Today’s Snippet comes from GODDESS WITH A BLADE!
GODDESS WITH A BLADE by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2011, Lauren Dane
All rights Reserved, Carina Press
As they approached the rear of the lot where Rowan’s car was parked, she felt it. Felt the danger and the darkness of a Vampire approaching. She put her hand out to stay Thena. “I want you to go inside the restaurant right now. Don’t come out here. I’ll come in and get you when I’m finished.”
Thena froze, knowing better than to second-guess Rowan. “All right. But if you get killed I’m gonna hunt you down and kick your ass. Stupid fucking Vampires.”
Rowan stood still, listening, gathering, making sure Thena got inside safely. Then she moved quickly off the pavement to the bare ground behind the restaurant. She’d be better able to pull power from the earth there instead of on the asphalt.
In an economic movement, she reached back and grabbed the hilt of the blade. It warmed to her touch instantly, knowing her master. Rowan moved her wrist slightly, pulling the blessed blade from the custom sheath. The sound rang through the air. A beautiful, clear ring as it cleared the leather that bound it. That ring was the only sound now. No traffic. No insects, no birds. Nothing but death.
The Vampire approached on the wind. She’d be ready for it.
She rotated her wrist and the blade sang as it cut through the air. Rowan spread her feet apart and tipped her head back. Opening herself up, she took a deep breath, found her center and called to the Goddess. Reaching down and out, she pulled the strength and will from the earth and the air.
Everything inside her stilled. Her heart sped and then slowed, her blood thickening. Then, quicksilver, heat began to slide up her legs. Electric sensation made her fingertips tingle and her scalp itch.
White-hot light exploded outward and turned itself inside again, the power filling her up just shy of overflowing. A thousand voices filled her head, countless memories and visions swam across her vision. She was many and one. All and nothing but a servant of what was right and just.
When she opened her eyes, it was with the queer sense of double vision Rowan always had when the Goddess filled her. As if Brigid herself was just under Rowan’s skin. And that was true in a way. Brigid blessed her with her strength and her presence and not a moment too soon because the Vampire alighted to his feet in front of her.
There was no wind but Rowan’s hair moved on the breeze of her power. It surged through her body, building in her muscles. She’d be strong and fast. Unbeatable. And supremely pissed off. This Vampire had no idea what he was fucking with.
Which told her this was not her killer.
“Vampire, why are you here?” Her voice was deeper than normal and it vibrated with otherworldly strength.
The Vampire stared at her a moment, not knowing if he should be afraid or not. A trickle of bloodlust slid through Rowan’s gut, anticipating his fear when she drew his attention to the blade. For the moment, she let him speak.
“You are meddlesome, bitch, so I’ve come to take care of a problem.”
He didn’t feel immensely old. The old ones like The First and those of his age felt so very cold and empty. And they had a certain scent, almonds. Even now that she knew the whole story of her parents’ death, the scent of almonds comforted her. Still, this Vampire was dangerous enough and she wouldn’t forget it.
“Have you now?” Rowan moved and with a quick turn of her wrist made the blade sing. A song of death.
The Vampire noticed and she laughed. “Ahh, he didn’t tell you what to expect? Or does he not know? Hmm.” She cocked her head as they continued to circle one another. “Lazy. You’ve come here expecting a feeble little human. You deserve to die for being so careless.”
“You are a feeble little human.” But his voice didn’t sound so sure.
To underline her point she moved in and sliced through the tendons in his forearm. The blessed blade left a sizzling line of scarlet in her wake.
His scream only filled her with pity. She reined in her desire to mess with him and decided to question him instead.
“Now that I’ve got your attention, why don’t you tell me who you are?”
He moved and so did she, warily dancing and looking for weakness.
“I’m Charles Rossinni. And you’re going to die.”
She stopped and wrinkled her nose. “Is that the best you’ve got? Listen, Chuck, since I’m going to have to slay you and all, I’ll give you a tip. When in doubt and out of scary material, just flash fang. Less is more when it comes to this stuff. That’s way more frightening than hackneyed movie phrases.”
Angered, he lunged at her and she ducked neatly, slicing the other arm. The scent of his blood painted the air.
“You can do this the easy way. Tell me why you’re here and I show you mercy and slay you quickly. Or the hard way, I slash and stab, stab, stab you until you tell me anyway. Oh, don’t look shocked! I was The First’s foster daughter. Any conscience I may have had over killing, he snuffed out at a very early age. Lucky for you, I got some mercy from my mother. Not enough to let you walk away from trying to kill me, but enough to kill you quick. If you cooperate.”
He lunged at her again and grabbed her hair this time. Damn it, she’d have to keep it in a ponytail more often. One of his nails dug into her neck and she felt the warm ooze of her blood on her skin.
Her lip curled. “Gross. I hope your shots are up to date.”
He moved quickly, knocking her off her feet but she countered just as fast and rolled, jumping to stand again in short work.
His fist shot out and connected with her cheek in a solid punch, raking his nails over the flesh as he pulled back. The sting made her eyes water.
Now she was really pissed off. He’d punched her and blooded her twice. His nails had delivered a nasty shot of Vamp chemicals almost like venom. She was immune to the killing effects of it but it still hurt like hell.
As he continued to attack her, circling and lunging, it became clear he wasn’t going to tell her anything. Ah well, she needed to move this along then.
Preternaturally fast, he lunged, lifting slightly off the ground but she ducked, kicking out, rewarded with the satisfying snap when she connected with his knee. The air rushed out of him in an oath when he hit the ground.
Spinning, she connected the heel of her hand to his nose, knowing she’d broken it when she heard the crunch. She followed with the hilt of the blade to his windpipe.
His choking sounds in her ears, she turned, facing east, knowing the time had come. Murmuring a blessing, she brought the blade to her lips and kissed it at the hilt.
Sensing her distraction, he attacked her from behind but she was faster than he knew. A deft movement of her wrist and arm brought the blade up as she spun to the side. A croak of surprise came from him as the long blade embedded in his chest. The stench of his blood and burning flesh from the surface of the blade making contact filled the air.
“Die well, Vampire. I hope death brings the peace you could not find in life.”
His shocked expression changed, softened, and his body turned to dust around the blade.
Rowan knelt on the earth and touched her forehead to the ground in thanks for the gift of strength, will and agility. She felt the Goddess drain from her, leaving behind healing and peace of mind.
Standing, muscles burning and jumping from the rush of possession, battle and Brigid’s power leaving her body, Rowan realized the sounds of the world around her had returned.
Leaning down, she cleaned the blade on a patch of grass. She’d do a more thorough job when she got home but the earth would help cleanse the blood and taint from it in the meantime. Moving her hair to the side, Rowan slid the blade into the sheath and walked back toward the restaurant to get Thena and get back to Vegas.
Megan Hart:Read in bed!
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