Eight years ago, slayer Tuck Houston lost two of her closest friends to a Damned vampire named Josef Dragos—a beast who traded the sun for darkness and blood. She’s been hunting him since the day she walked into the carnage he created. But Josef has hidden himself well in the underground, from both slayers and other vampires
Then, slayers around the globe start disappearing in a familiar pattern —Josef’s pattern— she’s put on the hunt. And despite the painful memories and very real threat to her future that come with tracking him down, Tuck is certain of one thing: she is going to make Josef Dragos wish he’d never been born
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After making her call, Tuck relaxed back into the seat. “The fight isn’t far off. Another day or two.” She could feel his eyes on her as she looked out of her window. She turned her head to look at him, his gaze still moving from the road to her. “What
“You left something out when you were telling us of Bastien’s visit.”
Her back stiffened. “No, I didn’t. I told you everything he told me.”
His brown eyes glittered for a moment as he held her gaze, just long enough for her to realize that he wasn’t going to drop the subject.
She’d known this was coming, that the four of them weren’t going to let the conversation go. Taking a deep breath, she let it go slowly, then replied, “You don’t need to know more, Tristan. I’ve told you what you need to know for this hunt.”
His grip tightened on the wheel, and his jaw tightened as well. “Tristan, please don’t push this.”
His grip loosened, and his right hand reached out and rested on her cheek. The warmth she felt through that touch spread over her skin. “Don’t keep secrets from me, belle chasseuse. I won’t say a word to the others, but don’t keep me in the dark.”
Beautiful hunter… He’d only called her that a handful of times, but the emotion behind that title now was more potent—she could feel the affection behind the words, and that nearly brought tears to her eyes.
She held those back as she replied, “I knew something was off when I wanted Sasha to send two vampyrs to watch over the city, though I kept that from Fiona when I asked her to contact him.” Tristan’s hand left her cheek, moving it to her knee. “Shortly after she left, after I let myself process who I’d just killed, tiredness rushed through me. Tiredness that wasn’t mine. Didn’t take long to figure out a strigoi was causing it, though not Thorne.” “Bastien?” he asked softly.
“No. Once I was asleep, I opened my eyes in a dream and with me was—” she laid her hand on top of his “—Velnic Nikolai.”
Tristan stiffened—the hand on her thigh tightened slightly. When she took in his face, she saw the tension and fight to not only keep calm, but to focus on the road. The car sped up for a few seconds, getting close to the one in front of them, then it slowed back down.
“He’s not in the city, but he’s close by.” She told him about the dream and why Velnic was close to the city.
Tristan rolled his neck after she was done, cracking it. That motion drained the anger out of him, but the tight grip on her thigh told her the protective streak in him was alive and well.
“He’s here to deal with Thorne?” he asked, tone neutral. “Yes.”
He met her gaze briefly. “Is Thorne more of a threat than you’re letting on?”
Tuck sighed. “No, I didn’t hold back on that. I’m concerned of what his plan is after Josef and his son are dead, almost as concerned as I am with Penelope’s plan, but there’s nothing I can do about it—as of right now, he hasn’t betrayed me, nor has he even thought about betraying me.”
“They don’t know of his plan?”
“No, and I believe Bastien. They don’t call in Velnic without good reason—Thorne has definitely done something.”
His jaw tightened again, and his forehead creased, which told her he was fighting his anger again. She hated that she couldn’t assure him that she’d be okay, that Thorne wouldn’t harm her, but she couldn’t.
“You can’t help me with him, Tristan,” she said softly, moving in her seat so her body was more turned to him. “You can’t fight him, and you can’t keep his betrayal from harming me.”
“I know,” he said through clenched teeth. After a moment, he loosened his jaw and relaxed into the seat again. “I’ll do what I can on this hunt, what you ask of me, even if it kills me.”
Sadness swept through her at those words. Tristan would live through the fight, of that she had no doubt, but the aftermath is what he was talking about.
Her death would take a part of him.
“That would kill me, too,” she replied as she leaned back into her seat. “Whatever happens, get Ciprian out of the tunnels and someplace safe.”
“I can promise you that.”
He squeezed her hand. “What?”
“I have no intention on dying, but if something happens to me, I want you to promise you’ll take care of Penelope.” Anger coiled within her at the request, though she didn’t show it when she met his gaze briefly. “She’ll be near impossible to track, but she can’t be left to her own devices once Josef is dead. He’s her only leash.”
“We’ll see to her death—I swear it.”
As they neared the drop-off point, Tuck got her mind back on what needed to be done. This hunt wasn’t done—she had work to do—but her anger at the situation was hard to swallow. “I am going to rip that bastard apart,” she said, the slayer in her rising. “He’s going to wish he’d never crawled out his dead mother’s womb.” And his son wasn’t going to fair much better.
She could taste their deaths already.