Excerpt: Love Has Wings

It’s the middle of the day when Diana sets her plan into action. Unlike some of the more traditional members of her species and most of the clan of vampires she is visiting in the centre of Canterbury, she is used to being up during sunlight hours.

She’d seen when they entered the code for the door when she visited the night before, when she’d been shown something she couldn’t ignore and allow to continue. At the time she’d faked a smile and made excuses to get away quickly. But now she’s back, and she lets herself right in the front door, aware her hood won’t shield enough of her face to hide her identity from the camera, but she knows that due to the timing she’d be the top suspect anyway.

Diana moves silently through the house and finds the right room. Here she has to open the bag she brought with her. She gets out a lock-picking set that she hasn’t used in sometime. It’s a skill she’s learned well over the years, and it doesn’t take long for her to get the lock open.

The door opens, and Diana goes quickly inside, shutting the door behind her, so if anyone does pass by, they won’t suspect anything is amiss. Inside the room is a woman chained to a bed. She looks up weakly from behind a curtain of long white-blonde hair.

Diana steps over to the bedside and gets straight to work on the nearest lock.

“What?” the woman asks, her voice croaky, and Diana doubts they give her more than just enough water to keep her alive.

Diana pauses. “Shh, I’m going to get you out of here.”

The woman’s eyes widen in disbelief mixed with hope, and she stays quiet while Diana works on each of the three locks and unwinds the chains from pale limbs all marked with angry red bite marks.

“Can you stand?” Diana asks in a low voice, knowing the shifter woman must be weak from the blood loss alone.

“I use a walking stick. They took it,” the woman whispers.

Diana thinks quickly. “Can you manage if I help you?”

It’s a relief when the woman nods.

Diana asks before she touches the woman and gets another nod. She doesn’t want to violate this woman any more than she already has been, and she’s aware that even a well-meaning touch can be unwelcome. Diana helps the woman up and asks her name as they get steady on their feet, her arm around that frail body.

“Sammy.”

“I’m Diana. Ready to go?” Diana asks.

Sammy nods, and despite having to limp a little together, Diana and Sammy get out of the Victorian house and to Diana’s car. Diana helps Sammy get into the passenger seat and puts her bag in with her. She’s getting in the driver’s side when she hears talking inside the building, so she hurries into the car and drives away as quickly as she can.

“I can’t go home. They know where I live. Thank you so much—I should have said that first. I’m sorry. I just don’t know what to do,” Sammy says, still sounding weak, unsurprisingly, but looking less defeated.

Diana already has a plan. “I have a local friend who I’m hoping will let you hide with her Pride. She’s a lion shifter. There’s some water and cereal bars in that bag. You should try to take them. Get your strength up.”

“Thank you. I remember you from last night. You didn’t try to feed from me when they showed me off, and now you came back and let me out. Why?” Sammy asks, taking out the bottle of water and sipping slowly.

Diana checks to see if they’re being followed before getting on the motorway. “Not all vampires are like that coven. Most aren’t, and I’m not. I couldn’t bear the cruelty of it. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I had just left you there.”

Sammy sips more water. “Well, thank you. That place was hell.”

Sammy eats a little as they drive, and then, despite clearly struggling to stay awake, she falls asleep. Diana drives with her radio on low, listening to news channels to help her avoid roadworks and any accidents. She makes good time to Rose’s Pride house. When Diana tries to wake Sammy, she remains tired and groggy, so Diana grabs a blanket from the back and lets her sleep for now, leaving her in the car while she approaches the door alone and rings the bell.

The night before had been a Pride celebration, and Diana had been unable to call Rose to tell her she was coming. One of Roses Pride members, a cute, curly haired young Indian woman named Peta, answers the door, greets her warmly, and offers to get Rose.

Diana has been long distance dating Rose for eight months, and they’ve met up every month since they met online in a dating site for polyam supernatural people. Though in the past vampires did not get along with shifters, seeing them as an exotic food source and nothing more, that was years ago, centuries even. The shifters had helped vampires against humans in their time of need when they got caught up in the witch burnings. That aid, given freely had stopped mistreatment of shifters, which is why she had been so shocked to see Sammy in chains, shown off so easily to a stranger when such practices remained hidden. Diana still gets excited when she knows she’s going to see Rose, even though this is hardly a romantic situation, and she’s showing up to ask a big favour with a beautiful woman in her car. Not that Rose has ever been jealous over other women, female friends or actual girlfriends, but the favour might test their relationship.

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