Nightshade | Chapter 32 of 37

Author: Michelle Rowen | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 2590 Views | Add a Review

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THERE WAS SOMEONE WAITING FOR US WHEN WE arrived at Carson’s house. Noah stood in the shadows, wringing his hands nervously as he watched our approach.
“I messaged him that we were on our way,” Matthias explained. “He can help us.”
Declan increased his pace so he easily arrived first. He grabbed Noah and pushed him up against the wall.
“You’ve been working with Matthias all this time?” he growled. “And you said nothing to me?”
“Dec ... I can explain—” Noah began.
“He’s our enemy.”
“We don’t have time for this,” I said tightly.
“And what did Matthias promise you to gain your loyalty for selling us out?” Declan asked, not loosening his grip on his former friend. “Did he promise to sire you? Make you into a vampire so you can live forever?” Declan shook him. “He did, didn’t he? Haven’t you learned anything since coming here?”
“Hey, take it easy. You’re going to hurt him.” I grabbed his arm until he looked at me and his tense expression relaxed a fraction.
His jaw clenched. “Noah’s involvement in this could have gotten both of us killed.”
“I know. I’m not trying to justify what he did, but it’s in the past now.”
Declan glanced at Noah again before finally releasing his grip. “We’ll talk about this later.”
Noah shot me a worried look. He was looking in the wrong direction if he wanted total forgiveness and a warm hug.
“Noah,” I said, “You didn’t tell Matthias everything, did you? He didn’t know Declan’s a dhampyr or he was allegedly his son.”
Noah shook his head. “Matthias wanted to know what Dr. Gray was up to. That’s all. I didn’t elaborate much beyond the Nightshade formula and what was up with you.”
I looked at him dryly. “Yeah, thanks for that.”
“There was a great deal more you knew that would have helped me immensely, Noah,” Matthias said. “We’ll have to discuss your shortcomings later.”
His tone was even, but his message came through loud and clear for Noah, who flinched. He now had a vampire angry at him for not saying enough and a dhampyr furious at him for saying anything at all.
“Yeah ... uh ... later.” Noah cleared his throat. “Speaking of Nightshade ... you’re feeling better, Jill? Last time I saw you, you were at death’s door.”
I grimaced at the memory. “Nobody answered when I rang the bell. Still breathing. For now.”
“I’ve been reading through a ton of files since you left,” Noah said. “Hacked into all the top-secret archives. I know even more things I’m not supposed to know.”
“Do you know where my daughter is being kept?” Matthias asked tightly.
Noah nodded with a sharp jab of his head. “Dr. Gray set up a nursery downstairs.”
“And Catherine? Her mother?”
Noah’s lips thinned and he shook his head once. “I’m sorry, she died just after the baby was born.”
A shadow of grief flitted over Matthias’s face. “She never should have run from me.”
A shiver went down my arms. “I’m so sorry.” I looked at Noah. “But the baby’s okay?”
“She is. Currently sleeping like a ... well, a baby. On the other hand, there’s another dhampyr baby downstairs that took a couple fingers off one of the guards earlier today. He’s lucky that’s all that happened,” Noah made a face. “Once a newborn gets a taste of human blood—hell, even a good sniff—it’s usually an automatic death sentence.”
“Sounds adorable,” I said with a shudder.
Noah’s eyes flicked to Matthias. “But yours ... well, she’s not like that of course. No sharp teeth. Just gums. And diapers. And, uh—”
“Let’s go.” Declan keyed in a series of numbers into the side lock. For half a second, I expected an alarm to go off, but there was only silence. I followed him through the door and down the hall inside.
“Dec,” Noah said under his breath. “There’s something you need to know. Something I found out by reading through more of the files.”
“What?” he snapped, glaring at him.
“It’s about your mother.”
Declan stopped walking. “What about her?”
Noah looked as if he’d aged from mid-twenties to mid-forties since the last time I’d seen him. Whatever he’d been reading had worn heavily on him—not to mention the revelation of his being Matthias’s part-time informant.
“I found files that looked like they’d been duplicated and adjusted. The first set was what I’d already seen. Your father, uh, you know who,” he nodded at Matthias, “and what he allegedly did to your mother before she was found and hospitalized for the remainder of her pregnancy.”
“Matthias isn’t Declan’s father,” I said.
“You’re right. He isn’t. That was added later. A woman named Chloe was listed as the mother.”
“It’s a lie. I don’t remember any Chloe from that long ago.” Matthias’s gaze flicked to me. “Just because I’ve had many lovers, doesn’t mean I forget them.”
God, how many women—and men—had been in his bed during his lifetime? Thousands? Tens of thousands? More?
“You don’t remember Chloe because she didn’t exist. She was only a cover for the real mother’s name.” Noah swallowed. “Monica.”
It took me a moment to make the connection. But when I did, I literally gasped out loud. “You’re not saying that Dr. Gray—”
“—is Declan’s real mother,” Noah finished for me. “Yeah. It’s in the files, and it’s one I’m sure she probably thinks was destroyed.”
Declan stood in silence for a long moment, next to the house he’d lived in for the past six years. “She can’t be my mother. She’s alive.”
“Not all dhampyr births end in death for the mother. That’s only a definite outcome in the monster births.” Noah grimaced. “There were pictures with the files of the corpses after the dhamps escaped their mothers’ bodies. Nothing I want to see again outside of old sci-fi movies starring Sigourney Weaver.”
“But Catherine died.” Matthias said the name of the mother of his child tightly.
Noah cleared his throat nervously. “I ... don’t think she died from childbirth.”
Matthias’s lips thinned. “Monica has much to answer for.”
Catherine had been killed after giving birth? What was Dr. Gray doing here? Her focus had been on helping others through her research. Did that now include murder?
I grabbed hold of Declan’s hand and looked up at him. “It doesn’t matter who your mother is.”
“It does matter,” he said softly. “If Monica Gray is my real mother, why would they have to make up lies that have haunted me my entire life? Why would they have told me my mother died giving birth to me and that her condition was caused by a violent rape? Dr. Gray’s been around since I was a child, and she’s barely looked at me except to pass some unsatisfied judgment. But she’s my mother? Carson never said a word to me about this.”
“Maybe he didn’t know the truth.” What kind of a man would let his “adopted” son believe such horrible things all his life?
This hadn’t been an easy couple of days for Declan and he didn’t even have the serum to help dampen his emotions against all of this. My heart ached for him, but I didn’t know what I could do to help him through this.
After another moment, Declan shook his head as if to clear it.
“We need to keep moving,” he said. Then he continued walking through the large house until we got to the staircase, and went single file down it. The lights were off downstairs.
“The baby was this way,” Noah whispered. “I’m not a big fan of the thought of kidnapping, but in this case, I think it’s definitely justified. I just read all about some vampire society Dr. Gray’s involved with. The baby’s not safe here.”
“I knew it,” Matthias bit out, fury entering his previously controlled expression. “The reasoning behind her dhampyr research program. She’s trying to supply the Amarantos Society with blood for their immortality rituals. And now she has my daughter.”
I looked at Declan, who appeared confused by all this. Then his expression hardened.
“There’s no question that we need to save this child,” he said.
I nodded and my heart swelled for him. He was willing to put his own prejudices aside to do the right thing tonight. Helping Matthias went against everything he’d ever been led to believe. If he was still on the serum, he’d never be able to see that this was the right thing to do.
But if it was true and Dr. Gray was helping the Amarantos Society, why would she create Nightshade—something that would kill the very same vampires?
We turned down the long hallway I remembered from the other day. The one leading to the observation room where I’d been placed in with the vampire for an experiment to see if my blood was as lethal as they thought it was. There were several other rooms along the hall. I stopped at a door when I felt as if someone was staring at me. A small window showed large black eyes set into the pale white face of a dhampyr, who stood closely up against the door watching us pass.
“Is that the baby you were talking about?” I asked, a shiver coursing down my spine at the dead look in its eyes. “The one who bit the fingers off the guard?”
Noah looked at the holding cell. “Yeah. Cute, right?”
“Not even slightly.”
“She’s keeping my daughter in this section with that thing close by?” Matthias sounded disgusted. He glared at me. “Why are you smiling?”
My cheeks were shaky with the apprehension I felt, but I was definitely smiling at him. “You’ll make an interesting daddy. Overprotective, probably.”
His harsh expression softened. “My daughter will never want for anything.”
“Just hold off on the pony for a while, okay? She’ll get spoiled.”
“Here it is,” Noah said when we reached a door thirty feet down the long hallway. Then he froze in his tracks. “Shit. Somebody’s coming.”
A breath caught in my chest.
A guard turned the corner up ahead, moving toward us, although he seemed completely at ease at the sight of Declan and Noah. He had a foam cup of coffee in one hand.
“Don’t tell anyone I left my post for a minute,” he said. “Had to get some caffeine. It’s been a hell of a night.”
“You’re telling me,” Noah said nervously.
“Are you guarding the new dhampyr baby?” Declan asked.
“Both of ’em. However, one gets a bottle when it cries. The other gets a tranq dart.” He laughed.
Declan punched him in the face and the coffee went flying. The guard shook his head, then began reaching for his gun, but Declan grabbed the front of his shirt and slammed his head against the concrete wall. The guard dropped to the ground, unconscious.
He glanced at me. “Never liked the guy. Total slacker.”
“Can you open this door?” Matthias asked, stepping over the guard.
“Yeah.” Noah had to step over the body in order to punch in a bunch of numbers. Matthias grabbed hold of the handle and opened the door, crossing the small room in an instant to get to the crib against the wall in the otherwise undecorated room. My heart pounded wildly, but I followed him inside.
Matthias pulled out a teddy bear—the entire contents of the crib.
“Where’s the baby?” I asked, my stomach sinking.
He looked at me with knowledge filling his gaze. “This was a trap.”
I shook my head. “It can’t be.”
“They knew we were coming.”
I looked over at Noah, who stood at the doorway.
He looked stricken. “I didn’t say anything. I swear. She was in here earlier. I don’t know where they would have taken her.” He turned to look at something down the hall and he raised his hands up to his sides. “No ... please wait. I have to—”
I heard a gunshot and Noah staggered backward. He turned to look at Matthias and me with wide eyes. There was now a red patch on his white T-shirt. He fell to his knees and then dropped fully to the ground, gasping for breath.
“Noah!” I yelled, panic ripping through me. “Declan!”
But Declan didn’t move from where he stood in the hallway to get out of the line of fire, and his gaze was fixed on someone approaching. He held his hands clenched at his sides, a look of fury on his face.
“What the fuck is going on here?” he demanded.
“Declan—” Carson came into view of the doorway. “Just remain calm.”
“Why would you shoot Noah? He’s unarmed.”
“He’s a traitor working for vampires, stealing our information so he can give it to them. This is how we deal with traitors.”
I ran toward the entrance of the room. Matthias put his hand on my shoulder to prevent me from entering the hallway completely.
I looked at him. “Do something.”
He shook his head. “First I need to know where my daughter is.”
Carson’s gaze flicked to me and widened with surprise. “You’re still alive. The fusing potion worked.”
“You told me it was a blood cleanser,” I said, a ghost of the anger I’d felt after that little incident still haunting me.
His expression looked strained. “It had to be done. You were unwilling to help. Sometimes hard decisions must be made to serve the greater good.”
“ ‘The greater good’?” Declan repeated. “Is that what this is?”
“Of course.” Carson’s words were earnest and edged in pain. “Everything I’ve done has been to help protect humans from the threat of vampires. You know that.”
“I thought I did.”
“Don’t doubt me now, son.”
Son,” Declan said bitterly, pacing a few steps down the hallway and then back again. I moved closer so I could see. “Is that what I am to you?”
“Yes, of course you are.”
“Is it true? Is Dr. Gray is my real mother?”
Carson looked surprised, then cast a stern look down at the injured and pale Noah. He struggled to breathe as he pressed his hand against his gunshot wound to try and stop the flow of blood. I desperately wanted to go to him, to help him, but Matthias’s grip on my shoulder held me in place.
“No matter who you are or where you came from, you’re my son and an integral part of this mission. Don’t allow yourself to be swayed by the opinions of others.”
Declan raised his hand and pointed at Matthias. “He’s not my real father. That was a lie you’ve told me my entire life so I’d hate him and follow your orders to kill other vampires without question.”
Carson’s jaw tightened. “You’re not taking your serum anymore, are you?”
“Is it that easy to tell?”
“Yes. Your mind is unclear, therefore your choices are becoming erratic, including bringing that vampire”—the word was spat out as if it was a curse—“into my laboratory. The new serum I’ve been developing for you is finally ready. While untested, I truly believe it’ll prevent any slipups like this in the future. How long has it been since your last dosage?”
Declan’s eye flicked to me before returning to his adoptive father. “I’m not taking the serum any more. Or the new one, either.”
“Declan, you’re not thinking straight. You must take it or you will begin to act more like one of the other dhampyrs. Your hungers will rule you.”
“It’s been almost three days and I feel fine without it.”
“No, you don’t. You’re struggling with this.” Carson shook his head. “I know it’s difficult for you to accept, but the serum is vital for your survival and your ability to not unleash the violence inside of you on innocents.”
I glared at him. “Just leave him alone for once in his life, will you?”
Carson’s eyes narrowed. “This has nothing to do with you.”
My disdain for the man who’d oppressed the real Declan all these years sped right past the fear I felt at being caught trying to save Matthias’s daughter. “You brainwashed him all these years to take that serum, so you could make him into your puppet. Well it’s over. He’s going to make his own decisions from now on.”
“That’s not possible, I’m afraid. My number one priority is protecting human life. And that includes making sure Declan is not a threat.”
“You never even gave him a chance.”
“Another successful dhampyr from years ago was the most dangerous creature around. He killed many innocents and had to be put down like a rabid dog. If he’d been put on the serum, either of his own free will or forcefully, it would have saved many people’s lives. Trust me, Jillian. I know what’s best for Declan. I’ve always known what’s best for Declan.”
“You suck at being a father.”
“Thank you for your opinion,” he replied tightly, then nodded at a guard entering the far end of the hallway.
Declan turned and stormed at the guard, getting twenty feet before I heard a grunt, and then Declan stopped moving. He pulled a small dart out of his shoulder and threw it to the side. Then he slammed his fist into the guard’s face, sending the guard down hard.
Declan glanced over his shoulder. “What the fuck did he just shoot me with?”
“It’s a tranquilizer,” Carson said, walking down the hall toward him. “It will help to allow me to do what I must.”
Declan collapsed to his knees in front of the dhampyr’s holding cell two doors down from where I stood, then braced his hands against the floor, his breathing labored. “Don’t do this, Carson.”
I tried to run toward him, but Matthias held me back.
“He has a gun,” he reminded me.
“I have to help him.”
“You can’t stop this.”
“No, but—but you can. We can get your daughter later. Why aren’t you doing anything to help?”
His expression was stony. “I can’t.”
“You can’t? You mean you don’t want to.” I tried to push away from him, but he held tight to my wrist. I almost broke my arm trying to get away from him to go to Declan’s side. But all I could do is watch.
Carson nodded at someone else who’d appeared in the hall behind Declan. The man in a white lab coat approached with a syringe filled with a light green liquid.
“No!” I yelled.
“Do it,” Carson snapped.
The man in the lab coat reminiscent of Anderson’s injected Declan in the side of his neck.

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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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