Hope had come to the monks, so they"d scattered, looking once again for the women who might save their souls. When they"d realized the world was too changed and too vast and once more they didn"t fit and there was little hope, they"d answered the call of their fellow monk and followed him to the United States. The vampires had grown powerful, and Carpathians were behind in the ways of the new world. It had been an effort to catch up when before he had always found it easy to learn newer, more modern things. That had led him to this moment"considering that he"d outlived his time.
Everything was different. He was forced to live in close proximity to humans and to hide who and what he was. Women were different. They no longer were satisfied having a man care for them. He had no idea what to do with a modern woman. Contemplating his demise seemed so much wiser than trying to understand the reasoning of a present-day woman.
It was difficult to think, although the night was beautiful. The humans kept talking, whispering together, sending anxious looks his way. He wanted them to be quiet and considered silencing them so he could continue to contemplate, but it was finally dawning on them that maybe they should have studied anatomy a little better before deciding on their profession.
Carter ended up drawing the short straw. The others sent him over to figure out what had gone wrong. He was shaking, trembling from head to foot as he approached, clearly terrified of the man they had tried to murder. Sweat poured off the assassin, and he wiped it away with the back of his hand as he drew near.
He loomed over Andor, the stink of fanaticism reeking from his pores, his features twisted into a mask of hatred and determination. Andor wasn"t quite ready to make up his mind about death. He lifted his hand to push enough air at the man to send him flying backward when a woman rushed out of the darkness and attacked.
The moon was full, scattering beams of light over the battleground. There was no evidence of the vampires he"d killed because he"d disposed of them properly. He wasn"t getting a minute of peace any time soon, not even with a stake sticking out of him and his blood everywhere, not with his supposed savior in the form of a little whirlwind of fury attacking his three would-be assassins. He was going to have to rescue her. That meant living longer. He didn"t like having his mind made up for him.
She moved with incredible speed, an avenging angel, her long hair flying, her hiking boots crunching rock, dirt and the lightning-scorched grass beneath her feet. She bashed Carter with what appeared to be a saucepot, whirling like a tornado and striking him again. She went under his punch, blocking it upward with one arm: it sounded as if it must have felt like a blow as she clobbered him right in the face with the pot. Carter staggered backward and then hit the ground.
Andor closed his eyes briefly, thinking perhaps he was seeing an illusion. What woman would attack three men with a saucepot when they"d just staked someone" He sighed again and thought about how much blood he was going to lose when he sat up and yanked out the stake. It would leave a good-sized hole in his chest. On the other hand, he could leave it in "
"Don"t you move," she hissed, not looking at him, but one slender hand came back behind her, palm toward him in the universal signal to stop.
He went still. Utterly still. Frozen. His lungs felt raw, burning for air. It wasn"t possible. It couldn"t be. More than a thousand years. An endless void. His eyes hurt so badly he had to close them, a dangerous thing to do when she was certain to be attacked.
The other two men hadn"t the courage of Carter and had backed away a distance from him, just in case when Carter did whatever he was considering to remedy the situation"in other words, trying to kill Andor again"they thought themselves safe. Both men might not want anything to do with the big man on the ground, but a woman armed with a saucepot was an entirely different matter. They had separated and circled around, edging up on either side of her while she had been busy smacking Carter with the pot.
"What is wrong with you people"" She was furious, emphasizing each word with a bang of the pot on Carter. "Are you crazy" That"s a human being you"re murdering."
Andor had been lying in a puddle of his own blood, contemplating death, surrounded by a gray world. Everything had been gray, or shades of it. The ground. The blood. The trees. The moon overhead. Even his three would-be assassins. He had felt no real emotion, detached and completely removed from what had been happening to him. The world changed in the blink of an eye. His burning eyes, his lungs that refused to obey his commands. Everything so raw he could barely comprehend what was happening.