The Slayer Excerpt 4
“Tell me again where Mama Zinka claims the Book is.”
“She said the Book was deep with the bones and guarded by an empire of the dead,” Alexa muttered. She stared at the stone walls that formed the boundaries around Paris. “What does it mean?”
“Don’t like it. Sounds like to me we’re battling the living dead. And she did mention them.”
Alexa nibbled at the fingernail on her index finger. “It can’t be that. The Hunters would have wiped out a large contingent of zombies ages ago. Parisian Hunters are most vigilant about hunting down Darkin within the city.”
“What about a cemetery? Plenty of bones there,” Winn grumbled. A full body chill threaded through him at the idea of even going close to a graveyard again after having gotten so personal with Yakov in his casket. The next time he saw a damn cemetery he wanted to be good and dead.
Her face lit with clarity. “The catacombs! Of course.”
“Catacombs?” Winn’s neck itched with agitation and he tugged at the end of his mustache, making the waxed tip of it stick out sharply.
“Since Roman times the limestone used to build the city has been cut from its heart. Beneath Paris there run miles of quarry tunnels turned ossuary, for the overflowing cemeteries of the city. It is an empire of the dead.”
Winn ground his teeth. The last place he wanted to go was back into the earth with even more dead people, reduced to bones or not. Their carriage slowed caught up by the snarl of traffic into the city.
“What we need to do is lose Frobisher’s men,” Winn muttered.
Alexa turned to him, a saucy smile on her lips. “I think I may have a way.” Her eyes rolled to white, before her lashes fluttered shut and she slumped to the seat.
Winn shook her lightly. “Alexa?”
No response. Was she unconscious? Hell, he couldn’t exactly feel her pulse to tell. “Alexa?”
One eye opened a crack. Call the guards, her voice echoed in his head. Her eye shut again. Winchester smiled to himself. She was certainly a clever little minx.
He leaned, pressing his face against the carriage window and motioned furiously to the guard. He slammed his fist on the roof to alert the driver in the box above them. The carriage veered out of traffic to the edge of the cobblestone street and slowed to a stop. The heavy padlocks on the door were unlocked and the chain made a chinking sound. Metal links slid through the handles on the outside of the carriage.
Simpson, or was it Wexler, opened the door and poked his head into the carriage. “Oy, what’s the problem?”
“She passed out cold. Just fell to the floor. You idiots haven’t carried any wolfsbane in here have you?”
The guard’s brow furrowed. “No. Well, least not that I know. Now the governor, he might use that kind of thing. Has a host of stuff what he uses to control them nasty Darkin.”
Winn stared hard at the guard. “Focus man. She needs help.”
“Oh no. Can’t have you leave the carriage. Frobisher’s orders.”
“She’s the only one who knows where the Book is located. If we don’t revive her, then I’m not going to be able to locate the Book, and I think that’s probably a bigger priority for your Lieutenant than keepin’ us in some carriage, don’t you?”
The guard licked his nearly nonexistent lips, his gaze darting from Winn to Alexa a few times as he considered his options. Finally he gave a reluctant jerk of his head. “Right enough, captain. What we gonna’ do? Don’t know nothing about helping Darkin.”
“First of all help me get her out. Perhaps she just needs some fresh air. It was hot as hell in this box.”
He looked puzzled. “But vampires don’t breathe.”
“It’s not for the oxygen you idiot. It’s to cool her off. With as many layers as she’s wearing it’s a miracle she didn’t pass out sooner than this.”
The guard blushed slightly. He took hold of her booted ankles and Winn hooked his hands beneath her arms at the shoulder joint. Before they were even down the first step, Alexa sprang into action.
She slipped from Winn’s light grasp and kicked the guard square on the chin. His head snapped back and he slipped to the ground with a thud, unconscious. There was just enough time for Winn to grab the man’s sidearms and Alexa to pull out the small cyanide gun from her skirts before they darted into traffic. The city became a blur of sound and color as they dodged the carts and a rearing horse, startled by them while they made a beeline into the alley. The other two guards were off their horses, abandoning the carriage and yelling and chasing after them.
“This way!” Alexa barreled down the alley that stank of urine and refuse at full speed, and Winn had to pump his arms and legs hard to keep up with her. Vampires could flat out move. A trapping net, created from heavy hemp ropes and weighed with three small metal balls, went sailing past Winn’s shoulder and thumped against a brick wall. He glanced back to see them discard their net launcher and pull out their guns.
“Go. Go. Go!” he yelled. Bullets pinged against a nearby wall, sending stinging bits of brick flying. Winn raised up his arm trying to protect her from the worst of the shrapnel, pushing her around the corner ahead of him.
They circled the city block, zigzagging across traffic three times into different alleys. There was no time to gaze at the trees that lined the cobblestone streets in their gay spring green, or admire the sparkle of afternoon sun on the ripples of the Seine, all things that he should have been doing in Paris with a beautiful woman.
Instead sweat trickled down his neck and his heart was beating so hard, he could barely hear over his own pulse. They pressed their backs against the cool bricks and Winn glanced at her. Dark curls had dampened and curled, framing the edges of her face, and her eyes were bright.
“This ain’t exactly how I’d envisioned sight-seeing in Paris,” he said with a touch of humor. He gently brushed a few chips of brick off of her smooth skin, the familiar tingling when he touched her zipping up his arm, straight to his chest, then lower.
Her glorious mouth broadened into a smile and she laughed, the sound of it easing the raw tension that coiled in his gut, helping him to focus. “Life with you is never boring, is it?” she teased.