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The Struggle

The Struggle

Page 5

“Deacon,” Aiden said calmly. Smoke drifted off the tips of his fingers. “Get Gable into the kitchen. Keep him there.”

For once, Deacon obeyed without argument. Whipping around, he grabbed the stunned-into-silence Gable and hauled ass to the kitchen, slamming the door behind them just as one of the so-very-dead-looking things howled a sound of rage and blood, sending a shiver down my spine.

They attacked.

There was no time to figure out what was happening, what these things really were, or why they were coming after us. The things could move fast. Half went toward Alex and the guys. The rest raced in my direction, and for a split second, fear punched through my gut. I was immobile with it. I may be a demigod, but these things were terrifying looking, and I was just a mortal girl about to get her flesh torn off her bones.

But I wasn’t a mortal girl.

Far from it.

Instinct took over, forcing my body to move. I darted to the left as I tapped into the powers stirring inside me. Reaching the raised dais, I spun around. A small ball of flames hit one of the creatures in the back. Fire erupted, swallowing its body.

“Holy crap,” I whispered.

On the other side of the chasm, ultra-bright flames danced over Aiden’s knuckles. Then he turned, taking out another as Luke brandished a dagger. Apparently he’d been the only one who came out of his bedroom prepared. Overachiever. Jumping forward, he slammed the dagger into one of the eye sockets and jerked his arm back, his lip curling in disgust as maroon-colored blood spurted out at him. The thing shrieked as it fell to the floor, shattering upon impact.

“That’s so gross,” he muttered, flipping the dagger. He twisted, eyeing another creature. “So freaking gross.”

Tapping into the fire element, I welcomed the lava now coursing through my veins. My right arm heated, and a bolt of fire shot from my palm, smacking the closest creature to me in the chest. It went down in flames. I spun, hitting another creature. The third zigged and zagged on me, getting close enough that the smell of rot and death turned my stomach. I danced back a step, tapping into fire once more. Flames swamped that creature as it fell forward. I turned, throwing out my arm. Fire crackled over my fingers, and I let it go just as another creature shot forward. The fourth creature took the hit in the shoulder, spinning it around. I turned as the fifth one jumped—jumped like a jackrabbit, landing no more than a foot in front of me. I reared back, but it wrapped a bony, fleshless hand around my forearm.

Fiery pain erupted, robbing the air out of my lungs. The touch seared my skin, forcing out a hoarse scream. The creature laughed, spewing dirt into the air. Rearing back, I tore my arm free just as a dagger sliced through its face from behind.

It didn’t jerk or spasm—simply fell to the floor, exploding into a pile of clumpy ash.

I was standing face to face with Luke.

“Looked like you could use the help,” he said, twisting at the waist. “Are you okay?”

Breathing through the pain, I looked down at my arm. Four marks the size of fingers burned my arm. “I’ll be okay.”

Luke didn’t get a chance to respond, because those on fire were rising from the floor. The flames receded, revealing charred skin and bone.

“What the hell?” I gasped out, pressing my wounded arm to my stomach as I scanned the atrium.

Aiden and Alex were backing up, both with the same stunned expressions on their faces. “This isn’t good,” she said. “I thought fire killed zombies.”

“Yeah, I don’t think these are zombies, babe,” Aiden replied.

“Head shots seem to work,” Luke called out. “So they’re kind of like zombies.”

“We don’t have daggers.” Aiden stepped to the left, halfway in front of Alex. It seemed like an unconscious, protective move. “We could push them back into the crevice.”

As soon as he finished saying that, as if the gods were laughing at us, several more climbed out of the hole in the floor.

“I don’t think that’s going to work.” Alex sighed.

My dagger was nowhere to be found among the broken tiles. It could’ve even fallen into the chasm. If fire didn’t kill these things, then . . .

I only knew of one other thing.

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