Home > Bane (Vampire Apocalypse, #1)(5)

Bane (Vampire Apocalypse, #1)(5)
Author: H.M. Ward

“Look for yourself,” Will answered. Kahli’s eyes shifted between the two as they spoke, but she couldn’t focus on what they were saying. The only thing she knew was that they were talking about her. She decided that she would kill the man in the coat as well. He was handling her like she was an animal and she didn’t like it.

The man in the black coat lowered his dark eyes to her arms. His smooth fingers pushed back her filthy sleeves, looking for inkings. When he found one, he looked at Will sharply, and squeezed her arm, “What’s this? You said she was wild.”

Will leaned against the wall, his hands in his pockets. “It’s fake. Like the one from a few years ago. She’s the real thing. Examine her all you want, Reggie. It’s not going to change what she is.”

The man’s back straightened. He dropped Kahli’s hand and rose. His lips were thin, and ghostly pale. “Have you such utter disrespect for everyone? Or is your tone reserved for me alone?”

Will smiled and pushed himself off the wall. He hopped two steps to Kahli, and lifted her up. Kahli felt his hands slide under her as he lifted her like she was weightless. His scent lingered in her head. Will set her down on the ledge where she’d been sleeping. The piece of bread fell from her fingers as she stared blankly at him with a how-could-you look etched across her face. Will’s eyes swept over her, but lingered for half a second too long. He almost seemed sorry, but Kahli knew the drugs were making her see things that weren’t real.

Will turned back to the vampire who required respect. Many had died as a result of lesser things. Will’s taunting nickname for the man was used with discretion. It was a way to distract him from seeing what was really going on. And that was something Will couldn’t afford to lose.

“Regent Reginald is a bit of a mouthful,” Will’s eyebrow twitched once as he looked at the vampire. “And there are other buyers that will take her with her fake inkings and sell her on the black market without a second thought. So,” Will said, moving away from Kahli and extending his arm toward the door, showing Reginald the way out, “if she’s not to your liking, that’s fine by me. There’s another coming who’ll want her just the way she is.”

Reginald’s wide mouth pulled into a curved slit, like a caught fish. “I didn’t say that I wouldn’t take her, Will.” His hands were so white that Kahli thought he was wearing gloves. He turned to Kahli again. Sweeping his black eyes over her body, he turned sharply and moved to the door. “Done.”

Before Kahli knew what was happening, Will walked off with the man in the black coat. Four other men entered the room and moved in around her. They spoke to each other, but she didn’t understand what they said. They reached out for her, shoving their calloused hands around her arms and pulled her from the room. Kahli’s arm was still tender, but the jerky movements didn’t cause it to bleed. She yelped as they dragged her outside in the cold.

The frozen snow crunched under her bare feet. The wind tore through her ragged clothing, chilling Kahli to the bone. She looked wildly around for help, but there was none. Without a word of explanation, the men hoisted her up into a truck. The metal was warmer than the snow, but she’d still freeze to death back there. Her mind was foggy and her teeth wouldn’t stop chattering. When they rolled up the back door of the truck, Kahli could see rows and rows of cages filled with exotic animals. They were animals that only lived in warm parts of the world—warm parts that no longer existed.

Kahli gasped, as she was shoved head first into a black metal cage. Before she got to her feet, the hinges creaked shut and the lock clicked. Kahli wrapped her fingers around the metal bars and immediately released them. They turned white hot, heating her cage while the base remained cool. The men that had hoisted her into the truck jumped down one by one. They turned their hunched backs and returned to the building in front of her. Kahli stared at the letters on the side of the building. The exterior door to the truck suddenly rolled closed, leaving Kahli alone in the inky darkness.


A cornucopia of sounds surrounded her in the darkness. Eventually Kahli’s head became clear and she realized that the creatures surrounding her should not exist. The truck bounced along the road like they were driving over fallen logs. The jolts shook Kahli in her cage. She tried to keep from slamming her butt into the bottom of the cage every time they hit a bump, but it was no use. There was nothing to hold onto. The bars surrounding her were heated somehow. That was the only thing that kept her from freezing to death. If she held onto them to keep from bouncing around, she’d burn her hands. Peering through the darkness Kahli watched the animals, wondering what she had in common with them. Why would someone who collected animals that were supposed to be extinct want her? Kahli rested her head on the cage floor, trying not to lay on her bad shoulder. Just as her eyelids were growing too heavy to keep open, the truck stopped. Voices filled the air. She sat up, straining to hear.

She caught the middle of a sentence, by the time the masculine voice wandered to the back of the truck. “…in here? This is the Queen’s land and you know damn well that this kind of vehicle is forbidden. Regent Reginald or not, I can’t allow you to pass this…”

Kahli understood the condemning tone. She’d snuck up on enough Trackers at camp to hear them speaking to one another in that fashion. It was the tone of someone tested to their limit—someone who could be pushed to the breaking point. Someone who could free her. Without another thought, Kahli screamed, “LET ME OUT! YOU CAN’T KEEP ME IN HERE!” she continued to shriek until the man talking fell silent. He heard her.

Something banged into the back door of the truck and Kahli fell silent, “You said there wasn’t nothing illegal back there. Shit man! You stole a human?”

Reggie’s voice was eloquent and scary as hell. “I have stolen nothing. I am not hunting on the Queen’s property. Only a fool would do that. We’re passing through.” His voice was on the other side of the door. He spoke like he knew the man questioning him.

“You’re the fool. You’ve done that one times too many, already. I can’t let you pass without looking back here.” He tapped the roll down door. It echoed inside the rear of the truck making Kahli’s ears ring. “Open it up.” A moment of silence passed and he added, “Now.”

When the door slid open, Kahli saw another vampire—a guard. He stood right below her and stared at Kahli in her cage, slack-jawed, before turning back to Reginald. “Are you f**king crazy? You have a truck full of exotics and a human? And you strut right in front of the Queen’s place like you’re entitled? What the hell is wrong with you?”

Reginald’s dark eyes lingered on Kahli in her cage. He didn’t blubber or try to make excuses. No one was permitted to own a human. They were too rare. It finally felt like she could think a little. That’s what the truck was filled with—things that vamps weren’t allowed to have. He’d bought her for his collection, or some deranged variation of that idea. His black coat clung to the vampire’s long thin body. Kahli thought he was too tall. Too thin. His skin was as pale as the moonlit snow surrounding them.

When he spoke, Reginald sounded apathetic. “It would have been more out of character for me to go around. Come on, Bordon.” He addressed the guard like the man was an idiot. “You really expect me to trek a hundred and sixty miles to the south just to avoid my awful sister?” he laughed, shaking his head.

Bordon’s fat little eyes looked like they would pop out of his head. It made him appear rounder than he was. And standing next to Reggie made him appear shorter and less attractive too. His hands pressed into his temples. Shaking his round bald head, he looked up at Reginald. “You shoulda went the long way around. She’s not going to let this slide. Not this time. Not with a human in tow—”

“Then take me to the delightful woman, and let’s just be done with it.” Reginald seemed annoyed, like he had places to go, people to see, and this was an inconvenience.

The guard’s chubby chin flapped, hanging open, “You don’t want an audience with the Queen. Relinquish your cargo here, and I’ll tell them that you sent your apologies. I won’t say nothing about the girl. We’ll stick her back into one of the camps and nobody will know.”

“The hell you will,” Reginald leaned in close, his pointy nose nearly touching Bordon. He pointed back at the truck. “Those are my things. If you touch them, I’ll kill you. I’ll rip your throat out before you can even—”

Bordon rolled his eyes, ignoring the threats. “You know you can’t kill me. Queen’s protection sucks for the most part—except that. I may not be as powerful as you, but I’ve got her blood. If you decide to kill me, you gotta kill her first.”

Reginald’s nostrils flared before he straightened his back. He nodded once and plastered a huge smile across his face, “Excellent idea. Best thing you’ve said all night. Take me to the beast, and let’s be done with it.”

Bordon reached for the strap to pull down the rolling door at the back of the truck. He glanced at Kahli once and shook his head, muttering to himself.


Will managed to get back and was dressed in his best black suit before supper. The Queen demanded his presence. Taking out a comb, he smoothed back his tousled hair. Will looked in the mirror before heading down the back staircase. Some days he wondered what he was doing, if he was insane. Defying the Queen was a death wish. He shook the thoughts from his mind as he made his way through the building. The Queen’s mansion was sprawling. It stood on a lonely hill, covered in snow. There were a million passageways through the place and Will knew every single one.

Winding past the kitchens he heard a female voice call out, “Better hurry, Will! Her brother’s here again.” Will slowed and looked back at her. Rachel stood with a pot in hand, drying it with a towel. She was easy on the eyes, and completely forbidden, but it didn’t keep him from looking.

Gratefully, he answered, “Thanks. When?”

“Just now. Patrol brought him in with a truck full of exotics.” She leaned in the doorway, her slim h*ps curving into her jean-clad legs.

Will’s face paled. “Exotics?” She nodded. Fury exploded within him, but he bit his tongue. That fool. Will knew the Regent did exactly what Will told him not to do—piss off the Queen by traveling right in front of her house with a truck full of illegal animals. Will wanted to pull his hair out, but instead he smiled at Rachel and hastened his walk toward the dining hall. It was all part of the game, he told himself.

The palace was busy tonight. Servants bustled through the halls, preparing for the Queen’s party. Will didn’t know what the celebration was for this time. Maybe she got a new necklace, or maybe it was her birthday. Either way, the woman threw more parties than he cared to go to, but he had to. It was part of the agreement. Tension built in Will’s shoulders. Every step closer to the Queen made him want to scream, but when he rounded the corner he was every bit as dashing as always. A warm smile spread across his lips as he stopped at the grand archway into the dining room. The floors were white marble, and the Queen had decorated the vast room in draped turquois silk. Golden candles glowed softly, casting a romantic light throughout the room.

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