Brave, p.6
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       Brave, p.6

         Part #3 of A Wicked Trilogy series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
 

  “Yeah, you are, Sweetness.” His smile was weak. “You’re here.”

  “It’s not good,” the female said, the one who I guessed was a doctor. “None of this is good.”

  “No shit, Sherlock. What do we need to do?” Tink demanded.

  “I don’t think you’re understanding me,” she replied. “The lacerations in the back are deep—too deep. There are definitely internal injuries, and that’s what I can account for just from the stab wounds.”

  “Okay. Then fix her,” Ren ordered.

  The fae was hooking something up to an IV. “I’m not a surgeon. I have no experience with these types of wounds—”

  “Then find a surgeon,” Ren snapped, his hand stilling along the crown of my head.

  “We don’t have surgeons here,” Faye answered quietly. “We rarely have injuries like these. And when we do, we don’t use a doctor to heal. The fae will feed so they can heal themselves.”

  “I’ll go get one.” Tink stepped back from the bed. “Just give me half an hour.”

  Wait. What was he doing?

  “You can’t just go get a doctor,” Faye argued. “I’m pretty sure that’s called kidnapping.”

  “Do I look like I care?” Tink threw back. “Besides, I’ll get a doctor and then you can glamour them.”

  “We don’t believe in doing that,” she stated. “We—”

  “Are you kidding me?” Ren cut in. “I don’t care what you believe in. If we need to get a surgeon, then we’re going to get a fucking surgeon.”

  “There isn’t time,” the female fae said, and the entire room quieted. “We don’t have time for that.”

  “What?” breathed Ren, his gaze frantic.

  Refusing to even blink, I stared at Ren’s face, letting my one good eye etch the hard line of his jaw and the curve of his cheekbone into my memories.

  He was so beautiful, inside and out, and sometimes I didn’t think I deserved him and his—his goodness. Not when I wasted such precious time. This last week we could’ve done so much, filled up a lifetime worth of memories.

  “I can give her blood. We have some of that here, but she’s a halfling,” she continued. “I have no idea what that will do to her—if it will help or hurt her.”

  “Give her the blood,” Tink decided.

  “Giving her blood is only going to give us a little more time, but not enough,” the female said. “Her blood pressure is dropping with every second. Her heart rate is too high. She’s lost too much blood and is still losing blood. She wouldn’t be stable enough for surgery. If she didn’t have fae blood in her, you wouldn’t even have a chance to say goodbye.”

  Ren stared across the bed, the muscle along his jaw flexing. “What are you saying?”

  I stopped listening at that point, because I think I already knew what she was going to try to explain to Ren. I didn’t hear her words, but I knew I was right. It was in Ren’s wide gaze when it swung to mine. I knew what she had said because of the denial that crept into his face and in the way his hand spasmed against my cool forehead. I didn’t have to hear her, because I heard Tink’s sudden shout of objection.

  I was dying.

  Not in a couple of days. Not in a few hours. I was dying right now.

  “No. No. God, no.” Ren’s voice came back to me as he moved in, his hand splaying across my cheek. He pressed his forehead against mine. His voice was a ragged whisper. “This is not happening.”

  I wanted to touch him. To wrap an arm around him, to comfort him, but I was too tired and my arms were too heavy.

  “I’m not going to let you die. Hell no.” Ren kissed my brow, and when he pulled back, his lips were smeared with red—with my blood. His jaw tightened as he looked across the bed. “Keep her alive until I get back with a doctor.”

  A doctor wasn’t going to help.

  Voices erupted around me. There was pleading for Ren to be realistic and there were threats, most of them coming from Ren. Tink had grown quiet.

  Drawing in a shuddering breath, I dragged my gaze from Ren’s, because I couldn’t deal with the pain crowding his face. I glanced around the room, snagging on a figure standing far back, against the wall, where Tanner had stood.

  Merle.

  She was staring at us, her face devoid of emotion, and for some reason I had the hardest time looking away, but then I couldn’t see her anymore. My eyelids were too heavy, but I heard Tink say softly, “There is another way.”

  Chapter 7

  My lashes fluttered and soft light crept through the darkness. I was still in the room Ren had carried me into, but the overhead lights had been turned down. Everything was softer.

  “Hey there, you’re back.” Ren touched my chin, tilting my head just the slightest to the left. I saw him then and my chest split wide open. His eyes were damp, thick lashes wet as he smoothed his thumb under my lip. Was he crying? I don’t think I’d ever seen him cry.

  His smile didn’t reach his eyes. “I was getting a little worried. I thought—” His voice cracked. “I thought I’d lost you.”

  I thought he had, too. I didn’t remember fading out again. The last thing I recalled was Tink saying something about there being another way and then there was just nothing but inky, consuming darkness. No dreams. No thoughts. But I had the feeling only minutes had passed.

  In that short time, the room had all but emptied out. Only Tink and Faye remained with Ren. The two stood at the foot of the bed, and Tink was gripping Faye’s shoulder. She looked like she was seconds from bolting from the room.

  My gaze slowly moved back to Ren.

  Ren’s faint smile weakened as his thumb trembled against my lip. “I need you to hang in there just a little longer, okay? I need you to do that for me. Can you?”

  My mouth moved around the word yes, but I wasn’t sure if the word took flight or not.

  He shifted in closer, his bright green gaze capturing mine. “I love you, Ivy. You know that? There’s only been you. There will only be you. I love you so fucking much and that’s why I have to do this.” His voice broke again, thick and hoarse. “I’m sorry, Sweetness. Forgive me.”

  What was he sorry for? Confusion swept through my foggy thoughts. Forgive him?

  Tink all but shoved Faye forward. The fae, normally graceful and nimble, stumbled. Stopping by my head, she shot a glare over her shoulder. “I don’t agree with this. If you knew what he’d done to her and how it—”

  “I know,” barked Ren, lifting his gaze from mine. “I know, but I’d rather her pissed off and hating me than dead. Do it now.”

  Confusion gave way to unease. What was happening? I tried to get my tongue to work. I wanted to know what was happening, but then Ren shifted down, kissing my forehead. He lingered, his lips hovering just above mine.

  Something . . . something dark and silky stirred in the pit of my stomach.

  “Tink,” Faye began. “You don’t want to do this. We don’t know what it will do to—”

  “If you don’t do this, I can promise you it will be a very unwise life choice.” Tink had moved closer, speaking in a hard voice I’d never heard him use before. “I mean it, Faye. I like you, but I like Ivy more. You let her die, you’re doing so with the last moments of your life. So, don’t get it twisted.”

  “You two may regret this.” Faye then placed a hand on my head. “You’re going to need to restrain her when she’s done,” she said to Tink, and when she spoke again, there was something thick and seductive about her tone. “Look at me, Ivy.”

  I couldn’t help but obey.

  My head shifted and my nose brushed against Ren’s. Faye’s stare snagged mine. Her lips moved and then I was falling, slipping, and I wasn’t resurfacing. The one word she spoke echoed over and over.

  Feed.

  In the small part of my brain that was still functioning normally, I knew what had happened. Faye had used a compulsion. It didn’t matter that I knew this. It was like resisting the lure of a shot of morphine. No chance to fight it. There
was a burst of panic that came from the fear of losing control but it fizzled out before it fully formed.

  “Ivy,” Ren whispered in the space between our mouths, and then he lightly kissed my torn, bleeding lip, and I . . . I didn’t kiss him back even though my lips touched his.

  No, I didn’t kiss Ren at all.

  A brutal hunger erupted from deep inside me, a gnawing atrocity that blazed a fire through my blood.

  I inhaled.

  The first taste of his essence was like stepping out into the winter wind after a long, endless summer. A refreshing coolness slipped over my tongue and splashed down my throat.

  Yes.

  I inhaled again. Deeply. Relentlessly.

  Ren jerked and a hand punched down into the thin mattress beside my head. The fingers around my jaw spasmed, but I was latched on and he wasn’t pulling away. Ren tasted . . .

  He was like a jolt of caffeine that woke up every part of my being. He was like diving head first into an icy lake. He tasted of life.

  There was a flash of pain and then wonderful, languid coolness waking up my senses. I lifted my ruined hand from the table, gripping the back of Ren’s neck, holding him to me.

  He groaned into my mouth, the sound a mixture of pain and something warmer, hotter. Something that tasted like summer and sun. Pleasure.

  I kept taking from him, pulling his essence into me until I had no idea where I ended and he began. I was surrounded by his fresh scent that always reminded me of the outdoors. I was surrounded by him. Electricity poured into my veins. The air crackled . . . or maybe it was my skin. Yes, it was my skin sparking to life. Strength filled my weak muscles. Tissues knitted back together. My once stuttering heart now beat strongly in my chest.

  Ren’s hand dropped to my shoulder. His fingers dug in, tearing at my shirt and pressing into my skin. It didn’t hurt. Oh God no, it felt wonderful. Everything did. The ever-present thirst was slaked, but I . . .

  I wanted more.

  Power flowed through me, the purest kind. My body was in full control. I was in control and nothing and no one could change that. Like a cobra striking, I flip Ren under me. His hand still clenched my shoulder as I straddled his hips. The sweetest fire consumed my body. My mouth was fused to his, as were our hips. A moan rumbled through Ren, shaking me, and I answered it with my own. A different kind of need roared to life. At once, my entire body felt tight and swollen.

  I wanted all of him in me.

  Reaching between us, I found the button on his jeans. It took nothing to open them. My hand flew to my own.

  Ren’s entire body jerked under me, but he held on, his fingers clenching and unclenching on my shoulder.

  “Get her,” someone ordered harshly. “Get her before she kills him.”

  Kill him? I didn’t want to kill him. I just wanted him, all of him, in every way, because he was mine. I wanted to fuck and to feed, and I wanted nothing between us—

  Ren’s hand lifted from my shoulder and curled around the back of my neck. I could feel his arm trembling as his mouth moved against mine, weak at first but still distracting me. Ren kissed me—kissed me as I inhaled. His hand tightened, tugging at my hair. The tip of his tongue against mine changed everything.

  I stopped inhaling as a blast of desire scorched my skin. Kissing. Kissing was just as good as feeding, so I touched my tongue to his as his chest swelled. Sharp desire pounded through me. I ached for him. Throbbed. My skin tingled with lust as my hips rolled against him, trembling when I felt him, hard and thick—

  “Ren.”

  An animalistic sound erupted from deep within me, reverberating throughout the room. Someone was close, too close to us. I broke contact, lifting my head.

  “Leave,” Ren gasped out, holding my head to his with flagging strength. “She won’t kill me.”

  “Are you out of your mind?”

  I growled a low purr of warning as I turned my head to the side. I didn’t care who was getting close, but I would rip them to shreds if they tried to get between us.

  “I got her.” Ren’s lips dragged across mine, snagging my attention. I gripped the front of his pants, tearing the zipper. “Goddammit, leave now.”

  There was a curse and then a voice I vaguely recognized. “It’s your death wish.”

  “Go,” Ren groaned as I found what I was searching for, wrapping my hands around the heated length.

  Someone responded, but it was lost in the need pounding through my veins. I heard a door slam shut and then Ren was pulling at my bottoms with shaking hands.

  “Take from me.” His voice was hoarse and rough, a whip against my sensitive skin. “Take whatever you need from me.”

  Things became a blur of trembling hands and slippery skin. Ren wasn’t holding me as tight. His hand had fallen to the bare skin of my hip but he was burning through me, his hips rising as I ground down to meet him. The air smelled of blood and sex. A great and terrible tension was building inside of me as I devoured Ren, nipping at his lips, sucking and licking. Bursts of energy entered me as I lifted myself up and slammed myself down on him.

  “Kiss me, Sweetness,” Ren groaned, sounding ragged. “Kiss me, Ivy.”

  I wasn’t kissing him? No. I’d been feeding again, lost in the dueling sensations as I chased after another high, another release.

  Ren’s hand spasmed on my hip. “Ivy. Please.” He shuddered under me. “I love you.”

  I love you.

  Those three words cycled over and over, poking holes in the red haze clouding my thoughts. I love you. My heart squeezed. I love you. Wrenching my mouth from his, I sat up and kicked my head back. The tension in me became unbearable. I cried out as a wildness took over. Under me, Ren shook and groaned as he punched his hips up one last time, wringing a gasp out of me. His release sent me careening over the edge. The most intense sensation washed over me, like every nerve was firing at once all along every part of my body. Nothing had ever felt like that. I collapsed against Ren’s chest, my body trembling.

  The last thing I remember before slipping into the waiting nothingness was Ren’s hand running up the center of my back and him whispering those three words over and over.

  “I love you.”

  When I opened my eyes again, I was quick to realize I was in that room and I was lying on top of a warm, hard body.

  Shifting slightly, I lifted my head and looked down. Ren’s face was turned toward mine. His eyes were closed and there were dark shadows under them. They looked like bruises, and there was a gauntness to his cheekbones that had never been there before.

  Mouth dry, I lifted my hand and touched his cheek. Dry blood caked my fingers. “Ren.”

  There was movement behind his eyelids, but those lashes didn’t lift. My gaze dropped to his chest. It rose with shallow, uneven breaths. I rolled onto the little space on the table.

  I . . . I didn’t feel right.

  Swinging my legs off the table, I stood on weak legs. My hands were clammy as I reached down and pulled my pants up. The band was torn, but they stayed up. Ren still hadn’t moved.

  What had I done?

  In the back of my mind, I knew, but my head felt like it was full of smoke, my muscles made out of something weaker, and my bones felt brittle.

  And my skin . . . my skin felt numb.

  “I don’t feel right,” I whispered to the quiet room.

  My gaze darted around and my breath got stuck in my throat when the windowless walls seemed to shrink in, constricting. Pressure clamped down on my lungs. I stumbled toward the door.

  It swung open before I reached it. Tink stood in the doorway, his white-blond hair looking like he’d spent hours running his hands through it.

  “Ivy.” He looked at Ren. “He’s still alive.”

  A tremor started at the base of my spine. Of course, Ren was still alive. I didn’t want to kill him. I wanted—

 
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