Redemption Ch. 06byElianna©
aDavid took a shivering breath of excitement as he opened the door to the girl's apartment and stepped inside. He didn't bother to flick on the lights, he could see perfectly without them, closed the door behind him. He scanned the area with his dark eyes, a specter in the blackness, surveying the small space with a clinical eye for detail. The girl was a relatively neat creature, though her studio apartment was the size of a shoebox, so she probably didn't have much choice. He inhaled deeply, savoring her smell; it was somewhat sweet – like roses – and it wafted pleasantly about her tiny domain. Beneath that heady scent, was another much more powerful aroma; her flesh and her blood. It still lingered in her bed, though she hadn't inhabited it for three days now. It was obvious she hadn't entertained a lover, either. The only scent in the place was hers. He smiled a little wickedly about that and went to her bed, breathing the scent of her sheets deeply. Even the lingering scent of her sweet body made him hungry; she must taste delicious.
Part of him wanted to wallow in her sheets for a few moments, saturating his body in her intoxicating mixture of blood, flesh and roses. How incredible it would be to cover that scent with his own, to leave his mark of possession and dominance splattered on her sheets. A shiver ran down his spine at the thought and the tightening in his groin made him let out a trembling breath of need. Yes. He was definitely hungry – hungry for so many different things.
He caught himself in the thought and let out a sigh of annoyance at his weakness. Shifting once again to ease the burn of the seam of his slacks pressing against his swollen member, he put his briefcase down on her small kitchen counter. The locks clicked noisily and the lid creaked as he opened it to remove a bottle of bleach and a rag. The scent of the bleach seared his nose as he twisted open the lid and poured a generous amount onto cloth, but he liked the burn. He stood once again, centering himself, mentally tabulating every surface that he should clean, and then starting at one end of the tiny room, he commenced to wipe her house down carefully and methodically.
His attention to detail was flawless, as always. His were the crimes never solved; no scene David cleaned ever produced an ounce of evidence he didn't want them to. In this case, he wanted the FBI to believe that the crime had happened in the girl's tiny apartment. Foul play, obviously. For what other reason would someone work so hard to destroy evidence? Why would someone wipe down her house and use bleach unless they wished to remove all traces of fluids? It was the perfect crime that wasn't. Alexis Murray would be presumed dead; murder. The cover-up all but screamed of homicide. He hummed to himself as he worked; vacuuming, dusting wiping fingerprints, his voice tunelessly filling the darkness.
This was only one act of the play he wrote for his foolish human puppets. Over the years, he'd grown to call the human FBI his puppets, for he< was the one who played them. This time, he created the all so common, always tragic story of a good girl getting involved with a bad guy. A concerned co-worker would notice her absence and make a call to the police. The police would follow up and find the strangely spotless, bleach-smelling apartment. Since they were just cops, it might take a while for the warning bells to go off. Upon investigation, they would find it was thoroughly cleaned and wiped of prints; nothing, nothing to give any evidence of where the girl might be, if she was even alive. They'd follow up at her work, where another co-worker would remember the girl gushing about some hot guy she'd met dancing, (it was amazing what a good psychic could do to weak human minds). They'd follow up on her phone records, go to the club she supposedly met the man, and would find nothing; dead end, investigation over. It would fall into an unsolved cases file with all the other disappearances he'd covered for.
The second lie was for Lord Montasse's and his investigators. When they searched the apartment, they would find it saturated with the unique scent of a vampire; his scent. The connection between him and the culprits who actually abducted the girl would be easy to make; he must be one of the vampires who'd taken her. He was very careful not to reveal his face in the security cameras, but he made sure they could recognize his natural grace. Unlike the humans, they would know it as a sign of their kind and it would peak their interest. Upon further investigation, they'd find that one of the cameras had been able to get a clear shot of his license plate as he drove up, too. It would take some time for them to make the connection, but anything too obvious would make them suspicious.
He looked around the clean apartment in satisfaction. This game excited him. He'd been growing bored with simple cover-ups for the humans. Even with their technology, they were frightfully stupid and their investigations were ridiculously underfunded. They didn't have the time, money or man-power to find the men and women his master abducted for his business. But vampires, Kieran Montasse no less; at last a true challenge. He couldn't wait for the moment when the hunter realized that he was the hunted! He imagined the look of horror, hate, and defeat in the old warrior's eyes when he realized that the game was over.
He had to be good. He had to keep them from being suspicious. He had to pretend that he didn't know they were on his tail and make it look like he was doing his job like he always did. Fool the FBI, entice the vampires...how exciting!
He waited until an hour before sunrise before he left the complex. He changed clothes and carried his briefcase back out with him. To the human FBI he looked like the typical resident who worked long hours. His entrance and exit seemed absolutely ordinary; the footage would give them no reason to question. Kieran's men would know differently almost immediately. He could imagine their glee as they 'caught' his mistake.
"Hey kiddo," said Mara. "As always, you look fabulous."
"This whole 'royalty' thing is ridiculous," Angel fumed as she gave Dorian a hard look.
"Don't even start whining, Angel," Mara said shaking her head in annoyance.
Angel stared at her friend in surprise. Something was wrong. The muscles around her eyes were tight, her lips were pursed stubbornly, and her beautiful brown eyes were hard. Instantly, she felt terrible. While she was with Cael and living the life of a spoiled princess for the last three nights, Mara had been left to fend for herself. Her first two nights she'd managed to spend in prison, and then last night she'd gone off with Kieran and Darian. It seemed her best friend never caught a break and it was obviously wearing on her.
"What's wrong?" she demanded.
"Don't worry about it," Mara replied.
"Not on your life. Tell me."
"There's nothing you can do about it now," Mara retorted, her brown eyes flashing angrily.
She was probably trying to sound pissed, but tone in her voice was bordering hysterical. Angel knew that inflection by now. Was it only a few nights ago that they were fleeing Paola? Mara had been a mess. At times, she seemed like trapped animal; whimpering with little panicked sobs in the back of her throat, pushing on through fear and pain to flee from danger. Staring at the woman now, Angel could see the panicked look was back in her eyes.
"So what? I can still listen," Angel replied.
Mara's eyes fluttered to Dorian and then back to her. Angel understood at once. This wasn't something for her bodyguard to hear.
Can you hear me like this?
Mara's eyes widened.
Try to think something at me. At least that's how I communicate with Alexander this way. We did it once before, remember?
Mara closed her eyes as though she was concentrating. Angel?
Yes! I can hear you!
Mara opened her eyes in surprise. "When that happened last time, I thought it was a fluke. We were both so scared. I wonder why I can hear you in my head like that. You're not my Little One."
"Usually it happens when vampires share blood with each other," Dorian said to them.
Angel looked at her bodyguard curiously. By the light in his eyes and the slight curve to his lips, it looked like he was amused. She wondered how old he was. Cael wouldn't have placed her in the care of some weakling, so he was probably pretty powerful.
Mara thought about that. "I guess that's the only explanation. I've never had the desire or opportunity to share blood with another vampire before."
"We only shared a little bit, though," Angel said. "We didn't...feed or anything."
"It only takes a drop," Dorian said. "Vampire blood is sacred because of its power." He looked at her seriously. "You have to understand that, Angel. Vampires do not share their blood with others often, especially those of their own kind. It connects them to each other for life."
She got the feeling that Dorian was trying to tell her something a little more serious with his words. It almost reminded her of someone scolding a little child for taking something for granted. Like most people when they first met her, Dorian saw her willfulness and playfulness and figured she wasn't observant or particularly smart. Angel was used to it by now, though she did roll her eyes. If he thought that she didn't understand the importance of her bond with Cael and what it meant to him, her, and his kingdom, he was grossly mistaken. Dorian would figure her out eventually, but in the mean time she'd let him think she was the brainless bimbo. She'd learned long ago how to capitalize on people who underestimated her.
She turned to Mara and arched her brows playfully. "Well, I guess you're stuck with me forever now."
"It's not you I'm worried about," Mara replied, her brown eyes appearing even more panicked than before.
What happened? Angel demanded.
I had sex with Kieran.
Angel froze. Surprised wasn't even the word. She stared at her friend looking like a fish out of water; eyes round as saucers, jaw moving but no sound coming out. She felt a little like that fish, too; she couldn't manage to make her lungs work.
Breathe, Angel, Mara reminded her.
Kieran? Kieran Montasse? The arrogant, rude, chauvinistic, hot-tempered, dangerous in an 'I'll rip your throat out' kind of way, Kieran? Wow.
How was that? she managed to ask. It was probably not the best thing to say, but she couldn't really think of anything else.
Incredible, Mara replied.
Angel arched a brow. Yeah...probably. Granted she was biased about Cael, but Kieran was pretty hot and she imagined he'd be right up Mara's alley. She tried to picture the two of them together and instantly felt her face flush. Nope. She wasn't going there.
So why are you all pissed and panicked? she asked instead.
Because he bit me.
"What!" she gasped out loud.
After everything Dorian just told her, it made a hell of a lot more sense. Kieran had just formed an eternal connection to Mara. Fuck. No wonder why she was pissed off.
He didn't even ask! Mara fumed mentally. He just...did it. And now we're connected. I knew he was afraid of me running off, but...she clenched her fist, this is...Even mentally she was out of words.
I'll tell him to stay away from you. That arrogant bastard! Oh, I'm SO going to kill him! Angel raged.
That's not going to change anything. He's fed from me. He'll always know where I am, always sense my emotions and if Dorian's right, he'll always be able to talk to me like this, too. Paola used the bond between us to control me and now Kieran's doing the same thing!
Suddenly Angel understood the panic she noticed in Mara's eyes earlier. How long had she been living like a street rat? Homeless, poor, always running, Mara had been a tortured creature when they met. All because of the power of Francisco Paola and the unbreakable bond he formed with her. Once again, Mara was trapped by a much more powerful vampire – a vampire with the power to control her. Kieran had taken what he wanted from her in every possible way.
She closed her eyes and thought loudly at Cael. I'm going to fucking KILL him! I swear to God, I don't care how strong he is, I'm going to rip his throat out!
Easy, my Angel, Cael replied. He wisely kept his thoughts and emotions guarded from her, though that pissed her off, too. Comfort your friend and we'll discuss it later. What's done is done and you have other responsibilities and commitments now. He paused mentally as though considering something. Don't forget about Alexis, he finally added.
It was a dirty trick trying to distract her from trying to rip Kieran's throat out, but damn him, he was right. Mara was in a crisis, but she wasn't going to die. She needed to get her priorities straight.
Find Alexis first. Kill Kieran later.
She took a deep breath to calm herself and willed her hands to stop trembling with anger. After a moment, she glanced at Mara who was patiently waiting for her to settle down. Between her flaring temper and Mara's panic attacks, they were a mess.
"Better?" Mara asked.
She nodded. "You?"
"Good enough. So what's up?"
Angel smiled. That was something she really appreciated; Mara could pull herself together and take charge in an instant. Maybe it came from being an FBI agent, or maybe it came from being used to horror, but it was damn impressive.
"Alexander gave me a team of investigators to help me chase down my visions."
Mara arched a brow.
"So, they've been working on finding the girl. Her name's Alexis."
Angel felt a shiver run down her spine. Suddenly she just knew. "I think we're going to get her, Mara. I think she's going to be okay."
Mara shook her head a little. "You're a weird one, kid. You still freak me out. But I'm glad that this time we're going to be the hunters and not the prey."
Angel grinned. "Ditto."
"You're playing with fire, Alexander," Kieran said as he took a sip of his scotch.
"You don't understand her, Kieran," he explained. "You don't know what Angel's capable of when she sets her mind to something. If I just let her have those visions without helping her chase them down, she'd be gone. No matter how much she loves me, she's not the type of woman to stand aside and let people suffer."
"Letting her get involved in investigations like this isn't safe," Kieran argued. "She's a dream-walker, not a warrior. She doesn't even seem to have the power to control others with her gift. That makes your mate extremely vulnerable and defenseless."
Alexander sighed. "I've put Dorian James as her head bodyguard. What more can I do? She's not going to be content just sitting around playing princess when she's having visions. I unfortunately had to rule out the thought of tying her to a chair," he added.
Kieran chuckled at that. He could imagine Angel coloring the world with curses as she sat tied down to a chair. They could always gag her.
"You're an evil man, Kieran," Alexander mused chuckling.
"I know," he replied.
At that thought, his shoulders slumped. He was wicked. What he'd done to Mara was beyond evil. It was selfish, possessive and he didn't even feel guilty about it. In fact, he was strangely satisfied with the whole thing. It was like some little part of him was actually purring in contentment as her emotions and presence danced on the fringes of his thoughts.
His bond with Darian had been much the same; forced and unwilling. At the time, Kieran had no love for the White Man he called 'master.' He'd only been associating with the strange man and guarding his home during the day for the generous pay. Since he was a boy, Kieran had always been bigger, stronger and faster than his companions. Orphaned so young that he couldn't remember his mother's face, he grew up on the streets. At first, he was an urchin begging for food, but later he learned to fight. By the time he was in his late teens Kieran was a menace, and by his twenties he was outright feared. His name was whispered on the tongues of others with distaste, and when he walked through the streets, people closed their doors. He did anything people paid him to do, and by nature of his skill, his strong body, and his apparent lack of morals, they always paid him to do wicked things.
When he met the White Man, as the locals in Damascus called him, he was as suspicious and intrigued as everyone else in the city. A man with pale skin, hair, and strange silver eyes was even more of an anomaly in the East than he was in Europe. The man came seeking the knowledge of ancient times and he quickly learned to read and write their language. He spent most of his time researching their sacred manuscripts, though how he gained access to them was a mystery to everyone. It seemed that the strange man was able to influence the rich and powerful of the city.
Like most people, Kieran didn't trust him, but when he was offered a large sum to guard the White Man's house during the day, he didn't refuse. He'd grown tired of kidnapping and murdering people anyway. The White Man never came out during the daytime. People said it was because of his pale skin – he was too sensitive to the sun. So he spent his days in front of the White Man's house, making a generous wage for standing around with his scimitar and looking dangerous.
Several weeks into his new occupation as a guard, the White Man approached him when he emerged after sunset. He remembered the encounter as if it was only a few days ago, not over a thousand years ago.
"Tell me, lad," said the White Man. "Are you skilled with that sword?"
Kieran couldn't help but wince at his strange accent, nor did it pass his notice that his silver eyes glinted strangely. Everything about the strange man made him uneasy. It was as if there was some hidden danger that he could sense but was unable to see. As an assassin, Kieran had always relied on his senses, and tonight they screamed in warning.
"Yes, master," he replied resenting the fact that he was even calling the man 'master.' The things one did for a few silver coins. He wondered if he was better off just killing the bastard and robbing him than enduring the humiliation of calling the swine a master.
"I suppose that's what I pay you for, isn't it?" The White Man chuckled a little, as though he was privy to Kieran's dark thoughts.
Kieran bowed his head. The mocking chuckle was more than he could bear, but as the idea of murder and money formed in his mind, the demon inside him quieted his temper. Instead, he felt a wicked purr as he slowly formulated his course of action.
"So," said the strange foreigner brightly, "do you wish to show me some of your skill this evening? I'll even pay you for your time."
Once again he bowed his head, though this time it was in false subservience. His mind was set. Tonight was just a move in a game that would result in the death of the rich White Man. Jealousy, revenge, and money; those were all good enough reasons for murder in Kieran's book.
"You and I shall battle," said the man pompously. "I'm actually quite a warrior among my people, though I'm unfamiliar with the tactics of your folk. Let's try a match of my style against yours; my sword against your scimitar."
It was then that Kieran noticed a long, straight weapon at the man's side. He cursed himself for his inattention. In any other situation, he would never have failed to notice it; foreign weapon or no. The man drew the long weapon from its sheath, and it rang in the night air of metal against metal. It was a fantastic blade; the metal highly polished, the hilt ornamented with gold and jewels. He almost salivated as he thought about the riches this haughty White Man had at his disposal.