Twice Tempted Page 59

’’Why?’’ I spat.

Half of his shirt and jacket hung in tatters, the red-stained slash showing where my whip had penetrated. Despite the severity of the wound, it hadn't killed him. It had only slowed him until he healed enough to come back and finish the job.

’’Because now you know,’’ he said in a hard voice.

’’I don't mean this,’’ I said, a jerk of my head indicating the ruined limousine. ’’Why did you betray Vlad?’’

’’I didn't intend to.’’

Now his voice was almost a whisper. Despair skipped across his mocha features, followed by weary resolve.

’’None of this was supposed to happen. You think I wanted to kill my friends in that car? I don't even want to kill you, but I have no choice.’’

I raised my right hand higher. ’’You so much as twitch and I'll cut you in half for real this time.’’

He was too far away for me to attempt it now, but if he came closer, he'd be in range. I didn't dare risk charging him due to the steep incline, plus that would leave Gretchen and Sandra helpless. Instead, I waited for him to lunge at me with his inhuman speed, but as the seconds ticked by and Shrapnel didn't move, I grew suspicious. Sure, he knew I wasn't bluffing, but it wouldn't take long for word of the crash to reach Vlad. He had to know that, so why wasn't he at least attempting to -

Then the wind blew a noxious fume my way. Once I smelled it, I understood. Shrapnel didn't have to move to kill me. All he had to do was wait for the fire to reach the leaking gas tank.

Chapter 34

’’If you run now, you might make it before Vlad gets here,’’ I said, switching tactics. I couldn't free Gretchen and Sandra and fight off Shrapnel before the car blew. We both knew that.

’’It's already too late. You didn't die in the crash and it took too long for me to heal before I reached you.’’

Again he sounded more weary than villain-ish. He even sighed as though burdened beyond what he could bear.

’’Now all that's left is to ensure your death.’’

’’What did I ever do to you?’’ I snapped, hoping someone from the mansion had seen the smoke and help was on the way.

’’It's what you will do if you live.’’ His gaze shifted to my right hand. ’’My death is already certain. Hers is not.’’

Her. I took a last stab at making him run or charge me.

’’You mean the pretty brunette vampire?’’ I said, betting it all that it was the same woman I'd glimpsed in my vision. ’’Hate to break it to you, but she was found out days ago. Vlad's already got people hunting her down. We just didn't know who the traitor was.’’

’’Lies,’’ Shrapnel hissed.

He took a step forward and I held my breath. Come on, just a little closer!

’’How's this for lies? She's five foot four, curvier than me, thick walnut-colored hair, lilting accent . . . want me to go on?’’

I couldn't, but as the scent of gasoline increased, so did my desperation. I debated charging him despite the steep hill and his incredible speed. Then he took another step closer.

’’How did you break her spell to reach her?’’

’’Oh, it was easy,’’ I said, thinking it was a damn good thing Shrapnel wasn't a mind reader because I had no idea what he was talking about. ’’Where do you think I got all this straight black hair from? I'm one quarter Cherokee and my grandmother was a powerful medicine woman. She taught my mother and me all kinds of mystical tricks, so your little bitch's spell was no match for the magic I know.’’

Except for the one quarter Cherokee part, the rest was all lies. I held my breath, hoping that Shrapnel didn't realize that.

’’Don't speak of her that way!’’ he roared.

He took another step forward and that was my chance. I exploded toward him, snapping all the electricity I could muster into a whip that shone as bright as lightning. He lunged to avoid it, but even his speed wasn't enough. That dazzling cord caught him in the hip and continued all the way through.

His legs dropped like felled tree limbs, pitching the rest of him forward with his momentum. He ended up landing on me, his weight knocking the breath from me. Before I could push him off, he began pummeling me while his fangs tore at anything close enough to bite.

I screamed at the brutal double assault. Being almost cut in half hadn't diminished Shrapnel's ferocity. Instead, he seemed almost demonic in his determination to kill me. A stunning blow caved in my rib cage, cutting off my scream. The savageness of the pain stole all thought, triggering blind survival instinct. I didn't consciously grab him and send a current into him. All I knew was that his weight was suddenly gone and I was transported into a decrepit alley.

The streetlights were broken, but I didn't need them to see as I strode down the narrow path between the buildings.

’’You killed the bomb maker, too? When will you stop taking such reckless, stupid risks!’’

My bellow drew several glances. I didn't care. Most vampires avoided places where the homeless dwelled. They smelled too much to make eating them palatable.

’’It wasn't too risky’’ was my lover's unruffled reply. ’’I took care of it, dearie. He's dead, ending any chance this will be traced back to us.’’

Fury made me grip the phone before I forcibly relaxed my hand so it wouldn't shatter and end our call.

’’If you hadn't used him to kill Leila, he wouldn't have needed taking care of. I wouldn't have told you where she was if I knew what you intended. If Vlad doesn't believe the explosion was an accident, he won't rest until he finds her killers.’’

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