"That's not true," I said sharply. "We were searching some vampire's house when Maximus, Shrapnel, and I got ambushed, but you are right about one thing. I did offer to let Szilagyi capture me in order to lead Vlad to him. He refused."
Marty's expression said that he couldn't believe I was the same person he'd known for years. Maybe I wasn't. The old Leila had a tendency to hide from her problems while suppressing her unwanted powers. This Leila was running toward them while milking her abilities for all they were worth.
"How long do you think we have until Szilagyi realizes there's a problem?" I asked, moving to the next issue.
"Not long. He stayed in frequent contact with Rend," he muttered, still giving me that who-are-you look.
I stood. "Then I better get started with Rend's bones. If Maximus and Shrapnel are still alive, they won't be for long after Szilagyi realizes Rend and the others are dead. Or he'll move and we'll have to hunt for his location all over again-"
"I know where he is."
My mouth fell open long enough for my teeth to stop chattering. "You know where Szilagyi is right now?"
"Of course. They didn't worry about blindfolding me when they brought me to him. They never intended to let me live."
I bent and hugged him even harder this time before tweaking his bushy brown sideburns in delight. "You are beautiful, you know that? Wait while I link to Vlad and tell him."
"Or you could use Rend's cell phone," he pointed out.
Marty nodded at the satchel a few feet away. Sure enough, next to several silver knives and other gruesome-looking instruments was a cell phone.
"Use his gloves to make the call," Marty went on, baring his fangs in a fierce grin. "He won't need them anymore."
I stripped the gloves off Rend's now-shriveled hands and wiped the remains of my blood onto his stylish suede coat. Then I grabbed the cell phone . . . and paused.
"Do you know Vlad's number?"
Marty recited it, and ended up punching in the numbers himself because I kept messing them up with the thick gloves. Vlad answered on the second ring.
"Who is this?" No niceties, just a demand. That was my guy.
"It's me. We were attacked at Tolvai's. I'm with Marty now, but Szilagyi isn't here, obviously, or I wouldn't be calling you on a cell. Marty knows where he is, though, and-"
"Where are you, Leila?" Vlad interrupted, his tone rough.
I'd thought it would take days to feel like I'd thawed out inside, but hearing him ask where I was before his centuries-old enemy's location made a warm glow spread through me.
"Actually, I don't know. Marty, do you know where we are?"
He shrugged. "They had me in the trunk with you when they brought me here. But if the phone has GPS, you can hit map and then location to find out where we are."
"Leila." Vlad's voice lost its roughness and became the too-pleasant one he used right before he torched someone. "If you're acting of your own free will, then link to me right now."
"Huh?" He only wanted to talk the psychic way?
"Do it," he ordered, and then the call ended.
Maybe he was worried that Rend's cell could somehow be monitored. I took my former torturer's glove off and stroked the skin beneath my thumb. Like before, Vlad's thread leapt out at me. I followed it backward, the wood and straw interior of the stables turning into a cream, peach, and sunshine-colored room that would have been elegant except for the shattered windows, overturned furniture, bloodstains, and multiple char marks. Vlad stood in the center, flames coating his arms, holding up a large blackened hunk of . . . something.
Okay, so where are you? I thought at him. That pastel decor sure wasn't in any room of his house.
The answer hit me even as he spoke. Everything was so trashed, I hadn't recognized it right away.
"I'm at Tolvai's." Vlad shook the blackened hump he held aloft. "He was just telling me how stunned he was by the attack and how he had no idea where you, Maximus, or Shrapnel were."
That charbroiled thing was Tolvai?
"Can you hold off on, ah, questioning him?" I said, out loud this time. "I've seen enough gross things for one day."
Vlad dropped the crispy vampire and slammed a booted foot onto him, holding him down. "Are you being coerced into giving me a false location? Is Szilagyi attempting to ambush me?"
Realization dawned. He couldn't read my mind through the cell, and I'd never contacted him via a phone call before.
I used my thoughts to reply this time. No, I'm not being coerced. When I accidentally linked to Szilagyi at Tolvai's, I told him I'd switched sides so he wouldn't hurt Marty. He didn't believe that, and after the attack, he had a vampire named Rend-someone you disowned a long time ago, apparently-take me and Marty somewhere to torture us into discovering if I was sincere. Long story short, Rend and the other vampires are dead now.
"It's been seven hours," he burst, grinding his heel into Tolvai with brutal force. "I've not heard a word from you in all that time. Why, if you were being tortured, did you not link to me?"
I closed my eyes, once again answering with my thoughts even if they were starker than I would've put into words.
I was unconscious at least half that time. When I awoke, I thought I might die, so I didn't want you to overhear that when there was nothing you could do about it.
He didn't speak, but the flames covering his arms slowly extinguished until only the faint wisp of smoke remained.
"Active the GPS in that phone," he said at last.
Marty handed it to me. Seemed he'd done that while I was having my mental conversation. I dropped the link long enough to read our location and then followed his thread back to relay it.
"Western Romania, in a village called Leurda near the Motru River. Look for a horse stable with a dead vampire outside it."
"I'll send people immediately," he stated.
Tolvai began speaking in that other language. Either he was crying or his vocal cords hadn't healed all the way, because his voice was nothing like the imperious one I remembered.
"If that's not a confession, he's lying," I said to Vlad. "He told Szilagyi where we were, and guarded me during the attack until Rend got me."
"Oh?" Vlad's foot dropped like a wrecking ball. A charred piece of . . . something broke off Tolvai to skid across the room.
"I-I don't know if anyone else made it," I said, guilt over Maximus, Shrapnel, and the others causing me to stutter this time.
Vlad looked up and sighed. "You succeeded in finding my enemy. My men were prepared to die for that, but God willing, some of them are still alive. If they are, I will find and free them. Now, have Martin tell you where Szilagyi is."