The first vampire seized her from behind. She glanced at Angus just in time to see him skewer another vampire. Four down. They were doing well. Another vampire charged at her, and she leaned back on her captor to kick the assailant in the head. He stumbled back.
The first vampire pressed a dagger to her throat. "I should kill you, bitch."
She grabbed his arm to pull the knife away. She heard Angus shout, then the vampire's arm turned to dust, and his knife clattered to the ground. She turned to see Angus behind her, his claymore coated with the dust of the first vampire.
"Thanks." She bent down to retrieve the fallen dagger. There were two male vampires left - Alek and another one. The woman was standing nearby, hatred glimmering in her dark eyes. She raised a wooden blowpipe to her mouth.
Angus raised his claymore, then stiffened. A shocked look crossed his face. "Emma, run," he whispered.
She stepped back, reluctant to leave. She gasped when Angus's claymore slipped from his hand. "Angus!"
He collapsed onto the pier. A dart protruded from his back.
The two male vampires zoomed toward Emma. She slashed at the first one with her dagger, but he dodged. Alek seized her from behind. The first one kicked the knife from her hand, then punched her in the stomach. She sagged against Alek for only a moment before she kicked and struggled. The first one retrieved the knife and handed it to Alek.
The woman strode toward Angus, speaking with a Russian accent. "I should have killed you years ago." With a booted foot, she shoved him onto his back
Emma winced at the thought of the dart getting pushed farther in.
The woman leaned over Angus. "You can hear me, can't you? The nightshade paralyzes you, but you can still see and hear." She placed her foot on his cheek and pressed his head toward Emma. "See that? We have captured your mortal whore." She kicked him in the ribs with the pointed toe of her boot.
"Stop it!" Emma struggled, but both male vampires held her tight. She grew still when she noticed Angus's face. He was watching her, his eyes filled with pain. Oh God, what had she done? She'd led them into a trap.
The woman gave Emma a disgusted look, then grasped Angus's chin with her long red fingernails and forced his face back to her. "Don't look at her. You could have owned the world with me. But when I asked you to kill one puny little mortal, you refused. And here you are, killing your own kind for what? A worthless mortal bitch?"
"Katya, enough!" Alek yelled. "Torture him later. We need to transport these two before it's too late."
"All right, all right." Katya leaned over to grab Angus's arm, and they both vanished.
"No!" Emma screamed. She kicked at her captors.
Alek pulled her tight against him and pressed the knife to her neck. "We've never been there before, Uri. You need to call."
Uri punched in a number on his phone. "Allo?"
Emma glanced up and spotted Robby and Giacomo on the roof, moving toward them with swords in their hands.
"Come any closer, and I'm slitting her throat." Alek turned toward Uri, dragging Emma with him. "Grab on to us. Let's go!"
Uri grabbed Emma's arm and spoke into his phone, "Paris, nous arrivons."
Emma glanced up at the stricken faces of Robby and Giacomo. "Paris!" she shouted just before everything went black.
Emma was just becoming aware of her surroundings when she felt a knife prick her neck. She winced, but refused to give Alek the pleasure of hearing her cry out in pain.
"You have a loud mouth," he hissed in her ear.
"Is the mortal giving you trouble?" Katya asked.
"No." Alek yanked on Emma's hair and tilted her head to expose her neck. "I just wanted a little taste." He leaned down and licked the drop of blood from her neck.
Her stomach twinged. Still, Alek's initial reaction gave her hope. He was pissed that she'd yelled out Paris, so most likely, she'd steered Robby and Giacomo in the right direction. She also noted that Alek and Uri neglected to tell Katya what she'd done. They were probably afraid of incurring the queen bitch's wrath.
Emma quickly surveyed the scene. They appeared to be in an old wine cellar. Candlelight flickered from rusty iron sconces along stone walls. Wooden racks cradled row after row of dusty wine bottles. The air was chilly and smelled of ancient mold. Angus lay in a neglected heap on the hard stone floor.
"Zhis woman is zhe infamous slayer?" a man asked in a French accent. He approached Emma with a mincing gait, studying her with eyes that looked like black slits in his puffy white face. "Amazing. She has killed four of your friends, non?"
"Six," Emma corrected him. "I've killed six of her little minions, and it was pathetically easy."
The French vampire giggled. "Meow, hiss!" He curled his chubby white fingers to resemble claws. "I just adore a good catfight." He gazed at Emma fondly. "But she is special, zhis one, non? May I take a whip to her?"
"If we have time." Katya patted him on the arm. "Brouchard, we need to secure the prisoners before the sun rises."
"Ah, yes. But of course." Brouchard rubbed his plump white hands together. "Zhis is so exciting! It is not often that I have such honored guests." He laughed and waved his hand in the air. "Many visit my cellar, but very few leave."
He stepped closer to Emma. "Shall I tell you my darkest secret, how I lure my victims to their doom?"
He sneered. His pointed canine teeth looked yellow against his pasty white skin. "You are a fiery one, n'est-ce pas? I wager your blood runs hot." He leaned forward to sniff.
"Easy, Brouchard." Katya placed a hand on his shoulder. "I need her alive."
"Ah, yes." Brouchard stepped back. He flipped a lacy handkerchief from the pocket of his velvet dinner jacket and dabbed at his mouth. "She is a little present for Casimir. He will find her quite tasty."
Emma swallowed hard. She glanced at Angus. His eyes were following everyone's movements.
Brouchard strolled to a round table, topped with a pristine white tablecloth. Elegant china was set for two. "You see, my dear, when I invite zhe lovely young men and ladies to dinner, zhey come gladly to see my famous wine collection. Zhey never realize till it is too late zhat zhey are my dinner."
Creepy little serial killer. Emma kept her face blank to hide her disgust.
"I am a gentleman." Brouchard sauntered down a row of racks, running his pasty fingers over the wine bottles. "I always allow my guests to choose the wine. Once zhey have enjoyed zheir fill, I take... my fill." He patted his plump belly and giggled. "I have a big appetite for life, non?"
"Enough, Brouchard." Katya yawned. "The sun is rising."
"Yes, yes. I have coffins zhis way." Brouchard scurried past several rows of bottles. "And zhere is a storeroom where we can lock up zhe prisoners."
Alek pulled Emma along with him. Uri hefted Angus over his shoulder and followed them.
"Here are zhe coffins." Brouchard waved a hand toward a line of eight coffins. "Zhey are very nice, non? But you do not need so many now. Only zhree of you came." He looked at Emma and giggled. "Naughty girl. Are you sure I cannot whip her?"
"Later," Katya said. "Where's the storeroom?"
"Here." Brouchard shoved a tapestry on the wall to the side and revealed an old wooden door. He unlocked it with a skeleton key, and it opened with a loud creak. "Spooky inside, non?"
He laughed as he removed a candle from a nearby sconce. "I will show you zhe room." He strolled inside. "It is perfect, n'est-ce pas? Zhere is no way out."
Uri walked in and dumped Angus on the floor.
Brouchard snickered. "He is a big one." He nudged Angus's kilt up with his foot. "A pity you can only stay one night."
"Leave him alone, you pervert," Emma muttered as Alek hauled her into the room.
"Shut up." Alek yanked her arms back. "I need some rope to tie her."
"But of course." Brouchard exited the room, but Emma could still hear him. "You will tell Casimir I was very helpful, yes?"
"Of course," Katya assured him. "You do have a mortal guard for the daytime, don't you?"
"Ah, yes. Hubert." The way Brouchard pronounced his guard's name, it sounded like Oo-bear. He minced back into the storeroom and handed Alek some drapery cords. "Will zhese do?"
"Yes." Alek tied Emma's wrists together behind her back.
"Take her tote bag," Katya reminded him.
Emma cursed silently as Alek cut her bag off with his knife. There went her cell phone and stakes.
Brouchard giggled. "You have made her angry." He patted her on the cheek. "You must behave during zhe day, ch. Do not make my dear Hubert angry. He can be very cruel."
Emma pulled away from Brouchard's chubby hand. "Then maybe you should whip him."
Brouchard yawned. "Oh, but I have. No doubt, it is why zhe poor brute is so foul-tempered. Poor Hubert."
Alek shoved Emma onto the floor next to Angus. "If you try to escape, Hubert will kill you both."
"Come, mes amis." Brouchard strolled from the room. "We must have our beauty sleep."
Alek closed the door. Without Brouchard's candle, the room was very dark. Emma remembered seeing some old chairs and tables pushed against the walls, but nothing useful for escape. She listened to the sounds in the next room. Once the vampires were dead for the day, she would only have Hubert to deal with.
"Emma," Angus whispered. When she gasped, he continued, "Speak softly so they willna hear."
She wiggled closer to him. "Has the poison worn off?"
"No' quite. I canna move my arms or legs. Emma, I will fall into my death-sleep soon. If ye can escape, ye must."
She started to protest, since she didn't want to leave him. But he was right. Her best chance for escape was during the day, and she could always bring back help for Angus. "All right. I think we're in Paris."
"Aye. Go to Jean-Luc Echarpe's studio on the Champs-Elys. The daytime guards there work for me. They can help you."
"Okay." She was still tied up, though. "Is your dagger still in your sock?"
"Aye. Take it." His speech became more slurred. "My sporran. I need the flask. Hide it... underneath me."
"In case they take my... "
"Sporran?" She waited, but he didn't reply. She laid her head on his chest and heard nothing. He was gone.
A mournful feeling invaded her heart, and she suddenly felt like crying. Everyone she'd ever cared about had died. How could she stand to lose one more? "I'm so sorry. This is my fault."
She took a deep breath to steady her nerves. She needed her wits about her. Angus was counting on her. She rotated about so her head was next to his feet. Then she wiggled around till she felt her fingers make contact with the hilt of the sgian dubh hidden under his sock. She managed to pull it out, then sat up to saw through the cords binding her wrists. It was a slow and awkward process, but she kept at it.
So far, no sound from the other room. The storeroom seemed a bit lighter. She spotted a few slivers of light at the top of the far wall. Perhaps a small window that had been boarded up? She would need to make sure none of the sunlight fell on Angus.
She could barely make out his profile in the dim light. He'd told her the truth from the beginning. There were good vampires and bad ones, and Sean's activities with the Stake-Out team were nothing but a nuisance, getting in the way of the good Vamps who wanted to protect mankind. If she ever survived this, she was quitting her job.
Aha! The cords finally broke free. She slipped the knife into her belt, then dragged Angus's body to the darkest corner of the room. Heavy footsteps sounded in the wine cellar, and a shadow dimmed the light under the door. Hubert was there, listening. She needed to act quickly. She opened Angus's sporran and dug around. Thank goodness he carried a purse. She smiled to herself, imagining his reaction to the word purse.
She located the metal flask, then wedged it underneath his back. Normally that would be very uncomfortable, but poor Angus was dead to the world right now. She pulled out his cell phone and opened it. Whom to call? Connor was first in his directory, so she called him.
She glanced toward the door. Hubert might hear her talking, so she should text message instead. Unfortunately, the connection to Connor never went through. Shit. She wasn't getting a signal down in this hole.
She slipped the phone into her pocket and carried a chair over to the far wall. It looked like a fragile antique, so she hoped it would carry her weight. She climbed onto the cushioned brocade seat and reached for the window. Too high.
She found a wooden table about the size of a card table, light enough that she could carry it. She set it carefully beneath the window, then climbed on top. Now she could reach the slats nailed horizontally across the small window. She curled her hands around two slats and yanked. They held firm. She lifted herself up and peered through the gap.
There was a dingy narrow street. Sunlight dappled in puddles of rainwater that gathered in the broken pavement. Footsteps approached.
Emma glanced back. No sign of Hubert. The footsteps drew closer. There was one gait, heavy and determined, and a smaller one, quick and light with a pattering sound. A dog, perhaps.