Home > Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel #1)(6)

Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel #1)(6)
Author: Jeaniene Frost

“I have a way around that,” I said, then spoke a single word in Sumerian. The knife melted into a silvery puddle over the salts. Both Ian’s brows went up.

“If you can do that, why didn’t you melt that knife when I had it in your heart?”

I let out a soft scoff. “And get silver poisoning from it getting into my bloodstream?”

“That’s better than instant death if I’d have twisted it.”

I left that alone. “Hold very still,” I said, closing my eyes. “This will sting.”

Three softly spoken words later, the melted silver, blood, salt, and magic had all fused together. Eight words after that, and I didn’t need to open my eyes to know that the entire mixture was now floating in the air. Thirteen more words, and Ian let out a shout that hurt my eardrums as that magic-infused mixture slammed into his groin, instantly covering the smoky-dark patterns of Dagon’s brand.

When I opened my eyes, Ian was staring at his groin with disbelief. Dagon’s brands were now covered with an intricate pattern of red, black and silver. Those colors slowly faded as the silver, blood and salt settled in past the skin level. Within moments, the smoky brands faded, until there was no visible proof of the claim that Dagon still held on Ian’s soul.

Ian looked around the bathroom as if expecting Dagon to suddenly appear. I was braced, too, but I’d cut the locator aspect of his tie in those brands too quickly. By the time Dagon would have felt it being altered, his connection to Ian would be gone. Without that, he had no way to find Ian, unless he’d already known where he was.

But why would he? Ian had been moving around a lot and Dagon had no reason to keep tabs on him. Not when Ian had been marked with the demon’s own version of a supernatural GPS.

Still, a few tense minutes passed in silence. When those minutes continued to trickle by without a sudden blast of power indicating that Dagon had arrived, Ian finally met my gaze. Before his features slid back into their usual devil-may-care expression, I caught something new that pierced me.


A long time ago, someone else had given me hope after I’d thought myself incapable of feeling it. That’s why I knew how precious it was. It was also why I’d devoted my life to being a Law Guardian. I wanted to bring that same hope to all who suffered when the powerful took advantage of the vulnerable.

Sometimes, however, the law wasn’t enough. Dagon was a demon, so our laws didn’t apply to him. That wasn’t going to stop me. Dagon thought he’d gotten away with wrecking my life and countless other people’s lives long ago. He hadn’t. He’d just delayed his reckoning. Bringing Dagon to the justice he so richly deserved could cost me my position and my life, but those were prices I was willing to pay. Too much blood had been unavenged for too long, mine included.

That’s why I couldn’t allow myself to feel anything for Ian, even if I could relate to him on this. He’d only use my feelings against me. It had certainly happened before.

Ian wasn’t just fighting for his life. He was also fighting for his soul. Our goals might be aligned now, but the moment they weren’t, Ian would turn on me and the spell I’d cast would only protect me up to a point. After that, we’d probably fight to the death, and I had no intention of letting that death be mine.

Right now, we weren’t in a death match, so I smiled at him. As I did, I realized it was my first genuine smile in a long time. “See? Dagon can’t find you any longer.”

Ian smiled back, emerald green lighting his turquoise gaze. “That means that somewhere out there, Dagon is going insane with rage.”

Chapter 5

Dagon might not be able to track Ian through his now invisible brands, but I was still in a hurry to get out of here. Ian was right—Dagon would be beyond furious. While I relished the thought, I also recognized the danger. This bordello wasn’t too far from where Ian had made his deal with Dagon, in Minsk, Belarus. Dagon could do what I had done: start searching the more prominent whorehouses in Belarus until he found one that Ian had been to, then follow his trail from there. It had taken me two weeks because I’d had to drive from Minsk to Poland. Dagon could teleport, so his search might only take him a day.

That’s why I wanted to be away from here by nightfall. When I saw Dagon again, it would be on my terms, not his.

“Come,” I told Ian. It was past time we left.

He snorted. “Keep speaking to me as if I’m a dog and I’ll either hump your leg or bite you.”

I suppressed my urge to tell him exactly what I’d do if he tried either. In all fairness, I had been acting highhanded. If we were going to work together, I needed to treat him with the same respect I was demanding for myself.

“I’m sorry,” I said, stumbling over the word. When was the last time I’d apologized? I couldn’t remember, so obviously, it had been too long. “It’s, ah, habit. The only times I deal with vampires like you are when I arrest them or judge them. Law Guardians have to be unbending in those moments or it implies the law itself is vulnerable, which can’t happen.”

“Of course not,” Ian agreed, though his eye roll showed how little he cared about the law. Then he gave me a surprisingly serious look. “You’ve probably had to be twice as hard because you’re a woman. Can’t let the council claim your gender makes you too soft for the job, can you?”

How right he was. Sexism was alive and well in vampire society. I was older and more qualified than most of the council members, but my decisions were still challenged with far more regularity than similar ones made by male Guardians. Equally irritating was how perpetrators always attempted to run or fight when they saw me, yet many surrendered when confronted with weaker, younger male Guardians.

I cleared my throat and attempted a more conciliatory tone. “Now that you’ve reminded me of my manners, you do agree that we’re not safe here and we have to leave, right?”

He gave me a quick grin. “You’re the one blocking the door, little Guardian.”

Twenty minutes later, we were on the road. We would have left sooner, except we had to mesmerize all the prostitutes into forgetting that either of us had been there. Dagon had a lot of abilities, but he couldn’t break through vampirically altered memories. Now, this bordello was one less trail the demon could follow.

Ian had been quiet during our car ride to Warsaw, occupying himself with his mobile phone. I welcomed the silence. It gave me time to muse over the unexpected parts of today. Ian would be harder to manage than I’d anticipated. While that required adjustments, it shouldn’t require a new plan. His desire for self-preservation was strong, and that’s what I’d been counting on. With that foundation in place, I could work around the other issues—

“What the bloody hell are we doing at an airport?”

Ian’s sharp question cut through my musings. I pulled into the parking lot, which was more than half empty. This was a private airfield, so we didn’t have any of the inconveniences common with a bustling commercial airport.

“Flying,” I replied, which should have been obvious. “I chartered a plane days ago in anticipation of finding you.”

“You chartered a plane?” he repeated. “Tell me you’re joking.”

What was his problem? “You’re not afraid to fly, are you?”

“It’s boats I’m afraid of, but that’s off topic. What’s on topic is the fact that you chartered a plane with what I’ll assume is a reputable company out of an easily found private airport in a major city of the country I was last seen in. Why don’t you draw Dagon a map of where we’re going, too?”

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