In that moment, I wasn't thinking clearly, if I was thinking at all.
The ward fell away when something just the opposite of anger flooded my system as I rushed forward.
"Is she alright?" I asked as the one woman made shushing, soothing noises at the other who was making loud, hiccuping sobbing sounds.
"No," she said, giving me a hard look. "Does she look alright?" she added, half-carrying the woman.
"What is going to happen to her now?" I asked.
The woman's gaze lifted, held mine.
"He is going to kill her. He's been doing it slowly for months. He's getting closer and closer every day."
"Can't she leave?"
"How? How could she possibly leave?" the woman asked, tone just this side of desperate.
It was right in that very moment that I lost my fucking mind.
"If I took her," I declared.
"What? How? What are you?"
"A demon," I told her. "And I can throw her over my shoulder, and run." I half expected her to scoff at me, to scream, to call her bloodsuckers out to beat the shit out of me. Or, at least, try to. "What's the worst that could happen?" I asked when I saw uncertainty there. "I won't kill her. I won't even hurt her."
"I'm supposed to trust the word of a demon?"
"That's fair," I agreed. "I couldn't possibly do anything worse than what he's been doing to her, than what he just did to her."
"I... I can't..." the woman said, looking back at the door. "They will ask," she added, choosing her words carefully.
I knew what she was saying.
She couldn't agree to it.
She couldn't be a part of the plan.
Because when one of the vamps demanded she answer, she would be helpless but to give them the truth.
I gave her a nod.
"Give me her," I demanded, making my voice harsh, hoping she would catch on.
"No. Go away," she said, a quick study.
"I said give her to me," I added, voice a bit louder as I reached for the small one, lifting her up, finding her even lighter than I anticipated.
As soon as she was in my arms, the friend's eyes looked relieved for a moment before they widened. A silent demand to run while I could.
I didn't need more encouragement than that. What with losing my fucking mind and all. So I held the woman to my chest as I ran for my bike, settling her on, then climbing in front of her, waiting until her arms closed around me after a little coaxing, then turning the bike over, and starting to pull away.
It was right that moment that the front doors to the club opened, and several of the vamps spilled out, along with Daemon who was likely looking to see where I'd gone.
The bloodsuckers were fast.
But not quite as fast as my bike pushing its limit.
So that was what I went ahead and did.
I stole a thrall from her vampire masters.
I probably started a fucking war.
But all I could focus on was the trembling little body wrapped all around me, holding on for dear life, as if she knew that was exactly what I was giving her.
I knew it was going to happen.
Of course I did.
I wasn't stupid.
And Davor wasn't kind.
The moment his hand grabbed my wrist when we were about to walk into the club was all the proof I needed that I was going to have some pain inflicted on me.
The pain, well, I could get used to the pain. I could endure it. Pain was a part of life. Especially my life. It would be bad. And then it would end. There was no use working myself up too much about it. I think after the pain of trying to run away, nothing seemed like it could compare.
But the humiliation factor?
Oh, that was what had me swallowing my pride enough to beg him not to do this as he was dragging me toward the stage.
The embarrassment was, at once, a cold sweat over my skin, but a heated, uncomfortable fire roaring through my system.
The cuffs went on.
And then, worst of all, my dress came off.
Had I known I would be stripped all but bare when I was dressing that evening, I would have made sure to wear full-coverage underwear.
Then, before I could even stress about my lack of clothing too much, I was being paddled.
I thought it would be like the people I'd seen who had gone up before us. Performative. I was sure there was an erotic aspect for them as well, but it was mostly for show. Nothing serious.
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