Pia and Dragos are easily one of my favorite UF couples. I adore these little slices-of-life novellas where they’re just living their lives. Planet Dragos ties up some loose ends from other novellas and opens up a brand new direction for them as a couple. It was so good.
As they approached the main doors of the casino, she allowed herself to believe everything really would be okay.
Until several people strode through the main doors and approached them.
The leader was a tall, powerfully built Elven woman. A jagged white scar split her splendid features. She was accompanied by six soldier types, all of them wearing flak jackets and weapons.
“I really don’t like this,” Eva muttered under her breath. “Okay, Pia, back up now onto the gambling floor. We need to flag security.”
Pia moved to obey, feeling as though she were swimming through mud. Whatever this impending confrontation was about, she and Eva weren’t going to escape it. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of the logo on the nearest soldier type. Devil’s Gate Security.
Quickly the soldier types fanned out until she and Eva were surrounded. Smiling, the Elven woman said, “Pia Cuelebre? Oh, look how pregnant you are. That’s just precious. My day keeps getting better and better.”
Moving so fast she blurred, Eva pulled her Glock and aimed for the Elven woman’s head. “Back up, asshole.”
Instantly the soldiers that surrounded them pulled their weapons too, all aiming at Eva. Dread drove like a spike into Pia’s chest. They weren’t bluffing.
“Eva,” Pia whispered, “put your gun down.”
“Not a chance.” Eva’s expression had turned ruthless. She bared her teeth at the Elven woman. “You want to go there? Let’s all go at once. They shoot me, I shoot you. Sure, I’ll be dead, but so will you. I don’t know who you are, and I don’t give a shit. We’re backing up onto the gambling floor, so get yourself out of my face.”
“We don’t have time for suicidal heroics,” the Elven woman said. Her gaze switched to Pia, and her smile widened. She said to the soldiers, “Holster your weapons.”
They did. Pia glanced quickly around. They stood at attention, watching the Elven woman, who said to Pia, “There, see? We’re not going to have any violence here, only choices.”
Choices – just as Azrael had warned. Pia’s heart pounded harder.
Ignoring Eva, who had not lowered her gun, the woman held out a phone to Pia as she strode closer. “I’ve taken a friend of yours, Carling Severan. Here, you can see her for yourself.”
She hadn’t thought she could feel more fear than she already did, but it spiked again. Dragging her gaze from the Elf’s face, she looked at the phone’s screen.
The scene was no static photo. It was live footage. She stared at the beautiful unconscious woman sprawled on the desert ground. It was indisputably Carling, her short auburn hair tousled. She was bound with strands of what looked like shining silver wire, and a silver arrow protruded from her chest.
There were at least two people with Carling. One stood visible from the waist down, holding a crossbow pointed at Carling’s head, while the other unseen person held the phone that filmed the scene.
“If you don’t come with me right now,” the Elven woman said softly, “he’s going to shoot. Are you going to save Carling’s life, or are you going to watch her die?”
No ordinary arrow would bring down a Vampyre of Carling’s age and strength, nor would ordinary silver bind her. Carling was one of the most powerful sorceresses in the world, yet this woman had captured her.
And Rune was mated to her, indisputably mated for life. Their Las Vegas wedding was nothing more than putting icing on the proverbial cake. If Carling died, Rune died. It was as simple as that.
Pia looked up to meet the Elven woman’s fearless, tigerish gaze. The Elf was a dead woman, of course, but some pretty important questions still remained. How would she die and how many casualties would she take down with her when she did?
Pia told her, “Of course I’ll come.”
“No,” Eva snapped, tightening her arm around Pia’s shoulders. “No, you will not!”
Even as she protested, one of the soldiers walked up to slam the butt of his gun into the side of her head. Eva dropped like a stone.
“Okay, maybe we’ll have just a little violence,” the Elven woman said, hitching one shoulder up in a quick shrug. She said into her phone, “Don’t shoot her yet. Drain her so she’ll be weakened if she wakes up.”
As Pia tried to drop to her knees to check on Eva, two of the soldier types grabbed her arms, forcing her to remain on her feet. She wanted to scream in fury.
Instead, she said as steadily as she could, “This is not going to go well for you.”
The Elven woman laughed. “We’ll see how well it goes. When in Vegas you just have to roll the dice, know what I mean? Get to the roof,” she said to the others. “Move it!”
The roof. That meant they had a helicopter waiting. Pia hadn’t thought her heart could sink any further, but it did.
As they marched to a bank of elevators, she looked behind her. A couple of people were running over to Eva’s crumpled figure. One of them stood and shouted for help, and uniformed security guards appeared on the scene. As the elevator doors closed, the last thing she saw was one of the casino guards talking into a walkie-talkie.
The entire confrontation had taken a minute or less, and none of the guards had yet realized a kidnapping was in progress.
Pia looked at the logo on one of her kidnapper’s jackets. She asked, “What’s in Devil’s Gate?”
The Elven woman replied, “Your future.”