Home > Rebel's Karma (Dark Protectors #13)

Rebel's Karma (Dark Protectors #13)
Author: Rebecca Zanetti

Acknowledgments


   Thank you to the readers who’ve been with the Realm since the beginning, and those who have jumped in with this new era, starting with Vampire’s Faith. I have many wonderful people to thank for getting this book to readers, and I sincerely apologize to anyone I’ve forgotten.

   Thank you to my loving family, Big Tone, Gabe, and Karlina; one of the few bright sides of this pandemic has been getting to spend more time with you as we isolated at home.

   Thank you to my hardworking editor, Alicia Condon, as well as everyone at Kensington Publishing: Alexandra Nicolajsen, Steven Zacharius, Adam Zacharius, Vida Engstrand, Jane Nutter, Lauren Jernigan, Elizabeth Trout, Samantha McVeigh, Lynn Cully, Kimberly Richardson, Arthur Maisel, Renee Rocco, Rebecca Cremonese, Christy Phillippe, and Alex Gendler.

   Thank you to my wonderful agent, Caitlin Blasdell, and to Liza Dawson and the entire Liza Dawson Agency.

   Thank you to Social Media Guru Jillian Stein for the absolutely fantastic work and for being such a great friend.

   Thanks to my fantastic street team, Rebecca’s Rebels, and to their creative and hardworking leader, Anissa Beatty.

   Thank you to Kimberly Detillier Rogers from my Rebecca’s Rebels Facebook Street team, who came up with the name for this book.

   Thank you to Writerspace, Fresh Fiction, and Social Butterfly PR for all the hard work.

   Thanks also to my constant support system: Gail and Jim English, Debbie and Travis Smith, Stephanie and Don West, Jessica and Jonah Namson, Kathy and Herb Zanetti, and Liz and Steve Berry.

 

 

Chapter One


   The smell of the earth, deep and true, centered her as she traversed the hastily created tunnel. It probably said something about Karma that she preferred darkness, muddy walls, and being underground to any other circumstance. Battery-operated lanterns had been dropped haphazardly along the trail, their artificial light dancing across the packed dirt walls, highlighting minerals she couldn’t name as she descended quickly, the swish of her skirt the only sound she made.

   She bent her head, trying to stay in the moment and not panic at the job to come. One she was no more prepared for than she had been for mating a Kurjan general nearly two centuries ago. Or was it closer to three?

   Taking a deep breath, she turned the corner and faced the cell. The cell that had been dug just the day before, in case it might be needed.

   It was.

   She swallowed.

   The male was sprawled across the ground, so large he could probably spread his arms and reach the cement blocks on one side and the steel bars on the other. If he’d been conscious. Bruises mottled his face and neck, while a wound bled freely beneath his jaw. Blood ran past his ear to pool on the dirt beneath him.

   She couldn’t breathe.

   It really was him. Despite the bruises, blood, and dirt covering his face, she recognized him from more than three years ago. He’d tried to pull her into a helicopter with him after he’d attacked the Kurjan stronghold where she lived. He was bad, he was the enemy, and yet…he’d saved several kidnapped human females from the Kurjans. The Kurjans were an immortal species more powerful than any other. It had been a miracle that the male before her had succeeded in taking those gifted human females away from the Kurjan nation. He’d almost taken her at the same time, but she’d fought him.

   Had he thought he was saving her? Had he hurt those human females? Were they now in worse danger than they’d faced when captives of the Kurjan nation?

   She waited patiently, as she’d been taught. The guard would get to her when he had time. The medical supplies in her pack became heavy, so she set them down, stepping closer to the bars to study the male.

   Benjamin Horatio Lawrence Reese. He was a vampire-demon hybrid, large even for his kind. At about six foot seven, or maybe eight, he was as tall as many Kurjans. The wideness of his torso tapered down at his waist, matched by the length of his legs. His boots had to be a size eighteen, and his hands were big enough to cause colossal damage. Oh, she’d been hit before, but one punch from him and she’d be dead.

   He could never learn how much she already knew about him. How she’d been preparing for this day for three years—since he’d tried to take her from another Kurjan holding. Her home. With the Kurjans, since she’d mated centuries ago and thus had become immortal, even though she’d started out as a human female.

   A see-through figure hovered behind the male.

   Karma sighed. “Loti? I thought you’d moved on.” She’d helped the Kurjan spirit accept his fate after he’d been killed in a training accident, or so she had thought.

   The kid, his hair black yet see-through, rolled his eyes like any teenager. “I’m going now. Just wanted to say goodbye.” Then he stiffened. “The guards are coming. Good luck.” He wisped out of sight, and hopefully out of this world to the next one.

   The air changed, and Karma stiffened as the guard made his way down the tunnel, his white hair glowing as he came closer. He was a Cyst: one of the elite soldiers and spiritual leaders of the Kurjan nation. A single line of white hair bisected his pale scalp, leading down to a long braid. His eyes were a deep purple tinged with red, and he spared her not a glance as he unlocked the cell and then stepped back.

   She took a deep breath and entered, wincing as the coppery smell of blood assaulted her nostrils. Then she dropped to her knees and reached inside the pack for the materials that would clot the bleeding wound. The hybrid must’ve been badly injured in the skirmish if he was still bleeding.

   A ghost popped up in the other cell, and she ignored him. He was wavering in and out of her sight and would soon cross over; there wasn’t time to help him.

   The second she touched Benjamin’s head, his eyes opened.

   He was fully alert in a second, his deep eyes a strange metallic color. “Karma,” he murmured.

   She drew back. He remembered her name? Nobody remembered her name.

   “Do you need blood?” she whispered, leaning closer, even as the guard locked the cell door and disappeared down the hallway, leaving her alone with the enemy. Right now she was useless to the Kurjans, so if the prisoner killed her, they’d find a plan B.

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