'll come for you. He's deluded himself into thinking that he could actually care about someone as weak and worthless as you. I want to be there as he comes to the realization that I am the only woman he will ever be with."
"Then why the knife?"
"I said I'd wait to kill you." A second after Raife made her declaration, she made a wide and accurate slicing motion, one that resulted in Alauria's pained scream. Her aim proved true; Raife managed to create a long gash along the human's side. Blood flowed freely, forcing a full smile from her. Weak human. "That doesn't mean I won't be having any fun in the meantime."
Yes, yes, I know this one was short this week. That couldn't be helped. But things are moving along quite smoothly so there should be no worries. Please rate and comment; it makes me happy when you do.