“I would ease your disquiet, if I could.”

“Ah, well.” Jason lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “I’ll live. And I have hope that this vamp illness signals the end of our mission. God willing, it will take them all out and we’ll be able to go home.”

Adrian looked back out the window.

Home. For him, that was now wherever Lindsay was.

They reached Ontario and the hangar Mitchell Aeronautics kept there. They waited briefly as the massive metal doors parted; then they drove the Maybach inside. Jason set off to make flight arrangements for his trip to Utah. Adrian moved deeper into the building, heading down into the subterranean storage areas. The farther he descended, the easier it was to hear the growls and hissing. Unintelligible sounds mingled with shouted threats and profanities from those captives who hadn’t yet been infected.

It felt very much like entering the bowels of hell.


A petite brunette approached him with a clipped, precise stride. Dressed in urban camouflage and sporting a pixielike cropped hairstyle, Siobhán looked too delicate to be formidable, which helped her immeasurably in battle. Her opponents always underestimated her. It was one of the reasons he’d put her in charge of rounding up infected vampires. The other reason was her fascination with science. This hunt had required someone who understood that capturing the vamps was only the beginning.

With gloved hands, she pulled down the surgical mask covering her face. “We’ve already lost two of the six I caught. Four is a very small pool of subjects, so I’ll need to hunt again soon.”

“Do any of the noninfected have useful information about when the illness was first sighted? Or how it might be spread?”

“One was willing to talk.” She dug into the cargo pockets of her pants and withdrew a mask and gloves, which she handed to him.

“Are these necessary?” Sentinels were impervious to disease.

“I don’t know.” She gestured for him to walk with her, leading him to a room filled with a dozen silver-plated cages. “But you don’t want their spittle on you, just for the ick factor.”

He donned the protection without further questions. “What do we know?”

“The disease first appeared about a week ago. It infects at a varying rate. Some succumb swiftly and die within a matter of days. Others take longer to show symptoms and live up to two weeks. This group wasn’t aware that there are other incidents of infection in other states, which makes me wonder how much Syre actually knows.”

Adrian walked by the cages, examining the infected vamps with morbid fascination. Red-eyed and frothing at the mouth, they seemed mindless. They bashed themselves against the unforgiving metal bars and reached out with clawed fingers, grasping for Adrian and Siobhán with malevolent desperation. Their gazes were wild, yet lifeless. “Do they show any signs of intelligence?”

“No. They’re like bad B-movie zombies. Aside from a fierce thirst for blood, there seem to be no lights on and no one home.”

He exhaled harshly. “Are we testing their blood?”

“We took samples from both the infected and noninfected while they were still tranquilized on the plane. However . . .”

Her pause caught his attention and he tore his gaze away from the macabre freak show to look at her. “Go on.”

She crossed her arms. “Their metabolisms are extremely accelerated. While the noninfected vamps stayed under induced anesthesia for the duration of the flight, the sick ones woke up shortly after we took off. Malachai was bitten by one of them while drawing blood.”

“Is he okay?”

“So far, he’s fine. But I have him quarantined until I know for sure. The vamp that bit him was the first of the two causalities. I had to put him down to get him off Malachai.”

Siobhán resumed walking, stopping before a cage in which a male vampire sat in the corner with his arms wrapped around his drawn-up knees. “This is the talkative one.”

“So you’re the great Adrian,” the vamp said, his voice shaking. “You don’t look so scary with that mask on. You look scared.”

Crouching, Adrian asked, “What’s your name?”

“Does it matter?”

“It does to me.”

The vamp lifted a shaking hand to push back a grimy lock of dark hair that had fallen over his brow. “Singe.”

“What is it you like to burn?” Adrian asked, recognizing the signs of withdrawal and knowing that the monikers vampires chose often had significance.

“Crystal dream.”

Looking at Siobhán, Adrian asked, “Any possibility the drug is connected? Perhaps it affords a level of immunity?”

“Anything is a possibility at this point.”

“Thank you for your help, Singe.” Adrian stood and faced Siobhán. “Take me to Malachai.”

They left the room and moved down the hall.

“I have a question for you,” Adrian said quietly.

“Yes, Captain?”

“Lindsay Gibson mentioned that her blood has a negative effect against some of the beings she’s hunted. Since she’s taken down both vampires and demons alike, I assume it’s the latter group that was susceptible.” He thought of the vampress he’d interrogated in Hurricane. He’d had Lindsay’s blood on his hands, but it didn’t spark a reaction of any kind, adverse or otherwise. “Can you explain why her blood would allow a blade to slice into a dragon’s impenetrable hide?”

She frowned. “Interesting. I’d have to think about it. I’d certainly love to test a sample.”

“Is it possible that having two souls inside her would be the cause?”

Siobhán slowed before a metal door with a window. “Yes, it’s possible. You know how powerful souls are. Two in one vessel likely creates a unique force we will probably never fully understand.”

Looking through the glass, Adrian saw Malachai kicking back on a cot with his cell phone in hand. Adrian knocked. Malachai looked up, his face breaking out in a smile when he recognized his visitor.

“I feel fine, Captain,” the Sentinel shouted.

“Good to hear.” Adrian was about to say more when a ferocious pounding came from down the hall. He looked over his shoulder. “What’s that?”

Siobhán frowned. “I don’t know. I don’t like it.”

A few more Sentinels appeared in the hallway as the violent thumping continued. They all looked to Adrian, who swiftly passed them en route to the source of the sound.

As the location of the noise became apparent, Siobhán said, “That’s the makeshift morgue.”

“Who’s in there?”

“Aside from the corpses of the two infected vamps? No one.”

The sound of glass shattering preceded a shout. “Let me out of here!”

They turned a corner into a short hallway that ended with a single door. A masculine face stared out through the broken window, amber eyes glowing with ire. “Fuck you, Sentinels,” the man growled. “Either kill me or let me go. Don’t fucking leave me in here with a rotting corpse!”

“He was a corpse,” Siobhán whispered. “I shot him myself after he bit Malachai.”

Adrian didn’t take his eyes off the vamp in front of him. “He’s made a miraculous recovery.”

“But the other one is still dead . . . ?”

“So is the one I caught. Turned into an oil slick, I was told.” He contemplated the seemingly cured vampire with narrowed eyes, the tempo of his heartbeat accelerating as he considered the possibilities.

“One of these things is not like the others,” he murmured. “The only difference being . . . what? The ingestion of Sentinel blood?”

Siobhán made a choked noise. “Shit.”

Yeah, deep shit.

“Are you feeling better?” Elijah asked as he watched Lindsay exit her adjoining bedroom.

He sat at the small desk in his suite, working on his laptop and trying not to feel like everything was closing in on him. That was pretty damn difficult, considering the wariness with which the Sentinels were watching him and the expectation that weighted the gaze of every lycan he crossed paths with. Everyone was waiting for him to make a move, one that would rip apart the well-oiled system that kept mortals blissfully ignorant. One side wanted to defuse his perceived power, while the other wanted him to blow up like a powder keg. He was fucked coming and going.

“Dude.” Lindsay shook out her wet curls with her hands. “Did you get that vitamin water I asked for?”

“It’s in your minifridge, Your Highness.”

“Good grief.” She stared at him with exaggerated shock. “Did you just make a joke?”

He refrained from smiling. “No.”

“I think you did.”

Elijah looked back at his laptop screen. He liked her. And after the multiple times she’d gone out of her way to save his sorry hide, he thought of her as a friend. He didn’t have too many of those, which was why he’d been speechless when she’d said they were friends. Somewhere over the days he’d been guarding her, he had stopped thinking of her as just a principal and started thinking of her as just Lindsay. He was more relaxed around her than he’d been around anyone in a long time, because her friendship came without strings or expectations. She was crazy and fun, and blunt to a fault. She was just goofy enough to reveal that she hadn’t socialized much as a kid. Like him, she probably had a very small group of people she trusted. He wondered if she’d ever shared her gifts with anyone else. Shit, why did she have them in the first place? She was a great big question mark, and everyone wanted a piece of her. And it was his job to make sure no one but Adrian got any.

She reappeared a moment later, swigging from a bottle of some neon-colored liquid that boasted its nutritional content. “Ya know . . . I feel like I got run over by a freight train while suffering a hangover.”

The Sentinels had worked her hard all morning, so hard Elijah had had to step in a couple times. They hadn’t liked that, but they knew Adrian would back him up. As for Lindsay, she’d put up with the brutal pace without protest, taking the occasional dirty hit and brushing it off.

The Sentinels clearly didn’t understand the significance of Adrian’s display of sexual dominance the day before, or they would have been more careful with her. Perhaps even Adrian didn’t understand the entirety of the driving need he’d felt to claim, mark, and possess her, a need aggravated by her attempt to get away. Female lycans knew better than to flee. Rousing the beast by denying him his mate wasn’t the smartest idea. Elijah had once assumed it was the demon in the lycan bloodline that made them so primal with their mates, but he’d been careful with Lindsay from the beginning, just in case. A smart move, if he said so himself. Now it’d been proven that the angels were capable of the same possessive and wild carnality. Perhaps the angelic contribution to the lycan genetic makeup was the largest source of that near violent covetousness.

Regardless, the lycans had gotten Adrian’s message loud and clear. Unfortunately, Elijah feared the awareness of Lindsay’s importance to the Sentinel leader only made her more vulnerable. Those who whispered about rebellion had been looking and waiting for a chink in Adrian’s inviolate power, Elijah realized, and Lindsay was it.

Fuck. He scrubbed both hands over his face. How had he missed how fanatical the others had become? How long had Micah been filling the others’ heads with the pipe dream of freedom?

“I can hear the wheels in your head turning,” Lindsay said drily, setting her empty bottle on the dresser so housekeeping would recycle it. She was somewhat of a tree hugger, he’d noticed.

He needed to be hunting down whoever had set him up, but he couldn’t leave Lindsay, and there was no one he could trust with her.

She went to the closet and pulled out her messenger bag, perfectly comfortable with walking around with an arsenal slung over her hip. “I need to go out.”

He pushed back from the desk. “For what?”

“Seriously tacky touristy Disney and California stuff. Hats, sweatshirts, shot glasses, et cetera.”

His lack of excitement must have shown on his face, because she laughed.

“I have to get my dad stuff he’ll roll his eyes over,” she explained. “But, lucky for you, we won’t be gone too long. I’ve got an interviewee coming in at three.”

Elijah looked at the clock and noted it was one. He had to hand it to her—she’d taken a beating all morning and kept on ticking. “Do you have plans tonight?”

“I need to get my car from the Point, but otherwise you’re free to do whatever.”

He nodded. “Good. Thanks.”

Once she was settled in the hotel for the night, he could talk to Rachel by phone. He had to get some idea of how pervasive Micah’s rebellion plans were. Elijah knew he had to rip that weed out by the root as soon as possible—a damn near impossible task when he was away from the rest of the pack most of the time.

“Why don’t you have a girlfriend?” Lindsay asked him as they exited the elevator on the bottom floor. They usually took the stairs—all seventeen floors—but she was too wiped out to need the exercise today.

“Too complicated, too time-consuming, too much work.”

“But you like girls, right? Or don’t you?”

His gaze darted to hers, only to find her dark eyes laughing.

“Made you look,” she teased.

He snorted in lieu of laughing, but it was a close race between the two.

Lindsay stopped abruptly just outside the revolving doors leading to the awning-covered bellhop and valet area. Bellmen were going through training in front of them, while gardeners put the finishing touches on the flower bed framing the crescent-shaped driveway. Life as mortals knew it was carrying on as usual, but the sudden stiffening of Lindsay’s posture and her intense focus was like a dog on point, signaling the proximity of prey nearby.