Mercy’s Fall by Lacey Carter Andersen

One

Rian


I’m pissedas hell as I storm around the guild, ignoring the cold and the dark, ignoring everything except this need to move. To work out my anger. Bash and Ares are playing a dangerous game, a game I’m pretty sure will get one of us killed, and I’m over it. Yes, being a vampire means that I’ve had the benefit of being surrounded by near-immortal people who have given me the wealth of their advice, so it’s only normal making the right decisions are easier for me, but I still would have expected better from Bash and Ares.

This is… fucked up. There’s no other way to explain it.

Mercy isn’t human. And she doesn’t even know it.

Memories from the battle rear their ugly head. I don’t know who was bold enough to attack the Guild of Assassins, I also don’t really care. I just can’t stop thinking about what happened. Not the injuries and the deaths, it’s the image of Mercy. She’d been hit by Death Flames, something no mortal could survive. Ares had carried her from the dining hall and the battle to an old game’s keeper cottage on the property. I’d barely seen anything around me as we ran, I’d just stared at Mercy. Watched the rise and fall of her chest with such foreboding that it felt like I was waiting for my own death. It’d torn at something so deep inside of me that it was physically painful.

Mercy, my Mercy, was dying.I’d seen a lot of death in my life, but losing her would be a blow I’d never come back from. For some reason, the stubborn woman had wormed her way into my heart.

I’ve never considered Turning a human before, but I’d been prepared to do it then. As soon as we reached that cabin, I was going to bite her. Not just bite her, but break off my fangs into her throat. It was the only way to Turn someone, and it was a sacrifice to a vampire, likely meant to keep us from Turning too many humans. I’d heard it took two weeks to grow a vampire’s teeth back, which meant feeding from cups only. Every time I heard of a vampire Turning someone, I winced at the thought of losing my fangs. No one seemed worth it.

But it’d been no question with Mercy. I would save her life, no matter the cost.

Even though Turning her may not have even saved her from the Death Flames. I was willing to sacrifice anything to try to ensure she lived, no matter how illogical my choice was.

And then she’d stopped breathing.

My heart races at just the memory. I’d fought to get to her. Ares and Bash had held me back, but it wasn’t enough. I fought them, fought them in a way I never imagined I would. But to my shock, Ares went almost full wolf on me and managed to keep me at bay. I think we would have killed each other, but then Bash used his unique abilities and they stopped me from saving her.

I’ve always seen Bash and Ares as my brothers. But at that moment, I would have killed them. And it was clear they weren’t holding any punches back either.

Which was around the time she came back to life.

My fists clench so hard I hear them crack.

“Prince Hadrian!” It’s Ares.

I turn to see both him and Bash hurrying toward me across the courtyard. I hadn’t even realized how far I’d wandered, but it was no surprise to me that I’d ended up outside of the North Tower, the human tower. The place where Mercy slept.

The wind whips Ares and Bash as they rush toward me, tugging at their hair and clothes. It’s the first time I’ve realized that this night is ridiculously windy. How hadn’t I noticed until I saw them? Being a vampire doesn’t mean I don’t feel.

Ares’s bright green eyes almost glow as he levels his worried gaze at me. “We’ve been searching all over for you.” The wolf shifter is panting, and given how in shape he is, he must have literally been racing through the halls of the guild, worrying about the vampire prince he’s charged with protecting.

“It was stupid coming out here alone after Mercy saw a hellhound. And, you know, our guild was attacked by mysterious enemies.” Bash doesn’t look worried. He looks pissed. And even though I’ve never used my best friend’s status as my employee against him, I want to use it now. I want to punch the arrogant asshole and bring him to his knees.

“And what you two are doing isn’t stupid?” I ask, my words coming out cold and harsh.

Bash runs his fingers through that dirty blond hair of his that he loves so much. “We’re doing the best we can for her!”

“It’s not good enough!” I roar.

But to my surprise, Bash doesn’t back down. He moves so that, even though I’m a few inches taller, we’re almost nose-to-nose. “You know the difference between you and us? Mercy’s been our best friend all our lives. We know every damn thing about her, even what she doesn’t know about herself. We made our decisions to protect her. While, you? You just want to fuck her. And when you grow bored with her, she’ll become nothing to you, just like all the other women you bang.”

I shove him. “Like you treat women any better.”

He shoves me back. “Mercy isn’t any woman.”

“Guys!” Ares is there, separating us. “We don’t have time for this bullshit. There’s a hellhound on the guild grounds, and we all know who it’s here for.”

My gaze tears from Bash’s pale green eyes, to Ares’s much brighter ones. “How the fuck do we protect her from something no one can protect her from?”

Neither of them answers, but I sense Bash’s anger fading. Damn it. None of us are really angry, are we? We’re just worried, and we don’t know how to worry the right way. That’s one disadvantage about being men who typically act and not just sit around twiddling our thumbs.

“We won’t be able to help her if we’re not on the same page,” I tell them slowly.

That’s right. I’m logical. Be logical now too. Don’t get distracted by your feelings for that beautiful fool.After a second, Bash nods, and maybe we’re still tense, but we’re not ready to kick each other’s asses any longer.

And then, I feel something hit my head. Not hard, but like tiny pebbles or large pieces of sand. Wincing, I look up at the tower and my throat closes. Mercy is dangling from her windowsill. I almost shout for her to stop, and then her fingers release the edge. Her dark shape is dropping toward me, and I know that if I don’t catch her, she’s dead.

My arms reach out and I’m shifting, trying to stay directly beneath her.

I hear Bash say, “What now?” But I’m trying to be wholly focused on the woman falling rapidly toward me.

One of the guys gasps, and then Mercy drops into my arms, bringing me to my knees with the force of her drop. Her deep blue eyes are wide as they lock onto me. My breath stops, and I want to kiss her. I want to kiss away the panic in her expression and then ask her why the hell she tried to kill herself, but I’m spellbound until she opens her mouth.

“Run! The hellhound!”

And then, none of us need to say more. We just run, run toward the main guild building, where they can put the place on lockdown and do what they can to keep Mercy safe from the hellhound.

Because that’s the real problem. Someone has sent an immortal creature to kill our woman and drag her body back to its master. And even though we have a chance to save her right now, I don’t know that Mercy will ever be safe again.

Or that the guild security can stop a hellhound, no matter where we go.