Eternal kiss, p.13
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       Eternal Kiss, p.13
 

         Part #2 of Mark of the Vampire series by Laura Wright
Chapter 13

 

  Dillon looked up from the computer she was sharing with Alexander and eyed Nicholas with a concerned expression.

  "The Order agreed to that?"

  "They had little choice," Nicholas said, joining Lucian at the table as he cleaned weapons. "Dare's demise is the key to everything. "

  "Yes," Alexander put in, "but using her as bait . . . "

  "What?" Nicholas said with a shrug. "It's shitty? Low rent?

  The act of a true bastard?"

  "Pretty much. "

  "Don't listen to him, Nicky," Lucian put in, his nostrils flaring with annoyance. "He's become one of those sensitive males. It's the mating-it's made every inch of him soft. "

  Alexander chuckled dryly. "Not every inch. "

  "No," Dillon said, shaking her head. "Hel no. "

  "Oh right," Lucian said, dropping one cleaned Glock on the table. "Forgot about those incredibly important six you got under your fly. "

  "Try nine"-Alexander's merlot eyes shot up and he grinned-"and a half. "

  Dillon cursed. "Want to be anywhere but here . . . "

  "And every female needs a half. " Alexander pointed at his little brother. "Remember that. "

  A snarl formed on Lucian's mouth. "You wanna go there?

  Do you real y?"

  "I know I don't," Dillon said, typing furiously on the keyboard.

  Nicholas jumped in. "Before one of you cal s Evans to bring a ruler, let's talk plan. "

  "Fine," Lucian said, dropping into a chair. "But just to clarify. You're keeping your bait until Dare is dust and then she's out of here, right?"

  Nicholas said nothing. Not because he didn't have an answer, but because he didn't think Lucian would appreciate the one he had. At this point, al he was wil ing to acknowledge was that he needed Kate-they needed her.

  Lucian cursed, glanced at Alexander. "He gives us nothing. "

  "Looks like I'm not the only soft paven," Alexander said with a grin.

  "Dare keeps running and the females keep coming,"

  Lucian muttered, grabbing another weapon.

  "Nice," Dillon said, her eyes stil focused on the screen.

  "You got some talent there, Luca. A regular Dr. Seuss with fangs. "

  "Two veanas and a balas. " He brought a sniper rifle up and looked through the scope. "In this house. Not what I signed up for. "

  "We hear you, brother," Alexander said.

  "But you don't give a shit. "

  "Not so much. "

  Lucian pointed the rifle at each of them. "Females wil be Lucian pointed the rifle at each of them. "Females wil be our downfall. Mark my words. "

  "Our downfal wil be the Order," Nicholas corrected, palming two Glocks, the cool, deadly metal reminding him of al that lay ahead-al that was at stake. "If they succeed in having al three of us under their control. We can't let that happen. "

  The room grew stil and heavy. Putting down his weapon, Lucian nodded, as did Alexander.

  "It's nearly dawn," Nicholas said. "Tomorrow night we take the bait and go fishing. In the meantime, we train and gather al the information we can on sightings, and Impures and veanas who've gone missing. "

  "Nearly there," Alexander put in, his eyes on the computer screen now. "Should we bring Gray in on this?"

  Lucian sneered. "Please. "

  "What?"

  "Are you seriously asking that?"

  "The boy been out again?" Dillon asked, standing, heading over to the weapons table.

  "And again and again," Lucian said fiercely. "He wants none of this. Clearly, the blood in his veins has spoken. "

  A growl came from behind the computer monitor. "His Impure blood, you mean-"

  "No," Lucian said, his gaze steady on Alexander. "I'm talking warrior blood. He has none. He's useless. "

  A snarl lifted Alexander's top lip. "He is a part of this family. "

  "Only when you're running after him, begging him to come home. "

  Alexander stood, his shoulders hunched like a predatory beast.

  "Enough," Nicholas said, eyeing both pavens, deadly serious in his tone. "We have work to do, and a battle to prepare for. One that wil be fought out there, not in here. "

  Nicholas took the stairs three at a time, adrenaline mixing with desire in his blood to create a perfect Molotov cocktail of predatory male.

  It had been his plan to leave the veana alone, let her rest for one solid night before he brought her out, set his trap for Dare. But there was something in him, something built out of a natural mistrust of everything and everyone that made him need to see for himself that she was where he had left her. And perhaps he wanted to take another look at her skin.

  He pushed off the last step and rounded the corner.

  When he hit the hal way, Kate's blood scent rose up and smacked him in the face-a warning, an omen.

  When he reached her door, he knocked once. But after five seconds of no answer, he opened the door and went in.

  Her scent was actual y weaker in there and his gaze shot to the bed. Stil made.

  Heat started in his feet and spread upward as he stared at the empty bed. If she had escaped, he would first break Evans's thin, Impure neck for al owing her to get away, then head out into the night and go feral vampire until he tracked her down.

  He wouldn't lose. Not her, not Lucian's future.

  Not to the motherfucking Order.

  He headed out the door into the hall. Bam-into his nostrils again. His skin prickled. She was near. Not in her room, but close by.

  He whirled around, his eyes narrowing in on another door. He stalked over to it and had to stop himself from pul ing the thing off its hinges. Breathe, asshole, he chided himself. Breathe and get control over yourself.

  Al he could spare were twenty seconds of in and out; then he opened the door and went inside. It was black as pitch, but the shades were drawn back on one window, letting in one hazy shower of moonlight. His eyes went looking, searching. Kate was nowhere in sight, but her scent was al over the place. He zeroed in on the bed.

  Asleep on the plush queen, curled up with a pil ow in his gut, was the boy. Nicholas had a moment of shock and sentiment.

  When he slept, which wasn't al that much-but when he did, he slept just like that.

  The aggression inside him melted a fraction as he gazed down at the balas. Had he real y created something like this? Something so perfect, so smal ? Jesus. The very last thing he ever considered-ever thought about-ever wanted was a child. He was no father. He was an introvert, a liar, a whore-but he was not a father.

  Poor Mirabelle. If this was true and she'd made a child with him-poor, sad Mirabelle. Why hadn't she just found a lover-a real lover she didn't have to pay? A stand-up paven who would be worthy of a balas.

  Poor Mirabelle.

  They had lain together many times, had talked about her mate and the ceremony that had ended the life she'd hoped for, had thought she would have, that she'd been so looking forward to. He'd known exactly what she'd meant by that.

  Nicholas's eyes moved over the little face, little hands, little body.

  He couldn't-but he had to . . .

  On impulse, he slipped a knife from his pocket and went over to the bed, knelt down. "Be still, little one," he whispered to the sleeping child.

  When he felt the blade of a sharp-as-shit Combat Bowie at his throat, he grinned. "Shouldn't you be sleeping too, Kate?"

  "Drop the knife. "

  He chuckled low.

  She pressed it closer to his neck. "Drop the knife or your head wil be severed from your body. "

  "You need to calm down. "

  "Oh, I'm very calm," she replied. "If I wasn't, you'd have blood spurting out of your neck in a zigzag pattern right now. "

  "What exactly do you think is going on here?"

  He heard her release a breath, almost a whisper of a laugh. "If you don't want the
boy, I'll take him-far away from here and from you. "

  "Easy, mama bear," he muttered.

  "I'm no one's mama, just won't have you ending this life before it's even begun. "

  Nicholas moved lightning quick. He was up, had Kate's arm wrapped around her back and her back pressed against the wal by the door before she even had the chance to exhale.

  Kate's blade was on the floor, rocking back and forth against the wood, the clicking sound echoing throughout the room.

  Oh shit. What now?

  Running on instinct, hunger, desire, and stupidity, she arched her back and pressed her hips forward, desperate to make contact with the hard bulge in his jeans. Her heart rapped against its prison of ribs, and her eyes combed over his face. The flecks of green in his black eyes held a stark intel igence she hadn't noticed before, and the brands on his cheeks, the circles with some kind of smudge markings inside, screamed that he too was under the thumb of a force he despised.

  As she stood there, took in his scent, felt the warmth of his breath against her mouth, she fought the urge to dive into the curve of his neck and drink.

  God, her throat was dry.

  Her stomach, too.

  The blood Evans had brought for her, per Sara's request, had been animal blood. She'd tried like hell, but hadn't been able to get it down.

  Nicholas's lips moved then, forming words. "I may be many things, veana," he uttered, his gaze fierce, "but a balas kil er isn't one of them. "

  He was so close, her tongue could dart out and taste him. "And yet you had a knife to his throat," she said breathlessly.

  "To his hair," he corrected, his fangs dropping as his cock pulsed against her belly. "I need a sample of his DNA, and I didn't want to take his blood. "

  Blood.

  She shivered, and the muscles inside her cunt contracted. God, she could practical y hear the blood rushing inside his veins, cal ing to her. And what was that?

  His fangs-his bril iantly white fangs-they pressed against his ful bottom lip, the ridges carved into them a leg-shaking surprise.

  "What's wrong with you?" he asked, his nostrils flaring as he narrowed his eyes.

  She swal owed, saliva hitting the back of her throat, but doing little to curb the dry sensation. "What are you talking about?"

  "Your eyes are glowing. Shit, they're nearly gold. " His hands gripped her wrists behind her back, inching them forward into the smal of her back until her breasts jutted forward, until she sucked air between her teeth. "You're hungry. "

  "And you real y enjoy the rough stuff, don't you?"

  He growled low. "Only with you, it seems. "

  "I doubt that," she said, hoping he couldn't scent the wet heat that was building inside her.

  "The Order rations their il ustrious blood at the credentil.

  A cup every other day. "

  It wasn't a question, but she nodded anyway. "Keeps us perpetual y hungry-not starving, but always looking to our lords and masters to care for us. Bril iant way to keep us tethered to home. "

  "They are nothing if not calculated in their motives," he said. "We'l have to see about getting you fed. After all, you are a guest here. We feed from animals when we can't get-"

  "I can't drink animal blood," she said quickly.

  His jaw was set into a hard line. "Why not?"

  "Evans brought me some earlier. It made me ill. "

  His head moved in, closer, until their lips touched. His were soft, full, and with a pained groan he tipped up his chin and licked her with the tip of his tongue. "I won't have you ill," he murmured. "I need you too much. "

  "Keep the bait breathing?" she whispered, her legs trembling.

  "In and out, veana. "

  She fol owed his example and traced his lips with her tongue. "Perhaps one of your brothers would al ow-"

  "No!" His feral growl stopped her, and she pulled her mouth away from his, just a few centimeters.

  He slipped his hands from her back and circled her waist, pulled her impossibly closer against his chest, against his arousal. "No one feeds you . . . " He scraped the tips of his fangs gently against her top lip.

  But him? No one feeds her but him?

  She couldn't help herself. The pain in her bel y, the crushing, aching heat in her cunt was too much. Her fangs elongated and she pierced the flesh of his lower lip.

  Nicholas came alive at her sweet assault, felt air rush into his lungs, but he didn't draw back. His cock pulsing like a heartbeat against her bel y, he tipped his chin and al owed her fangs to delve even deeper. He didn't know how much blood she could consume this way, but he was wil ing to give for as long as she suckled.

  "Oh God," Kate moaned, her fingers getting tangled in his hair. "You taste-"

  "Tel me. "

  "Warm. "

  He growled.

  "Sweet. "

  She stopped speaking then and just drank, fed, suckled, deep pul s until his lip ached-along with his throat, his cock.

  "Need a third?" A male voice registered in Nicholas's brain, and he felt Kate break from his embrace, felt her fangs retracting back.

  "Shit," he uttered, his eyes at half-mast as he moved in front of her, blocking her from his brother's view.

  Kate stared at the paven in the hal outside the door. He was incredibly tal and broad like Nicholas, but that's where the comparison ended. His jaw-length white hair was a stark contrast to his piercing light brown eyes and black lashes. And though he was alarmingly, almost shockingly good-looking, everything about him, every intake of breath, every movement of his gaze, his chin, his mouth fairly screamed hostility. Like an animal who'd been tortured over and over and knew only biting as a response to anything.

  "What the hell, Nicky?" the paven said with true disgust.

  "Training? Remember? You cal ed it, and we've been waiting for your sorry ass for over twenty minutes. " His intimidating gaze moved over Kate nice and slow. "Of course, if you share your sweet little bait with me, I may be inclined to forgive you. Let me take her first, warm up that cold blood for you. "

  "Get lost, Luca," Nicholas snarled, then promptly kicked the door closed.

  Under the splintered light of the waning moon, Kate watched Nicholas step back and assess what had just gone down between them.

  "He's charming," she said dryly.

  "He's the devil. Stay away from him. "

  "Maybe I should stay away from al the Romans. "

  "Yes, perhaps you should. "

  Frustrated at herself for al owing things to get so out of control, and wanting the uncomfortable moment between them to end, Kate said, "I was hungry. You were available.

  Let's just cal it a mercy feed and forget it ever happened. "

  "You can do that?"

  "Sure. " God, she was good at lying.

  His jaw went rigid with tension. "I wil get you the blood you require so that this doesn't become a . . . problem. "

  "Great. " But it was already a problem. A huge problem, in fact. Right now, his life's blood was running through her veins, attaching itself to her life's blood. In the credentis what had just happened between them would make her a dirty veana-a sacro-used, unable to give herself honorably to her true mate someday. It was one of the reasons why the Order gave their own blood to the unmated

  -to keep them pure, chaste and satiated, until their time came.

  But Kate didn't give a shit about that kind of thing, about saving herself for her true mate. What she was worried about was the connection she'd just forged with this paven-this paven she despised and didn't trust for a second, yet couldn't seem to resist.

  Nicholas glanced down at the boy then, stil sleeping so peaceful y despite the insanity that had occurred around him. "Are you going to stop me again?"

  "If it's real y a hair sample you want, then do it," she told him.

  "What are you going to do?"

  "Watch. "

  Hi
s gaze slid over to her and the wolfish look in his eyes made her pulse jump in her throat.

  "Get it done," she said, needing to get the hel out of his air space for a while. "We should go, let the child rest undisturbed. "

  With the utmost gentleness, Nicholas leaned over and cut a few strands of the boy's hair. When he left the room, Kate fol owed, then stood there waiting for him to head down the hal and down the stairs.

  He observed her for a moment. "For someone who claims to not give a shit about this balas, you're sure keeping a close watch. "

  She shrugged. "Never said I didn't care about the boy. "

  "What did you say, then?"

  "Just that I care about me more. "

  "And yet you risked your freedom to bring him to his father. "

  "I'm not debating my motives with you. So I took care of the kid for a moment in time-anyone would've done as much. "

  "No. " The word was tight and pained, and al he said before walking past her down the hall, the electric shades on al the windows beginning their descent.
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