The Shadows | Chapter 12 of 34 - Part: 1 of 4

Author: L.A. Banks | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1439 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER ONE

San Diego, California . . .
at the Guardian team compound home

 

 

It was what it was. Shit!

Carlos turned off the big-screen HDTV that was mounted on his and Damali’s bedroom suite wall and then flung the remote control across the coffee table. The images continued to burn inside his head even after he shut off the television. Flames engulfed everything, appearing like fast-moving lava as they ate up countryside, homes, streets, abandoned cars, and people who couldn’t make it out of the unrelenting smoke. Orchids, farms, olive groves—nothing stood a chance. Entire economies were disrupted, from small village infrastructures to that of the larger national interests.

Athens had been burning for weeks after he and Damali had severely injured the Dark Realm’s heir apparent on a remote Greek island. Fair exchange was no robbery, according to the laws of revenge and reciprocity in the underworld, and since the offense had occurred on Greek soil, unfortunately the innocents of that land would pay the ultimate price. Greece was under spiritual siege, no matter what the news reports claimed. Yeah, right . . . wildfires. Scores of people had died from fires that raged out of control. The international news said it was a combination of arid weather and high Mediterranean winds, along with overwhelmed local fire departments. The battle between Heaven and Hell on a remote Greek island obviously didn’t make the six o’clock news.

If they could have just gotten off a direct white-light bolt to make the attempted hit on the Antichrist a clean kill . . . damn! Today he’d get back on a mission. After weeks of nearly paralyzing fatigue, he could feel something shifting within the energy of the house. They’d all rested, even if they hadn’t all recovered; it was time to go hunting again.

No doubt the Greek capital was now taking the brunt of the Beast’s fury. Then again, in all likelihood, razing the land with billowing flames was just a ploy by the Devil to distract the warrior angels, to get them to pull up from their wrecking search for the wounded Antichrist throughout the bowels of Hell. It made sense that they’d redirect their efforts to attend to their primary mission—saving humanity. Brilliant. Dark. Twisted. But absolutely genius. Carlos stood and then walked across the room.

As soon as he opened the door leading out to the main hall, the soft filter of voices and the general hubbub of compound activity greeted him. The mild chaos was soothing. His nerves had been shot ever since he’d known for sure that his wife was pregnant. In rare glimpses he saw the strain of that reality in Marlene’s wise eyes, but she hid it well. Shabazz was another story. His brow was constantly knit, like his. Of course Mar was gonna see it and then tell her husband—but Shabazz never spoke on it or stepped to him about it. Worry wafted off the senior Guardian brother in quiet, tight waves, but Shabazz was old-school enough to keep up a cool façade in front of the team. Every now and then Shabazz would give him a subtle nod that said it all without words: I gotchure back.

Carlos dragged his fingers through his hair as he walked down the hall. Damali being pregnant was the biggest open secret in the house that he’d ever witnessed. He was just glad nobody else beyond Marlene and Shabazz had picked up on Damali’s condition yet.

The team would be happy, but they’d also freak. They all knew how dangerous it would be to have one of the Neterus in a vulnerable position this close to the end of days. But with a house full of seers, sooner or later the cat would be out of the bag. He was just glad that everyone was observing the house rule not to look into anyone else’s personal auras or business without consent. But sooner or later, it would be obvious to anybody with a normal pair of eyes. Then what? Panic on a team fighting the kinds of entities that had now surfaced from the pit was an extremely dangerous thing.

 

Fallon Nuit paused for a moment to admire his newly reconstructed Los Angeles high-rise. Human bodies milled about in the landscaped courtyard, casting a succulent array of flavors onto his palate. He inhaled slowly as he entered the building through the huge revolving glass doors, enjoying the fragrance of pulsing life that had been baked to warm perfection by the sun’s rays. Cattle. Some grain-fed beef, some garbage-fed meat on the hoof—what did it matter as long as they bled in the end?

Blood Music International would reign again, now more than just a lucrative hip-hop label, but renamed and transformed into a multimedia empire—Council Group Entertainment. His gallantry in battle, as well as his shrewd observation of a potential double-cross by the Neterus, had been rewarded. He’d been the only vampire councilman who knew that Yolando had been a fraud from the start, and thus his territory had been expanded to control all of the topside communications for the Dark Lord. In addition to his considerable holdings, he now owned everything that Yolando had once had principality over. Nuit smiled as he surveyed his expanded territory. Death was good. Très bon.

Black-and-white marble and clean chrome lines stared back at him under the gleaming sun that poured through the massive open atrium, much to his satisfaction. The entire building was made of huge plates of glass inviting in the sun. The irony of it all made him heady. To stand in the sun as a daywalker while retaining all of his vampire powers had been a fantasy for centuries; now he was living it.

Flanked by several patient human bodyguards, he chuckled privately as his gaze roved over the jarring signature splash of scarlet color in the middle of the floor that was supposed to resemble royal embossing wax . . . but for those who truly understood, it was spilled blood. And plenty of it. Right in plain sight—the same way he’d corrupt the minds of the cattle all around him, feeding them propaganda, polluting their minds, and driving them in the direction the underworld needed to herd them. Perhaps he and the council had been going about it all wrong. Rather than attack the Neterus directly, attack humankind and watch the Neterus twist in the wind. That would draw them out.

They would pay for what they’d done to Lucrezia and Elizabeth, two gorgeous councilwomen wives who were now injured so badly that if they came out by day, they couldn’t retain their illusion of beauty. Nuit lifted his chin, throttling back the unproductive rage beginning to surface within him, and pulled down on his monogrammed cuffs so that just the right corporate length showed beneath his custom-tailored Armani suit.

Although his mate, Lucrezia, was trapped again by the night, where her beauty still flourished, she’d survived the heinous attempt at silver poisoning. Sebastian’s wife, Elizabeth, fared no better. It was a horrific crime against his vampire family. However, time was on his side to settle the score. That was the one thing he and Sebastian could seem to agree on. The tragedy that had befallen their wives oddly quelled their incessant rivalry. Joining forces was the only way to best the Neterus, especially since Sebastian had also been maimed. And when he finally found Yonnie . . .

As Nuit brushed invisible lint off his lapels he sent his gaze around the lobby one last time. Another bit of irony lifted the corner of his mouth into a sinister half smile; Carlos and Damali’s aggressive move on the chessboard of war actually put him in position to be the strongest vampire on the council.

Lilith was indisposed, feverishly working to heal the Dark Lord’s heir. The Dark Lord was walking the planet, creating topside chaos to keep the angel corps frenetically working to save humanity, thereby effectively thinning their resources to hunt for his injured son. The other members of the Vampire Council had been exterminated, discredited, injured, or hijacked by the Light. That left him as the only legitimate holdover from the old regime of Dante.

Nuit straightened his already perfect posture, finding an additional millimeter of height to add to his six-foot-two, aristocratic bearing. What made it all the more glorious was the fact that he’d been the only one to predict the outcome of the events that had recently unfolded. Even Lilith took solid consideration of his counsel now, as did their ultimate ruler. One day, or night, when he finally ripped out Carlos Rivera’s entrails, he’d have to thank him for positioning him so well.

Satisfied, he smoothed back his expertly barbered thicket of salt-and-pepper hair that he’d purposely allowed to become silver-flecked to add to his new daytime demeanor. Gone were the nights of perpetual, visceral youth; his new façade was strictly that of an entertainment-industry maverick. As he began walking, he was closely followed by a retinue of henchmen who looked like Secret Service agents. Every human who swarmed around his seemingly forty-five-year-old visage donned wires in their ears, dark suits, and barely concealed weapons.

Ignoring the mild stir they created in the lobby, he crossed over the gold inlaid crest on the floor that glittered against the red hue like a maker’s mark. He opened his graceful hand that held the horrific potential of black lightning and bloodletting, staring down at the gold crest ring of office that he wore like a wedding band. The craftsmanship of the piece was befitting of royalty, of age-old entitlement, and he admired how the near resemblance of that crest to the one on the floor looked against his café au lait skin.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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