Book Excerpt: The Bloody Hound Kills
I checked my phone. Four in the morning. Sunrise would begin in an hour. Lenore and Bruce awoke.
“Vampire dog.” Lenore muttered.
“What’s the matter, girl?” Bruce didn’t stroke her or try to quiet her.
“Something’s out there.” I stated the obvious. Jezebel’s hackles stood stiff, and she continued to stand statue still. Even her tail was stiff.
“Do you think The Man of Shadows and Mr. Strand found us?” Lenore strained to see in the darkness.
“No. Jezebel didn’t act this way the last time she saw Mr. Strand.” I studied the trees. “It’s got to be something—”
A wisp of white fluttered past. “Bloody Hell. It’s the Bloody Hound.”
“Where?” Lenore bolted up in her seat, tangling her knees in the steering wheel.
“There.” I pointed when the wisp of white darted between trees again. He covertly approached the car. Jezebel snarled and barked.
“Let her out.” Bruce reached for the door handle.
“No!” I screamed, lunging to block him. “Don’t let her out. He’ll kill her. He’s coming for me.”
“I’d love to have a cat now!” Lenore cursed. “Remember, that damn shape-shifting fairy cat thwarted him before.”
“Jezebel came to protect us.” Bruce fixed eyes on the dog.
She snarled and barked, jaws snapping in my ears. In the closed space it hurt my head. Her eyes were bright and dilated.
“I’m letting her out.” Bruce threw open the door.
“No!” I screamed again.
Too late. She hurtled like a cannonball straight for the Bloody Hound.
“No, no, no! Jez-e-bel!” I screamed and took off.
She dashed into the trees.
I heard the thud of bodies like bass drums collide behind the trees. “Dear God, no. Don’t let the Bloody Hound take her.”
Bruce grabbed my arm. I struggled against his hold. “Let me go! I’ve got to help her.”
“Jamie, get hold of yourself.” Bruce twisted me around to face him. “She can take care of herself. Focus.” He pulled me back to the car to grab his backpack and mine. I fought against him. His grip was iron.
“Let me go!”
He held me closer.
An explosion of bodies flew out of the trees. Jezebel and the Bloody Hound, bodies locked, tumbled head over heels.
“Bruce, please!” I struggled to no avail.
A horrendous cry went up as the Bloody Hound sank his fangs into Jezebel’s throat. On her back, she twisted, flailing her legs to get free.
Lenore screamed behind me.
“Bruce!” He didn’t let go. Lenore rushed forward. Bruce grabbed her with his other arm.
Paws and claws flew everywhere. Snarls drowned my thoughts. The sky lightened as the sun peered under the tree line. Sunrise was still several minutes off, but it came and nothing could delay it. We still had to hike through the forest to reach the standing stones.
I struggled. I had to help Jezebel. We could travel in time tomorrow. I understood how Granny D calculated where to stand.
I could barely hear Bruce shouting over the barking. “We have to go.” He tugged my arm again.
“Tomorrow. We can wait. We have to help—”
“No!” Bruce had never screamed at me. I had never seen his eyes turn so dark. Almost black.
“But—” I protested. I watched the two beasts whirl like a sick yin yang, ripping up foliage in the clearing.
Lenore was torn. Tears trailed from her eyes as she watched Peter’s beloved dog lose to the Bloody Hound. “Oh, my God. What do I tell him?” she repeated.
“We stay and fight.” I looked at her. If we both struggled against Bruce we could break free. I’d use Lumen.
In the madness I only then realized it didn’t jitter in against my thigh. Jezebel was a good sized, bullish dog, but the Bloody Hound outweighed her by almost a hundred pounds.
“Come on, ladies.” Bruce dragged us away from the fight.
I wanted to hit him. Jezebel’s life was at stake. I raised my fist. Then I saw past the smoldering anger in his eyes. He kept them averted from the fight. I dropped my hand. He doesn’t want us to know how this affects him. He’s dragging himself away too. He acted as Advocate, guarding me—and Lenore.
How would Lumen respond to the Bloody Hound? Was this a noble fight? I couldn’t use it in an unjust fight. Was I destined to face off against the Bloody Hound, or was Jezebel taking this bullet? I wanted to kill him for what he’d done to Dad. Damn it, I knew the answer, and I rued letting her join us. Why must she be the first casualty?
Both beasts roared in rage. Another flash of fangs. Another thud of bodies. I pulled away to look, but Bruce held firmly. He shouldered the backpacks and steered Lenore and me toward the path, which led to the standing stones. I relented. As we hiked, sounds of the fight faded.
“We’ve got to hurry.” Bruce started running. We followed.
We neared the stones when I heard a terrific screech behind me.
“Oh, God, no, no, no!” I whipped around.
In one fluid movement, I summoned Lumen and ran back toward the fight. They smashed into trees and bushes. I adjusted my path, tracking the snarling and barking. I recognized Jezebel’s bark, which was higher pitched than the Bloody Hound’s. I heard another yelp and increased my pace.
It did not resize itself. I shook it. “Come on!”
Bruce pulled me roughly to my feet. “You can’t do anything to help. We have to be there before the sun rises.”
“I can help. I can kill the Bloody Hound. I want to kill him!”
“There isn’t time.” Bruce’s face was nose to nose with mine. His eyes were dilated as big as Jezebel’s. His teeth were clenched with determination. “And you know it.” He dragged me until I ran on my own. I kicked a lot, partly to stand up, partly to pull free. His grip was superhuman.
“I should help—”
“This is not your fight. This is Jezebel’s.”
A sharp sob—definitely Jezebel—told me she couldn’t handle it.
Bruce leaned closer, kissing distance. I smelled his breath. Coffee. “Are you willing to let Jezebel sacrifice herself, so you can save hundreds of people? Can you live with that? You must. There’s nothing you can do. Look at the sword. It isn’t prepared to fight. It knows what your heart knows. This is not your fight. Your destiny is there. In the circle of stones. Come on.”
Lenore sobbed on the other side of Bruce. She looked at me. Her eyes betrayed she agreed with Bruce.
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