Authors: The Devil's Trap [In Darkness We Dwell Book 2]
The Devil’s Trap
by Honoria Ravena
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or
persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
The Devil’s Trap
Copyright© 2011 Honoria Ravena
Cover Artist: Dara England
Editor: Clarissa Yip
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in reviews.
Dedicated to Debra
We’ve been through the dark days, girl.
Here’s to future success.
I thrust the knife straight into the vampire’s chest. He didn’t make a sound. His eyes widened in shock as he slid down the wall. I knelt beside him and twisted the knife viciously. I needed to make sure I completely dissected the heart. He was young, so he probably couldn’t heal the first wound. However, there was no need to take chances.
I checked for a pulse and found none. If he had been older, I would have cut off his head for good measure, but he was too young to survive a blow to the heart. I pulled out the knife, wiped the blood off on the vamp’s pants, and stood.
The hairs on the back of my neck rose as my psychic alarms went off. Shit, just what I needed, a vampire catching me killing one of its own.
“If we weren’t old friends, I’d kill you for that, Regan.” The tip of something sharp pressed into my back, probably one of Alaric’s swords. “Now turn around nice and slow.”
My lips twitched as I tried to hold in a smile. I hadn’t seen Alaric in a long time. It wouldn’t be appropriate for a vampire hunter to be seen being friendly with her prey now, would it?
I dropped the knife and lifted my hands. “Old friend? I didn’t know you considered me a friend these days, Alaric.” The last time we’d been around each other he’d ordered me out of his house after I went for his brother, Jairdan, with a knife. The youngest of the family, Misha, had threatened to kill me if he ever saw me again.
I missed them every damned day.
“Yeah, don’t tell the other vampires we’re friends. I’ll be ostracized.”
The smile I’d tried to hold in broke across my face as I turned and set my gaze on him for the first time in far too long. “Definitely.”
He rolled his eyes and slowly lowered his sword. “What are we going to do with your friend there? Can’t you kill at someone else’s party? I’m tempted to let the vampires downstairs have at your ass.”
I crossed my arms over my chest. “Look, he was a mark. I can’t help where he happens to get wild. I got paid for it. You want a percentage or something?”
He nodded. “Yep, sure do.”
I grabbed the dead man’s foot. “Well, you’ve got it then. Stop bitching and help me get rid of this body.”
Alaric bent and seized his other ankle. He gave a low whistle. “What did he do? He’s not that old.”
“He was the child of a vampire named Zarek. Zarek’s death is the real goal, but I’ve been given permission to take out any of his spawn if they won’t give me information on him. For every one I kill, I get a little bonus. Someone hates Zarek’s ass. I plan on killing a lot of his fledglings before I get to him.”
I didn’t tell Alaric about the proverbial carrot my new employer had dangled in front of my nose as further incentive to take the job. He’d informed me that Zarek knew where to find the man who had murdered my parents. He also may have been involved in their deaths.
Alaric’s face went completely blank. All the blood drained from it and sweat appeared on his upper lip. He dropped the foot and backed away from the dead vamp.
“What?” I’d never seen Alaric react like that. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was scared. Nah.
“I won’t have anything to do with this, Regan. Get rid of this fucking body and don’t try to take down Zarek. I’m warning you, you don’t want what’ll come your way if you go after him.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Rage flared in his eyes. “It means, you stupid child, that Zarek is ancient. The longer the vampire has been around, the more power he gains, and I couldn’t even guess at how long he’s been alive. He’ll gut you like a fish, and me, for that matter, if I’m involved in the murder of one of his fledglings. He’s incredibly protective of his own.”
Alaric threw up his hands and backed away, shaking his head. “I didn’t see you, and you didn’t see me. Drop this job.”
He pivoted with military precision and stalked off down the hallway. I hurried after him and grabbed his arm.
“Come on, Alaric. Talk to me. You’ve clearly got information I need. I’ve gone after powerful vamps before. You never flipped out.”
He gripped the bridge of his nose like I was giving him a headache. Could vampires get headaches? I didn’t think so.
“You don’t understand. He’s the second-oldest known vampire. The first is somewhat of a recluse. Even our king wouldn’t fuck with Zarek. He’s got incredible powers. Some say even beheading won’t kill him.”
He shrugged. “Personally I think that’s bullshit. We aren’t truly immortal, but maybe his powers allow him to regenerate losing his head. You can’t beat him. You’ve only been fighting for ten years compared to his thousands.”
I tossed my hair over my shoulder and put my hands on my hips. “I’m the best out there. You know the kind of money I get paid to do my job?”
“It doesn’t matter, Regan. You’ve been hurt before by the old ones you’ve taken down, and they are nothing in comparison. Don’t get cocky.”
“What if I took backup?”
“And risk other people? That’s not your style.”
He was right. The only people I ever took on hunts were my brother and my lover, Nate. They were the ones I wanted to lose the least, but both could handle themselves in a fight and would be pissed if I tried to protect them. “Good point. Don’t worry about me. If the job looks that dangerous after a fight with him, I’ll back out.”
“If you get the chance.”
I frowned at him. “So, if he’s invincible, surely you won’t mind telling me where to find him?”
The frustration drained from his eyes, and his face became a guarded mask, like he didn’t want me to know what he was thinking. “I know we’ve had our differences lately, but I don’t want you dead. You’re a nuisance, but when I look at you, all I see is the little ten-year-old girl I saved from some bad vampires way back when. No, I won’t tell you where to find him. I’m tempted to use some vampire powers on you to make you forget this whole venture, but your own powers are too strong for that.”
He turned and walked away again. “Now get out of my house.”
I stood outside Zarek’s bar four hours later. In spite of Alaric trying to keep me away from Zarek, I had found him. After I’d discovered how dangerous he was, it wasn’t hard to get some old enemies to give me his location. They wanted me dead, and everyone thought Zarek was a good way of achieving that.
I tried not to let my doubts worm their way into my mind. They had all started shaking in their boots when I told them who I was going after. When vampires were scared of one of their kind…well, I’d never actually seen that before. It couldn’t be good.
The magic brushed over my skin. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I didn’t want to go in. Fortunately, I knew it was the spell influencing me. It compelled humans to stay away and kept the club hidden from the authorities.
I passed through the barrier, but the feeling of dread didn’t subside. It took an incredible amount of power to hide a place like The Devil’s Trap. I rolled my shoulders, trying to unclench the muscles. It wasn’t necessarily him. A great witch could have done it too.
I walked through the dark, smoky bar. The party here was in full swing. The bass of the heavy metal music pounded in my chest like a second heartbeat. The rotating and flashing lights were disorienting and blinding. The smell of reefer smoke, cigarette smoke, and incense was cloying and stuck to the back of my throat. The dance floor was packed with undulating bodies.
I passed by the niche closest to the door in time to witness a woman shoving a needle into a vein in her arm. I curled my lip in disgust. I could never be an IV-drug user. Needles gave me the heebie-jeebies. Wow, the police would have a field day in here.
A few dimly lit alcoves had couches that were occupied by couples engaged in kissing and various acts of foreplay. A woman who had to be a hooker was sucking off a shirtless man with a beer gut. I grimaced. Why was it never the men you wanted to see topless?
I shook my head and shoved my way through the crowd. I glanced around for a place to sit, but the only spot I dared to take a seat was the bar area. It was well-lit and while there were plenty of people ordering, it wasn’t too crowded on the left side.
There was no way to move without getting brushed by heaving bodies. I took a deep breath and tried not to freak out. I wasn’t a fan of being trapped or having people touch me.
My power sparked across the auras of the “people” I bumped into, earning me a few curious looks and making my skin itch. So much for sneaking in unnoticed. Almost no one here was human. Most were vampires. A few were wereanimals. I pushed against the bodies, trying to hurry past them. I couldn’t seem to get enough air.
I reached the wooden bar and slid onto a sleek black stool with a groan of relief. In front of me, a shirtless vampire buffed the countertop, muscles flexing with each circle he made. Now this was a guy you actually dreamed about seeing naked. He was built like a god. Every muscle toned to perfection. He had probably been a big, chiseled guy before, and vampire blood washed away any flaws he might have had as a mortal. His raven-black hair gleamed in the lights. He was the perfect thing to bring in young women for a bite on the neck.
I sighed in pure feminine pleasure. Just because he was a vampire didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate the view. But, a black aura and raw vampiric strength bled from him. He would have been jump-his-bones hot if his power didn’t creep over my skin like spiders. I suppressed a shudder. No matter how enticing their form, vampires always made my skin crawl.
His gaze met mine, and I drew in a breath. He had the most gorgeous violet eyes. They were filled with an ancient intelligence. His lips curled into an amused grin, as if he knew I was ogling his body.
I frowned. It annoyed me that he read me so easily. I shook my head. I needed to remember the real reason I was here. I was here to kill Zarek, not drool over some gorgeous vampire. I was in a den of evil creatures, and he was one of them. Now really wasn’t the time to do any lusting.
The smile widened and he raised his voice over the music. “What can I get you?”
He had a subtle accent I couldn’t identify, and the deep, growling bass made my toes curl. It soothed my nerves in spite of what he was and caused another kind of excitement to bubble in my stomach. God, this was not the right guy to get that good down-low tickle for.
I cleared my throat and leaned closer to him. “I’d like to see the owner.”
The smirk turned wicked and suggestive. “I’m Zarek. I’m the owner.” He scanned my body, eyes finally resting on my throat. The scrutiny made me flush and wish I could hide my neck. Unfortunately, my black tank top and ultra-short shorts didn’t leave much to cover up with. People who went into vampire clubs usually favored bare skin and a gothic appearance, so I’d been forced to blend.
Had he fed tonight? Vampires were twice as dangerous when they were hungry. The better question was, had he killed tonight? For some strange reason, I found myself hoping he hadn’t. I tried to shake the ridiculous feeling. Even if he hadn’t killed tonight, he had in the past. And even if he’d stopped, like Alaric and his brothers, it didn’t change what he was, or the fact that someone wanted him dead.
He licked his lips before meeting my gaze again, leading me to believe that he hadn’t fed. Great, I wouldn’t leave this place without giving a little blood to him, even if I ended up killing him. If a vampire wanted blood, he’d find a way to take it.
“Again, how can I help you?”
I barely kept my curse of frustration to myself. I’d hoped to meet with him in private. Fighting to the death in the middle of his bar was a bad idea. Particularly since it was filled with supernatural beings who would come to his aid.
God, this was not going to go well. I would have to use my incredibly inept flirting to lure him away.
I twirled a strand of hair around my finger, careful not to pull the short, black wig off my head, and I bit my bottom lip. “There are just so many things you could help me with.”
Dropping my hand from my hair, I ran it lightly down my cleavage. I must look ridiculous.
His eyes darkened as he watched the movement. “Like what, darlin’? Get specific.”
Get specific? A flush crept into my cheeks as my mind scrambled to come up with something sexy to say. I crooked my finger at him, and he leaned close to me. His warm breath brushed the crook of my neck, and my heart rate tripled. I was positive he could hear it.
I mentally shook myself. I wasn’t a blushing virgin. I could do this. I ran the hand that was resting at my chest down my torso before I slipped my hand between my legs and cupped my pussy.
“I was thinking we could go in the back room. You could pull my panties off with your teeth and ease this ache I have.”
“And how do you want me to do that?”
My blush burned hotter. How? Was he dense? He leaned back enough to meet my gaze. No, he wasn’t dense. He wanted me to say it.
“You could bend me over your desk. Fuck me from behind. Please? I’m dying for you.”
His gaze burned into mine. I was caught in his vibrant eyes, falling into a great chasm. My gaze darted to his mouth, and I licked my lips. They tingled with the need to kiss him. He’d be a great kisser. His lips were full, but not to the point of being feminine. He had the confident air of a guy who knew exactly what he was doing and he knew he did it well. I could have just a little taste of him.
Just as I was about to give in and close the distance between our mouths, he interrupted my thoughts.
“Maybe you should let me feel this ache? Just so I can make sure it’s not life-threatening.”
“Here?” My voice came out breathy. He had to be kidding? A surge of anger flared in my chest, and I had to smother it. To him I was a common slut hitting on a man she’d just met, who’d been pretty damned brazen so far. He wanted to know how far he could push me.
He nodded and waved his hand in my face. “You’d better guide me. I’m not sure I’ll find it otherwise.”
Bastard. He was really enjoying this. At least he’d destroyed any thoughts of romantic kissing. It all came down to how far I was willing to go to get this job done. Pretty far. I’d go to any lengths to rid the world of evil, and from what I’d heard about him, Zarek definitely fell into the “evil” category. Plus, it would be the biggest payday I’d ever gotten.