11:00 P.M., THE NIGHT BEFORE
Dane wanted to stake the vampire he was being forced to carry to his tub.
Oh—Dane had nothing against the vampires in his master’s retinue, but he did have something against the murderer of Hallow, his beloved.
No one knew of Dane’s relationship with the witch. No one knew that he intended to mate with her—to father a pup with her. The way Dane looked at it, Compton had stolen his family!
The only thing that had been holding him back from getting Hallow pregnant before had been his loyalty to Russell. As Alpha, he needed his master’s permission in order to father a Were for the pack. He figured that after the battle—after Hallow had proved her worth yet again—he would be in the position to ask.
Of course, the Were knew that Hallow had been having affairs with others. But it did not bother him so much. He was not of a jealous nature. And she was a sexual being. However, Dane knew where her love lay, and it was with him.
“Fucking vampire,” he muttered as he took Compton to his room and threw him into the tub. But then he paused as he remembered that Russell always traveled with what he called a torture coffin. Almost impenetrable from the outside without a key, the coffin was made mainly of reinforced steel, but was inlaid with silver. And Dane had a key to it.
He looked down at Compton. “I am going to ask my master if I might place you in a special coffin for the night,” Dane smiled, hoping Russell would agree.
Bill choked out a sob. “I deserve no less.”
8:00 P.M., THE NEXT NIGHT
Jennifer Rigans sat looking at the fallen building in stunned silence. She’d been there all day, having been in the process of returning to the hotel after running a special errand for her master that morning. The day before, Russell had asked her to pick up a present he’d ordered for his consort, for—in addition to it being Russell’s day of ascension—it was also his anniversary with Talbot.
As a human in the retinue, Jennifer had been assigned a room on one of the lower floors of the hotel and had left at 7:30 a.m. to meet the plane that was bringing the gift.
By the time she’d gotten back, it was too late for her to do anything.
“Ms. Rigans?” said the policeman, who’d had to literally hold her back from trying to enter the building right after the first blast had gone off.
“Um—a coffin’s been found. Uh—almost intact.”
“What?” Jennifer asked rising to her feet.
“Um—it has the initials R.E. etched onto it.”
Jennifer gasped. “Show me!’
7:00 A.M., THE PREVIOUS MORNING
Even from his coffin, Bill could hear the Were guard trying to get off the floor of their suite. But the Were failed.
Of course, Talbot was asleep for the day; however, the silver had prevented Bill’s sleep.
Though Bill’s room was not locked, the Were had not bothered to rouse him—not that he would have had any advice or help to give. In truth, Bill was still incredibly weak from being tortured. And he was weaker still from feeling his blood tie with Russell die in his chest.
Both he and Talbot had cried out in agony at the same time.
An hour after that, Bill was still in pain, but Talbot had recovered enough to start trying to enact what he called “Plan B.” However, apparently, Plan B had required a phone and Talbot couldn’t access one.
Talbot hadn’t dared leave the suite, and he had fallen into his day sleep after feeding from Hadley and locking himself into his room.
8:15 P.M. THAT NIGHT
“Yes. This coffin may hold my employer,” Jennifer said. “I’ll take custody of it.”
The officer paused but then agreed.
“Okay, but you will need to catalogue the name if there is a survivor in there,” he added, handing Jennifer a scrap of paper with a phone number on it. Call this number if you have any luck.
“Likely the vampire was incinerated,” Jennifer returned sadly, “but I will log it.”
TWENTY-FOUR HOURS LATER
Jennifer knew protocol. She also knew that the coffin likely held a prisoner—unless Russell had learned of the impending bomb and gotten into the one container that might protect him, despite its original purpose.
She prayed that he was inside of the metal box—inside and intact.
No matter what, however, any vampire inside the box would need to feed. And that was why she was secure behind silver bars in one of Russell’s secret lairs in Michigan. She’d paid two random people very well to open the box as she watched.
They did so cautiously.
But they were met by the teeth of a hungry vampire—though not the one Jennifer had wanted to see.
I couldn’t do this nearly as well without Kleannhouse and Sephrenia. Thanks ladies!