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“Oh, yes. I almost forgot,” he said. His eyes flashed white.

The gunshot made her jump and she leaped to her feet. The Summoner's elbow hit her square in the face and knocked her back.

“Now. Now. My game with him was done. What was the point of keeping him around? You must love this new modern era. Exploding bullets. How wonderful. A whole new way to kill our kind. ”

Amaliya was blinded by the rush of tears that filled her eyes. Her lips parted, but she could not speak. Her heart felt crushed inside of her.

“Oh, come now. Yes, he was handsome in his way, but in love with him? How terribly cliché. Falling in love with the very first vampire you meet? I'm rather disappointed in you,” The Summoner chided.

Her tears flowed freely down her face and she curled up on the chair, her arms wrapping around her knees. The despair inside of her was overwhelming. She felt no desire to go on. It was as if all her options had vanished. Not until that moment did she realize she had found solace with Cian. And now he was gone.

The Summoner stroked her hair as if she was his pet. “Oh, how easily you crumble. I see now I was wise to keep him alive long enough for you to show your powers. I'm glad you did show me what you are capable of. I am not quite certain what to do with you now. Do I kill you as a potential threat to me? Or do I keep you at my side and use you?” He came around her and sat down on a side table. “These decisions are always difficult. ”

“Why? You already killed me once. What's the difference now?” She let her hair fall over her face and her fingers played with her scar centered in her tattoo on her arm. The rosary was long gone. She was damned. Sadly, she wondered what lay beyond true death for her.

“That was quite enjoyable though you almost escaped me. I barely kept you alive long enough--ah. . . ” He trailed off. He was obviously deep in thought. “Was that it? That I kept you alive with my power and then brought you over? Ah, yes. . . ”

Looking up through her hair, she saw Cian approaching The Summoner from behind. The gun Heather had held them hostage with was in his hand. He tread so lightly, Amaliya could not even hear his footfalls. And neither did The Summoner.

Their creator was stunned when Cian pushed the end of the barrel of the gun firmly against the back of his head.

“I see,” The Summoner said.

“You forget I'm old and quick,” Cian said, and his accent was more pronounced than usual.

“Yes. I did. Heather?”

“Truly dead,” Cian answered.

“I should have kept my connection with her longer,” The Summoner decided.

“But you didn't. And I was faster,” Cian said.

“Pull the trigger,” Amaliya exclaimed with urgency in her tone. “Shoot him!”

The Summoner gave her a bemused look.

“Where is Roberto?” Cian demanded. “Dead or alive?”

“Does it matter?”

“He is stalling for time! Fucking shoot him!”

“He wants to know where his servant is,” The Summoner informed her with a condescending smile. “He is so concerned with others that he forgets that is his weakness. ”

Amaliya barely made out the shadow descending from the ceiling before it struck Cian. Cian cried out and tried to shoot The Summoner, but their enemy was a flash of darkness as he escaped. Amaliya didn't realize at first what had happened as the gun went off and the sound reverberated through the room. Then she saw the glint of light off the edge of the silver dagger shoved through Cian's back and the tip poking through his chest.

“No!” She rushed to Cian as he collapsed forward and she caught him in her arms as his blood flowed over her.

“Touching,” Roberto said, and wiped his hands on a handkerchief.

Amaliya clutched Cian to her and reached for the silver handle. Her fingers slid around it, then she yanked her hand back as her fingers burned.

“That's why I used this to hold it,” Roberto said waving the white silk handkerchief and stepped around them. He grinned down at her.

“How could you?” Amaliya whispered.

The Summoner stepped out of the shadows and laid a hand on Roberto's shoulder. “It's simple, my dear. I offered him eternal life. ”