Fanged & Fabulous | Chapter 28 of 34

Author: Michelle Rowen | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 4312 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter 19

Less than fifteen minutes later, George and I stood, currently bodyguard-free, on the curb outside Clancy’s, looking at the hunter bar with a large serving of uneasiness. I nervously twisted the gold necklace around my neck.

“How do you even know he’s still in there?” George whispered.

“I just know.” I had my arms crossed in front of me. Strangely enough, my feet had stopped working. Completely. They were a lot smarter than me, I guess, and didn’t want to go any closer to the pub than we already were.

“Why don’t we just shout his name? Maybe he’ll come out.”

“No, we’re going to have to go in.” Odds were that by now these hunters knew what I looked like. I’d be risking my life going into Clancy’s tonight.

But I needed Quinn.

I had to save Thierry. Nothing else mattered.

My feet, however, were still having their doubts about the whole situation.

“There’s a phone booth across the road,” George said. “Why don’t I call Clancy’s and ask to speak to Quinn?”

I glanced at him. “You can wait out here if you’re scared.”

“Scared? I resent the accusation. I’m not scared. I’m simply trying to be practical. And this is a new shirt. I’d rather not get it dirty. Or get a huge hole from a stake in it. Call me crazy.”

“You’re not crazy. Okay, let’s just go. It’ll be like pulling off a Band-Aid, do it quickly and it doesn’t hurt.”

“Pulling off a Band-Aid, getting a wooden stake through the heart. Potato, Po-tah-to.”

I tried to smile but failed. I looked down at my feet.

Come on boots. Start walkin’.

And they did. It was a miracle.

I pushed the door open and got a big whiff of cigarette smoke. Despite the city’s going completely smoke-free, Clancy’s had obviously deemed itself to be the exception to the rule.

Trying to latch on to any good sign, I noticed that the club was fairly empty. Must have been an off night. There were a few hulks playing pool off to the right. A hulking woman was yelling at her hulking boyfriend by the dart board. The hulking bartender was counting cash up in the till with a cigarette dangling from his hulking lips.

Nobody even looked at us.

George dug his fingers into my arm. “There he is.”

I looked over at the bar, through the smoky haze. There was Quinn. Sitting hunched over at the bar. In fact, it was the exact same bar stool he’d been seated at when we’d first met. He had a bottle of beer in front of him and was playing with the label he’d peeled off. He wore dark blue jeans and a long-sleeved black T-shirt. I could almost see the little black rain cloud hovering over his head. Then again, it was pretty smoky in there. He didn’t particularly look like he was investigating a series of murders, but maybe looks were deceiving.

I glanced apprehensively at the other hunters and quickly walked over to him. George didn’t loosen his tight grip on my arm. I swung onto the stool next to Quinn. He didn’t look at me.

“What do you want, Sarah?” he asked as he studied the shredded beer label.

“World peace.” I sighed. “I’d also really love one of those tiny teacup Chihuahuas, you know, like Paris Hilton has? And . . . I don’t know, maybe longer hair. It gets a little limp if I grow it too far past my shoulders, but it would be a nice change.”

That earned me a sideways glance. “You shouldn’t be here.”

“Neither should you.”

“You’re going to get yourself killed.”

“You’re probably right. Listen, Quinn, I don’t have much time here. I need you.”

He frowned. Then he looked up at George, hovering behind me.

George nodded. “I need you, too. Group hug?”

Quinn returned his attention to his beer label. “Why are you here?”

“How can you even ask that? You’re the one who called to let me know Janie wants me dead. Or was that somebody who just sounded like you?”

“I just wanted to give you a heads-up. But I’m sure your boyfriend can keep you safe.”

I tensed. “Maybe it was a mistake coming here.”

“Maybe it was. Now why don’t you take your little buddy and get out of here before my friends over there—” he nodded in the general direction of Hulk Central “—notice that public enemy number one is in the house.”

I let out a long sigh of exasperation and looked at George. “Could you give us a moment?”

“A moment?”

“Yeah, I need to say a few things to Quinn in private.”

George glanced around the bar. “Um. Okay, I’ll just be over by the coat rack, trying not to die.”

He shuffled off to the side, trying to stick to the shadows, which there were plenty of in Clancy’s.

I looked at Quinn. “Listen, I don’t mean to sound unfeeling. I get that you’re in a ‘bad place’ right now. I do. I know you’ve been through hell the last couple of months and I haven’t exactly lightened your burden. But you know what, Quinn?”

“What?”

“Suck it the hell up.”

He blinked at me. “Pardon me?”

“I said suck it up. You say you’re here investigating the murders? Looks more like you’re indulging in self-pity and tempting fate by dangling yourself in front of a bunch of hunters. I’m worried about you.”

He frowned. “I thought you said you didn’t want to see me again? That you didn’t care what happened to me anymore.”

I sniffed, and found that I was starting to cry. Again. Alert the media. “I care. Of course I care. How can you think I don’t?”

“But Thierry—”

“Stop it. Just stop it, would you? He dumped me. Today. He says it’s over between us. Does that make you happy? That now I feel like a pile of discarded crap?”

He blinked. “Well, actually, it doesn’t hurt.”

“Glad to help.” I wiped my tears away with the back of my hand. “Janie has taken Thierry and plans on killing him if I don’t show up and take his place.”

His eyebrows went up at that. “She kidnapped Thierry?”

“She has him at an abandoned theater and if I don’t get there soon it’s over. I need you to help me because without you, I have no chance against her. Sure, George has those muscles, but they’re really just for show.”

“So let me get this straight. If I don’t help you rescue your ex, Janie will probably kill him.”

“That’s right.”

“Not exactly seeing the problem.” Then he sighed. “By the way, not that it’ll be any surprise to you, but I’ve ruled him out as a suspect in the murders. Too many similar murders in too many cities. Not just Toronto. It’s not him.”

“I already told you that.”

He took another gulp of his beer. “So let me get this straight. He broke up with you, and you still want to rescue him? You’re a lot more noble than I’d be.”

My jaw clenched. “So you’re saying you’re not going to help me.”

“I’m saying that you need to think about things before you go off running haphazardly all over the city. Janie wants to kill you. From what I’ve overheard around here tonight, Gideon Chase is really interested in finding you, too.”

“Oh, yeah. Didn’t I already tell you that? Old news.”

“No, the subject didn’t come up. You already knew this?” His jaw tensed. “Honestly Sarah. Gideon is an asshole of the first order. Usually funds everything and doesn’t get his hands dirty. His father was way more hands-on, but maybe he’s trying something new.”

I tried to shake off the reminder about Gideon, which was nothing but a distraction now. “I don’t care about that right now. I can’t let Thierry die.”

“Why not?”

“How can you even ask that?” I stared at him for a moment. How could I convince him to help me? “Listen, Thierry told me something . . . he . . . he thinks you and I should be together.”

“What?”

“You and me. He doesn’t like you, and I know you don’t like him. But he knows you’re a good man. At least, when you’re not being a total pain in the ass like right now.”

His lips twitched. “Compliments will get you anywhere, Sarah.”

I tried to pick my words carefully. “So maybe he’s right. Maybe I did make the wrong choice. Maybe I should be with you. Because you’re wonderful, Quinn. You are. And even if you don’t see it, it’s the absolute truth. I know that you’ll do the right thing, even if it’s difficult. I know you feel guilt about what you did in the past. Thierry saw all that. And he saw how much you wanted to protect me from him.”

“It’s true.”

I crossed my arms. “So, maybe . . . maybe we can make this work. If you want to. I know I’ve been a total bitch and I wouldn’t blame you for telling me to go straight to hell, but I don’t know. It’s totally up to you now, I guess.”

He stared at me for a moment. Then he took a swig of his beer. “Let me get this straight. Thierry has given his permission for you to be with me. And you’re okay with that.”

I swallowed hard and nodded.

“And you want me to help save his life. After that, you and I can be together. Is that what you’re saying?”

I nodded again.

He studied me for another moment, then stood up from his stool and walked close to me so we were only inches apart. He looked down the length of me and ran his hand lightly along the side of my neck, along the light marks that still remained from Thierry’s bite. Then Quinn pulled me against him and he kissed me long and hard.

When we parted he looked at me for another moment and a small grin pulled at the side of his mouth.

“I never believed you were actually in love with that asshole.”

I blinked up at him, a little stunned. “What?”

“I though you were just imagining it. Because he was such a mystery man. Women like that. I know it. But I didn’t know it was real, thought it was just a passing fancy. Until now.”

“Quinn, what are you—?”

He held up a hand. “This is difficult enough as it is without being interrupted every three seconds.”

I frowned.

“I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what you said to me yesterday. About how I’ve taken my situation, my shitty life, and morphed it into this big torch I’m carrying for you? That what I was really feeling was just gratitude because you gave me the time of day when everybody else turned their backs on me? I thought you were just saying that because you wanted me to leave you the hell alone. That you still resented me for trying to . . . to kill you. For my shitty mistakes I’ve made in my life. But now I see . . . you were right.”

“I was?”

“Yeah. I convinced myself that I had a thing for you because it made things so much easier. Gave me something to focus on. A goal. But now I see that it’s never going to happen. Sure, I could take you up on your offer. We could be together . . . ” He cocked his head to the side and grinned. “And I would do my damnedest to make you very happy. Every night. Maybe several times a night.”

I felt my face flush. “Quinn—”

“But it wouldn’t be real. It wouldn’t be like what you feel for Thierry. And when I’m with a woman I want it to be real. If I can’t have all of you, Sarah, I don’t want anything.”

I nodded after a moment. “I’m . . . I’m sorry, Quinn. Really. I am.”

“Just answer me one thing, Sarah. Are you really, seriously in love with Thierry? Even knowing what he is and what he’s capable of? Even knowing it’s not going to be a smooth road for you?”

I felt my eyes well up again. “Yes.”

He nodded, but there was no smile to back it up. “Then that settles it.”

A hulk approached to stand between us. He had a wooden stake in one hand. “Hey, I know who you are. You’re Sarah Dearly. The Slayer of—”

Quinn grabbed the guy by the neck and whacked his head on the side of the bar. The hulk fell to the ground in an unconscious heap. Then Quinn took a deep breath and looked at me. “Okay, so let’s go rescue your boyfriend.”

All I could do was stare at my would-be assassin with a gaping open mouth, and nod in agreement.

We arrived at the Paragon Theater quickly and parked George’s car—a twenty-year-old red Mustang—out in front. I hadn’t realized the other day that the theater wasn’t the only thing that was abandoned. The whole damn neighborhood seemed to be.

“Do you think they miss us from the party yet?” George asked.

“I don’t know.”

“You’re sure they’re here?” Quinn led the way to the back of the theater, where, I’d told him, there was a way to get in.

“Almost positive. But I sure as hell hope so. Just follow me. And try to be quiet.”

I walked along the sidewalk, feeling the chill of the night cut through to my skin. Being a vampire meant that regular cold didn’t bug me too much, but this felt colder than normal. It was mid-January and the theater was located near a side road that led directly to the lake. When the wind picked up it was positively frigid.

I knew this was where Janie would take Thierry. If I was a psycho, crazy assassin who wanted to extract her revenge in a dramatic fashion in front of an audience, then a stage would definitely be my choice.

We entered through the broken back door. It was dark inside. Really dark. Quinn lit a Zippo lighter that didn’t help much, but I could see the hallway we had taken yesterday. I felt along the wall as we walked until I could see something up ahead. We’d made our way around to the front. Where the ticket booth was an empty ghost of what once was. A few small lights that resembled candles were on, set into the walls. I wondered when was the last time this theater had been open. Why hadn’t anyone bought the property? It had just been left, as it was, for at least fifty years. Sad.

Quinn pushed open a door that led to the main theater. I caught a quick glimpse at the stage and took in a quick breath. There was a spotlight on and it was aimed at the stage.

And I was right. This was the place.

George and I stopped walking and looked at Quinn, who’d already seen what was down there.

Thierry was sitting on a chair in the middle of the stage. I squinted and focused my sharper vampire vision to see that his hands were restrained behind him, his head slumped forward to indicate that he was unconscious. I clenched my teeth. Janie was going to pay for this.

“There he is,” George whispered. “Let’s go down there and get him.”

“Wait,” Quinn said. “This is too easy. It’s obviously a trap.”

I nodded. “I agree.”

“Wow,” a voice said from behind us. “Three vampires to figure that out. How many vamps does it take to change a light bulb?”

I turned around slowly. Janie stood ten feet away, alone, with her hand on her hip, looking surprisingly relaxed. She grinned at me.

“This was your plan?” I said. “Get me out here and then insult me? Good plan. Fantastic.”

“Thanks so much.”

I chanced another look over in Thierry’s direction.

“He’s not dead, if that’s what you’re wondering,” she commented. “Vamps his age, you know, they just disintegrate. Not much left behind, but it’s so hard to get out of cashmere, you have no idea. You’ll notice that I’m wearing jeans tonight.”

I turned back to face her. “Okay, you’ve made your point.”

“Oh, and what point is that?”

“I only wish you could have talked to me. We could have resolved this issue just between the two of us. It didn’t have to come to this.”

“What issue? You mean the one about you killing my brother?”

“It was self-defense. He was trying to kill me.”

She nodded. “Whatever helps you sleep at night.”

My eyes narrowed. “Having a hard time with that since you blew up my apartment.”

She smirked at me. “Much as I’d like to lay claim to that little event, I didn’t do it. If I had, you wouldn’t be talking to me right now, since when I do something, I do it right. That was just some hunters into pyrotechnics.”

“What Sarah said about Peter is true,” Quinn said. “She didn’t have any other choice.”

Janie shot him a look. “Well, Michael, long time no see.”

“Michael?” George said.

“That’s his first name,” I told him.

“Learn something new every day.”

Quinn took a step forward. “Janie, why don’t you just stand down? You don’t have a chance here. You’re a smart girl, you must be able to see that, right?”

She rolled her eyes. “I’ll get to you in a second, handsome. Now, Sarah, honey, what were you saying about my brother and it being self-defense? I’m certainly willing to listen to any and all arguments before I pass final judgment.”

“When was the last time you saw your brother?” I asked.

Her expression tensed. “It was a few years ago, actually. He was excited about going on the tour with the other hunters. Get to see the world, and all that.”

I nodded. “I’m guessing he was probably a really nice guy once upon a time. And I know you’re his little sister and you guys were probably close back then, but those few years must have changed him, Janie. The Peter I got to meet wasn’t nice. He wasn’t somebody you could reason with. He was a cold-blooded murderer.”

Her lips thinned. “Takes one to know one.”

“Do you think I wanted to do what I did? If he’d given me any other choice, I would have taken it. But at that moment, it was him or me, and I chose me.”

She nodded stiffly. “How did you do it?”

I licked my dry lips. “A gun.”

She continued to nod. “I see. Well, I promise when I gut your boyfriend, I’ll be as gentle as possible. You’re more than welcome to watch.”

Anger rose to heat my cheeks. I stepped forward, but Quinn put his arm out to stop me.

“Janie, she’s telling the truth. Peter was all messed up. He didn’t know what he was doing anymore. He’d started looking at vampire hunting as a game, not as a service.”

She snorted at that. “Yeah, and I’d believe you because? Last time I checked you were one of the bloodsuckers now, Michael. So save your breath, if you have any. I don’t know, do vampires need to breathe? Do they have heartbeats? I’m not up on all this new age vampire stuff. Last time I checked, vamps were evil and needed to be snuffed out, not treated like equals and given free passes when it comes to murder.”

“I’m not asking for a free pass,” I said. “I’m just trying to tell you what happened. Peter tried to kill me. Several times. He failed. When he tried again I happened to have a weapon and I fought back. He lost. End of story.”

She laughed. “End of story. Yeah, I guess it is, isn’t it?”

“Janie,” Quinn said. “I know you’ve had a hard life. It was just you, your little sister, and Peter after your parents died, right? I remember you used to play with your dolls while Peter and I hung out. You were a cute kid.”

She frowned at him. “I’m not a kid anymore, in case you haven’t noticed.”

“No, you’re definitely not. But I don’t think you’ve changed that much. Just stop being difficult. We’re not going to let you get away with this. We’re going down there to get Thierry and we’re leaving. Now you can either let us or you can stand in the way.”

“And what if I stand in the way?” She put her hands on her hips.

“Then we’re going to have a problem.”

She studied him for a moment, her brow creased with a frown. Then she glanced at me and raised an eyebrow. “You’re helping Sarah get the other man? That’s so noble of you.”

He shrugged but didn’t say anything.

“You used to be so in control. Have to say I’m a little disappointed that you’ve turned into a sloppy-seconds-loving wimp who lets the world walk all over him. Too bad, really.”

His expression darkened. “You’ve got a big mouth, Janie.”

She laughed, a short staccato sound. “Is Sarah the one who made you into a vampire?”

“No.”

“That’s a rather short answer. No long, entertaining anecdote of how you became a monster?”

Quinn visibly grimaced. “Most vampires aren’t monsters.”

She nodded. “Right. Keep telling yourself that, handsome. And maybe you’ll believe it some day.”

His expression darkened even more. “Janie, just step aside, would you? I’m running out of patience here.”

She grinned at me. “You know, when we were talking the other day and I told you I used to have a big crush on one of my brother’s friends? Three guesses who it was and the first two don’t count. Small world.” She fixed him with an appraising look, up and down his frame. “You were a little skinnier then. You’ve been working out. Is being a vamp really hard work?”

Quinn glanced at me, then back to her. “Janie—”

“Yeah, I was head over heels with you, Quinn. You prefer to go by your last name now, huh? When I saw you again the other day I have to admit it freaked me out. Made me remember how I used to feel when I was just a kid. Dorky and awkward. Just Peter’s kid sister. Every time you’d come over and spar with my brother, I was lurking about. Watching. Learning.” She sighed wistfully.

“Janie, we can talk about this—”

“I had the hugest crush on you back then.” She raised her hand from her waist. I noted with horror that it now held a gun. “But I’m over it now.”

She shot him in the chest.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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