Ethan thought he'd finally overcome all the horrors of the past. With his lover, Zeke, by his side and an entire clan of vampires at his back, he thought he could finally have true happiness. That all changes when an enemy from his old life comes back and threatens all that Ethan holds dear. When he finds out Zeke's life may hang in the balance, he knows he will have to embrace his dark side in order to get his lover back. Once he gives over to the dark magic, will Ethan even be able to come back? And if so, will he lose Zeke's love in the process?
Ethan really didn't feel like killing anyone tonight, but didn't see any way around it.
The evening had started out innocently enough. Well...as innocent as a half dozen warlocks who each had a major chip on their shoulder could be. They were patrolling the streets of Detroit, looking for any sign of trouble. The problem with looking for trouble was you usually found it and damned if they hadn't stumbled upon a bunch of it.
It all took form in one man, or rather one warlock, who reeked of dark magic. Since the only reason a dark magic would be hanging out in Detroit would be to cause someone harm, Ethan and his warlocks had immediately started trailing the bastard. Then the dark warlock had made things even more interesting when he'd ducked between two buildings. Ethan immediately motioned for the others to follow.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" his second in command, Kavan, asked.
Ethan turned to scowl at him. Like all the others, Kavan had the hood of his black leather top pulled up so Ethan couldn't see the warlock's face, but he knew it was tight with stress. "What do you suggest we do?" Ethan snapped. "Wait until he injures an innocent or attacks the clan?"
For several months now, his band of covenless warlocks had been living with a Drone Vampire clan. Although none of them had gone as far as Ethan by taking a vampire as a mate, with the exception of Kavan and Derik. Then again, none of them were quite like him either. Right before the others had come to live in Detroit, Ethan had been captured by Pure Born vampires and a dark warlock. By the time he was rescued, he had been dying and his mate, Zeke, had turned Ethan in order to save his life. So now he was an anomaly. Not quite vampire, not quite warlock, he had a boot planted firmly in both worlds.
"Of course I don't think we should let this bastard troll around unchecked. My third is a vampire and both Derik and I would rather die than see any harm come to her." Kavan finally turned to face the others as he curled his upper lip into a snarl. A lock of his blond hair had fallen over his eyes, making him look even more sinister for some reason.
"Then what's the issue?" Ethan cocked a brow, not even bothering to hide his irritation. Last time he looked, he still led their small band of warlocks, which meant he didn't like being on the business end of questions.
"Did you get a good look at the dark warlock?" Kavan slightly lowered his voice, as they got closer to their target.
"Yes, it's Peter."
"He's lower level," Kavan reminded, his harsh features even more drawn than normal.
"He's still part of the Ninth and that's enough for me." The Ninth were the most notorious dark coven around. Well known for their brutality and murderous ways, they brought fear to all supernatural creatures. That said a lot considering how nasty some of said creatures could be. Hell, one time Ethan had even seen a fire demon piss itself in fear just at the mere mention of the coven.
Ethan and his buddies had an even bigger bone to pick with the Ninth than most though. As teenagers, they had been sent to train with the evil coven. Most of them still carried scars, both inside and out, from those horrible years.
As they walked between the two buildings Peter had ducked into, Ethan felt a predator's smile spread over his face. The dumbass had walked right into a trap. At the back of the buildings, a tall brick wall had been erected, forming a barrier not even a scared-as-shit warlock could get past.
"Give it up, little rat. We've got you cornered." Ethan let out a low chuckle. On either side of him, the rest of his group spread out slightly and covered the entire width of the makeshift alley.
Peter jumped, his loud squeak filled the night air before he slowly turned around and lowered his hood. Dressed in the red and black colors of the Ninth, the bastard wasn't even trying to hide his affiliation. It insulted Ethan since all of magical society knew this was his stomping ground.
"I don't know what pisses me off more -- the fact that the Ninth thinks it's okay to come piss in my sandbox or the fact that they sent you -- the weakest piece of shit they have." Ethan's hands hung lose to his sides, ready to shoot off a magic blast at the first sign of aggression.
Peter's watery blue-eyed gaze slowly traveled over the warlocks.
Ethan could almost hear the man's brain ticking as he slowly recognized them.
The dark warlock tried to put on a grin, but his trembling lips gave away his fear. "Ethan," Peter gushed in an overly happy-to-see-you tone.
"Peter," Ethan patronized, with the same inflection to his voice.
"I never expected to run into you here." Peter started to nervously wrench his hands together.
Kavan let out a loud snort of disbelief while Derik cursed under his breath. Besides that, there was no noticeable reaction amongst Ethan's crew.
He knew they were all as pissed as him though. With all they'd been through, he could almost read their emotions as well as his own.
"Don't lie. It insults us and makes you look even dumber than you already are." Ethan slowly shook his head as he ran his tongue over one of his fangs. He did it nice and slow so there was no way Peter could miss it.
"So the rumors are true -- you're a vampire, now." Peter noticeably swallowed, his large Adam's apple bobbing against his scrawny neck.
"Are you going to try to say that you already didn't know that? Come on, it has to be the talk amongst magics. The son of the great Olivia, now a throat sucker." Even as he used the derogatory term for vampires, Ethan cringed. Once he'd thrown it around with the rest of the magics, now it stung since he'd heard it used in reference to him so many times and never in a good way.
"Well, it's not that shocking. Not since we found out she already had a son who was half vampire." Peter gave a nervous laugh.
"Ah, but my half-brother was born that way. He was raised by his vampire father and knows nothing of our ways. Now me on the other hand, not only do I know about magic, but I know how to use it." Ethan flicked his wrist, bringing up a small fireball. "Thanks to your coven, I know all kinds of fun ticks, too."
"You can't kill me," Peter shrieked, holding his hands up in a defensive manner.
Ethan cocked his head to the side, but still didn't call in the fireball. "Why not? It seems like a great plan to us."
"If you do, then I won't be able to give you the message Davis sent." For the first time, Peter showed some confidence, a sinister gleam coming to his eyes.
Ethan's chest went cold at the mention of the Ninth's leader. Not only had he made his training years hell, but the bastard was also the one who'd captured and tortured Ethan a few months ago before turning him over to be drained dry by Pure Born vampires. Anger surged through him, replacing the shock. "So how does it feel, Peter, knowing that Davis thought so little of you to send you on this suicide mission?"
"Like I said, you won't kill me. Not if you want to know what Davis has to say, and face it, you're just dying to know what it is." Peter smirked, obviously thinking he had the upper hand.
Which just showed the guy was even more stupid than Ethan had given him credit for. "Do you remember Doyle?" Ethan cocked his head to one of his men. A dark-haired warlock who barely spoke, Doyle had black eyes that were so haunted they appeared wild at times. While other members of his crew had managed to get past most of the memories of their training, it was clear Doyle still carried a lot of that baggage with him.
"Yes." Peter nodded, as his gaze darted to the warlock. All of his newfound cockiness faded.
"You better tell us what Davis said really quick or I'll lose interest and let Doyle take care of you." Ethan knew that Doyle would only be too happy to carry out that mission, too. Peter was a weak bastard and he'd taken great joy in bullying them all when they'd first come to train with the Ninth. For some reason, Peter had taken a particular interest in Doyle and been especially cruel to him.
While Ethan liked to believe that he was one of the good guys now, it still gave him a sadistic thrill to see the fear on Peter's face. Even better, the vampire part of him could feel the horror wash over the dark warlock. It was so potent, it almost had a taste to it. Despite himself, his fangs descended as bloodlust roared through his body. He fought to control himself, even though the primal instincts in him were screaming at him to attack.
"The message," he prompted, ducking his head in hopes that a combination of darkness and shadows would hide the fact he'd vamped out.
"Davis is impressed with the work you've been doing here. Tales of your growing magical strength have been reaching his ears. He -- "
"Did he just fucking say reaching his ears?" Kavan interrupted, his disgust ringing through the air.
"Yeah, he did." Derik let out a short laugh. "Really, who talks that way anymore? I'm thinking somebody has been watching too many low budget fantasy movies."
"Seriously, Ethan, if he offers you a magical ring, do not take him up on it," Kavan snarked.
Ethan let them go, knowing the bullshit remarks both served to sooth their nerves and upset Peter even more. It wasn't until the chuckles had faded that he gestured for the dark warlock to continue.
"Davis is graciously offering to let you come back to the Ninth. He will allow you to continue to lead your men so long as you swear allegiance to him." Peter actually seemed to believe he was offering up some great prize.
Ethan exchanged incredulous expressions with Kavan and Derik. Friends since before they could walk, they didn't need words to know what each other were thinking. Yeah, they were just as pissed by the offer as he was.
"Peter, I know you put the dumb in dumbass, but did you honestly believe I would agree to any of this when you were sent on this mission?" Ethan asked, as he twisted his hand so the fireball danced down his arm. Just as it reached his elbow, he allowed it to slowly dim out. It served as a little reminder that he did have almost full control of his powers now.
"Yes, I did. Anything has got to be better than living with those Drone parasites. It's bad enough having to live around bloodsuckers who were born that way, but to further lower yourself to associate with ones that used to be humans has got to disgust even you." Peter's face twisted in revulsion.
Ethan curled the corner of his mouth up with a hiss. "One of those Drones is my mate, you fucking idiot."
"I'm sure Davis will allow you to bring along your pet if you must."
"He is not now nor will he ever be my pet." Rage made Ethan's voice gravely. Zeke was worth a hundred Pure Borns or dark magics.
"Ethan, you really need to consider Davis's offer. Now that the dark magics have joined up with the Pure Born vampires, you and your Drones have no hope of defeating us. If you come over to our side now, Davis will allow you to still keep your freedom and some power."
"So long as I agree to be his bitch," Ethan spat out bitterly. "No thanks. I'd rather be dead -- again."
"That can be arranged." Peter snarled and flexed his fingers.
Ethan knew the bastard was gearing up to use magic. "Not by you it can't and you want to know why?" Ethan took on the cold, uncaring tone that his trainers had so often used on him. The fear came back over Peter's face.
Even though he knew it was wrong, Ethan savored it. After all the pain that the Ninth had caused them, it felt so damn good to finally be dishing it back.
"Why is that?" Peter croaked.
"Because, as soon as you walked into Detroit, you were as good as dead." Ethan knew how hard and brutal his words were, but he also knew that to show any sign of weakness would only encourage more of his enemies to come. While he despised having to go to the dark side, his need to protect the ones he loved was stronger.
"That's not fair. It's just me against all of you," Peter shrieked.
"That's rich coming from you. When we were just a bunch of scared teens you and your buddies had no issue stomping on us," Doyle finally spoke up. He lowered his hood, revealing the full fury of his expression onto Peter.
Ethan took one look at the rage and hurt on his friend's face and knew what he had to do. The only way his friend could ever heal was to have some form of closure. However, brutal it may be. "Doyle, finish off this piece of shit. Make sure you do it right so the Ninth knows what happens when they try to invade our space."
Not waiting to see how Doyle took care of business, Ethan started to walk away, Kavan and Derik flanking him. If he had any doubts that Doyle was going to obey his order, the sounds of Peter's screams ringing down the city streets erased them.
"As soon as he's done we need to go back to the Drone dwelling and inform Eric what we found," Ethan ordered, referring to the leader of the vampire clan.
"Do you think more will be coming?" Derik asked. The dark-haired male was Kavan's third, his sharp good looks in direct contrast to Kavan's more rangy appearance.
"I don't think -- I know, and Eric is going to need to put his guards on watch for even more trouble."
"As if they already didn't have enough," Kavan declared grimly. Detroit was home to many of the worst -- zombies, empusa, various shifter breeds and a full-grown sea serpent just being a few of them.
By now, Peter's screams had trailed off to loud, keening sobs. Ethan may have felt sorry for the warlock had he not seen firsthand all the evil the man was capable of. Ethan motioned for the group to stop and wait. He leaned against a parked car and rubbed the bridge of his nose, trying to stave off the headache that was creeping up.
For three days now, Zeke had been gone on a mission. Not only was the vampire his mate, but his sole source of blood. Ethan was beginning to feel serious hunger pains. Unfortunately, his suffering didn't go unnoticed by Kavan.
"You okay?" he asked, his grey eyes narrowing in concern.
"Yeah, just tired." Which was partly true. Since Zeke left, Ethan hadn't been getting much sleep either.
"Have you fed lately?"
Ethan almost smiled. Leave it to Kavan to get right to the heart of the matter. "No, but don't worry. I'm fine."
"Is it normal for vampires to go that long? Cherish usually drinks from Derik and me every couple of days and she's been turned longer than you."
No, it wasn't normal for him. Since he'd become a vampire, he had to drink daily or suffer the ill effects of blood thirst. That didn't mean he'd fess up to it though. No sense in worrying the others. Luckily, he was saved when Doyle rejoined them. The warlock seemed a bit pale and had the slightest of tremors in his hands, but otherwise didn't appear weak from using too much magic.
"It's done," he said shortly.
Ethan waited for him to say more, but as usual, the warlock was stingy with his words. Ethan started to ask for more details, but held back. If he knew one thing about Doyle, it was the warlock knew how to follow orders. So even without checking, there was no doubt that not only had Peter been taken care of, but it'd been done in a way that would send a real back-the-fuck-off message to the Ninth. "I'm sorry you had to do it," Ethan sighed.
"I'm not," Doyle snapped.
"Let's go back and tell Eric what happened." The sun had been down for several hours now so the vampires should all be up and moving around.
"Can we stop by Starbucks on the way?" Derik requested.
Kavan groaned as he gave the group a sheepish shrug. "He's addicted to that place."
"Sure, why not," Ethan drawled. "Because nothing will draw attention to us more than seven hooded, leather-clad men going in and ordering a Venti Mocha."
"Does that mean yes?" Derik crinkled his brow in confusion.
Ethan sighed. "Lead the way."