Bound in death, p.25
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       Bound In Death, p.25

         Part #5 of Bound series by Lauren DeStefano
 
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Page 25

 

  Her lashes lowered, concealing her gaze. “I’ve heard the stories. When your sister bit Alerac, he changed. Became even more powerful. I’ve seen that power with my own eyes. ”

  Her scent had wrapped around him. Lush. Woman.

  “If you bite me, I might lose my beast. ”

  Um, might? Based on what the witch had said, that was more of a definite.

  “But maybe I can become something else. Something even more powerful. ”

  Hell. She needed to get away from him. “Do you want to turn out like Liam?”

  Zoe flinched.

  “Because that could happen. Vamp blood isn’t exactly the safest drug out there. ” For many, that was exactly what it was—a drug. An addiction.

  An addiction to power and darkness.

  Do the right thing. Dammit, he was. For once. “Go back to your pack. Protect the alpha. And just forget you ever met me. ”

  Ryan spun turned away from her. Hesitated. “Please tell Jane I said good-bye. ” He hadn’t used their link to touch her mind again. Because he hadn’t wanted her to see his certainty of death.

  So he’d kept a wall between them, even though he’d felt her reach out to him several times. If he’d let her in, she might have felt his pain. He didn’t want her suffering as he did.

  He hadn’t protected her before. He was trying to, now.

  Ryan swiped away the blood that dripped from his lips. Then, just as Zoe said, he crawled away to die.

  ***

  Jane opened her eyes and stared up at the ceiling. Darkness had fallen, she could feel it. An instinctive awareness.

  Alerac was beside her, his body a warm and solid weight against her. He’d wrapped his arm around her stomach, pulling her close.

  She had more of his memories. So many more.

  I’ll take his punishment. She’d had visions of that terrible night again.

  But Jane still didn’t remember the actual punishment that she’d endured. And she sure didn’t remember any last minute deal that she’d made with Lorcan, agreeing to bind their lives.

  But I know how to remember that deal.

  Her memories were gone. Lost. Lorcan’s weren’t. She could retrieve his memories just as she’d retrieved Alerac’s. All she needed was some blood.

  Lorcan’s blood.

  Her head turned. She stared at Alerac. In sleep, he didn’t look quite so fierce. The hard lines of his face were smoothed some, his hair tousled.

  Her fingers lifted and brushed lightly through his hair. Then she bent and pressed a light kiss to his cheek.

  Alerac’s eyes opened. The brightness didn’t shock her anymore. She’d seen his memories of the attack.

  He’d blocked most of the pain. And instead of seeing darkness, he’d chosen to see her.

  As long as Lorcan lived, he would be a threat to Alerac. Lorcan had wanted Alerac’s destruction two centuries ago.

  He wanted it now.

  “He’s not going to stop,” Jane whispered.

  A faint furrow appeared between Alerac’s brows.

  “Lorcan will keep coming,” she continued. Just like the monsters in all the movies she’d watched on Saturday nights. “We have to stop him. ”

  Alerac sat up, and the sheets fell into a tangle near his waist. “We can’t. If he dies, then you die. ”

  Her fingers rose and stroked over his tattoo. “Tell me why you got this. ” She knew—she’d seen it in his memories. Yet it seemed important for him to tell her on his own.

  His heart raced beneath her fingers. “It’s my symbol—forever. Eternity.

  An endless knot.

  “It’s…for you,” he continued, voice roughening. “A design to show that I am bound to you, forever, that I would search until I found you. ”

  “You found me,” she whispered.

  “And I won’t let you go. But I won’t kill Lorcan because I can’t hurt you. ”

  She’d been afraid he would say that. “What if Lorcan comes after your pack? What if hunts them?” As he’d done before.

  When he killed Alerac’s family. She’d seen that memory. The terrible carnage that Alerac had found when he’d returned to his home and found death waiting, courtesy of Lorcan.

  Alerac shook his head. “We can defend ourselves. ”

  No, they couldn’t. “Not if you aren’t willing to kill the one attacking you. ”

  His hand slid under her jaw. “No one hurts you. You will not suffer again for me or mine—”

  She knew her smile was sad. “Oh, Alerac, are you still blaming yourself?”

  Confusion flickered over his face.

  Jane pulled away from him. She climbed from the bed. Dressed with fumbling fingers. Hurry, hurry.

  “I am to blame. ” His words were slow. “You suffered for me. ”

  Enough. She put her hands on her hips and faced him. “I suffered for me. I made the choice. Not you. It was all me. ” Because she wasn’t some child to have others determine her life. Not then, and not now. It was still her choice. “I couldn’t stand by and watch you die. ”

  “Your memory…it’s back?”

  “No, your memories are. ” She’d seen herself clearly through his eyes. Heard her own whispered confession of love. “Watching you die would have destroyed me. ”

  And if she didn’t do something about Lorcan, the same fate would wait for her. Lorcan wasn’t going to give up. She turned from Alerac and paced toward the window.

  She stared into the darkness. When would another attack come?

  Her hand lifted and rubbed over her heart. It was aching.

  No, it was burning.

  Pain suddenly stole her voice, and Jane doubled over. Her head hit the window, and glass shattered.

  “Jane!” Alerac was there in an instant, pulling her toward him.

  The burn just grew worse. And, in her mind, she could see the sudden image of her brother. “Ryan,” she whispered. She hadn’t touched his mind fully again, not since that one time when he’d sent his message to her, but Jane knew that she was reaching him in that pain-filled moment.

  “What’s happening?” Alerac demanded. His hands were so gentle on her.

  Jane forced her head to lift. “He’s dying. ”

  No surprise was in Alerac’s gaze.

  No hope, either.

  Jane pulled in a heavy breath. Blood was dripping from a cut over her right eyebrow. The heat from the night drifted in from that broken glass. “I’m not going to let him go like this. ” She’d just found him. To lose him now—no.

  “What will you do?” Alerac asked her. “Trade Zoe’s life for his?”

  She wasn’t interested in a trade. “Lorcan can end this all. ”

  She just had to find him.

  Even if she had to do it on her own.

  Jane yanked away from Alerac. “I’m sorry. ” Then she leapt right through the window. More glass shattered around her. This time, she hadn’t slowed down long enough to open the window. She’d just gone right through the glass. I’m stronger now.

  “Jane!”

  Her knees didn’t buckle when she landed. She didn’t hesitate on the ground. She could smell her brother’s blood, and she followed that scent, running hard and fast through the woods.

  She wouldn’t be the only one who wanted to see Ryan at the end. After all of his games, after all of his sick plans, Jane thought Lorcan might want to witness the sight of her brother dying, too.

  Footsteps thundered behind her. Alerac. She’d known that he would give chase.

  But what Alerac didn’t know…I’m stronger than he is right now. Stronger and faster. His blood fueled her and power pulsed beneath her skin. So her legs pumped faster. The trees passed her in a blur, and she tracked the scent of her brother’s blood deep into the woods.

  ***

  Ryan hit the ground. A stone slammed into hi
s cheek, and he felt a bone break.

  He couldn’t go any farther.

  Didn’t want to.

  When he breathed—a jagged exhale—smoke drifted from his lips.

  He was truly burning from the inside.

  He’d been weak a moment before. He’d thought of his sister. Just a flash, and he’d been in her mind.

  He’d tried to pull back, but she’d had the link then.

  She’d known what was happening to him.

  His fingers sank into the mud. He’d tried to get away from her. Away from everyone. But—

  A twig snapped behind him.

  Ryan forced his body to roll over.

  She was there. Fate was cruel, giving him this last sight on earth.

  Zoe shook her head as she crept out of the trees and toward the small clearing. “Are you done running? Are you ready to see reason?”

  Reason? Reason wasn’t about destroying someone like her so that he could live.

  She took another step toward. “Let me do this—” But she broke off as her head jerked up. She started to whirl back toward the trees.

  Ryan tried to yell a warning.

  He couldn’t.

  Blood flew from his lips. Blood and smoke.

  And blood flew from Zoe’s neck. Because Lorcan had just appeared near Zoe. Lorcan had sliced his fangs across her throat.

  As Ryan lay there, helpless to do anything but watch, Lorcan dropped Zoe to the ground. A pain-filled moan slipped from her lips.

  “Couldn’t have her ruining things for me, now could I?” Lorcan murmured as he wiped the blood from his lips. “Not when I’ve been waiting so long for this particular show. ” Lorcan smiled.

  Zoe wouldn’t be his last sight on earth.

  The last image that Ryan would see—it would be the devil.

  Chapter Twelve

  Jane burst from the trees, and she slammed her body into Lorcan’s. “Stay away from him!” Fury drove her, just amping up the power in her body.

  She and Lorcan hit the ground, then they rolled in a tangle of limbs. Rocks and branches cut into her skin, and when they stopped their mad tumble, she was on top of Lorcan.

  The SOB was grinning up at her. “Knew you’d be here, too,” he said, sounding pleased. “Knew it…we both wanted to see him die. ”

  “I’m not here to watch my brother die. ” She held Lorcan’s hands against the ground. From the corner of her eye, she saw Zoe.

  Zoe wasn’t dead. Not yet. The scent of the werewolf’s blood filled Jane’s nostrils. Maybe Zoe should be dead, but she wasn’t.

  Zoe was crawling, dragging her body toward Ryan.

  “Of course, you are. ” Lorcan didn’t fight her grip. Just kept grinning. “There’s no other way for this to end. ”

  “We’ll see about that,” Jane said, then she sank her teeth into his throat.

  Lorcan yelled and tried to throw her off him.

  She held on tight. She drank.

  And his memories came to her.

  ***

  “You think you’re brave…” Lorcan’s voice. Booming.

  Jane saw her image, a pale woman with her wrists bound and her ankles chained.

  “You aren’t,” he snarled at her. “Your lover will be dead long before you’re free. ”

  “You promised that you wouldn’t kill him!” Fear flared in her eyes.

  “I won’t kill him. I’ll just make him beg for death. ”

  Jane saw herself try to struggle out of the bonds.

  “And I never promised not to kill your brother. ”

  She stopped fighting the bonds.

  Lorcan walked around her. They were…in a dark room. Stone for a floor. Stone for the walls. She’d been cut, deep slices at her wrists, and dried blood covered her hands.

  “You were a traitor, so I have to expect that Ryan will be one, too. ” He bent near her, brushing his mouth beside her cheek. “How much shall I make him suffer?”

  “Don’t!”

  He laughed. “Do you want to save him? Do you want to make me a deal, the same way you bargained for the life of that werewolf?”

  “Please,” the word was a ragged breath. “Spare Ryan. He didn’t know that I was with Alerac. He had nothing to—”

  “I can make him into nothing. I can stake him out at dawn. I can drain him. I can turn him into ash that drifts on the wind. ”

  The big, wooden door opened. A woman stepped inside.

  “Ah, Shonna, so good of you to join us. ” Lorcan didn’t look back at her. His stare remained on his prey. “What will you give me, lost little Keira, if I let Ryan live to see you free once more?”

  The desolation eased in her eyes. Hope brightened her stare. “What do you want?”

  “He begged me to free you. Offered to trade anything for your safety. ”

  A blood red tear tracked through the dirt on her cheek.

  “Bind your life to mine,” Lorcan said.

  His words were chilling. She saw the shiver rake her body.

  “Agree to the link, a link that will last until death for us, and I’ll let your brother live. ”

  She nodded.

  He shook his finger. “No, that’s not how it works. You have to say the words. Doesn’t she, Shonna?” He looked over his shoulder at the woman with a long braid of red hair. A woman with a knife in her hand.

  “Yes,” Shonna whispered. Then she began to whisper the words of a spell.

  The bite scars on Shonna’s neck twisted the witch’s skin.

  Lorcan’s focused shifted away from the witch. “Your werewolf will be long gone before you’re truly free. You won’t be betraying him,” Lorcan added as he brushed her hair over her shoulders. “You’ll be saving your brother. ”

  Another shudder shook her form. “I-I’ll bind to you, until death. ”
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