The pastel paint had won the battle upstairs. Oh, there were touches of brick here and there. But that’s all they were. Just touches. Like dead soldiers on a battlefield.
The smell of paint still hung in the air.
Hildreth tread carefully across the hall’s baby blue floor. He opened door after door.
Some sort of shoe storage room.
All pastel pinks and blues and purples.
He closed the door to another room dedicated to shoes. “I’m starting to think she’s not up here.”
He opened the next door. A whole collageration of vampires stood on the other side. The one straight ahead of him bared his fangs.
Hildreth shook his head. “Nope. Not right now.” He slammed the door shut and ran to the stairs.
The door burst open behind him. “Kill the intruder!”
“Not today.” Hildreth turned the corner and raced down the stairs.
The vampires followed him in hot pursuit.
“Kill the intruder!”
Darn it! Where is she?
What if I’m wrong? What if she isn’t here?
One of the vampires caught up to him and grabbed him by the hood and jerked him back.
Hildreth slammed an elbow into his face and threw him down the stairs.
The vampire quickly recovered and charged back.
Hildreth staked him.
The other vampires caught up to Hildreth and surrounded him.
“I’m glad I grabbed extra stakes.”
“You and your lover have been a thorn in my side for too long, Marauder.” Incandesca extended her claws and walked in slow circles around Elsie. “I was willing to forgive you and let bygones be bygones. If you had accepted my offer. But you rejected me.” She changed direction from clockwise to counterclockwise. “I don’t like rejection.” She slashed at Elsie’s face.
That was all the invitation Elsie needed.
She began her attack.
Don’t get stuck inside my head.
The vampires crumpled and fell at Hildreth’s feet as his stakes struck home. One after the other.
“I don’t know—” Elsie punched her in the gut.
“—what you’re so—” Blocked another slash to the face.
“—heated up about.”
Incandesca slashed her shoulder. “YOU REJECTED ME!”
“I gave you—”
Grabbed right wrist.
Incandesca roared at her and struggled to pull her hand free. “You were supposed to go. Just you. JUST YOU!”
The vampire pulled her hand free and rubbed her wrist. “So, he could kill you, of course.”
“Wait. I thought you wanted me to kill him.”
She threw her head back and laughed. “And you think he’d stand there and let it happen? You really don’t know anything, Marauder. You certainly don’t know Mark Caten. With a certain amount of luck, you two would have killed each other and my revenge would have been complete.”
Elsie resumed her attack.
The vampires’ numbers fell faster and faster all the way down to a mere ten.
Hildreth stayed focused on the fight, but he felt a glow in knowing that Master Shinowa would be proud of his performance.
One of the vampires bodyslammed him into the brick railing.
Pain shot up Hildreth’s back, breaking his momentum and stealing his breath.
The other vampires took advantage of the moment and swarmed him.
Two of them grabbed his arms.
Hildreth struggled to pull out of their grip.
Their claws latched deep into his skin.
Hildreth let out a pained cry.
Another vampire grabbed his hair and pulled his head back.
Hildreth kicked them, but they all held their ground.
The bodyslammer smiled. “You had a good run, hunter.”
“I’m not done yet.”
Body Slammer’s smile grew sharp. “I’d say you are.”