Another Excerpt from my novel, from Chapter 12 - a human makes a desperate, foolish choice
| Catch the 'Prologue' for this novel here!:
I crossed my arms and studied the girl a moment. Madeline was not holding up well - things would only get more turbulent and more intense from here on in. I could not have a human slowing us down anymore, and besides that she was a liability I was not interested in protecting. I would have enough to protect once I found Seraphim. And since we would be traveling Eternal-style, her coming along was certainly not an option.
Reaching into an inner pocket, I withdrew a large roll of bills and pressed it into her quavering hand. It was five thousand dollars in total, and enough to get her far from here if she was smart with it. The girl turned panicked eyes up to me, already shaking her head. I was unmoved.
"Take that and go somewhere safe, away from the law. They will still be looking for you, and I wont be there the next time to stop them. There is a car in the garage, use it to get out of the state but be careful that you aren't caught out on the road. Take this too," I drew a slim, compact 9mm handgun from inside my coat, out of one of the holsters against my sides, its silver finish glinting in the afternoon sunlight as she took it. "Do you know how to use it?"
In answer to my question, she racked back the slide to chamber a round, effectively loading the weapon in one quick motion then looking back up at me gravely. I nodded approvingly, then turned to walk away just as Umbra sauntered out of the house with a stunning katana in hand. Small, firm fingers caught my elbow before i'd taken more than a step. I spun around, knowing that there was violence reflecting in my eyes for Madeline blanched and recoiled slightly. Amazingly, though, stood her ground. Her calm tone belied the anxiety swimming just below her surface, "Please, take me with you, I need to go with you! I can be useful, please don't leave me alone!"
I brushed her hand off just as Umbra slid up beside me, one hand on her hip and the other languidly clutching her newly claimed blade. I shook my head. "No, Madeline. Goodbye." As I started moving away again I heard, behind me, the unmistakable click of a hammer being pulled back. Glancing over my shoulder I saw the girl shakily aiming the gun at me, raising it up to my forehead when I turned back to face her, arms at my sides. Her green eyes were wide and dark with the dilation of her pupils, her lips pulled back into a snarling visage. Umbra laughed.
"I said take me with you. You don't get a choice! Now let's all get in the car together!"
"Want me to kill her, Huntress?" Umbra said eagerly in clear English, making certain that Madeline heard and understood it.
Ignoring the Crimson's question, I smiled sharply at Madeline, my tone deadly cold, "You are going to have to shoot me, human, or else I am going to kill you for turning on me like a disloyal dog."
There was a breath of time as Madeline weighed her options, then a loud report cracked the clear mountain air, the bullet slamming into the center of my forehead and sending a jolt down my spine. I did not flinch as it hit, splitting white skin and stopping on the bone as if it had just encountered Kevlar. I let my eyes meet hers pointedly, the bullet seeming to fall from me to the ground between us in slow motion while she dropped the gun, and her jaw. I gave a small laugh that was more scoff and contempt than humor, "Stupid human."
And I let loose a powerful backhand that knocked her well away from me and to the stone, easily enough force to put her out instantaneously. She would hurt like hell when she woke up, but I had intentionally held back so that the girl would wake up. Madeline should count herself lucky. Now her life was her own problem, her own responsibility.
Umbra shrugged and meandered toward the angel fountain at the driveway's center, tossing over her shoulder, "You should just kill the pathetic thing." She cut the breeze around her in a lazy pattern, getting a feel for the pilfered weapon. I said nothing.
She tried again, undaunted by my lack of interest in conversation, "So where are we going, hm?" As if she didn't know already. I walked away from Madeline's crumpled form towards Bloodfire, deciding I would humor her.
"The Roof of the World."
"Ah, the Veiled Ones!" The red-clad Eternal grinned like a shark, making a few measuring strikes with the beautiful sword I was quite positive she had taken from Sever's personal collection inside the house. "They don't like me!" She said this with evident delight, ever the merry diplomat.
"Umbra, no one likes you," I said in a bored, matter-of-fact tone.
She laughed again, a wild sound. "I simply can't imagine why not." With that the Shadowed One executed a mighty rising slash with the gleaming katana, slicing through the splayed wings of the stone angel, severing them neatly from its back. We both watched them crash to the flagstones and shatter into nondescript fragments, as if the wings had never been. Then we looked at each other, her mouth quirking at the corner.
I spoke first, "Are you ready?"
The fox spun the blade once then propped it roguishly on her shoulder, arching a perfect black eyebrow in a familiar expression of hers.
"Are you kidding? Do humans scream when you cut their lips off?"