December 1, 2016
Luna marched down the hallway, straight in the direction of the trio of raised male voices. The force of her footfalls should have been thunderous in the empty area, but the angry voices floating through the air drowned them out. She hung a right at the next corridor and immediately knew the commotion came from the Control Room.
Great. It wasn’t the first situation she’d had to diffuse here lately, and she knew, it wouldn’t be the last. So, she wasn’t surprised when she reached the doorway and faced the hulked-out, broad back of a very angry, very dangerous man.
Her surrogate father. Who was - at this very minute - in a screaming match with another of her surrogates.
For all intents and purposes, Semjaza Gregori was the leader of the Watchers, an underground group that employed her and others mostly like her, however he didn’t invoke his title very often.
Now he was, quite loudly, reminding Zeke that, “I am the boss and she (which Luna assumed meant her) will do her job. What do you think you’ve been training her for?”
She literally felt the air around her ripple and had the foresight to reach out and grab Zeke by the bulging bicep before he threw the punch he intended.
“Good grief, I need a water hose to wash all this testosterone away,” she raised her voice and gently patted Zeke on the shoulder. “Move aside Hulkster, let me in to play.” And just like that, the huge, mentally-unstable warrior deflated like a puppy getting a belly rub.
Luna knew she was the only one who had that type of influence over the big man, and she’d promised herself she never use her powers for her own selfish gain. This time didn’t count. She’d seen Sem and Zeke go at each others’ throats and it wasn’t a pretty sight. And she certainly didn’t want to clean up after them once they’d finished pounding on each other. Good grief, the mess they left behind. She physically shivered at remembering the last time.
She moved passed the two, angry men and faced the geeky blonde peering intently toward the jumble of computer monitors adorning the wall. Penn was the resident techie and boy was the man a genius. His eyes held a veil of knowledge that seemed eons old. Luna never doubted his word.
“So, where am I going tonight?” she quipped and jammed balled fists on her hips.
When she received three sets of confused glares, she sighed heavily.
“C’mon guys, I know there’s a sighting and I know I’m the only one available tonight. So, stop with the pissing match -” she scolded both Sem and Zeke - “and give me a location Penn,” she demanded. “I’ve graduated and my psyche e-val was normal. I’m ready.”
“Boston, North Roxbury neighborhood,” the techie read from a screen.
“Any idea what it is?” she asked already mentally putting a tactical checklist together. She’d never go on a hunt without her Spathas - dual short swords that Zeke had given her upon her graduation. The shimmering blades were covered in spiraling, scrawling sigils and runes that he claimed offered her more protection than anything else he could provide.
“No,” Sem answered instead and moved to stand beside her. Turning her head, she tilted it back and studied the six-feet-four-inch towering giant with the purple mo-hawk. In addition to his unusual hairstyle, their leader also sported numerous tattoos as well as facial piercings. His lightly tanned skin stretched taunt over beautifully structured cheekbones and yet he chose to hamper his good looks by adding gaudy accessories.
“Which is why I should go with her,” Zeke growled and moved to stand on her other side. She turned to glare at him but caught the snappy retort before it left her lips. His grotesquely scarred face was tight with tension - worried tension. He feared for her and in a way it touched her that he cared so much. On the other hand, she’d trained her ass off the past four years and fully intended to demand the same treatment the other Hunters received.
“No,” she and Sem barked in unison. From her peripheral, she saw Zeke’s hands ball into fists at his side so she grabbed Sem’s hand before he said anything more. Zeke was already a simmering stick of dynamite; she’d be the only one who could, successfully diffuse him without using violence.
She turned to face Zeke, her back to Sem and took both warrior’s hands in her own. The rough, rippled scars marring his fingers and palms tingled beneath her touch and she absently eased her grip. He’d neglected to don his finger-less leather gloves which told her he’d been caught completely off-guard. Not something he did very often.
“Look Zeke,” she called his attention down to her. “You trained me very well, I can do this. Just do me a favor and have faith in me.”
He lowered fathomless, black eyes from his seven-foot-plus height and frowned, his eyebrows drawing together like London Bridge. His lips stretched into a thin, line and she saw his jaw muscles jump from the tension of clamped teeth.
He didn’t explode; no smoke escaped his ears or nose. Luna took those as good signs that maybe she’d gotten through to him. She knew he’d suffered severe torture years ago and that had left him both physically and mentally scarred. He was prone to very violent, rage-induced outbursts. As the seconds ticked by, she finally relaxed knowing she’d averted a possibly dangerous situation.
“I do trust you,” he finally responded, his voice tight with anger. “It’s the demons I don’t trust.” He pulled his hands from Luna’s and peered over her head at Sem.
“At least send Barr with her,” he requested.
“Never intended to send her without her bird,” Sem quipped and waved toward Penn. “Master Techie hasn’t completed his program yet, so we can’t be sure what species it is, so I’d advise you to go well-armed. Barr will watch you from the sky and we’ll only be a phone call away.” Reading his informal dismissing, Luna saluted him and rushed from the room to gather her supplies. She didn’t suppress the smile on her face or miss the low growl Zeke send at Sem.
Crossing her fingers, she hoped they didn’t kill each other before she got back.
North Roxbury neighborhood, Boston, Massachusetts
While easing through the damp, sour smelling alleyway, Luna halted mid-stride as a black, swirling vortex, roughly the size of a Volvo, shredded the foggy air around her. A rough gust of wind whipped past her, sending trash and other debris scattering around her feet.
When a huge silhouette stepped out of the whirlwind, Luna instantly abandoned her ninja-like tactics and stood in open-mouth shock.
In her four years of training, she’d never heard of demons using teleportation; their life-force was usually directly within the vicinity of where the Watchers sent their soldiers.
Smoky tendrils of smoke inked outward from the center, sending clouds of wispy darkness to pollute the air. After a few moments, the strands slowly receded and their absence revealed the hulking beast. Momentum from the vortex shoved the demon forward, making sure it cleared the swirling chasm. Then it shrank back in on itself as quickly as it appeared.
The demon, which she now recognized from her textbooks as an Arsena - a lesser demon that crawled through Hell on its underbelly, begging for scraps - snarled and gnashed its razor sharp teeth before rushing toward her. A fashionably late entrance coupled with its particular method of travel succeeded in totally throwing Luna off her game. All her training went right out the window.
She was only briefly discombobulated, but long enough for the demon. It rushed past her and its large scaly arm caught her beneath the chin; its momentum and element of surprise clothes-lined her painfully, yet beautifully.
She hit the asphalt back-first, air whooshing from her lungs on an elongated hiss. She gasped and gulped, her mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water as she tried to force sweet air back into her lungs.
I’m sorry, Luna, Barr’s soft voice flitted through their telepathic connection. I failed to see it till it was too late. Her falcon-companion’s intense, guilt-ridden emotions blasted through her mind like a frigid tidal wave, the unexpected intrusion seized her mind and almost fried her brain.
Can you believe a freaking Arsena rode a vortex in and attacked me?!? Luna projected her thoughts and then shut down their mental connection. She focused on keeping well away from the sharp claws and gnashing teeth.
Once she was capable, she drew a complete breath and then quickly rolled back to her feet. She lowered herself into an offensive crouch with hands fisted before her and waited for the demon’s next move.
It swung its huge, slimy, talon-tipped left hand at her. She saw it coming and managed to duck in the nick of time, saving herself from sporting a severed head.
An angry roar shook the ground and the Arsena swung its right arm around from behind its huge body. Luna’s eyes widened in shock when she realized he had a gun and it was aimed it directly at her. Demons never used human weapons.
“Shit,” she hissed and feigned to her right milliseconds before a shot rent the night. Pain exploded in her left shoulder and she crashed to the pavement for the second time in less than five minutes. Her breath, again, whooshed from her body.
She’d never felt so helpless before and was lost as what to do next.
Pain blazed through her system, her blood sizzling in her veins like fresh lava. Inhaling deeply, she pushed herself to her feet, determined to get her ass moving. She’d suffered plenty of wounds during training, but never something this severe. Zeke had stressed the danger of hunting, now she understood his blatant reluctance to send her on her first mission alone.
Luna, get out of there! Barr roared forcefully, shattering the concrete wall Luna had shielding her mind. Depth-less black spots converged in Luna’s mind as a result of Barr re-establishing their mental connection without Luna’s consent.
Luna winced as agonizing heat tore through her head, finding every nerve ending possible. She blinked rapidly in hopes of shaking the side-effects of the falcon’s mind-meld. Her stomach rolled in response, threatening to send her dinner back up.
Barr’s forceful invasion, combined with the gunshot wound, left Luna not only temporarily blind, but also in intense agony. Her body weakened and grew sluggish.
Summoning every ounce of strength she had left, she pushed herself back to her feet and slowly approached the demon. When she was within reach, she shoved him roughly and lurched past him, heading for the alley on the right
The Arsena’s roar only partially registered through the shock flooding her mind. Her main concern wasn’t that she’d been shot by a demon with a human weapon. It was the fact that she ran from a demon to being with; something she’d never believed she’d do.
A warrior at heart, Luna abhorred weakness as much as cowardice. Yet Barr was right. There was no way she’d survive a battle now that she’d been bodily wounded and mentally incapacitated.
Already, the gushing wound leeched her strength too quickly for her liking.
“Zeke’s going to kill me,” Luna declared, her thoughts flashing to her mentor. She’d all but bullied her way into this mission by swearing she’d be safe and now here she was severely wounded. She inhaled deeply and pumped her legs harder, putting as much distance between her and the demon as possible.
“Have we received word from her?” Sem stormed into the Control room. When Luna failed to check in after a couple hours, he’d grown worried. Allowing for the possibility she ran into unexpected problems, he’d gave her some extra time. Now, it was way passed time for her to have returned.
“No.” Penn shook his head, no hint of emotion in his voice. He wasn’t one to get ruffled over anything unless there was reason to. Penn was all about patience and it was one virtue Sem could do without. When it came to Luna, few of the Watchers had much patience. She was the daughter of a dead friend and it was their responsibility to protect her no matter what. Even if she wasn’t the salvation of them all, Sem would still lay down his immortal soul to protect her.
“When was her last update?” Sem asked and ran long fingers through his narrow strip of purple spikes.
“Twelve a.m. Dispatch received an update.” Penn narrowed his eyes as fingers flew over computer keys. “She’d landed and began her search for the demon.” He turned to spear Sem with ice-blue eyes; worry glazing their surface. “That was over ten hours ago Sem. She should have called by now. It wouldn’t have taken her ten minutes to shred the bastard. Something’s wrong.”
Sem’s blood turned to fire in his veins. The thought of Luna hurt didn’t sit so well with him. “Maybe she lost her phone, have you activated her internal tracker?”
Penn turned back to the computer and more keys clacked noisily. The air suddenly grew very heavy and a malevolent aura cloaked the room. Sem sighed heavily. The last thing he needed right now was the angry man now standing behind him. He felt the fiery blast of anger emanating from the soldier and sighed heavily. They’d barely avoided a blood bath earlier and it was only Luna’s presence that had calmed him.
“We’re looking for her now, Zeke,” Sem warned before the other man could even utter a word. He knew his brother too well. If Zeke had the slightest inkling Luna was in danger, he would be gone in the blink of an eye. No matter that none of them could pinpoint her location; Zeke would blast through the Nether until he found her.
As one of the Watchers with the ability to transport, Zeke was an ever present threat to the group’s anonymity. His emotions, which he denied having on a regular basis, seemed to rule him when it came to Luna.
“You’d better find her or I will,” Zeke threatened and slammed the stainless steel door shut behind him before propping himself against it. With arms and feet crossed, he presented an unmovable roadblock. His silent challenge blasted into the air, engulfing the room in an almost malevolent fog.
“There’s no signal,” Penn murmured. “I can’t find her anywhere.”
A loud crash preceded the slamming of the Control room door. When Sem turned, Zeke was gone and a hole marred his formerly pristine door.
“Dammit, I just had that door replaced,” Sem cursed. “Keep looking Penn, I’ll go with Zeke to make sure he doesn’t kill anyone he shouldn’t. Send the area coordinates to me; maybe we can search until something pops up.”
Penn nodded, his floppy blonde hair bouncing.
“Sure thing boss,” he called.
As Sem raced down the hall toward the weapon’s room, he recalled the night Luna literally came crashing into their lives and hoped with every fiber of his being that she was alright. Injured, he could handle, but if she were dead, they were all fucked.
He slid to a halt when Zeke emerged, armed to the teeth, sporting a murderous glint in his eyes. It was moments like this, that made Sem grateful that Zeke was on his side. The warrior made a formidable enemy and Heaven help anything that dared harm Luna.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Luna grumbled and clumsily applied pressure to the bleeding wound beneath her left collar bone. Mustering all the strength she could, she lifted her head and studied the alleyway stretching out before her. It elongated into a never-ending path of disgusting smells, unidentifiable liquids and silhouettes of other inhabitants.
The spinning, shadow-slashed walls reminded her of the time she went into a fun house at a carnival. She couldn’t tell up from down or right from left. She threw up then and felt like throwing up now. Instead, she swallowed the rising bile and blinked harder in hopes of forcing her eyes to focus.
The area was unsavory to say the least and the few seedy inhabitants pretty much ignored everything but the possibility of a next hit or cheap bottle of booze.
The ones who weren’t piled up in cardboard boxes, simply sat with their backs against the walls, their heads either tilted back against the unforgiving brick or resting on their up-drawn knees. Their moans of misery melded with her own until it was difficult to decipher between them or her.
Luckily, no one so much as noticed when she staggered by, desperately trying to keep her balance and make it to the street. Maybe they ignored her because she easily passed as another homeless soul in her condition: weak, unsteady on her feet, sweaty and probably smelly.
She fisted her right hand, wincing when blood seeped through her tank and fingers as she continued to apply pressure to the wound. Crimson liquid freely flowed, a bloom of darkness spread across her chest like a spilled ink pot. Her tank sagged from the extra weight.
When she’d dressed for the mission, she’d piled her long, straight black hair in a messy bun, high on her head and that was all that prevented it from getting saturated. She feared unless she found help in the next few moments, she’d bleed out. And as much as she hated to admit it, the street ahead was her best hope of finding someone capable of assisting her.
The Arsena couldn’t be far behind her. Since it was in corporeal form, she pitied the poor, stupid soul it had tricked into summoning it. She knew the summoner was probably dead; which, in her opinion, more or less served them right for dabbling in dark magic they couldn’t possibly understand. The repercussions alone were lethal at best.
The magical wannabes were no more than amateurs playing with things far more dangerous than they could possibly comprehend. Well, not until it was too late to make a difference. Of all the demon classifications she’d studied, Luna recalled that the Gallu were the ones who answered the calls of the practitioners who summoned out of ignorance. The Arsena was the most common - and least deadly - of the Gallu.
Even though the rules said a demon must be tied to the summoner to cross realms, the slimy bastards always found a way to free themselves. That’s when they became the Watcher’s problem.
However, no matter what form the roaming demon took, it still wanted human flesh and had shot her with intentions of securing some dinner. Mortal flesh was a delicacy to demons; they thrived on the taste of succulent sweet and salty meat.
Her bosses weren’t going to like her report on this one – if she lived long enough to write it. Three major anomalies were already in motion: demons attacking humans, demons traveling by vortex and demons using human weapons. The Watchers were going to be beyond shocked.
She pushed her rattle of thoughts aside once she made it to the exit emptying onto the sidewalk and stopped long enough to lean on the building corner to her left before cautiously peering around it. Along with the sky, darkness claimed everything this morning. A cloud of black cloaked everything, smothering any hint of light. The deserted street indicated an atmosphere of malevolence that probably drove all pedestrians indoors.
Her vision was hazy; clarity going in and out as blood loss grew. Afraid she’d pass out at any moment she knew she needed to get to safety or she’d be kibble for the Arsena.
Cobwebs of color invaded her optical nerves and she groaned at the phenom. The event was specific to the same oncoming event and she so didn’t have time or energy to waste. She blinked rapidly, hoping to fend it off. But visions of another time converged on her and she had no choice but hang on as images winked in and out of focus.
She’d suffered visions before. She couldn’t explain why, how she had this ability but it was probably the same one that allowed her to converse with Barr telepathically.
Suddenly her mind was no longer in the alleyway; bleeding and weak. Instead, it saw another time, another place. It was like her soul was inside another person’s physical body. She’d never suffered such an incident, but her visions always placed her in the victim’s position.
Falling from the sky.
Silent screams lodge in her throat as panic seizes her thundering heart.
Her flailing arms and legs are not enough to slow the lightning fast descent and an eternity seems to pass. Her mouth opens and closes like a fish trying to breathe out of water; the screams she finally emits are drowned by an unbreakable force pushing at her back as if trying to shove her back to where she came. Her mind is scrambled, she doesn’t know what happened to lead her here and she can’t remember who she is.
Clouds rush by, so rapid they are mere blurs of white. With frantic hands, she reaches for the tufts, hoping to grab onto something that would stop her descent. Fading from view is a beautiful utopia of colors and her fingers desperately stretch for that shrinking paradise.
Searing pain suddenly seizes her body and her spine bows violently as two forces pull at her, each from a different direction. A flare of orange-red light accompanies a sizzle as if some invisible veil is penetrated when she falls through it. Her entire body erupts into fiery pain, her insides smoldering even as cool air pushes against her; cradling her. Bright, blue light erupts from every pore of her nude body, searing her eyes yet creating a cocoon of warmth as protection her from the icy night air.
Somehow, she knows death waits, just moments away. His eagerness to catch her and wrap her in his ethereal arms before escorting her home is a welcome illusion amongst panic. She draws a minute amount of comfort in knowing at least her suffering wouldn’t be prolonged.
There’s only a matter of seconds before she crashes into the earth, her fragile body colliding with unforgiving solid and she will be no more. Her only regret is that she doesn’t remember what wrong she committed to earn such a cold and violent death.
When the vision faded, clarity snapped back and she shook her head to dislodge the sheer terror that always accompanied this particular trip. She’d wondered if perhaps it was a long, lost memory. She had no memories of her life before she joined the Watchers. However, no matter who she was, no one could possibly survive a fall like the one in her vision. Whoever that unlucky soul was, they had to be dead.
Deep down, she wondered if maybe that person would know Luna’s true identity. She feared she’d never know who she truly was.
The arrival of Barr’s sweet voice in her mind snapped her back and pain flooded her system once again.
There’s only one option for shelter Luna, she warned. It looks like a pub about fifty-feet down the street to your left.
Luna nodded, knowing Barr saw her from where she soared overhead. With open lines of unexplained communication on both sides, they could hear each others’ thoughts and Luna felt Barr’s guilt about not detecting the demon before it attacked Luna.
She wished her gift of telepathy wasn’t limited to Barr as it would be a viable attribute to read everyone’s mind, especially those grotesque demons.
Luna’s employers remained adamant that she was no ordinary human, but she felt differently. They never elaborated on the consensus theory and it wasn’t because she hadn’t asked.
The bullet lodged in her chest gave her belief credence. Humans bled and they died; just like she would unless she got her ass moving, right away.
With a painful grunt, she shoved off the corner just as another bullet whizzed by the back of her neck. If she hadn’t moved when she did, her brains would have splattered the side walk.
She half-ran, half-stumbled the fifty-feet, each step as painful as the next since her boots felt like they were filled with dried cement instead of two dainty feet. Shoving sideways, she crashed through the door lit by a blinking green harp. She momentarily thanked whichever Saint listened that the place was still open and collapsed onto the floor before the long mahogany bar.
Through her pain-hazed mind, she made out a blurred image of a man peering down at her.
Light brown hair haloed a young face covered in baby smooth skin. His eyes, brilliant shades of moss green stared down at her in apparent shock. Plump, kissable lips, situated under a slightly crooked nose, pursed thoughtfully and she could have sworn his eyes sparkled as he smiled.
A tiny bud of recognition pulsated in her heart. The minuscule action meant she knew this man, yet she couldn’t place him. But surely he would recognize her if that were the case. She shook her head slightly in an effort to ease the confusing haze.
“Are ya drunk then lass?” he asked in an Irish-thick accent and her heart thumped hard just once.
“Please, help me,” she rasped and then coughed violently; wincing when a healthy splatter of blood flew from her lips, dotting his face and shirt. A heavy weight settled in her chest and her gasps grew more violent. She’d never before put a civilian in danger, but her wound was lethal.
“Please,” she repeated more urgently.
“Well, kiss me arse, you’ve been hurt lass,” he exclaimed, his eyes widening in surprise as he suddenly grasped the severity of the situation. Apparently he’d missed the massive amount of blood soaking her shirt. She wanted to roll her eyes but it seemed that every extra movement cost her double the strength.
“No feckin’ way,” another man announced from somewhere across the bar.
“Are you blind and deaf?” Luna tried for outrage, but her question came out raspy and weak as that relentless darkness clawed its way up her throat. Death loomed over her like a black cloud and the impending unconsciousness quickly drained what little remained of her strength. If she didn’t get them to understand she needed help now, she would be at these stranger’s mercy and the Arsena demon would kill them all.
Of all the places she could have hidden, an Irish pub inhabited by drunken Irish-men was the only one she could find? Karma must be kicking her ass for something.
The blurry Irish-man grinned down at her and even had the audacity to wink.
“Are ya running from the police, my beautiful?” he asked with a smirk.
Luna’s brows drew together in a frown. Had the man ever seen a wounded person before? He was entirely too calm for her liking.
“No,” she croaked and coughed again when warm liquid rushed into her mouth. She grimaced when the sharp tang of metal dribbled over her lips. “Much worse,” she finished and succumbed to the blackness.
Kurbane stalked the female Hunter from within the deep shadows of the filthy alleyway. Five years to the day he’d been searching for her, the majority of his time spent evading or killing Enforcers. So far, twenty-five had been sent to capture him and so far, none had gotten close. He still couldn’t believe he’d been able to defeat them.
The Enforcers were the nastiest, most brutal demons created. That he was able to win a fight with twenty-four – much less one – still had him wondering.
The mere thought of the violence he’d been a part of made him homesick. He was more than ready to go back home where blood and brimstone dramatically assaulted the senses; where he could allow his true-self out to play without worry of consequences.
But with his mother’s life on the line, he couldn’t go back until he had the key.
Other than failing his mother, his only other fear was that the Enforcers’ leader would come for him next. She would prove difficult, if not impossible, to evade or kill. He’d go home in pieces and his mother would die a slow, agonizing death for failing in her duties.
He inhaled sharply when the female suddenly slumped against the building. Her gunshot wound was severe and were she true mortal, death would have claimed her considering the extreme blood loss she’d suffered. He raised his face to the air and his nostrils twitched when he caught her scent on the slight breeze.
His heart thumped loudly in his chest. He’d found it at last. The wounded female Hunter possessed the key. His brows furrowed in confusion. His mother had said an angel took the key, but the being he stalked was no celestial being. Her scent wasn’t that sickly sweet tang the other fabled Seraph supposedly emitted. No, hers was musky, spicy; like a roast simmering in its own juices for hours on end.
His tongue snaked out to taste the second breeze billowing his way and he groaned deep in his throat when her perfume collided with his taste buds. She was one he could literally feast upon.
His true form shimmered beneath the surface of his skin; rippling it like a living thing would and he summoned all his power to push it back into the recesses of his soul. He’d been in human form too long and inside, he’d grown restless. This little scratch and sniff session had stirred the monster in him more than he imagined.
Calm yourself, we shall have the key soon enough. Then we’ll return home and feast for days.
He hoped his inner beast listened. He couldn’t afford to let it out just yet. The Hunter would dispatch him with no second thought, which was her job, but he couldn’t go just yet. He needed that damned key.
His eyes flicked over the alleyway. There were enough shadows to hide him, allowing him to get close enough to her to knock her out, nab the key and be on his merry way. Since her taste was forever branded into his brain, he could always come back and play with her later. No matter what his mother said, he wasn’t going to kill her…just yet. He moved, taking that first step and stopped suddenly when she shoved off the building and rounded the corner, disappearing from his sight.
“Dammit,” he cursed and raced to catch up.
Shattered glass showered the sidewalk when he rounded the corner and skidded to a stop. Immediately ahead she’d crashed through the glass door of a bar. He quickly scanned his surroundings and exhaled in relief when no humans were present. He wrapped the remaining shadows around him and crept closer to the gaping maw of glass.
The Hunter lay on the floor, blood seeping from her wound and two humans raced to aid her. He decided that now wasn’t the time for action, so he slinked back into the alleyway and prepared to wait for her to exit.
Complete clarity never comes quickly to one who’s spent untold hours unconscious. However, when Luna zeroed in on the yells of Irish profanities filling the room, alertness never smacked her faster. She had a brief moment to wonder if she’d indeed died and gone to Hell. It would make sense considering only Lucifer would torment someone with the sounds of two Irish men pounding it out.
“Ya feckin’ idiot, we should have taken her to the hospital!”
She had no clue who voted for taking her to the band-aid station but was thankful they hadn’t.
Thud, crash, plunk.
“The hospital?” the other voice proclaimed incredulously. “She had a wee gunshot wound. We removed the bullet. The hospital would have called the police, ya sheep’s arse.”
Boots shuffling and then another crash.
“Well, what makes ya think she’s running from the cops?”
Another crash and glass shattering.
“Have you looked at her?” the first one’s voice raised a few octaves. “She’s dressed in heel-to-nose leather and carrying more weapons than a military base.”
“Mother of God,” Luna rasped, ecstatic when her voice actually worked. “Stop acting like children before one of you needs the hospital.” Complete silence met her demand and she managed to pry unwilling eyes open. She barely squelched a scream that would surely damage her reputation, and then recovered enough to roll her eyes when two men stared down at her.
“You’re awake lass, how are ya feeling then?” her would-be rescuer asked. He still wore that sloppy grin, now shadowed by a tad of stubble on a strong jaw and very handsome face. It appeared her vision had vastly approved.
“Yes,” she answered and grunted as she sat up and the skin on her chest pulled taunt. A sharp pain shot through her right arm. But she was happy to realize her original pain had diminished immensely and she could move more freely than last night.
“What time is it? How long have I been out?” Fear jumped up and lodged in her throat. The demon could be anywhere by now and she knew she had to get back on the street. Hopefully it hadn’t been that long and she could pick its trail back up quickly.
She mentally pictured Sem and Zeke chomping at the bit because she hadn’t checked in; Zeke especially.
Sensing another vision, she violently shook her head to hopefully postpone it. She realized they came more often and grew more emotionally intense each time. She inhaled sharply and with fisted hands, gripped the edge of the bed, swinging her feet off the side. Both men jumped as if to stop her but promptly froze when she pinned them with her best glare.
“Don’t either one of you idiots dare touch me,” she snarled in her nastiest voice.
“Well, isn’t that gratitude for ya,” the other one, the one whose name she still didn’t know, mocked.
“What’s your name?” she nodded in the hunky one’s direction, choosing to ignore the irritating one as long as possible.
“Aiden,” he answered proudly, “And this is my brother Devon,” he added and nodded at the other man.
To stop the room from spinning, Luna tucked her chin into chest and inhaled deeply. Her stomach rolled nervously but after a few moments of calm breathing, she managed to get the nausea under control. When she finally raised eyes to access her surroundings, she frowned and studied the untidy apartment.
“Where am I?”
The guys shoved and pushed at one another until they both crouched before her, their eyes shooting daggers of curiosity.
“We brought ya to our apartment last night,” Aiden was the first to answer. “And I have to admit, I’m a bit curious as to what happened to you and how you healed up so quickly. Not to mention why you carry so many weapons.”