Authors: Alyssa Rose Ivy
Copyright © 2016 Alyssa Rose Ivy
ll rights reserved
. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written approval of the author.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Photo and cover design by Sara Eirew Photographer
Flight (The Crescent Chronicles #1)
Focus (The Crescent Chronicles #2)
Found (The Crescent Chronicles #3)
First & Forever (The Crescent Chronicles #4)
Soar (The Empire Chronicles #1)
Search (The Empire Chronicles #2)
Stay (The Empire Chronicles #3)
Savor (The Empire Chronicles #4)
Storm (The Empire Chronicles #5)
Seduction’s Kiss (The Allure Chronicles #0.5)
Lure (The Allure Chronicles #1)
Lust (The Allure Chronicles #2)
Lost (The Allure Chronicles #3)
Dire (The Dire Wolves Chronicles #1)
Dusk (The Dire Wolves Chronicles #2)
Dawn (The Dire Wolves Chronicles #3)
Forged in Stone (The Forged Chronicles #1)
Forged in Ice (The Forged Chronicles #2)
Forged in Fire (The Forged Chronicles #3)
Hunt (The Grizzly Brothers Chronicles #1)
The Hazards of Skinny Dipping (Hazards)
The Hazards of a One Night Stand (Hazards)
The Hazards of Sex on the Beach (Hazards)
The Hazards of Mistletoe (Hazards)
The Hazards of Sleeping with a Friend (Hazards)
Shaken Not Stirred (Mixology)
On The Rocks (Mixology)
Derailed (Clayton Falls)
Veer (Clayton Falls)
Wrecked (Clayton Falls)
Beckoning Light (The Afterglow Trilogy #1)
Perilous Light (The Afterglow Trilogy #2)
Enduring Light (The Afterglow Trilogy #3)
Life After Falling
e are going
to get caught.” Emma protested as he ran his lips down her neck.
“Who cares?” He lifted his lips from her sensitive skin long enough to speak. “Everyone knows I will be your Gerard soon. It is only natural we choose to spend our time together now.”
“Spend our time together?” She raised an eyebrow. “Is that what you call what we are doing?”
“Yes. This happens to be my favorite way to spend time.” He picked her up and placed her on the table. “Besides, there is no one around. We are all alone.”
“Even the walls have ears in this castle. You know that as well as I do.” She rested her hand on his shoulder.
“The only ears the walls have belong to your brothers.” Getting time alone with Emma was nearly impossible. He spent half of his spare time plotting ways.
“They are only trying to protect me.”
“Theodore maybe, but Monty lives to infuriate me. He always has.” He stepped back. Talk of Emma’s brothers destroyed his mood.
“He does not try to anger you. He wants your friendship. You should try harder to befriend him. He will be one of my Guardians. We know that.”
“Which means he will have to answer to me.” The man grinned. He liked the thought of being in charge. He had waited his entire life for the opportunity. He may not have been born into the royal family, but he would soon be the ruler of Energo, and more importantly he would have Emma Winthrop in his bed. His body stirred again.
“He will still be my brother, and I want you to promise to be good to him.” She gave him the pout that always melted any resistance he had.
“If I promise you that, will you stop talking about your brothers?” He ran a hand through her long brown hair.
“Yes, but I worry about Monty.”
“He is going to be a man soon. He does not need his older sister worrying about him.”
“I had a dream last night.” Emma hopped off the table.
The man sighed. “All right. Here we go.”
“What?” She put a hand on her hip. “You are going to be my Gerard, which means you will have to get used to listening to me speak.”
“I love to hear you speak, but I prefer other uses for your lips.”
“You better watch your tongue, or I will think you are using me.”
“We were born to be together, to rule Energo as Essence and Gerard. You cannot threaten anything.”
She laughed. “Let us hope you are right.”
“Who else could possibly be your Gerard? It has to be me. It is my family’s turn, and the connection between us has been there since we were barely walking.”
“That is true.” She smiled as if lost in a memory.
He took advantage of her silence to once again claim her lips. This time he did not give her the opportunity to interrupt. He started to untie the back of her ornate blue dress that matched the exact shade of her eyes. He had been waiting years to see his future Essence undressed, and he no longer saw a reason to wait. Neither did she. What other reason did she have to drag him down nearly to the dungeon level of the castle? Not that he minded. He could never say no to Emma.
He untied the rest of her dress without breaking the kiss. He did not dare stop in case she started talking again and slowed him down. He ran his hand over her bare back, and his body instantly reacted. He had been waiting for this for so long.
He broke the kiss and met her eyes. For once she was speechless as he slipped her dress completely off and onto the ground.
He was in heaven. He was being given a gift that had always been his, but it had remained wrapped and taunting him for years. He reached out for her, ready to take off the undergarments that still stood in the way of his prize, when Emma pushed him away. “Someone’s coming,” she whispered before quickly pulling her dress back on.
He did not doubt her. Emma had always had unusually keen senses. He moved in front of her in case the intruder had access to this private room.
“Emma?” A male voice called. “Are you down here?”
The man recognized the voice immediately, and his blood boiled. What was his best friend doing down here?
“Yes. I am in here. Do you need me for something?” Emma’s voice lilted, and anyone who knew her well would notice.
“Are you well?” The voice called through the door. “Ruth was worried about you and thought you came down here. You left the passage open.”
The man swore under his breath. His carelessness had spoiled everything.
Emma sighed. “I am fine. I will be up soon.”
“I will tell her that. But I have one last question.”
“Yes?” Emma struggled to tie up the back of the dress.
“Have you seen Blake?”
Emma froze. “Why do you ask?”
“Because he missed his fencing match.”
“I am sure he will turn up.” Emma smiled at her companion. “He always turns up.”
“I will see you later, Emma.” The male visitor walked away.
Emma waited until the footsteps completely disappeared before speaking. “Thank goodness he could not open the stone wall.”
“I agree. I would have been forced to kill my best friend for laying eyes on what is mine.”
“Blake Mendel, I am not yours yet.”
“Yes you are, Emma. You have been mine since the day you were born.” He left a light kiss on her lips before moving behind her to finish tying her dress. His pleasure would have to wait. There would be plenty of other chances. The youthful lifetime of an Essence and her Gerard spanned over a hundred years, and he would have his Emma every single one of those nights.
Twenty-Five Years Later
watched her again
. I watched her chest rise and fall with each and every one of her breaths. I watched her eyelashes flutter as she dreamed about something—something I hoped was me. I watched her roll slightly to her side, and then right back to her usual spot in the bed. Our bed. The novelty of sharing a bed with Ainsley would never wear off. Having her was worth the price I had to pay, though the price was a high one.
I still could not shake the image of her in the frozen lake. My heart had nearly stopped beating at the sight of her in trouble, and I had known truly and completely then that I made the right decision. My father was not a good man, but he gave me the chance to save the only girl I would ever love.
I closed my eyes and cleared my head. I had not heard my father’s voice since a few hours after rescuing Ainsley, but I knew he was there. He was part of me now whether I liked it or not. Once the intensity from the initial surge of power dulled, I realized he was no longer just a voice. He had given me his power, and with those actions he had turned me into the Cipher. It was impossible to know where I ended and he began. My mind felt entirely my own, but I knew there were thoughts inside me that were not mine. There were also unfamiliar memories drifting around waiting for me to seize them.
I could control his power. I would do the task I had promised to do, and then I would go on to live a life with Ainsley. She was the key to controlling the power. One glance at her reminded me of who I was. One touch brought me back from whatever dark thoughts and feelings were growing inside. The touch also kept my father at bay. It was the only time my mind was truly my own.
“James?” Ainsley spoke my name softly.
I opened my eyes and found her watching me with concern. “Good morning, my love.”
She smiled and sighed all at once. “How long was I sleeping?”
“A few hours.” I was being generous with my words. It had been far more than a few.
“I can’t seem to get enough sleep now.” She moved up on her elbows. This offset the sheet and exposed her bare chest.
My eyes went to her breasts, and she noticed. She made a motion as if to cover herself but at the last moment she left it just as it was, giving me more of an opportunity to savor her beauty.
It took all the resistance I had not to pull off the rest of the sheet and have my way with her just as I had over and over in the past few days. “You can sleep as long as you like.” My body argued with me. It was hungry for more of her.
“I have all these bits and pieces of memories, but they don’t make sense.” She frowned.
“What kind of memories?” I lay beside her, easing her off her elbows and back down into the bed. I left the sheet exactly where it was.
“I can’t separate the two times at the lake. I mean I know one was only a vision or dream or whatever, but they’ve blurred for me now.”
“All that matters is I saved you.” I pulled her into my arms. “You are safe now.”
“Where are we?” She had asked me that question already the last time she woke up. Something was wrong with her memory, but I refused to upset her more than she already was. She needed rest, and everything would be ok.
“We are safe, my love.” I kissed her forehead. “There is nothing to worry about.”
She ran her hand down my face. “You are the only thing I’m sure of anymore. The only thing I trust.” She wrapped one leg around my leg.
“I am lucky then.” I smiled, copying her movements and wrapping one of my legs around her.
She rested her hand my chest. “I remember what you told me when we were with the wolves.”
“That is good.” I prepared myself. Was she suddenly going to be angry over what she had seemed fine with before?
“About the poison. About my need for you.” She tightened her leg as she spoke of her need, and I was sure she could feel the physical effect it had on me.
“I was telling you the truth. And I am sorry for that, but it is fine as long as we are together.”
“Maybe that’s why I need more of.” She slid her hand down my chest. “Maybe I feel so out of it because I need more of you.”
“You can always have more of me.” I grinned, trying to hide my unease over her memory. I would never deny her. I would never want to.
“Good.” She slid her hand under the blankets and took me in her hand.
I groaned, letting my lips find hers. She opened up to me immediately. I soaked up the taste of her mouth as my hand slid down her body and between her legs.
I broke the kiss and moved my mouth to her breast, eager to taste more of her and to increase her pleasure. She writhed beside me, moaning as my hand and mouth continued to work.
“James.” Her breathing picked up. “Please. I need you.”
I would never make her wait. I removed my hand and thrust into her, as desperate as she was to reconnect. I moved in and out of her, filling her with the entire length of me while my lips explored her neck.
She wrapped her legs and arms around me, holding me tightly against her. I continued to thrust and move inside her while she held on. She called out my name as she reached her release and mine followed.
I stayed inside her long after we finished. “I love you, my Ainsley.”
“I love you too.” She rested her head on the pillow. “Never leave me.”
“I never will.” I moved beside her and watched as her breathing slowed and evened out. She drifted off to sleep with a contented expression on her face. “And you will never leave me.”
Worry about her health should have been the first thing on my mind, but instead I felt relief. She was mine. Despite everything she still wanted to be with me, and in the end as long as I had her everything else would fall into place.
I closed my eyes. All I saw was a darkness so encompassing I could not picture anything else. I took Ainsley’s hand into my own, and her face replaced the darkness. She is the key, I reminded myself. The darkness would not completely engulf me as long as I had her. And I would always have her. She would always be mine.
I let go of her hand and opened my eyes. I dragged myself out of bed and away from her only after readjusting the covers over her naked body.
I could not think straight with her so close by. I could not concentrate on anything but the intensity of my feelings for her and my desire to always keep her as mine. She was my kindred, but she was more. She was part of me in a way that meant I would never survive without her.
I had a war to prepare for. I had accepted that reality, willing to become a pawn if it meant saving the one I loved. I had tried to get help from Charlotte, but she refused. She left me with no choice. Maybe one day she would forgive me for what I was about to do.
I stepped into my pants and pulled on a shirt and my boots before heading out of the bedroom. I did not wish for Ainsley to wake up alone this time, but I could not afford to change my mind. I had to set the wheels in motion or my father might take away what he had given back.
With one last glance behind me I closed the door to our bedroom and descended the spiral stairs that led to the bottom of the tower. I walked straight out the front door to face the men I knew were waiting.