Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)(2)

Kate didn’t wait.

She dropped down, catching herself on the steel rafter to ease the fall. She landed in a crouch between the monster and the warehouse door, spikes flashing in her hands, each the length of her forearm and filed to a vicious point.

“Looking for me?”

The creature turned, flashing two dozen blue-black teeth in a feral grimace.

“Kate?” pressed Teo. “You see it?”

“Yeah,” she said dryly. “I see it.”

Bea and Liam both started talking, but Kate tapped her ear and the voices dropped out, replaced a second later by a strong beat, a heavy bass. The music filled her head, drowning out her fear and her doubt and her pulse and every other useless thing.

The monster curled its long fingers, and Kate braced herself—the first one had tried to punch right through her chest (she’d have the bruises to prove it). But the attack didn’t come.

“What’s the matter?” she chided, her voice lost beneath the beat. “Is my heart not good enough?”

She had wondered, briefly, in the beginning, if the crimes written on her soul would somehow make her less appetizing.

Apparently not.

A second later, the monster lunged.

Kate was always surprised to discover that monsters were fast.

No matter how big.

No matter how ugly.

She dodged back, quick on her feet.

Five years’ and six private schools’ worth of self-defense had given her a head start, but the last six months hunting down things that went bump in Prosperity—that had been the real education.

She danced between blows, trying to avoid the monster’s claws and get under its guard.

Nails raked the air above Kate’s head as she ducked and slashed the iron spike across the creature’s outstretched hand.

It snarled and swung at her, recoiling only after its claws bit into her sleeve and hit copper mesh beneath. The armor absorbed most of the damage, but Kate still hissed as somewhere on her arm the skin parted and blood welled up.

She let out a curse and drove her boot into the creature’s chest.

It was twice her size, made of hunger and gore and God knew what else, but the sole of her shoe was plated with iron, and the creature went staggering backward, clawing at itself as the pure metal burned away a stretch of mottled flesh, exposing the thick membrane that shielded its heart.


Kate launched herself forward, aiming for the still-sizzling mark. The spike punched through cartilage and muscle before sinking easily into that vital core.

Funny, she thought, that even monsters had fragile hearts.

Her momentum carried her forward, and the monster fell back, and they went down together, its body collapsing beneath her into a mound of gore and rot. Kate staggered to her feet, holding her breath against the noxious fumes until she reached the warehouse door. She slumped against it, pressing a palm to the gash on her arm.

The song was ending in her ear, and she switched the feed back to Control.

“How long has it been?”

“We have to do something.”

“Shut up,” she said. “I’m here.”

A string of profanity.

A few stock lines of relief.

“Status?” asked Bea.

Kate pulled the cell from her pocket, snapped a photo of the gory slick on the concrete, and hit SEND.

“Jesus,” answered Bea.

“Wicked,” said Liam.

“Looks fake,” offered Teo.

Riley sounded queasy. “Do they always . . . fall apart?”

The litany in her ear was just another reminder that these people had no business being on this end of the fight. They had their purpose, but they weren’t like her. Weren’t hunters.

“How about you, Kate?” asked Riley. “You okay?”

Blood soaked her calf and dripped from her fingers, and truth be told, she felt a little dizzy, but Riley was human—she didn’t have to tell him the truth.

“Peachy,” she said, killing the call before any of them could hear the catch in her breath. The glow stick flickered and faded, plunging her back into the dark.

But she didn’t mind.

It was empty now.

Kate climbed the stairs, leaving drops of gray water in her wake. The rain had started up again halfway back to the apartment, and she’d relished the soaking despite the cold, letting it wash away the worst of the black blood and gore.

Even so, she still looked like she’d gotten in a fight with a jar of ink—and lost.

She reached the third-floor landing and let herself in.

“Honey, I’m home.”

No answer, of course. She was crashing in Riley’s apartment—an apartment his parents paid for—while he was off “living in sin” with his boyfriend, Malcolm. She remembered seeing the place for the first time—the exposed brick, the art, the overstuffed furniture designed for comfort—and thinking Riley’s parents clearly shopped in a different catalog than Callum Harker.

She’d never lived alone before.

The school dorms had always been two-to-a-room, and back at Harker Hall, she’d had her father, at least in theory. And his shadow, Sloan. She’d always assumed she’d relish the eventual privacy, the freedom, but it turned out that being alone lost some of its charm when you didn’t have a choice.

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