Fortunately for Dirk and Rafaela, they’re excellent fighters. Unfortunately for the others, Dirk and Rafaela are excellent fighters. Bloody, but alive, they try to decide what to do next. It’s apparent that the cabin has been compromised, so Rafaela puts it to the torch and they watch it burn behind them as they drive away.
“You’re welcome. Thanks for having my back. I would have been screwed without you.”
“You’re welcome. And I’m the only one who gets to screw you, just so we’re clear on that.”
“I can live with that.” She made a hard left and slowed when the car slid on a patch of ice. Correcting automatically, she eased off the accelerator. “I think we’re far enough away now.”
She stared at the road, tears welling in her eyes once more. “Do you think any of them lived?”
Dirk shook his head. “Knowing that bunch? Doubtful. If you want to check on them. . . .”
“No. If any are alive, they’re being kept as bait for us. They have a pack to avenge them.”
“We can still go, Ella. I know it’s worrying you.”
She shook her head, adamantly. “Your safety is too important. I can’t compromise you.”
“I compromised myself. This is not your fault.”
“Yes, it is. I killed that vampire lord’s daughter. I slept with you—had the audacity to fall in love. This is all my fault.”
Dirk touched her hand, stroking gently. “We can’t choose the ones we love. The heart does that for us.”
Rafaela slowed, pulling to the side. She parked the car and burst into tears. It was so like what Claudette had said, she couldn’t stand it. The idea that all her friends were dead because of her, made her feel like dying herself. She knew that she was simply doing her job, but the vamp whose daughter and son she’d killed, wouldn’t care about that. He’d want revenge, and he would get it any way he could.
“Everyone I care about is in danger now,” she sobbed. “They all will die because of me.”
“Shh, Ella. No, they won’t. We’ll protect them.”
“How? What can I do to assure their safety?”
“Kill the vampire lord—stop the retaliation.”
“Another will take his place—and another. If I kill the leader, what’s to stop the others from attacking for revenge? Your people aren’t known for their even tempers and stoic acceptance.”
“Valid point. Suggestion.”
She nodded, wiping her eyes.
“Kill them all,” he declared.
“What? There could be dozens—hundreds! I can’t kill on a massive scale like that.”
“You can, with the right kind of help.”
“Short of a nuclear bomb, how could I kill off that many vamps?”
“With a nuclear bomb.” Dirk flashed a wicked grin.
“Don’t be facetious.”
“You really haven’t paid attention to me all these years, have you? If you had, you’d know that we infiltrate every government in the world. We hold seats of power everywhere. If I need a nuke, I can get one.” He wasn’t merely bragging.
Rafaela shivered. “But would they strike their own people? Who knows how many innocent people would die.”
“Vampires aren’t innocent people.”
“But what if they’re holding hostages? Or, for that matter, what if there are children?”
“The only children would be Dhampir. I assure you, they are far from innocent, even as babies.”
“A different solution, Dirk. I can’t condone that kind of action, nor could I justify it to my superiors.”
“No, I suppose not.” He hung his head, shaking it slowly. “We’re surely in a pickle.”
Taking turns, they drove the better part of two days, stopping for meals and showers at truck stops. Finally, after another cheap meal at a dismal diner, Dirk took the wheel. Instead of getting back on the road, he pulled around to the small, equally dismal motel. This stop featured a motel, diner and full service garage and gas station.
“You need to sleep in an actual bed,” he told Rafaela.
“What you mean is, you want sex,” she translated with a grin. “Me too,” she added with a saucy wink.
“You said it, not me,” he replied, his full lips twitching.
They took a long shower together and lay down in the queen sized bed. Instead of making love, Dirk pulled Rafaela close, putting her head on his chest. She fell asleep and he lay there with her until he was sure she was deeply asleep. He rose softly, dressing as quietly as he could, and left.
Looking back with deep regret, he headed to the garage. He’d noticed they had some used cars for sale. The man in the garage was easily mesmerized and agreed to sell Dirk a car very inexpensively. He filled out the paperwork and accepted payment with a bemused smile. Dirk took off, driving back the way they had come, back to the heart of the vampire lord’s realm.
© Dellani Oakes 2105