“Loosen your hold, Santo. We don’t need the problems associated with a killing.”
“Oh, but I think you do.” The voice came from another man positioned behind them. Tristen turned just as the man fired his weapon. The spray of bullets had Tristen diving to the side while Santo stood and faced the man. The gunshots continued without impeding Santo again, moving too fast to perceive. Santo reappeared behind the man, his forearm catching his throat. Santo removed his platinum caps. Dagger-sharp canines bit down on the man’s wrist. Not his neck. That thought floated around Tristen’s mind. He gazed upward, meeting Santo’s stare. “No, Santo. The police will cart you off to the detention center awaiting destruction. Don’t do it.”
Christ. Tristen reached up to his opposite shoulder and the exit wounds left by the bullets. He’d taken at least three, if not more. There was the familiar burning sensation, akin to flaming baseballs being hurled from his body, through his wounds. Warm blood oozed down his chest and shoulder. He slumped against the wheel of a car, unable to do more than gasp for air from lungs that stabbed his ribcage with each breath.
He closed his eyes for just a second and returned to the stadium, another baseball game, his shoulder aching. College ball. So long ago and he’d dug his cleats into the pitcher’s mound. Up in the stands, his grandfather sat, cheering. His whole future ahead of him if he could deal with the pain. Work through the pain. Then he sucked in a breath, forced his attention to the ball in his grasp. The wind-up on the pitcher’s mound. When he let go, it wasn’t a baseball, but an automatic rifle he held. He was back on the battlefield and the scent of burning flesh filled his senses. Tristen flickered in and out of consciousness. The catcher signed a curve ball. The last thing he remembered was hearing Santo threaten the man. “I can get rid of you easier than taking out the trash.”