Home > Disarming (Reign of Blood #2)(3)

Disarming (Reign of Blood #2)(3)
Author: Alexia Purdy

Helen settled down on the cot, taking a deep breath as she visibly relaxed. I did not, could not. “That’s my girl. Now off to bed; you look like you haven’t slept in weeks.” With that she laid down as though nothing had happened between us and pulled the covers over her slender body before turning away toward the concrete wall that lined the other side of the cell.

I stood there for what may have been only minutes but felt like an eternity to me. I waited until her breath grew slow and even, until the silence became unbearable. My stomach was knotted up into a tight ball, and I doubted sleep would return after all that had happened. Time seemed different now. How it had come to change so much was lost on me. I had been tightly gripping the key to my mother’s prison, and it had started to hurt as it dug into the skin of my palm, probably nearly breaking the skin.

How could this happen? Why? I couldn’t even think anymore. My brains were mush, and my head ached as I finally slipped away to my bed.

Relaxing was impossible for the continued spill of tears on my face reminded me of the reasons that I tried not to look forward to anything now. She was right to protect us from her changes. The hunger would only grow from this point on. She had fought it long enough already, an internal struggle she had hidden well. I would have to get her some blood to feed on sooner or later, even if she were to turn into a hybrid.

After everything that had happened, in the end I wasn’t sure if she would take the blood. Maybe she would choose starvation instead; she was capable of it. She would’ve never wanted to be this way. Even now, the withered part of her fought to stay. I didn’t think she’d try suicide, but things had become so uncertain, I wasn’t so sure anymore. I’d lost control over my surroundings so insanely fast, and it was all so unfair. Nothing I did fixed anything. It was a wonder I ever thought it could.

Chapter Three

Full of Wish


“YOU’RE NOT USING it right!” Miranda’s irritation slipped into her voice as it hammered in my head. Another headache had ensued and I wanted to stop our training session straight away before I puked. I shook my head and waved her away.

“I’m not doing this today.” I dropped the katana to my side and glared at the beautiful hybrid who was now the closest thing to a BFF I had as of late. Her dark brown hair was pulled tightly away from her face, making her glaring brown eyes stand out brighter against her pale skin. She ventured outside of the hive quite often, but avoided a suntan as much as possible. I didn’t blame her, the sun made their skin flush an uncomfortable beet red as it began to cook under the UV rays.

Unlike the other hybrids, the daylight did not scare her away too often. Her slight tan was evidence of that.

“What is wrong with you today?” She snarled. My brooding was grinding on her nerves, leaving me to think she was close to stomping off.

I shrugged, heading to put the katana away. We stood in the driveway of my bunker where the sun didn’t shine too much during the day. I didn’t want to be too far from home with my mother the way she was. Jeremy watched us closely from the sidelines, sharpening and polishing the set of knives I had acquired for him. “First things first,” I’d told him, “learn to take care of your weapons.”

“It’s my mom,” I said to Miranda. “I don’t know what’s running through her head. She’s distant, different. Wanting me to lock her up in a cell at night. She thinks she’s turning into a monster.”

“She’ll be alright.” Miranda’s voice was soft and comforting. “Turning takes a few weeks, but it will be fine. I brought her some blood,” Miranda offered, her stern tone fading as she remembered the reason why I’d be so out of sorts today. I’d hoped she’d understand but my mind was elsewhere. “She’s all set when the blood lust hits.”

“I know. And thanks. I was going to ask you about that. It’s just, I don’t know what to think about all this.” I slipped down on the bench next to Jeremy, ruffling his hair. He didn’t protest this time but gave me a tentative look. “She never wanted this. You saw how she took to the blood transfusions. She damn near lost her mind when she found out it was laced with vampire blood. She’ll never drink it, if it comes down to it.” I let a breath out, hoping to loosen some of the knotted tension building inside of me.

I was exhausted. Knowing what was happening to my mother locked inside her self-imposed prison was little comfort. I was only hoping that turning into a hybrid would help her mind mend from the torture she had endured at the hands of Christian’s hive. It was cold comfort to know he was dead at my hands. My only regret was that it hadn’t been long and torturous like he’d deserved for what he had done to her.

Miranda came to sit on the other side of Jeremy. “Look, it’s going to be a bit rough in the beginning, but I’m sure she will be just fine in the end. It’s not hard to be a hybrid. Just takes getting used to.” She winked at Jeremy, who flushed as he averted his lingering stare to study the knives more intently. He had laid his small set out on the table in front of him and had been feverishly polishing the metal.

I nodded, pulling the hairband out of my dark hair, shaking it loose. It was growing longer and kept getting in my face when I trained. The last of the cool spring breezes were curling over my skin. Winter had been brief and mild, signaling that the summer was going to be intense with fiery, burning heat. I dreaded it with every cell of my body. The scorch would bring dry, sweltering air with the feel of sticking one’s head into an oven on full blast. The stench of the rotting ferals and their infinite disgustingness would increase with it too. It was unimaginable. Definitely my least favorite season of all.

“I just can’t shake the feeling that something really bad is going to happen, something I can’t control in any way.” I shuddered, but it was more than the breeze chilling me. I liked having a certain amount of control. One thing about the end of the world is that control is never going to happen.

“Nothing’s for certain, April. Not even tomorrow. We just have to hope for the best. It’s not much, but I guess it’s just the lot that’s been given to us now. I know it’s not comforting, and I wish I had more to add. I just try to see the light in every new day. If I make it through, hey, it’s great. If not, I don’t think I’ll be too upset. I’ll be dead.” Miranda attempted a half worn smile, half joking and ignoring how I stared at her like she was nuts. I shot her a twisted glare and shook my head.

“Um, Miranda?”


“Don’t try to make me feel better, please.” I gave her a stern frown, making her laugh out loud.

“Sure thing, April.”

“What’s it like?”

Miranda gave me a strange look and wrinkled her nose. “What’s what like?”

“You know, turning.” I picked the grime from my fingernails.

“Well,” she stretched like a cat and then slumped back on the chair. “It takes a while. You just feel strange at first, like your skin is tingling. Oh, and the smell.”

“What smell?”

“The smell of blood. It’s hangs in the air like strong perfume, but it smells delicious.” Miranda glanced at Jeremy, who was pretending to clean his daggers. I knew better; he was clinging to every word we said.

“Is it irresistible?” My stomach turned at the thought, though I quite enjoyed the taste of blood myself. That was the scary thing about it.

“Yes. It’s like starving for weeks and feeling so incredibly thirsty, because nothing satiates it. Nothing. Nothing but blood.”

“How long before you bit someone for blood?”

A silence built as I waited, causing me to look up at my friend.

“Not long.” Miranda shifted uncomfortably in her seat, probably searching for words to make it sound better. I knew there were none. “A group of humans wandered into our hive before we had it completely secured. They saw us, thought we were human, too. Luckily it was just me and Blaze near the entrance, but I couldn’t control it.” Her gaze shot up toward the sky, searching for something to help the stab of regret fade. “They smelled amazing, and I knew what I was right then. Blaze tried to stop me, but his own hunger won out. We snatched them both and drained them until they fell unconscious. After that, the scent of blood drifted to the others, and there was no surviving that.” She cleared her throat, aware that Jeremy and I were staring at her.

“So she’s right to lock herself up.” I glanced up to the blue atmosphere above us along with her. So much to fear, and now even more right here in our own sanctuary, where we should have been the safest.

“I’m afraid that, yes, she’s right to do so.” Miranda’s cool hand brushed the wild hair away from my face, but I barely registered it. I felt the twinge of despair bleeding back into my chest. It was getting harder and harder to shake off. I was afraid that one day I wouldn’t be able to.

“Come on, I’m starving. Food always makes me feel better.” Miranda stood up, still holding her katana in its sheath. I gave her a slow tilt of my head and began to gather up our weapons. I was thankful I had someone to talk to now that my mother was pretty much incapacitated. I missed our chats, but Miranda’s company was comforting in her absence. Even if she was a hybrid vampire, it was better than nothing. If I had ever had a sister, I would have wanted her to be like Miranda. Her optimism was contagious, which was exactly what I needed right now.

I watched the horizon as the sun slipped over the trees, sending the sky seeping into colors of purple and blue. I longed for it to stay, but it was a visitor who left every night. Still it was certain to return every morning. Even so, I wanted it to stay overnight, I wanted the sun to shine forever. But like the few certain things in this world, it was like clockwork, going on and on until the night swallowed it up. I hated the nights, hated them with every fiber of my being.

The nights brought death to life. Nothing was ever going to change from that now. I’d never get to leave this bunker, not ever. I’d never sleep in a normal room again, especially with the ferals and other vampiric hybrids out there. Who knows what was lurking out there. I had lived in a bubble of sorts since the outbreak. It had worked to keep us safe. It was the only reason we’d made it this far. All I knew was that it was me and my family against the world. Whatever was now left of it.

Chapter Four

Plague of Ash


“ARE YOU SURE this will work?” I shifted my weight on my feet, squatting down on the roof of the Aria hotel. The heat of the day was still radiating off the hot concrete, keeping me sweating as I worked and rigged up miles of cords and dozens of cameras. It was a great vantage point; I could see almost all of The Strip. It was a gorgeous evening, but I was not looking forward to spending the night up there in the dark, even with the stunning view, full moon and sparkling stars in the sky. Nope, definitely didn’t look forward to being on The Strip at night. Not one bit. “I still don’t think this is such a good idea.”

I adjusted the night vision camera that I had been working on and peered through the eye piece to be sure that I had every piece of The Strip covered that I was assigned to. Rye was helping to set more up along the other side of the casino’s roof. They were all battery operated, and each one would have to be changed out halfway through the night with fresh batteries to keep them going. A few had extended batteries on them, but I had not had time to find enough of the longer lasting batteries and have them all charged before dusk. We had them charging now for when the others ran out of juice, but it was better that we were there to make sure all the cameras worked the entire night so we wouldn’t miss anything.

“It will work.” Rye grinned over at me, his grey eyes flashing and reflecting the tangerine light of the sunset. It made him look even more handsome, like a photo-shopped cover model on one of the romance novels I had glanced at in the grocery stores when everything was still normal. Now I had a small stack of them at the bunker but had never gotten around to reading them. I wondered if the heroes in them were anything like Rye. He had an amazing build. If they were, I needed to get going on my reading for sure.

“I never agreed to stay up here like a sitting duck all night. I’m not too sure about that!” I groaned, dropping one of the batteries as I tried to clamp the camera into place. Securing it, I swept the roof and searched the ground for the battery. The light was already starting to fade and quickly. Rye found it under one of the pipes running the length of the roof and held it up. I reached over to take it gently, grazing his fingertips as he held onto it for a moment too long, sending jolts of warmth through my stomach. His sly grin told me he knew what he did to me. I felt the heat rise to my face and averted my eyes before I could see him get the satisfaction of watching me flush.

He’s such a tease.

I felt the blood flashing across my face as I finally pulled it from his grip and jetted back over to stuff it into place. I was sweating buckets up there; at least the night would cool it down enough to sleep a bit. I had the second shift watch, so I had to get to bed soon.

“It’s just one night. I’m sure we’ll see something and won’t have to come up here again. They’ve been consistent in dumping feral remains all over this city block all week, mucking up the streets in soot and vampire ash.” Rye finished his own set of cameras and shoved the duffle bags that we had used to carry them up to the side. I felt his eyes lingering on me as I continued to work. It made me smile, knowing he was enjoying the view. At least I hoped he was.

“Who’s they?” I turned then to meet his gaze. Rye pressed his lips together as I tried his patience once more. I knew he wanted to shake me sometimes; I was not an easy person to hang out with. Things have to be a certain way with me and this deviation from the norm had me worried to no end.

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