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Taken by Midnight (Chapter Twenty)

Special Agent Green–or whoever, whatever, he really was–kept the Glock trained on her with a steady hand as the sedan weaved and lurched through the clotted New York City traffic. Jenna had no idea where they were taking her. She could only guess it was somewhere out of the city as they left the labyrinth of tall skyscrapers behind and headed onto a gothic-looking suspension bridge that spanned the width of a broad river.

Jenna sat back against the seat, jostling back and forth with each bump and acceleration. As the sedan leapt forward to pass a slower-moving vehicle, she was thrown off balance–enough so that she glanced up and caught an unexpected glimpse in the Crown Vic's side mirror.

A black Range Rover was keeping pace with them, just a few cars back.

Jenna's heart squeezed.

Brock. It had to be him.

But at the same moment, she hoped like hell it wasn't. It couldn't be–

he would be foolish to risk it. The sun was still a giant ball of fire in the cold westerly sky, at least two hours from setting. Driving in full daylight would be suicide for one of Brock's kind.

And yet, it was him.

When the sedan made another sidelong shift in the lane, Jenna checked the mirror again and saw the rigid set of his jaw across the traffic and distance that separated them. Although he wore dark wraparound sunglasses to protect his eyes, the opaque lenses weren't dense enough to mask the ember-bright glow of his eyes.

Brock was behind them, and he was deadly furious.

"Son of a bitch," Green muttered, peering over her head to look through the rear window of the vehicle. "We've got a tail."

"You sure?" Cho asked, taking the opportunity to pass another car as they neared the other end of the bridge.

"I'm sure," Green replied. A note of unease had crept into his otherwise unreadable face. "It's a vampire. One of the warriors."

Cho gunned the vehicle now. "Inform Master that we're almost to the location. Ask him how we should proceed."

Green nodded, and, still holding Jenna under the threat of his Glock, he retrieved a cell phone from his pocket and pressed a single digit. The call rang once over the speaker, then Dragos's voice came on the line.

"Status?"

"We're nearing the Brooklyn cargo docks, Master, as you instructed.

But we're not alone." Green spoke in a rush of words, as though he sensed the displeasure that would follow. "There's someone following us on the bridge. He is Breed. A warrior from the Order."

Jenna took no small amount of satisfaction at the violent curse that exploded over the cell phone speaker. As chilled as she was to hear the voice of the Order's hated enemy, it was gratifying to know that he feared the warriors. As well he should.

"Lose him," Dragos growled, pure venom.

"He's right behind us," Cho said, glancing nervously in the rearview mirror as they sped along a road that followed the waterfront toward an industrial area. "He's only one car behind us now and gaining. I don't think we can shake him at this point."

Another snarled oath from Dragos, more savage than before. "All right," he said in a low, even tone. "Then abort. Kill the bitch and get out of there. Dump her corpse off the docks or into the street, I could give a fuck.

But don't let that goddamn vampire get near either one of you. Understood?"

Green and Cho exchanged a brief look of acknowledgment. "Yes, Master," Green replied, ending the call.

Cho steered into a sharp left turn off the road and into a parking lot at the water. Large freight trailers and assorted box trucks dotted the ice-spotted, cracked pavement. And nearer to the river's edge were several warehouse buildings, which is where Cho seemed to be heading at breakneck speed.

Green leveled the gun on her, until she was staring down the barrel at the chambered bullet that would soon be unloaded into her head. She felt a surge of power flow into her veins–something far more intense than adrenaline–as the moment began to play out in slow motion.

Green's finger tightened on the trigger. There was a soft scrape of responding steel, mechanisms in the firearm clicking into action as though in the thick fog of a dream.

Jenna heard the bullet begin to explode from the chamber. She smelled the sharp tang of gunpowder and smoke. And she saw the quiver of energy rippling in the air as the weapon fired on her.

She ducked out of its way. She didn't know how she managed it, nor how it was possible for her to know just how to dodge the bullet as Green sent it blasting toward her. She knew only to listen to her instincts, preternatural as they seemed.

She came up behind Green's seat and wrenched his arm, snapping the bone in her bare hands. He screamed in agony. The gun went off again, this time a flailing, wild shot.

It struck Cho in the side of his skull, killing him instantly.

The sedan veered and rocked, accelerating with the dead weight of Cho's foot resting on the gas. They hit the corner of a rusted freight container, knocking the Crown Vic into a vicious sideways roll across the snow and ice.

Jenna hit the roof of the car as it flipped ass over teakettle, windows shattering, airbags deploying. Her whole world tumbled violently, over and over, before finally coming to a jarring halt upside down on the pavement.

Holy bloody hell.

Brock pulled in to the industrial lot and slammed on the brakes, watching with a mix of horror and rage as the Crown Victoria hit the side of a cargo trailer and pitched into a steel-crushing roll on the frozen pavement.

"Jenna!" he shouted, throwing the Rover into park and vaulting out the door.

The daylight had been a bitch to deal with inside the vehicle; outside it was beyond hellish. He could hardly see through the haze of blinding white light as he raced across ice and cracked asphalt to the overturned sedan. The car's wheels were still spinning, the engine whining, spewing smoke and steam into the frigid air.

As he neared, he heard Jenna grunting, struggling inside. Brock's first instinct was to grab hold of the vehicle and right it, but he couldn't be sure if flipping the car would cause more harm to her, and it was a chance he wasn't willing to take.

"Jenna, I'm here," he said, then reached out and tore the upside-down driver's-side door clean off its hinges. He tossed it to the ground and dropped to his haunches to look into the crushed interior.

Ah, Christ.

Blood and gore were everywhere, the stench of dead red cells combining with the sharp fumes of leaking oil and gasoline to pierce through the sun-scorched fog of his senses. He looked past the corpse of the driver, whose head was blown open by a close-range gunshot wound. All of Brock's focus was trained on Jenna.

The roof of the sedan was buckled and smashed, creating only a small amount of room for her and the other human male, who was struggling to get a grip on her legs. She was fighting him off with one foot while attempting to claw her way out of the nearest window. The human gave up as soon as his flat gaze slid to Brock. Releasing Jenna's ankle, he ducked back to scramble ass-first through the gaping windshield.

"Minion," Brock snarled, hatred for the soulless mind slave making his blood boil even hotter with fury.

These two men were definitely Dragos's loyal hounds. Bled by him to within an inch of their lives, they would serve Dragos in whatever capacity he required, obedient to their dying breath. Brock wanted to speed the escaping human to that final moment personally. Kill him with his bare hands.

He damn well would, but not until he made sure Jenna was safe.

"Are you okay?" he asked her, stripping off his leather gloves with his teeth and tossing them aside so he could touch her. He smoothed his fingers over her pale, pretty face, then reached down to catch her under the arms.

"Come on, let's get you out of here."

She shook her head vigorously. "I'm fine, but my leg is pinned between the seats. Go after him, Brock. That man is working with Dragos!"

"I know," he said. "He's a Minion, and he doesn't matter. But you do.

Hold on to me, baby. I'm gonna get you free now."

Something metallic popped outside the car. The loud ping echoed sharply, then another one sounded, and still another.

Bullets.

Jenna's eyes found his through the thin smoke and fumes that were closing in on them inside the wrecked vehicle. "He must have another gun on him. He's shooting at us."

Brock didn't answer. He knew the Minion wasn't trying to hit them through all that metal and machinery. He was firing on the car itself.

Trying to create the spark that would ignite the exposed gas tank.

"Hold on to me," he told her, bracing one hand against her spine as he reached with the other for the crushed seats that had Jenna trapped. With a low growl, he ripped them loose.

"I'm out," she said, already scrabbling free.

Another bullet struck the car. Brock heard an unnatural gasp from outside–a rush of air that preceded the sudden, swelling stench of thick black smoke and the gust of heat that said the Minion had finally hit his mark.

"Come on!" he said, grabbing Jenna's hand.

He pulled her clear of the vehicle, both of them tumbling out to the pavement. A plume of fire erupted from the overturned car as the gas tank exploded, shaking the earth beneath them. The Minion kept firing, bullets zinging dangerously close.

Brock covered Jenna's body with his own as he grabbed for one of the semiautos holstered on his gun belt. He came up onto his knees, ready to shoot–only to realize that his sunglasses had come off in the tumble from the car. Between the wall of heat and roiling smoke, and the searing light of day, his vision was virtually nil.

"Shit," he hissed, wiping a hand across his eyes, straining to see through the agony of his scorched vision. Jenna was moving beneath him now, scrambling out of the shelter of his body. He reached for her, his hand casting out blindly, coming back empty. "Jenna, damn it. Stay down!"

But she didn't stay down. She took the pistol out of his hand and opened fire, a rapid hail of bullets that cracked loudly over the roar of flames and heated metal beside them. Across the lot, the Minion cried out sharply, then went utterly silent.

"Gotcha, you son of a bitch," Jenna said. An instant later, Brock felt her fingers wrap around his. "He's dead. And you're burning up out here.

Come on, let's get the hell out of this place."

Brock ran with her, hand in hand across the open lot, toward the Rover. As much as his pride wanted him to argue that he was good to drive, he knew he was too cooked to even attempt it. Jenna didn't give him a chance to protest. She shoved him into the back of the vehicle, then jumped behind the wheel. In the distance, the howl of police sirens sounded, human authorities no doubt responding to the apparent accident near the docks.

"Hang on," Jenna said, throwing the Rover into gear.

She seemed unfazed by the whole thing, cool and collected, the total professional. And damn if he'd ever seen anything so hot in all his years.

Brock lay back against the cool leather of the seat, grateful as hell to have her on his side as she stomped on the gas pedal and floored it away from the scene.

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