Belonging nowhere, the best at what she does, love is the only thing that can bring this Guardian to her knees.
She was born half vampire, half bloodmate. A half-breed, belonging to neither world but protector of both, Carissa Morrisroe chose to become a Guardian, and she’s turned out to be one of the best. Cold as any other Guardian, she’s a natural when it comes to killing. Nothing can bring her down. Nothing that is but one simple thing—love.
Rage is nothing more than a killer. Raised with not one kind hand, it’s no wonder he feels nothing for no one—or so the world thinks. However, when he meets the one and only female Guardian on the battle field, buried emotions slowly start to emerge.
Enemy—savior—lover? Which will they be? It’s a question that Carissa asks herself as she fights the pull. It’s a question that Rage is tired of asking, but when fate knocks them both down hard they get their answer and with it a vengeance no one sees coming.
Touching her forehead, frowning and shaking his head at the heat greeting his flesh, Rage turned away with low growl. He walked away from her bed, out of the room, and headed for the bathroom to start yet another cold bath, with the hopes of bringing her fever down.
For over two weeks he’d battled the fever, the chills, and the delirium that came with them. Things came out of her mouth, some he didn’t understand, others he did, and more that tore him apart. He learned a lot when the fever took over, her name for one, and information on the others who called themselves Guardians. He even learned she was the only female Guardian, which impressed him. He had already known she was the only half-breed out there other than himself, making her extra special to him.
She talked in her sleep, rambling about battles she’d been in, breeds she’d killed, and guilt over being a lover to only one male and yet never having gained much satisfaction out of any of it. He learned how it tore her up to break off two friendships she’d held very close to her heart, and how seeing both happily bonded seemed to drag her down even more. Hearing her cry even as she slept, crying to be like the others, to be a bloodmate, tore at him as well. Rage knew and understood what she felt. He knew firsthand what it was like to not be normal, to want to be like your own kind, to want something you know you’ll never have, and then see something that held a hint of hope that might be just for you. Like her, he kept it all locked up tight inside, but lately he started to feel the shield was breaking open, and this time he couldn’t keep control of it.
The bath ready, he turned off the water, left the small bathroom, and went back down the hall to the room he’d set up for her care. As a makeshift hospital room, it had everything she might need, an IV and a small fridge in the corner for the bags of blood for her and himself. A medical bed had railings up so she wouldn’t fall or roll from the bed. He also set up a tray in the other corner with medical equipment, in case he needed to fix her up again. So far the only thing he needed to do was keep the wounds clean in order for them to heal. They had been, until a strange infection that refused to leave, caused one of the wounds to reopen and bleed again.
Walking back into the room he got a very strange feeling. Going up to her, he saw her breathing harder, faster than when he left. Grabbing the stethoscope, he put it to his ears then up to her chest.
Rattling. “Fuck!” Now he would have to bring someone in to tend to her again. “Great.”
Putting the stethoscope back down, Rage pulled the covers off, stripped her, and carried her into the bath. At least he could work to get the fever down before trying to figure out who he might be able to trust enough to leave the bunker, in order to find her treatment. He raked his brain and just couldn’t think of anyone.
She cried out and thrashed when he lowered her into the cool water. Silver eyes opened, but were so glazed over he knew she wasn’t seeing anything. He soaked her for a good thirty minutes. By then the water started to get warm, thanks to her fever. Taking her out, drying her off, he put one of his shirts on her and placed her back into the bed. Rage stood back simply staring down at her, thinking about what he needed to do.
He couldn’t let her die—refused to even consider the possibility.
Think damn it!
He needed help. Simple, right? Not! Most of the vampire medicals he knew of went underground, thanks to Renzo, and the few he thought he could trust at one time—he couldn’t anymore. Once more Renzo had fucked him over. Rage had a price on his head and the so called friends he’d had would try like hell to get that money. What the hell could he do?
Glancing back at her, he saw fresh blood, and turned her over to her stomach. Sure enough, one of the bullet holes was bleeding again. Examining her body, he found that the wound on her hip where Renzo had taken bone marrow was also bleeding. He winced at the sight. Her whole hip was black and blue, and the veins going down her leg were showing a strange color, a combination of rust and black. She had a blood infection, and if not treated soon, she could die.
The only thing he could think of was an old method used on him when he was a little boy and had gotten a nasty infection in his leg; a scalding towel had been placed over the infected spot to bring up the infection. It hurt like hell, but it worked. Once it was all drawn to the same spot it was lanced and drained. That’s what he was going to do—had to.
Leaving her, he went to the kitchen and got out a large pasta pan. Filling it with hot water, he turned on the heat and searched for a hand towel in the many boxes of supplies stacked in a corner. He’d built the bunker years ago, but never really stayed in it long enough to make it a home. He did bring Dannie here right after her parents were killed, and being underground seemed the help her heal and feel safe. Only when she was strong enough did he move her to the other house, leaving the bunker once more empty.
Thinking about Dannie had him thinking about the man he’d thought was his father—that son of a bitch! When Rage should have gone into his first vampire transition and nothing happened, shit hit the fan and the beatings started in. Rage learned after the first real nasty beating why he was hated. The man he thought was his father had figured out the secret his bloodmate took to her grave. She’d been raped, and Rage belonged to Renzo. As Rage had lain on the floor, in pain, bruised, and bleeding, the son of a bitch left him to go kill Renzo, only he didn’t come back.
Renzo had killed the man he thought to be his father, but it wasn’t soon enough to keep the secret hidden. Rage learned the truth during that beating, though Renzo never knew. Rage ended up hating Renzo just as much as he hated the one he’d thought to be his father.
The water started to boil and snapped him out of his thoughts about his past. Dunking the towel in the pan, he turned the heat off and took the pan with him back to the room.
Once again, she was unconscious. Rage put the pan down on the floor, got down on his knees next to the bed and uncovered the infected spot. Ignoring the heat of the water, he grabbed the towel and twisted most of the moisture out. Steam wafted off it, and he knew by the burning of his own hand it was hot, yet she didn’t make a sound or a move when he laid it on her hip.
After five minutes, he removed it to see if it was doing any good. Except for the burning red of her hip, the wound and surrounding area looked the same. He dipped the towel and placed it back over the spot. Three more times he did this, fearing it was becoming a waste of his time. Giving it one more try, he soaked the towel, set it down on her, waited a few minutes, and then took it off again. Some of the discoloration in the veins was finally moving up toward where the towel had been and the wound where the marrow had been taken. It was working.
Hurrying, Rage heated the water again and went back at it. It took a few hours before the infected blood was in a contained spot on her hip where he could lance and drain it. Still she didn’t move when he cut into the spot and squeezed. Dark red blood should’ve come out of the wound. Instead thick, blackish oil oozed from the cut with a strange odor to it, like a nasty infection. Once he finished, he cleaned the incision with alcohol, put in a couple stitches, and covered it with fresh gauze and tape.
That finished, Rage moved to her back, cleaned up the bullet wound that was bleeding and shook his head. A stitch had popped free. He replaced it and put on fresh bandages. He checked the hip once more and called it a day. From what the clock said, he had been working on her for over six hours, and it was now noon. Man, he was tired.
Leaving her to rest, Rage cleaned up the mess, fixed something to eat, and checked the blood supply. Another disappointment. The blood was low. He needed to go out and find more soon, a chore no longer easy, not with that damned price on his head.
Sleep he needed, but finding a source for fresh blood was more important. Sitting down at his desk and turning the computer on, he started a search for blood banks close by. He found three and all would be closed at night, but the timing needed to be right. He needed to get some sleep in order to pull this off, and he could not do anything until dark, giving him time for it. Too bad his mind didn’t want to shut down.
With a heavy sigh, Rage got up from the desk, shut the computer down, and headed for the bathroom for a hot shower. This war with Renzo was doing a number on him lately. He needed to think of something to stop Renzo once and for all.
He showered until the water turned cold. Before he laid his tired body down on the bed, he moved to the far side of the bunker. The place wasn’t large and wasn’t meant for long stays, just short ones to either regroup, hide and think, or, in this case, treat the wounded. One could only handle being underground for a short period of time before needing to go up. That had him thinking as to what would happen once she was better. What then?
Shaking his head to clear it, Rage turned over to his side, took a deep breath, and let it out slowly, along with the tension in his body, and closed his eyes. For the past few days he’d been so worried about her, he’d had little to none in the sleep department, and his body was demanding he give into the need. If he didn’t rest, then he wasn’t going to be strong enough to keep fighting for them, and he so needed to keep that strength.
* * * *
He hunched down in the shadows watching the people who worked for the blood bank leave for the night, all of his senses on high watch alert. He half-expected trouble.
Rage waited almost an hour after everyone left before he moved. Standing up, he pulled the ski mask down over his face. Dressed all in black with a black backpack, he walked quietly, heading for the back door. Glancing around, making sure once more he was alone, he brought out his kit for picking locks and went to work. A quick turn and the lock gave. An alarm went off, which he expected. Moving fast, he went over to the box on the wall, hooked up his small electronic device, and hacked into the system. He had less than five minutes to turn it off before the place got overloaded with police. He had it shut off in three.
Putting his equipment back in the pack, he waited for his eyes to adjust before he moved into the dark interior. With his vision half-vampire, his human side moved into it normally, before his vampire side took over. Moving around in the dark was easy then. Locating the stored blood was even easier. He could sniff out where it was stored.
The building looked like any other office space with desks, filing cabinets, and chairs in the front. Multiple, small rooms were partitioned off in the bulk of the area with tables for donors to lie down as they gave blood. All the blood was stored in the back in large refrigerated units.
Being what he and she were, they weren’t restricted to any specific type of blood. He went to the large fridge and filled up the pack with bag after bag. Almost done, he stopped when he heard a sound in the distance.
Rage zipped the bag up and closed the fridge door. On silent feet, he headed back the way he came, pulling his gun from his back waistband as he walked. The hair on the back of his neck stood up, and every damn sense in his body screamed he wasn’t alone.
Two men, also clad in black, were sneaking around in the dark, heading his way. Rage could make out the bags slung over their shoulders, and he picked up the faint scent of Renzo on them. If these two where here for Renzo, why the hell would they be in a blood bank? Renzo didn’t need blood. Hell, the man didn’t have a vampire to keep alive and torture or need to feed his breeds any longer. The damn things were dying because of the lack of elder blood.
He slipped around them and watched as the two split apart. He followed one. Reaching in his back pocket, he brought out a silencer and screwed it onto the end of the pistol. Hunching down, he took aim and whistled softly. The guy turned, and Rage shot, dropping him to the floor. Turning, he headed for the other one, but at the last second decided not to kill him as quickly.
“Excuse me,” Rage said. The guy turned, the whites of his eyes showing his fear, and Rage hit him hard with his fist, knocking him down. Before the guy could regain his senses, Rage sat down on his chest, pinning both arms with his legs and smiled. “Hello, how you doing?”
“Is bleeding on the floor back there,” Rage finished for him. “You’re one of Renzo’s dipshits. What’s he want blood for?”
The guy shook his head. “Fuck you.”
“Oh, I love it when you pricks don’t want to talk.”
Rage made sure he saw the gun. Ejecting the clip, he checked it, slammed it back in, pointed at the guy’s shoulder, and shot. The man screamed, thrashing beneath him, his human strength useless against Rage’s vampire.
“Still want to play the silence game?” His face twisted in pain, Rage’s victim still shook his head. Rage sighed “Okay.” He shot the other shoulder.
“You have many more joints I can shoot which could mean this might be a long night for you, and all I’ve got is time.”
Again the guy shook his head. Rage twisted slightly and shot one knee.
“All right!” the man screamed. “He—he has something going on, but didn’t tell us. Just—just ordered us to go and get him blood. Now let me go!”
“How much have you gotten him already?”
Tears in the man’s eyes mixed with the sweat on his face. He panted, breathed hard from the pain Rage had inflicted on him. Rage felt no remorse.
“I—I don’t know,” he panted. “He sends out different ones each time.”
“I guess I’m just going to have to figure it out for myself. You’ve been very helpful.”
Rage brought the gun back up, and the man’s mouth opened for another scream. Before a sound escaped, Rage shot him between the eyes. Standing up, he put the gun away and checked that none of the bags in his pack had busted open. He walked away from the bodies of two men he’d killed without a qualm. He went out the way he came in, resetting the alarm and closing the door behind him.
So Renzo has a new project in the works, and this one needed blood. How interesting.