Matt was running late. He had promised Carly he’d meet her at his apartment thirty minutes ago. On the downside he was still a few miles away. On the upside she was a very patient woman. Whatever he’d done to have a gal like her just drop in his lap he didn’t know, but that was one of the things he should probably be thanking Nicholas for. After all, had he not decided he liked Alana the two of them never would have met.
Carly stood by the window patiently waiting for Matt to drive up. She’d already called Alana to let her know they’d be late. Not surprisingly she didn’t mind. Since the cops had been forced to give up their post Alana and Nicholas had become close. He never left her side at night. She never left his during the day. A smile crossed her lips when she thought of how Matt would react if he ever did figure out what she already suspected.
“Too bad you don’t have a say in it, babe,” she said to the picture hanging on the wall beside her. “No matter how hard you try you can’t protect her from this one.”
“He may not, but I can,” a man’s voice whispered. The sound wasn’t spoken, but thought.
She closed her eyes, focusing on the direction of the voice. “You say that like you believe it,” she thought back. “You’re young. You can’t possibly think you can ever best Nick.”
“I did Thomas.” He stepped up to the window. Carly opened her eyes; avoiding his gaze.
“Thomas was different,” she reminded him. “Nick set him up. You had an advantage.” She stepped closer to the window and smiled. “Besides he didn’t really have anything to lose, did he? All this was just a game to him.”
“True,” he conceded. “But I do. Alana was, is and always will be mine. Nothing that guy can do to stop that.”
“You’d be surprised.”
“The power of persuasion is pretty strong motivator.” He looked towards the street and smiled. Fear shot through Carly like a bullet. “Look, here comes my motivator.”
She yanked her phone out of her pocket and dialed Matt’s number. No answer. She tried again. Still nothing. She texted Alana. If Nicholas could get here, Matt might stand a chance.
Headlights suddenly came into view. It was only a matter of seconds before Matt’s truck pulled into the parking lot. Carly ran to the door, throwing it open. Ben stood right in front of her just out of Matt’s line of sight.
“Hey beautiful,” Matt said as he shut the driver’s side door.
“Matt, get back in truck,” she yelled. Air brushed her face. Ben was on the move. “Hurry!”
“I just got here. Lana’ll understand me wanting to take a shower. Trust me.”
“To hell with your sister! Get in the damn truck!” She ran into the parking lot just in time to see Ben pick Matt up by the neck and throw him onto the hood of his truck. Terrified she froze.
“Now we wait,” Ben said. He smiled wickedly exposing his razor sharp fangs. Matt struggled to no avail. “Oh save it. If I wanted you dead I would’ve done it already.”
“She’s not gonna fall for it,” Matt said. He scratched at his throat trying to loosen Ben’s hold. “Lana knows you. She knows damn well what you’re capable of.”
“That’s right, she does.”
“Let him go, Benjamin,” Nicholas said, fading in beside Carly. Alana faded in next to him. He pushed both women towards the house. “Get inside. Both of you.”
“No! I want her to see this.” Ben looked Alana dead in the eye and started to squeeze Matt’s neck. His fingers dug into his skin. Matt’s face turned deep red. Alana took a step forward. His hold let up. Blood trickled through small cuts. “That’s it. You know how to play this game.”
“Leave him alone,” Alana said. She was scared to death, but she didn’t let it show.
“Now why would I want to do that?” He threw Matt on the ground and stomped on his stomach. Matt rolled into a fetal position, exposing his head. “Hm. I do that, too,” he sighed as he kicked repeatedly.
Nicholas put himself between them. Matt rolled away, but couldn’t stand. His head was swimming. Blood dripped into his eyes, blinding him. He could hear them talking, Carly crying, but he had no sense of direction left.
“Leave now,” Nicholas demanded. “I do not want more innocent blood on my hands.”
“It’s a little late for that, wouldn’t you say?” He sidestepped. Nicholas tried to grab him, but he was too quick. Matt’s body sailed across the parking lot, slamming hard into a tree. Ben turned to smile, fangs glinting in the moonlight. “Come to think of it, I haven’t had dinner yet.”
He winked at Alana and jerked Matt’s body off the ground by his hair. No matter how hard he tried, Matt couldn’t get it together. He knew he needed to fight. But he physically couldn’t. When he felt something sharp cut into his shoulder everything shut down.
“NO!!” Alana ran across the parking lot and tried to pull Ben off her brother. “Take me! I’m right here! Let him go!” Nicholas ran to her side. She pushed him away. “Stay away. I can’t let him take him from me.”
She looked up at him, her blue eyes blazing. Nicholas dove into her head, seeing the makings of a plan and backed off. She knew exactly what she was doing.