After driving for several days straight, Rafaela and Dirk end up in a dismal motel in the middle of nowhere. As she’s sleeping, Dirk leaves, buying a used car at a nearby garage, before heading back the way they came, into the heart of the Vampire Lord’s territory.
Rafaela woke with a start, a scream forming on her lips. She looked around the darkened room and saw no sign of Dirk. She had expected that. What she didn’t know was Dirk’s motive. Had he set her up from the beginning—used her in a power play between himself and this vampire lord? It wouldn’t surprise her to find out that he had. Though he loved her, it was his nature to use those around him for his own purposes. He’d never done anything quite that underhanded, but she’d been a player in his games before. Never one to be a pawn, she’d made it clear that she wouldn’t be played again.
She gathered her things and left the room key on the dresser. Overnight bag in hand, she descended the stairs by the far stairway. She and Dirk always parked well away from their room. It might slow an escape, but it also slowed those who were tracking them. She circled the upstairs before heading down the stairway. She didn’t sense anyone as she walked purposefully toward the anonymous, brown Ford, so when the attack came, it was completely unexpected.
Three vampires appeared out of the shadows and circled the car. These weren’t newbies either. These had the look of an elite branch—probably the vampire lord’s top warriors.
Thanks a lot, Dirk. I owe you a scourging—If I live.
The vampires tightened their circle, drawing near, fangs bared. Rafaela reached for her weapons, smiling ruefully.
“Only three? I think I’m insulted. Your boss is either a fool or delusional.”
“I assure you, he’s neither,” the woman nearest her said, dropping into a crouch. “And who says there are only three?” She cocked her head to one side.
Rafaela used her special sensing ability to reach out into the ether. She released a seeking spell. What she found horrified her. Three were visible, but a dozen more had her surrounded. She was good, but not that good. She could probably kill or disable at least six, but fifteen was another matter.
“Dirk, you bastard! Where are you?”
The vampires frowned. The woman who had spoken to her took a step back.
“He’s not here?”
They glared at one another, uncertain. Rafaela noted their discomfort. What the hell was going on? She reassessed the vampires. By this time, they should have attacked. Instead, they stood around uncertainly, waiting for something.
“Can we get this over with?” Rafaela asked flippantly. “I have a lot to do. I promised myself a manicure.” She flickered her fingers absently, as if showing off her nails.
The vampires were momentarily distracted by the movement. Their dark eyes focused on Rafaela’s left hand, while her right reached under her jacket. They might be able to handle sunlight in small doses, but she was certain a flash grenade wouldn’t be so easy withstand. Slipping the ring, she put her other hand on the car door and pulled it partially open. Dropping the grenade, she kicked it toward the lead woman. Counting down the seconds, she hopped in her car, shutting the door as she ducked. The flash grenade wouldn’t hurt her, but the bright white light would be dazzling.
Seconds later, the grenade went off. Blinding light illuminated their surroundings. The vampires screamed as the light jarred their senses and seared their skin. Rafaela backed her car out of the parking spot, knocking over at least one vampire as she did. Another fell when she ran it down. A second grenade flew out the window as the vampires tried to regroup and pursue. This one caught them out in the open, not partially shielded by the cars. More screaming followed.
Gunning the motor, she headed for the interstate, taking the curving entrance at top speed. Oncoming traffic barely had time to move out of her way. Instead of waiting, she tore off down the shoulder, tires squealing on the uneven pavement. There were no signs of pursuit, but that meant nothing. It would be easy for them to track her. They had her scent and the make and model of her vehicle. She had to ditch the car and find some way to mask her odor.
“Time to drop off the grid,” she muttered, cutting across all three lanes of traffic.
She roared down the exit and made a sharp turn onto a narrow, country road. She didn’t know where she was, let alone where she was going, she kept going south.
“Dammit, Dirk! Where are you?”
She stopped at a crossroads, uncertain which way to head. Deep in the heart of Georgia, she didn’t know whether to continue south or strike out west. She knew she didn’t want to go east. There wasn’t enough room to run that direction. Ultimately, there was only so far she could go to the south, so she turned right and headed west. Just as the car started to move, a form shimmered next to her and Dirk appeared on the seat. His own momentum slung him into the back seat, where he solidified.
Rafaela slammed on the brakes, grateful that it was late and night and the road was empty.
“Where the hell have you been? Do you know what just happened?”
“Drive,” he muttered. “Drive,” he ordered more loudly.
Rafaela heard the tone of command in his voice, and started driving once more. She glanced at him in the rearview mirror and saw the state he was in. He bled from a dozen different wounds, at least one of which would have been fatal, if he were human. His clothing was torn, his lips caked with blood.
“What train wreck did you walk away from?”
Dirk shook his head, holding his side. Blood seeped through his fingers.
“You need to feed,” she said, slowing the car.
“I did. Keep driving.” The blood from his side, slowed and dribbled to a stop. “I thought if I could talk to him, I could explain.”
“Didn’t go as planned, eh?”
Dirk’s laugh was a bark of pain. “Not entirely.”
© Dellani Oakes 2105