Home > Haven (Relentless #5)(4)

Haven (Relentless #5)(4)
Author: Karen Lynch

“That’s good to know.” I cast about for a way to move the conversation to a more comfortable subject. “So, how are things in Los Angeles?”

“Awesome. I’ve been on the trail of a nasty incubus for the last two weeks, and I got the bastard this morning. Let me tell you, that was a very satisfying kill. Although, the team wasn’t exactly thrilled about my methods. But hey, I got the job done, right?”

I could only imagine how Jordan had lured and snared a male sex demon. My warrior friend was dedicated to her work, but she definitely marched to her own drum.

“Any sign of that Egyptian warrior you were hoping to see there? What was his name?”

“Hamid.” She sighed heavily. “I swear he’s hiding from me. Too bad. I wouldn’t mind doing a little foreign exchange with him, if you know what I mean.”

I laughed. “Yeah, I do.”

“But he’s not the only hot male in California. Just going to the beach is enough to give a girl whiplash.” She chuckled. “I actually think Blondie is on to something with the ‘only dating humans’ thing. They’re nice to look at, and some of them even know how to please a woman. And the best part, no strings attached.”

“You’re so bad.”

“I’m a woman who knows what she wants. I might have to hit the clubs tonight. A good kill always puts me in the mood to work off some energy – if you know what I mean.” She opened and closed a door, and the background sounds were suddenly muted. “Maybe when you’re ready for a change of scenery, you can come visit me for a few days. God knows we could use some more estrogen around here.”

A male shouted something that sounded like a retort, and she said something back. “Okay, I gotta go. The guys in charge get pissy if you don’t write up field reports right away. I’ll let you get back to settling in.”

“Thanks for calling.”

“Anytime. You’re my only BFF here with Sara out of the country. Get used to hearing from me. Later, chica.”

The apartment seemed too quiet after talking to Jordan. I found a radio in the kitchen, and I tuned it to a station that played a mix of everything. Turning up the volume so I could hear it all over the apartment, I went upstairs to lose myself in my painting for a while.

I’d been working on a landscape of the lake back at Westhorne for the last few months, but I’d struggled with my painting since I was healed. My talent was rusty after not using it for so long, and it was taking me a while to capture the setting right. Before I’d left, I’d taken a bunch of pictures so I wouldn’t have to work from memory, and I pinned them to the top of the canvas. I spent the next few hours trying to replicate the reflection of the trees on the glassy surface of the lake. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the end result, but the work left me feeling more relaxed and at home here.

It was getting dark outside when I put away my brushes and descended the stairs to shower and change into my pajamas. Outside, people laughed as they walked past the building, reminding me it was a Friday night. There’d been a time when I couldn’t imagine staying in and going to bed so early. But the long day had finally caught up with me, and I was trying not to yawn as I brushed my teeth.

I almost left the lights on when I got into bed, but I made myself turn them all off except for a small lamp in the bedroom. It wasn’t that the dark frightened me as much as it seemed to press down on me. Waking up in the dark made me think for a few horrible seconds that I was back in that sunless world I’d lived in for over two decades. I hadn’t slept without a light on in months.

The queen-size bed was comfortable, and I felt myself slipping into sleep not long after my head hit the pillow. I snuggled beneath the quilt, thinking drowsily that my first day on my own hadn’t been too bad at all. Maybe tonight would be good, too. Hopefully, for once, the dreams wouldn’t come.

Chapter 2

Roland

“Well, that was a total bust,” I grumbled as I buckled my seat belt and rolled down my window.

Pete laughed and started the car. He was the designated driver tonight.

“You’re just upset you didn’t hook up with Taylor.”

“Ugh. Talk about a close call.” I scowled at the windshield. “Why do people get hammered like that and then end up puking in the bathroom the rest of the night? I’m all for having a beer, but that is so not attractive.”

He made a face. “At least you didn’t have Lisa Reid asking if you wanted to make out in the car.”

“Dude, you did not make out with Justin’s little sister in my car.”

“Give me some credit,” he retorted. “Besides, she can’t be more than fifteen. No way I’m going there.”

I sighed and leaned my head against the headrest. “Is it just me, or did everyone at that party seem way younger than us?”

The question sounded weird to my own ears, considering most of the people at Justin’s had been in our senior class, and we’d partied with them many times. But something felt different tonight. I’d stood there drinking my beer and watching them celebrate the end of high school, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I didn’t belong. It was as if I’d suddenly aged five years, and I was looking at a bunch of kids getting drunk.

“It’s not them. We were just like that last year. We’ve changed ever since that stuff happened with Sara.”

“Yeah, we have.” Seeing one of your best friends get stabbed and fall off a cliff, and thinking she was dead for three weeks, that changes you. Not to mention everything else that happened last fall.

We approached the waterfront. It felt weird driving past Sara’s building these days and seeing all the darkened windows and the empty parking spot. Sara had been such a big part of my life, and I missed having her around. I was happy she and Nikolas found each other, though. He was a good guy, and he’d do anything for her.

“Hey, what’s that?” Pete slowed the car. “Is that a light in Sara’s apartment?”

“What?” I craned my neck and saw a faint glow coming from one of the second-story windows. “That’s Nate’s bedroom.”

Pete stopped the car, and we reached for our doors as a girl’s scream came from inside the building.

I jumped out of the car and raced up the steps. When I reached the front door, I remembered Pete had my keys, and I had to wait for him to join me. He handed them over, and I unlocked the door.

Except for the soft light spilling from the bedroom, the apartment was dark when we let ourselves in. Down the hallway, we heard a girl’s soft cries, and we moved toward the sound.

If I’d been in wolf form, my hackles would have been standing up straight. It was 1:00 a.m., and no one should be here. I’d seen enough awful things in my life for me to imagine what would make a girl scream in an empty building, even here in New Hastings.

I almost shifted, but I decided to see what we were dealing with first. Soundlessly, I approached the bedroom with Pete close behind me. I stepped into the room and stared at the sight before me.

“What the hell?”

In the bed, a girl lay, thrashing and crying out, the blankets twisted around her legs. A quick glance around the room told me she was alone and in no danger. She was asleep and appeared to be caught in a nightmare.

Pete crowded in behind me. “Who is that?”

The girl jerked awake with a small scream. She stared at us, wild-eyed, and scrambled back against the headboard. Her long dark hair covered half her face, but I could still see the stark terror in her brown eyes.

I held up my hands and took a step toward her. She made a small sound and jumped from the bed, grabbing the old brass lamp from the nightstand. She was probably half my size, but she brandished the heavy lamp like she was an Amazon.

“Get away! What do you want?” she yelled, her breath coming in harsh pants. The fear in her eyes told me what she believed we wanted, and the thought of it sickened me.

“We’re not going to hurt you,” I said calmly.

She could be a runaway who had seen the place was empty and decided to squat here for a few days. She definitely wasn’t local, and it seemed odd for a runaway from the city to come to a small place like New Hastings. Either way, I didn’t want to frighten her, even if she had broken in here.

   
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