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Friday, August 29, 2014

Sweet Tarts, Bitter Hearts Ch. 21

Copyright 2014
Bailey Bradford





Chapter Twenty-One


Kennet.
The name reverberated in Abbie’s head. In fact, he was so stunned by it that he didn’t realize Zeb was the vamp trying to strangle him until Zeb spoke.
“You were supposed to die,” Zeb spat.
Abbie couldn’t wipe at the spittle on his face, and he wasn’t as strong as Zeb, even though he was more muscular.
But he could sure as shit bring up his knee, hard. It was downright delightful to feel the solid slam of Zeb’s balls between their bodies.
“Urk!” Zeb’s eyes bulged and he immediately released Abbie’s neck.
Abbie gasped for air while Zeb flopped onto the floor, jerking and twitching like a fish out of water.
Abbie wasn’t a good enough person not to appreciate seeing his ex in agony, he decided. He also knew a vamp’s strength and quick recovery time, so he didn’t stand there and admire his knee-work.
Claude and Kennet were involved in a brutal fight. Abbie’s instinct was to jump into it, but first he had to make sure Zeb wouldn’t be a problem.
To which goal, Abbie looked for something sturdy to wallop the vamp with. A lamp was the closest thing at hand, so he grabbed it and swung away.
From outside, he heard shouts. He prayed that none of the coven members were killed. And he wondered who or what was out there attacking them, because he recognized the sounds of battle, so to speak.
He hit Zeb with the lamp, catching him on the side, then the shoulder. Zeb hissed at him and curled into a tight ball.
Abbie hesitated. He could hit Zeb repeatedly on the head and hope to kill him—
Except he couldn’t do that. The very idea made his stomach churn. “Goddamn it!” Why did he have to be such a wuss? “Roll over and fight me like a man, you asshole!”
Abbie kicked him in the butt.
Zeb huddled down smaller.
Abbie was surprised he didn’t go batty, but maybe the blow to the balls had incapacitated him for a while.
Abbie spared a look at Claude and Kennet. Kennet was huge, and scary-looking with his lank, dark hair clumped in a matted mess. He had deeply sunken in dark eyes that were streaked with red, and fangs longer than any Abbie had ever seen. Add in the claw-like talons where fingernails should be, and the black, almost sheer wings, and Kennet was a damned nightmare.
And he was trying to force Claude to look at him.
Abbie didn’t know what would happen in that case. Claude could enthrall vamps and humans alike, but his sire had taught him to do that.
Which meant that Kennet might be able to enthrall Claude. For what purpose? Abbie couldn’t figure it out and he didn’t have time to. Something very bad would happen if Kennet had Claude under his control, and Claude might not be able to resist due to Kennet being his sire.
Kennet had a first claim to Claude, at least that’s how it seemed to Abbie. It pissed him off. Then again, Abbie had the final claim to Claude. They were mates. That bond was stronger than the one of sire and vamp, possibly.
Abbie shouted when Kennet slapped Claude. Claude went flying back, breaking the wall, sending great puffs of drywall dust out.
Blood dripped from Claude’s cheek where Kennet had caught him with a claw.
Kennet’s lips twisted in a perverse smile. “Now come to me.”
Claude lowered his head.
Abbie’s heart sank. “Claude, no—“
Claude roared and shot off the remains of the wall like a ball from a cannon. He was hardly even a blur, he moved so fast.
As much as Abbie wanted to watch and ensure that Claude was okay, he couldn’t. Zeb sprung up and reached for him.
Abbie swung with the lamp but Zeb cackled and slapped it aside. He grabbed it and threw the thing out the window.
“Now, Abbie, baby, come obey your master,” Zeb crowed.
Abbie sneered at him. “I don’t have a master, asshole. You left me to die. I’m not yours.”
“Yeah, yeah, Claude finally grew a pair. I heard. Doesn’t matter. I fucked you first. I owned you. I still do. Only I took from you—“
Abbie had heard more than enough. He wouldn’t regret anything now, thanks to Zeb reminding him of all the atrocities he’d committed against Abbie.
Zeb laughed when Abbie hit him. “You should just die, Abbie. You aren’t even a good fuck. What’s your purpose in living? You haven’t got one.”
“Deflecting, that’s what you’re doing.” Abbie ducked at the same time he pivoted and kicked. His heel connected with Zeb’s knee.
“Fuck!” Zeb howled. “I’ll make you suffer!”
“Did that when I was mated to you,” Abbie snapped as he scampered backwards. “Sex with you was definitely suffering.”
“You never had better,” Zeb snarled.
Abbie huffed out a sarcastic, “Right,” then barely missed having his throat ripped out when Zeb flew at him.
Abbie got a handful of Zeb’s hair and yanked. The vamp’s head snapped back and he punched Abbie’s wrist.
He had to let go. Abbie wasn’t certain something hadn’t just broken in his wrist. He ignored the pain and reached into his shirt, where he’d tucked the one thing he hadn’t been sure he should bring.
Perhaps Abbie had known it would come to this despite his hesitation earlier. He’d brought the crudely carved stake with him, after all.
It was different, however, to drive that stake into Zeb’s chest when Zeb was actively trying to kill him. This wasn’t like bashing his head in when he was down.
Zeb turned just as Abbie thrust. The stake tore into his chest, but missed Zeb’s heart.
“Hah!” Zeb yelled, but he didn’t look so cocky now. He changed from man to bat and flew at Abbie.
It was just luck rather than skill that Abbie struck true to his target the second time. The stake sliced right into Zeb’s bat form.
Zeb screamed, his shape changing again to that of a man. “Get it—out!”
Abbie twisted the stake. For one second, when he looked into Zeb’s startled gaze, he thought he saw regret there.
Then fury replaced it, and Abbie had to admit the regret almost certainly had nothing to do with him as a person, and everything to do with Zeb realizing he was about to be ash.
Zeb screamed with pain and before the sound even stopped ringing in Abbie’s ears, Zeb was ashes floating to the floor.
Abbie almost dropped the stake. Only the knowledge that he might need it to help Claude kept him from doing so. His mind wanted to flip out over him killing Zeb, but Abbie refused to go there. Later, when he and Claude were safe, he could lose it.
Or perhaps much sooner, he thought as he spun around to see several unfamiliar vamps storming in through the doorway.
~~~~
Claude had to fight against the mental pull, against shock and against Kennet himself. The vamp was bigger than he used to be, and insane as fuck as far as Claude could tell. The wings weren’t from a vamp nature, and Claude suspected Kennet had done something horrific involving demons and bargaining. But for what and how, he had no idea. Demons weren’t to be messed with, that was the one thing he knew with a certainty. They were almost impossible to kill, and they were evil incarnate.
Kennet seemed to be some vampire-demon mix, and the power radiating off of him was frightening.
Claude’s mind was under assault as much as his body was. Kennet slapped him and Claude’s entire brain rang, not just his ears. The impact against the wall jarred him through and through.
Had Abernathy not been standing there, looking at him, believing in him, Claude might have just given up. He was hurting and aware that Kennet was more powerful than he.
Abernathy’s faith gave him strength. If he was going to die, it wouldn’t be there against that broken wall.
“Leave,” he tried to shout to Abernathy, but his vocal cords didn’t cooperate. Claude slammed into Kennet, fighting dirty. This wasn’t about honor; it was about survival.
Kennet laughed at him and grabbed Claude, digging the tips and first inch or so of his claws into Claude’s arms. He shook Claude like Claude was nothing, a child in his grip at the most.
Claude’s teeth clacked together and those nails dug deeper into his flesh. He flailed, kicking, trying to strike out, but Kennet only laughed at him.
“Such a disappointment,” Kennet said, those red and black eyes of his flashing.  “So stupid and easy to fool. I was never ash.”
“Obviously,” Claude gritted out, tasting his own blood.
Kennet leaned in and licked his lips with a forked tongue. “I’d make you one of us if I thought you’d obey me, but the way you’ve fought my thrall… you simply must die.” Kennet shook him again and Claude felt his bones rattle. “Should I fuck your mate before or after I kill you?”
Claude knew Kennet was trying to piss him off, was enjoying it and possibly feeding off of Claude’s anger and fear. Demons were like that; human suffering strengthened them, and it seemed, so did vamp pain and turmoil.
So Claude did his best to clamp down on every emotion he felt, including hatred. How Kennet had deceived him, why—it didn’t matter. Surviving, keeping Abernathy from being harmed, those were the important things.
Kennet gnashed his teeth in Claude’s face. The fetid scent of his breath was repulsive, and that serpentine-like forked tongue was unnerving. Kennet flicked it and slithered it between Claude’s lips.
Claude quit gritting his teeth long enough to do some snapping of his own.
Kennet’s howl was his reward but the taste of the vamp-demon’s blood was vile.
Claude spat and gagged as Kennet shook him again. Then the room spun when Claude was thrown again.
This time, Claude caught himself, morphing into his bat form and darting up.
Kennet changed as well. In their current incarnations, they were more closely matched in size. Claude attacked with vigor. Fighting as a bat wasn’t a completely new experience for him, but it was still an odd one.
He tore at Kennet’s wings, the skin there frail and vulnerable.
Kennet squeaked at him and veered down. Kennet shifted and bellowed as blood streamed down his right arm. The wound was deep, with bone exposed.
“I will kill him for this!”
Claude knew exactly who Kennet was referring to.
And it was then that Claude saw the four vampires surrounding Abernathy.
He also saw his coven members, human and vamp alike, rushing in the door. The human members held wicked looking stakes and bottles of water he’d bet were considered holy. There were white things floating in the liquid too.
Garlic.
That was all Claude had time to register before the screaming and ashing began.
Claude and Abernathy locked gazes for less than a second, but in that minute span of time, Claude understood—he had to trust his coven to protect his mate, and trust his mate to survive.
Because Kennet wasn’t going to make any of that easy.
Claude gave the barest nod before diving at Kennet. At the last second, he zipped up, almost smacking the ceiling.
Kennet leapt and swatted at him. Claude veered left then right, trying to concentrate on his foe and not the fighting by the entryway.
The screams were distracting though, as was the scent of burnt flesh and ashes in the air.
Kennet grabbed him by one foot. Claude morphed immediately. It wasn’t a good move for either of them. He fell onto Kennet and dug his fingers into the wound on Kennet’s right arm.
Kennet screamed and punched him as they fell to the floor together.
Claude tore at the bloody flesh. It burned his fingers and hand. Anywhere that Kennet’s blood landed, burned him.
“Claude!” he heard someone shout to him.
The next thing Claude knew, a piece of wood was pressed into his hand.
It was every vamps nightmare, but he didn’t hesitate. Claude stabbed at Kennet again and again, first the arm, then the shoulder, the neck, anywhere he could reach.
Kennet’s agonized shrieks would haunt Claude for eternity. He’d never heard such a sound, as if a soul were being torn slowly in two.
But Kennet wasn’t dying, at least not fast enough, and he was using the claws on his left hand to tear at Claude’s back.
Perhaps because he was more than just a vampire now.
“Holy water,” Claude rasped, uncertain anyone would hear him.
“Duck,” Abernathy said very close to his ear. “Better yet—“
Claude was jerked away, ripped from Kennet’s grip. The pain was excruciating, those long nails tearing through his flesh.
Abernathy stepped in front of him, throwing something at Kennet.
Through his pain-hazed vision, Claude saw that it wasn’t only Abernathy dousing Kennet. Every human there was contributing to Kennet’s demise.

So it was, with a sulfur cloud and an ear-blistering shriek, that Kennet, Claude’s sire, was truly turned to ash.

Friday update ***NSFW*** Pics

It looks like there will be an impromptu road trip this weekend, and seclusion in the mountains in NM for a few days. Hiking, relaxing, and no Internet are all extremely likely. The Hubs has a work-related trip to AZ he needs help with, and we are going to stop on NM in the way there and back. 

So...I will try to have an installment up late tonight (but, if we have to leave too early today, then I might not get it done), and likely won't be heard from until next week. 

Monday's installment will be canceled, Tuesday there will be a late Holiday Short with Aidan and Zane (late, because I'd intended to have it up on Monday, but since we won't be home by then...), then Weds the regular installments will resume. 

I posted pics on FB, but let's have some different ones here for Friday fun, since I didn't post them yesterday. 












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Thursday, August 28, 2014

https://www.totallybound.com/broncs-and-bullies! Tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sweet Tarts, Bitter Hearts Ch. 20

Copyright 2014
Bailey Bradford




Chapter Twenty


Claude took three mated pairs, and another dozen vamps with them. He hated to ask the human counterparts to put themselves at risk, but all of them were determined.
And if anything happened to Mark, Billie, or Porter, Claude would also lose three of his vamp coven members—and likely his own life. At the least, he would have to flee with Abernathy, and he understood that.
But he wouldn’t let anything happen to his coven members. Not the humans, or the vamps.
And not Abernathy.
The house looked ominous for all that it was an average home in appearance. There were no neon signs proclaiming the place the den of evil or espousing the need for all vampires to die.
But there was still a very malevolent vibe coming from the house.
It could have all been in his head, considering that every time he blinked, he saw Reed, laughing, then being incinerated in an instant.
Claude didn’t know what happened after death, if Reed was gone into some vast nothingness or in a heaven or hell of sorts. If he’d be reincarnated—as a person, a bug or tree or—
“It wasn’t your fault,” Abernathy said quietly beside him.
Claude patted Abernathy’s hand. “Of course it was.”
Abernathy cupped Claude’s jaw and glared at him. “You are not a god. You don’t make every decision for us. If you have that kind of power, then snap your fingers and bring him back. If you can’t do that, and from what everyone tells me, Reed made his own choice despite you telling him not to do it, then you need to accept that Reed—“
“Not now,” Claude hissed, his gut cramping with unease and guilt. He sighed when Abernathy glared. That anger made him want to ask for forgiveness and also, bend over and beg to be fucked. Obviously, now wasn’t the time. “I am not patronizing you or putting you off, not like you seem to think I am,” Claude continued. “It is simply that I already feel ill at ease here, and thinking about Reed, discussing it, arguing with you, all of those things are altering my senses. I promise, you can thoroughly castigate me when we are back in our own room.”
“Casti—“ Abernathy snorted and rolled his eyes. “Bitch at you, you mean. Okay, deal.” He turned and looked at the house from where Claude and he hid. “It just looks like a lower middle class house, you know?”
“I do.” Claude gestured the other vamps and humans forward.
“When do we go in?” Billie asked, and for the first time in Claude’s memory, she looked very nervous. Which for her, meant she had a sheen of sweat above her lip and her gaze wasn’t quite steady. “Man, that’s like Amityville junior or something. It feels…off.”
“I won’t be sending any of you in first.”
Abernathy growled at him. “You better not be thinking you’re running in there!”
Claude didn’t like that tone being taken with him in front of the others, but he wouldn’t begrudge Abernathy his concern. Not when he felt the same way about Abernathy. “No, of course not. I do have someone else for that job.”
Abernathy arched a brow at him.
Claude pointed to the shrubs by the house. “There.” He whistled.
The shrubs shook then the human he’d left there before sunrise came out of the hedges. He yawned and stretched and scratched his balls.
“How…er, pleasant,” Billie muttered. “I can smell him from here.”
“He is rather…” Claude decided he didn’t need to breathe through his nose. “Anyway, he will enter the premises first.”
Abernathy bit his bottom lip. “I’m not sure that’s something I’m okay with.”
Claude put some steel in his gaze. He couldn’t be seen as anything but the leader by his coven, or else his life and Abernathy’s could be at risk. Not all vamps were the loyal sort. “It isn’t your decision.” His clipped tone matched his expression.
Abernathy didn’t argue again.
They watched as the human went inside the house. After several minutes, he came back out and stood looking confused.
“Stay here,” Claude instructed.
Abernathy held onto his hand.
Claude willed him to cede control. Outside of the bedroom, Claude had to be in charge.
Abernathy stared at him for a second, then nodded. “He’s at least not a good person. You wouldn’t pluck some innocent guy off the street for this.”
Abernathy’s faith in him brightened the darkness that had been creeping over Claude’s heart. At least his mate believed in him.
Although Claude didn’t know exactly how bad of a person his enthralled human was. He hadn’t wanted to know once he’d delved in the man’s mind a little bit. It’d been like dipping his toes in shit. So no, not a good person.
Claude approached the man slowly, knowing an attack could come from the sky itself. He didn’t feel the presence of any other vamps, but that hardly meant anything. He hadn’t even caught on to the fact that someone was helping Zebulon until the proof was quite literally dumped on his porch.
“Anything new in there?” Claude asked. “Has anyone, human or not, entered the premises?”
“Don’t think so.” The man grunted and his eyes rolled.
“You don’t think so.” Claude should have picked a better class of criminal. One with a few more IQ points, at least.
“Didn’t see anything that looked different from this morning. None of them light thingies you told me to look for, either.”
Claude waved the man off. “You’re dismissed. “After you’re deposited in the alley, you’ll forget all of this. And be a better person,” he added. That part wouldn’t take, he mused, but at least he tried. “Return him to an alley on the Strip,” he said to Kyle.
“Got it.” Kyle swooped in and grabbed the man, then left.
Abernathy and the others approached Claude. “Well,” Abernathy said, “Now we can all go in.”
“No.” Claude wouldn’t risk everyone. “I’ll go.”
“And I’ll go with you.” Abernathy set his jaw in a firm line. “No arguing. If you bite it, you know I will too, anyway, so there’s no sense in telling me to stay out here.”
There were a dozen scenarios in which Abernathy would be a liability—as a hostage, for instance. Claude didn’t argue, either. His mate should have some say, and Claude would no more unman him than he wanted to be himself.
“Very well. Please follow my instructions.” Claude waited for the small nod. To the others, he directed them to watch the place from all sides, and to watch the sky. They agreed upon a sound of alarm, then Claude left them and walked toward the house with Abernathy at his side.
Goose bumps raced over his skin when he entered the home.
“Something feels very bad in here,” Abernathy murmured.
Claude agreed as he looked around. The interior of the house had been well-maintained but trashed during the search for information. The pale yellow walls were decorated with mostly crooked pictures, photos of the man who was now a vampire, and several children. There was one of them with a middle-aged couple, and he supposed that had been their parents.
“What is that smell?” Abernathy grumbled. “Like rot.”
Claude smelled it too. Fortunately, it wasn’t death. He’d been afraid he’d find the siblings here, dead, and was very relieved that wasn’t the case.
But it did reek. “I don’t know. Food, perhaps? Garbage? It’s odd the odor didn’t reach outdoors.”
Which alarmed him greatly when he realized it.
And that was when the figures dropped from the ceiling itself.  
Fuck! I should have told the human to look up!
Before Claude could even shout, he and Abernathy were tackled, the shapes morphing from bats to vamps in less than the blink of an eye.
And an old, almost forgotten scent struck fear into every corner of Claude’s soul.

“Kennet—“

What's His Passion? - All Romance Ebooks

What's His Passion? - All Romance Ebooks