Home > Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel #1)(3)

Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel #1)(3)
Author: Jeaniene Frost

“Now you’re begging?” I let out a soft snort. “Don’t bother. I’m still going to punish you for what you’ve done.”

He laughed. “I have a knife in your heart and you’re still threatening me? I don’t know whether to keep laughing at you for your delusion or applaud you for your optimism.”

“If you’d listen instead, you could learn how to prevent Dagon from taking possession of your soul in two years.”

Nothing in his expression changed, though suddenly, I felt as if I were staring at a different person. A hard, dangerous one that I’d vastly underestimated. Then Ian flashed another carefree smile at me—and shoved that silver knife deeper.

I gasped when it pierced my heart. Ian tutted as if I was a child who’d merely stubbed my toe. “I warned you not to test me. Now, tell me what you know about my deal with Dagon.”

Silver twisting through the heart was one of the few ways to kill a vampire. It felt as if hot lava was being poured into me. Ian hadn’t twisted the blade, but the majority of my physical strength left me. Despite that, I kept my reply steady.

“I know I’m your only chance of escaping the deal you made with Dagon. If he’s dead, he can’t collect your soul.”

Ian let out a scoff. “If Dagon could be killed, I’d have done it myself decades ago.”

“I can kill him,” I replied, and though it might be a long shot, it was still the truth.

He rolled his eyes. “Hate to be rude—actually, that’s not true, I love being rude—but I’m far less powerful than Dagon and I bested you inside of five minutes.”

“You didn’t best me. I stopped beating on you when I realized you liked it.”

“Most enjoyable part of our time together,” he agreed. “But now I’m bored, so let me simplify things. I’m going to bash your brains in. Try to stop me, and I’ll twist this knife. Cooperate, and by the time your head heals, I’ll be gone and you can go back to scaring young vampires into obeying the ridiculous restrictions you call laws.”

Bashing my brains in would indeed work to incapacitate me. It was the same thing I’d been intending to do with him. His fist clenched. Before it could connect, I released an ability only one other person in the world knew I had.

Power flashed out, filling the basement in a blink. Ian’s expression showed the beginnings of disbelief before it, his fist, and everything else suddenly froze. Even the countless dust particles in the air now hung in suspended animation instead of floating in lazy, aimless circles.

I was the only one unaffected as time itself paused within the confines of the basement. That was the upside. The downside was the power that kept boomeranging back into me, hitting my body with invisible, painful waves before arcing out to fill the room again. Between that and the silver in my heart, my nerve endings felt like they were being hit with a blow torch. I couldn’t maintain this for long, so I had to make it count.

With Ian frozen, I used his hand to pull the knife free from my heart. Then I uncurled his fingers from its hilt and tucked the blade into my back pocket. Finally, I shoved him off me.

“That’s better,” I muttered once I felt my heart heal. Then I flipped Ian over and got to my feet. When I unfroze him from this moment, I wanted my face to be the first thing he saw.

It was tricky unfreezing a person from time without dropping my hold over the entire room. That’s why I started slow and only released Ian’s head. His eyes widened when he realized he was now in a completely different position than he’d been before, then narrowed when he tried to move the rest of his body and couldn’t. When he glanced around and saw the whole basement trapped in a state of suspended animation, they widened again.

“Bugger me blind,” he said softly. “Aren’t you full of surprises?”

He had no idea. “As I said, I’m your only hope of keeping your soul. Dagon might be able to freeze time, but I have that ability, too. That means his power won’t work on me, and I can also use my power to free anyone he’s caught in his time web.”

I left out the part where Dagon’s abilities were far more advanced than mine. I could freeze time in small spaces, but I couldn’t hold it for very long. Dagon could freeze time for days, and I’d heard he had once done it to an entire town.

Ian didn’t have to know that. All he had to know was that he needed me. I could imagine the wheels in his mind turning as he processed that. Once again, he didn’t let his real emotions show. They were hidden behind his half smile. The most real emotion I’d gotten out of him was his eyes widening. And his erection, I supposed.

“If I release the rest of you, will you listen, or attempt to fight me again?” I continued.

“Listen,” he said, with a new, impish smile, as if he found the prospect amusing.

“As I was saying, we have something in common, Ian . . . what is your last name?” I hadn’t been able to discover it, and I normally had extensive dossiers on the people I hunted.

“No need for formalities. They’re only for people impressed by the superficial and that’s neither of us.”

He was right, which surprised me. I hadn’t expected us to have anything in common except a hatred for Dagon.

“Then as I was saying, you want Dagon dead because that’s the only way out of your deal with him. I want Dagon dead for reasons that don’t concern you. I propose a temporary alliance so both of us can achieve our goal, but let me be clear: You would have to follow my lead and my rules. Do you agree?”

His impish smile never slipped. “Before I answer, tell me, how did you get this amazing ability? I searched for decades looking for someone of our kind with a hint of it, yet found nothing.”

You don’t want to know how I can do this, I thought grimly. And if you ever find out, I’ll have to kill you.

“That’s not important. What is important is that I can use it to counter Dagon’s time-freezing on both of us, and that means we can kill him. Do we have an agreement or not?”

“Of course,” Ian replied, as if there was never any doubt.

His tone was sincere and his bright turquoise gaze never wavered, but all my instincts told me he was lying. Even if I didn’t have those, everything I’d learned about Ian said he’d never give another person this much control over him. He must be intending to double-cross me the first chance he got.

Well, I had plans I wasn’t telling him about, too.

“Good,” I said, and released the power, which felt like it had been frying my every nerve ending. At once, heat blew from the vents again, dust particles swirled, and that oppressive pain left me.

Ian stood up and stretched as if relieving a kink. The motion almost concealed him taking in a deep breath, but I noticed because I’d been expecting him to do that.

I hid my smile. No, you don’t smell sulfur or anything else that would indicate another demon’s presence. I really am the one who stopped time the same way that Dagon can.

When he turned back to me, his cocky half smile had returned. “Now that we have an accord, where do you want to begin?”

“By leaving,” I said promptly.

Ian swept out both arms, drawing the jacket back to fully display his naked body. “Fine by me, but most people prefer that I wear trousers out in public.”

I found my gaze drawn downward, then quickly diverted it back to his face. He was smirking, which was the same as saying, Ha! Made you look.

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