DEFEAT THE DARKNESS
....“You need a ride somewhere?” Max asked.
Kyle patted him on the shoulder. “No thanks, my ride’s just down the road.”
“You going back through the woods?”
“No. Through the cemetery...
"I parked on a side road back there. I’ll call you.” Kyle walked away with remarkable control considering how volatile his insides felt. As soon as he was well hidden by the underbrush, he traced to where Dylan had met up with Garr and the wolves.
“What do you think?” he asked Dylan.
“I think if you want to keep her alive, you need to bring her back here. We’ll help her through this.”
“If what he said about her blood is true, someone or something infected her,” Salazar said.
“I keep having flashes of memories, but nothing more than the scent of her blood.” Kyle licked his lips and remembered the fragrance and the rich sweet taste. His head swam and his knees buckled. He sat on an old headstone close by before he fell down and embarrassed himself.
“It doesn’t matter now.” Garr offered him a hand up and clapped him on the back. “The full moon is less than two nights away. We don’t have much time to prepare her for her first shift. Go get her.”
“I don’t know if I can face her. What the hell have I done?”
“Kyle, there’s no choice,” Dylan said. “Garr’s right. You want me to come with you?”
“Allow me,” Victor Salazar offered, stepping forward. “She and I have met before, and although it was under terrible circumstances, I believe she came to trust me.”
“Good idea, Victor. Being a doctor, you can spew all that medical mumbo jumbo with confidence,” Garr said. “Dylan, will just go all mental.”
“You may need me to probe her memories to discover if this was you, Kyle or some other jaguar, or worse yet, Amyra. It will help to know what she’ll be facing,” Dylan pointed out.
Shelby & Kyle
“You’ll get your chance, Dylan. Victor and I will bring her to your place. Now all I have to figure out is what to do about Max. Have any suggestions?” He’d just finished telling him to keep her away. Now he was ready to go in and kidnap her if necessary.
“Tell him what he would expect to hear—you’re hiding her out until Amyra is located. He’ll believe that,” Garr suggested.
“He may believe it, but he isn’t going to like it,” Kyle mumbled. “He won’t be comfortable being out of the loop.”
Dylan added, “We’ll come up with something else later when I have a chance to talk to the council. Now get going, Kyle.”
“Hop in, doc, and buckle up,” Kyle opened the passenger side for Victor and walked around to the driver’s side.
When he slipped into the seat, he told Dylan, “I’ll call Max and fill him in on the way. He can be prepared to take our side when Shelby balks. I’ll make sure he doesn’t warn her that we’re coming.” He punched the button, put the phone on speaker, and waited for the call to go through.
Kyle assumed Max would go along with the plan for the time being, but when he had time to think it over, they had better have some reasonable explanation to account for the change in Shelby. Max wasn’t going to accept a line of bull—not when it came to her.
“Max? Is Shelby at home?”
“No. She’s volunteering at the clinic. Why?”
“Victor Salazar and I are heading into town. I need to take her some place safe. Remember that danger I mentioned? It’s worse than we thought.”
“You also said you were the danger. You didn’t want to endanger her—”
“Doctor Hamilton, this is Victor Salazar. I reviewed the DNA data you sent me. I need to examine Shelby and run a few more tests, but Kyle wants to do them some place where she’ll be protected.”
“I don’t think she’ll agree to go with you.”
“I’m counting on you to talk her into it. Max, Victor says this mutation could be serious.” Kyle shook his head at Victor when he started to interrupt. “We’ll be there in fifteen minutes. Can you meet us?”
“I’m heading out the door now. Where do you plan to take her?”
“I’m not going to tell you that and put you in danger, too. And Max, don’t warn her that we’re coming. If she bolts, we’ll lose valuable time.”
“Doctor Hamilton,” Victor interrupted, “I promise I will stay in constant touch with you. I may need you to run some tests for me. You have the means, correct?”
“Uh, yes. I-uh… Kyle, we’ll talk about this when I see you.” Max disconnected and Kyle punched the power off button.
“Damn. He’s going to figure out what we’re up to sooner or later.” Kyle sighed. “I don’t know how to keep all this from him when he’s already seen the scientific evidence that beings like us exist.”
“Dylan will make the decision about what to do with him after he goes to the council. It won’t be the first time they have made an exception, especially if the human in question can help us.”
“What else can they do?”
“Several of the members have the ability to do a powerful mind wipe. Dylan is one of them.”
Kyle stepped on the gas and Victor white knuckled the sissy strap. “My driving making you nervous, Victor? Being three-hundred years old and an immortal, seems like you’d be immune to fear?”
“We can be injured.” Victor looked a bit sheepish when he answered. “The pain is as painful now as it was when we were human. Although fortunately you have not experienced a mortal injury yet, returning from death hurts the most.”
“Wimp. Shifting the first few times was no party, either.” Kyle snorted at the immortal. “Don't worry. I won’t get you killed, Victor.”
“I always thought if I learned how to drive one of these—”
“What? You don’t drive?”
Victor shook his head. “I didn’t have a need—”
“It’s not about need, man. When I lived in Boston, I didn’t need to drive, either, but no red-blooded young man hits sixteen now-a-days without getting his license. It’s a ‘rite of passage’.”
Still weaving in and out of traffic, Kyle glanced over at Victor. His hand no longer held the sissy strap with a death grip. “Listen, when all this is over, and after you’ve taught me how to manage my demon, I’ll teach you to drive.”
Victor looked unsure until Kyle added, “We’ll buy you a sweet little Lamborghini like Dylan’s—”
“Yes!” Salazar perked right up. “I would like a—how do you say? A ride like Dylan’s.” Victor’s face was as animated as a sixteen-year-old boy’s contemplating his first naked girl.
“Well, let’s save the princess, fight the demons, and thwart the evil Queen’s plans, first.
“You are joking?”
“Not really. All this sounds like a Grimm’s fairy tale.”
“Ah, the brothers Grimm. I met them once. The council wasn’t happy with all their diaries getting out.”
“Really? So I guess they weren’t writing fiction after all.”
Kyle shook his head and released a sigh. He was doing a lot of that lately. His head wanted to explode. This was too much for him to take in. How was he going to break it to Shelby?
He turned the wheel, rounded the corner, and brought the Jeep to a screaming halt behind Max’s Vette. He jumped out and checked the interior on the way by. His friend had already gone inside.
Victor turned three-hundred and sixty degrees and said, “Smell that?”
“Yes. She’d been here.” Kyle’s gut churned. "Not long ago, either."
As he and Victor bounded up the steps, Shelby was unsuccessfully struggling to break free of Max as he dragged her out the door. When she bumped into him she stopped fighting Max.
“You!” she gasped and went limp, deflating like a burst balloon.
He held on and Max backed away.
“I’ll take her now.” Kyle said, “You and Salazar go in your car. We’ll meet up at the same place where I met you earlier.”
Max stared at Shelby who’d gone pale at the sight of him and nodded. He asked, “Shelby, are you okay with this?”
“I’m not sure.”
“You wanted me to find Kyle for you,” Max said, sounding defensive. “I found him.”
“How?” Shelby’s lips continued to move but no sound escaped.
Kyle hated to see her so distraught, but it was for her own good. She was going to be tired of hearing that before this was all over, and he was going to take the brunt of her anger.
Victor moved closer to Kyle and Shelby. “We must go.” The scent of brimstone grew stronger. “You’re in danger, Shelby. We’ll take you to safety.”
Her attention shifted to Max for approval.
“Go ahead. They’ll explain everything, and I’ll call you later. Take care, babe.” He kissed her cheek before helping Shelby into Kyle’s car. After the door closed he said, “We’ll be right behind you. Be careful.”
(These were early unedited versions.)
The interior of the Jeep never felt so stifling to Kyle before. With the outside noises muffled by the hard top, the silence inside the car hurt his ears. Besides, the beat of her heart and the scent of her blood distracted him. Everything about her called to his basic instincts—to claim, provide for, keep, and protect.
Dylan had to be right. Shelby was his soul mate and now, with the scent of the cat in her blood, his jaguar roared for release.
Maybe he’d been right from the start. He wasn’t the best choice of guardians under the circumstances. Who would heed the danger he posed to her?
“Did Max know where you were all along?” Her voice sounded thick with emotion, and he didn’t dare risk looking to see if there were tears.
“Not until today. I made him promise not to say anything to you—”
“What changed your mind? Not only did you suddenly show up where I work, what the three of you just did came damn close to the definition of abduction. If I hadn’t agreed, would you have taken me anyway?”
Her voice sounded stronger, more indignant. To his way of thinking, that was a good sign even if his answer wasn’t going to make her a fan.
“I warned you this was serious. After that drugging in Guatemala, I’d think you’d believe me. I won't risk your safety.”
She shivered although the night was hot and humid. When he stared at her to gauge her reaction, he noted the perspiration on her upper lip glistened in the moonlight. Ready or not, the moon approached its zenith, and the fever was upon her.
“What’s happening?” She turned and stared directly into his eyes when he turned toward her. “And where are you taking me?”
“The where is simple enough. I have a friend who lives in a remote Parrish out by the bayou. He offered us his guest house until the authorities track down the danger.”
“And what exactly is the danger? That woman?”
“Yes.” There was no point in denying it. “But under the circumstances, I’m not sure how safe you are with me either.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m not the same man I was when I left here.”
"I trust you, Kyle." She shivered again, doubled over, and more sweat formed a sheen all over her face. “What’s happening to me?”
“Victor thinks he knows what’s wrong with your blood. He brought some jungle plants known to ease your symptoms. Max said you hadn’t had many, but you don’t look so good now, Shelby.”
“I’m on fire, and every muscle in my body aches. It’s getting worse.”
Kyle glanced at the moon and cursed. It was going to be a blood moon. He stepped on the gas and drove faster as Shelby slumped over in her seat. She was better off being unconscious until he reached Dylan's and Victor could dose her with the medicine he brought with him. Too well, he remembered the fever and the aches. When her joints began to stretch, the pain would feel like every bone in her body was breaking. It was excruciating to experience, and he'd like to spare her as much of that as possible. His protective instincts wouldn't survive her pain.
...All rights reserved. No part of this may be copied or reproduced without the written permission of the author. Copyright 2012, Eliza March