DEATH’S RIVAL Excerpt (part three)
“If you need anything just press your call button.” He disappeared behind the closed door and I looked around. I was pretty sure most Learjets were not laid out like this one. The cabin was decorated in muted shades of white and taupe. It held four, fully adjustable, heated leather seats, with a galley and full bath between the seating area and the casket in back. Well, not really a casket, and I had been careful not to call it that out loud; vamps didn’t care much for the fictional assumptions that they sleep in caskets filled with dirt from the their homeland burial grounds. But the back portion of the cabin was a cramped bedroom with no windows and stacked bunks. It slept four—six in a pinch—strapped in to the single bunks, in perfect security, allowing vamps to fly by daylight, safe from sunlight, the doors and hatches sealed on the inside. But still. Fifteen million dollars. “Crap,” I whispered.
I went back to my reading, trying to ignore the bumpy ride. Fifteen minutes later, at Tory’s polite request, which I interpreted as orders, I yanked the seat belt again, cutting off the circulation in my legs, and grabbed the armrests as tightly as I could. The small jet dropped—this time on purpose, as the pilot descended for the landing at the private airport outside Sedona.
As a skinwalker—a supernatural being who can change into animal shapes, provided I have enough genetic material to work with—I’ve actually flown, and I far prefer wings and feathers to engines and metal. I knew what it felt like and what it took to land, in terms of wing feathering and variation, flight-feather positional changes, reaching out with front clawed feet, back-winging, tail feathers dropping, and I was relatively certain that the tin can—no matter if it was worth a rather large fortune—did not have the ability to do any of that. Or if it did, a human—a being never designed to fly—was in charge, which was doubly frightening. I’d rather be feathered and in charge.
Deep in the darks of my mind, Beast huffed. Beast didn’t like it when I took the form of an animal other than hers—the Puma concolor—the mountain lion. She especially didn’t like it when I changed mass into something smaller, because she didn’t get to hang around for the ride, though I was pretty sure she had made strides in that regard. After a century and a half—give or take—Beast was evolving, something that might have been helped along by access to an angel named Hayyel not long ago. Long story.
Moments later we touched down. Hard. My teeth clacked together. Relief washed over me like a wave. I took a deep breath, released the armrests, and pushed at the leather upholstery that was now twisted and dimpled by my fingers. They didn’t move back into proper position. Permanent damage to Leo’s toy. Crap.