With Theo facing deadly odds in a fight to the death, Sar makes a pact with Lash, agreeing to give Devlin another chance in return for Theo’s life. Reforging her relationship with her handsome vampiric lover mends old wounds, even as Theo moves to regain Sar just for himself. But Devlin’s old enemy Ulysses appears, taking Sar prisoner and burning Devlin badly in a surprise attack. Rescued at the eleventh hour by Lash, Sar nurses Dev back to health, Theo bristling at a distance. Yet Lash’s own day of reckoning is here as his long life ebbs to a finale, leaving Sar to face the decision of offering him salvation, knowing that the price is her own humanity.
1. Promise Me
2. Broken Promise
3. Taken in the Night
4. Taken for his Own
4.5. Promise Me Anthology
5. Immortal Confessions
6. Her Secret,
7. Point of No Return
8. Lost Paradise
9. Dark Solace
There was a rustling sound, then Lash came into view at the edge of the woods, snapping his coiled whip onto his belt as he walked in my direction through the tall grass. Relief flooded me, that I hadn’t stumbled on him either in snake form or naked, as he’d likely been a few minutes before. Lash was looking down as he walked, watching the ground for some reason, and didn’t see me.
I gathered my courage together, took a long breath, and then went to meet him. He heard me, his head snapping up after I’d gone a few steps. His face registered faint surprise, but didn’t call out a welcome. When we were face to face, we both stopped.
“What are you out here for?” he hissed, folding his arms over his chest, his eyes and tone cold. “Dev and Venus are inside.”
“Your help,” I ventured. “If you’ll give it to me, Lash—”
“No,” he said curtly, then walked around me.
I reached out and grabbed a hold of his arm. “Wait—”
He shook me off, and kept walking.
“Please,” I begged, hating the fact that I was pleading with him. “Please, Lash—”
“Sar, go home. Go to Danial. Go to Theo. Go anywhere, just leave,” he hissed, still walking away
I ran after him. “I need your help, Lash.”
“I won’t give it to you,” he hissed, still walking. “You can’t afford me.”
He was right about that. Being the best, he probably made 100K just to scare someone a little. I swallowed my pride, then my conscience. “I know that Lash. I’m not offering money; I’m offering you control over me. I’ll do anything you ask me to.”
Lash stopped, turning to look at me. Then he began walking back, eyeing me hungrily. “Anything?” he said, hissing. “Anything I ask you to do, you’ll do?”
I hated him for making me crawl. “Yes,” I said defiantly. “Anything.”
“What do you want me to help you with?” he said, folding his arms across his chest. “My price depends on what you are asking me to do for you.”
“Not me. I want you to help Theo. Robert asked him to come alone, that they would settle this one on one—”
“That’s as it should be,” Lash interrupted coldly. “I shouldn’t interfere with a challenge.”
“Don’t interfere,” I said. “But this wasn’t done fairly. Theo is still weak from the beating he took from Karl’s men. If Robert beats him, fine, just don't let him kill Theo. I don’t trust that Robert won’t just stab him in the back, or ambush him with more men, rather than fight him one on one—”
“Robert will kill him if he beats him, Sar,” Lash hissed. “That’s the way of challenges. I have always killed anyone who challenged me. You don't want them coming back for revenge later. So you’re really asking me to kill Robert.”
“I’m asking you to save Theo’s life. Will you do it?” I pleaded desperately.
“Did you go to Dev, and he refuse your request?” Lash hissed scathingly. “I can’t believe that, Sar. He still believes if something happens to Theo that you might die, too. He wouldn’t refuse you, though he would make you—”
“I came to you,” I said angrily. “Dev doesn’t know I’m here. No one does, except Serena. Theo can’t know about this—”
“You must be desperate to come to me like this,” Lash hissed, his cold eyes glittering. “To put yourself in my power, knowing what I might ask of you. To trust me that I’ll help you, if I say I will.”
“You never hurt me. So far as I know, you haven’t lied to me either. You kept our last times together a secret, just like I kept yours from everyone.” I paused, meeting his cold stare. “I trust you, Lash. If you say you’ll do this, I’ll take you at your word, and give mine in return.”
Lash looked at me, considering. “It should be doable,” he hissed finally, his tone thoughtful. “Where is the location of the fight? When?”
“Tomorrow night. I’m not sure where. He’s leaving around dusk—”
“I can follow Theo easily enough. I’ll be waiting near your barn on a motorcycle. If you tag him with a transmitter, I can track him if he loses me. Can you put one in his vehicle?”
“Yes,” I said without hesitation.
“I’ll put it in your truck, before you go,” Lash instructed. “Put it in his glove compartment within the truck manual case. He will not see it there, or think to check. Remove it after, and give it to me the next time you see me.”
“Agreed.” Now for the hard part. “What do you want in return?”
Lash came closer. “First kiss me, to seal our pact,” he hissed.
Shit, he was going to ask me to be weresnake so he could coil with me. I shifted uneasily.
“I’m waiting,” Lash hissed softly. “Unless you want to reconsider.”
You can do this, Sar. You have to do it. If Theo is saved, that’s all that matters.
I put my hands on Lash’s arms, and slowly leaned in towards him. Lash reached up and grabbed my hair, pulling my lips forcefully to his. But the kiss was chaste, lasting only a few seconds before Lash pulled back from me. “I want you to take Dev back,” he said softly.
Oh, God, no.
Tara Fox Hall is an OSHA-certified safety and health inspector at a metal fabrication shop in upstate New York. She received her bachelor's degree in mathematics with a double minor in chemistry and biology from Binghamton University. Her writing credits include over twenty short stories published in the nature magazines Catnip Blossoms, Meanwhile, and On The River. Her short horror stories have appeared in Deadman's Tome, Flashes in the Dark, Halloween Alliance, and Ghastly Door. She also coauthored the essay "The Allure of the Serial Killer," published in Serial Killers – Philosophy for Everyone: Being and Killing (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). She divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals of all species, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.
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