Fire raged through his veins; a sizzling inferno of white-hot heat that threatened to consume him from within. Darkness danced at the corner of his vision, his rage fueling the darkness as he took the final step that crossed him over from a civilised being into the monster he truly was.
Wind blew his inky black locks into the air, the deep green of his eyes turning black. Deadly sharp incisors elongated and the sound of a slow click began as wicked black talons tapped lightly together.
So Janick thought he could take what was his, did he? Did the upstart think he could abuse and destroy what belonged to him, and believe there wouldn’t be a consequence? Was he seriously that stupid?
Demetri stood over the remains of the dead vampire, tracing the unhealed wounds marking the naked, female torso. Not only had Caris most likely suffered torture at the hands of the other vampire and his clan, but Janick had gone so far as to rip her flesh open after her beheading, leaving her no dignity even in death.
It was a blatant challenge and one that would not go unpunished.
If Demetri hadn’t crossed over he would have felt some remorse that the vibrant youngling would no longer walk into his club and sashay up to him all sass and sexiness, bypassing others who were too afraid to look in his direction. He would have been saddened that he wouldn’t touch her skin again or run his tongue slowly over her delicious curves before taking them to the heights of sexual bliss.
But he had crossed over and there were no emotions in this state, only the beast within, intent on revenge.
“I didn’t think you were that attached to the girl,” Alexei Romanov said at his side, tying back his blond hair with a leather thong as he gazed dispassionately at the corpse.
“She had spirit,” his twin brother Andrei mused from the other side of Demetri, his tone regretful. He’d had occasion to spend some time with Caris himself. She had been funny and good in bed. It was a pity the girl was dead but she was just a youngling. He was as perplexed as his brother was as to why their friend was taking it so personally. It wasn’t as if he had been in love with Caris.
He shrugged his shoulders and glanced at the feral vampire beside him. Had Demetri’s feelings been deeper than they had anticipated? He didn’t think so but then their friend kept a lot of things close to his chest.
“Janick knew Caris was under my protection. This…” Demetri hissed, his talons clacking loudly as he waved at the dead body. “This is a challenge to me, a great big fuck you, what are you going to do about it?”
The twins made eye contact, Andrei shrugging again. He turned to Demetri, facing him square on. “And what are you going to do about it?” He, too, reached into his jeans and pulled out a leather thong to tie back his light brown hair. He already knew the answer to the question he had just asked.
Alexei raised an eyebrow in surprise. “There are over 20 in Janick’s coven, Demetri, the last estimate was around 27 members.”
“Scared, Alexei?” Demetri’s voice dripped ice.
The blond vampire scowled darkly at the insult but held his peace at Andrei’s negative headshake. It was plain stupidity to get into an argument with their friend when he was in his feral state and stupid wasn’t something the Romanov twins were guilty of.
“I’ll go alone.” Again the air was ice as Demetri spoke, his voice toneless, his black gaze glancing off to the distance.
“Fuck that!” Alexei ground out, releasing his human side to allow his vampiric nature to take control. “No way in hell am I missing out on this fun.”
Andrei smiled a slow smile, a twinkle of light in his deep brown eyes. Beside the two feral vampires, that smile should have been comforting, but the spark of insanity that danced in his eyes belayed that fact.
He was the last of the three to release his humanity. When he did, all three angels of death turned to scent the air, the setting sun casting its last rays over them, bathing them in light, enhancing their beauty even in their most dangerous state.
“I’m coming, Janick,” Demetri whispered into the early evening sky before he took off at inhuman speed, the twins close by his side.
Janick lounged in his favourite chair, one leg thrown over the side as he watched two of his coven grapple with each other on the floor beside him. The scent of sex filled the air as they slapped hard against each other, rough in their play but clearly turned on by the act.
It appeared some of his people found it highly erotic to fuck hard after a good torture session followed by a killing. Personally, it did nothing for Janick sexually, but he enjoyed watching others indulge themselves.
No, what did make him hot as hell was hearing someone beg for his or her life. Knowing he held that power over them made him hard and aching, though he never indulged in any relief. It was the feeling that he liked, not only of having the power of life and death but also the pain of being denied his release.
He knew some called him a sick bastard behind his back, though no one was stupid enough to say it to his face. That was until a week ago, when someone thought he could get away with it.
Demetri Bozic had thought it was acceptable to humiliate him at the Council meeting, calling him a sick bastard loud enough for everyone in the room to hear. All eyes had turned in his direction, the assembled group waiting to see what he would do about it.
There was no way in hell Janick would have challenged Bozic right there and then. Those crazy twins he hung around with were watching proceedings and there were enough of his cronies around to back him up.
No, Janick’s only course of action had been to laugh at the insult and retreat for the moment, to take time to plot his revenge on the dark-haired Ancient. And plot he had, finally coming up with the perfect insult.
He’d taken Bozic’s favourite plaything and destroyed it. It had been such fun too, making him harder than ever before as the girl had begged for her life. At first, she had been cocky, so sure of herself for being favoured by the Ancient. She had thought she was untouchable, safe because of his protection.
The moment she had realised she was going to die had been the best moment of Janick’s life. Oh, the euphoria that had suffused him as he had seen the terror in her pretty eyes. He felt his body stir again as he replayed the moment, a smile crossing his handsome face.
Bozic would know it was he who had murdered the youngling. He wasn’t concerned about that. Younglings were cannon fodder to Elders and Ancients alike, often used to send a message to their enemies. If the Ancient had any sense he would heed the message Janick had just sent him, ‘Don’t fuck with me!’
A loud bang from the other end of his mansion had him leaping to his feet, fangs and talons instantly elongating. The couple of the floor broke apart too, rising naked to join him as they moved as one towards the source of the disturbance.
Janick didn’t know what the fuck was going on but whoever was foolish enough to enter his lair was about to join the pretty little youngling he’d just dispatched.
“Mine!” Andrei laughed, leaping high in the air towards two male vampires rushing towards them as they burst through the main doors of the mansion.
“Make sure he doesn’t get too out of hand,” Demetri tossed to Alexei before he veered off to the left into what appeared to be a games room.
“Who the fuck is going to make sure you don’t get too out of hand?” Alexei called to his retreating back before a faint noise on his other side had him spinning sharply and ducking down in one fluid movement.
Talons sliced the air where his neck had been but moments before and he continued his movement coming around and up behind the female who had just tried to take his head. Without hesitation, he plunged his talons into the base of her spine, severing the nerves in an instant. The girl dropped towards the floor and a quick flick of his wrist had her head rolling from her shoulders even before the rest of her body made contact with the hardwood.
“Stupid bitch,” he rumbled, glancing over at his brother to ensure he was okay. Why he was even remotely concerned, he didn’t know. Andrei had already dispatched one male and was in the process of playing with the last one he had claimed as his. The fact Andrei so easily dispatched his first prey in the time it had taken Alexei to make his own kill, was enough to tell him that these younglings were very new to the vampire life.
The male was floundering on the floor in a pool of blood, Andrei sitting on top of him with a head his hand. “Will you miss him?” he laughed. “He didn’t seem much of a friend trying to push you in front of him. That’s why I killed him first, for being an asshole.”
Alexei sighed, rolling his eyes. Maybe Demetri was right. His twin was clearly in one of his moods. “Andrei, will you stop playing with him? Demetri’s taken off somewhere. We need to make sure we’ve got his back.” He was concerned about their friend being alone, though the sound of screaming coming from deeper into the mansion appeased him slightly
Another three vampires appeared above them and raced downstairs towards his brother. These three were Elders, meaning they were at least 100 years old. He could scent their age and tell they were young compared to the twins. No real match for them.
His brother smiled back at him his razor sharp talons slicing off his prey’s head so fast the vampire still had a surprised expression as he died.
He laughed, turning his attention to the impending attack. “Catch!”
The first Elder automatically put his hands out for the head launched in his direction, seeing his error instantly, but it was already too late. As the head sailed towards him, Andrei was following it, insanity dancing in his black eyes.
Alexei sauntered slowly towards the remaining two males, smiling as he saw understanding reach their eyes, their companion’s screams filling the hallway as Andrei reached him and began to take him apart.
“We’ll go,” one of them stammered, starting to back away towards the stairs. He raised his hands in surrender. “Janick isn’t worth this.” His friend echoed his gesture and Alexei’s smile widened.
“No, Janick isn’t worth this and if you’d been smart enough you would have known that and chosen your friends more wisely. Demetri calls the shots here and his decree is very simple. Everyone dies.”
Alexei moved at inhuman speed, taking the first head before the male closest to him could move. It was too easy and he sighed with displeasure. So far, none of the vampires had put up a decent fight. They really were so young it was like taking candy from a baby. He was disappointed his prey was so weak.
The remaining vampire opted to make a fight of it and flew at Alexei. The Elder moved gracefully, dancing out of reach with ease, spinning gracefully in a circle and kicking the male in the stomach as he passed him.
The other vampire spun quickly too, lashing out but finding only clear air. A whisper of breath on his neck had him turning futilely. He heard the click of talons, felt a stab of pain in his neck, then darkness descended and he knew no more.
“Sounds like Demetri’s having more fun than us,” Andrei sighed, cleaning his bloody hands on one of the corpses’ clothes. He straightened up, scenting the air and smiled. “I like it here. Come on, Alexei; let’s go see what D’s been up to while we were distracted.”
Demetri pulled an arm from a shoulder, turning to his left and using the appendage to smack the next vampire in the face. He hit her with such force that her nose broke and blood sprayed over his face. He ignored it, going in for the kill immediately, twisting her head from her shoulders roughly. His first victim was trying to attack him from behind and he spun on his heel, talons plunging deep into the other female’s throat.
Idly, he wondered if Janick was fond of either of the two. He hoped so. He ripped the female’s throat out and finished the killing blow with a quick swipe of his talons. Pausing, he looked around the room, a cold smile gracing his lips. Carnage was the best way to describe the scene and he had still to reach his target. He wondered what Janick would think of his handiwork if he lived long enough to see it.
A noise behind him had him turning to greet Alexei and Andrei. He had sensed their approach therefore hadn’t tried to take their heads.
“Can you leave some for us?” Andrei asked in a disgruntled tone. His expression was a mix between disappointment and awe at the body parts littering the sitting room they were standing in.
Alexei surveyed the scene and gave a small nod. “Impressive,” was his only comment.
Demetri inhaled, enjoying the aroma of death, his beast ecstatic at its day’s work so far. “Janick is mine. If either of you even thinks of touching a hair on his head I’ll kill you myself.”
He didn’t wait for a response, idly flicking aside an elder as he entered the next room. The male’s screams told him one of his friends was dealing with the issue. His bloodlust was nearly appeased but wouldn’t be satisfied until he had ripped Janick to pieces. He ignored the few remaining coven members, zeroing in on his target.
“You will die for this, Bozic!”
Janick’s words stopped him and he stared at the furious vampire impassively for a moment and then threw his head back and laughed. It was a cold, humourless laugh and sent chills down the spines of the vampires still living.
Seriously? Janick seriously believed he was any kind of match for him?
The laughter made Janick pause, Demetri’s posture causing the most concern. The Ancient bared his throat with no fear. In their world, it was something only a fool would do, or someone who was so supremely confident that no one could touch him.
His coven was dead or dying all around him. The three vampires before him were bathed in blood and the aura of insanity. For the first time Janick felt fear, questioned his actions that had brought these instruments of death into his home. All this because of one youngling? It appeared inconceivable. Could he talk Bozic down?
“Come, Demetri, you’ve made your point. I fail to see why you’re so upset over one youngling. Is it really necessary to destroy so many innocent vampires over a single girl?” He tried to keep his fear masked. Fear was a sign of weakness and enough of a reason to incite attack. Cold, black eyes met his and he stifled down the compulsion to swallow and give away his unease.
“They were here when you brought Caris to your home. They were here when you tortured and murdered her. I have no doubt a number of them participated in the actual attack,” Demetri ground out, taking two steps closer before halting again.
“There are no innocents in this coven, Janick. They all knew the girl was under my protection. You knew that and still you thought it was wise to fuck with me.” He turned to glance around the room, seeing the twins perched on a large oak table watching the scene play out. There wasn’t another living soul in the mansion apart from the four left in the study.
Demetri turned back to his target scenting fear and feeling satisfaction that Janick finally did get the point. “This isn’t about a youngling, Janick. This is about you thinking you could fuck with me and get away with it. No one fucks with me – ever.”
He flew at the vampire the second he stopped speaking. Janick anticipated his move and met him halfway, the two males smacking hard into each other. Talons flashed, biting into flesh as they grappled for control, smashing into walls as they whirled around the room at supernatural speed.
Bricks and mortar littered the floor where they impacted, grunts escaping them. Janick was older than the rest but he was still young. Demetri had walked the planet for 2000 years, his speed and strength outmatching his adversary. He ripped at Janick’s left leg, pulling it off as the other male screamed.
The image of Caris’s dead body came to mind and the red-hot fury he’d felt before resurfaced, breaking through the cold detachment of his feral state. Demetri fell on Janick in a mindless fury, ripping into his flesh, plunging his talons into his body repeatedly, tearing chunks of flesh out and tossing it away.
He lost track of the time, of how long he savaged the dying vampire, giving himself totally to his beast until it had the vengeance it wanted. When the red mist cleared, there wasn’t a single part of Janick that remained in one piece, nothing that could discern what he had once looked like, who he had been as a person.
Straightening up, Demetri surveyed the butchery and tried to feel some remorse. It didn’t come and he didn’t think it ever would. Nothing would ever compel him to regret what he had done this day.
“And people call me crazy?”
Andrei’s mock-whisper and then loud grunt had him turning to look at his friends. Andrei was rubbing his side shooting his brother a baleful look while Alexei was watching him with a calm expression.
“I think you might need to shower before we head back,” Alexei commented running his gaze quickly up and down his friend.
Demetri wiped his bloody hands against jeans already caked in blood. He released his feral side, talons and fangs vanishing, his deep green eyes returning. “Sounds like a plan.”
In the darkness in the forest, a lone male worked, silently gliding through the trees, gathering wood to build a low funeral pyre. Moonlight glinted off inky black locks as he gently placed a silk wrapped bundle atop the gathered wood, positioning it just right.
A flame flared, the wood caught alight, and the dark angel rose to watch the pyre burn swiftly from the accelerant added.
“You are avenged, bravest of younglings. Sleep well.”