[Vlad’s] pupils flashed like a cat’s eyes against the overhead lights, marking him as one of the undead, and I froze.
Not because of the flash — I had seen that many times before on others like him.
It was why they flashed.
Though he was a vampire, he wasn’t dead. Blood still flowed through his veins by the force of his slow-beating heart. But his widening pupils, however infinitesimal it was, caused them to flash. And that told me something excited him.
Dreamless sleep was like being lost in oblivion. But it wasn’t frightening or terrible by any means. It was a dark place that played like a lullaby without sound. It was a slow beating of the heart, contentment, free from thought or stress.
I ducked to avoid the fist hurtling toward me. As it flew a mere inch over my head, I reached up, hooking my hand around the limb doing its best impression of a deadly projectile. My fingers gripped the muscled forearm, just beneath the elbow and twisted to keep it in my hold.
Taking advantage of the opening, my free hand shot out in response. An instant before my knuckles could impact my opponent’s side, just beneath the ribs, I relaxed my fist and instead slid my palm across it before spinning away.
My opponent twisted in the opposite direction as I released my grip, dropping low to knock my feet out from beneath me with a powerful swing of the leg. I danced over the onslaught, escaping the blow by millimeters.
As soon as I took flight, I knew I miscalculated my leap.
They didn’t have bullet holes in their heads, ending their lives instantly.
No. It was as if each one took a bullet to their chests and then when it impacted their hearts, those bullets exploded from the inside. There were bits of bone, sinew, and skin on their clothes and the ground around them. And dark, bubbly, almost black blood pooled in those gaping chasms.
But there I was, Zoe Kavanaugh, former dark witch, restored to light with another chance offered that she didn’t deserve.
A woman that killed in order to protect the ones she cared about. A woman that was pulled deeper into that oblivion and lost herself in the process, costing more lives. A woman that should’ve been dead and six feet under the frozen ground several times over.