The sixth and final book in the Blood Dragon series.
The sun sets, the night falls, and all throughout the house was a din of madness. At least, that had been the usual scenario over the past week.
“Sarah!” a whispered voice hissed. “Sarah!”
Sarah felt someone shake her shoulder. “Just ten more sheep, Mom,” she groaned as she rolled over.
Two hands pressed against her back and rocked her like she was a lump of dough to be kneaded. “Sarah! Wake up!”
Sarah’s eyes creaked open like the doors to a haunted house. She half-rolled over and glared at the pair who stood beside the bed. They were Jenny and Cate, once her friends and now her mortal enemies.
“Whadda you want?” Sarah grumbled.
“Something’s wrong, Sar,” Jenny told her as she glanced over her shoulder at the door. “Really wrong. Just listen to the house.”
Sarah listened for a moment and shook her head. “I don't hear anything.”
"That's what's so wrong!" Jenny insisted.
Nobody is up yet," Cate pointed out.
Sarah sighed and sat up. “I am, so what exactly is the problem? It’s too quiet?”
“Exactly!” Jenny agreed as she grabbed Sarah’s hand and tugged her toward the door. “Something’s up with all those weirdos we let into the house.”
Sarah’s legs swung over the side of the bed, but she dug her feet into the rug on the floor and yanked her hand free. “What do you mean ‘something’s up’ with them? Where are they?”
“All of the Saints and their partners are down in the basement,” Cate told her.
“Plotting to take over the house!” Jenny added.
Sarah blinked at them. “All of them? In the basement? Not arguing or threatening to kill each other?” Jenny and Cate nodded. Sarah sighed and ran a hand through her mussed hair. “Did you ever think to go down there and ask them what they’re doing?”
Jenny drew back and gasped. “Go down there? Are you insane?”
“I wish I was. . .” Sarah muttered.
“They might kill us!” Jenny pointed out.
“You’re already dead,” Sarah reminded her.
Jenny opened her mouth, but clapped her teeth shut. “Oh. . .right.”
Sarah shook off the last of her drowsiness and glanced out the window. Night again. She sighed. The sun was becoming a stranger to her.
“Are you okay?” Cate asked her friend.
Sarah returned her attention to the pair and managed a small smile. “I’m fine, but you two really need to calm down. Just because they’re all down in the basement doesn’t mean something’s going on.”
The door opened and Adam peeked his head into the room. His expression was tense as he swept his eyes over the girls. “Do you guys know if something’s going on with the Saints?”
Jenny pointed at Adam. “See? Something is going on!”
Sarah rolled her eyes and stood. “They’re all just down in the basement probably talking.”
The door swung open wider to reveal Ruthven. One of his eyebrows was arched. “How unusual. They have been squabbling since they arrived.”
Sarah stepped into the middle of her friends and held up her hands. “They were just fighting over who got the basement and who got the attic. There’s nothing suspicious going-”
A slam came from downstairs, followed by silence. The group tensed. Footsteps walked up the creaking stairs. Sarah, Cate and Jenny scrambled toward the door while Ruthven and Adam slipped inside the doorway, causing them to collide in a rush to see who was coming versus being prepared for an attack.
The tall figure of a smiling Maurice appeared in the doorway and beheld a pile of struggling limbs and shrieks. “Am I interrupting something?”
Sarah disentangled herself from her friends and arose from the chaos. “No, we were just talking.”
“As were we, and we think we may have found him.”
The group blinked at him, and it was Sarah who asked their shared question. “Found who?”
That got Adam and Ruthven’s attention. They scrambled to their feet and Adam frowned. “How?”
Maurice stepped aside and swept his arm down the hall. “If you will follow me we’ll show you.”
The companions followed their guide downstairs and into the kitchen. The basement was accessed via a small door hidden in the back of the pantry. They scooted through bags of flour and jars full of floating preserved foods to get at the short, narrow door in the wall.
Beyond the door was a long, narrow staircase that led to the dirt floor. The walls were of rough stone with yellowed plaster and the cobweb-choked ceiling above their heads showed the ancient wiring.
Jenny wrinkled her nose at the wiring nailed up against the dry boards. “A spark from one of these wires and we won’t have to worry about Michael.”
“There is no need to worry,” Ruthven assured her as they walked down the stairs. “I performed the wiring myself.”
She shuddered. “That’s what I was afraid of. . .”
A few cots were placed near the bottom of the steps. In the middle of the rectangular room stood a table without chairs. Around the table were the other Saints and their companions. They looked up from a large map that was stretched over the top of the table.
Maurice stopped at the table and turned to face the others with a smile. “Apart we couldn’t figure out where Michael’s home was located, but together-”
“We found it,” Amand interrupted.
Maurice nodded. “Yes, and with our unique skills we’re sure we can infiltrate the home and seize our foe.”
Adam crossed his arms and frowned. “How can you be so sure when you guys were mostly just inside the place?”
“Michael may have a strong aura, but he never tried to attack us via his own powers,” Valerian spoke up. “That makes us suspect that he feared us more than we should have feared him.”
“What kind of traps might he have around his home?” Ruthven asked them.
Amand gestured to Benedicta. “Benedicta says she never felt any magic around the place, so there shouldn’t be anything we can’t destroy with our bare hands.”
Jenny raised her hand. “I think we might have a problem. What if he knows you guys betrayed him and he suspects you’d be able to find where he lives? Wouldn’t going there make it a trap?”
“What other choice do we have?” Adam pointed out as he walked up to the table and studied the map. “So where’s the house?”
Amand pointed at the northeastern part of the map outside the city limits. “We think it’s along the shoreline road just before you reach the forest.”
Jenny scoffed. “There’s a lot of money around there. This Michael guy must be pretty loaded.”
“Old vampires generally are,” Ruthven told her.
She pointed at the exposed wiring above their heads. “Then why are we in this dump?”
He smiled. “I happened to like old things.”
“That sounds really conceited, Ruthy.”
“Then it’s definitely him,” a voice called from the top of the stairs.
Everyone whipped their heads up and found Maeve standing in the doorway. Beside her leaning against the frame with his arms folded stood Avery.
Jenny frowned at her. “We could’ve used your help a week ago when we were grabbing the next piece.”
Maeve walked down the stairs with Avery following. She stopped at the bottom and waved her hand over her shoulder at her companion. “This idiot and I have been researching the relic pieces.”
“Cotio told us all we need to know about them,” Adam informed her.
Maeve folded her arms over her chest and grinned. “Did he tell you that I knew Malichai?”
Sarah blinked at her. “You did?”
“You could say we were an item back before he started ranting about finding the potion for immortality,” Maeve revealed.
“Is that what the relic’s for?” Sarah asked her.
Maeve shrugged. “I don’t know. He hadn’t made anything like that before I broke up with him.”
“The relic won’t matter if we deal with Michael,” Adam pointed out as he grabbed the map and rolled it up. He turned to the group and looked at each of them. “Nobody has to come if they feel this is a trap, but I’m going.”
Amand slammed his fist into his other palm. “That guy used me. I’m not going to let him get away with that.”
“Benedicta and I would also like to ‘thank’ him,” Maurice spoke up.
“And Cecilia and I aren’t going to get left out of this,” Valerian added.
Maeve rolled her eyes before she held held out her hand to Adam. “If you’re all going to go get yourselves killed then why don’t I have that newest piece you grabbed? You won’t need it if you’re dead.”
“What do you want it for?”Adam asked her.
“I’m trying to figure out how to piece them back together,” she revealed. “If you fools die than maybe Avery and I can stop this Michael guy using the pieces.”
“But one piece is still missing,” Sarah pointed out.
Cate glanced up at her older brother. “And so is Mom’s body.”
Maeve arched an eyebrow. “What’s this about your mom?”
Adam stared ahead, but his face tightened. “We’ll tell you and deal with it later. Right now let’s deal with Michael.”
“Ahem,” Maeve persisted as she stretched her hand closer to him. Adam sighed, but reached into his pocket and handed her the latest medallion piece. She pocketed the relic and smiled. “We’ll let you know if we find something. That is, if you’re still alive.”
“We’ll be here,” Adam assured her as he stalked past her.
The group followed him, but Maeve grasped Sarah’s arm and stopped her at the foot of the steps. The witch looked the aspiring vampire in the eyes. “Don’t let that idiot get himself killed, okay?”
Sarah smiled and patted her hand. “I won’t.”
Maeve released her and Sarah hurried up the steps. Avery’s eyes flickered from the doorway to Maeve, whose gaze still lay up the stairs. “Think they’ll be okay without us?”
Maeve didn’t look at him as she shook her head. “No.”
“Want me to go?”
Maeve turned her head to him and arched an eyebrow. “When did you start caring about them?”
He folded his arms and shrugged. “It’s not them I care about, it’s you, and you care about them, so-” He shrugged.
Maeve leaned in and pecked a chaste kiss on his cheek. She drew away to find his eyes wide and his cheeks red. “Sometimes you remind me why I loved you all those years ago.”
A grin spread across his face. He stepped back and gave her a flourishing bow. “I’m ever at your service, my lady.”
In a flash of light he disappeared, leaving Maeve alone in the dank basement. She returned her gaze to the top of the stairs and sighed. “Adam. . .what are you really trying to do by ending it this way?”