Flutter / Page 77

Page 77

I had been too busy watching Stellan that I hadn’t noticed him coming behind me. I tried to look up at him, and his hand was around my throat, one of his razor sharp nails pressing into the skin over my jugular. I fought to pull his arm free, and he started dragging me backwards, towards the altar.

I thought about screaming, but I didn’t want anybody to know. They would stop and look at me, and that’s exactly what would get them killed. Milo was crouched over Bobby, trying to protect him, and I could smell Jack and Peter’s blood from fresh wounds. Only Olivia had yet to be wounded, but she was dodging and diving almost as quickly as Stellan.

So I let Gunnar drag me away. I knew that he would probably kill me, but whatever he did to me, I had to endure it silently. That was my only chance of saving them.

Leif was still fighting Bear, but he seemed to have the upper hand. He knocked Bear back to the ground and grabbed a broken piece of the pew. It had been the back rest, but it had been snapped in half, giving it a sharp edge. Leif held it high over his head, then plummeted it down against Bear’s throat.

There was this awful gurgling sound, but I closed my eyes to keep from seeing the blood. I heard the crunch of bone, and Bear’s heart fell silent. Leif had decapitated him.

“Everyone is so busy right now,” Gunnar clicked his tongue. “It’s so boring and dull with just the two of us, don’t you think?”

“Gunnar,” Leif said, keeping his voice low. Blood stained his shirt and face, and he carefully stepped over the pews towards us. “Let her go. She’s not what you want.”

“You are quite right,” Gunnar sighed. “But she is what everyone else seems to want, and if you take a step closer, I’ll slice her throat wide open.” Leif stopped where he was, glaring at him. When Gunnar spoke again, he was shouting loudly, so everyone would hear him. “What do you think, Peter? How much blood can sweet Alice lose in one day?”

Peter and Jack froze instantly, but Stellan went for Jack. He tackled him roughly, crashing into pews, and falling below the balcony wall, so I couldn’t see him. Olivia aimed her crossbow, but I doubt she could get in a clean shot if they were rolling about together. Ezra jumped into it, trying to catch Stellan, but he moved too quickly, even with Jack in his clutches.

“No, Peter, help Jack!” I shouted. “He needs you more than I do!”

Peter stared at me, his eyes burning, and I knew that he wouldn’t save Jack.

Peter leapt off the balcony, his eyes never leaving me. He walked deliberately slow down the aisle, and I looked up at the balcony. I could hear them fighting, Jack grunting, and how fast his heart pounded, but I couldn’t see him.

Milo was just trying to keep Bobby from getting killed. I saw Ezra go flying across the balcony, landing hard against the wall, and tumbling down next to Olivia. At least Jack’s heart was still beating. At least he was still alive.

Gunnar made it closer to us than Leif had, but he stopped just below the steps leading up the altar. Gunnar had us stationed right below the cross. When I looked straight up, all I could see was the emaciated corpse of Jesus. It was rather disturbing, and it didn’t help that a vampire was about to tear open my throat.

“Let her go,” Peter commanded.

“Why would I do that?” Gunnar laughed. “It’s just so much fun watching you suffer!”

“I know what you’re doing,” Peter put his foot on the first step of the altar. “You still think that you’re going to get out of here alive, but you don’t really care if you do. You only care about winning, and winning for you is destroying me.”

“Very true,” Gunnar admitted, then nodded at Leif. “Then destroying him. The rest of them don’t really matter to me.” His grip tightened on me. “But you know why I can’t let her go.”

“She’s the means to destroying me.” Peter took another step up, and Gunnar pressed his nail into my vein, breaking the skin just enough to draw a little blood, and Peter froze. “You want to make her suffer, so you can make me watch. Killing her is your way of torturing me.”

“Yes, and so far it seems to be working,” Gunnar smiled, but there was an unease behind it.

“If I die, you lose.” Peter bent down, picking up a titanium arrow off the top step of the altar. Olivia had been shooting them all over, and a stray one had landed a few feet from us. I felt Gunnar’s confidence falter for the first time. “I want to die. If I die before she does, I don’t see anything. I don’t suffer at all.”

“I’ll still kill her,” Gunnar insisted nervously.

“You’re gonna kill her either way, according to you.” Peter pointed the arrow towards his own heart, pressing the tip against his chest. “But this way, I’m not destroyed. I’ve gotten exactly what I’ve wanted, and you haven’t.”

“You’ll die knowing she’s going to, and that might be enough for me,” Gunnar said with false cheer. Peter’s idea unnerved him. Testing him, Peter pushed the arrow into his chest, not deep enough to hurt but enough to draw blood. “How do you propose I make you suffer then?”

“Let her go, and we’ll battle it out, hand to hand,” Peter said. “The way real men fight. If you catch me, then you can let your surviving henchman do away with her while I watch. I’ll suffer even worse because it’s my idea.”

It was a horrible idea, and that’s exactly why it appealed to Gunnar. I saw no way that it could work out where either of us lived, but Peter was just buying time. He really didn’t care if he lived or died, but he wanted to give me a chance to run away. I wouldn’t, though, not when he and Jack and everyone were still here risking their lives. I would never leave without them.

“Peter, no! This is stupid,” I said. Before I had been fighting Gunnar, but now I hung onto his arm, trying to keep me to him.

“That’s why I liked you, Peter,” Gunnar laughed. “You were brilliant. If only you hadn’t killed my right hand man. We would’ve been so happy together.” With that, Gunnar threw me and I landed roughly in the pews.

Leif helped me to my feet, and I shook off the pain. It faded quickly, but things still hurt. Peter and Gunnar were squaring off, staring at each other as Gunnar taunted him. Peter showed little emotion, and I hoped that he was planning something.

The noises in the balcony hadn’t gotten any better, but from what I could tell, everyone was still alive. Leif and I stood unsurely in the broken pews, neither of us knowing how we could really help the situation.

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