Let Me In | iv

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Trap or not he knew Amara was alive. Steele could not leave her to be made into an example out of spite by Duncan. It never occurred to him that he had left Nerina behind. It never occurred to him that he had left the others behind in the dungeons. For his peace of mind, he rationalized it thus; there was no proof they were still alive, but there was hope that Amara was. Secondly, Nerina had proven that she could handle herself. He had all confidence that she had made it out alive as he had. That was how he rationalized it all in his head. In his desperate state to find Amara.

Steele knew only one other place she could have been kept. That was at the Were Castle. Duncan, after leaving the Hunts Clan and before returning to start a war, had conquered a realm for only werewolves. Nothing else lived there but them and the banshees that had joined their side. Steele went thinking he could manage, he could not. He was captured and brought before Duncan.

On the floor still spitting blood from his mouth, his various wounds healing, he could only manage to push himself to his hands and knees.

"Steele."

He sat back on his heels swaying slightly.

"Where is your companion?" Duncan asked, feigning concern. "Waiting for you on the outside?" The Alpha knew Nerina was nowhere close to his realms. She had not even made it out of the unnamed realm where Steele had high-tailed it when he saw the message, leaving her behind. He noted the look of guilt on Steele's face and relished it. "I don't think she's going to be very pleased with you. Nikita would have had my head."

Duncan laughed walking towards Steele, hands behind his back. He was aware that Steele was a strong age for a vampire, but he had all confidence in himself to take the other man down. There were werewolves scattered about the room but none of them restrained Steele. Duncan wanted him to do something. Come at him. Give him an excuse to kill him.

So far, Duncan was sorely disappointed with Steele on his knees looking up at him through swollen eyes that were now healing.

"Your precious Amara." At his signal, one of the werewolves left the room coming back with a body over his shoulder. He threw it down some distance from Steele like a rag doll.

Frozen, he could not move as he looked across the floor at Amara. There was no heartbeat. Reality spun, dipped and took him plummeting so fast he could hardly catch his breath as her dead eyes looked back at him. He had been too late...or she had been dead all along. Steele hung his head in grief. Nerina had been right. It had been a trap, and he had walked right into it. He had left Nerina behind. He had left everyone and every rational thought behind for her and there she was before him—dead.

"Camorra has some lovely tricks up her sleeve doesn't she?"

Duncan was inches away from his face when he said it but Steele's body was laden. Guilt and sorrow rested heavy on him. Again, Duncan was disappointed. He had tried to evoke some anger and malice but instead, he was left with this man on his knees all but weeping. Weak.

"Take him to the arena, we'll see what he's made of then."

***

Nerina's arms were heavy with fatigue. Anger alone pushed her forward, gave her strength to keep fighting. Her body wanted to give up but her mind could not.

Let me in.

The voice, that was not really a voice, distracted her long enough that Nerina got kicked square in the chin. The ghosts had given way to banshees who had all but screamed her eardrums to liquid. Then rabid little canine creatures that were a cross between a dog and an ill-bred goat came at her with snapping jaws. Names at this point were the least. She was scratched up and banged up and they were pushing her backward towards the werewolves. She could hear the growls growing louder behind her. The minute she was out of the forest, she would be standing between two solid blocks of enemies – alone.

Not alone. Never alone.

Shut up. She pressed the heel of her hand to her temple. The voice that was once nothing but an indistinguishable whisper was all she heard now. There were too many things happening. She was tired.

Let me do it, the voice now was angry, insistent.

"I'm going crazy," Nerina said aloud, dodging another blow. The forest fell away from around her and now she was in the open. The things from the forest did not break the forest line to come any closer. Nerina turned to see the werewolves lined off behind her. When she had said it looked like a sure place to die, she had not realized just how true that would be.

Claws raked her insides causing her to gasp, swords dropping from her hands as she grabbed at her chest. This was the darkness. Too tired she could not force it down as it yanked her consciousness aside throwing her into the back seat of her own mind. Nerina was too stunned to do anything. Too tired to try to do anything. It was literally an out of body experience. What the hell was happening to her?

"Let me show you how it's done." The voice that had been a thought was now the voice she heard out loud. Not her voice. It was hoarse. More of a growl than a human voice. Nerina's mouth felt heavy and full, her body suddenly energized. She felt strong. She felt—powerful.

Her body moved guided by the being that was inside her. She was fast. Nerina fought like a machine now. In her mind, she watched because that was the only thing she could do. She was not in control. While fighting, Nerina never used her fangs. Now she did. Feeding while she fought. Each taste of werewolf blood buzzing in her head, driving her madness, adding to her strength. It was like a drug.

The more she fed the more she wanted. Where the being inside of her started and where she ended began to blur, the lines mixed and bonded through blood. Soon two became one and Nerina had no conscious thought other than the fight and the kill and the need for more blood. She led the carnage.

For every one she killed two came at her with teeth and claws. She was gorged and drunk on their blood by the time the numbers noticeably started to dwindle. Now Nerina danced amongst the corpses laughing hysterically. Her swords thrown aside so she could rip, and feel warm blood on her hands. She sunk her hand into the chest of a werewolf pushing through muscle and bones aiming for his heart. Instead of pulling it from his chest, she squeezed.

Fighting to live he clawed at her, his teeth missing her face by mere inches as he tried for purchase. Then she pulled out his heart. Eyes wide on his own beating heart he died. Nerina looked around. He had been the last one. In her hand, his heart was still warm. Bringing the heart to her lips, Nerina took her first sampling of flesh.


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