Damian's Oracle (Chapter Six, page 1 of 10)

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They drove west, away from DC. Sofia watched the scenery turn from urban to rural and recognized the roads leading up to Skyline Drive, the scenic route running through the mountains of northern Virginia. The town car moved at a quick pace, bringing them to a mansion atop one of the private, gated drives tucked away from sight along Skyline Drive.

Czerno motioned her out of the car as it stopped in front of the Georgian-style manor house.

Not expecting the dizzy spell, she staggered against the car, cringing away from Czerno as he snatched her arms and dragged her to the house. He released her and tossed his coat to a waiting maid before motioning Sofia to follow.

She followed, heart racing. She passed several men with guns hidden in the alcoves of doors as she walked. Upon passing the first, she realized they weren't men at all. No human's eyes glowed red, and their inhuman growls as she passed resembled those of animals. They watched her like they intended to make her their dinner. She hurried to follow Czerno, silently praying Jake ratted her out to Damian.

There were two other men in the study Czerno into which led her. The door closed behind her, and he pointed to a chair. She sat, taking in the Goth d├ęcor that made the study as welcoming as a graveyard. The other two men gazed at her. One was of medium height and slender, an older man with sharp green eyes the color of forest moss who seemed out of place in the middle of the room. The second was closer to Han's age with midnight hair and eyes.

Neither looked friendly. She stayed the urge to curl up in her chair, jumping when a shadow with lopsided shoulders emerged from the corner dressed like an executioner in black hood and gloves.

"Jilian, check her," Czerno ordered. "Two, prep the room."

The man in the executioner's hood left while Jilian, the man with midnight hair and eyes, approached. She blinked, shocked when he walked through the man with the green eyes as if he weren't there. Jilian wrenched her up. Visions slammed into her, each one as vivid as the next, the sights, smells, sounds. He was Czerno's personal hit man, an executioner with no heart or soul.

"Unbound," Jilian said, releasing her. She dropped into her chair, shaking.

"I'm impressed," Czerno said. "Bylun's gone soft."

"If he didn't act, there's a reason," Jilian observed.

"If he didn't act, I will," Czerno responded. "Get her ready, fast. Damian's not gonna sit around for this one."

Jilian grabbed her again, and she grated her teeth against the visions, staggering as she tried to keep upright. He led her down the stairs into a basement that looked more like a dungeon. One well-lit room gleamed with stainless steel. Until she saw the blood on the walls and ceiling, she thought it was a surgical room.

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