Twilight fulfilled, p.11
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       Twilight Fulfilled, p.11

         Part #18 of Wings in the Night series by Maggie Shayne
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Chapter 11


  Senator Marlene MacBride sat on the sofa in her D. C. apartment, files open and spread out all around her. She was fully aware that Gravenham-Bail had only given her what he wanted her to see, and even with that, she was horrified at the accounts she was reading. Accounts of vampires held in captivity, dying in captivity, in DPI-owned facilities. They'd been treated like guinea pigs.

  She learned all about their kind as she read. About the aversion to sunlight, the need to feed on human blood, the tendency to bleed out, the superhuman strength and speed, the heightened senses and the additional ones-like telepathy. But nothing she read led her to believe they were a gang of murderous monsters.

  She was more troubled than ever.

  The wine helped. She was on her third glass, and feeling far more relaxed than she had up to now. Her visit to the St. Dymphna Hospital had left her pretty wrought up. Oh, everyone there was being treated well. But there were kids there. . . .

  One, in particular, had struck a chord with her. A little girl, about seven, with blond ringlets and blue, blue eyes that had seemed to look right through her.

  She pushed the shiver of the memory aside. Her decision was made. She was going to pull the plug, and the funding, on St. Dymphna's. She saw no evidence that the people being put up there were in any sort of danger, nor any evidence that vampires were dangerous at all.

  Her initial report would also recommend that Nash Gravenham-Bail be pulled from any operation having anything to do with vampires. He was clearly biased and not to be trusted on the matter.

  That report was typed up and ready to go. She would hand it to her aide in the morning, to have it copied and sent on to Senator Polenski. Then she was taking a two-week vacation-she had a cruise booked, and a husband waiting. While she was away, Polenski could decide if he still wanted her to gather a committee to investigate this further.

  In the meantime, sun and sea awaited her.

  She finished her wine, set the glass down and decided to leave the files where they were until morning. She shut off all the lights and padded into her bedroom. Suddenly something heavy hit her in the head. Light exploded behind her eyes, and she was gone.

  Utana was still lying there, vulnerable, arms at his sides, eyes closed. Trusting her. Wanting her. And she wanted him just as badly.

  Brigit withdrew her hand, leaving the blade where it was. There would be another time, she told herself, though she thought it might very well be a lie.

  She closed her eyes and called up the power from deep inside. She drew it up from the earth below, from the sky above, felt it streaming into her, green and gold, meeting in her middle and swirling there until her solar plexus pulsed with power. Mentally she split that sphere in two and streamed it out into her shoulders, down her arms and into her palms.

  The heat in her hands increased. It burned strongly enough that her eyes were startled open, and then she saw the warm white glow emanating from her hands and vanishing into his body.

  "It's working. " He whispered the words urgently. "I feel it wor-"

  "Shhhh. " She kept the power flowing, sensed it spreading out inside him, following the veins and the network of nerves to every part of his being, and a moment later he slid his bandaged hand beneath one of hers and pressed it palm to palm, interlacing fingers, holding it there.

  The energy grew hotter, pulsed harder, but only momentarily. And then it was fading, paling, receding.

  She drew a deep breath and lifted her head. "Wow," she whispered.

  He smiled up at her. "Thank you. "

  "You're welcome. "

  And for one brief moment they were just two people. Not sworn enemies, not immortals, not opponents in an Armageddon-level standoff.

  They were just a man and a woman.

  And then he was sliding his hands up around her shoulders and pulling her close, kissing her again. Waving a hand, he made the bed curtains all gather together without touching them, just as he had done before.

  It wasn't his fault, she thought, as he pulled her body on top of his, moving against her, kissing her deeply, passionately, endlessly. It wasn't his fault. He was becoming saner all the time, more logical all the time. He was listening to her, believing her about Nash Gravenham-Bail and the DPI and their lies. He was believing her. And when his mind had time to heal from all those thousands of years trapped, buried alive. . . When his mind had time to heal, he would believe her about the rest. He would understand that there might be an explanation for his condition other than a curse from the gods. He would believe her when she told him that his gods could not possibly want him to wipe out her family. He would. If she could keep him away from them long enough, just long enough, for his mind to heal.

  For his mind. . .

  To heal. . .

  And then she realized that maybe she could speed up that process, too.

  He distracted her from those thoughts, distracted her thoroughly, by pushing the nightie she wore up her body, peeling it over her head and tossing it aside. Brigit found herself sitting astride the big man as he stared up at her in the darkness. His hands cupped her breasts, kneaded and squeezed. Then they slid around to her back and pulled her forward, and his mouth took the place of those hands. He suckled; he nipped. Her breaths came faster as sensations overwhelmed her. Almost as if she would drown in them. And they did not let up.

  As he gently, relentlessly tortured her breasts, his hands cupped her bottom, lifting and squeezing, spreading and pressing. And then he slid one hand in between their bodies, finding her center, opening it and probing. He didn't take his time. He didn't wait for consent. He spread, and he entered. And when she pulled back, startled by the suddenness of the invasion, he gripped her, held her, made her take it. One finger became two, thrusting forcefully, burrowing deep and still deeper. Hard, he drove his fingers into her. Over and over. And in moments she no longer pulled away but rode his hand, meeting that driving force that was him.

  He was a different man, from a different time. And this was not the time for lessons in wooing. He wasn't wooing, he was taking. Possessing. And she found herself knowing there was no going back now, and glad of it.

  He withdrew his fingers. His hands closed around her waist and lifted her, pulling her forward and then yanking her hips down again, so that she straddled not his hips or his bulging erection, but his face. No time to think or object, no way to pull back from his powerful grip. He was devouring her. His tongue stabbing into her, his lips closing around her. Even his teeth pressed together, sending bolts of delicious pain shooting through her body before his tongue licked it all away again. He repeated the torment, alternating pleasure and pain until the two were one, and she embraced and welcomed and surrendered to them as the waves of ecstasy began washing over her.

  But no, no, not yet. He lifted her again, hands still at her waist. He moved her as he pleased, with no effort at all. And a heartbeat later he was lowering her again, this time entering her as he did.

  He was big. Huge. Her eyes widened at the depth to which he filled her and the feeling of his thickness. Her body stretched tight around him. No time to adjust to the full sensation, no time at all. He was raising her up, pulling her down, as his hips arched to push into her over and over, until she was once again on the brink of ecstasy. And this time he pushed her over and came crashing down with her.

  He held her hard and moaned. She bit his shoulder to keep from doing the same, and when she tasted blood, her fangs elongated and sank into his flesh. She drank, and the climax racking her body intensified tenfold, and went on and on and on.

  It was only as she lay atop him, her entire body limp with relief, that she remembered her earlier thought. Gently she slid her hands to either side of his head and, holding him there, she called up the power. She felt it rise, and as she guided it into him, into her beautiful, powerful, twisted man, she wished with everything in her that it would have the desired effec

  A soft beam of white light glowed from her palms.

  Anunaki, if you're real, heal this man and save his people. And in so doing, save his soul. For I believe it's a soul worth saving.

  Nash used IV needles and tubing, which he'd stretched all the way from the senator's bathtub to her bedside. It wasn't all that difficult. Two quick punctures to her jugular, a little tape to keep the needles in place. He thrust the other ends of the twin tubes far enough into the bathtub drain to keep any of the blood from being visible.

  While she lay there, unconscious from a blow to the head, bleeding out, he walked around her apartment, arranging things to make it look believable. It had to look like there had been a struggle. How else would she suffer a head injury before the vampire drained her dry, proving to the world that they were every bit as dangerous as he had always said they were?

  He tipped over a few pieces of furniture. He kicked the file folders, so their contents flew every where.

  Then he took her little report and replaced it with the one he'd taken the liberty of typing up himself. His version said that she supported his work fully but was afraid that in so doing, she was putting herself at risk. The vampires wanted to stop him, the new report claimed. That must not be allowed to happen.

  It was going to look great in the press. As if she'd had a premonition she might be targeted. The sensationalism-loving media ate up this sort of thing with a spoon. And it had been too damn quiet for their taste since the vigilante movement had been shut down, thanks to Brigit and her little resistance gang.

  But she was in his control now-the pretty little mongrel. She thought he didn't know who the hell she was. She thought he was an idiot.

  "Surprise, little Brigit Poe," he said softly, as he returned to the senator's bedroom to watch the blood pulsing through the tubes until it slowed to a trickle. And then stopped altogether. "My mamma didn't raise any idiots, before she took off with one of your animalistic relatives. " He lowered his head, stroking the scar on his cheek, hidden now beneath the black ski mask he wore. He'd tried to stop the vampire from taking his mother away-tried with a hatchet. And his mother had turned on him, newborn fangs baring as she'd hissed like a wildcat. Her clawed hands had flashed, glass-hard nails cutting deep.

  And then she'd vanished into the night with her Undead bastard of a protector by her side. She'd left him bleeding, his father weeping.

  The weakling. If he'd been half a man, he would have used the shotgun he'd been holding in his trembling hands. Nash would have. In a freakin' heartbeat, he would have.

  Fifty-two stitches later, Nash had known that destroying her kind would be his life's work. And if a few innocent humans had to die in the process, well, that was too fucking bad.

  He looked down at the pale lifeless corpse in the bed. Too bad. Then he took the tubing from her throat and carefully began rolling it up, following it to the bathroom. Without spilling a droplet, he bagged up the tubing and the original report.

  On the way out, he opened the balcony doors that looked down twenty stories onto the D. C. streets below. Then he left through the basement, emerging into the alley between buildings, same way he'd gone in. No one saw him arrive. No one saw him leave. And in ten minutes he would be back at the palace with the clueless king and his overconfident mongrel lover, whom he didn't dare leave alone for very long.

  Brigit was shattered.

  There was no other way to describe what she felt. This man who now lay in the bed beside her, snoring softly, his big powerful arms holding her to him as if she were some rare treasure that might escape him, his fingers stroking over her skin every now and then, even in his sleep-this man was like no other.

  He'd made her body melt beneath his touch. He'd made her feel things she had never ever felt before. He'd driven her so out of her mind-literally, she'd existed only in sensation in those moments-that she'd vamped up. She'd bitten him, tasted his blood.

  Tasted it still on her tongue, salty and sharp. And the tiny fang marks on his neck and shoulder, which would vanish at the first touch of sunlight, stood now like beacons, announcing how far he'd driven her.

  She had to have help. She had to talk to Rhiannon. Or her mother, or maybe her brother. . . yes. James. James would understand. He was all into feelings and emotions and goodness and sickening nonsense like that.

  She wasn't in love. It would be ridiculous to think this was love. It was sex. Mind-blowing, earth-shattering, soul-bending sex.

  And she wanted more of it-she craved it more than she craved life itself. And yet she had to kill the one who'd given it to her. God, the world was one fucked-up place.

  Maybe. . . maybe her attempt at healing his wounded mind would take. God, she could only hope.

  Gently she slid out from beneath his massive arm, her bare feet lowering to the floor and feeling every fiber of the thick carpet against her soles in a way she wouldn't have before. Her senses were heightened-no doubt due to the power of his blood now coursing through her veins.

  As she bent low, pulling the stolen clothing from beneath the bed and putting it on, slipping on socks but ignoring shoes as too potentially noisy, her chief awareness should have been on the camera that was no doubt tracking her every move, catching glimpses of her nudity. But she barely gave it a second thought. Her focus was completely on him. Every step she took away from him felt harder-as if a thick rubber band connected them, stretching thin, pulling tighter, the farther she moved.

  Pulling her straight back to him.

  I have to go.

  Yes. Before morning, before that Cruella de Vil lookalike lady doctor called Lillian ran her fake name through the CIA's employee records and found out she didn't exist.

  But before she left this place, she had to get into that office downstairs, because it seemed to her that was the most likely place to find out about this Dymphna Project-which seemed, from what she'd overheard, to be a trap the DPI was setting for the vampires.

  What were they doing that was supposed to lure any remaining vampire out of hiding?

  She had to know. She had to warn her family.

  Knowing the ever-present stone-faced guard would be stationed right outside the bedroom door, Brigit went to the window, opened it and leaned on the sill to stare outside. A cool predawn breeze touched her face, and she inhaled deeply, appreciating the smells of the garden out back and the slightest bit of a chill in the night air. Below her and far to the right, around the corner of the house, was the garden where Utana had been injured last night. Its gate, in all likelihood, remained closed. She wasn't worried about that right now.

  She wanted to get to the ground floor of the palace without being seen, and she thought perhaps those side doors that led out into the garden might be her best bet. Locked or not, she could open them.

  She just didn't want to set off any alarms.

  She was on the far side of the bed from the spot where she suspected a hidden camera was mounted. With the bed curtains drawn, she had visual cover.

  Satisfied no one would see her and moving so silently that no one would hear, Brigit slid her backside up onto the windowsill, then swung her legs around and dangled them over the edge. She took a fortifying breath and took one last look back at the sleeping god in the bed. He was spread out like a woman's dream centerfold, the blanket just barely clinging to his hips, so she could admire that chest, and she fought the urge to go back over there to slide her hands over it one more time.

  What the hell is the matter with me? He wants to wipe out everyone I love.

  Out of confusion. Out of the messed-up tangles of a mind trapped for thousands of years, buried alive.

  She wanted him. And she was tearing herself apart trying to wrap her head around her feelings and their situation.

  No time now. Hell, years might not be enough time to make sense of her feelings for him. She had to put them aside and just get on with this.

She pushed off from the windowsill, and for an instant there was the rushing of wind past her ears, through her hair, and then the ground caught her. Her feet hit, knees bent to absorb the impact as she squatted low, then bounced upright again, looking quickly around her and seeing no one. Good. Easy as pie.

  So far.

  She crept along the edge of the house and rounded the corner to where the rose garden began. Following its winding path to a set of double glass doors that led back into the palace, she gnawed her lip and searched for an alarm, a wire, a panel, anything that might give it away. Seeing none, she pressed a palm to the door's ornate pewter handle and closed her eyes, feeling.

  There was an alarm on this door, but it was not engaged. The lock was, but that wasn't a problem. Edge, her father, was known as the most skilled mental locksmith among the Undead. And he'd taught her well.

  She exerted her will on the door locks, and they turned. Smooth as butter.

  Opening the door slowly, she tiptoed inside, down the long, vaulted corridor toward the atrium, the hub of the wheel-shaped palace. When she neared the atrium, she pressed her back to the wall and slowed down, silent, and watchful.

  The atrium itself appeared empty. Desolate. And the energy of sleep permeated the place. She didn't feel anyone awake or alert anywhere, though she knew well enough that there were guards outside the main doors. They didn't need a human guard outside the garden entrance-not with twenty thousand volts of electricity protecting the garden gate. There was one guard upstairs, standing outside Utana's room, she reminded herself. If he moved a few steps forward and looked out over the railing, he could see most of the atrium below. And if he heard a sound, he would do just that.

  She would have to be careful, and utterly silent.

  Emerging from the hall, she glanced up toward Utana's room, but the guard was not in sight. Quickly she scanned all the other portals leading out from the atrium. Hallways and doors lined the thing.

  The one she sought was a door almost directly across from Utana's room. She figured out which one it was-situated between two hallways. Yes, that had to be the one.

  Okay. This was it. Three, two, one. . . She tiptoed rapidly across the imposing atrium, knowing that any noise at all was going to echo as if made in the middle of an empty museum. Her socks, however, made no sound on the marble floor, and she kept far away from any furniture to avoid bumping into it.

  It seemed to take minutes. It didn't. And then she was outside the office door, pressing her ear to the wood and listening with every fiber of her mind, body and spirit. Listening, feeling, sensing.

  No one inside.

  Palm to the doorknob. Mind open, listening to her senses.

  Locked. She squinted at the door, squeezing her flat palm into a fist and twisting it counterclockwise. She heard the lock obey her motions and her commands by clicking open. The noise startled her, and she snapped her eyes toward the upper railing, even as she opened the door and ducked inside. She was pushing it closed when the guard appeared, staring down into the atrium.

  And then she paused there on the other side, forehead to the wood, wondering if he'd seen her, or glimpsed the door closing, even briefly.

  Hell, she didn't know.

  She'd better hurry the hell up, then. Turning, she scanned the darkened room, glad of her vampiric night vision. Books lined three walls, file cabinets completely covering the fourth. A computer stood on a large desk in a corner.

  There wasn't time to go through everything, nor to start trying to guess passwords or scroll through files.

  No. Instead she moved to the desk and put Nash Gravenham-Bail foremost in her mind. She saw his face, the scar that ran from the outer corner of one eye down to the center of his chin. The gray irises, cold and emotionless. The stone-brown hair. The powerfully square jaw.

  And then she sharpened and deepened her inner vision, until she could see his aura. Orange with ambition, red with violence and black with hatred. Blotchy, but all of it backed in a sickly yellow, not a bright, sunny color, but more like the yellow of phlegm or infected mucous.

  And it was an infection that drove the man. She knew that for certain then. An infection of the soul. Of hatred.

  Yes, it was the yellow she should follow. The most powerful part of him was his sickness. She was curious as to its source but short on time to explore. And so she opened her eyes but kept them unfocused, blurred, and shifted her head until she picked up the yellow in her peripheral vision.

  Everywhere he'd been in this room, he'd left his essence behind. And she followed it now from the doorway to the desk chair, and from there to the filing cabinets-one file cabinet in particular. The drawer he'd opened held his snotty essence, and he'd touched a lot of the tabs on the file folders, flipping through them. But one had a bigger residue than the rest, and that was the one she pulled out.

  At first the pages inside made no sense to her. It appeared to be a mailing list-but no, not just names and addresses, but descriptions, ages, names of employers.

  Who were all these people?

  Not vampires. She would have heard of at least some of them if they were.

  Interestingly, some were typed in black ink, some in blue and some in purple. Most had one of several boldface symbols beside their names.

  She fanned through the pages. There were at least a dozen of them, with roughly ten entries per page, in two columns. A hundred and twenty names, give or take. And it wasn't until she got to the end of the document that she found a small notation.



  = Subject is unaware he/she possesses Belladonna Antigen


  = Subject is aware he/she possesses Belladonna Antigen but unaware of connection to Hostile Non-Humans


  = Subject is aware he/she possesses Belladonna Antigen and fully aware of connection to Hostile Non-Humans


  = Unknown whether subject is aware he/she possesses Belladonna Antigen

  = In Custody

  = Arrest Pending


  = Whereabouts Unknown


  = Deceased

  This was a list of human beings with the rare Belladonna Antigen in their blood. A list of the Chosen. And most had check marks beside their names, a few had stars and only a bare handful had the circle that marked them as whereabouts unknown or the X for deceased.

  They were rounding up humans with the antigen. Yes, there had been discussion among the Undead that something like that seemed to be happening, because humans with the antigen had been disappearing ever since the existence of the vampiric race had become public knowledge.

  Now there was no doubt why. The government had been detaining them and taking them. . . where? Clearly this was part of whatever trap Scarface was laying for the Undead. He knew the connection, the bond, between vampires and the Chosen, the way the Undead would watch over and protect those human beings who possessed the antigen that made them potential vampires.

  It wasn't a choice the vampires made. It was a reflex, a need. There was no free will involved.

  She shoved the file back into the cabinet and scanned the room. Where could she learn the rest? Where were the innocent humans being held? The desk called to her, and she went to it, opening drawers even as she hit the power button on the computer. She rifled the desk as the PC powered up, and then she quickly scanned the keyboard for traces of his snotty essence, finding it on the G, B and N keys. His password was NGB-his own initials. Figured, given his arrogance. Finally she clicked the internet icon and checked the history.

  Her eyes skimmed down the column of recently visited sites, pausing on a familiar one-a mapping page. She clicked on "begin private browsing" so the computer wouldn't keep track of her movements, then opened a new tab and rode it to a popular networking site. Leaving that up, she returned to the original tab and skimmed the most recently requested drivin
g directions.

  St. Dymphna Psychiatric Hospital. Mount Bliss, VA.

  She cut and pasted it into the search bar, and clicked return.

  Then she drummed her fingers, waiting. Results popped up about the same time the office door swung open.

  Scarface stood there, two armed men behind him, both pointing guns at her.

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