Read Kiss Of Twilight Online

Authors: Loribelle Hunt

Tags: #Romance, #Fiction, #Paranormal, #Fantasy

Kiss Of Twilight (7 page)

BOOK: Kiss Of Twilight
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"I have work to do," he told her. "I'll check in tomorrow."

"One more thing." Her hands fell to push into the pockets of her pants, that determined expression firmly back in place. "I need Kara at headquarters in the morning. She'll be finalizing the building contracts on the new compounds."

He gritted his teeth to bite back the protest. It made sense of course. Most of the contractors they'd be dealing with knew nothing of hybrids or nightwalkers, and their sleeping places had to be protected. But damn, it was a dangerous world out there, getting more dangerous by the day, and he didn't want Kara exposed more than necessary. If he said no, if he tried to forbid it, Winter would overrule him. Hell, Kara would probably go anyway, no matter what they said.

"She goes and returns with an escort."

"Sure." He could tell by the indifference in her voice she would have ordered it with or without his acceptance.

"I'll assign a couple of soldiers," he added, anger rising as his demon half became aware his woman was not only in the path of danger, but would be surrounded by other men. Winter didn't say a word, just watched in silence as he struggled to regain control. It was getting worse. Getting harder to stay in command of that feral side. Finally he felt in control enough to speak. "I'll have someone meet her here. Just let me know when. Make sure they can get through the gate."

"No problem." She hesitated. "Dupree, you have to do something about this."

His jaw clenched and he met his oldest friend's eyes. "Think about what you're asking me to do to her. Her life won't be easy with me."

"You don't have a choice anymore," she answered in a low voice, looking over his shoulder down the hall where Kara stood watching in the doorway. "Don't leave that to me. Don't force me to kill you."

He was so close to the edge he was clinging by his fingertips. And Winter, his commander, his friend, knew it. He took a deep breath, forced a whole passel of unwelcome emotions--fear, lust, anger--into a locked compartment in his mind.

"Not yet," he told Winter, looking over her head to where Kara waited out of earshot, watching with a curious expression on her face. "I still have time. She's not ready yet."

Winter turned to look. "She better get ready quick," she muttered.

Anger and protectiveness stirred at her words, the demon rising again to join his own emotions and amplify them. He repressed both with brutal hard-earned strength of will. "My problem," he growled. "I'll deal with it."

Winter looked at him a long moment, and he wondered if she realized just how dangerous he was right now, before nodding. "See that you do."

Then she was gone through another door and the distance between him and Kara shrank. It took him a second to realize that was because his quick stride was closing the distance. She didn't budge as he approached, didn't flinch as he lifted a hand to stroke his finger down one sharp cheekbone, but he heard the air catch in her throat, heard the thump as her heartbeat accelerated. He couldn't deny her reaction pleased him. Made him want more. A hell of a lot more. But as he watched, she regained control and he forced himself to pull back too. It wasn't time for them yet.

"When do your meetings start?"

"In the morning. Nine a.m."

"Fine," he said, calmly, in control, all business. Yeah, right. Was he pleased at the flash of hurt he saw in her eyes before she covered it? "I'll have someone here to drive you at eight-thirty."

Blue eyes flashed icy fire. "I don't need a bodyguard."

He stepped back and looked her over. Slight, curvy, all human. She was no match for a demon in a fight, but if he pointed that out she would just relaunch her old argument to join the Order with an official merging. "You're getting one anyway. You scared twenty years off my life, darlin'," he teased. "Are you trying for another twenty?"

She sighed. "It's a waste of resources. It's not necessary, Dupree."

He tried a different tactic. "We've already lost Gia. We can't risk you too. No one else can step into your job."

He could see she wanted to argue, but she pressed her lips together instead.

"The escort will be waiting for you. And don't try to take off without them, Kara. You won't like my reaction."

"Really?" she asked sweetly. Too sweetly. His guard went up. "Would you be forced to punish me?" One eyebrow arched and a sultry smile curled her lips. "What would that entail exactly?"

He groaned as images cascaded through his mind. Kara. Lying naked on black sheets her skin would glow, her hair would shimmer like fire. She'd be open and wet and ready for him. He could take his time, explore every inch. Free to torment her as he would. He lurched forward and grabbed her by the nape of the neck, jerking her flush to him so he could lean down to nibble the tempting skin under her ear.

"Don't push me, darlin'," he whispered between bites. "You won't like the results."

Her whole body shivered. "Don't be so sure about that."

Her voice was husky and inviting, her growing arousal giving it a timbre that seemed to stroke every nerve ending in his body. He shook with the force of his desire, and gently gripping her shoulders, pushed her away. The look she gave him was full of surprise and lust and it took every ounce of control he had not to kiss her senseless, not to pick her up, charge up the stairs to his room, and take her every way he could imagine. He took a deep breath, his good intentions almost tossed out the window when all that did was fill him with her scent.
No. Not like this. Not out of control.
But he would have her. There was no longer any question of that.

He teleported away before she could continue the argument.

Chapter Eight

Recruitment is not going well. Much as I hate it, the edict will have to be lifted.

--Email from Winter Bennett to Gray Miller

Winter considered following Dupree. She knew he was going to Mitchell's, the lupine alpha. The thought had hovered in the air the moment before he flashed away. She stared at the papers in her lap and clenched her teeth. Dupree was in trouble and there wasn't a damned thing she could do about it. If Gia was here maybe between the two of them they could talk to him--badger him really--into going for what his heart wanted and his soul needed. He wouldn't listen to her alone, though. God knew, she'd tried.

Since the poisoning he hadn't been able to hide his deteriorating state from her, though no one else but Kara seemed aware of it. Winter didn't want to guess how long he had. Damn, but she wished Gia was here. Like she did half a dozen times a day, she closed her eyes and opened her mind, reaching for Gia's familiar energy. And as usual, didn't find a damned thing no matter how far she stretched.

The air in the house crackled with the subtle energy of someone teleporting in. Footsteps came down the hall and she smiled, expecting Marcus. It slipped as her brother-in-law entered the room. He spared her a weary glance and walked to the sideboard where he poured a scotch. He carried it over and took the seat next to her. It was his fault Gia had taken off and Winter had been furious. They'd declared an uneasy peace for Marcus's sake, but it was wearing thin.

"I had another dream," she said softly, watching his reaction.

He was instantly alert. He sat the untouched glass down on the table next to him, as he leaned forward, elbows on his thighs, hands clutching his knees. "You were Gia?"

She nodded. "Trapped. In the dark and powerless."

A look of such pain filled his eyes she thought perhaps it was cruel to share the dream with him, but he was the only one who took them seriously. Not even Marcus really believed she was walking in Gia's dreams. It wasn't one of Winter's talents. But it was one of Gia's. Winter was convinced she was reaching out for help the only way she could.

"Did you see anything that could help us find her? Any clue at all?"

She sighed. As much as she relived it, there didn't seem to be anything helpful in the dream. "No. It's just darkness. No shapes. No ground."

Luke sat back with a growl and covered his face with one hand. After a moment he reached for the glass and drank it down in one swallow, but he didn't move to refill it. She didn't need to use her gift to feel his fatigue. His face was gaunt and his frame looked leaner.

"When was the last time you fed?" she asked, suspiciously.

He gave her a look and waved off the question, rising to his feet. "I'm fine, Winter."

No he wasn't, and she wondered if he was at the same kind of risk as Dupree. He left before she could question him. What happened to a nightwalker who didn't feed off the psychic energy that made them strong? That they needed to survive? Would he starve or go crazy? Someone else teleported into the house and she felt Marcus moving toward her down the hall. Despite all her worries she smiled when he entered. He stalked straight to her, pulled her up and into his arms.

It was a bone-melting greeting. His tongue met hers with heat and passion and promise. She pressed close, still amazed at the happiness she felt with him. The love and acceptance. He finally broke away and sat in the chair his brother had vacated. He scowled at the glass.

"Luke was here?"

"Yeah," she answered, sinking back into the couch. He picked her feet up and rubbed her arches. She moaned and he gave her a wicked grin.

"You think this is good? You ain't seen nothing yet, baby."

She laughed. She knew exactly how good his hands felt all over her body.

"What's got you so upset?" he asked quietly.

She told him about the orders from the council, but that wasn't what she really wanted to talk about. "What happens if you don't feed?"

He gave her a startled look then smiled. "Is this retaliation? Did I do something wrong?"

"Not you." She rolled her eyes. "Luke doesn't look good."

He cocked an eyebrow. She felt the curiosity in his mind. He wasn't sure where she was going with her questions, but he wanted to know more.

"When we find Gia and bring her home, she'll need him to be strong not half-starved." She refused to accept they might not find her friend.

Marcus turned thoughtful. "If we go too long, we starve, just like any other creature."

"Will it make you crazy? Like a rogue?"

"It can definitely unhinge you, but you can come back from it with proper care." Unlike rogue hybrids. Once they gave over complete control to their demons there was no going back. No regaining the human part.

"An insane nightwalker, even if it's temporary, sounds pretty damned dangerous to me, Marcus. If he's starving he might not know when to stop. He might hurt someone or worse."

Nightwalkers could kill while feeding. Could suck out every last ounce of their prey's or lover's energy. Their soul. Her words caused a frown to mar his face and she almost regretted bringing it up, but they were both leaders of their respective people. They had to deal in reality, kind or cruel. He took her hand and pulled her into his lap. "No. You're right to bring it up. I'll talk to him."

"Good." She snuggled close to him, resting her head under his chin and taking the comfort he offered.

He titled his head to one side, his cheek resting on top of her head. "Something else happened while I was gone. What?"

"Nothing really. The message from the council was couriered, but Gray called a little while after that to make sure it arrived."

"Don't you have to sign for those things?"

"Yep. He asked, really offhanded like before he hung up, if we'd catalogued Ben's library and papers yet."

"You think there's something there he wants?"

"I don't know. It just struck me as odd that he asked. Or there's something there he wants me to find. Or make sure isn't there. Nadia is still translating the forbidden scrolls. There's a lot more than we expected to find. Ben had to have been collecting scrolls and information for decades. And now that most of the legal stuff has been taken care of to move forward on the new compounds, Kara is going to concentrate on Ben's correspondence and records." She paused, an uneasy feeling that something wasn't right teasing her mind. "I just don't know. Gray is hard to read, even for someone like me. He's sneaky."

"He's a prick," Marcus growled, and she refrained from comment. Gray had performed their bonding ceremony but he hadn't been happy about it. Lucky for her, when he'd ordered her to bond with someone he hadn't specified race. She and Marcus were the first nightwalker/hybrid pairing and she was pretty damned sure they wouldn't be the last. But that wasn't a worry for now. Ben's past was.

They hadn't even come close to cataloguing his library yet. Nadia and Kara were both archivists, though Kara wasn't using those skills at present. Nadia was being very careful with the oldest documents and scrolls they'd found hidden in Ben's safe. He hadn't preserved them properly and they were even more fragile than should be expected. Marcus had begun the conversion of the huge underground caverns under his house into a climate controlled library appropriate for such a collection. Among other things. The gym and training area were already underground. When they were finished there would be guest quarters, common rooms and escape routes. But it was the library she considered most important. Winter, of course, had agreed to loan him Nadia's and Kara's services for the nightwalker's oldest collections too. The library was almost complete. Nadia and Kara both refused to handle some of the oldest scrolls until it was ready. Winter felt an urgency to dig out the secrets in those scrolls, but she had a nagging feeling that whatever Gray wanted her to find would be in Ben's personal files. It had been in his voice when he mentioned the personal papers.

"So get them to start looking there," Marcus said and she didn't even bother to gripe about his eavesdropping in her head. She must be getting used to it.

"Kara's going to start it this week." She sighed. "She says it's a mess. Journals, calendars, letters, emails. Good grief, even sticky notes. Apparently he never threw away anything and none of it is organized. It was just piled into boxes."

"Maybe Nadia should be the one to deal with it then." He sounded doubtful about Kara handling them.

She shook her head. "No, I need Nadia translating the stuff that isn't so fragile. I don't want any more surprises from Ben. And Kara...she has an instinct about following paper trails. I'd be stupid not to use that. Plus, she spent a lot of time with Ben. He treated her almost like a daughter. If anyone can find something, my money is on Kara."

"Mmm," he hummed, fingers stroking lightly up her neck to her chin. He turned her face to his. Soft breath touched her lips, teasing. Taunting. Again with the wicked, sinful smile. He knew exactly what he was doing to her. Knew how her blood heated and her heart raced. "You are so good at allocating resources, baby. Do you know why that is?"

She was laughing when his lips claimed hers, and begging by the time he carried her upstairs. Her last coherent thought before he took her to heaven was that her friends would one day know this kind of joy.

BOOK: Kiss Of Twilight
8.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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