Lothaire Read online

Page 5

Page 5


  "Hands where we can see em!"

  Lothaire attacked. First shot, second shot, third-

  A tortured scream. The big ones spineless body crumpled to the floor.

  With one hand, Lothaire tossed away the length of bone. With the other, he lifted the remaining guard by the throat. "Which way to the execution chamber?"

  Lothaire eased his grip just enough for the man to grit out, "R-right, then . . . then second left. All the way to the end. But p-please-"

  Snap. By the time the guards body collapsed, Lothaire was already at his second left.

  Hed put Elizabeth from his mind, assured shed be relatively safe. After all, he didnt care about her mind, only about her body, the temple that housed his Bride.

  My mate. The female meant only for him. And what a glorious, bloodthirsty female she was. . . .

  Did Saroya sense this execution? Was she desperately struggling to rise, to protect herself?

  His black claws dug into his palms till blood flowed. Focus. Focus!

  As he delved deeper into the building, Lothaire fought to distance his thoughts from his own recent imprisonment. The reason Im late for my Brides execution.

  Weeks ago, when hed learned of this date, hed been on the verge of rescuing Saroya. Then he himself had been captured by the Order, a mortal army.

  Hed escaped them . . . but in time?

  Beams from more flashlights shone ahead. Three guards in riot gear escorted out a handful of civilians.

  "Is someone there?" one guard demanded.

  Lothaire envisioned cutting a swath of blood and screams through the group. No, focus! Though pleasurable, it would be selfish.

  To save time, Lothaire traced past them, disappearing and reappearing in an instant.

  When he reached the viewing room, he teleported inside. Two young males had just burst through the door of the adjoining execution chamber to guard her, fumbling with Maglites and assault rifles.

  Then, for the first time in five years, Lothaires gaze fell upon Elizabeth. The last time hed beheld her, shed lain in the snow, her unusual gray eyes peering up at him with delightful fear.

  Now she lay restrained, dressed in a dingy orange uniform. Her long, coffee-colored hair was pulled back severely from her face.

  Again, she was terrified, her eyes darting blindly in the dark, but he felt no sympathy, only hatred.

  This was all her doing! With Elizabeths blessing, needles had been sunk into both of her inner arms-

  A transparent liquid already flowed down each tube.

  His heart felt like it might explode. Too late?

  With a roar, he traced inside, batting the two males away, launching them headfirst into opposite walls.

  "Whos there?" Elizabeth cried when he laid shaking hands on her delicate arms to thread those needles out of her veins. "Whats happening? Cant see!"

  He leaned down to scent the fluid, nearly sinking to his knees with relief. Saline. No chemical odor, merely salt water.

  To be certain, he sliced the line with one claw and dripped the liquid on his tongue.


  But if hed been seconds later . . .

  As he ripped free the electrodes covering Elizabeth, he grated, "Youve been a bad little mortal. "

  A sucked-in breath. Then she yelled, "Stop this, you bastard! You leave me be!"

  Once hed slashed through her bonds, he clamped his hand around her wrist and yanked her to her feet.

  Before Lothaire traced her back to the safety of his home, he promised her, "Now, Elizabeth, you will pay. "

  When the ground suddenly reappeared beneath her, Ellie pitched forward. She knew that monster had ahold of her, would recognize Lothaires voice anywhere.

  That deep, accented timbre had haunted her dreams.

  As nausea washed over her, she realized that she was no longer in the prison. Somehow hed transported her into a fancy sitting room, some type of mansion.

  Just as she regained her balance she felt her body lifted off the ground. "Ah! Stop, stop-"

  "I warned you, mortal!" the demon bellowed as he hurled her away from him.

  With a strangled cry, she landed sideways on a couch halfway across the room.

  Get up! Dizziness . . . Keep him in sight, Ellie! After a clearing shake of her head, she clambered to her feet. The demon strode back and forth in front of her, vanishing and reappearing as he paced.

  He was bigger than she remembered, and this time he looked even more murderous. His fists were clenched, tendons straining in his neck. His irises glowed red, veins of blood forking out over the whites of his eyes.

  His face was spattered with blood, his pale hair stained with it. Again he was clad all in black, from his trench coat to his boots. Bullet holes riddled his shirt.

  This cant be happening! Stolen from death row at a maximum-security prison? By him.

  "I promised you punishment!" He swung one long arm out to the side, bashing a marble column.

  Chunks of it landed on the plush carpet at her feet, the entire building seeming to rock. His strength was monstrous, just like everything about him.

  "You disobey me at your peril. "

  She should be cowering from him. Instead, she felt a blistering rage boiling up inside of her. Ellie had thought shed finally be free, that shed at last defeat Saroya. Shed been two minutes away from death, ready for it. But this devil had thwarted her yet again.

  Hed already taken away her freedom, ensuring shed spent half a decade in a tiny, rank cell.

  Five years despairing.

  As she recalled those years, she found herself screaming, "What do you want from me? What?" Out of the corner of her eye she spied a vase, snatched it up. "Why cant you leave me the hell alone?" She flung the heavy piece-it struck him in the chest and shattered from the impact.

  As though shed bashed it against a brick wall.

  Even as she stared in disbelief, a heavy candleholder found its way into her grip. Two minutes. So damned close. She lobbed it overhand.

  He . . . dematerialized, and it flew through his hazy form.

  She gave a shriek of fury. Another candleholder went flying, a paperweight, a lamp.

  He just dodged the missiles.

  Cant be happening! She was out of breath, desperate to hurt him, to punish him.

  Eighteen hundred and twenty days without seasons, without snow or blooms, without friends or family. Her baby brother didnt remember her. While Josh had been steadily growing toward manhood without her in his life, Ellies existence had been stagnant, punctuated only by bouts of evil.

  She no longer felt like a . . . person.

  Im not a person, Im Virginia DOC Inmate #8793347. Im Saroyas host.

  Because of him.

  Ellies gaze landed on a sword in a display cradle. She leapt for the weapon, yanking it free from its ornamental sheath.

  The glimmering metal reflected light into her eyes. In that instant, clarity came.

  She knew what she had to do.

  Clutching the hilt in both hands, she turned on him. "Im gonna gut you, demon!"

  He drew back his lips so she could see his horrifying canines, then flicked two fingers at her. Come on, then. . . .

  Her eyes widened and she charged, sword poised to sink into his chest.

  At the last moment-she turned it on herself.

  "No!" he bellowed. Then somehow he was between her and the sword tip, wedged against her body.

  The blade slid into his lower back until it met bone.

  She gasped, feeling his muscles tensing against her, sensing his escalating rage. The red of his irises bled over the whites of his eyes completely. He bared those fangs down at her. "This makes twice that youve defied me, suka. Youve erred for ill. "

  With a snap of his wrist, he sent her flying to the floor.

  Stunned. Flat on her back. Hysterical tears threatening.

  She heard him removing the sword from h