Bound in death, p.26
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       Bound In Death, p.26

         Part #5 of Bound series by Lauren DeStefano
 
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Page 26

 

  At those words, the witch rushed forward with her knife. She drove that knife into Keira’s chest. More blood joined the dirt and grime that covered her.

  “The bind will start the moment you escape your prison, when your lungs fill with their first taste of new air,” the witch’s words seemed to echo with power. “The bond will continue, through blood and pain, until one of you dies. ”

  Then Lorcan took the knife. He licked the blood away from the blade. “Death will be a very long time coming. ”

  ***

  “Get the hell away from her!” Alerac bellowed.

  His cry had Jane jerking up. The images vanished.

  And Lorcan was able to toss her aside.

  In the next instant, Lorcan was on his feet. “She was the one to come for me,” Lorcan taunted. “I guess our link is stronger than she’d have you believe. ”

  Jane spat out the blood in her mouth. She hated having any part of him in her, but now Jane understood.

  She’d agreed to the trade. Lorcan had been right, she’d willingly bound herself to him. “You bastard. ”

  Lorcan turned to look at her.

  “You said that you’d let my brother live!”

  Lorcan shook his finger at her. “No, I said he’d live to see you free. You’re free. He’s dead. ” With a smirk, he glanced toward Ryan’s form.

  But Ryan wasn’t alone on the ground. Zoe had made her way to him. She’d shoved her wrist over Ryan’s mouth. With tears streaming down her cheeks, Zoe cried out, “Jane…make him…bite!”

  Alerac rushed to Zoe’s side. “Get away from him! You know what will happen if he bites you!”

  Her beast would die.

  “I’m…already d-dying…” Zoe’s voice was weaker. Probably because she was missing a big part of her throat. There was so much blood. “Let me…h-help…” Her gaze found Jane’s. “Make him b-bite…”

  Lorcan stalked toward Zoe and Alerac. “It doesn’t work that way, bitch. You don’t get to save him. No one does. ”

  His claws flew toward Zoe’s neck.

  Jane screamed.

  Alerac caught Lorcan’s hands in a tight grip.

  Lorcan didn’t back away. He leaned in toward Alerac. “How are you going to stop me? How are you going to stop me from doing anything? You can’t hurt me. Because, if you do, you hurt her. ”

  Alerac’s gaze flew to Jane.

  “Tighten your grip a bit more,” Lorcan taunted. “Break my wrist. Break her wrist. ”

  Alerac became as still as stone.

  “M-make him bite…” Zoe begged.

  Jane focused on the female werewolf. Zoe only had a few moments left.

  “C-can’t shift to heal…”Zoe whispered. “Could never…s-survive…”

  Jane straightened her shoulders. Bite, Ryan. She attempted to find a link to his mind. She was trying desperately to reach out to him, but she couldn’t connect. She could only feel an icy touch, a too deep cold, seeming to emanate from him.

  Bite.

  Zoe’s wrist was still over Ryan’s mouth. Her eyes were sagging closed.

  Thud. Thud. Zoe’s heart was giving its last few beats. Jane’s enhanced hearing barely picked up the feeble sounds.

  “What are you doing?” Lorcan had torn away from Alerac. His eyes were on Jane. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

  “Saving my brother. ”

  “He can’t be saved! He’s dead! He’s—”

  Zoe gasped.

  Jane smiled. “He’s not dead yet. He’s feeding. ”

  Lorcan lunged toward Jane. Before he could grab her, Alerac was in his path once again.

  “You won’t ever hurt her again,” Alerac vowed.

  Lorcan staggered to a stop. “Of course, I will. I’ll hurt her again and again. Watch and see. ” Then he lifted up his claws—and plunged them into his own chest.

  Blood poured from the matching wound that instantly appeared on Jane’s body.

  Lorcan smiled his sadistic grin. “I can hurt her anytime I want. From anywhere I want. That was all part of the spell. Pain for pain. Life for life. ”

  Lorcan hadn’t driven the claws into his heart—because he didn’t want to die. He just wanted her to suffer.

  Alerac yanked the claws out of Lorcan’s chest. “Stop it,” he gritted.

  Jane’s blood dripped onto the ground.

  “I’ll stop hurting her,” Lorcan agreed, voice sly and silken, “once you’re gone, wolf. Get the hell out of here. Leave Jane, and I won’t hurt her again. ”

  Lie.

  Alerac glanced over his shoulder at Jane.

  She shook her head. “We both know that’s bullshit. ” She ignored the pain in her chest. Or, at least, she didn’t let the pain send her to her knees. “You leave, and he’ll go after your pack. ”

  “I’ll go after them anyway. ” Lorcan admitted easily. “Dogs need death. And he,” he swiped his claws over Alerac’s chest. Alerac didn’t even fight back. Alerac let the bastard attack him. “He won’t stop me. He can’t. Not if he wants to keep his precious a rúnsearc safe. ”

  A rúnsearc.

  Alerac had said that meant vampire.

  He’d lied to her.

  What it really meant was…secret love. She knew that, now. Because she had Alerac and Lorcan’s understanding of the language.

  Alerac had been telling her how he felt, all along. She hadn’t realized…

  Alerac hadn’t just been using her two centuries before. He loves me.

  She ran to him and yanked him away from Lorcan’s attack. Jane forced Alerac to face her.

  His fierce gaze locked on hers. “There’s a way,” he said to Jane. “I know there is. I just have to find it. ”

  “If I take those wolf eyes of yours, will you grow another set?” Lorcan asked, voice curious. “I can’t wait to find out. ” His voice hardened as he said, “In case you missed the news, I have the power here. All of it. You can’t hurt me, not without hurting her. You can’t do a damn thing to me, but I can sure as fuck enjoy hurting you. ”

  Alerac’s shoulders straightened. She knew that he’d take whatever pain Lorcan gave to him—and not fight back.

  For me.

  His pack would suffer.

  For me.

  In the end, Alerac would lose his life.

  For me.

  She wasn’t going to let that happen. “It was my choice before,” Jane whispered to him.

  Alerac shook his head.

  “It’s my choice now. ” She pushed onto her toes. Pressed her lips against his. “I love you. ”

  Then she backed away from him.

  “No, Jane,” Alerac began. “you can’t—”

  “Hold him, Ryan. ”

  Alerac’s eyes widened. He glanced over his shoulder.

  Ryan wasn’t on the ground anymore. Wasn’t spitting up blood. He was on his feet, and in an instant, he’d lunged toward Alerac. Ryan wrapped his hands around Alerac. Held him tight.

  Jane knew her brother wouldn’t be able to hold Alerac for long.

  But she didn’t need a long time. After all, it only took seconds to die. She bent and grabbed a broken branch near her feet. Good thing there were plenty of tree branches lying around. And all you needed to stake a vampire was a chunk of wood. “The deal’s over, Lorcan. Consider the bond broken. ”

  Lorcan’s eyes widened.

  They were still wide when she rushed toward him and drove that branch right through his heart.

  Didn’t see that coming, did you, bastard?

  ***

  “No!” The cry ripped from Alerac. He tossed Ryan aside. Raced toward Jane.

  The wood went straight through Lorcan’s body, shoving out of his back. Blood covered the vamp as his knees gave way and he hit the ground.

  Alerac grabbed Jane before she could fall, too.

/>   “A rúnsearc, what have you done?” Her chest was soaked with blood. Her breath barely wheezed out. “Why?”

  “B-because y-you wouldn’t…ever h-hurt me…”

  “So you decided to end things yourself? You can’t do this!” Rage and grief twisted inside him, and destroyed any sane thought. “I won’t let you go! Dammit, no!”

  Blood trickled from her mouth. Her eyes stared up at him. “Love…”

  “No!” He pulled her against his chest. Rocked her with mindless motions of his body. “Don’t tell me that you love me. Don’t say that you love me while your heart is—”

  She wasn’t moving.

  He couldn’t breathe. “J-Jane?”

  He tilted back her head. Her eyes were closed.

  “Jane, don’t do this!”

  His hold on her was too hard. He had to ease his grip or he’d bruise her. He couldn’t bruise Jane. He couldn’t hurt Jane. He needed her too much. She had to stay with him. He couldn’t make it through any more years without her.

  “Lorcan’s dead. ”

  Ryan’s voice. Alerac’s head snapped up. His gaze narrowed on the vampire. The one who’d held him back. If Ryan hadn’t grabbed him, then Alerac could have stopped Jane. He could have saved her.

  No, no, I’ll still save her. She’s not gone. Not yet. She’ll come back to me.

  “We should burn his body,” Ryan continued. “Just to make fucking sure. ”

  “No!” Alerac’s roar. If they burned Lorcan, then they would burn Jane.

  Ryan swallowed. He stared right back at Alerac. Grief was in the vamp’s eyes. “She knew that you wouldn’t kill him, that you’d let your pack die, that you’d die, for her. ”

  Yes, in an instant, he would have given his life for her.

  “She chose to save you instead. Just like before. ” Ryan’s lips twisted, but there was no humor there. Only pain. “Looks like two hundred years didn’t change the way that she felt about you, memory or no memory. ”

  The drumming of Alerac’s heartbeat was too loud. A red haze covered his vision. That haze was blood.

  Jane’s blood.

  Jane.

  “You aren’t burning him,” Alerac said. HIs words sounded hoarse, as if they’d been scraped from his throat. “You aren’t burning her. ”

  Alerac’s gaze flew back to Jane. He couldn’t look away. Jane had saved him, too many times. It was his turn to save her. He had to save her. There wasn’t any other option for him.

  Without her, he didn’t want to walk this earth.

  Without her, it wouldn’t be safe for him to walk this earth.

  “She just needs blood,” he said. His words were ragged. So was his breath. “Blood heals. That’s all she needs. ”

  Ryan’s footsteps shuffled closer. “Blood won’t bring back the dead. ”

  “She’s not dead. ”

  “Yes, she is. ” A soft voice—Zoe?

  His head turned. He saw her standing, pale, trembling, just behind Ryan.

  “She’s not breathing, Alerac,” Zoe told him with pity in her eyes. “She—”

  “She was in the ground for two centuries!” Alerac yelled back. “A witch put a spell on her then. She didn’t need breath. She can still live!”

  He had to make her live. He cut his wrist, sliced it quickly with his claws, then dripped the blood into Jane’s mouth. Then he massaged her neck—she’s warm, that means she lives—as he attempted to force the blood down her throat.

  “We’re linked,” Alerac whispered. “She made me more than just a beast. I made her more than just a vampire. ” Please don’t leave me. Please. “She’s still here. ”

  He held her tight. He gave her his blood. “I love you, Jane,” he whispered. He told her that truth again and again.

  But her eyes didn’t open.

  And the beast within him broke just as the man did.

  ***

  Ryan felt as if his own heart had been cut out. Alerac wouldn’t let his sister go. He clung to her too tightly. Had to hold her close constantly. Alerac had finally left the woods moments before, with Jane still held in his arms.

  “Are we going to…to lose him?” Zoe’s voice. She came toward him, a torch in her hands. Her movements were slow, her body still trembled, but her gaze was unflinching as it met his.

  She saved my life.

  By sacrificing her beast.

  The fire in his chest was gone. The pain, the certainty of death—all gone.

  Because of her.

  How was he supposed to repay a debt like that?

  “Will he s-survive losing her?” Zoe asked. Her voice broke a bit. Her throat was almost fully healed. He knew the catch in her words came from grief, not pain.

  Ryan wasn’t sure that Alerac would survive. But one thing he did know…he had to burn Lorcan’s body. That had been Jane’s last order to him.

  Bite…her whisper had floated through his mind, and he’d found himself sinking his teeth into Zoe’s arm.

  Then…

  Stop Alerac. Hold him.

  He’d been at Alerac’s back in the next moment.

  Burn Lorcan. Nothing can remain.

  He took the torch from Zoe. They’d waited until Alerac left for this last act.

  But…when he burned Lorcan, would Jane’s body turn to ash, too? He knew that was what Alerac feared.

  “Go to him,” he said quietly. “Make sure…” That he doesn’t jump into the flames if Jane’s body sparks fire. Make sure that he doesn’t turn on his pack as the rage consumes him.

 
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