Eternal kiss, p.8
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       Eternal Kiss, p.8
 

         Part #2 of Mark of the Vampire series by Laura Wright
Chapter 8

 

  Stil grinning, Ethan flashed to Washington Square Park.

  Seeing Nicholas Roman's face drop from shock and rage had been very satisfying. Not to mention, unexpected. What was the Roman brother doing on the train anyway, hanging out with the veana who had witnessed his true mate's death and had run with his balas?

  The answers were somewhere hiding in the park, but Ethan would find them.

  The Eyes' habitat was real y hopping, the cover of night bringing out al the precious little drug addicts, their dealers and, of course, the skin sel ers. Ethan walked toward the Arch, the rumored hangout for the Eyes. He knew the clan of trol s as wel as anyone did, by reputation and whispers, even hooked up with them a time or two back when he was just a pathetic Impure looking for a good time at a decent price. The Eyes dealt in flesh, drugs, information, and getting permanently lost, but interestingly, they never dealt with the Order. In fact, they remained off the ancient ten's radar, and were notoriously suspicious of everything and everyone.

  Ethan spotted one of them in the shadow of a tree several feet from the Arch, his greasy head lowered over whatever il egal substance he was hawking.

  "Hel o, Whistler," he said, his voice low. No need to draw attention.

  The number-one flesh sel er looked up and around, then nodded at Ethan, his staid grin a mismatch to his highly suspicious glare. "Need company, friend? Human or otherwise? I have anything you want. "

  "Information," Ethan said.

  "I have more Impures unhappy in their communities, but it al comes at a price, friend. "

  Ethan reached in the pocket of his coat and tossed the Impure a wad of bil s. "Where's Cambridge?"

  Whistler grinned wider, showed off his worn-down fangs, compliments of too much gravo. "He's escorting two females to a private party for a very wel -known, very dirty New York City bal player. "

  "You see him with a boy today?"

  "We don't deal in balas flesh. "

  Ethan sniffed. "You and I both know that's total bul shit, but right now I'm not interested in a buy, or the list of Impures you have tucked away in that scavenger's mind of yours-the boy I seek came from a Pureblood female. " He lowered his voice. "She was looking for his father. "

  The short, hairy bastard had the nerve to try and look innocent. "Nothing went to Cambridge today. "

  "You're sure about that?"

  Whistler nodded distractedly. "Who's the boy's father?"

  "Nicholas Roman. "

  That brought the head up and had the eyes going al buggy. "No shit!" Under his breath, he added, "Now, him I've seen. "

  "What's that?" Ethan said, moving in closer.

  Realizing what he'd said, Whistler tried to blow the comment off. "Nothing, friend. Nothing at all. "

  But Ethan knew a juicy bit when he smel ed one. He grabbed the Impure by the neck, forced him back, deeper into the shadows. "I can flash us both into the Dead Sea-

  the very center-and I can flash back out again. Alone. "

  Ethan lifted him in the air with every bit of the strength the Supreme One had gifted him. "You thirsty, Whistler?"

  The male swal owed hard. "A few days ago," he uttered, then stopped and gasped for air. "I referred a client to him. "

  "A client?" Ethan repeated. "Roman's buying blood?

  Tail?"

  "Other way 'round. "

  "You lie. "

  "Believe it or not. "

  "Nicholas Roman has no need to sel himself. The Pureblood has more riches than Midas. "

  "Not my business. "

  Ethan narrowed his gaze. It made no sense. The trol had to be lying. "Are you saying Nicholas Roman is a whore?

  He sel s his Pureblood cock for money?"

  Whistler tried to nod. "Some habits are hard to break. "

  Ethan was hardly satisfied. It was like living on appetizers and never getting to the meal. "And what does that mean, friend?"

  Ten minutes later, Ethan was flashing back to his enclave, his grin upgraded to full -on shit-eating.

  Nicholas could've ended it.

  Two seconds.

  A quick twist of the neck and that waste-of-blood Impure would've been dead.

  Nicholas stood in the same spot where Dare had flashed right out of his arms as though he had the power of a Pureblood paven within him. Snow pelted his face as shame swam in his blood. In his estimation, he had little worth, but saving his brother from morpho, and from the very real possibility of a life as a Breeding Male, was the one tangible way he could final y forget about Lucian's life-saving interference on the streets of Nice al those years ago-even if it ended with Nicholas in a body bag right alongside Dare.

  He had to get home, strap up, get on the hunt, find that bastard, and gut him once and for all.

  But what about her?

  His gaze slipped to the veana-the veana who made his body seize up with lust every time he was around her. She sat with her back against the railing, the wind whipping her blond hair in her face as she blew on the minor flesh wound on her hand. Things had certainly changed in the past fifteen minutes. She may be a felon, but she was no liar.

  Not to him at any rate. It was clear she knew Dare, but only because he was the one who had murdered Mirabelle.

  Goddamn! Mirabelle. What was the connection there?

  Had she been just another Pureblood veana for the taking-and what? She'd fought back and Dare didn't like it?

  He needed answers.

  "How's the hand?" he asked.

  The veana's chin came up and she shot him one hel of a fierce glare.

  No, she wasn't forgiving or forgetting anytime soon. "You didn't know Dare," he said. "I get it. I apologize. Maybe I can help you-"

  "You want to help me now?" she interrupted, cradling her injured hand to her chest.

  He shrugged. "I figure I owe you that much. "

  "If you want to help me then turn around, walk away, and don't contact me ever again. "

  He wanted to tel her that was never going to happen, but instead he went over and helped her to her feet.

  She pushed away from him the moment her boots hit metal, but not before he saw the shadow of heat in her eyes when she met his gaze. She may have hated him, may have wanted to break both his knees and trim his fangs with a pair of dirty hedge clippers, but there was no denying she was attracted to him.

  "I'm not walking away, veana. "

  "Fine," she said. "Flashing works too. "

  "That Impure is after you. "

  "No, not me. The boy. "

  "But if he can't get to the boy, he'l force the answers out of you. "

  She looked away, her body al sorts of jumpy. "That Impure is the least of my worries. "

  "Someone else after you?" he asked, testing the waters as the train rocked like an angry sea.

  She said nothing, just lifted her hand to her lips once again and blew on her wound. A Pureblood veana's breath was an incredibly powerful healing device, and as the warm puffs of air circled in the cold air around them, the cut on her hand began to close.

  Al the blood in Nicholas's body headed south as he stared at her mouth and al it was doing. Goddamn, this veana was hot. Just a simple "O" with those pink lips and he was losing it.

  There was a definite problem here-and Dare's "magic"

  had nothing to do with it.

  "Are you running from the Order?" he asked, keeping his eyes off her mouth. "From Mondrar?"

  "No. Actual y, I'm running back to the Order, so unless you want to meet up with the ancient ten I suggest you take a hike. "

  Understanding hit like a slap to the face. It al made sense now. Why she was running-and why so bloody fast.

  "You're on parole," he said.

  "Work release," she corrected.

  "How much longer?"

  Her gaze slipped. "Two months. "

  "And you risked your freedom bringing the
boy to me?

  Why? Why not bring him to the Order? Let them sort it out?"

  She broke away from the railing, stuck a finger in his chest. "You know why, Son of the Breeding Male. " She said the last part with a punctuated disgust.

  Fuck. Mirabelle must've truly thought Ladd was his if she was so afraid of the Order taking and testing the balas.

  "What are you planning on tel ing the Order? Where are you going to tel them you've been?"

  She lifted her chin, said confidently, "I took the boy to find his father-a paven by the name of Jon Halstrom-in the Manhattan credenti, but when I arrived a gang of thugs jumped us and the boy got away. I looked for him, couldn't find him, and came back to the credenti for further instructions. "

  She'd been practicing, but it was a wasted effort. "They'l look for this paven. "

  She shrugged. "Let them. You have your answers. Why don't you get the hel off this train and back to the boy?"

  "Oh, I am getting off this train, but you're coming with me. "

  "Not a chance. " She turned to go past him, but the train jerked to the right and she lost her balance.

  He had her by the shoulders, held her firmly until she had her footing. "You seem a relatively intel igent veana. "

  Her brown eyes flashed with impatience. "Flattery wil get you a knee to the bal s, paven. "

  His mouth twitched. "The Order wil find out-even if they have to torture you to get the truth, and then Ladd wil be watched, stalked until they can get their hands on him. If they truly believe he is of Breeding Male blood, the Order wil not rest until he is tested. "

  She stared up at him, chewed her lower lip, the tips of her fangs brushing back and forth over the wet, pink surface.

  Christ.

  "I'm not going with you," she said final y, shaking her head.

  His hands, stil gripping her shoulders as the train continued to rock, slipped down until he held both her hands in his. "Kate. "

  Her eyes that had fol owed the movement of his hands now flipped up to meet his. "You know my name. "

  "The boy. "

  "Right. Ladd told you. " She nodded. "Listen, I have two months left on my sentence. Two months. After ten years. "

  She slipped her hands from his and said, "I wil have my freedom, and I'll beg for it if I have to. "

  "The moment Mirabelle told you about Ladd, the moment you ran with him, your freedom ceased to exist. You need to accept that. " This wasn't his truth, it was the Order-how they worked.

  "I wil not. "

  He inhaled the cold, snowy air, then blew it back out again. Stubborn veana. "Did al that time in Mondrar affect your sanity? Think. You real y believe they wil forgive you running, taking a balas away from the credenti-to a paven they cannot find?"

  Her jaw tightened.

  "They may forgive you," he continued, "but their forgiveness wil come with a longer sentence. "

  She shook her head, laughed bitterly. "If I don't return, they'l find me anyway. "

  "Not if you have protection. "

  "Now whose sanity is in question here? I'm bugged, paven. "

  Nicholas took in her words, sat on them, digested them.

  Shit, of course she was. They were dealing with the ancient ten here. "Where?"

  "Above my right knee. "

  "I'll remove it. "

  "Real y," she said sarcastically. "How are you going to do that? Use a metal spike from the railing?"

  "In-house hardware. "

  Her eyes dropped to his mouth, and as they lingered there Nicholas's fangs elongated, the ridges carved into the white enamel vibrating with a desire al their own.

  Damn this veana and her effect on him. This was more than morpho, this was something altogether knew and worrisome, and if he could get the chance to search her skin, he was going to take it. He practical y growled at her.

  "What say you, veana?"

  She didn't answer, just kept staring at his mouth.

  Again, he uttered, "I'll take it out and you're free. "

  A small, sad smile touched her lips and her eyes went dark with feeling. Nicholas couldn't tel if she was afraid to have him touch her or if she was just coming up with scenarios for what happened afterward if he did. Then, al of sudden, she lifted her eyes and said, "No. "

  He real y hoped he hadn't heard her right.

  "It stays," she said.

  Nicholas dragged a hand through his hair. "You foolish, stubborn female. You want to be free and yet-"

  "I'm not free until they say I am," she interrupted hotly.

  "They run the show-don't you get that?"

  One moment she looked feisty as a cat, the next her entire self fel apart before his eyes. She shook her head, her eyes trained on something behind his left ear. "No. "

  "What?" Nicholas turned.

  She whimpered, a soft, very sad sound that curled inside him. He knew that pain. He also knew who was the cause of it.

  On the exterior of the train wal s, the metal was bubbling, letters forming one by one until the message was revealed.

  PRISONER 626-RETURN TO VERMONT

  CREDENTI FOR CONFESSION AND

  PUNISHMENT. BRING THE BALAS.
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