The man pounced, coming at him with fists flying. Taking the hits, Jayce twisted under him and shoved up hard with his blade, piercing the guy’s heart and penetrating straight through him. Blood began to pour out, but just as quickly it stopped as the man crumbled into nothingness.
The leftover dusty remains spread over Jayce and the ground. There were two heartbeats nearby and one was Kat’s. He knew she was safe and that was all that mattered. While he wanted to worry what the effect of her seeing this kind of violence might be, he couldn’t allow himself to do that. She needed to be aware of her weaknesses so she could hone her skills and become stronger. The other heartbeat belonged to the fourth man, who was trying to run away. Jayce’s eyes narrowed on the back of the man limping toward the corner of the building and carrying Jayce’s blade.
“Stop and I’ll let you live,” he called out.
The older man turned and stumbled forward, clutching the weapon tightly. “Screw you.” Blood dripped down his arm, staining the gravel beneath his feet.
Covering the distance in seconds, Jayce stood in front of him. He tapped his blade in his free hand. “Where are you getting the vamp blood? Is Ned Hartwig selling to you?”
The man snorted as if the thought was ridiculous. “We don’t go through a middleman.” His face paled as soon as he’d spoken.
Yeah, he definitely hadn’t meant to let that slip. Jayce’s eyes narrowed. “Who is your provider?”
Despite the influence of the vamp blood, the man had still been struck with a fae-blessed weapon. His wound sizzled, light trails of smoke rolling off him as if he’d been burned with acid. He would eventually heal, unless Jayce delivered a fatal blow.
“Why should I tell you?” the man rasped out, a level of fear similar to what Jayce had sensed from Ned rolling off the guy.
“I won’t kill you if you do.”
The man glanced past Jayce, no doubt to look at Kat, whom he heard walking up behind him. Jayce gritted his teeth. She wasn’t supposed to come out yet.
“Doesn’t mean you won’t let that bitch kill me,” he said as his gaze trailed behind Jayce. “Besides, he’ll do worse to me than kill me.” Before Jayce could stop the guy, he lifted the blade and shoved it through his own heart.
Just like the others, he fragmented into dust instantly. Jayce cursed under his breath. Damn it. Who the hell was this guy that he instilled more fear than Jayce did? Even though the Council had learned of the use of vamp blood by humans, they still didn’t know who was supplying it. They knew only that popular dealers now had it available. Capturing a vampire wasn’t easy. And keeping one captive definitely wasn’t. It was entirely possible that a vampire was actually supplying humans with the stuff of his own free will, but Jayce didn’t favor that theory. After the way Ned and now this loser had reacted, Jayce figured that whoever was behind this was powerful and scary as fuck. Yeah, there had to be one central provider. The way the APL member had said “he” was too specific. Hell, maybe a shifter was selling it—though that didn’t sit right with him either.
“Holy shit. I didn’t know your blades did that to people.” Kat glanced around at the piles of clothes before her gaze snapped back to his. “Where can I get one?”
Surprised by her lack of revulsion, he shook his head and motioned to the clothes. “You can’t, but I’ll explain what just happened later. Pick up those clothes and make sure their wallets don’t fall out. We can’t leave any trace of them behind.” Unfortunately the bartender had seen the men head outside after Jayce and he didn’t exactly have an unforgettable face. But he knew a vamp who owed him a few favors and he figured it wouldn’t be hard to talk his contact into coming down here and scrubbing the bartender’s memories.
If humans had known that some vamps had that ability, things would have been a lot different when supernatural beings had come out to the world twenty years ago. As it was, each species that came out had kept more than a few secrets from humans. They’d wanted to integrate and have semi-normal existences so they wouldn’t have to keep relocating every few decades. That didn’t mean they had lost their sense of survival. If anything, it was even sharper now.
Instead of doing as he’d instructed, Kat stared at his shoulder, where blood was dripping down his arm onto his shirt. “Were you shot?” The question came out as a harsh whisper.
The bullet had gone straight through him and the wound was already healing. Ignoring pain like that was easy. It wasn’t as if the guy had been packing silver bullets. Jayce had dealt with a hell of a lot worse in the last five hundred years. “This is just a scratch, I promise.” But he couldn’t risk any humans seeing the blood since he didn’t want to draw attention to himself.
After sliding his blades back into their leather sheaths, he grabbed his jacket from the ground, put it on, and zipped it up. Then he palmed the fallen gun and tucked it into the back of his pants. Definitely couldn’t afford to leave that behind.
“What are we going to do?” Kat picked up the closest pile of clothes and rolled everything into a tight ball.
“Give me the keys to your Jeep.”
“Apparently I’m talking to myself.” Kat shook her head as she pulled her keys from her jacket pocket and tossed them to him.
Ignoring her, he retrieved her vehicle and drove it to the side of the bar, as close to the back as he could get without exposing it to anyone who might stumble outside. He didn’t like leaving Kat, but it was quicker for him to get the Jeep than to explain anything to her. Right now, time was critical. He’d been damn lucky that none of the drunk patrons had stumbled outside. Or worse, one of the staff. The fight had taken only a couple of minutes—as he’d known it would—but they needed to get the hell out of there. Hanging around a crime scene was not in anyone’s best interest.
Leaving the vehicle running, he hurried around the back of the building and grabbed the clothes from Kat. “Come on,” he ordered, not waiting to see if she listened.
She mumbled something under her breath but at least she followed. After he dumped everything in the backseat, he practically shoved her into the driver’s seat.
“What the hell are you doing?” she finally demanded.
“I’m going to do another sweep and make sure we didn’t miss anything. Head to December’s house. I’m leaving as soon as I’m finished here. Do not detour anywhere else.”
A pause. “Okay.”
“I’m serious, Kat.”
She held up her hands in mock surrender before grasping the wheel. “I won’t go anywhere else. And . . . be careful,” she snapped before yanking the door shut.
Once she was gone he found bullet casings and a knife that one of the men had dropped. After nothing else turned up, he quickly kicked over the bits of gravel tainted by blood. The men had turned to dust before they’d lost too much blood, so he didn’t think that anyone would notice. Especially since no one knew people had been killed back here. Over the years he’d learned that people didn’t pay attention to anything unless it directly involved their own lives.
Once he was sure there wasn’t anything left behind, he headed back inside. The bar was getting even more packed and the bartender wasn’t paying him the least bit of attention. Two sets of couples had taken over the pool table abandoned by the APL bikers.
Jayce continued scanning the bar and did a complete sweep through the entire place. He didn’t spot any video surveillance—but that didn’t mean there wasn’t any. When he asked his vamp contact to attend to the bartender, he would make sure to inquire about surveillance at the bar.
The drive to get to Kat seemed to take forever, but in reality he got there in twenty minutes. Instead of heading straight inside, he made the call to Nikolai.
“What’s up, wolf?” Niko’s voice was exceptionally gravelly. Before he’d been turned into a vamp he’d almost died as a result of having his throat slit. After he’d been turned, that voice hadn’t changed.
He didn’t bother with small talk. “Need a favor.”
“Lay it on me.” After Jayce told Niko what he needed, there was a short pause. Then, “You’re sure that’s all you need?”
“Yeah. When can you be there?”
“Couple hours, max. I’m a state over, but it won’t take me long. I’ll be there before they close.”
“Thanks. I’ll owe you.” Since his friend was an ancient vamp, he could fly, a gift that not many vamps had. In fact, Jayce could count on one hand how many he’d heard of with that ability.
Niko grunted. “Right. I still owe you. Next time you call, make sure it’s for something that’ll even the score between us. You know I hate owing a shifter anything.” Despite the joking tone, Jayce didn’t miss the roughness of his voice. Jayce didn’t take it personally. Niko didn’t like owing anyone, not him specifically.
“I’ll see what I can come up with.”
After he disconnected, he headed for the front door. There was no one watching the house tonight. When he’d given the laptop to the shifter watching Kat, he’d asked him to pass on the message to Connor that he himself would be guarding Kat for a while. The pack didn’t have the resources to keep an eye on her—something she didn’t seem to understand, but that he planned on explaining soon—and he didn’t want her out of his sight anyway.
Especially not after tonight.
Before he had a chance to knock, the door flew open. Kat stepped back to let him in, and as soon as the door shut behind her, she started in with the questions. “Did you have any trouble?”
“What about that bartender? Even if the bodies of those guys disappeared—you still have to explain how you did that, by the way—she probably saw them follow you outside.”
“She’s been taken care of.”
Her blue eyes widened. “What do you mean, ‘taken care of’? Oh my God, did you . . . do something to her too?” A trace of fear laced her voice.