Home > Dark Sentinel (Dark #28)(4)

Dark Sentinel (Dark #28)(4)
Author: Christine Feehan

He shook his head. “Are you camping with a tent?”

“Of course.” Her fingers brushed at the stubble on his face. She had a little frown as she rubbed at something along his jaw, determined to remove it. He was certain it was a bloodstain. Her gaze studiously avoided any other part of his body where the wounds had bled, leaving wet, red stains behind.

“How long will it take you to break down your camp and bring everything here?”

She frowned at him. “Not long at all. I camp a lot, but seriously, Andor, I’m not good at taking care of injured people, and you don’t seem to realize how bad off you are. We need a helicopter.”

“My body doesn’t respond to regular medicine.”

“Does it respond to a surgeon repairing holes in it? That gash in your stomach was horrendous. And that stake …” She trailed off, going even paler if that was possible.

“No, I told you, although you’re trying hard to make me human. I hunt vampires. My body makeup is different. I know you thought I was going to die and you humored me by allowing me to put soil in my wounds, but the earth really has healing properties.” Sun scorch him, he was exhausted. “Please. I’m asking for your help. Get your things and come back. Wild animals will find me and I’m helpless.”

She regarded him with a small frown. “I didn’t think about the animals, but you’re right. I have no idea what to do.” She sank back onto her heels. “If I leave you to hike up the mountain, you could really be in danger. If I stay, seriously, Andor, you could die. You should already be dead.”

He was beginning to really fall for that frown, or maybe he was just so light-headed from the pain. Keeping it at bay was becoming difficult in spite of the infusion of blood. He was still leaking far too much, and right now, blood was at a premium. He had been careful not to leave the three vampire assassins too weak. He wanted them out of the area.

“Just hurry and get your camping things.”

“The scent of blood will draw wildlife. There are bears and coyotes in these mountains. For all I know, there could be wolves, but I don’t think so. I can’t leave you alone.”

“You have to. We need your tent. I can’t be out in the sun. Not even for a few minutes. You have to cover me with your tent and the soil through the daytime. I’ll sleep and hope the soil starts the healing process.” It was going to be a long process at the rate he was going.

He knew the moment he’d won. Her expression changed from worry and indecision to determination. “It’s going to take about twenty minutes. I’m not that far from here, but it is a little bit of a hike.” She was already on her feet, anxious to go now that they had a plan.

“Lorraine, thank you for not asking questions and arguing.”

“What would be the use? I can’t leave you, and I can’t raise anyone from down here in this valley. You’re either going to live or die, and you’re the strongest person I’ve ever met, so I’m betting you’re going to live.”

He hoped she was right. He didn’t feel very strong. In fact, he just wanted to close his eyes and let the night take him for a little while. Just to give himself a few minutes where he didn’t have to block the pain. It was taking so much strength. He was trying to slow the steady leaking of blood. Once she was back with the tent and had set everything up, he could take more of her blood, but he needed her fit, not weak.

“I’ll need water,” he reminded as she started to turn away.

“I have plenty, and there’s a stream not too far from here. I have a filtration system.” She was backing away, her eyes moving over his torn body for the first time since he’d been in her mind. She swallowed hard and shook her head again. “I’ll be back in a few, hang on.”

Andor watched her go. She seemed to take his strength with her. His lungs continued to burn for air, telling him he needed to shut down soon. There was too much damage to his body. He had destroyed seven vampires. Two were very close to being master vampires. They’d lived long enough that he should have run across them, but he seldom remembered names or even faces of the undead.

He closed his eyes. She would come back, although she really detested the sight of blood. He’d read the revulsion and the way it had made her ill. Her stomach had churned and she’d fought not to be sick. She’d really had to work not to faint. It was a testimony to her courage and tenacity that she’d stuck around to help him.

She was his lifemate. He knew she was, yet he was so wounded he couldn’t bind them together, he didn’t dare. That meant she could still walk away from him, and he’d be more dangerous than ever. He could only hope that he had read her correctly and she was everything he believed her to be. She was coming back. She had to, if he had any chance at all of surviving.


Lorraine was absolutely certain when she returned to Andor she would find him dead. No one could live with wounds that horrendous. They just couldn’t. It was impossible. She felt like a coward leaving him so she wouldn’t have to witness his death. God knew she’d seen enough blood and death for a lifetime. She was certain when she returned it would be over and he would be dead.

She stood by her tent, shaking, her hands over her face. Her stomach heaved. She had to breathe deeply to keep from being sick. All that blood. She hadn’t looked at the ground other than the one time, but when she had, the dirt under and around the man had been wet and slick with blood. His clothes had been covered in it, so stained she’d thought he was wearing red. Everywhere she’d looked on his body, he’d had wounds. And that stake …

What was wrong with the world? Were people really so cruel and ugly as to drive a stake through a man? The circumference of the wooden rod had been about that of a broom handle. How could someone actually drive that through human flesh? Her stomach heaved again, and she felt the familiar rage churning in her belly.

She had no idea where the three men had gone to, but she was angry with herself for not taking their pictures so she could describe them accurately and give the photos to the police when she had the chance. She was also very concerned that because she’d seen their faces, they would come after her to kill her.

Lorraine forced herself to move, to begin breaking camp. She was an experienced camper and, although she was on automatic pilot, she was fast. Her camping gear was minimal because she had to pack everything in one backpack and carry it wherever she went. She was walking across the mountains, on a journey of self-discovery—at least that was what she told anyone she came across. In reality, if she was being strictly honest with herself, she knew she was running away.

All that blood. She pressed her hand to her forehead and looked up toward the mountain peak. Up there, she could probably call for help. If she hiked up the mountain, it really would be too late, and Andor would die alone, probably at the teeth and claws of a wild animal rather than just bleeding out. She’d helped pack the wounds with dirt. She’d probably be charged with murder, because if the wounds didn’t kill him, the bacteria would.

“Damn it!” She shouted it aloud. The night carried the sound of her voice to the other side of the valley. “Just damn it.” She whispered that one, because she knew she wasn’t going to let the man die alone. She couldn’t.

Shouldering the large pack, she headed back to him. She had been telepathic all of her life. As a child, she’d thought everyone could hear what others were thinking. When she’d realized they couldn’t, she hadn’t wanted to be different and had tried to turn off her ability. She’d been unsuccessful. Then there was the period of time she’d embraced it as a gift, as something she could use, especially against her parents and brother. That phase hadn’t lasted very long, either. If only …

She found her vision blurring. Tears ran down her face as she jogged back toward Andor. She thought she’d cried every tear possible, that she couldn’t have a single one left, but they were back. If only she hadn’t gone off to college. If only her parents had asked her to come home and talk to her brother. If only Theodore had called her himself.

She nearly stumbled and that made her swipe angrily at the useless tears. They didn’t do any good, no matter what grief counselors said. Tears gave her a headache, but they didn’t bring back her parents or her brother. They didn’t stop the newspapers or tabloids from reporting or asking questions. Tears didn’t stop her so-called friends from ostracizing her.

She started down the hillside, weaving her way through the trees to come to the wide meadow where Andor lay. She could see him lying very still, as if he were dead. He was in a shallow depression of freshly dug earth—like a grave. Or a partial grave. When she’d first arrived, swinging her cooking pot at the man standing over Andor, she hadn’t noticed that they’d dug out the ground. They clearly had planned to bury him. What if they’d made him dig it and that was why it was only a foot or so deep? She’d heard of that kind of sadistic behavior in serial killers.

Her footsteps slowed. She didn’t want to go up to him and find him dead. She’d found enough people dead, their bodies soaking in bright red blood. Who knew there was so much blood in the human body? Or that it could be so sticky and get everywhere? She stopped for a moment to catch her breath and take the time to compose herself.

Lorraine? The stirring was in her mind. Her name a soft whisper. Talking telepathically felt intimate. She hadn’t known that because she’d never known another being that could do it. She’d never even thought she could push her voice or thoughts into someone else’s mind.

I’m here. You’re alive, then. She didn’t know if that was a relief or not. She forced her feet to move again, to walk toward him.

I’m alive. Just barely. I need water. I cannot take your blood again so soon and I need something to help keep me alive until you are strong enough again.

I’ve brought you some. She picked up the pace, hurrying to his side. She shrugged out of the backpack and caught up her water bottle.

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