Chapter 23

 H.M. Ward

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Kahli stared at Reggie. Will was still alive. She felt it deep within her core, but she didn't know where he was or how badly he was hurt. The sound of his voice screaming her name rang through her ears long after she awoke. When Reggie yanked her out of the safe house, Kahli didn't even get a chance to turn around and see if Will was all right. It was killing her, lying in the cage and acting like everything was fine when it wasn't.
Reggie finally seemed to get some gumption. Kahli used the moment to light a flame under his butt, and hurl his hatred directly at the Queen. Maybe it wasn't Will's plan, but it was better than waiting around to die. At the rate she was going, Reggie would cut her tongue out before dinner.
Maybe she'd been shocked by the cage too many times, but helping Reggie seemed like a good idea. "There's only one thing I want first," Kahli said sternly.
Reggie flopped his head to the side and sighed. Turning to the cage, he moaned, "Of course you do. Let me guess? Will. You want us to go drag his lifeless body from that caved-in mess." Reggie looked at her in a way that made her feel stupid.
Her jaw tensed, but she tried not to show it. After a moment, she replied, "I'm not asking you for freedom."
"Only because you intend to steal it."
"I'll keep my word," Kahli protested.
"Sure you will. Just like your mother, right?"
Kahli's jaw dropped. A surge of energy flooded her system. It was impossible to let the words roll off. "What do you know about my mother? Where is she?" Kahli grabbed the bars after she rushed forward, slamming her body into the side of the cage. "If you know something - !"
"Psh," Reggie waved her off. "I don't know anything. I just wanted to see what you would do." He glanced over at her, smirking.
Bastard. Kahli wanted to beat him until he cried. She was pretty sure if she swore, while she punched him in the face, Reggie would break down in tears. Pressing her lips together, she worked the muscle in her jaw until she didn't want to chomp his head off with her teeth. "Stop messing with me, Reggie. We're in this together or we're not. If you don't help me save Will, then I won't help you. It'll be a lot harder to keep your head on your shoulders when the Queen finds out that I'm in your possession with a huge-ass scar on my neck. You know what she's going to think, right? That you did it."
Reggie turned toward her, his arms falling to his sides, "She'll believe whatever I tell her." He watched Kahli, waiting for her to say something, but when she didn't, he asked, "You think she won't?"
"If the King is out of the picture, it just looks damning. Maybe he had nothing to do with this," she gestured to herself, pointing at her neck with a curved wrist. "Or, maybe it was your fault. Maybe my memory isn't so good anymore, and I woke up here after you killed Will. Will was hers, too, you know. Showing up with both of us would clear up a lot of questions and put you in her favor. When heads are rolling around like snowballs, I'd think that was a good spot to be."
Reggie's eyes were black orbs. They fixated on Kahli as she spoke. His pale fingers tapped gently on his shirtsleeve. When she finished speaking, Reggie said nothing. He had a distant look in his eye, like he was trying to remember something. When he blinked again, the vacant look faded, and he slipped his hands into his pockets. "Perhaps, you're right. A trade, then. Will for your cooperation?"
"Yes," she snapped, banging the bars with the back of her hand for emphasis. "I already agreed. Drop the formality and let's get on with it."
Reggie grinned crookedly, "Not so fast, I still need you to supply me with more blood - a vial."
Kahli cringed at the idea, but agreed. She could smash the vial later. "Done. Now let me out of here." Reggie strode toward the cage and pressed his finger to the metal lock. The keypad warmed under his touch and clicked. There was a scrape and Reggie swung the door open.
"Please, sit." Reggie said, extending his long fingers toward the ugly couch.
"We need to get Will. He'll die out there if we don't go soon."
Reggie shook his head. Turning, he grabbed a black leather satchel from his desk and turned to her. Walking to the sofa he said, "All in good time; the vial first, William second." Kahli's lips pressed into a thin line, like she'd say no, so he added, "He's not in any danger. The runes would be blaring like an alarm, if he were."
Kahli watched Reggie pull out a syringe and vial from the black bag. He ripped open a needle from a sealed plastic bag and assembled the thing. Holding out his hand, he waited for Kahli to offer her arm.
"Fine," she bit the word and thrust her arm toward him. "Do it fast."
"Of course," Reggie said. Taking her by the elbow, Reggie tied off her upper arm with a piece of plastic from the kit. Kahli grit her teeth, but didn't move. His delicate fingers pushed around on her arm before he lifted the needle and pushed it into her vein. Grinning, he watched the thick red blood spill into the vial, utterly delighted.
For a moment, Kahli thought this was the stupidest thing she'd ever done - but it was Reggie. He was completely lacking in the motivation department. Odds were that he'd keep the blood for himself and have a drop now and then. She could always find it later. This wasn't a problem right now. One thing at a time, Kahli, she told herself as she watched the vial fill up. When it was full, he removed the needle, slipping it from her skin. A drop of blood pooled on her arm where the needle had been.
"May I?" he asked.
Kahli's eyes narrowed. She pulled her arm to her mouth and licked away the drop of blood. "No. One vial. That's it. Use that from now on. I don't want to get vamp herpes or whatever else you're carrying."
Reggie looked aghast. He shrunk away from Kahli swiftly and pocketed the vial. "As you wish, you vulgar creature."
Reggie felt the telltale burn of the rune two seconds before it happened. He had just enough time to turn his face toward the front of the house. A loud crash came from the front room. It sounded like three dozen wine glasses all shattered at once. Reggie pinched the bridge of his nose. "He wasn't this barbaric before you came along," Reggie said, and walked out of the room.
Kahli followed Reggie down a dark hall that opened up into the front sitting room. Will lay on his side amongst shattered glass from the large front window. The thick drapes billowed as the wind blew through the opening. Will's leg was covered in blood, and tiny red lines scratched his cheeks. Will pushed himself upright and raised his hand. Pointing his finger at Reggie, he said, "She's coming with me."
Reggie rolled his eyes, "You could have used the door, William. That wild girl is rubbing off on you and it's not becoming." Reggie stepped past Will, allowing him to see Kahli.
Kahli stood there, lips parted, watching Will. She rushed toward him, heart pounding much harder than it should have been, and held him in her arms for a second. Will remained rigid, and made a small noise when she squeezed him. Blushing slightly, Kahli remembered they weren't alone and stepped back. Her eyes darted to Reggie who was examining his picture window, which was now in a million glittering pieces.
When Kahli looked back at Will, she asked, "Are you all right? Please, tell me you are. When the safe house collapsed, I thought - "
He spoke soothingly, rubbing his hands over her arms, "I'm fine, Kahli. I'm just glad the King didn't find you first." Will stared at her like he thought he'd never see her again. The look said so much, but having him that close, and that emotionally charged, made her feel what he felt. Too many fears, hopes, and dreams flittered through her stomach when Will looked at her. After a moment, Will asked, "Did he do anything?" Will tipped his head toward Reggie.
Before Kahli could answer, Reggie snapped, "Of course I did." The sunlight poured through the busted window, but the wind was too frigid to feel its warmth. Reggie narrowed his eyes and spoke directly to Will, ignoring Kahli like she wasn't there, "She's an ill-mannered twit. I shocked her a few times, and dislocated her arm, amongst other things that will infuriate you, no doubt."
As Reggie spoke, Will noticed the crook of Kahli's arm. He pulled it straight and examined the tiny pinprick with a smear of dark red across her pale skin. Will's gaze drifted up to Kahli's face. "He took blood from you?" She nodded. "And you let him?" The pitch of his voice rose as his dark brows creased his forehead.
Kahli smiled at him and nodded, "It's part of the deal."
"What deal?"
Reggie grabbed his long black coat from the front closet, and ushered the two of them toward the door. "Hope you don't mind if we use the door this time," Reggie grumbled something about centuries old glass imported from the Old World that was reduced to rubble. Speaking more clearly, he continued, "Get into my truck, and she can tell you all about it along the way."