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Roaring Shadows: Macey Book 2 (The Gardella Vampire Hunters 8)

By:Colleen Gleason


~ Terror and Hope ~


Munții Făgăraș

In the Mountains of Romania

Against Victoria’s very vociferous arguments, Sebastian had insisted on being the one to wear the rings.

If he was wrong that the Rings of Jubai were all that was needed for protection, enabling the wearer to safely dip his hand into Lilith the Dark’s enchanted pool, it was only right Sebastian should be the one to find out.

After all, he’d already lost half a finger—not to mention his heart, twice—in this bloody damned vampire business. There were days…oh, many of them, he wished he had turned down the opportunity to wear a vis bulla. It would have made his life a lot less stressful, living in blissful ignorance of the undead.

And aside from all the logical arguments he’d listed for the stubborn, loud-of-volume Victoria Gardella’s benefit, Sebastian had a compelling need to be the one to test the pool. He didn’t know why—for most often, Sebastian was more than happy to take the easier course of action whenever possible. He didn’t like getting his clothing rumpled or stained.

The pool looked like glass, and the light from their dancing torches cast perfect illuminating circles over it. The water was perfectly smooth, mirrorlike in an unnatural way.

Sebastian knelt down, the uneven, rocky ground uncomfortable beneath his knees.

Victoria and their companion, another Venator named Michalas, stood guard. Neither wanted Sebastian to fall or be knocked, pulled, or otherwise introduced unexpectedly into the pool—and he sure as hell didn’t trust the three vampires Lilith had sent with them. He was thankful for Victoria and Michalas standing over him as protection so he could concentrate on the matter at hand.

“Are you certain you want to do this?” Victoria knelt next to him, her hazel eyes and lush mouth much too close.

“Of course. Never let it be said I passed up a chance to be heroic.” Sebastian managed a crooked smile. “I don’t think the pool can be very deep—it’s hardly larger than a kitchen table.”

But the water—if that’s what it was—was far from harmless. When Sebastian used a stick to penetrate the perfect reflection of the surface, the branch vibrated alarmingly in his hand. He pulled it out, droplets of water flinging everywhere like perfect spheres of mercury.

The section of the branch that had been submerged was charred and smoking.

“Well, that’s comforting,” he muttered as he moved closer to the edge. He could see every detail of his face reflected in the pool, which showed no indication its surface had just been disturbed by an inquisitive branch.

In the reflection, Victoria’s and Michalas’s heads were on either side of his shoulders, and the flames of their torches flickered yellow and orange above them.

Sebastian carefully lowered the little finger of his left hand—the hand without the five copper Rings of Jubai—to the water. He figured since that digit was already mutilated, cut off at the second knuckle, he had little to lose anymore.

When the blunt tip of his finger connected with the very top of the surface, he gasped. The pain was so incredible, he whipped his hand back immediately.

The end of his finger was black where the flesh had burned away. To his shock, he could even see the gleam of white bone in the center of the charred skin.

God Almighty.

“Let me do it.” Victoria, of course, holding out her hand. As if he was actually going to give her the rings.

“No. It’s not for you to do. The rings will protect me.” Flexing the fingers on his right hand—each one decorated by a braided band of copper—Sebastian offered a quick prayer. Hope I’m right about this.

Then he shoved his hand into the pool.

The water remained as still as glass, but his fingers penetrated with no effort. Though he felt no pain, the edge of the water seemed to slice against his arm. But when he removed his hand, expecting to see blood, there was nothing. Not even a scratch.

Nothing splattered. Instead, the substance rolled off in strange spherical drops onto the water, then were absorbed into the mirrored surface once more.

Sebastian immersed his hand once again.

The pool surged and pressed against his arm, but there was no real pain. Just an eerie awareness of its latent power. The bottom felt sandy and smooth, without the slime of seaweed or the random bump of stone.

Victoria’s hands gripped his shoulders as he inched closer to the edge. Her steadiness allowed him to reach further, but he paused for a moment, noticing the image of his face on the water—and Victoria’s just behind him.

He focused on their reflections as he blindly searched the pool until he felt something sharp and pointed. He paused, observing the shape with his fingers.

It felt like a pyramid, and was about the size of his palm, and heavy. It was not the object he and Victoria were seeking—for they were looking for an orb, not a prism.

Still…Sebastian wished he had a way to remove that hard, sharp object without being seen by their undead companions.

But he had no choice but to leave it, for the vampires watched him closely, and he continued his search with no indication of what he’d found. He concentrated by keeping his eyes focused on Victoria’s reflected gaze on the mirrored pool as he moved to the right side, where the shoreline bulged into a tiny cove.

The water was deeper here, and now it reached past his elbow.

Suddenly, something beneath his fingers gave way…almost like a door or release. It changed, somehow, under the pressure of his hand, and his arm slid up to his shoulder into the water. A pulseof some energy tripped through him—then he felt something close around his hand and wrist…like the sucking, sticky mud of a bog.

He couldn’t move. His hand wouldn’t come free; it was stuck. He forced himself to remain calm.

Something rustled in the back of his mind, near his ears…nestled in his thoughts, as if a voice was trying to speak. Sebastian blinked and shook his head, training his attention back on the reflection in front of him. He saw his face shone on the surface, and suddenly Giulia’s was behind him—her long, dark hair falling over her shoulder and onto his. Giulia. Not Victoria.

Sebastian couldn’t move his hand. He couldn’t speak. Held in place, he could do nothing but stare at the reflection of the woman behind him…somehow Giulia was there.

Her lips moved. She was speaking, urgently, her familiar eyes big and dark. Save me. Sebastian, save me.

He cried out, reached out automatically behind him, somehow yanking his hand from the water and twisting to touch her, flinging the ball-like droplets every which way. They bounced back into the pool as he realized no one was there behind him.

No one but Victoria.

Giulia was gone…or was she?

He wanted nothing more than to save her.

Was there a way?


~ Of Prevarications and Secrets ~

November 1925


“You’ve heard nothing from Macey, then. It’s been nearly a week, and you’ve heard nothing.” Chas Woodmore paused with the whiskey glass halfway to his lips. “And so do you simply intend that we leave her with Al Capone?” The glass slammed back onto the bar, its contents sloshing dangerously.

Sebastian Vioget didn’t have any such compunction. He swallowed his drink—a gorgeous fifteen-year-old bourbon—in one hot gulp. Its heat rushed pleasantly through him, reminding him that he could, indeed, still feel.

If Woodmore had been an undead, his eyes would have been a blazing inferno. As it was, they nevertheless leapt with roaring fury and disdain. “You’re simply going to stand back and let this happen?”

Sebastian tightened his fingers around the whiskey bottle and considered how pleasurable it would be to smash it over the other man’s head. In the end, he didn’t. Not because he feared injuring Woodmore or starting a fight—but because it would have been a waste of good liquor.

And he would have to clean up the mess, because Temple sure as hell wouldn’t.

Aside from that, with Prohibition still limping gallantly along, it would have been costly to replace the bourbon.

If only Chas Woodmore could be replaced…by someone less difficult and angry. Why Wayren had brought the man here a few years ago—literally brought him, through some sort of time warp Sebastian didn’t quite understand—was a question to which he had yet to learn the answer. He contented himself with trust in Wayren, and the knowledge that she never did anything without a reason.

So he gritted his teeth and responded with deceptive mildness. “Let precisely what happen?”

Woodmore’s jaw moved. “I know you don’t believe Al Capone wants Macey for simple window-dressing. What I don’t understand, frankly, Vioget, is how it happened that you escaped and left her behind.”

“Capone’s thugs caught me as I came out of the church—just as dawn broke. I had no choice but to accompany them if I didn’t want to fry in the sunlight. Perhaps you feel differently, Woodmore, but the last thing I want is for Big Al to be the one who retrieves these from my damned ashes.” Vioget flexed his right hand, showing off the five copper rings that had been fused to his fingers since the day he removed his hand from the enchanted pool at Munții Făgăraș.

Woodmore’s gaze sharpened. Some of the belligerence faded from his face, replaced with interest. “So if Capone wanted the Rings of Jubai, he could have ordered his men to allow you to burn right then and there on the sidewalk. Curious.”