Lover Avenged Chapter 1~2

Chapter One

The king must die."

Four single-syllable words. One by one they were nothing special. Put together? They called up all kinds of bad shit: Murder. Betrayal. Treason.


In the thick moments after they were spoken to him, Rehvenge kept quiet, letting the quartet hang in the stuffy air of the study, four points of a dark, evil compass he was intimately familiar with.

"Have you any response?" Montrag, son of Rehm, said.


Montrag blinked and fiddled with the silk cravat at his neck. Like most members of the glymera, he had both velvet slippers firmly planted in the dry, rarified sand of his class. Which meant he was just plain precious, all the way around. In his smoking jacket and his natty pin-striped slacks and...shit, were those actually spats?...he was right out of the pages of Vanity Fair. Like, a hundred years ago. And in his myriad condescensions and his bright frickin' ideas, he was Kissinger without a president when it came to politics: all analysis, no authority.

Which explained this meeting, didn't it.

"Don't stop now," Rehv said. "You've already jumped off the building. The landing isn't getting any softer."

Montrag frowned. "I fail to view this with your kind of levity."

"Who's laughing."

A knock on the study's door brought Montrag's head to the side, and he had a profile like an Irish setter: all nose. "Come in."

The doggen who followed the command struggled under the weight of the silver service she carried. With an ebony tray the size of a porch in her hands, she humped the load across the room.

Until her head came up and she saw Rehv.

She froze like a snapshot.

"We take our tea here." Montrag pointed to the low-slung table between the two silk sofas they were sitting on. "Here."

The doggen didn't move, just stared at Rehv's face.

"What is the matter?" Montrag demanded as the teacups began to tremble, a chiming noise rising up from the tray. "Place our tea here, now."

The doggen bowed her head, mumbled something, and came forward slowly, putting one foot in front of the other like she was approaching a coiled snake. She stayed as far away from Rehv as she could, and after she put the service down, her shaking hands were barely able to get the cups into the saucers.

When she went for the pot of tea, it was clear she was going to spill the shit all over the place.

"Let me do it," Rehv said, reaching out.

As the doggen jerked away from him, her grip slipped off the pot handle and the tea went into free fall.

Rehv caught the blistering-hot silver in his palms.

"What have you done!" Montrag said, leaping off of his sofa.

The doggen cringed away, her hands going to her face. "I am sorry, master. Verily, I am-"

"Oh, shut up, and get us some ice-"

"It's not her fault." Rehv calmly switched his hold to the handle and poured. "And I'm perfectly fine."

They both stared at him like they were waiting for him to hop up and shake his bumper to the tune of ow-ow-ow.

He put the silver pot down and looked into Montrag's pale eyes. "One lump. Or two?"

"May I...may I get you something for that burn?"

He smiled, flashing his fangs at his host. "I'm perfectly fine."

Montrag seemed offended that he couldn't do anything, and turned his dissatisfaction on his servant. "You are a total disgrace. Leave us."

Rehv glanced at the doggen. To him, her emotions were a three-dimensional grid of fear and shame and panic, the interlocking weave filling out the space around her as surely as her bones and muscles and skin did.

Be of ease, he thought at her. And know I'll make this right.

Surprise flared in her face, but the tension left her shoulders and she turned away, looking much calmer.

When she was gone, Montrag cleared his throat and sat back down. "I don't think she's going to work out. She's utterly incompetent."

"Why don't we start with one lump." Rehv dropped a sugar cube into the tea. "And see if you want another."

He held the cup out, but not too far out, so that Montrag was forced to get up again from his sofa and bend across the table.

"Thank you."

Rehv didn't let go of the saucer as he pushed a change of thought into his host's brain. "I make females nervous. It wasn't her fault."

He released his hold abruptly and Montrag scrambled to keep hold of the Royal Doulton.

"Oops. Don't spill." Rehv settled back onto his sofa. "Shame to get a stain on this fine rug of yours. Aubusson, is it?"

"Ah...yes." Montrag parked it again and frowned, like he had no idea why he felt differently about his maid. "Er...yes, it is. My father bought it many years ago. He had exquisite taste, didn't he? We built this room for it because it is so very large, and the color of the walls was chosen specifically to bring out the peach tones."

Montrag looked around the study and smiled to himself as he sipped, his pinkie out in the breeze like a flag.

"How's your tea?"

"Perfect, but won't you have some?"

"Not a tea drinker." Rehv waited until the cup was up to the male's lips. "So you were talking about murdering Wrath?"

Montrag sputtered, Earl Grey dappling the front of his bloodred smoking jacket and hitting Daddy's peachy-keen rug.

As the male batted at the stains with a limp hand, Rehv held out a napkin. "Here, use this."

Montrag took the damask square, awkwardly patted at his chest, then swiped the rug with equal lack of effect. Clearly, he was the kind of male who made messes, not cleaned them up.

"You were saying," Rehv murmured.

Montrag ditched the napkin on the tray and got to his feet, leaving his tea behind as he paced around. He stopped in front of a large mountain landscape and seemed to admire the dramatic scene with its spotlit colonial soldier praying to the heavens.

He spoke to the painting. "You are aware that so many of our blooded brethren have been taken down in the raids by the lessers."

"And here I thought I'd been made leahdyre of the council just because of my sparkling personality."

Montrag glared over his shoulder, his chin cocked in classic aristocratic fashion. "I lost my father and my mother and all of my first cousins. I buried each one of them. Think you that is a joy?"

"My apologies." Rehv put his right palm over his heart and bowed his head, even though he didn't give a shit. He was not going to be manipulated by the recitation of losses. Especially when the guy's emotions were all about greed, not grief.

Montrag turned his back to the painting, his head taking the place of the mountain the colonial soldier was that it looked like the little man in the red uniform was trying to climb up his ear.

"The glymera has sustained unparalleled losses from the raids. Not just lives, but property. Houses raided, antiques and art taken, bank accounts disappearing. And what has Wrath done? Nothing. He's given no response to repeated inquiries about how those families' residences were found...why the Brotherhood didn't stop the attacks...where all those assets went. There is no plan to make sure it never happens again. No assurance that, if what few remaining members of the aristocracy return to Caldwell proper, we are protected." Montrag really got on a roll, his voice rising and bouncing off the crown molding and gilded ceiling. "Our race is dying out and we need real leadership. By law, though, if Wrath's heart beats within his chest, he is king. Is the life of one worth the lives of many? Search your heart."

Oh, Rehv was looking into it, all right, black, evil muscle that it was. "And then what."

"We take control and do what is right. During his tenure, Wrath has restructured things... Look at what has been done to the Chosen. They are now allowed to tally on this side-unheard of! And slavery is outlawed, along with sehclusion for females. Dearest Virgin Scribe, next thing you know there'll be someone wearing a skirt in the Brotherhood. With us in charge, we can reverse what he has done and recast the laws properly to preserve the old ways. We can organize a new offensive against the Lessening Society. We can triumph."

"You're using a lot of wes here, and somehow I don't think that's exactly what you are thinking."

"Well, of course there needs to be an individual who is first among equals." Montrag smoothed the lapels of his smoking jacket and angled his head and body as if he were posing for a bronze statue or maybe a dollar bill. "A chosen male who is of stature and worth."

"And in what manner is this paragon going to be picked?"

"We're going to move to a democracy. A long-overdue democracy that shall replace the unjust and unfair convention of monarchy..."

As a whole lot of blah-blah-blahing got its groove on, Rehv eased back, crossed his legs at the knees, and steepled his fingers. Sitting on Montrag's fluffy sofa, the two halves him of warred, the vampire and the symphath clashing.

The only bene was that the internal shouting match droned out the sound of all that nasally I-know-everything.

The opportunity was obvious: Get rid of the king and seize control of the race.

The opportunity was unthinkable: Kill a fine male and a good leader and...a friend of sorts.

"...and we would choose who leads us. Make him accountable to the council. Ensure that our concerns are responded to." Montrag returned to the couch he'd been on, sitting down and getting comfortable as if he could hot-air it about the future for hours. "The monarchy is not working and democracy is the only way-"

Rehv cut in, "Democracy typically means that everyone gets a vote. Just in case you're unfamiliar with the definition."

"But we would. All of us who serve on the council would be on the electoral board. Everyone would be counted."

"FYI, the term everyone encompasses a couple more folks over and above 'everyone like us.'"

Montrag shot over a load of oh-please-do-be-serious. "Would you honestly trust the race to the lower classes?"

"Not up to me."

"It could be." Montrag brought his teacup up to his mouth and looked over the brim with eyes that were sharp. "It absolutely could be. You are our leahdyre."

Staring at the guy, Rehv saw the path as clearly as if it were paved and lit with halogen beams: If Wrath were killed, his royal line would end, because he had yet to sire young. Societies, particularly those at war as the vampires were, abhorred leadership vacuums, so a radical shift from monarchy to "democracy" wouldn't be as unthinkable as it would have in another, saner, safer time.

The glymera might be out of Caldwell and hiding in their safe houses throughout New England, but that bunch of effete motherfuckers had money and influence and had wanted to take over forever. With this particular plan, they could clothe their ambitions in the vestments of democracy and make like they were taking care of the little people.

Rehv's dark nature seethed, a jailed criminal impatient for probation: Bad acts and power plays were a constitutional compulsion for those of his father's blood, and part of him wanted to create the void...and step into it.

He cut into Montrag's self-important driveling. "Spare me the propaganda. What exactly are you suggesting."

The male made elaborate work of putting down his teacup, as if he wanted to appear as if he were corralling his words. Whatever. Rehv was willing to bet the guy knew exactly what he was going to say. Something of this nature wasn't the kind of thing you just pulled out of your ass, and there were others in on it. Had to be.

"As you well know, the council is to meet in a couple of days in Caldwell specifically for us to have an audience with the king. Wrath will arrive and...a mortal event will occur."

"He travels with the Brotherhood. Not exactly the kind of muscle you can easily work around."

"Death wears many masks. And has many different stages on which to perform."

"And my role is...?" Even though he knew.

Montrag's pale eyes were like ice, luminescent and cold. "I know what kind of male you are. So I know exactly what you are capable of."

This was not a surprise. Rehv had been a drug lord for the past twenty-five years, and though he hadn't announced his avocation to the aristocracy, vampires did hit his clubs regularly, and a number of them were in the ranks of his chemical customers.

No one but the Brothers knew about his symphath side-and he would have kept it from them if he'd had the choice. For the past two decades he'd been paying his blackmailer well to make sure the secret was his to keep.

"That is why I come to you," Montrag said. "You will know how to take care of this."

"True enough."

"As leahdyre of the council, you would be in a position of enormous power. Even if you are not elected as president, the council is going nowhere. And let me reassure you about the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I know your sister is mated to one of them. The Brothers will not be affected by this."

"You don't think it's going to piss them off? Wrath is not just their king. He's their blood."

"Protecting our race is their primary mandate. Whither we go they must follow. And you have to know that there are many who feel they have been doing a poor job of late. Methinks perhaps they require better leadership."

"From you. Right. Of course."

That would be like an interior decorator trying to command a tank platoon: a shitload of noisy chirping until one of the soldiers offed the lightweight flash in the pan and churned over the body a couple of times.

Perfect plan there. Yup.

And yet...who said Montrag had to be the one elected? Accidents happened to both kings and aristocrats.

"I must say unto you," Montrag continued, "as my father always said unto me, timing is everything. We need to proceed with haste. May we rely on you, my friend?"

Rehv got to his feet and towered over the other male. With a quick tug on his jacket cuffs, he straightened his Tom Ford, then reached for his cane. He felt nothing in his body, not his clothes or the weight shifting from his ass to his soles or the handle against the palm he'd burned. The numbness was a side effect of the drug he used to keep his bad side from coming out in mixed company, the prison in which he jailed his sociopathic impulses.

All he needed to get back to basics was one missed dose, though. An hour later? The evil in him was alive and kicking and ready to play.

"What say you?" Montrag prompted.

Wasn't that the question.

Sometimes in life, from out of the myriad of prosaic decisions like what to eat and where to sleep and how to dress, a true crossroads is revealed. In these moments, when the fog of relative irrelevancy lifts and fate rolls out a demand for free will, there is only left or right-no option of four-by-fouring into the underbrush between two paths, no negotiating with the choice that has been presented.

You must answer the call and pick your way. And there is no reverse.

Of course, the problem was, navigating a moral landscape was something he'd had to teach himself to do to fit in with the vampires. The lessons he'd learned had stuck, although only to a point.

And his drugs only kind of, sort of worked.

Abruptly, Montrag's pale face became cast in variations of pastel pink and the male's dark hair went magenta and his smoking jacket became the color of ketchup. As a red wash tinted everything, Rehv's visual field flattened out so it was like a movie screen of the world.

Which perhaps explained why symphaths found it so easy to use people. With his dark side taking over, the universe had all the depth of a chessboard, and the people in it were pawns to his omniscient hand. Every one of them. Enemies...and friends.

"I'll take care of it," Rehv announced. "As you said, I know what to do."

"Your word." Montrag put forward his smooth palm. "Your word that this shall be carried out in secret and in silence."

Rehv let that hand hang in the breeze, but he smiled, once again revealing his fangs. "Trust me."

Chapter TWO

As Wrath, son of Wrath, pounded down one of Caldwell's urban alleys, he was bleeding in two places. There was a gash along his left shoulder, made by a serrated knife, and a hunk out of his thigh, thanks to the rusty corner of a Dumpster. The lesser up ahead, the one he was about to gut like a fish, had been responsible for neither: The asshole's two pale-haired, girlie-smelling buddies had done the damage.

Right before they'd been reduced to a matched set of mulch bags three hundred yards and three minutes ago.

This bastard up ahead was the real target.

The slayer was hauling ass, but Wrath was faster-not just because his legs were longer, and despite the fact that he was leaking like a corroded cistern. There was no question the third would die.

It was an issue of will.

The lesser had chosen the wrong path tonight-although not in picking this particular alley. That had been the only right and just thing the undead had probably done for decades, because privacy was important for fighting. Last thing the Brothers or the Lessening Society needed was for human police to get involved in anything so much as a nose blow in this war.

No, the bastard's I'm-sorry-that's-not-the-correct-answer had happened when he'd killed a male civilian about fifteen minutes ago. With a smile on his face. In front of Wrath.

The scent of fresh vampire blood had been how the king had first found the trio of slayers, catching them in the act as they tried to abduct one of his civilians. They'd clearly known he was at least a member of the Brotherhood, because this lesser up ahead had killed the male so he and his squadron could be hands-free and fully focused for the fight.

The sad part was, Wrath's arrival had spared his civilian a long, slow, tortured death in one of the Society's persuasion camps. But it still burned his ass to see a terrified innocent sliced open and dropped like an empty lunch box onto the icy, cracked pavement.

So this motherfucker up here was going down.


At the alley's dead end, the lesser did a pivot-and-prepare, spinning around, planting his feet, bringing up his knife. Wrath didn't slow. In midstride, he slipped free one of his hira shuriken and sent the weapon out with a flick of his hand, making a show of the throw.

Sometimes you wanted your opponent to know what was coming at him.

The lesser followed the choreography perfectly, shifting his balance, losing his fighting form. As Wrath closed the distance, he winged another throwing star and another, driving the lesser into a crouch.

The Blind King dematerialized right on the motherfucker, striking from above with fangs bared to lock into the back of the slayer's neck. The stinging sweetness of the lesser's blood was the taste of triumph, and the chorus of victory was not long in coming either as Wrath grabbed onto both of the bastard's upper arms.

Payback was a snap. Or two, as it were.

The thing screamed as both bones popped out of their sockets, but the howl didn't travel far after Wrath clapped his palm over its mouth.

"That's just a warm-up," Wrath hissed. "It's important to get loose before you're worked out."

The king flipped the slayer over and stared down at the thing. From behind Wrath's wraparounds, his weak eyes were sharper than usual, the adrenaline cruising along his highway of veins giving him a shot at visual acuity. Which was good. He needed to see what he killed in a way that had nothing to do with ensuring the accuracy of a mortal blow.

As the lesser strained for breath, the skin of its face sported an unreal, plastic sheen-as if the bone structure had been upholstered in the shit you made grain sacks out of-and the eyes were popping wide, the sweet stench of the thing like the sweat of roadkill on a hot night.

Wrath unclipped the steel chain that hung from the shoulder of his biker jacket and unwound the shiny links from under his arm. Holding the heavy weight in his right hand, he wrapped his fist, widening the spread of his knuckles, adding to their hard contours.

"Say 'cheese.'"

Wrath struck the thing in the eye. Once. Twice. Three times. His fist was a battering ram, the eye socket below giving way like it was nothing more than a pocket door. With every cracking impact, black blood burst up and out, hitting Wrath's face and jacket and sunglasses. He felt all the spray, even through the leather he wore, and wanted more.

He was a glutton for this kind of meal.

With a hard smile, he let the chain uncoil from his fist, and it hit the dirty asphalt on a seething, metallic laugh, as if it had enjoyed that as much as he had. Below him, the lesser wasn't dead. Even though the thing was no doubt developing massive subdural hematomas on the front and back of its brain, it would still live, because there were only two ways to kill a slayer.

One was to stab it in the chest with the black daggers the Brothers wore strapped to their chests. This sent the POS back to its maker, the Omega, but was only a temporary fix, because the evil would just use that essence to turn another human into a killing machine. It was not death, but delay.

The other way was permanent.

Wrath got out his cell phone and dialed. When a deep male voice with a Boston accent answered, he said, "Eighth and Trade. Three down."

Butch O'Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, descended of Wrath, son of Wrath, was characteristically phlegmatic in his response. Real middle-of-the-road. Easygoing. Leaving so much room for interpretation in his words:

"Oh, for fuck's sake. Are you kidding me? Wrath, you have got to stop this moonlighting shit. You're the king now. You're not a Brother any-"

Wrath clipped the phone shut.

Yup. The other way to get rid of these sonsabitches, the permanent way, was going to be here in about five minutes. With his mouth riding shotgun. Unfortunately.

Wrath sat back on his heels, re-coiled the chain on his shoulder, and looked up at the squat box of night sky that was visible above the rooftops. As his adrenaline ebbed, he could only slightly differentiate the rising dark torsos of the buildings against the flat plane of the galaxy, and he squinted hard.

You're not a Brother anymore.

The hell he wasn't. He didn't care what the law said. His race needed him to be more than a bureaucrat.

With a curse in the Old Language, he got back with the program, going through the slayer's jacket and pants, looking for ID. In an ass pocket, he found a thin wallet with a driver's license and two dollars in it-

"You thought...he was one of yours..."

The slayer's voice was both reedy and malicious, and the horror-movie sound triggered Wrath's aggression once more. In a rush, his vision sharpened, bringing his enemy into semifocus.

"What did you say to me?"

The lesser smiled a little, seeming not to notice that half its face had the consistency of a runny omelet. "He was of ours."

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

" you think"-the lesser took a shuddering breath-"we found...all those houses this summer-"

A vehicle's arrival cut off the words, and Wrath's head shot around. Thank fuck it was the black Escalade he was hoping for and not some human with a cell phone cocked and loaded with a 911 call.

Butch O'Neal stepped out from behind the wheel, his gum-flapping in full swing. "Have you lost your damn mind? What are we going to do with you? You're gonna give..."

As the cop kept riding the Holy Hell Trail, Wrath looked back at the slayer. "How did you find them? The houses?"

The slayer started laughing, the weak wheeze the kind of thing you heard out of the deranged. "Because he'd been in them all...that's how."

The bastard passed out, and shaking him didn't help bring him back. Neither did a palm slam or two.

Wrath got to his feet, frustration triggering the rise. "Do your business, cop. The other two are back behind the Dumpster on the next block."

The cop just stared at him. "You're not supposed to fight."

"I'm the king. I can do whatever the fuck I want."

Wrath started to walk away, but Butch grabbed onto his arm. "Does Beth know where you are? What you're doing? You tell her? Or is it only me you're asking to keep this secret?"

"Worry about that." Wrath pointed to the slayer. "Not me and my shellan."

As he pulled free, Butch barked, "Where are you going?"

Wrath marched up into the cop's grille. "I thought I would pick up a civilian's dead body and carry it to the Escalade. You got a problem with that, son?"

Butch held his ground. Just one more way their shared blood showed. "We lose you as king and the whole race is fucked."

"And we got four Brothers left in the field. You like that math? I don't."


"Do your business, Butch. And stay out of mine."

Wrath stalked the three hundred yards back to where the fighting had started. The beaten slayers were right where he'd left them: moaning on the ground, their limbs at wrong angles, their black blood seeping out into filthy slush puddles beneath their bodies. They were no longer his concern, though. Going around behind the Dumpster he looked at his dead civilian and found it hard to breathe.

The king knelt down and carefully brushed the hair back from the male's beaten-to-shit face. Clearly, the guy had fought back, taking a number of hits before getting stabbed through the heart. Brave kid.

Wrath cupped the nape of the male's neck, slid his other arm under the knees, and slowly rose. The weight of the dead was heavier than the pounds of the body. As he stepped away from the Dumpster and started for the Escalade, Wrath felt as though he held his whole race aloft in his arms, and he was glad he had to wear sunglasses to protect his weak eyes.

His wraparounds hid the sheen of tears.

He passed Butch as the cop jogged off toward the broken slayers to do his thing. After the guy's footfalls halted, Wrath heard a long, deep inhale that sounded like the hiss of a balloon slowly deflating. The retching that followed was much louder.

As the suck and gag was repeated, Wrath laid the dead out in the back of the Escalade and went through the pockets. There was wallet, no phone, not even a gum wrapper.

"Fuck." Wrath pivoted around and sat on the SUV's back bumper. One of the lessers had cleaned him out already in the course of the fighting...and that meant that as all the slayers had just been inhaled, the civilian's ID was ashed.

As Butch came weaving down the alley toward the Escalade, he was like an alkie on a bender and the cop didn't smell like Acqua di Parma anymore. He stank of lesser, as if he'd lined his clothes in Downy dryer sheets, taped a pair of fake-vanilla car fresheners under his armpits, and done a dog roll in some dead fish.

Wrath got up and shut the Escalade's back.

"You sure you can drive?" he asked as Butch carefully eased himself behind the wheel, looking like he was about to throw up.

"Yeah. Good to go."

Wrath shook his head at the hoarse voice and glanced around the alley. There were no windows going up the buildings, and having Vishous come right away to heal the cop wouldn't take a lot of time, but between the fights and the cleanup there had been a lot going on here for the last half hour. They needed to get out of the area.

Originally, Wrath's plan had been to take a picture of the slayer's ID with his camera phone, enlarge it enough so he could read the address, and go after the jar of that fucker. He couldn't leave Butch on his own, though.

The cop seemed surprised when Wrath got into the Escalade's shotgun seat. "What are you-"

"We'll take the body to the clinic. V can meet you there and take care of you."


"Let's fight on the way, shall we, cousin mine?"

Butch put the SUV in gear, reversed out of the alley, and turned around at the first cross street they came to. When he hit Trade, he took a left and headed for the bridges that stretched over the Hudson River. As he drove, he white-knuckled the steering wheel-not because he was scared, but because he was no doubt trying to hold down the bile in his gut.

"I can't keep lying like this," Butch mumbled as they got to the other side of Caldwell. A little gag was followed by a cough.

"Yeah, you can."

The cop looked over. "It's killing me. Beth needs to know."

"I don't want her to worry."

"I get that-" Butch made a choking sound. "Hold on."

The cop pulled over onto the iced-up shoulder, popped open the door, and dry-heaved like his liver had received evacuation orders from his colon.

Wrath let his head fall back, an ache setting up shop behind both his eyes. The pain was so not a surprise. Lately he had migraines the way allergy sufferers had sneezes.

Butch reached back and patted around the center console, his upper body still arched out of the Escalade.

"You want the water?" Wrath asked.

"Ye-" Retching cut off the rest of the word.

Wrath picked up a Poland Spring bottle, cracked it open, and put the thing in Butch's hand.

When there was a break in the throwing up, the cop glugged some water, but the shit didn't stay down.

Wrath took out his phone. "I'm calling V now."

"Just give me a minute."

It took more like ten, but eventually the cop got himself back in the car and put them on the road again. They both were silent for a couple miles, Wrath's brain racing while his headache got worse.

You're not a Brother anymore.

You're not a Brother anymore.

But he had to be. His race needed him.

He cleared his throat. "When V shows up at the morgue, you're going to say you found the civilian's body and did the nasty with the lessers."

"He'll want to know why you're there."

"We'll tell him that I was on the next block meeting with Rehvenge at ZeroSum and I sensed that you needed help." Wrath leaned across the front seat and locked a hand on the guy's forearm. "No one is going to find out, understand?"

"This is not a good idea. This is so not a good idea."

"The fuck it isn't."

As they fell silent, the lights from cars on the other side of the highway made Wrath wince, even though his lids were down and his wraparounds in place. To cut the glare, he turned his face to the side, making like he was staring out his window.

"V knows something is up," Butch muttered after a while.

"And he can keep wondering. I need to be out in the field."

"What if you get hurt?"

Wrath put his forearm over his face in hopes of blocking out those goddamn headlights. Man, now he was getting nauseated.

"I won't get hurt. Don't worry."