Eternal kiss, p.11
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       Eternal Kiss, p.11

         Part #2 of Mark of the Vampire series by Laura Wright
Chapter 11


  They'd done something to her.

  The Order had screwed with her brain.


  Lying on her back, she turned over to her bel y and executed twenty wide-grip push-ups, nose to the sand floor and back again. The exercise stopped the little electric shocks that were flickering within her mind, showing up on the lids of her eyes when she was lying prostrate.

  Life had just become unbearable again, but giving up breathing wasn't an option-even if she was headed back to Mondrar. That dark hole she'd al owed herself to sit in just moments after the guards had dumped her ass in there had lasted only a few minutes. The Order loved to see her kind suffer, but fuck them if they thought she was going to feel sorry for herself.

  Twenty more.

  Wider with the hands this time-make it hurt like hell.

  She grunted her way down, going real slow, feeling every bit of the strain in her shoulders, back, elbows-

  "Get up!"

  Kate paused, her nose inches from the pale sand. Huh.

  Interesting. Similis coming for her already. The Order must be real excited to see her, al hot and heavy about getting her ass back in a cell.

  "Get up, sacro Pureblood," the Mondrar guard said. "Get up, sacro Pureblood," the Mondrar guard said again.

  She lifted her eyes, grinned. They could cal her dirty, try to intimidate her, but she knew who they were-what they were. "Make me," she uttered.

  Without an answer, the guard, fol owed by a second, pushed into the cell.

  Kate jumped to her feet and met them halfway with hard eyes and a vicious attitude. "What do you want from me, Impures? I know it's not my body-that urge got cut off a long time ago. "

  The guard's nostrils flared. "You are being released, 626. "

  She chuckled. "Real y?" What kind of game was this?

  "The Order has set me free and I can just walk out of here with no assistance from either one of you?"

  They nodded, their expressions grim.

  "Fine. I'll play. " She started toward the door, al casual, waiting for the two impotent bastards to cal her bluff, grab her by the arms and haul her back. Maybe stand over her for a few seconds, laughing their col ective asses off.

  But they didn't. Instead they cal ed at her back, "You are being released into another's custody. "

  Kate stopped a few feet from the door, her mind shifting gears, her lungs working with the heavy breathing and the nerves. "Whose custody?"

  The Impures didn't answer. Hell, they didn't have to.

  Standing at the open door of her cell, looking al savior to her sacrifice, was Nicholas Roman.

  Damn, she looked angry, and murderous-and like she wanted to cut his bal s off. And if Nicholas was into that kind of thing he may have let her try just to have her hands on him.

  She'd been stripped of her coat and long tunic and was wearing just the ripped jeans and a white tank. He knew she was tal for a veana, up to his neck in fact, but he'd never guessed her body would look like that: long and lean with curves in the back and front, and muscles down the sides.

  He itched to take her hands, pul her into the protection of his chest and shoulders. But they would both know what a lie that was. Protection and kindness were the last things in the world he was going to give her.

  "Where to, paven?" She walked out the door, passed him, and headed down the hall. "Got a cel for me somewhere in your house?"

  As a matter of fact, he did. 'Course it was Alexander's, and was in use by the brother and his mate for things not related to confinement-gentle torture perhaps-but that was none of Nicholas's business.

  Kate pushed open the stone doors of the smal detention center and headed for the Order's table. Nicholas fol owed, knowing damn wel that the ancient ten were gone now, spreading their particular brand of misery somewhere else.

  "Anytime you're ready, Kate," he said, fol owing her at a leisurely pace. She was stil pretty pissed off at him, but soon she was going to realize that although he'd been the one to bring her before the Order, he was the only one to get her out again.

  But not only did she not turn around, she walked faster, kicking up sand as she hustled toward the empty wood table. When she got there, she cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted, "Where are you? You cowards! I don't want a fucking babysitter! Deal with me. Only me!"

  Christ. He didn't want them back here-and no matter how she was acting, she didn't want them either. He flashed directly in front of her and took her arm. "Let's go. "

  She yanked it back and changed direction. "Fuck you. "

  Again he flashed in front of her. "Take my hand and let's go. "

  She turned and slammed her gaze into his. "Fuck. You. "

  "Don't you get it? I got the Order off your back. "

  "Are we real y going to pretend I'm listening to you?"

  Again she cupped her hands. "I wil be heard! Before you strike a bargain for my life, I wil be heard!"

  Nicholas cursed, and before she could say another word, he hauled her against him and flashed out of the Order's reality and onto the mountaintop, near the caves.

  Above them, the moon was ful and round and spitting off yel ow rays through the treetops, turning the long hair of the veana in his arms an almost mystic white.

  He whirled her to face him, his fingers curling around her biceps. "Listen to me. "

  "Do I have a choice?" she said viciously. "I think I may be your property now. Word to the wise, I'm lazy, I snore, and my table manners are atrocious-think wolf on a deer carcass. "

  He tried not to stare at her mouth. But it wasn't easy. "I'm a morphed paven, sweetheart. Which means the Order can track me. They knew we were together on the train. If we'd gone back to my house, they would've been on us in minutes. "

  "Damn right!" she shouted. "I'd told you I wanted to be alone. I told you to get off the train and leave me alone. But you had to have your answers and now I'm screwed. This is al your fault!"

  "I believed you were working with Dare," he said, this time with a sharp edge. "It was a fuckup, okay? But what's done is done. And when that message came through from the Order, I knew there was no other way-not if we wanted to keep them away from the boy. "

  That stopped her, had her shutting off the slash, burn, and blame for a moment. Her gaze flickered-the ground, a rock, his chest. "If that's true, why didn't you tel me before we flashed there, before I got dragged off and thrown in a cel ?"

  "I needed it to look like you were surprised, pissed off. "

  "Humiliated. "

  "Devastated. " His fingers dug into her skin, and he leaned in closer. "I needed them to see you fight. "

  She tilted her head, locked eyes with him. "You sure?

  Because I think you get off on making veanas struggle. "

  "And I think you get off on the struggle. "

  "You'l never know," she whispered, then tipped her chin.

  "Sweetheart. "

  Her blood scent, brought on by her ire no doubt, shot forward like a bul et. He released her, took a step back-

  and tried to gain control of his body. "The Order needed to think I was doing something out of loyalty to them to get them to agree to my terms. "

  "Terms?" she repeated with a sniff of derision. "I'm intrigued. "

  "They want me to find and kil Ethan Dare, and you'l draw him in. "

  "Worm on the hook, huh?"

  Nicholas nodded.

  "And he's coming after me because of the boy," she said. "He'l steal me away, torture me until I give up the kid's location. "

  "He won't get that far. He'l be dead before he even has a chance to touch you. "

  "You hope. " She leaned back against the exterior of the cave, crossed her arms over her chest. "If the Order wants Dare why can't they just go and get him? He's an Impure, for Christ's sake. "

  "Not that simple. As you saw on the train, he's not your ordin
ary Impure. "

  "How can that be?"

  "No idea. "

  She was quiet for a moment, her gaze swimming laps across his face. "Why is the Order making you find Dare?

  They holding something over your head?"

  "Why would you think that?" he said, impassive.

  She rolled her eyes. "Please. "

  "It's a family matter. "

  She nodded, her mouth lifting at the corners. "Secrets and lies . . . "

  "Are what?" he said, shrugging. "Bad for the environment?"

  She looked down, chuckled softly. "So what now, Mr.

  Roman?" Her pale brows lifted. "I become your bait, you get Dare, then what? You deposit me back at the Order?"

  "That is what I told them. " Brothers before others. In this case, one brother in particular.

  She flashed her fangs, white as snow and sharp enough to cut through Nicholas's thick skin.

  "You're a real prince among vampires, you know that?"

  she uttered tersely.

  Oh, he knew. And worse. Hell, even at the moment, unsympathetic to her plight, al he wanted to do was get her clothes off, her back to the dirt, and her legs spread.

  His nostrils flared as he pulled in a breath. "You work with me to bring in Dare, and when it's time to drop you off at Mondrar and you're not around-you've disappeared-I'll shrug and act surprised. How about that?"

  She sniffed. "Try again, because we both know the Order isn't going to let you get away with that. "

  "What do you want me to say? That I'll guard you with my life?"

  "Yes. "

  Her chin was lifted, brown eyes flashing twin "buyer beware" signs. She wasn't going to believe him either way, but he needed her to go with him, easy and smooth. "Fine.

  I'll guard you with my life. "

  She was staring at him, trying to read him-and no doubt coming up with several ways she was going to attempt to escape him during their time together.

  Go ahead and try, veana . Might be fun to chase you . . .

  "How about we agree," she began, "that I don't trust you and you don't trust me?"

  He grinned. "Sounds about right. " Shrugged. "Sounds perfect, in fact. A match made in-"

  "Hell," she finished for him.

  Her eyes flared dark as chocolate, and she pushed away from the cave wal and sidled up to him, curled into the groove between his shoulder and his chest and waited.

  Nicholas breathed her in, tasted her scent on his tongue and felt his cock get stiff. No doubt she felt it too, his erection pressing into her lower back like a hungry animal al its own, but she said nothing. Clearly, he couldn't control that one part of his anatomy. Good thing he had control over the rest.

  They flashed from the mountain and took form in front of the SoHo compound. Without a word, Kate left the shelter of his arms and walked ahead, getting a good look at her surroundings. She looked up, around, took in the brick and mortar. "This your place?"

  "Yes. "

  She turned to face him. "Good. I need a room and a shower. Then I'm al yours. " She lifted one pale brow, but her eyes flickered down to his crotch. "Just let woody there know I'm not interested. Now or ever. "
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