Twice Tempted Page 26

He translated the silent message. ’’Do I need to tell you that screaming is useless?’’

I rolled my eyes. What was this, amateur day? He smiled before rising from the opposite berth. ’’I thought not.’’

The vampire looked to be around my age, but I judged him to be less than a hundred in undead years. Really old vampires had a certain . . . weight in their stares, as if the passing centuries had left a tangible heaviness. My nameless captor didn't have that, and if I was lucky, neither did anyone else on this boat.

Young vampires were easier to kill.

’’Water,’’ I said once the gag was removed. Between that and the aftereffects from being drugged, my mouth was so dry that my tongue felt like a wadded-up sock.

The vampire disappeared and then returned with a can of Coke. Even better. The caffeine would help my headache, and watching him pop the soda can tab meant he hadn't doctored the contents, so I wasn't about to be drugged again.

I gulped at it when the vampire held it to my lips, which meant that I let out an extended burp when I stopped swallowing. If that burp happened to be aimed in my captor's face, well, it wasn't my fault. I was tied up.

’’Charming,’’ he said dryly.

’’I lost my concern for social niceties when you shot my friend up with liquid silver,’’ I replied in an even tone. ’’Speaking of, I want to see him.’’

The vampire's mouth quirked. ’’You're not in a position to make demands, but yes, he's still alive.’’

’’You don't want to take me to him, fine,’’ I said, thinking fast. ’’I assume you know I pick up psychic impressions from touch, so take these gloves off and let me touch you. Then I'll know if you're telling the truth.’’

The vampire chuckled, a brighter green swarming in the peat-moss color of his eyes. ’’Touch me? Don't you mean use that deadly electrical whip you can manifest to cut me in half?’’

I stiffened. How did he know about that? Aside from Vlad, Maximus, and a handful of Vlad's guards, everyone who'd seen me wield that power was dead.

’’That's why those rubber gloves are duct-taped onto you,’’ he went on, unperturbed. ’’Just in case.’’

’’What's your name again?’’ I asked, glad I sounded casual.

Those wide lips stretched further. ’’Call me Hannibal.’’

I smiled back. ’’Okay, Hannibal, what do you want me to do? Use my abilities to find one of your enemies? Tell you if someone is betraying you? Or read the past from an object?’’

Hannibal laughed, and though it was more Dr. Evil caliber than chilling, it was still foreboding enough to creep me out.

’’I don't want you to do anything, little bird. I'm merely the delivery boy. I don't even know who I'm delivering you to. All I know is you're worth three times as much alive, but if you try anything, dead is still a good payday for me.’’

Hannibal gave me a cheery wave before leaving the room. I said nothing, trying to think of a way out of my predicament. I was not going to let myself or Maximus be delivered to some unknown baddie. I'd find a way out of this if it killed me.

The fact that it might didn't deter me. After everything that had happened, I'd rather an early death while fighting than living with more regret than I already had.

Every ten minutes, one of my captors would check in on me. I'd seen four different faces in addition to Hannibal's, and from the paneled walls, queen-sized bed, curtained windows, and the size of the room, whoever hired them had deep pockets. If I weren't trussed up to the handicapped railing, I'd have enjoyed traveling in such a nice vessel.

The only window had the drapes drawn, but from the lack of light peeking out, it was still night. Guess Hannibal had been telling the truth about me not being out that long. Lake Michigan was the closest large body of water to the hotel and it was larger than some seas, so it might be a while until we arrived at our destination. Or we might arrive in minutes.

That's why I was concentrating, trying to channel all the currents in my body to my right hand. After several moments, the overload of electricity began to form into what felt like a spike. It pushed against my glove, seeking the smallest crack to free itself from its heavy rubberized cage.

No such crack existed, but my goal was to make one. Better to be killed trying to escape than meekly be delivered to whoever wanted me dead or alive. I should never have surrendered to Hannibal, but I hadn't anticipated him knowing the full extent of my abilities, and Maximus's life had been on the line.

He's probably dead already, my nasty inner voice whispered. You gave yourself up for nothing!

My teeth ground together. How I hated the dark part of me that continually foretold failure or futility. It had driven me to a suicide attempt at sixteen, but it would not defeat me now. Dismal odds or no dismal odds, I was getting out of this.

I refocused on my right hand, willing more currents into it. If that spike of energy became sharp and strong enough, it would punch through the rubber and I would get free. Come on, I silently urged it. Drill, baby, drill!

Was it my imagination, or did the layer of rubber around that energy spike feel like it suddenly . . . dented?

My heart pounded, either from excitement or from being overly strained. I didn't need a doctor to tell me that building up so much electricity was hazardous to my health, but I kept concentrating, willing those inner currents to grow and strengthen. Sweat beaded on my upper lip, my vision blurred, and my whole body started to tremble, yet I kept focusing -

White light briefly suffused the room and I heard a zzzt! right before an ominous cracking at my feet. I looked down, both elated and mildly terrified to see a small but distinct hole. Good news: I'd broken through my glove. Bad news: I might've punched a hole all the way through the boat's hull, too.


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