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Bound by Blood

Blood Series Book III



Lauryn L Hill



Bound by Blood

Blood Series- Book III

Copyright ©2018 Lauryn L. Hill

Published 2018 by Novel Ideas


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief use of quotations in a book review.



www.laurynlhill.com




Dedication Page



Very special thanks to the man who puts up with me… and another thank you for not liking to read otherwise your view of me would forever me altered.




Table of contents




The Blood Series Main Characters & Notes

The Phoenix Council (Founders of The Alliance) and their Mates

  • Zander Hanok ~ Ariana

  • Alek Hanok ~ Daryn

  • Dane Lemek ~ Roan

  • Gage Gallegos ~ Sofia

  • Ambrose Kane ~ Melina

The Alliance

  • Zander Hanok: Runs The Alliance, the Phoenix Teams, (the supernatural teams) and the Seattle Special Forces (the human teams)

  • Dustin Marshall: Oversees the Seattle Special Forces under Zander.


The Phoenix Teams

Gage's team Terminators

  • Jando

  • Pedro

  • Callisto

  • Wren

  • Connor, AKA White Boy

  • Zuri

  • Azim

  • Derrick

Ambrose's team Rebellion

  • Jericho

  • Raphael

  • Davis

  • Cameron

  • Nathan

  • AJ

  • Kyle

  • Peyton

Alek's team Stooges

  • Jessup

  • Marco

  • Daniel

  • Kade

  • The remaining four are not mentioned

Dane's team Frankenstein

  • Brody

  • Jasper

  • Sam

  • The remaining five are not mentioned



Nicknames the men call Sofia

Eos (Goddess of the Dawn)- Gage

Bella (Beautiful)- Ambrose

Mia Regina (My Queen)- Raphael

Bel ange (Beautiful angel)- Jericho

Minha Rainha (My Queen)- Jando

Cielo (angel)- Pedro

A leanbh (my child)- Galen


Seattle Special Forces Team Leaders

  • Jake Bender

  • Todd Walsh

  • Tim Talbert- only mentioned in book 1

  • Brian Cooper- only mentioned in book 1

The Breeds

  • A full blood hybrid-vamp is born of one hybrid parent and one vampire. They need blood to survive.

  • A full-blood hybrid is born of two hybrid parents. While they had retractable fangs, they do not need blood to survive, they take it for pleasure only.

  • A made-hybrid started out as a human who was bitten by a vampire, not saved from death and not infused with vampire blood. But the vampire venom changed their body's chemistry making them nearly as strong as a vampire. They, like the full-blood hybrids, have fangs, but do not need blood to sustain them.

  • A made-vamp is a human who was near death and saved by being infused with vampire blood. They need blood to survive.


~ Chapter 1 ~

150 years ago


Kara Gallegos watched her mate, Gage, chop wood with fury. Log after log split down the middle one hard swing of his ax, a task he'd been at for five hours. His bare back beaded with sweat and his muscles rippled with each violent blow.

Her heart ached from the pain in his eyes, yet she didn't blame him. Two months ago, they were kidnapped by vampires. Gage was chained to a tree while the vampires staked her to the ground, took her blood and raped her. Two days later their good friend, Ambrose Kane, found them and killed all but two of the dozen vampires. Even though Gage was outnumbered, he blamed himself. He should have been able to protect his mate.

Now two months later, Gage could barely carry on a normal conversation with her. He rarely smiled, when he made eye contact, she saw the haunted look in the depth of his blue eyes. The only physical contact he made with Kara was an innocent touch of her hand or a simple kiss on her cheek.

Kara tried to deal with her own pain of those two days while trying to help him. She understood his pain too; he had been helpless to save her. And he had to watch and listen as her body was abused. Even though she appreciated the rage, pain and horror he went through, she needed him back. She needed to be held in his arms, to be loved. But he couldn't.

Ambrose recognized the desperation and need in her eyes, often he'd try to comfort her. While she valued his love and support, it was her husbands she desperately needed.

A pair of big hands landed on her shoulders and squeezed. Ambrose kissed the back of her head. "Hey, sweetheart. How are things going today?"

Kara leaned into his comforting body. "For who, me or him?"

"Both of you."

"We appear to be running in circles, Ambrose. I can't help him, and he refuses to let me try. Therefore, he can't help me. I'm scared."

Ambrose turned her to face him. "What are you scared of?"

Tears welled up in her eyes. "I'm losing him, Ambrose. And I don't know how to stop it."

His hand cupped her neck. "Kara, sweetheart, he loves you and will never leave you. You must know that. I thought he'd be better by now too, but we need to give him some more time."

Time. That was something Kara didn't know if she could give anymore. With each passing day, they drifted further apart and another piece of her heart tore. Gage was the love of her life and the pain of seeing him hurt this much shredded her. What she couldn't tell Ambrose was, she could only give Gage a short amount of time figure this out. Kara was determined to get her husband back or die trying.

She gave Ambrose a sad smile. "Yes, I'm sure you're right. I'm going to start supper. You might want to tell him that we should be good for firewood for the next two years though." She nodded to the huge pile he had chopping since noon.

He chuckled. "I think I'll let him just keep doing what he's doing. The way he's swinging that ax, I'd rather not get too close." He watched her walk away. "Kara, you know I will always be here for you, don't you?"

Kara turned and looked at the man who saved her life. "Yes, I know. Thank you, Ambrose." She fled before the tears got loose.

After dinner of venison stew and biscuits, Kara cleaned the kitchen as Gage went back outside. Ambrose winked at her and followed his friend, his brother.

Gage leaned a shoulder against a post of the porch and stared out over his land. A barn sat off to the left, with a large corral for their four horses. Ambrose stopped next to him. "Brother, can we talk?"

"I think the cows are about ready to birth. Should be in the next week." Gage kept his back to the man he saved a few years back.

He and Ambrose both fought in the Civil War for the North. Ambrose was a human back then, Gage a vampire. Prior to the war ending, Ambrose questioned why Gage healed so fast. Gage told him that he was different, he wasn't human. He explained to Ambrose that he was a vampire, when Ambrose laughed at him, Gage proved it. He slit his wrist deeply, then licked the wound shut, healing it instantly. This new bit of information didn't faze Ambrose in the least, Gage was the same man in his eyes. Then two weeks before the war ended, Ambrose was wounded, a wound he'd die from. When Gage offered to save Ambrose's life and turn him into something similar to himself, Ambrose agreed.

They were closer than biological brothers. Ambrose owed Gage his life and he wasn't about to give up on him.

"Brother, I don't want to talk about cows. I want to talk about you and Kara."

"There's nothing to talk about."

"There is, a lot, in fact. Look, I won't pretend to understand what you both went through for those two days, but you have to find a way to get past it."

Gage snorted. "Get past it, huh? You're right, you can't understand what we went through."

"Can I ask you a personal question?"

Gage turned his blue gaze upon his friend and nodded.

"Have you… touched Kara since that day? As a husband, her mate?"

"Are you serious? How can I after what happened to her? She needs time to heal."

"She's healed, brother. And she needs you to touch her, hold her like you used to. Kara needs to know you still love her and want her. And every day you refuse to, she hurts a little bit more."

The blue of Gage's eyes disappeared, black consumed them, as he glared at his friend. "Do not tell me how to treat my mate, brother. You will not like the outcome. I am doing what's best for her."

"If you want to know if your method is working, all you have to do is take one look at that woman in there." He thumbed over his shoulder. "And I'm telling you as your friend, it's not. You're becoming more distant with her each day. If you don't fix this, you will lose her, Gage. She is at the end of her rope." Ambrose stepped off the porch and walked to the barn, leaving his friend to think.

*****

Gage watched Ambrose walk away. Part of him wanted to slam his fist into his friend's mouth… and a part of him knew Ambrose was right. But how was a man supposed to touch his wife intimately after the trauma she endured? Hurting her or worse, scaring her, terrified him. And Gage didn't know if he'd survive if he saw terror in her eyes for him. Hell, how could he forget the terror in her eyes when the vampire forced her to look at him while she was being raped? Every day, his own guilt grew because he couldn't save her.

Gage stepped into the house, walking down the hall to the kitchen, he stopped to watch her. Kara was a beautiful woman. She had long light auburn hair and brown eyes. When her hair hung free, it formed large curls, curls he loved running his fingers through. Her smile made her brown eyes sparkle and a faint dimple appeared on her left cheek.

Her slim body stirred his blood. She was near five-seven, she fit perfect against his body.

God, he loved this woman. Kara was his heart and soul.

Gage walked up behind Kara as she was drying dishes. He hands encircled her waist, drawing her back into his body, he kissed the back of her head. "You smell good." It had been a long time since he held her like this, he was afraid to touch her. So, if Ambrose was wrong, then he'd beat the shit out of him.

Kara burrowed into his body before she turned into his arms. Her brown eyes looked up into his and she smiled. "That's not me you smell, it's the apple pie." She stood on her toes, placing a soft kiss on his lips.

Gage pulled back out of habit and saw the pain in her eyes for his actions.

Kara turned her back on him. "Just go."

"Kara, I'm-"

She decided she wasn't done with him. Kara spun back around. "I'm sick of this, Gage. I'm sick of us. And I can't do this anymore."

"What does that mean?"

"It means I want my husband back. I need him back. And if you can't meet me halfway, then I don't want this anymore." Tear welled up in her dark eyes. "Am I that repulsive to you?"

"Damn, Kara, you do not repulse me. I don't want to hurt you, I just-"

"Stop it! Just stop it!" She untied her apron, tossed it on the table and pushed to move around him.

Gage caught her by the waist and pulled her into his body. One hand grabbed a handful of her hair to hold her in place. "Do not walk out on me when I'm trying here."

"Trying? Is that what you call it? Why suddenly are you trying? You haven't given a damn in the past two months."

"Goddammit, Kara! You were raped! What was I supposed to do, pretend like it never happened and take your body? You needed to heal."

"If you hadn't been so oblivious, you'd have noticed I am healed. I would have healed faster if you helped me." She wrenched herself free of his iron grip. "I can't do this anymore, Gage. I love you will all my heart, but I can't do this any longer." With tears in her eyes, she fled the kitchen.

Gage stood there, wanting to go after her, but knowing he should let her cool down first. Kara was right, Ambrose was right; they couldn't go on like this anymore. He had to find a way to forget what he watched happen to her and treat her like the woman he cherished. The fact was he missed her body more than he wanted to admit. Hell, he needed her body. While Gage couldn't bring himself to have sex with her since that day, he was certain Ambrose had. If he didn't do something soon, he'd lose his woman to his best friend. And if that happened, Gage would have to walk away from both of them.


~ Chapter 2 ~

Jando let himself in through the kitchen door to make a pot of coffee. At four-fifteen in the morning, the house was dark and quiet, but Sofia would be downstairs around four-thirty. He noticed over the past couple weeks she slept less and less, getting only about four hours a night. He suspected that soon she'd sleep three hours like most vampires while hybrids could sleep up to six hours.

Some mornings upon waking she'd go down to the gym and work out. But usually, she'd go sit with one of the guys at their posts, mostly whoever was on the roof, so she could do gargoyle duty with them. And the hard-ass team they were grew to enjoy their time with her in the early mornings. Because of the hour, she didn't pull anything crazy on them. She was more subdue before the sun rose.

The house was silent as he started the coffee, the rest of the household would be up by five-thirty, sometimes earlier. He turned on the stove light even though his eyesight was not hampered by the darkness; old habits of treating Sofia like a human were hard to break. Taking two cups out of the cupboard he moved to the refrigerator to get the unflavored cream Sofia used. Oddly enough, while the woman could eat ten pounds of sugar a day, she didn't like sweeteners or flavored creams in her coffee. Perhaps it was her way of balancing things out.

His head titled as soft footsteps came down the stairs, he smiled to himself. She was right on time. Turning, he leaned against the counter and waited for her to enter knowing the smell of coffee would lure her in. Seconds later she rounded the doorway, wearing spandex workout shorts and a sports bra top. She was no longer affected by the cool Seattle mornings; she was adapting all around in her transformation to becoming a supernatural being.

Her smile was immediate when she spotted him; walking up to him she put herself in his arms for a hug. "Have I told you how much I love you for making coffee for me each morning?"

Jando wrapped his arms around her touching the bare skin around her waist; it was hard not too in her skimpy outfit. Having her blood in his veins, Jando felt a special bond with her now. "Good morning, bela rainha. I think you may have mentioned it before, but hey, I never tire of hearing it." He had taken to calling her bela rainha, beautiful queen in Portuguese, his native tongue. Placing a kiss on the top of her head, Sofia looked up at him.

"I'm glad we have a party size coffee pot now. Will you help me take coffee to all the guys?"

He chuckled. "Really? First, I get demoted to a glorified babysitter now you want me to be a waiter?"

"Hey," she pinched his stomach. "I'm gonna start a jar, like a cuss jar, only this one will be for each time you guys refer to spending time with me as babysitting. When the jar is full, I get to buy myself something."

"And how much will you charge?" He noticed that she had not removed herself from his embrace.

She contemplated. "Five bucks will do. And I'm starting with you and the offense you made a second ago."

"That's not fair. You can't give someone a speeding ticket if the speed limit isn't posted."

"Hey, be glad I don't charge all of you for all your past offenses, I'd be rich by now."

"Okay, thanks for that. I'll help you take coffee to the men, but if they make a smart-assed remark about me serving them, I'll fucking shoot them."

"Maybe you should let me toss their ass off whatever they are on, I don't want any blood spilled, besides, I'd probably get blamed for it."

"Deal."

Ten minutes later, Jando and Sofia each carried thermal pots of coffee and a stack of disposable coffee cups outside. The men heard the door open and all sets of eyes landed on them.

"Good morning, men. We have brought you some coffee. But I made a deal with Jando that if any of you make a smart-ass remark about him helping me serve you that he gets to shoot you where you stand. So, you'd better behave." She grinned at Jando when he raised his eyebrow at her. She told them his original deal, not hers.

Wren snorted to her left. "What would you know about behaving?"

"And now you get coffee last."

Wren chuckled.

Pedro walked up to her, and she stepped into his arms as she did Jando. "Good morning, guerrero guapo." She called him handsome warrior and tipped her face up and he kissed her on the lips. He was the only warrior who ever kissed her lips.

"Learning Spanish, I see." Pedro grinned at her.

"Really, Doc?" Jando said, pretending to be offended that she didn't call him something sweet in his native language.

"Oh sweetie, you are a guerrero guapo too."

He snorted. "Doesn't count. I'm not Mexican, I'm Brazilian. Our words aren't the same."

She gave him an ornery look. "Fine, you are a guerreiro bonito too."

One eyebrow arched. "When do you have time to learn four new languages? I've heard you say things to Jericho in French and Raph in Italian. And now you know some Spanish and Portuguese? I'm impressed."

"You four are with me twenty-four-seven, I figured it would be nice for me know some of your language."

"So... do you know what I've been calling you?"

An adorable frown formed between her eyes. "Yes, and I'd rather be called belo guerreiro." Beautiful warrior.

"Bela guerreiro, not belo." He couldn't help but smile at her. Yep, his asshole days were all over because of this woman. "But yes, you are a beautiful warrior."

Jando remembered the days when frowning at her was easy as pie, but now his smile came on its own. Was he an ass to men or when he was out on patrol? Of course, he didn't go out on patrol anymore, Sofia was his assignment until further notice and frankly, he was okay with it most of the time. But then there were days when he wanted to beat the shit out of something, so he spent hours in the training center.

Sofia poured Pedro a cup of coffee before setting out to the serve the other warriors. When they were done, she sat by the pool to drink hers. Jando and Pedro watched her from a distance; they understood when she walked off that she needed time to herself. A lot of shit had been going down lately, and she dealt with it like a true warrior... until she snapped and threw men off roofs and walls. Everyone heard about what she did with Cameron, Davis, Raphael, and Jericho and they'd never live it down. She had a fit and threw all four men around the backyard, after she kicked Jericho and Raphael off their perches.

Jando nodded to Pedro to follow him over to Sofia. She was sitting with her legs crossed next to the pool. He squatted next to her, sitting on the heels of his boots. "Are you plotting something or are you bored?"

Sofia gave him a sideways glance and grinned. "If I was plotting something do you really think I'd admit to it?"

"Guess not," he and Pedro chuckled. "Well, then you look bored. So, get your ass up, we have an exercise for you."

"Nope, not gonna do it. I exercised yesterday. I'm sick of all those stupid things Vader has me do."

"Not that kind of exercise, Doc, it's more like a game." Pedro smiled when she looked at him.

"If this is a trick, I'll kick your ass into the pool."

Pedro held out his hand to help her up. "Come on and you can judge for yourself. And if I end up in that pool in full tactical gear I will kick your ass."

"Oh, fine," grumbling she took his hand. "So, what stupid thing will I be doing that you guys are all going to laugh at me for?"

Jando pulled out a large piece of chalk, the kind kids use for sidewalk art, he handed one to Pedro and kept one for himself.

"You're going to let me draw around the pool? Cool, that will piss off both Melina and Ari."

"No, no more pissing off the other women on purpose." Jando shook his head at the disappointment on her beautiful face. "You are going to practice blocking hits. We'll hold the chalk in our hands and try to tap you, you block our hits, and if you fail we basically will be drawing on you. Let me show you." Jando stepped behind Sofia and pulled her back into his body as Pedro stood in front of her. "Now Pedro is going to attack and-"

"A second ago you said tap. I know I heard the word tap not attack."

"Hush and listen. Pedro is going to try to smack you, yes, smack you, since that's what we want to do most days, and you need to block his hit." Nodding to Pedro to begin Jando took a hold of Sofia's wrists. "Let me move your arms for you, Doc."

Pedro came at them with his left hand and Jando moved Sofia's hand out to knock Pedro away. Pedro moved his right hand and Jando moved her to block with her left.

"Understand?" Jando asked, letting go of her hands.

"No, I'm a bit slow. I bet if you draw me a picture on the ground, it will become clear to me though." Her dry, sarcastic tone had Pedro grinning at her.

"Smart-ass." Jando stepped out from behind her so he could watch her move.

Pedro gave her a crooked grin, immediately he drew the chalk across her bare stomach, a streak of blue. Then he got her on the side of her face.

"Thought you said you understood this game, Sofia." Jando raised one eyebrow.

"Pretty sure I said, no, I'm a bit slow."

Pedro barked out a laugh. "Shit, how can you start out this sassy so early in the morning?"

"It's something I had to learn to survive Darth. Starting out on the dark side at the crack of dawn does something to my otherwise angelic personality."

Jando and Pedro weren't alone when they laughed at her. All the men listened in; they loved what a character Sofia was at home. She was more reserved at The Alliance when she wasn't training. But at home, she was just Sofia, funny, smart-ass who was always looking for ways to entertain herself, even if it meant pestering the warriors.

"This time watch Pedro more closely, you have to anticipate his moves."

Once again, she got marked with the blue chalk, this time on her other cheek. Ten minutes later Jando traded Pedro places, and he marked Sofia up with purple chalk six more times.

"You're slow as shit, Sofia. If this was a knife you'd be bleeding to death by now." Jando grumbled at her. "Pedro, you try to help her before she's purple from head to toe."

Pedro walked up behind her placing his hands on her shoulders, tugging her back into his body. "Focus, don't just use your eyes, use your ears, your instincts. It all comes together as one. Just focus."

"Oh, why didn't I think of that; just focus. You know, some of your advice is as useless as Vader's was." That remark earned her a smack on the butt from Pedro.

"Thought you were a Jedi now, Doc?" Jando raised an eyebrow at her with a smirk.

"Oh, shut up. Fine. Let me find my inner Luke." She breathed in through her nose, closing her eyes. "If anyone of you idiots starts talking to me in a Yoda voice, I will freak the hell out. He's scary as shit."

Pedro reached out and tugged her ponytail. "Woman, I'm a half a second away from pushing you into the pool. Now focus."

Callisto stepped to the edge of the roof. "I say go ahead and push her, I'd even pay you to do it." He winked when she turned and raised one eyebrow at him.

"Okay, fine, but I want my own chalk."

"You can't even block worth a damn, so what good will giving you chalk do?" Jando shook his head when she cocked her hip and held out her hand.

"I need some inspiration. Pink, please." She smiled sweetly at him with her hand held out.

Reaching into a pocket of his cargo pants, Jando handed her a pink piece of chalk. "What is it with you and pink?"

"What is it with you guys and black?" Sofia eyed his black combat clothing, putting the chalk to her nose she sniffed. "This smells funny. Now for my reward. What do I win if I hit you with my chalk?"

"No sugar, that's for damn sure." Jando narrowed his eyes at her, realizing she already knew what she'd ask for. He had noticed that when she wanted something she figured out how to manipulate them or the situation.

"For each time I hit you with chalk, I get to push one of the Terminators in the pool."

Men laughed around the property. Azim yelled. "Fuck no."

"What are you worried about, Azim? She can't even block, she'll never touch Jando." Zuri teased.

"I wouldn't trust the little terrorist, we all know she doesn't play fair." Connor said from the southeast wall.

Derrick laughed. "I say make the deal, we have nothing to fear."

Jando was watching her as she listened to the men banter, her ornery dark eyes danced when she smiled at him waiting for his answer.

When she noticed him inspecting her, she stepped up to him, inches from him and poked him in the chest. "You know the names pansy-ass and chicken-shit is up for grabs, which one would you like?"

He grinned, grabbing her finger. "Neither, to my knowledge those names still belong to Jericho and Raph. Deal, you mark me, and you get to pick a man to take a swim."

"Cool. Better start taking off your weapons and boots men unless you want them all soggy."

The Terminators snorted their responses sure that Jando wouldn't let her touch him.

Sofia and Jando got ready, eyeing one another. He jabbed, and she blocked, the chalk never touched her. He struck again and the same thing, he missed.

"What the hell, man!" Callisto said. "At this rate, she'll hit you in no time flat."

"Tell me Doc, how is it that you can suddenly block?" Jando narrowed his amber eyes on her. Did she just pull one over on him? He had heard about her playing a game with Raphael, pretending to not be able to find the sucker he had hidden on him. When she was threatened with cotton candy by Jericho, she immediately knew where the sucker was. Was the little shit playing him?

She offered a crooked grin and shrugged. "Maybe Pedro is just a better teacher than you or I found my inner Luke."

On Jando's next advance Sofia blocked, ducked, and struck. A bright pink line was made across Jando's thigh. Sofia did a happy dance. "Ha, take that!"

"Are you fucking kidding, Jando?" Zuri.

"You suck." Connor.

"Well, shit." Azim.

Sofia looked around the yard for her first victim. "So, my first casualty is between Callisto for wanting me tossed in the pool or Derrick for saying you guys had nothing to fear." She tapped her chin with one delicate finger pretending to contemplate her decision. "Come on down Derrick and let me tell you what you've won."

"Oh shit." He hissed, then jumped down from the wall and walked over to her.

She motioned to his body. "You want to go in with boots and weapons? I told you guys to remove them, remember?"

Derrick's pale green eyes watched her as he stripped his weapons off then his boots. "Yeah, well, you heard us, we didn't think you'd pull this off. I was being optimistic."

"Okay, stand with your back facing the pool," Sofia waited until he obeyed. Reaching up, she kissed his cheek. "I love you, Derrick." She pushed him, he hit the water and sunk.

Seconds later, Derrick surfaced grinning at her. "Yeah, love you too, Rambo."

"You may sit on the edge and wait for your fellow warriors to join you." She winked then turned back to Jando. "Let's go. Bring it on, bad-ass."

Jando gave her an evil grin, and struck, he hit her stomach with purple chalk. He winked, then reached out again. She blocked and hit his chest. Once again, her happy dance began as groans were heard all over the yard.

"Hmm, who's next?" She spun when she heard a light thump behind her. Callisto jumped off the roof.

"I figured I was next. Am I right?" Callisto's midnight eyes held a touch of humor.

"You are. Strip whatever you don't want wet."

Callisto removed his boots, weapons, and his shirt. "I think I'd like a dry shirt."

"Fuck, really? I could have taken off my shirt first?" Derrick complained.

Callisto assumed the position; Sofia walked up to him, reached up, and kissed his cheek. "I love you, Callisto," and she pushed.

*****

From a window on the second floor of the house, Gage watched as Sofia tormented the hell out of his warriors. His smile grew as she played his men. Really, he should be pissed that they were so easily fooled by her, but he knew they all adored her and most likely would have complied just to make her happy.

"What are you doing?" Ambrose's deep voice said as he walked up.

Gage chuckled. "I'm watching Sofia take my men on and the little shit is winning."

Ambrose stepped up just in time to see a bootless and shirtless Callisto make a big splash in the pool. "What the hell is going on that he let her do that?"

"Jando and Pedro are playing a game with her, they hold chalk and try to mark her up unless she can block. She let them hit her over a dozen times."

"What do you mean let?"

"I'm guessing she did to him what she did to Raph, pretend she couldn't do it. Then she made him a deal, for each time she hits him with her chalk-"

"Let me guess, pink?"

"Yep." Gage grinned. "Her deal was that for each time she marks on Jando, she gets to push one of the Terminators in the pool. And as you can see, she has two lined up."

Ambrose released a laugh. "When are these men going to learn to stop trusting her? Her sweet smile has them all stupid."

"Yes, she does. But you know what, brother? I love the idea that our sixteen badasses are wrapped around her finger. I expect it of Alek and Dane's guys, but ours? They love her craziness and respect the shit out of her. They will do anything for her if she asks and because they know she loves them and respects them just as much."

Ambrose folded his arms across his chest as Jando and Sofia began again. "Those are qualities of being a queen; her loving and respecting her warriors and them willing to die for her because of it."

Gage watched Sofia's every move, every smile, and every victory dance. "Yeah brother, I know. I just don't she still understands this.


~ Chapter 3 ~

Fifteen minutes later Sofia had all but Jando and Pedro sitting on the edge of the pool. Six warriors sat there cheering her on to knock Pedro and Jando's ass in the pool. More so, they wanted to see Jando hit the water; he was the idiot who made her the deal. He should have seen the evil plan stirring in her head.

Sofia grinned at Jando as footsteps came up behind her. Turning, she saw Gage and Ambrose, both wearing smiles as they walked up. "Hey guys, you wanna play?"

"No baby." Gage kissed her lips then glanced at his team. "And you men, really?" Shaking his head. "You let yourself get taken by this little thing."

"Yep, you boys played with the wrong woman. You should have talked to Jericho and Raph before you made her any deals." Ambrose winked at Sofia.

"Okay, Jando, you ready? Pedro is going in next, guerreiro bonito." She knew this would be the last time she'd ever get the best of these guys; they'd never fall for her tricks twice.

Pedro grinned at her, shaking his head. "You know, we will never play games with you again, right?"

"Sure, you will, because you love me, and you want me to be happy."

Gage and Ambrose both tossed their heads back and laughed. She had the men pegged, they would do anything to make her smile at them.

"Jesus, we're screwed. You know, Jando, if you can just keep her going until Rebellion gets here the two of us walk away dry." Pedro tugged Sofia to him, kissing the top of her head.

"Doesn't work that way, sweetie. We play until the end. Let's go, Jando."

Sofia hit Jando after four tries. She turned to Pedro and gave him a brilliant smile. "Strip."

Cocking an eyebrow at her, he bent over and removed his boots followed by his weapons. As he was pulling his shirt off, he stopped midstream by her words.

"Honey, do have any singles on you?" Sofia wiggled her fingers over her shoulder at Gage.

Pedro froze, his shirt stopped in the middle of his chest. He grinned and muttered, "Jesus."

Gage snorted. "Baby, I am not taking money out of my pants, so you can shove it down Pedro's. In fact, you don't need to be sticking your hand in Pedro's pants at all. No, let me clarify that; you don't need to be sticking your hand anyone's pants but mine."

"You're no fun." Sofia rolled her eyes grinning at Pedro.

The six men sitting on the edge of the pool laughed at their lethal boss as he bantered with his mate. Since they couldn't see Pedro's face, they cheered him from the sidelines to do a strip tease.

"Is that all I'm worth to you, Doc? Is a single? Damn. At least I know where I stand with you." He gave her one of his killer smiles, winked and pulled his shirt off revealing his ripped stomach and tossing it aside.

Sofia walked up to him, placing her hands on his hard stomach she looked up at him. "I love you handsome, you know that, right?" She leaned in close and whispered, knowing they all could still hear her. "And if he gave me a hundred, I wouldn't hesitate shoving it down your pants." She cracked up at the look on his face. She made him blush through his golden-brown skin and beard.

Letting her hands skim further up his chest, she repeated, "I love you, Pedro." On her toes, she pulled him down for a kiss and placed one on his lips then pushed.

The men all noticed how Pedro was the only warrior Sofia kissed on the lips. And Gage never seemed to blow a gasket. It didn't make sense to any of them. Though none were willing to push their luck with Lucifer and touch his woman they way Pedro did.

Turning to Jando, she smirked. "You should just let me push you in now."

"I would, but I may as well make you work for it."

For the next five minutes they each blocked the others chalk. Then Sofia said, "So, Jando, once I win, you can take the pants off too, I wouldn't mind." She wiggled her eyebrows.

"Sofia," Gage warned.

Her words and her expression made Jando lose his concentration, and she struck like a snake, hitting his stomach.

The men cheered for her as they laughed at Jando for losing.

"You fell for the oldest trick in the book, handsome. You let me distract you." Sofia's grin covered her face as she eyed his body up and down. "Now, what are you willing to keep dry?"

Jando shook his head. "I think I'll keep my pants on, sweetheart. Lucifer is still here." Jando removed his weapons, boots, and then his shirt revealing his hard, sculpted body, just like all the others that sat on the pool's edge behind him.

When Sofia looked him, she noticed his nipples were pierced; each had a barbell ring through it. She cocked her head and grinned at him.

"Derrick, why are you the only one who didn't take off your shirt? Feeling fat this morning?" Gage said in that dry, snarky tone that made his men crack up.

"Cute, dude, cute. But no, she didn't give me the option. Apparently, since I shot off my mouth earlier, I wasn't allowed to." Derrick couldn't help but return Sofia's smile.

"Assume the position, Jando." Sofia walked up to him, her hands touched his rock-hard stomach. Standing on her toes, she reached up to kiss his cheek, like she did all the others except for Pedro. "Very sexy, by the way." Her words were a whisper as she gave his pierced nipples a brief glance. "And I love you too, Jando. Thank you for the game." She shoved him in and like all the others, he landed on his back, when he resurfaced, he wiped a hand down his face and smiled at her.

"Well, that was fun. Thanks guys for underestimating me." Sofia laughed when they all grumbled a response to her.

Gage and Ambrose both walked up to her from behind, not seeing she put a finger to her lips and winked at the men. Gage kissed her, and Ambrose smiled down at her. About that time, team Rebellion came through the back gate, eyeing the eight warriors soaking wet sitting on the pool's edge.

"What the hell did you do now, Sofia?" Jericho said as he stopped behind her with the rest of his men.

She turned and went into his arms for a hug. "I'm completely innocent. But thanks for that."

Raphael laughed. "Sweetheart, you are anything but innocent. We're not that stupid. And I'm guessing the Terminators do now too. What did you do?" He pulled her to him and kissed her forehead as he glanced at Gage.

Sofia told them what happened and Rebellion all cracked up at their teammates for succumbing to her tricks.

"Never trust this woman, never." Davis said, shaking his head as he remembered his own run in with the resident terrorist when she dropped him from thirty feet off the ground in the backyard.

She watched all the men as they laughed and talked about what went down and her heart felt light, full of happiness and love for these men. She adored the warriors at The Alliance, but these sixteen were the closest to her, the ones she spent her entire days with. And she had grown to love each like a big brother, well, except for Jericho and Raphael. She was crazy about the sixteen biggest badasses The Alliance had.

Sofia turned to Ambrose giving him a smirk. "So, you feel better knowing I got Gage's team worse than I've gotten yours?"

"Yes, I do actually. It means I've taught my men better than to fall for you and your antics." He reached out and tapped her nose.

"What about you?"

"What do you mean?"

"Have you learned a lesson too?"

"Sofia, whatever is swirling around that crazy head of yours better stop now."

Her hands landed on her hips. "It dawned on me that with all the shit I have put up from you, I have never once gotten even with you."

"And you're not going to start now, if you know what's good for you." He narrowed his green eyes on her, clearly not trusting her as he held his hands at his sides, waiting.

She gave him her sweetest smile. "Yeah, pretty sure I don't." She lifted her hands and blasted him with a surge of her energy that sent him flying into the pool.

Team Rebellion all whistled, clapped, and cheered as they saw their leader hit the water with an impact that made huge waves. The wet team on the side of the pool all were cracking up, not even caring they were just soaked again by Ambrose's landing.

He surfaced shaking the water off his face. "You little shit. You got my weapon wet." Ambrose said, standing up in the water that came just below his shoulders.

"Aw, Vader, are you worried that your light saber will shrivel up and not work?"

The men flat out lost it, cracked up with sidesplitting laughter. They watched Ambrose and Sofia stare each other down, her with a huge smile on her face and him with a grin, shaking his head.

She missed the subtle look he gave Jericho and Raphael as they stepped up and stood on either side of her and laughed. "Woman, I sure as hell hope you know what you just did." Jericho said.

"That was priceless, but so is this." Raphael said and winked at her.

She frowned at the last part of his sentence as Jericho said, "Incoming."

Both Jericho and Raphael gave her a hard push, and she went flying into the pool right at Ambrose. When she surfaced, she came up in front of Ambrose and smiled. "You feel better now having two big warriors do your dirty work for you? Your light saber really doesn't work anymore, does it?"

The men continued their harassment towards Ambrose and Sofia's light saber remarks.

Ambrose snatched her around the neck and pulled her into his body. "You are way too full of shit for so early in the morning." Then he tipped her face to his and whispered in her ear. "Want to check out my light saber, baby, you know, to see if it works?"

She laughed. "I'm freezing, and I don't think I can tread water, so don't let go."

Ambrose shook his head at her, pulling her tighter into his body he kissed her forehead. "Hang on and I lift you out, you shit. I should keep you in here until you get numb for this stunt."

Looking over his shoulder at team Terminator. "Thanks for playing with me. Let's play again tomorrow." She blew them a kiss as Ambrose lifted her out and sat her butt on the edge of the pool while the men all gave her shit over their current situation.

Gage helped her stand, wrapping a large towel around her. "Eos, you are a hot mess. What are we going to do with you?"

Her teeth chattered. "No, I'm a cold mess right now. Why is that water so damn cold?" Lifting her face to his he lowered his mouth to hers. She glanced at Jericho and Raphael. "And you two betrayed me. Just remember, payback is always a bitch."

"Woman, we've put up with a lot of shit from you. That was payback." Raphael's dark eyes held her when he smiled.

Ambrose hopped out of the pool, removing his gun handing it to Jericho. "Take that apart, will you? And men," he glanced at the Terminators as they stood dripping where they stood, "there are towels in those large bins over there, help yourself."

Jando made his way over to her after grabbing a towel, his pony-tailed hair dripping down his back. He nodded to Gage and Gage let Sofia go. Jando put a large hand around her neck and pulled to her him, lowering his face to hers. "Well done, bela rainha. But that's the last time we allow you to make a bet when we play a game." He placed a kiss on her forehead.

Pedro took her from Jando, "Bet you wish you had agreed to give her sugar instead." He smiled at Jando as he hugged Sofia's wet body to his own.

*****

Dustin Marshall, leader of the Seattle Special Forces unit at The Alliance, sat in his truck, thinking.

So many questions ran through his mind. What if this blew up in his face? What if the asshole Vega, who had been killing all over the city, backstabbed him after he gave him Sofia's blood? He didn't have a Plan B so if this went to hell, well, he'd be up shit creek.

And he didn't relish the thought of going to meet Vega without backup, but he couldn't risk taking anyone with him. No, nobody else could know about this and no one else could know who was involved in this. If someone was watching him, he'd take the fall on his own for this asinine plan

He felt sick, a feeling he hadn't felt in a long time, yet here it was. Dustin could see Sofia's face now when she discovered that he sold her out. They had always been close, and she'd take this hard. Sofia would be devastated, but fuck, if she was exactly who the fucker Vega was looking for, they'd get four million dollars. Four. Million. Dollars.

Dustin was supposed to get the blood to Vega over a week ago, then eighteen of his Special Forces guys came in from being poisoned and things went to shit. Truth be told, he had found every excuse in the book to hold Vega off for as long as possible. Plus, Sofia and Dane used so much of her blood, and they were there so many damn hours a day transforming the men he had to wait until she restocked it.

Pulling behind an old abandoned warehouse, which he found rather cliché, he put his truck in park. As he waited for Vega to arrive his senses scanned the surrounding area, he sat impatiently. Ever since he was changed by Sofia's blood, he had the same abilities that vampires had. It still felt odd not being human anymore.

From the end of the old buildings he saw headlights rounding the corner. Something caught his eye on the rooftops as figures jumped from building to building as they made their way closer to him.

Well fucking perfect, he was about to be surrounded. The only thing he had going for him was Vega didn't know he was no longer human. And Vega wouldn't be able to tell he was no longer human because of Sofia's blood. It kept him off every supernaturals radar. If things slid south and Dustin had to protect himself, the cat would be out of the damn bag and he'd be screwed.

"Well, fuck me." He muttered to himself opening his door to wait by the hood of his truck as vampires surrounded him.

As the car neared, he kept his eyes trained on the vampires closing in on him. He spotted at least six, so even if shit came down on him, he wouldn't make it out alive, not against six.

The car stopped twenty feet in front of him and parked with its engine still running, like his own. The passenger door opened, a large vampire stepped out and opened the back door. Another vampire climbed out, he assumed it was Vega.

Vega was about the size of most all other vampires, six-two to six-six. But Dustin guessed that he was on the short end of the sale. He was lean, not bulky. In fact, Dustin was bigger than the vampire. Assuming a casual pose he waited as Vega walked up with the other vampire on his heels.

Vega stopped and looked Dustin up and down. "Dustin Marshall, I presume?"

"Pretty sure you know that already. I'm not stupid enough to think you haven't done some recon on me."

Vega narrowed his eyes. "You are bigger in person than I thought you'd be. And you're human?"

Dustin snorted. "Have you seen all the humans we have at The Alliance? We are all big. Don't assume that vamps have the market on size."

"I think I like you, human. So, where is the package?"

Dustin nodded to over his shoulder. "In the cab of my truck, in a cooler." He moved to get it.

"Stop, let Enrique get it for you."

Dustin nodded. "Fine." He got that Vega didn't trust him, probably afraid he'd grab a weapon. Like that would work since he was surrounded by his vampires. Did the guy think he was an idiot?

Enrique stepped beside Dustin and sat the cooler on the ground. "Open it." The large vampire moved back to Vega.

Dustin grinned; they thought he was dumb enough to rig it with explosives. "You guys watch too many movies." He knelt and opened the cooler and pulled out a bag of blood. Dustin held in his open palm out to give it to Enrique knowing Vega wouldn't take it from him directly.

Enrique grabbed it, holding it to his nose he sniffed before handing it to Vega. Vega took out a knife and put a small prick in the top of the bag. Enrique held his hand out as Vega squeezed blood into his palm, Enrique licked it up, and they waited.

Chuckling, Dustin said, "Fuck, you think I'm stupid enough to poison it? That would serve no purpose, don't you think?"

Vega looked at Enrique, ignoring Dustin. "Well?"

"It tastes fine. Better than fine, it tastes... exotic, rich."

Glancing back at Dustin, Vega poured blood into his palm and licked it up. His eyes closed, and he let out a low moaning growl. His fangs lengthened and his eyes glowed dark blue.

Yep, this asshole had some Original Beings blood in him. He had discovered that anyone who carried the blood of an Original Being could not only make their eyes turn black, but they'd also glow whatever their natural color was. For some reason, it didn't matter that he hadn't had her blood on over a hundred years. The eyes color change was permanent.

Vega forced his eyes back to their normal shade of blue and smiled at Dustin. "You did well, human. This is the blood I've been searching for. Now we need to make a plan to meet where you give me this woman."

"And?"

"And I give you the four million. The transfer is set to go. I will push send as soon as I am sure that the woman you bring me is the same one this blood came from."

Nodding, "You do realize when I bring her that I will not be alone right?"

"Of course. And you do realize that if you try anything, you will all be slaughtered, right?"

"I'll get this set up. It may take another week or two. She is surrounded at all times and I have to put a plan in motion where I can separate her from the others."

"Very well, but human, my patience is running low. I will give you up to two weeks after that I will launch my own war to take her and you get nothing."

"I'll be in touch." Dustin turned to walk back to his truck stopping at the door. He watched Vega and his lap dog get back in their car and take off.

Listening, he waited for the vamps on the building to leave, but they didn't. All six remained in position. Something wasn't right, these guys weren't leaving. Were they going to follow him or were they sent to kill him now that Vega had confirmed that Sofia was who he was looking for?

Just then Dustin heard someone land directly behind him. He spun to face his attacker. He stopped and stared at the man he considered a friend. "Holy shit, you scared me. What the fuck are you doing here?"

He nodded to the vampires on the building. "Your accomplice told me where you'd be tonight and what you were doing. I thought it best if I brought some backup. In case you needed help."

"So those five belong to you? I assumed the six of you came with Vega."

He nodded. "Well, they belong to Galen. How'd you know there were six of us?"

"I'm not human anymore, asshole, or have you forgotten?"

"Yes, brother, I know you aren't human anymore." Looking up at the vamps on the roof, he said, "Thank you men, don't lose them and call me in the morning." Turning back to Dustin, "I gotta get home to Sofie. Watch your back and if you need anything, don't hesitate to call me."

"Will do."


~ Chapter 4 ~

Dustin heard Ambrose was having Sofia brought into The Alliance to train with Galen, so he headed up to see her. His guilty conscience had gotten the better of him after his rendezvous with Vega last night. He hadn't seen her since his men were all poisoned and he felt bad, she took it hard when the four men died. Dustin knew she wanted to go to the funerals, but Gage and Ambrose both decided it was too dangerous for her to make an appearance. And in all honesty, they were right. He understood their concern.

He walked into the training center and saw her sitting up on the balance beam that sat about thirty feet in the air. She was watching the newly transformed humans from the Special Forces train with Galen and Ambrose. They were now considered to be Phoenix; their Seattle Special Forces title was a thing of the past. All twelve warriors were poisoned and the only way to save them was to give them enough of Sofia's blood to change them.

Walking over to her, he looked up at her. "Hey stranger. Can I come up?"

"If you can jump this high." Her dark eyes danced.

Yeah, that smile made his chest hurt. Soon she'd be looking at him with hate in those beautiful eyes. "Is that a challenge?" Bending his knees, he jumped and landed beside Sofia, carefully maneuvering to sit. He put an arm around her and hugged her. "Hey sweetheart, how are you?"

Sofia leaned her head against his shoulder. "Okay, how about you? I haven't seen you since that day the guys were poisoned. How were the funerals?"

Damn, she was making this all the harder on him. "They were all nice... as far as funerals go. It was hard though, knowing we couldn't save those four."

"You mean I couldn't save those four." The pain in her voice had him wrapping his arm around her tighter.

"Sofia, you couldn't have saved them. They went to the hospital first. There was nothing you could do." He turned to kiss the side of her head. God, how he adored this spunky little woman, her love for everyone was her most powerful quality. When she lost someone it literally broke her heart.

"Did you give their families the cards I gave Gage to give you? And my message?"

By the sound of her voice he knew without looking that her dark eyes held tears. "Yes, baby, I did. They were all very appreciative."

She nodded against his shoulder. "I miss you, Dusty."

Sofia turned the fucking knife lodged in his heart with her love for him. "I miss you too. I still can't believe I let you call me Dusty. If anyone else called me that, I'd kill them."

Her soft chuckle made him smile. "Yeah, but I'm part of you now, so killing me would be like killing yourself."

Well, fuck it to hell. That's just what he needed her to point out about right now. He didn't need reminding that she was a huge part of him. He felt her happiness and her stress, he felt her love. Her love always outweighed all her other emotions.


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