"Then there's still one more."
The voice isn't entirely unfamiliar. It's one of those moronic pseudo-avenger brats who killed Marko. And he's right. There is one more. At least that.
I can't move. Shouldn't I be dead? The horns jutting from my chest are pretty solid evidence of the fact... but I can still think. I can still hear. I just can't move, can't talk, can't see.
There's a soft touch on my chin and jaw, someone turning my head. Max. The touch is gone and I hear voices speaking but I can't make out the words. Everything fades for a moment before I hear Star's voice.
"You're the secret David was protecting."
No shit, Star! There was so much you never knew. You were just bait, used for Max's purposes to get Lucy. Oh Lucy Emerson, you had no idea what was coming for you, blindly walking right into that video store and into Max's claws. For all his experience and knowledge, one stupid little mortal woman undid Max's heart. There's something sad about a vampire who longs to play some twisted version of "house" and uses a woman's sons to get to her.
I admit I didn't have a choice in this plan. Max put on the pressure and when your sire says jump you immediately ask "How high?"
Did my finger just twitch?
A loud crash, the tinkling sound of breaking glass, and that goddamn horn that plays La Cucaracha. "The Cockroach". What a fitting choice for the old man.
Another explosion, Max's unearthly screaming. Sounds like the war is over. The old man, one; Max, zero.
"...all the damn vampires."
"I'll deal with this one, Lucy."
I wonder how long I was out. Consciousness is a slippery thing when you're impaled. There is movement, a change in the light, like a pantomime played out on the skin of my eyelids. Something lifts and tosses me onto a hard surface, the horns jostling in my chest. The smell of gasoline and grease. I'm moving but not under my own power. The old man must be driving me out to the back of his property, from the feel of the bumpy terrain we're covering.
"Crazy bastards, I told you not to mess with my daughter and grandsons."
He unceremoniously pulls me off the truck and I'm powerless to stop him. There's a rock under my left knee as he sets me in the sandy soil, a broken doll angled against the back of his jeep.
"Just a minute now."
You crazy old ass, just do it already!
A squelching sound, a grunt from the old man, the strange sensation of the horns reversing and being pulled easily from my chest as one would pull a splinter from a finger. My forehead smashes into the rubber tire, bouncing me onto my back.
"That hurt." My eyes finally open and I stare up at the sea of stars spread out in the black sky.
"'Course it did. Impaled on a pair of oryx horns would hurt just about anyone. Pretty smart of my grandson."
"Congratulate him for me," I cough. Rolling on my side I spit out the congealed blood clogging my throat. The old man stands there silently, watching me. Spitting into the dirt a final time I turn and look up at him over my shoulder. "Why?"
"My beef was with Max." I raise a brow waiting for him to expound but he doesn't. A soft breeze comes down the mountains and ruffles the ends of the bandana around his forehead. My hand goes to my chest, a finger sliding into the ragged circles that pierce my chest. The left horn just clipped my heart. A few millimeters more and it would have pierced it. My wounds will take time to heal. Regeneration on this level can take years.
"Now git. I don't want to see you near my grandsons, my daughter, or Star. Your little gang has made enough trouble."
The smirk slides on to my lips like a well-worn glove. "Sure, old man." I get to my feet without much trouble, but I'm going to have to feed. I give the old codger a sharp nod and hit the sky.
Max's house is still lit up inside, just as he left it. He thought he'd return home with his perfect bride. Boy did that plan hit a snag.
I circle it, looking in the tinted windows. Landing in the middle of the bridge, the gate latch is undone and it swings open for me when I put my hand on the wooden frame. There's no sign of Thorn; he's probably returned to his place of origin now that his master is gone. Good riddance. He was a pain in the ass I don't need to deal with anymore.
Walking to the front door I reach for the hide-a-key box kept above the molding. It's in my hand when the door creaks and opens just a fraction. I put the key back and gently push on the solid oak.
Stepping into the immaculate stone foyer, I softly close the door behind me. "Shane, I'm here."