She headed for the opening. The scent of unwashed bodies touched her nose. A group of males. Close. Getting closer. She reached behind the counter. Her hand fingered the gun. She’d be useless with it. She search for a bat or a metal bar. The males were getting closer. About six of them. Had they followed her from Kalyana? Impossible. Why were they out in this unforgiving Darkness? They didn’t match the scent surrounding the storage area. They weren’t the owners.
Maybe they weren’t here for her. Royal couldn’t bring herself to hide. She was too tired and too annoyed to play the weak scared female. She’d rather get ahead of them rather than wait for them to finish whatever they had planned.
A broom rested against the shelves. Perfect. She liberated the stick. It felt right in her hand. She turned the emergency kit over in her travel bag. Putting away the food and water she recently acquired, Royal secured the bag on her back, fastening the straps around her waist. Jael didn’t make bags like these.
She leapt through the hole. Folding the steal wall back in place, she jumped down the back of the store.
Royal needed to hurry. She walked. Hopefully, the Darkness would conceal her movements.
Men appeared out of Darkness. They weren’t feral. She’d met enough people driven mad by insatiable lust. These males examined her with clear eyes.
His smile could melt bones.
The others closed in behind her, chuckling.
“We have a place a ways back. Come with us. You don’t have to be scared.”
She smelled the lie. Remarkable how he could hide his true intentions behind such an amiable smile. She saw the malice in his aura.
“I’m fine. Thank you.”
Royal walked on. A hand on her shoulder stopped her. She lifted her stick and jabbed it backward into the moron’s stomach. He released her, spitting obscenities harsh enough to smooth rocks. The leader dropped his pretty smile. He rushed her. Spinning, she stabbed the wooden stick forwards. He ducked it. Royal’s feet jerked from under her. She landed on her back. Rolling over on her stomach, she threw her foot out, slammed her heel in the face of the male trying to grab her butt.
A powerful shove from her bag nearly sent her face down. Royal locked her arms and pushed against the foot. The man jumped back. She got to her feet. Four surrounded her. She broke the stick across one man’s head. She stabbed the jagged edge into another neck.
“You bitch,” one screamed as he curled his finger.
She dodged his punch, landing one of her own in his stomach.
Sharp pain sliced through her side. The leader was good. He got under her senses and drove a knife into her side.
“I’m gonna have fun playing with you, sweetheart,” he whispered in her ear blowing his decaying breath across her face.
“Not as much fun as I’m going to have.”
She stomped on his foot, breaking his toes. He jerked the knife out of her side as he stumbled backwards.
Her vision darkened. She couldn’t show weakness. She ran. Her side throbbed. Her legs wouldn’t go straight. The Darkness didn’t open for her. Royal saw with her senses.
Her foot found a solid object. She flew forward, scraped her face across the ground. Breathe. Just breathe. She took in the Darkness. It sliced inside her like lightening. It assaulted her wound. Breathe. The pain would end soon. Keep inhaling Darkness.
Royal always knew how to fight. Mom and Dad said they sent her to classes as a child. Royal had smelled the lie. Her body moved on its own. Though she could break through a brick wall with her fist, she never hit anyone hard enough to kill them. When did she learn to control her strength?
Royal got to her feet and struggled on.
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