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Copyright ©2010 Brannan Black
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I saw Nate's big 4x4 headed around front. Not wanting to have to fight my way in, I squeezed between a couple buildings and slipped down the alley behind the warehouse. Shutting the bike off, I rolled into the shadows.
Muffled curses and a woman's scream reached my sensitive ears. Son of a bitch. Kierra!
Ferine's muffled voiced goaded me. "Go ahead, fresh blood. No one who can hear you will care." I clenched my jaw, listening to his sickening whine. "You're my gift to the gathering tonight. Come on, mustn't keep them waiting."
I hurried around to the back door and twisted the handle. Locked. A harder twist did nothing to budge it. Damn them, they'd beefed up their security.
A rusting pile of old pipe lay nearby. Perfect. I swung once against the doorknob. Both pipe and knob shattered in a spray of metal. I kicked the door open with what was left of the pipe in hand, ready to strike, but no one guarded the back door, which led to a crowded storeroom. Guess I should be glad he was so damn cocky.
Earsplitting techno music covered any sounds I made. I tossed the pipe aside and tested the inner door. Locked, but nothing special. One good twist and it broke. I stalked down an empty hall toward the central room. It paid to know the layout of your rival's hangouts. Hallways split off, leading to offices, safe rooms and stairs down to where they kept their human cattle. But I figured Ferine would still be up front where he could show off.
By the time I reached the main room, I could hardly hear myself, much less anyone else over the loud music. Pausing in the shadows of the hall, I closed my eyes to sniff. There, a faint scent of fear. Had to be her.
The crowd in the main room didn't pay any attention to me. The vamps were too busy feeding and screwing, and the mortals getting off being drained. Idiot bite junkies.
Still I stuck to the edges of the crowd, looking over bobbing heads for any sign of Ferine and Kierra. Her scream came from an alcove to my right. I shoved a few bodies out of my way, not caring what or who they were.
Bursting in, I saw Ferine had her pinned to the blanket-strewn platform at the back of the room. I grabbed his collar and shoulder and spun him into the wall. I spared only a glance at Kierra to make sure he hadn't bitten her yet.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing with my claim?" I lunged, pinning Ferine to the wall with my forearm. He could almost look me in eye, being just shy of my six foot one, but he'd never carried much muscle on his slight frame. Me, well, I used to be a Viking. Nuff said.
Ferine bared his fangs at me. "Fuck off, book boy. She's not marked, means she's fair game. And since I brought her here, she's mine first. Get in line."
I shoved harder, driving breath from the other man. I wanted to remind him just how much stronger I am. "You know damn good and well I've been seeing her for over three months."
"Three months and not a mark on her. Fair game," Ferine spat back. "Get off me, prick." He struggled, trying to dislodge me. I hissed a warning through my fangs.
The crowd parted to allow Adriana through. She looked like she belonged in a corporate boardroom with her grey silk suit and carefully coifed blond hair. Her perfect lips drew together in a little moue of discontent.
"You summon me, Dekker, and then don't even have the courtesy to greet me?" Her voice slid from her lips like warm honey, sweet and hypnotic.
I stepped back, letting Ferine go, and offered her a slight nod of respect. "Forgive me, Lady Adriana, I was indeed rude. But had I waited, the matter would have gotten out of hand."
I glanced over at Kierra, who'd plastered herself in the back corner, as far from us as she could get. Her amber eyes looked like saucers, and the pallor of fear gave her normally tan face a sallow look.
"I see. So this is the mortal in question?" She looked Kierra over with a slow languid gaze. "Not my type, but comely. I am surprised, Dekker. Didn't think she'd be your type either. At least not for a blood slave."
Ferine swaggered closer. "He's no right to her. She's not marked and I brought her here."
I turned to Kierra, trying to keep my anger under wraps. She'd crawled as far back on the platform as she could get. The red and black corset barely covered her ample breasts, especially with her chest heaving in near panic. Her honey gold hair swept around to one side and spilled down her chest. A few strands had come loose in her fight with Ferine. She managed to get most of her long, shapely legs under the short black pixy skirt. Damn, she looked good. I felt my cock growing hard despite the situation.
"Where's that choker I gave you? Your message said you'd be wearing it."
Her hand flew to her neck. "I, I don't know. I had it. What the hell is going on here?"
I couldn't spare the time to respond to her right now. And the others might take it as a sign of weakness. I knew Ferine would.
"Well, without it, there's no proof he's claimed her. And I brought her. Mine." Ferine crossed his arms defiantly across his chest and arched an arrogant brow at me.