“I’m a vampire.”
She laughed. The laugh was as weak as she felt.
“I need to sit.” She stumbled back and sat hard on the toilet. “Vampires don’t exist. It’s not real. There are people who… What are you doing?”
Gabriel had her hand in his and was peeling a bandage away. “The modern world is so strange.” His pale fingers rubbed at one of the scrapes, drawing blood from it. “You are religious and believe in miracles, or you say you do, but you have ceased to truly believe in anything else.”
“I believe in the devil.”
He snorted. “Not really. Even I don’t believe in the Catholic Satan anymore. I’ve seen too much evil without him, but never him.” He raised Kali’s arm and fastened his mouth around the bleeding wound.
She shrieked and pulled her arm from him. “What the hell are you…. Holy shit.”
The scrape had healed over leaving smooth, unblemished skin behind.
Gabriel smiled at her. On anyone else, it would have been a smug smile. On him, it was beatific. “One of the gifts of the goddess.”
“Oh my God.” She reached with a shaking hand to his mouth and scraped her finger on his pointy-sharp incisor.
It retracted under her touch.
“They do that.” He opened his mouth. His eye-teeth extended almost to his lower lip. “Easier to eat when they’re long,” he lisped. “Not so easy to talk.”
A gunshot went off downstairs.
“What was that?” She leapt to her feet and rushed past Gabriel, the pain in her head and knee forgotten.
“Tell me where she is!” she heard as she opened the door.
Gabriel was behind her. “He found you. We have to go.” He took her by the wrist. “Come on.”
“Wait!” She struggled against him as he dragged her away from the door.
The gun went off again. People screamed.
Both Gabriel and Kali froze.
Feet pounded on the stairs.
“He’s coming.” She broke away from Gabriel and slammed the door. “Help me move the desk!” She ran over to it and pulled.
It didn’t budge.
“There’s no time.” Gabriel pulled her away and swept her into his arms. Then, he leapt out the window.
Kali screamed as glass shattered around them. Shards sliced into her face. She pressed he face against Gabriel’s neck.
They hit the ground with a jarring thud. Gabriel set her on her feet. “Come on. My car is close.”
The ground was hard against her socked feet. She took a few stumbling steps, but her legs protested. She fell.
“Gabriel!” Garrison shouted.
She looked up. He was leaning out the open window, shotgun in his hand.
“You can’t save her! Give her up now.”
“I won’t let you take her again, Father Pike!” Gabriel picked Kali up again and ran.
“Where are we going?” she gasped.
“The parking structure!” He rounded a corner and pointed. Even running and carrying her, he didn’t sound winded.
“Here.” He stopped in front of the parking structure, looking up. “I’m on the fourth level.”
“Stairs.” She pointed to the end of the building.
He looked at her and smiled. “I don’t need stairs. Hold on.”
He put her down and turned to present his back. “Hold on.” He took her hands and wrapped them around his neck. Then he leapt halfway up the side of the building.
“God!” Kali squeaked.
He was gripping the concrete with his nails as he climbed up the sides like he was a cat. They scrambled to an opening on the fourth level, where Gabriel heaved himself over the ledge and planted his feet on solid ground once more.
Kali let go of him and took a few shaky steps away. “How did you do that?” Her legs threatened to give out. She leaned against a car and took a few deep breaths.
“I’m a vampire. We can do that.”
Of course. He could heal cuts, he had retracting teeth, why couldn’t he climb up walls? “How did Garrison find me?”
“He used magic. Probably a tracing spell using your blood.”
He nodded. “I just don’t understand how he got past your guards. He broke through all the protections we had around you, which should have been impossible. But…”
“You’re our queen,” he said, looking at her with simple and complete adoration. “Our creator. Our goddess. Even though you’re human, we do what we can to protect you.”
She snorted and thought of the myriad of foster homes and relatives’ houses she’d been in and out of her whole life. She thought of hungry nights and days, and the times when she was too cold or too hot or too tired because the adults around her couldn’t take care of her properly. Thought of the abuse and the fear and the all too few moments of peace.
“Yeah, well, you’ve done a bang-up job.”
His face reflected guilt and anxiety. With a hesitance that made her want to cry, he stepped forward and took her hand. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. His hand was so cold. “I always thought we should do more but was voted down. I have a history of making a mess of things. Morgan thought it best we allow you to live a normal life without us interfering.” He kissed the palm of her hand, eyes falling shut. “We kept our kind from hurting you, kept Garrison from taking you. We tried to protect you, but obviously something happened.” He opened his eyes again. “Forgive us?”
“Gabriel, I don’t know anything about you. I don’t know if I can even trust you. Aren’t vampires evil?”
He never got to answer. Just as he opened his mouth to speak, a van tore around the corner.
“Run!” He shoved her away from him.
Kali flew across the structure. She landed hard on the concrete floor.
“Take my car!” Gabriel threw the keys at her.
The van rammed him. Tires squealed. Gabriel was plowed into another car with the horrific sound of crunching metal.
“Oh no. No, no, no.”
Smoke rose from the van’s hood. Everything was silent. Gabriel lay still, trapped between the cars, skin completely white.
hen, the van door opened. Garrison climbed out.
Kali moved. She scrambled for the keys that had landed inches from her. Hit the alarm the moment she had them.
A blue BMW down the row started wailing.
She ran to it.
She never saw Garrison move. One minute, she was running, the next, she was on the ground, black dots flying at her face.
“Stay.” Garrison bent down and took the keys from her numb fingers.
“Garrison,” Gabriel moaned. Metal screeched against metal. He groaned.
“Gabriel, don’t move.” Garrison sounded almost… fond. “You can’t save her. You will only cause yourself pain if you try. Let her go.”
Kali struggled to sit up. Her head pounded. Holy God in heaven, she probably had the worst concussion by now. She’d be lucky if she survived without brain damage.
Garrison went to Gabriel. There was a crowbar in one hand, gun in the other.
Gabriel pushed the van off him and stumbled forward. There was a determined look on his too-young face. His eyes were impossibly blue against his marble white skin.
“No! Don’t you understand? She’s returned, just like she said she would. Just as she promised. Kali is stronger than you and the church and…”
Garrison fired. The gunshot echoed loudly in the cavernous structure.
Gabriel took a step back.
“I won’t…” he said through clenched teeth.
Garrison fired again and again until the gun clicked, out of bullets. Gabriel fell to his knees, still conscious. His chest rose and fell with a strange sucking sound. Blood bubbled at his lips.
“Please,” he exhaled. More blood trickled from his mouth when he spoke.
Garrison dropped the empty clip on the ground. He knelt in front of Gabriel and touched his cheek. “I’m sorry, my son. If not for her, you might have been saved. But she never gave your soul a chance.”
Garrison stood. He swung the crowbar at Gabriel’s face.
Kali’s hand flew to her eyes. She couldn’t watch. But she had to. She opened her fingers and peeked through them.
Gabriel was unconscious. His chest wasn’t moving anymore. Even the blood had stopped flowing.
Garrison hit him again.
Gabriel’s beautiful nose broke, marring his perfect face.
“Stop it!” Kali leapt to her feet and stumbled to Garrison. “Stop it!” She grabbed his arm and yanked Garrison away from the man who would have been her savior. “He’s dead! Leave him alone!”
Garrison rounded on her, face a mask of fury. “That boy has survived hundreds of years past his time because I cannot bring myself to kill him. And even now…” He stopped abruptly and gave a sharp shake of his head. Grabbing Kali by the arm, he pulled her to Gabriel’s car. “Come. We need to go.”
“No!” She fought him, kicking and clawing, trying to get away.
“Kali…” His grip loosened.
“Let me go!”
“Damn it!” He grabbed her arm and swung her.
Kali tried to brace herself, to stop her movement, but she had no control. The last thing she saw before blackness took her was the back of Garrison’s van rushing towards her.