The Shadows(Black Dagger Brotherhood, book 13)(56) by J.R.Ward
“Left!” Xcor said, leaning into the turn.
His thigh was going numb, but he didn’t waste time glancing down to measure any damage. That would come later, assuming he survived.
Another bullet came close, the sound as it whistled by his ear loud enough to overpower even his sawing breath and thunderous boots.
Balthazar was right beside him, that big body going at a dead run.
More discharges pinged off of a Dumpster as they passed it. Off the brick wall. Off the pavement. From time to time there were pauses, as if the gun or guns were being reloaded—or mayhap there were a pair of them working together, one handing off the ammo as the other shot.
Keep going. It was all they could do.
None of the alleys they were coming upon offered anywhere meaningful to hide; in fact, there were not even doors to break through.
It was strictly a question of outrunning the number of rounds the shooters had brought with them. Assuming he and his fighter didn’t get gunned down first.
As the next rounds came at them, he knew without looking over his shoulder that it had to be the enemy and not humans in pursuit.
Only slayers could run this fast, this far … and appear to have energy stores sufficient to keep going.
It was possible, he noted in the back of his mind, that he and his soldier might be in trouble.
“The check has been taken care of.”
Trez paused in the process of taking his wallet out. “Excuse me?”
“It’s been taken care of.” The waiter smiled and bowed. “It has been our pleasure to serve you.”
Jesus, if he hadn’t known the guy was human, he’d have assumed one of Fritz’s staff had followed them here. The service had been phenomenal all night.
“Enjoy your cappuccinos at your leisure.”
Trez looked across at Selena. Her eyes were on the view again, but she was not smiling. Her perfect profile was cast in grave lines.
Reaching over, he took her hand in his, a spike of fear going through his chest. “You all right?”
Surreptitiously, he ducked into his coat and palmed up his cell phone.
“Oh, yes.” Except she didn’t look at him.
The soft patter of conversation around them dimmed down and the striding movements of the waiters disappeared from his periphery.
“Selena, what’s going on?”
“I don’t want it to be over.”
“We can come here again.”
“Yes.” She squeezed his hand. “Of course.”
As the restaurant continued to turn, turn, turn, the Commodore’s flank came around into view again, the building’s tall expanse speckled with random lights—including some in the penthouse.
Guess Rehv was in res.
Trez looked down at the coffee cup he hadn’t touched. The steam rising up was spiced with cinnamon, which he’d never been a fan of. He’d ordered it only because his queen didn’t seem to want to leave.
“It was so nice of them,” she murmured. “To pay for dinner.”
“I’ma take care of that when I get home.”
“You should let them be kind.”
Trez searched what he could see of her body, looking for signs that she was having problems that would require a quick call downstairs to Manny and Rhage.
She shook herself and glanced over. “I’m sorry?”
“You want to order another dessert?”
“No.” She gave his hand another squeeze before releasing her hold and folding her napkin and placing it on the table. “Shall we?”
He popped out of his chair to help her so fast, the four feet squeaked over the glossy floor. “Here, let me—”
But his queen rose to a stand on her own with an elegant shift, her body perfectly stable, perfectly at ease. At least physically, that was. He could sense the weight of her mood.
Escorting her out, he was aware of the eyes of the room on them once again, hushed comments being uttered behind the rims of wineglasses and the squares of napkins as the humans tried to place them upon the grid of celebrity. There was satisfaction to be had in the fact that the peanut gallery would never be able to.
At the great glass doors, he opened one of the panels for her, and as she stepped through, she paused and stared over her shoulder, as if she were worried she would forget some nuance of the way the place looked or smelled or sounded.
“We can always come back,” he repeated.
She flashed a smile at him and continued out into that minimalist open space where the elevators were. Going ahead, he hit the down button and then stood next to her, putting his hand on the small of her back.
“So where do you want to go next?” he asked.
“You mean tonight? I’m rather tired—”
“No. Tomorrow night.”
She glanced over at him. “I…”
“Come on. Give me the next destination so I can get things ready for sundown tomorrow.”
The elevator doors opened, and he urged her inside—and he was so focused on her, he barely noticed that hideous glass wall that was open to the lobby. Pressing the L button, he stroked Selena’s shoulder.
“So…?” When she didn’t reply, he leaned in and kissed the side of her throat. “This is not the only night we’re going to have.”
“How do you know that.” She met his eyes. “I don’t want to ruin this, but how do you know?”
“Because I won’t have it any other way.”
Turning her to face him, he deliberately put his hips against her body and dropped his lips to hers. “Unless you’re sick of me. Or seriously unimpressed by my being a vertical pussy.”
Her eyes seemed very blue and very scared as they met his. “Boat.”
He’d expected something else. “I’m sorry?”
“I, ah, I want to go on a boat ride on the river.”
“Fast or slow?”
“You got it.”
“Just like that?” she whispered. “Can you make everything happen?”
He put his mouth to her ear and whispered, “Come back to my room and I’ll show you just how talented I am.”
As her scent changed, he nuzzled her, kissing her neck, nipping over her vein. He wasn’t playing fair, of course. He knew that she was likely to get distracted, and he wanted her to be. In fact, he couldn’t guarantee her tomorrow night or even the coming dawn, but like forever memories, the illusion of them having all that time had to stand in for whatever fate had waiting for them.
Kissing her, holding her, feeling her body against his own, he discreetly took out his phone and brought it up behind her back. The text to Manny and Rhage was short and to the point: Owh tx.
On way home. Thank you.
The elevator reached the lobby just fine, and all the kissing helped him stay good and distracted, too. And then they were walking out of the building, into the cold, blustery fall night. Fritz was across the street in the Mercedes, and the doggen brought the car over the second he saw them.
There was no waiting for the butler to get out and do the duty with the door.
Trez wanted to be the one to wait on her.
Just as she was sliding into the warm interior, the last sound he ever wanted to hear when she was in his presence caught his attention:
Trez jumped into the sedan with her, and jacked up between the seats. “Get us out of here! U-ie now!”
Fritz didn’t miss a beat. Throwing the S600 into reverse, he pounded the gas so hard Trez nearly ended up playing air freshener on the rearview. Recovering fast, he covered Selena with his body—so he could get to her seat belt. Yanking the band across her, he’d just gotten the catch home when centrifugal force threw him against the opposite side of the backseat, ringing his bell—but he didn’t give a shit. Bracing his feet against the wheel wells and his palms against the roof and the door frame, he kept himself from battering Selena as they finished the spin that got them pointed in the right direction.
Make that the wrong way on the one-way they’d come in on.
“Let us proceed,” Fritz shouted over the squealing tires.
The roar of the Mercedes-Benz engine and the explosion forward reminded Trez of an airplane takeoff. And as his body was sucked into the bucket seat, he looked over at Selena.
Her eyes were popping wide. “What’s wrong? What happened?”
The buildings on either side of the three-lane road were steel and glass and pale concrete, and they started to flash by, faster, faster, faster. Glancing up in the front, Trez checked the road ahead, the grilles of the parked cars facing them like disapproving parents as they went in the wrong direction.
“Nothing’s up!” he yelled over all the noise. “I’m just really excited to get you naked—”
Selena’s brows rose even higher. “Trez, I heard something—”
“—’cuz I’m that desperate to have you!”
“—that sounded like a gun!”
They were both hollering over the engine, going back and forth as Fritz bat-out-of-hell’d it away from all the bullets.
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