by Jane Doe
“Oh, Lola.” Ember sang, “Why don’t you come out before I start losing my patience? Wouldn’t you rather walk out with dignity than have Tessa here use her vines to drag you out by your ankles? We’ll even let your little friends go…so long as you don’t put up a fight.”
“Lola, did I not tell you to get the hell out of here?” Deacon rumbled, cursing under his breath.
Ember turned her attention to the hulking Vampire that had spoken and smiled dryly.
“Deacon, you never planned on accepting our offer, did you?” She tutted, eyes flaming with vicious excitement. “I’ll admit, as much as your loyalty would’ve made things easier, I’d much rather watch you all burn.”
As the air around her began to shimmer with heatwaves, I had one thought.
We needed to get the hell out of here, right now.
No sooner than the statement had crossed my mind, the exit doors just a few rows behind us were torn open. Blasted so hard by a gust of wind, they slammed into the walls on either side. The deafening clatter echoed throughout the entire warehouse, while the scent of crisp air filled my nostrils.
“Really, you’re going to take the cowards way out and run?” Ember scoffed, sounding truly disappointed. “I have no intentions on chasing you, but Tessa here, she’s more than ready for a rematch.”
“Tell Bridgette the truth about what happened to me, Lola. She deserves that much.” Deacon grunted.
Dina shouted before I could, her voice even more vicious than Ember’s. “Don’t you dare, Deacon!”
Deacon then barked. “Now get the f**k out of here! ”
I could hear shuffling and knew what Deacon had in mind. He was going to attack the witches to buy us time, and for some reason, that fact didn’t sit right with me. I had no warm and fuzzy feelings for the man, but if he were willing to die for a few seconds of time, the least I could do was fight for him. There was no part of me that wanted to sit down with Bridgette and explain to her how her mate had died, so I decided I wouldn’t.
“Hold onto me.” I whispered to Tristan and Dina.
Outside, in the dead of night, there were nothing but shadows. Clinging to every tree, leaf, and dark crevice in the forest, they lingered and watched. Like a million beady eyes turning my way, I could feel their attention shift to me. When I commanded them this time around, I didn’t use words. Somehow, the shadows knew what I wanted, and didn’t hesitate to oblige.
The sound of raging wind tore past my ears, whipping my hair into a frenzy around my face, but it wasn’t air that had rushed into the warehouse. Heavy shadows, impenetrable in their absolute darkness, filled the room like a cloud of thick smoke. One minute everything was visible, the lights on the ceilings swaying back and forth slowly, and the next we were submerged in total darkness.
All I could do for Deacon was send out a silent prayer that he’d make it out safely while I hauled Tristan and Dina to the doors. It was the scent of the forest I followed, of damp soil and dewy leaves. As we ran out the back of the warehouse and a sky speckled with stars exploded into life above our heads, I caught a strong whiff of something burning.
Dina was incredibly fast, even for a Vampire. She released her hold on my spun around, staring into the blackened doorway for but a fraction of a second.
Finally, she cursed and took a deep breath.
“Let’s go.” She said darkly, looking back one last time before the three of us pressed forward.
Half a minute later the three of us were in a dark-colored minivan, whizzing down the backroads at speeds that made my stomach clench and unclench. In the back of my mind, behind the fear, angst, and guilt for Breyona’s parents, I had the urge to laugh.
Here I was, the Vampire Queen and Luna to the notorious Alpha Asher, powerful witches chasing us, but of riding in a damn car.
When I craned my head and stared out the rear windshield, my fear of the metal box we were riding in vanished. Even in total darkness, I could see the grey smoke that wafted into the sky.
Many times I’d seen plumes of smoke rising from bonfires. There was always so much, filling the air and tainting it with the scent of burning wood, but this—this was easily tenfold. A sickening feeling in my gut told me that there would be nothing left of the warehouse come morning.
Dina broke the silence, her eyes skewering me through the rearview mirror.
“You better hope my mate don’t die or I’ll hand your ass over to them witches myself.”
She sounded more than serious, enough to make Tristan stiffen in the passenger seat. His eyes paled, narrowing in her direction, but she didn’t give him the slightest hint of her attention.
There was something that pulled my eyes away from Dina and back towards the growing pillar of smoke. I thought of the Vampire’s inside, how they had been ready to evacuate but hadn’t yet left the building. Each of their faces flashed in my mind, not as friend or foe, but as innocent people with hopes and dreams of their own. Every single one of them were living on the run, never settling down, never seeking out the things they wanted most.
“He won’t die. None of them will.”
The sound of my own voice caught me off guard. I wasn’t sure what prompted me to say this, but I sounded so sure that it made me pause. A chill worked its way down my spine, so strong that I had to bite my tongue to keep my teeth from chattering.
“What did you do just now?” Dina snapped, nearly tipping the van as she hit a sharp curve without slowing. “What kind of weird ass magic was that?”
I blinked at her but didn’t respond, then matched Tristan’s confused stare with one of my own.
Dina let out a huff and rolled her eyes. “The air around you just rippled, and you’re tellin’ me you have no clue what you did just now?”
That seemed to break me out of my stupor, along with the sudden wave of fatigue that settled on my shoulders and began to slowly weigh them down. I ran my tongue along my teeth, unsure of when my mouth had become so dry.
“I wasn’t trying to do anything.” I insisted, biting back a yawn, and swiping at my eyes. “How come you could see the air ripple, but neither one of us noticed?”
“How the hell should I know?” She retorted, “I’ve always been sensitive with that kind of stuff, just like Spence has always been terrified of it. I’ve got some distant cousins living in New Orleans that practice voodoo, maybe that’s where it comes from. If it ain’t obvious, these aren’t the questions you should be asking. You look bone tired, but you didn’t five minutes ago. So clearly you were working some type of magic. I suggest you figure it out before—”
Farther up the road, a cloaked figure stepped out of the brush. I spotted the vines twisting around her arms, and felt my stomach drop as she lifted them above her head. The asphalt began to split in two, but the sound was drowned out by Tristan’s shout.
He grabbed the steering wheel and jerked it to the left, sending us veering straight into the forest.
Every muscle in my body tensed, remembering how it had felt the first time around when impact smashed into my body, flexing every bone and joint until I could feel each one hiding beneath my skin. Rather than the teeth-rattling feeling of collision, I was hit with something just as terrible.
I could feel the moment the wheels of the van left the ground and knew we were soaring through the air, narrowly missing the tree’s that whizzed by. My stomach dropped and bile filled my mouth when the nose of the van dipped towards the ground. Seconds seemed to race by without caution. Either that, or time itself had slowed.
When Tristan looked back, the pale blues of his eyes wide, I knew we were moments away from impact.
“Brace yourself.” I heard him say.
Alpha Asher by Jane Doe
Author: Jane Doe
Native Language: English