Unredeemable (Immortal Redeemers 2)
J. Hali Steele
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Copyright ©2014 J. Hali Steele
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"Hey, bitch, give me my dog!"
This motherfucker had a death wish and he pushed Chance to grant it. He sat the pup down, patted its head. "Stay." He flexed his hands as he made his way to the dumpster. The man stood, feet spread wide, holding a broken bottle. Before reaching him, Chance came to a dead halt and sniffed. Wings whirred not far above.
The shrill call as it climbed back into the sky beckoned his creature to reveal itself, and, damn, he wanted to. The hawk retreating overhead was female -- and an Immortal Redeemer.
"I'm gonna cut you." The man came at a dead run.
Training his attention on the situation at hand, Chance sidestepped in a flash and the guy slammed headfirst into a trash can, dropping his makeshift weapon. Chance kicked the bottle away and gave him an opportunity to gather his senses before snatching him up and punching the bastard in the face. "I will come back here and kill your stupid ass if you ever attempt to have another living thing in your care." He shook the jerk until his head lolled. "Do. You. Understand?"
"Please, mister, yes, I won't."
"No more dogs."
"You don't get it yet." He slammed a fist into the culprit's stomach. "Nothing living, not even issue from your loins. Monsters like you can't be trusted with a child." He reached between the man's legs and gave a hard twist to his nuts. "You understand me now?"
"I hear you. God, please let me go."
"You sick son-of-a-bitches always call God when you're in trouble." Picking the man up, he carried him down the alley and threw him into the dumpster. Closing the lid, he latched it. Chance heard mumbling and sent a hard kick to the metal container's side. "God's busy, he sent me."
Pivoting, he trotted back to the alley's entrance and grabbed the little dog that still sat there. "Good girl." Rushing into the street, he looked overhead. Nothing. No sound, no smell, she was gone.
"We'll find her." Redeemers exuded a similar pine and musk scent, but females were extremely rare, their odor very different, softer, more grassy. His senses were on fire and the hawk pressed for release. "Soon," he whispered. His stomach rumbled, reminding him, even though he wasn't hungry, the creature inside required feeding, so he headed toward the Melrose Diner.
No one with any sense walked Philly streets this late, no one saw golden eyes gleam, or the angry slash lips formed when Chance spoke into the darkness. "We will become extinct." Fewer Redeemers roamed the world and though they never met, he'd recently sensed one very strongly in his travels out west. He'd crossed paths with a couple of males overseas years ago who possessed knowledge of the Covenant, but not the Keeper.
Chance wanted it to stay that way.
* * *
The extremely agitated hawk wouldn't welcome shifting at this point, and Brooke struggled to get to the edge of the park where she settled in a large tree. A hundred years since she'd scented a male and it was glorious. Hell, the peculiar aroma a Redeemer exuded would have been welcome in any form. She came damn close to swooping down in the alley, would have if her bird had not become aggressive. It sensed the Redeemer's anger toward the other and it boldly wanted to join his battle.
Brooke needed time to process her discovery.
She honored the mantle given, long after she'd reached the age of fifty, by her mother who had passed away. Brooke remained home, learned all she could, did what was required of Immortal Redeemers by saving animals from humans who sought wealth and glory by destroying creatures for their fur, ivory, and anything else they could take -- men took it. Some killed for the hell of it. Humans she protected became fewer and fewer until she doubted there was much good left in society. It was as if the world had turned upside down and everyone in it jostled for something. Darkness threatened to consume Brooke's soul and she questioned her ability to remain impartial in her battle against evil.
Yet it never entered her mind to give up the mantle of trust.
Remembered conversations with her now deceased mother regarding the Covenant brought her from Greenland to the region via a cruise ship, an idea much better than a flight. Immortals winged their way a few hundred miles, but the stifling confines of an airplane wreaked havoc with the hawk when they took lengthy trips. With no animals aboard ship, humans relaxed and played, and Brooke took time to rest. No trouble at all, except she missed land with its variety of trees, mountains, and clear freshwater lakes. After a few stops, being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean unsettled her hawk a little.
Men had come and gone in her life, and watching one die tortured her. She had spent too much time in seclusion and only recently felt the urge to find someone to provide light to her darkness, at least for as long as he lived. There were fewer immortals in the world and Brooke never thought to encounter another. Absently, she sniffed the night air with hopes he followed, hopes the Redeemer was the one to tame her hawk, fight at her side, and end loneliness forever.
Tired and hungry, she lifted from the treetops and floated to the ground. After searching the area to assure no one watched, she shifted. It still amazed Brooke how easy the large raptor folded into the long, quarter-inch black stripe covering her spine. Wings flipped backward until the tips touched each other, her chest emerged, followed by stretching arms while, in unison with the rest of her body, clawed feet and bird legs became long, shapely calves and thighs. Unfolding to her generous height of five feet ten inches, Brooke rolled her shoulders before finger combing her long blonde hair, and then struck out for the all-night cafe near the hotel.