Authors: Linda Robertson
Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Urban, #Contemporary, #Romance, #General
“Sil,” he said. Heldridge had called her Silhouette, but she’d said she liked the shortened name better.
Sil had caught his eye during the reclaiming ceremony with Menessos. He would have to perform that same ritual on every member of the haven. Marking them and bonding with them would make him stronger, but it would be exhausting initially.
Hunger clenched his stomach and he put aside all other thoughts. Rising from his bed, he reached out and put his hand to her cheek, marveling at the contrast of
his ghostly pale skin against the inky darkness of hers. He indicated with his touch that he wanted her to come to him.
She rose. She was unclothed and he pulled her close, breathing the smell of juniper deep into his lungs.
It was a familiar scent.
At the thought of her name, memories flooded back. The wærewolf had been timid but eager in his bed. She’d feared the strength her beast afforded her, but he’d reassured her and won her over. He’d even been good to her daughter, Beverley. Lorrie had once said she found in him a man she couldn’t hurt. He’d found a woman who understood pain and loss, who carried doubt and fear, but kept going regardless. He’d found a woman who saw his flaws and loved him in spite of them.
He’d bought her perfumes, lotions, and soaps made with juniper.
Hunger mixed with desire. He knew he could not have again what they had, but he wanted to mingle blood and feeding and sex again.
Taking Sil by the arms, he practically threw her onto the bed, following her down. Atop her, he kissed her neck and ran his hands all over her body. Her ebony skin was smooth under his hands, under his lips, and when he pierced the vein, she whispered, “Yes.”
Her flavor was rich and fine. She tasted like strength.
With a firm grip, he opened her legs. She did not resist. He continued sucking at her neck, flicking his tongue over the openings his teeth had made, and letting his fingers explore other openings. She arched her back as he touched her inside, and she moaned wantonly, welcomingly.
Goliath pushed his torso up and pressed his erection against her. A drop of her blood ran down his chin. Sil reached up and caught it with her finger, then wiped it across her lips. He bent down and licked her lips as he pushed his cock into her.
Remembering Lorrie, grieving for her, and letting her go, Goliath made love to Sil furiously. She had to put her hands against the headboard to keep his thrusts from shoving her across the mattress.
When he was spent and she was thrice satisfied, Goliath lay wrapped in and around Silhouette as if they were yin and yang.
• • •
Ailo awoke gently, sweetly, from her daytime death.
Then she sat up with a start, clutching at her chest while the sheet fell away.
As a vampire, as one of the living dead, her heart began to beat again and blood began to flow through her body, allowing her mind to race.
There had been no reason to scream as she woke tonight. There had been no torture. No tormentor. But the dark-haired man had whispered ideas into her ear like he had last night.
Twisted ideas. Wonderful ideas.
Beside her, Talto whimpered. She cried out as her eyelids fluttered and the impossible life of their cursed kind resumed in her body.
No tender awakening for you, my sister?
Ailo’s lips curved.
I have found favor
It was an opportunity she would not squander.
• • •
Goliath showered. The next order of business for the evening was to deal with the issue concerning the court witch. He wanted Ailo and Talto to be left out of it, so he headed to the haven’s business office. In addition to the new wardrobe, personal guards came with his new status, so, when he left his own chambers the pair on duty flanked him.
Menessos was pacing outside the office. He turned as they approached. “If you have a moment, I require an audience with you.”
“Of course.” Goliath preceded him into the office. It was a gentleman’s room, with cherry paneling and museum cases filled with weaponry artifacts—Menessos owned all these things. The guards remained outside; one of them shut the door.
The two of them sat, taking seats that were opposite from their usual. Fighting the awkwardness of the situation, Goliath sat behind the desk in the leather-upholstered chair and noted the work waiting for him in the short stack of papers. “What is it?” he asked.
“I must leave immediately. I’ve received a call from Persephone—”
“She isn’t here?”
In a guarded tone, Menessos answered, “No.”
“I left orders that she was not to be permitted to leave.” He was going to have to question those he left in charge for the day and find out exactly when she left, and who let her get by.
“I am aware of this. Do not worry, she has not fled, but I
If she was waiting on Menessos, she would remain wherever she was; if they decided to forcibly retrieve
her they would not have to locate her. Goliath shook his head. “Let her wait. We must call Mero to join us and decide what is to be done with her.”
Menessos stood, put his hands on the desk, and leaned over it threateningly. “With all due respect, Haven Master, I am not here as your subject to ask your permission to leave. I am here as your Maker to tell you I am going. This cannot wait.” He turned for the door.
Goliath stood. “I grow concerned, Menessos.” Using his name instead of the usual honorifics stopped his Maker in his tracks. “You are not yourself. As I think back, you have not been since she entered your life.”
Menessos was as still as death.
“She beckons and you race to her side.”
Over his shoulder, Menessos said, “I never said I was going
“Still, you are going because she bade you to go! For her, you have thrown away your status as Quarterlord. For her, you have lost the power base of your haven . . . and she won’t even fuck you.”
Menessos slowly turned. His eyes had gone dark and sharklike.
Goliath felt a stirring in his core. All sounds were suddenly muffled until his own breathing was loudest in his ears. All color in the room drained until only Menessos remained vivid.
He felt the need to move from behind the desk, and his feet carried him around it.
He felt the need to approach Menessos, and his feet carried him across the room.
He felt the need to kneel before his Maker, his Master, and his knees bent.
Like a bursting soap bubble, everything returned to normal. Goliath scrambled onto his feet again and glowered down at the other vampire.
“You know what obeisance can be forced upon one who wears the marks of another,” Menessos snapped.
“This is why you run to her?” Goliath had studied the policies of the witches. Forcing someone to do something against their will was a direct violation of their major tenets. The idea of dragging her to the Excelsior was gaining his favor.
Gravely, Menessos said, “I swear to you: she has
used such power on me, though she could have. I go to her because it is necessary. My path and hers are weaving together in this matter and there is much more at stake here than you yet know.”
“I cannot, my friend. Not yet. I must get to a ley line before it is too late.”
Exasperated, Menessos said, “I had hoped to not reveal this to you, but Beverley is missing.”
Goliath felt his resolve disappear. If Lorrie’s child was in danger, he couldn’t stand in the way of Menessos helping. He nodded once to indicate he would not interfere.
“Don’t let Ailo or Talto give you any trouble while I am out,” Menessos said as he turned to leave.
When his Maker reached the door Goliath called, “Menessos.”
The elder vampire turned back.
Goliath hesitated. What he wanted to say, what he wanted to ask for, was very nearly unheard of. But the situation was growing dangerous. He had to have it. He
firmed his resolve. “I have asked you for very little since you Made me.”
“What do you desire, Goliath?”
Chin level, shoulders square, and voice flowing with confidence he said, “Our bond must be broken.”
Menessos regarded him for a heartbeat. One corner of his lips twisted up. “Yes. Indeed, the time has come. You have earned it. I
give you that freedom.”
egardless of Gregor’s protest, Johnny Newman made certain he was the last one into the back of the big Escalade. He slammed the door before the driver could do his job.
“Grays Armory?” he snarled.
“Yes. As I said, according to our reports, it is the best choice for the needs of this pack.” Plympton had left his dark glasses off and he faced Johnny squarely, giving him a good view of the silvered eye.
Since wærewolves could heal afflictions and diseases that occurred before they were infected with the wære virus, Johnny wondered why the man’s injury hadn’t healed in his monthly transformations. But then, Ig had suffered from strokes in the months before his death; while the transformation and reversion to human form initially healed him, the strokes recurred earlier and earlier each cycle. Apparently for some there were factors that didn’t hold true to the norm.
Johnny decided he didn’t want to know the nature of Plympton’s wound. “Whose reports?” He had questions about what Plympton had done back there, how he had made Johnny’s beast yelp and retreat, but those questions were not to be asked in front of an audience. “Who did the appraisal?”
“Our kind, John. I had the Zvonul send a group out when I learned of the situation. The Armory may be over
185 years old, but the structure was meant to protect those inside. Besides, the castle-like architecture is as bold and imposing as it is beautiful. Very fitting for wærewolves. The pack should be proud to have it.”
“And if the locals don’t like it?”
Plympton grinned. “Tough titties.”
Johnny shot a frown at Todd. They both knew Clevelanders. This would not go over well with the locals.
“The Zvonul made arrangements to get CCS in the first place,” Plympton added. “This is no different.”
“The hell it isn’t!” Johnny argued. “The Armory isn’t some run-down building that’s out of commission, used only for billboards, and so close to the Flats that no one cares if wærewolves are in it. The Armory is downtown! It’s a Cleveland landmark, the oldest building in the city.”
“Yes,” Plympton said. “That is another part of the reason it is perfect. It has also been the host of many historic events and important social functions. Now it will host this pack.”
“But—” Todd interjected.
“No buts!” Plympton shouted, facing Todd. “The pack will cordially allow the local veterans to continue holding festivities there, some touring exhibits. Some halls will continue to be rentable for parties, weddings, proms, et cetera. It will be a great outreach opportunity.”
Somehow, the man’s bad eye seemed to continue focusing on Johnny independently of where the other eye looked. It was unsettling, but even so Johnny said, “You don’t know Clevelanders, Jacques. This is bullshit.”
With that, he sat back and pulled out his phone, which he’d switched to silent for the meeting. There were multiple missed calls from Red, and one voicemail.
Aware of the excellent hearing of his companions, he decided not to listen to the message in the limo. He knew she was upset; the meeting had interfered, but it hadn’t taken
long. He texted her:
Just out of meeting. @ den in 5. On my way to you then
By the time they arrived at the den, she had not responded. That was unusual for her, and it fed his urgency to listen to her message privately. He was the first one out of the limo, not waiting for the driver to open the door for him.
Aurelia exited on his heels. “John. Wait.”
“No time. Prior commitment.” She was not going to stall him this time. He pulled his keys from his pocket and remotely unlocked the Maserati’s doors as he neared the driver’s side.
Aurelia rushed forward and threw her body against the door. “John! We have to talk.”
He stepped in close, growling low. “Don’t you
do that again.”
“Don’t do what?” she asked. “Something drastic to get your attention?” The sass in her tone infuriated him.
“No. Don’t ever touch my car.” He forcibly moved her away from the driver’s door.
“You need to learn how to be a king, John. The Zvonul are not going to be happy with me if I don’t teach you some etiquette, and I can’t do that if you don’t give me a chance.”
“Etiquette? Sounds like you’re trying to puss-ify the Domn Lup.”
“Hardly. You are a king. Therefore, you don’t open your own doors. Not to houses, buildings, or limos. You have someone to do that for you because you are Sovereign.”
Irritated, he turned from her and reached for his car door.
“You also need to move,” she added. “I’ve heard about this farmhouse, where you’ve been rooming in the
That is simply unacceptable. You need to live downtown, close to the den, in an exclusive high-rise type of place with some prestige. Now, I’ve got a couple of places in mind already—”
But Johnny didn’t hear the rest. He was already squealing tires out of the parking garage and headed into the ever-darkening night.
• • •
“I’m going in alone,” Liyliy said. “Watch for me. I
bring my sisters out.”
She let her magical senses guide her flawlessly as she reached for the rear door handle of the unmarked white van that had brought her and Giovanni to Cleveland. They had agreed that chartering a private flight would not go unreported to those at the local haven, while a vehicle could travel between states anonymously, and could arrive perfectly timed to make the best use of the night.
“Wait,” Giovanni said. “Take these.” He handed her three small objects.
Having used her ability to read a few people of this time period who were savvy with technology, she knew what these items were and how to use them, but . . .