THE THEO BOURNE SERIES
Valentine’s Day turns into a nightmare when an ancient vampire burns her way through the greater Columbus, ushering in the Aztec God of Death. Theo and Carlos will have to set aside their personal problems in order to put an end to a deranged killer. But as the body count rises, they find out they’re going up against more than a vampire -– they’re going up against each other.
In the midst of the chaos, Theo faces his own personal turmoil. When Lloyd confronts Theo about his feelings, Theo isn’t sure whether his heart still belongs to Carlos or if he truly cares for Lloyd. If he wants to save the world, Theo will have to overcome his troubled heart and harness the power within.
“The overall storyline of Event Horizon is an excellent well-paced action saga blended with humor, sensual intimacy as well as snarky “take no prisoners” hero behavior” Literary Nymph, 5/5 Nymphs
“I give this 4 stars. I really enjoyed this book! And can’t wait for the next installment in the Theo Bourne Series!” Booked Up Reviews, 4/5 Stars
I thought I was drowning. There was a brief moment—when my vision turned black and my mind went blank—when I was sure I was standing in front of the devil.
How many people can honestly walk away from the devil after shaking his hand? No one. Because once you shake his hand, you never truly leave him. He has a piece of my soul. It was the price I paid to come back to life. Eventually he was going to collect the rest of his debt.
I wasn’t drowning, though, and he wasn’t here for his final pound of flesh. I cut through the water, and reality cleared in the rise of air bubbles. I started on my first lap, focusing my attention on strengthening my knee and not on the thousands of thoughts swirling in my mind. I had screwed my knee up four months ago, and even though I had been out of rehabilitation for almost two months, I still had to work on getting it back to normal.
My back was an intricate network of knots. After a long day, I just wanted to let it all drift away. The Olympic-size pool wasn’t an ocean that could carry me away on the current, though, so I kept on swimming, pushing myself as hard as I could.
There were nights when I woke up screaming. I used to think the nightmares that stalked me were bad, but now the ones that followed me, even during waking hours, were far worse. I was just a step away from becoming a monster, and the nightmares reminded me of how close I was to falling over that edge.
I hit the other side of the pool, flipped in the water, returned to the opposite end. I was able to work out the stiffness in my limbs after the first lap. I continued to do ten more, each one helping take away the heavy burden of the day.
I broke the surface and grabbed on to the concrete ledge of the pool, holding on tight as I dragged in a slow breath of air.
“Mi corazón, are you done?” Carlos’s voice drifted down to me. I could make out his scruffy black sneakers just a few feet away from my hands.
I looked up at him, taking in the low-slung red basketball shorts, the tight black tank, and the inches of glistening caramel skin slicked by sweat. My cock twitched with life.
My name is Theo Bourne, and I’m a detective for the Columbus Police Department’s Preternatural Task Force. It’s my job to control the arcane underbelly of the city. Originally I had been a member of the NYC division, but after losing my partner, I moved back to Columbus.
That was when I met Carlos.
He was supposed to have been a one-night stand four months ago. But that theory went out the window as soon as I found out he was my partner on the task force. Somehow, without me even knowing it, Carlos had broken through the iron walls around my heart as if they were made of mud. Now he was my lover, and it scared me how much I found myself needing him.
“Yeah,” I said and hoisted myself up out of the pool. “What were you doing?”
“Basketball with Scott and Hennessey,” he said and reached up to brush some damp burgundy bangs from my eyes. He dusted his fingers over the cross-shaped scar on my forehead. He always seemed partial to stroking it, his sadness radiating with the gingerly brush of his fingertips.
When I was a teenager, my parents had our local priest perform an exorcism on me. They couldn’t handle the fact that their baby was a Phantom. Instead, they branded me as a demon and tried to save my soul. The cross on my forehead was the mark I carried for their mistake.
I don’t know why the cross the priest held reacted to me. Maybe I am a demon—a monster.
Carlos couldn’t seem to let it go like I had. He still held on to the delusion that he could save me from all my pain. Maybe he could, but then again, maybe he couldn’t.
It didn’t really matter. I can’t change who I am, a vagabond who roams the world, a soldier without an army, the hero who lost his blade. I’m a Phantom, a will-o’-the-wisp.
A Phantom is a rare human with the combined powers of psychokinesis and the ability to create doppelgängers. There aren’t many Phantoms out there; I’ve only met one—an asshole by the name of Rhett Bishop. There is a hierarchy of Phantoms that make up the Council, and if I really wanted, I probably could meet others. But the truth was I didn’t give a damn.
“Hey,” Carlos said, breaking through my thoughts. The timbre of his voice, enriched by a Spanish accent, stroked me like fur against my naked flesh. I could always hear the coyote growl that hibernated deep in him. I constantly itched to unleash that beast.
“What are you thinking about so seriously?” he asked as he cupped both sides of my face. I’m not short, six foot to be exact, but Carlos dominated me by an extra four inches.
“Nothing important,” I said and tangled my hand in his ponytail. His thick black mane generally fell down past his shoulders, but today he had pulled it back. I pulled out the band holding it up and grabbed a fistful of lush locks, tugging hard.
“Sure didn’t look like nothing,” Carlos murmured as his brown eyes brightened to a golden topaz.
I gave his hair another tug and ordered, “Shut up, mutt, and kiss me.”
Carlos chuckled and closed the space between us. His hand found my left nipple, his long fingers hooking around the silver hoop. He pulled it hard, just how I liked it, and tugged me even closer.
I could feel his power sleeping, held in place only by his sheer will. Carlos is the alpha leader to the local werecoyote pack. Sleeping with him was a dangerous game, but I was addicted to it like an adrenaline junkie.
His mouth was hot, his tongue stealing the breath I had just gotten back. I could feel his cock bumping against mine, and every part of me wanted to rip his shorts down and drop to my knees to worship him.
He let go of my nipple ring–I really should get a second one—and ran his hands over the hard contours of my body. He slid his hands along my broad shoulders, down the tight sinew of muscles cording my arms, and gripped my hips with such strength, I was sure there’d be finger marks left behind.
Carlos pulled away and attacked my neck, sucking on my sweet spot on the left side. His teeth grazed my skin, and a shot of electricity jolted down my spine. I grabbed on to his shoulder with my free hand to anchor myself.
My body hummed with the heat radiating from him. The tight pain in my right knee dulled against the feel of our hard bodies rubbing against one another. It didn’t even occur to me that someone could walk into the pool area at any moment—even if the pool area had been empty since I came to the rec center.
Slowly he trailed his lips over my throat, working his way to my neck. All the tingling sensations abruptly died. The entire right side of my neck down to the collarbone was a mass of pearly scar tissue. During our first case, I’d had my throat ripped out by a werewolf. Luckily I hadn’t started turning furry the following full moon. But now the only thing I felt was the faintest sensation of pressure. The doctor said eventually I’d get feeling back, but so far, nothing.
Carlos kept forgetting that fact.
I shoved him off. “I can’t feel anything, you damn mutt.”
He had the grace to look sheepish. “Sorry…forgot.”
It pissed me off more that I was denied the feel of him on that one part of my body. I didn’t want any sensation to be canceled. When it came to him, I wanted to feel it all, have it all. It was selfish, hell, maybe even weak, but he seemed to hold that kind of power over me.
He nudged closer again and dotted kisses along my right cheek, whispering, “You’ll get the feeling back soon, corazón. Te prometo.”
“Whatever,” I grumbled, not sure if I believed that or not. I didn’t fight him when he leaned in for a chaste kiss. As he pulled back, I looked up at the clock above the door to the pool. It was a quarter till seven. “Shit, I’ve got to go. I have to get ready to meet Lloyd.”
The air in the room instantly thickened. Carlos’s aura spilled out like a breaking dam and nearly choked me. His hand seized my bicep tightly and held me in place.
“Just come back to the house with me, mi corazón. We can take a hot shower, open a bottle of wine…”
I pulled my arm from his grip. “I told you already I had plans with Lloyd.”
His jaw tightened, and a glare creased his brows, darkening his gaze. His eyes flashed a brighter topaz, the coyote in him clawing its way up to the surface.
Carlos and Lloyd were like two dogs fighting over a scrap of meat, and I was the meat.
“Damn it, stop,” I warned. I didn’t break eye contact as he glared at me.
Anger and frustration warred behind his eyes, and his power grew thicker, became a pair of hands that grabbed my throat and throttled me. I gave him a firm mental shove, sending him stumbling back a few feet, and snapped, “Carlos!”
He let out a growl and ran his hands up his face, slid them through his hair. “Fuck, okay! Fine!”
The air in the room instantly became lighter, his aura whooshing out like someone had opened a window. I continued to glare in his direction, gauging his mood.
He dropped his hands at his side and asked, a pout coming to his full lips, “What time will you be home?”
I shook my head in resignation and said with a small smile, “Once the concert is over, you dolt. I won’t be late.”
My apartment had been trashed during a case, to the point that it had to be completely renovated. While it was being worked on, I was staying with Carlos. I didn’t mind living with him temporarily, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready for a permanent stay.
Chocolate spiraled through his eyes, the golden hue spinning down a drain like it had never been. He nodded and leaned in for one more kiss.
His hand snaked out around my waist and pulled me close so our bodies molded together. I could smell the sweat on his skin, and it sent tingles down my spine.
“Carlos,” I mumbled without pulling away. I wasn’t doing a good job of leaving.
“Mmm?” He nipped at my lower lip and then dragged his tongue down my jaw, lapping up a bead of water.
My entire body zinged to life. My brain rerouted its thought process, turning its focus on the man in front of me. His hand dipped lower down my waist, inching past the band of my swim trunks so he could sneak a finger down my crack. I arched up and let out a throaty moan, giving him a chance to attack my throat with his skilled tongue.
Lloyd. Concert. Got to get to… Oh God that feels good.
I felt Carlos’s finger hedge closer to my entrance, and I wanted nothing more than to rut backward into his hand. The door to the pool opened a crack, and someone shouted from the other side, “What did you say?”
Carlos and I ripped apart just as the person walked into the pool area. I struggled to switch off the sudden animalistic desire to mount Carlos and said somewhat shakily, “Right…so I’m going.”
“I’ll see you tonight,” I said, more than eager to go home and sink into bed with him. Instead I snatched my towel up and headed to the locker room to get ready to go out for the evening, towel drying my hair along the way.
* * * *
Newport Music Hall was located on High Street. Lloyd was standing in line already, rocking back and forth on his heels. Snow lined the sides of the street, an ugly gray color of exhaust and mud. It was only Thursday, but it felt like we had stepped into the ice age. Valentine’s Day was Sunday, and the weatherman hadn’t given me any hope that we’d see the world warming up for the holiday weekend.
I crossed the street and jogged down the sidewalk, past a gyro shop and a scalper trying to pawn off tickets.
“Lloyd!” I called out and cut in front of a group of teenage girls to stand beside him.
He was dressed in a pair of tight jeans and a band T-shirt with the Linkin Park logo on it. He had pulled a leather jacket over everything, and every fiber in my body suddenly seemed to tremble with anticipation. I was well aware of his lean, hard frame standing next to me. I was aware of his aura, held captive inside him, a power that could rival Carlos’s if given the chance.
Lloyd was five years my junior and had a classic bad-boy appeal to him, with shoulder-length black hair pulled into a half ponytail and stubble along his hard jawline. Soulful silver-blue eyes lit up as soon as they landed on me, lust darkening them like a storm rolling over the ocean.
“Hey, you look good,” Lloyd said, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his jacket.
I shrugged and glimpsed down at my outfit—sneakers, jeans, and the green T-shirt I had stolen from Carlos that said ARMY on it. I had thrown my trench coat on before I left but had completely forgotten my scarf.
I could feel dozens of eyes on me, zeroing in on the large scar along the side of my throat. It was a bit of an eyesore.
“So who is this band?” I asked. To be honest, I had no idea. Lloyd had asked me to go with him because his bandmates were busy, and since Carlos was making no initiative to go out and do something for the holiday, I’d agreed.
The turnout for the concert was good. Well over a hundred people had to be waiting in line. They jostled around us, and I scooted closer to him to use some of his body heat. Lloyd’s body temperature, just like Carlos’s, ran higher than a human’s. Whereas Carlos ruled over the werecoyotes, Lloyd was in the werewolf pack. At one point I had thought he’d take over as the pack leader, but his desires ran down a different path.
“It’s a new rock group. My buddy got the tickets, but then something came up, so he gave them to me. All I know is that it’s their first live gig. He says the singer is really talented, though. Her name is Elissa Tripp or something like that,” Lloyd said. His breath warmed my cheek as he looked down. He was about an inch taller than me.
I wasn’t short, but I really had a bad habit of hanging with freakishly tall people.
His strong arm sneaked out to wrap around me, and a squeal of giggles broke out behind us. I ignored the teenagers and tried to squish the guilt and desire that suddenly boiled up in my stomach.
I wasn’t stupid. I knew Lloyd wanted me. I had saved his life during my first case in Columbus, and ever since then, we had grown close. Lloyd hadn’t tried to hide his feelings, which was one reason why Carlos hated him so much.
The bad part was that I couldn’t even deny that I wanted him. Lloyd made fire run through my veins just like Carlos did. It had gotten harder to ignore the burning that migrated straight to my groin.
“You cold?” Lloyd asked and rubbed his hand up my arm. His arm was like a steel band around my back.
The line started moving forward again, this time people actually heading in. I pulled away. “They’re going in. Let’s go.”
Lloyd sighed softly and followed me. Was it wrong that I was attracted to two men? I had no doubt that my heart belonged to Carlos. I couldn’t picture my life without him. But…it was growing increasingly harder to picture my life without Lloyd.
Damn it! This was why I didn’t do relationships. They just got too complicated. I had done them once, and it only wound up screwing me in the end. How had I let myself fall back into the same trap?
Except this time I might be the one doing the screwing.
We shuffled into Newport; it was a dingy-looking music hall that had been in Columbus for decades. The front room had a set of stairs that led up to the blocked-off balcony area, and a set of double doors opened to the music hall.
Lloyd and I grabbed a beer at one of the two bars set up right past the entrance doors and headed over to a table along the side. There was a lowered floor where people gathered in front of the stage.
I slipped onto the stool and took a sip of my beer. “What’s the band’s name?”
I didn’t listen to much music. Sure, I’d been to clubs before, but that was the extent of my musical knowledge. Though I was becoming a number-one fan for Lloyd’s band.
“Event Horizon,” Lloyd said.
The inside walls of Newport were painted black and lined with old posters of previous bands. In the pit there were bright red lines running along the floor, though I couldn’t make out the shape they made. It looked complicated. Along the ceiling, spotlights were strung up and pointed toward the stage, where the last bit of equipment was being set up.
“So my band is having a gig tomorrow,” Lloyd said around the rim of his plastic cup.
“Are they? At Red’s?”
Lloyd used to work at The Hunting Moon, a popular club that was shut down after its owner was murdered. Now he worked at Red’s as a bartender. Occasionally, just like at The Hunting Moon, his band played.
“Yeah.” He pushed his cup back and forth between his hands. I reached over and grabbed it, forcing him to keep the cup still. His eyes met mine, and a shot of white heat ran down me. I could feel him peeling away the layers of my soul, trying to discover the part that would open up to him.
“What is it? You only start getting twitchy when you want to say something,” I said as I got my own emotions under control.
He licked his lips, and a smile twitched into place. “Heh, right. Well… There’s going to be an agent there. Red knows a guy from L.A., and he said he was coming into town, so he put in a word for us.”
“Shit, really? That’s amazing, Lloyd!”
“Yeah.” His smile grew, his eyes warming up. “I’m excited. I was just hoping that maybe you could come tomorrow…”
He gave me a look that made my insides squirm, and everything in me just melted. I’m a plaything for two men.
There was no way I could possibly win.
Maybe I should become a priest or something. They don’t have these kinds of issues.
“Sure, you know I will,” I said and looked away, dodging his hungry, piercing gaze.
His hand found mine and held on tight. I could feel his heartbeat against my palm, and it was like I held his heart in my hand.
“Thanks.” His words were low, almost swallowed by the chatter filling the club.
I coughed into my free hand and pulled my other hand slowly away. “No problem. Hey, I think the show is about to start.”
The warm-up band came on stage and got the crowd going. They sounded all right, nothing I’d rush out to buy. I kept my eyes trained on the lead singer thrashing across the stage, jumping around and screaming into the microphone, and not on Lloyd. I could feel his gaze on me, though, drilling a hole into my head in an attempt to see my thoughts.
I wanted to run to a private corner of the music hall and feel him inside me.
I dropped my right hand and balled it into a fist, digging my nails into my palm to distract myself from my thoughts. Eventually the warm-up band finished, and Event Horizon moved on stage.
The lights went out, and a spotlight clicked on, centered on the microphone in the middle of the stage. Standing in front of the mic was a tall woman. She was exotic and wild like a panther, with straight jet-black hair that fell down to her waist. Strands were knotted into braids and fitted with colorful ribbon. There was a fierceness in her eyes, like twin black holes staring out at the crowd. Her eyes sucked me in. It felt like they pulled me into their darkness—crushed me.
Her caramel skin glowed beneath the spotlight, and the white sequined top she wore glittered like fresh snow. There was something about her that stood out, like a streak of night against the bright day sky. And that contradiction was so wrong—so wrong against all that was right.
And yet…I couldn’t feel anything from her. Nothing that felt sinister or bad or off. There was no undertone of power that hadn’t been there before. I could feel Lloyd beside me, his aura held captive, but that was it.
The band started, and her body began to sway. Her face remained a haunted mask, forever twisted in horror; her eyes were listless, her mouth opened wide like it was screaming, and her facial color was a ghostly white.
I looked over at Lloyd. He was watching her, captivated like the rest of the crowd.
The woman started to sing, and it was damn near hypnotizing. Her voice was high and whispering, but there was something buried deep in her vocals, sifted out by her lyrics, that made me think of a thousand screams, of misery and desolation. Her voice was the epitome of heartbreak and nightmares, and I felt lost in it.
I grabbed on to the table and gripped it tightly, feeling like I was about to slip right off my stool and fall into an abyss. I was a monster, a freak, a vagabond who was trying to parade as a normal man. I ate the hearts of men; I wasn’t one of them. I couldn’t even devote myself to one person. I let myself become entranced by another.
I was no better than the drifters who tore through the world and barreled straight down to hell.
“Theo? Hey, Theo, are you all right?”
I could hear him. I could make out Lloyd’s voice, but it was miles away. I was trapped within the blackened daydream.
Warm hands pressed against my cheeks, and my eyes snapped open. Lloyd was watching me with narrowed eyes, his cool orbs the color of a fresh spring. They were a guiding path toward the light, pulling me back from wherever I’d gone. I gasped, not even realizing that I’d been holding my breath.
I could hear the singer of Event Horizon in the background and the cheers of the fans, but it all narrowed down into a single pinpoint of sound.
“You okay?” Lloyd asked, his thumb stroking my bottom lip. “You look pale.”
I racked my brain for an excuse. “My knee, it’s acting up. I pushed myself too hard at the pool.”
It wasn’t a complete lie. My knee ached, like a bunch of raging hornets were beginning to swarm.
“Come on,” he said and trailed his fingers down my jaw before dropping his hand to grab mine. He was a life preserver thrown out into a sticky ocean of blight. I held on tight and let him pull me from the stool.
We wove past a bobbing, swaying throng of fans. There were about a hundred, maybe a hundred and fifty people packed into Newport. They all seemed to be watching the woman with a bewitched devotion.
Lloyd guided me out of the auditorium through the double doors, which slammed closed behind us, sealing off the music. A table set up to our left displayed T-shirts and band merchandise. We took the right and headed up the stairs to the bathrooms.
Once there, I immediately walked over to the sink and turned the cold water on, splashing some on my face. That seemed to help pull my mind back from the destructive path it had been walking.
What the fuck had been wrong with me? I felt like a whiny bitch teen. Sitting there, listening to that singer’s lyrics—I’d felt lost and small again.
I grabbed some paper towels and dried my face. He was watching me, and it was pissing me off. I threw the towels away and glared up at him. “I’m fine.”
“Are you still having nightmares?”
I reeled back. I had told him once that I woke up screaming some nights, convinced I had failed. I had nightmares that he was dead, that I had been too slow in saving him. I’d sit in bed, clutching at my sheets like a baby, trying to calm the tremors that would run through my body. The only way I could go back to sleep was by hearing his voice. It was pathetic that I was so weak. I’d been restraining myself lately from calling him, refusing to give in to my fears.
I looked away, glared at a dirty spot on the floor. Was that dirt or old vomit?
When he didn’t look away I gritted my teeth. “What?”
His hands found my cheeks again and turned my head so I was facing him. “Answer me.”
“What do you want me to say? That I can’t sleep without seeing your mangled body? That I wake up at night and puke all over myself because the visions in my head are so fucked-up? I swear, there are nights that I can smell brimstone.”
His mouth crashed onto mine, and I could feel the sea slamming against the rocks, feel the stars bursting in the sky, and feel my heart racing through my veins. I grabbed on to his leather coat and braced myself, frozen in place.
He tasted so good, and I knew it was so wrong.
I gathered my scattered thoughts, grasping at them as they blew away like leaves in the wind, and pulled back. “Shit…”
“Call me,” he said, ignoring me. “If you wake up screaming and you don’t know if I’m alive or dead, call me. I don’t care what time it is, call me. I’ll always answer.”
I stared up at him, my mouth hanging open.
His lips brushed mine again; his breath smelled sweet like peppermint, and he murmured, “I know you love Carlos, but damn it, I can’t live without you. I need you. I’m not going to act like I don’t; I’m not going to pretend this isn’t love. And I know you want me; I can smell it. I can save you just as much as he can.”
I licked my lips, my tongue flicking out and dusting his. He nipped at it, a low rumble forming in his throat. I could see topaz cresting over his eyes, rising up like the sun over the water, but he pressed it down, held it in, let it be just about him, just about me.
And damn it, I couldn’t resist. I just couldn’t resist.
His mouth sealed over mine again, and I didn’t fight him like I should have. I devoured him and fed off him. He tasted sweet, and he smelled rich, of musk and leather and woods and wolf and everything I needed.
I wanted to say yes, I wanted to beg him to save me, I wanted to scream for Carlos. I wanted so much, and I felt selfish and wrong and undeserving, but against his hands, I didn’t give a damn.
His lips were hot, and his tongue found mine; it dominated me, begging for more. Lloyd pushed me back against the wall of the bathroom and pinned my hands above my head. My heartbeat was so loud I was sure the entire concert hall could hear it.
I moaned into his awaiting mouth, wanting to grab his hair and tug him closer, but he held my hands firmly in place with one of his. His other hand ran up my side and pushed my shirt up, his fingers dancing over my defined abs. Each touch was a kiss of fire against my skin.
Lloyd moved his mouth away from mine and began to kiss a trail along my jaw, and my mind flashed with the familiarity of it all. Just a few hours ago, I was doing this with Carlos, my lover.
“Lloyd,” I groaned, not wanting to give in to the guilt, wanting to savor this moment.
He pulled away, though I could see the reluctance in his eyes. God, I wanted to pull him back against me so badly. I wanted to feel him in me. I wanted him to fuck me hard, and I knew it was wrong, so very wrong.
There was a long pause, filled with all our desire and all our regret.
Finally, when I thought it had stretched too long, he smiled and brushed my bangs from my eyes. “I’ll win you over somehow. Don’t think I’m giving up.”
I sniffed. What…? Something smelled off. I smelled burning wood. Our eyes met, and something sparked between us, something that wasn’t sexual.
Adrenaline, the rush of death, of danger.
He concentrated, his eyes going full yellow, his nostrils flaring out. He let out a hiss. “There’s a fucking fire!”
We barreled out of the bathroom and down the stairs. I could still hear singing in the distance, just behind the set of double doors. The stench of fire grew stronger—and so too did the pungent odor of burning flesh and hair, the smell overwhelming. Screams almost canceled out the song, but it was still there, still a haunting, macabre melody in the background. Smoke billowed out from the bottom of the door.
I looked at Lloyd for a split second and adjusted the sleeve of my trench coat so it protected my hand. I grabbed the handle and pulled at the door, but it wouldn’t open.
“Shit! The door won’t budge!” I shouted and tugged the other sleeve of my coat down, grabbing at the door with both hands.
Lloyd nudged me out of the way. “Let me try.”
He fixed his own coat sleeve and pulled at the door. The muscles in his neck tightened as he strained to open the door. I focused my attention on the heavy door to help, using a mental flex to finally wrench them open.
As soon as we opened the door, people shoved past us, nearly knocking me flat on my ass.
“Holy shit!” Lloyd shouted.
The singing grew louder, and I could feel myself once again slipping into a downward spiral of madness. I gritted my teeth and bit down on my tongue, almost hard enough to bleed. I had no time for self-pity.
Fire had erupted over the ceiling, turning it into a sky of roiling flames. Embers fell down like rain, and people were rolling on the floor and running around, their bodies burning. They were like hysterical fireflies chasing each other in circles. Some were paralyzed in place, watching as if mesmerized, fixated.
As I grabbed on to Lloyd, his aura spilled out and clogged up the room. However, I could feel it trumped by another aura—one that was far more powerful, far more deadly.
One that hadn’t been there before.
I looked at the singer. She was the only one left on stage, still singing. The other members of the band were lying in smoldering piles at her feet.
“Take me into the night.”
What the fuck?
I turned to Lloyd and gave him a shove back out the door, using my powers for added force. “Get out of here, Lloyd! Call Carlos and the police!”
“I’m not leaving you!”
“Now!” I roared and turned away.
I heard him curse, but it was swallowed by screams and her song.
“Pull out my beating heart.”
There was a creak from above, and one of the beams gave. I caught it in midair with my Phantom abilities and held it high, moved it across the room, and set it down on the floor. It was all about concentration. I had to channel my thoughts on each act and release the energy like small hands extending from my body.
A Phantom was someone who channeled both telekinetic abilities and bilocation. Being a Phantom not only let me move things with my mind, but I could also create doppelgängers of myself so that I appeared in various places at the same time.
I leaped into the fray.
There was only one way to end this, and it was by stopping her, the singer—whatever she was. Her aura felt dark and dead, like a vampire’s, but I’d never seen a vampire like this before.
Someone barreled toward me, and I shot high into the air to avoid being trampled. I looked down and saw that a young girl was engulfed in flames. She couldn’t have been older than sixteen, and she had become a human torch.
I lowered myself to the floor with a curse and ripped my trench coat off. I tackled her and beat the flames out. She twitched. Her hair had been nearly completely burned off; her body was charred black and was peeling back to reveal the ivory of her bones. Her mouth gaped open and closed, and her dry eyes rolled in her head, searched for me. I turned away, knowing she was gone.
An ember fell from the sky and hit my arm. Fuck, did it hurt. I swatted it out and turned back around.
That damn bitch just kept singing, like she was trying to devour our souls. I could feel myself slipping in and out of reality, feel the monster in me creeping, trying to get out. I wanted to fall back into the darkness, feel its cool embrace, and let it extinguish the fire. It was so much easier to give in to death than this.
She warbled out another line:
“Give me to your purging flame.”
No! I won’t give in. I have to stop her. I have to hold on. I closed my mind and focused. The faces of Carlos and Lloyd flashed into my mind’s eye. I held on to their images and opened my eyes.
I ran forward, gathered my energy, and used it to propel me. A few feet from the stage, I leaped into the air and shot at her, a reengaged bullet.
“Spill my blood for your sake.”
She stopped singing, and her gaze, which had seemed to stare off into a vacant spot where the flames ate at the ceiling, snapped to me. It was like looking into two dead pools; nothing was there but a thirst for blood, a thirst for heads to be mounted on stakes. It was so eerie, her soulless eyes, that I felt myself shake. She wanted our hearts, she wanted our flesh, she wanted our souls, and she was going to have them.
A smile twisted across her face, full and beautiful and so terrifying, I thought I was staring once more into the face of the devil.
Power slammed into me, a force so strong it sent me flying backward. I crashed into the middle of the pit. The wind was knocked out of me, and all I could see for a moment was a spiraling world of fire and proverbial stars.
Another beam gave out under the pressure of the flames and came barreling toward me. I knew I had to move, I knew I had to roll out of the way, but it happened so fast that all I could do was lie there as the beam came crashing down.
Copyright © Evelyn Shepherd