Isaac came back to his body with a scream, finding himself once again trapped within the four white walls of the tight cell. In a fit of rage, he took the disfigured cot and threw it against the cell door.
The two vampires on duty both looked through the window, butting their heads together in the process.
“Shut up in there!” One of them hooted as he rubbed his head.
The other turned to glower at his coworker, muttering things under his breath.
Isaac ignored them and took to pacing. He clutched his head several times, shaking out the memory of Dante taking Valeria up in his arms.
God, the nerve that vampire had—and why hadn’t Valeria pushed Dante away? Isaac had thought, after all of this time, that Valeria would hate Dante. But…no matter what type of front she put on, Isaac knew that deep down she was grateful that they were both still alive and capable of being together again.
And here Isaac was, rotting away once again. He had to escape. Time was ticking and the longer the clock ran, the less of a chance Isaac had to slaughter Dante.
Isaac unleashed another tantrum of anger, slamming his fists against the concrete wall by the cell door until several holes caved into the material.
“Fuck off!” He screeched at the guard, gripped two legs of his cot and slammed it over the glass window.
It ricocheted off the door, but left a crack in the glass before clanking to the ground.
Isaac perked up at the new development.
So, this cage wasn’t as indestructible as everyone thought.
His guards noticed and panicked over the minor crack, wondering out loud if Isaac was going to escape.
Oh, this was priceless. Their anxiety fueled Isaac as he ran for the door, causing them to shriek and jump away from the door. He brought his fist up, hitting the cracked space just as he reached the door at his full speed.
His entire fist went through the window, catching air on the other side.
“Oh, God! Oh, God!” One of the guards yelled as he dug in his pockets. He pulled out a small Trac phone and dialed a number with shaky fingers. “Hold him off, Garrett.”
The other guard came too close; Isaac’s hand stretched forward and caught him in the throat. The vampire choked and clawed at his hand. It didn’t budge. Blood dripped from the cuts Isaac’s nails made into the vampire’s throat.
“Co-Conner!” The vampire with the phone hissed through into its receiver. “I-Isaac—he—”
The phone flew out of the vampire’s hands and hit the wall with enough force to snap it in half.
Korinna stood beside the vampire. Her hand shot out and gripped the vampire’s neck and her eyes flashed a vivid mercury tint as she whispered, “You will unlock the door.”
“I—I…I will.” The vampire paled as the words flowed out of him. Involuntarily, his body moved toward the door. He gripped the keys in his pocket and pulled them out to do just as the succubus asked.
Isaac let go of the other vampire. He tumbled to the floor, clutching at his throat and gasping for air.
Korinna turned her gaze to the fallen guard, just in time for the vampire to look into her eyes. His stare blanked as her spell took over him.
The other guard unlocked the door and stepped aside.
Korinna turned her power on Isaac. He stiffened as his head began to swim, feeling her spell as it tried to wrap itself around his mind, and shoved a mental shield against it.
She frowned and dropped her gaze.
“I’m only helping you escape so that you can take me with you.”
“What?” Isaac’s jaw almost dropped. “Now why would you do that?”
“I’ve done some bad things,” Korinna said. “But whatever. I’ve got the money and the connections. All I need is you.”
Isaac took another look at the fallen guards. Drool pooled from their mouths and an obvious tent grew in both of their trousers.
He snorted and moved out of the cell, stepping over the guards’ bodies. There was no way he would let this opportunity up to extort this woman’s gifts and achieve his higher goal. “Right. You’ve got me. Let’s get out of here.”
● ● ●
Conner was the first to see Isaac and Korinna as they made their grand escape. Just as he stepped in front of the basement door, it flung open, revealing the two.
Isaac was a whirlwind of chaos as he shoved Conner aside and ran. Korinna hurried behind him, but not before Conner met her eyes. They glistened like liquid magnesium. Looking into those killer eyes was the first mistake Conner made.
His conscious dipped backward as those glinting eyes blinded him. His legs became jelly as he fought against her succubae pull. Conner stumbled back as Korinna followed after Isaac.
Someone caught Conner’s arm and pulled him to his feet.
Tyler held onto him as the vampire avoided catching Korinna’s eyes and watched as the escapee stopped in the middle of the hallway.
Conner followed his gaze and sucked in a deep breath.
Isaac had escaped—thanks to Korinna.
“Call Dante,” Conner said. “Call the others—”
“No, don’t.” Korinna’s voice caressed the air like the smoothing tune of a master musician’s instrument.
Tyler blinked several times. His jaw worked as he tried to find words. A look of broken concentration crossed his face as he scowled and clutched his eyes. “I—I won’t—call—Conner!”
Conner flung himself at Korinna, cutting off the spell over Tyler. He wrapped his arms around Korinna and covered her face with a hand.
“For God’s sake,” Isaac hissed, rushing toward the three with unparalleled speed. One second he was across the room and in the other, he brought his knee fast into Tyler’s stomach.
The vampire fell on his knees, hunched over as he coughed and gasped for air.
Isaac turned to Conner, who held the struggling succubus tightly in his arms. In a smooth movement, Isaac caught Conner by the head and twisted around, prying the vampire from Korinna.
Then he flung Conner aside.
Conner groaned and rolled onto his knees as Tyler recovered and leapt at Isaac.
With Isaac momentarily distracted, Conner saw an open shot to slice his claws straight through Isaac’s side. He shoved himself to his feet and lunged forward, just as Korinna reached in front of him.
They rolled into the wall.
Korinna’s soft hands caught Conner’s face, freezing his whole body as he laid against the wall, tangled up with her body.
Her eyes grew brighter than Conner had ever seen them, until her eyes were the only things he could see. His body went lax under the spell. A ripple of tranquility consumed the adrenaline running through his body.
Tyler’s howl broke the spell. Conner blinked away the haze and bucked Korinna off of him, who yelled as she was tossed aside.
Conner lunged to his feet—and froze in mid-action just as Isaac gripped Tyler’s head and pulled.
A pop echoed the disconnection, then a wet slap on the red carpet as Isaac dropped the head.
Conner stared at his dead friend just as another clan member joined them. The vampire hollered for others as he ran toward Conner and the escapees.
The shout brought Conner back to reality. He turned to Isaac and Korinna.
“We’ve got to go,” Korinna said as she pulled on Isaac’s arm.
They took one look at Conner and the coming vampire and bolted for the front door.
“Fuck,” Conner hissed and stumbled after them. He trudged through the after effects of Korinna’s spell; his mind and body felt like jelly.
Isaac followed Korinna, watching as she stopped each approaching vampire with just a turn of her gaze. They rounded a corner, coming to the foyer of the building. The front door stood just yards ahead.
Korinna flung the door open and they hurried onto the porch and down the steps.
The moon watched from the sky as the two entered the courtyard of the estate.
“Stop!” Dante’s voice cut through the night’s air.
Korinna faltered only a moment to look over her shoulder at Dante, who stood on the front porch.
They had entered the grassy lawn, nearing the gates, when Dante bolted after them. Many vampires pooled out of the building, spectators to the escape. Some trailed behind Dante as he pursued the two.
Just as Korinna turned and pushed harder on her legs, Isaac snatched and dragged her to the gates. His hands held her throat fast as they twisted to face the crowd.
Dante skidded to stop feet away from the two.
He watched as Korinna gasped for air, clutching at his hands for release.
“Let me leave and she will live.”
Dante’s face twisted with fury as he stepped toward them. Vampires circled around them, ready to pounce with the Duke’s order. He was about to lunge at Isaac when he caught the wide-eyed stare of Korinna.
Her expression was filled with fear as Isaac’s nails dug into her skin and drew blood. For that split second, an eight-year-old Korinna flashed in his mind.
“No, don’t,” Dante said and motioned for his clan to stand down.
With reluctance, they all stepped back. Some looked at him like he was crazy and shouted.
The gates parted after a short signal from Dante. A risky move, as there was a possibility that as soon as the gates were fully open, Isaac could kill Korinna, or he could disappear from Independence.
Isaac scooted toward the opening, dragging Korinna along with him.
Dante, in his fit of vulnerability, lurched forward and said, “Leave her here.”
“No—” Korinna said before Isaac could reply, then gasped as his cold fingers ran up her throat and caressed the length of her cheek.
Dante growled and took another step toward them.
“Don’t you know she doesn’t want to be here?” Isaac laughed. “Who do you think helped me escape?”
No…no, she couldn’t have. Helping him escape from the custody of the Duke was treason. Doing this would mean that Korinna would have to face trial.
That was if she was caught.
“Thank you, friend.” Isaac gathered Korinna into his arms and turned on his heels, running through the gates.
“Isaac—” Dante yelled as their bodies grew smaller with each step Isaac took. “I will find you—and I will finish what I never completed.”
Isaac disappeared with Korinna down the road, but Dante knew that the vampire had heard him.
It was a few minutes and a mile or so before Isaac let Korinna go. Even then, he kept a firm hand the neck of her shirt, not noticing when her shirt rode up from his constant pull.
“Goddamn, let me go!” She hissed and pulled at his hand.
Isaac didn’t listen, but continued down the path. There were several times that he stopped in the middle of the gravel road and studied and listened around them, trying to pick up on any signs that someone followed them,
Isaac was actually disappointed that they weren’t followed. He wanted a good chase—a good fight. Something that would ignite a fire in him.
Instead, he fled just by threatening the death of this bitch. Too easy.
“Are there inns anywhere in town?” He asked after the lights of the village began to show through the tree lines.
Rather pissed off, she took her damn time to reply by smoothing her hair into place and checking her nails for breakage.
Isaac let go of her and crossed his arms. He waited another moment for a response before hissing in her face, “Succubus.”
“You know, you should treat me better,” she said instead as she ignored the close proximity of his fangs. “I’m the one that got you out of there.”
“And why did you do that?” Isaac narrowed his eyes.
“I finally figured out that I wasn’t wanted there.”
Oh. Isaac grinned at her, laughing out loud. “You mean, you finally figured out that Dante didn’t want you.”
She gaped and let out an exasperated gasp. “Excuse me? How dare you—”
“Don’t act all proper, little princess.” He turned his cool gaze over her body and scoffed. “You’ve acted like a slut. No need to pretend you’re not.”
“I’m not a slut, you fucking psycho.”
“Then why do you throw yourself at people?” Isaac raised an eyebrow. “You threw yourself at Conner and at Dante—and probably at tons of people—to get what you wanted. That sounds like a whore to me. A gold-digger—”
His head jerked to the side as her hand cracked across his face, cutting him off before he could spew any other insult.
The audacity of that woman.
Isaac caught Korinna by the throat before she could move away and tightened his grip.
Korinna clawed at his hand and gasped for air. He loosened enough for her to get air.
Then she spat in his face.
“Shut up, you little bitch,” Isaac snarled, scaring her into silence, and shook her. “I’m finally free and I will not let you fuck this up for me.”
“Fine,” Korinna breathed. Her hands went up around his, which were wrapped around her neck. Her eyes glistened in the moonlight, becoming liquid metal as the irises dilated.
“Fine, I won’t get in your way,” she said, licking her lips.
Isaac pulled away from her and grimaced, knowing what she was doing: trying to use her magic on him.
But like all the other times, it didn’t work.
He smirked as she cleared her throat.
“There’s two inns in town,” Korinna said as she rubbed at the bruises forming around her neck. “But Dante will know that we will stay in them. I say that we move on.”
“Move on where?”
“We could go up north,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to get out of this town.”
“I’m not leaving.” Isaac looked up to the moon, which approached the horizon. “It’s morning soon. An inn room here will do.”
“Okay…” Korinna frowned.
Why didn’t he want to leave? He was finally free—so why stay?
She studied Isaac as he turned and continued down the road.
He was actually quite a handsome fellow without the blood and gore. His clothing did put him off though.
“We need to get you new clothes before we can walk in human public.”
Isaac agreed. “We will need to find some soon then.”
“I didn’t think to pack some for you,” Korinna muttered, then sighed.
She stayed behind him, watching as he casted looks to the shadows around them. Before they hit town, they walked by several houses. Isaac noticed that the sun’s morning light shine on the horizon and took a shortcut through someone’s yard. He jumped the fence.
Korinna hung back and huffed. “Help?”
“Come on, wimp,” Isaac hissed, grabbing for her hands. With his strength, he flung her over the edge.
Korinna fell against the fence and growled curses at him as she stood to her feet and dusted off her clothes. “Asshole.”
Isaac proceeded up the back porch’s steps of the house. He surveyed the area, noticing several mechanic tools, boots, and a mat that was placed before the back door. He approached the door, grabbed the knob, and twisted hard, snapping it out of place.
The fluid action caused the least amount of noise. Nothing stirred in the house as the knob fell to the ground.
Korinna rushed to his back and put her hand on his shoulder. “What the fuck are you doing?” She whispered.
“I’m getting me some clothes,” he muttered with a short grin. “And maybe a place to stay, if we’re lucky.”
“Then Dante won’t know where we are.” Isaac rolled his eyes. Maybe his company wasn’t the brightest…but she had her purposes. Like money and succubae magic.
They were in the kitchen, which had a slight country feel to it. The kitchen was supplied with a white stove, a silver fridge, a small round table with four matching chairs, and the sink was filled with unwashed dishes. There weren’t many things that would be called feminine. Isaac hoped that this house was occupied by just a man.
Isaac approached the small hallway, which only had three doors. They found that one led to a bathroom, another to a laundry room, and then approached the last door with apprehension. Isaac could hear someone breathing along with a calm heartbeat in that room, so he figured it was a bedroom.
Upon opening it, he saw a single man collapsed on the bed with the covers tossed off the bed.
“Go check the rest of the house,” Isaac whispered to Korinna, then walked to the side of the bed.
The man was middle-aged, possibly divorced. There was a whiskey bottle on the bedside table, along with a clock radio, and a package of pills.
Just as Isaac reached for the man, his eyes flew open, meeting the blood-ringed eyes of a merciless killer. He opened his mouth to yell, but was cut off by the clenching grip of Isaac as he wrapped his fingers around his throat.
Isaac fell onto the bed, latching his fangs on the arch of the human’s neck.
The man gurgled and struggled against Isaac as the vampire fed from his neck. Blood dripped onto the sheets of the bed.
God, it was so good. Isaac moaned into the man’s throat, slurping longer strides of blood. He could feel the last twenty-four hours of caged hell just dissolve from the wonderful replenishment.
After a moment, Isaac knew the man was dead as the blood ran dry, and withdrew from the bed.
Korinna stood in the doorway, her eyes wide as she took in the scene. “Uh…there’s no one else.” Her gaze trailed over the bloodied body and bed, and then over Isaac. Power radiated over him as he took a deep, satisfied breath and headed toward the dresser and closet.
“Good,” he muttered as he rummaged through the clothes. “I must change now.” It was a dismissal, but Korinna didn’t heed it. Instead, she watched his every movement and wondered about the sanity of this vampire.
She had seen other vampires feast on humans. It wasn’t new to her.
But seeing such a powerful, headstrong vampire like him, so different from the rest of the herd, taking what he wanted…turned her on.
Isaac looked at her and grimaced as he rolled a shirt and jeans in a bundle and put it under his arm. “I said to leave.”
Korinna cleared her throat and nodded. “Sure.”
She started to close the door behind her when he stopped it with his hand.
“Wait…how do you use the shower?” Isaac asked as he pointed to the bathroom door, which stood on the other side of the dresser in the man’s room.
Korinna pushed the door back open and walked into the room. The stench of the blood and the body hit her full-speed. She covered her nose on the way to the bathroom. She switched on the lights and went to the bathtub.
“You pull on the knob here,” she said, showing him. “Left for hot, right for cold. You pull it out for water, and push it back in to turn it off.”
Korinna then turned back around to him, placing her hands on her hips. He had been watching her with dark eyes and with his lips in a thin line.
“Anything else?” She asked and almost held her breath for the possibility of him coming onto her. It was possible, she figured, since he seemed like he could jump her at any moment.
Although, he always seemed to look like that to her.
Isaac looked toward a small closet and pulled it open, revealing towels. “No,” he said. “That’ll be all.”
Korinna nodded with pursed lips and left him. She heard Isaac shut the door behind her and the distinct sound of someone stepping in the line of the shower head’s flow of water.
Aside from the shower, the rest of the house was quiet. The sun peeked through the front windows, shining light on the house’s interior.
It was quite peaceful, in fact, if it wasn’t for the murder in the bedroom.