Vanessa was not the first woman to storm out on him. One is not simply as old as Malik and not have it happen on more than one occasion. She was however, the first to make him feel some remorse for the comment that carelessly slipped from his lips. When a woman stormed out on Malik, it was all too easy to go after her, whisper sweet nothings into her ear, and use mind control for the rest.
Malik had no interest in chasing her down to do that. If he were to go after her, it would be to beg for forgiveness. He was not about to display that kind of weakness. Not yet. The rest of the evening carried on without the guests of honor. Malik wouldn’t stop such an extravagant evening just because she didn’t want to be there. He entertained his people as any good host would do. As the night wrapped up, the scent of blood wafted through the walls. It was close, inside the building.
He whooshed to the roof of the building and stood at the top. His eyes scanned the scenery around him before they focused on a figure carrying a woman. He peered over the edge of the building, sharpening his vision to see Byron carrying an unconscious Vanessa. The sight of blood on that island blue dress, her arms and legs dangling nearly lifelessly. Malik panicked seeing her that way and before he could think it through, he jumped off the building and landed on his feet in front of them.
Byron looked understandably pissed, but what Malik read in his mind explained why there was also fear. Vanessa was okay. She wasn’t even touched, just drained. The vampire that just tried to kill her was too far gone. However, they don’t kill their own. It was Malik’s number one rule. Punishable by death. Byron knew it and seemed to silently accept it.
He had a day. A day to be with her. A day to help her recover. A day to tell her goodbye. It wasn’t even for Byron. It was…for her. Then Malik would come for him. He could show that much mercy. Come for Byron he did. Malik didn’t even look at Vanessa as Byron opened the door, standing there, accepting what was to come.
“Let’s go.” Malik stated coldly.
Byron turned to look at the girls. Rylie was holding a confused and fussy Vanessa. Both girls were distraught and confused, but Rylie seemed to know her place and knew that there wasn’t a thing she could do except be there for Vanessa. “It was good to meet you Rylie. Thank you for keeping her.”
Malik gave a curt nod to the girls and a couple of his most trusted men, Aaron and Julius, grabbed Byron by the arms and took him away. Malik and Byron tuned out the sound of Vanessa’s cries and pleas carrying from the room.
Malik walked toward a double door and opened them where all the other vampires were waiting. It was set up like a court room. In the center was where they executed vampires. Byron had seen it before, and now he was the one in the center.
“Byron Owens, you have committed a crime punishable by death. Do you have any words in favor of your defense?” Malik asked.
“He was going to kill my sister. I couldn’t let him. I understand death didn’t need to happen, and I accept my punishment.”
Aaron and Julius bound Byron’s hands above his head with ropes soaked in vervain to the chain hook above him. Malik stood in front of him, he said nothing, but went to drive his fist into Byron’s chest to rip his heart out, there she was. The blue eyes that met Malik’s were no longer Byron’s, but hers…Vanessa stood protectively in front of Byron. Her cheeks were flushed, sweat droplets emanated from her pores. Her breath harsh and ragged. She ran here. She ran faster than her legs have ever carried her. As though her own life depended on being here.
Malik pulled his hand back, and once he stopped taking in her disheveled appearance, her cries came crashing into his eardrums like a spigot bursting. “You can’t kill him!” he could see from the look in her face that her lungs were burning, and she was still recovering from her energy being sucked out of her.
Malik arched his brow, “I can and I have to.”
Vanessa shook her head vigorously. The poor girl’s hair was sticking to her face from how much she was sweating. “I won’t let you take him.”
Malik and the other vampires let out a roar of laughter. Byron stood behind Vanessa, growling at her, but she ignored it. Her gaze never left Malik’s. And what came out of her next silenced the room.
“Kill me instead.”