Dance of the Gods Page 46

She looked down to where she’d hacked and drilled the steak into the floorboards. “Sorry about the floor.”

“That’d be Hoyt’s and Glenna’s problem now.” Cian touched her shoulder briefly before he left the room.

“We should go down. You should lie down,” Glenna said. “Or sit at least. I can give you something that will help.”

“No. I don’t want anything.” She scrubbed the useless tears away with the heels of her hands. “I knew she’d come back at us, but I never considered, I never thought. Glenna, your family—”

“They’re protected. Hoyt and I saw to that. Blair, I’m so sorry we didn’t do something for your…for your friend.”

“I never thought of him. Never considered they would…I’m, ah, I’m going to take a few minutes before we get back to work.”

“All you need,” Glenna told her.

Blair looked at Larkin. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I hit you.”

“It’s nothing.” Letting her go, letting her go alone, was more painful than any blow.

S he didn’t weep again. Tears wouldn’t help Jeremy, and they certainly wouldn’t do her any good.

She contacted her aunt, relayed the details. She could count on family to protect family. In any case, she doubted Lilith, or Lora, any of them would go after people who were prepared, who knew them. And could defend themselves.

They’d chosen the helpless for a very good reason.

It didn’t waste time or effort, was low-risk, and very, very effective.

She was absolutely calm when she armed herself, sliding the sword into the sheath on her back, the stake into the one on her belt. Her mind, her purpose were clear as glass when she went outside.

There wouldn’t be many, she thought. It was poor strategy to waste more than a handful at this stage. Which was a pity.

They would expect her to be broken, to be shaking and weeping under the covers. That was a mistake.

She watched the two come toward her, from the right and from the left. “Hello, boys. You looking for a party?”

The sword came out of its sheath with the slick sound of metal on metal. She whirled; a quick, two-handed swing. And decapitated the one coming at her from behind.

“Came to the right place.”

When they charged, she was ready. Slicing, piercing, blocking with a sword that sang like vengeance. She took the nick on her forearm. She wanted to feel it, that sting.

They were clumsy, she thought. Young and poorly trained. Fat and soft in the lives they’d led before they’d been turned. Not defenseless, not like Jeremy, but far from seasoned.

She flipped out the stake, eliminated one.

The one that was left dropped its sword, began to run.

“Hey, hey, not done yet.” She chased it, took it down with a flying tackle. Then holding the stake to its heart, stared into eyes filled with fear.

“Got a message for Lora. You know her? The French pastry? Good,” she said when it nodded. “Tell her she was right about one thing. It will be her and me, and when I end her, it’s going to be…Oh never mind, I’ll tell her myself.”

She plunged the stake down. Rising, she tunneled her fingers through her dripping hair. Then picked up the scattered weapons, and started back to the house.

The door swung open before she reached it, and Larkin stormed out. “Have you gone mad?”

“They weren’t expecting it.” She tossed him one of the swords, moved by him into the house. “Only three anyway. Probably clears the ones she’s stationed near the house.” She laid the other confiscated swords on the kitchen counter. “And those were lightweights.”

“You’d go out alone? Risk your life this way?”

“I went out alone most of my life,” she reminded him. “And risking my life is part of the job description.”

“It’s not a job.”

“A job’s exactly what it is.” She poured herself a large mug of coffee. Hands still steady, she noted. Mission accomplished. “I’m going to go dry off.”

“You had no right to take a chance like that.”

“Minimal risk,” she countered as she walked out. “Excellent results.”

When she’d changed her clothes, she joined the others in the library. She could see from their expressions Larkin had informed the rest of the group of her little sortie.

“They were stationed close to the house,” she began. “Likely to try to hear or see something they could pass on. That won’t be a problem now.”

“It would have been a problem if there’d been more of them.” Hoyt spoke quietly, but it didn’t disguise the steel beneath the words. “It would have been a problem if they’d killed or captured you.”

“Didn’t happen. We have to be ready to take opportunities. Not only the six of us, but the people we’re going to be sending into battle. They have to be trained, how to kill, when to kill. Not just with sword and stake, but with their bare hands, or whatever comes to hand. Because everything’s a weapon. And if they’re not trained, if they’re not ready, they’re just going to stand there and die.”

“Like Jeremy Hilton.”

“Yeah.” She nodded at Larkin, absorbed his anger along with the weight in her heart. “Like Jeremy. Cian, were you able to find anything out?”

“He’s dead.”

She closed off the part of her that wanted to moan. “Could he have been changed?”

“No. There was too much trauma to the body for that.”

“It’s still possible he—”

“No.” Cian bit off the word to cut her off. “She ripped him to pieces. It’s one of her signatures. He’s just dead.”

She let herself sit. Better to sit, she decided, than to fall over.

“There was nothing you could do, Blair,” Moira told her gently. “Nothing you could have done to stop it.”

“No, there was nothing. That was her point—look what I can do, right in front of you, and you’re helpless. We were engaged, Jeremy and I, a couple years ago. So I had to tell him—in the end I had to show him—what I am, what I do. He walked out, because he wasn’t going to believe it, wasn’t going to be part of it. Now it’s killed him.”

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