Home > Dark Legacy (Dark #27)(9)

Dark Legacy (Dark #27)(9)
Author: Christine Feehan

Matt Bennett took the shot, his aim perfect, the high-caliber bullet tearing into Vadim’s skull, shredding it so that it burst apart like a ripe melon. He screamed, even as his head flew apart, the sound rending the air so that the buildings shook. Emeline dropped to the ground and rolled away from Danny and Amelia to draw the vampires away from the two children. Then she was on her feet and running back toward her house.

Vadim howled, his headless body whirling around as his head bounced on the ground, mouth wide open, the sound reverberating macabrely through the compound. He stretched out his arms to call back his shattered skull. The moment it settled on his body, Matt fired, destroying it all over again. The mouth screamed and the headless body pointed toward the “eagle’s nest,” the tall tower in the far corner where Matt was taking aim at the vampire closest to Danny.

Dragomir had already shielded Matt’s position, but he reinforced it before Vadim could retaliate with the bomb he hurled toward the tower. It exploded, fire ringing the tower harmlessly and dropping away. Emeline made it across the play yard before the lesser vampires cut off her retreat.

Dragomir shut off the bombardment of feeling as he commanded Lourdes to move to his left, as he passed the large red dragon, scooping the little girl from the back of the beast. She reacted in much the same way as Lourdes had, kicking and screaming until he cut her off with a single mind command. The moment their minds brushed against each other, Bella relaxed and clung to him just as Lourdes had.

Liv circled him, her green dragon weaving in and out of the vampires. The dragon was extremely fast and able to make incredible turns for such a big beast, almost reversing itself in midair. Dragomir could understand the appeal of a dragon, and if he ever had a child, he’d make certain his son or daughter had such a creature to help guard them.

Liv, drop down now. He gave the child instructions, knowing the vampires could also hear. At one time they had been Carpathian, born into the species just as he was, yet choosing to give up their souls. That didn’t mean they weren’t able to hear along the common path.

Liv’s dragon followed him toward the ground. Dragomir took one small eighth of a second to glance down. He’d been in the air three minutes acquiring both little girls, but thanks to the lesser vampires blocking Emeline’s escape, Vadim had caught her again. Below him, he glimpsed the teenagers trying to pull Genevieve from the play yard bench. The boy turned toward the threat of the vampire coming at them, shouting to his sister to run.

Emeline fought Vadim viciously, punching and kicking. There was blood on her neck, trickling down her arm and shoulder. Evidently, Vadim couldn’t fully control her mind, or he would have stopped her from fighting him. The master vampire had clearly taken her blood, thinking that would force his will on her. Dragomir’s belly knotted at the knowledge, but he didn’t have time to dwell on what was happening to her.

Fireballs continued to streak from the clouds, the trajectories straight at each of the children. He had time to turn his back, hunch his shoulders and protect the two little girls in his arms as streaks of white-hot molten fire tore into his shoulders and dripped down his back, creating long grooves. He cut off the pain and kept moving toward the ground below, his gaze on Liv as her dragon dodged the fiery streaks falling around her.

He had a newfound respect for the dragons. It would be good to sit on an animal while he protected children and the beast outmaneuvered Vadim’s attacks, dodging the threads of fire raining from the sky.

The boom of Matt’s rifle was steady now as more vampires joined the first ones. Matt, keep your men undercover at all times, tell them to choose their target, aim for the heart. Take out as many as they can. How many more minutes before he had aid? Danny, Amelia, get to the grate and call your dragons. Liv, lead the others to it.

The vampires, former Carpathians, could hear his commands to Liv, and she provided the instructions to the other children. They couldn’t hear his instructions to Matt because Dragomir had forged their own path when he’d taken the man’s blood. Immediately there was a frenzy as four vampires dove for the ten-year-old. She cried out and bent low over her dragon. The beast spun around in a tight circle, going right through the vampires. Sharp claws scraped the shimmering green scales, leaving a trail of blood in the air. The dragon didn’t hesitate, but spun back, his wedged head extended as he bathed the vampires in a steady stream of fire.

They screamed, engulfed in the flames, dropping almost on top of Dragomir as he found the ground with his feet and ran toward the grate, holding the little girls tightly to him. Above him the sky erupted in streams of red-hot magma, shooting down at the children and the Carpathian hunter. He was forced to maintain a shield over Matt to keep Vadim’s retaliations from killing him, and additional shields over the children. The threads of dripping lava hit the exposed dragons and just missed him as he ducked under the umbrella of the shield protecting Danny and Amelia.

We can’t wake Genevieve, Danny protested.

Leave her. Get to the grate. Get the dragons to follow you.

The two dragons, brown and orange, were hurt and they sat just outside the play yard, their great sides shuddering, heads down, trying to pant away the pain. Danny caught Amelia’s hand and yanked hard, pulling her toward the building to the left of the play yard. It looked like a large garage or storehouse. The long wall had no windows, and beneath it, running along the structure, was a long grate built into the ground. As Danny and Amelia raced toward it, the grate popped open, slamming against the outside wall of the storage house. Liv urged her green dragon straight at the hole in the ground the grate had covered. Lourdes’s blue dragon and Bella’s red one followed her.

Three vampires raced the children and dragons to the opening, their mouths stretched in vile grins, revealing spiked, stained teeth as they spread out, hovering just above the dark pit below them, their backs to the grate. As Dragomir ran with the girls, two vampires rose up in front of him, almost at his feet: one had his hand outstretched in preparation to tear at the ancient’s flesh. At Dragomir’s silent command, both girls, hands circling his neck, slid around to his back to cling like two little monkeys and he continued forward, driving his fist deep into the nearest vampire’s chest. He kept his forward momentum, even as he jerked his arm free, the withered, blackened heart in his fist.

He ran straight at the second vampire. The vampire’s eyes widened with shock. No more than a second had passed. The heartless vampire screamed and clutched his chest where black blood spewed. He dropped to his knees, shrieking for his heart.

Danny. Amelia. Dragomir timed his moment, whirling just before he reached the vampire threatening him. He tossed the two little girls into the air, straight at the teenagers. Both had their hands up, and Lourdes and Bella fell into their arms. Danny ran with Bella, Amelia with Lourdes, straight toward that yawning hole and the three vampires waiting for them. Liv led the parade of dragons, although the red and blue ones stayed behind Danny and Amelia.

Simultaneously, as Dragomir leapt into the air, coming down with his fist driving forward straight through bone and sinew to find the vampire’s heart, three missiles flew straight to the vampires waiting for the children. Rolling in the air as they flew, flames erupted and they burst through their chests, straight to the hearts, incinerating all three on contact. The vampires stood with their mouths open, shocked looks on their faces, and then they toppled backward. The grate fell, covering the hole, and with it dropped the side of the building, revealing a cavernous lift.

Liv and the injured dragons were swallowed and then Amelia and Danny with the girls and their dragons followed. The grate sprang back up, slamming the wall into place. The entire exchange had taken seconds. Dragomir dispensed with both withered hearts, hurling them to the ground and incinerating them immediately. He turned his head to see Emeline running for her house, with Vadim one step behind her.

3

This had been her worst nightmare, the dream occurring over and over for the last month. Emeline knew she shouldn’t run to her house. If she did, the Carpathian known as Dragomir would die. He always died saving her. She’d tried to avoid this destiny. She’d made certain not to meet him, never to speak to him, yet here she was, forced to make a split-second decision. If she didn’t make it to her house, Vadim would have her again and there would be no stopping him.

   
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