Authors: Lacy Danes
Tags: #Dragons;Vampires;Witches;Historical;Hot Brothers;Strong females
Pain throbbed in his temples. Ilmir rubbed his forehead with numb fingers. He forced his eyes open. Jordan stood over him. “You live.”
He wet his lips with his tongue and sputtered, unable to speak.
“There was a lot of damage to your skin and lungs. You may not be able to speak for a bit.”
“I need to know what happened.” Celeste appeared, marring the view of his bedroom ceiling. Bloody hell. The Zir women were in his room.
“Leave me be,” he rasped. His throat burned like fire, and he coughed and coughed again. Rolling onto his side, he spit blood onto his sheets. The acrid charred taste of burned flesh filled his mouth. He wanted Astrid and no one else. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Astrid.” His throat closed, and he forced the word out.
“That is what I need to know about.” Celeste grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back toward her. “She will not wake, and two days have passed. What happened?”
What happened? He’d followed them all to the theater. The theater caught fire from her powers and Marcus. He certainly could not say all that. It hurt to simply breathe. “Marcus,” he forced out, and stifled another cough.
“We all know about Marcus. No one has seen him since the theater. Astrid was fine when I left for Madam Olga’s. What happened while we were gone?”
Madam Olga’s. He had no memory of that. He pushed up to sitting and silently gestured for a quill and parchment.
Celeste disappeared and then returned with both, as well as a lap desk.
He grabbed the quill and scrawled on the paper.
What in bloody hell is going on?
“That is what we hoped you could tell us.” Madoc sat on the edge of Ilmir’s bed. He raised his hand and pointed toward the settee in his room. “We moved you both to your chambers a day past.”
He lifted his gaze to the settee. A pale Astrid lay on the plush pillows but didn’t move. Her chest rose and fell in sleep. He scrawled on the paper again.
She is asleep?
“Indeed, but she has been for two nightfalls.” Celeste went to Astrid’s side and touched her forehead. “No fever. No chill. She simply sleeps. Grandmum swears she saw her hovering above the house when she returned with Madoc.”
He set the lap desk to the side and slid his legs over the edge of the bed. He stood on solid footing and walked to her. He sat next to her. With a gentle touch, he traced the veins on the back of her hand. Possession welled up inside him, and his heart ached. She was his. He was hers. His jaw clenched. He shook his head, trying to remember anything that had happened.
He traced each one of her fingers, separating them as he had in the carriage. She did not move. There was no sharp intake of breath like before. He leaned in and put his lips on hers, willing her to respond in any way.
She was not here. Not in her body. Where was she?
He got up and paced. Reaching up, he raked his hand through his hair. Short stubble met his touch. His fisted his hands and spun back to Madoc and Celeste. His hair was gone! Gone!
“It burned off. We had to—”
He held up his hand. His hair would grow back. Astrid was all that mattered. “She is not here. Her body is, but she is not.” He choked and then coughed from the strain.
“We could try to do a spell to locate her, but we are not Ferrous.” Madoc walked over to Astrid and stared down at her. “Hudson has not awakened either, though his skin is healing, so I feel he will recover. Grandmum is taking watch over him tonight.”
“Hudson is here?” He was part of the tragedy that unfolded. His darkness had overtaken him. Ilmir sat back on the edge of his bed.
“Indeed. He was the first we found. You took time to locate in the flames.”
“We shall do a location spell.” Fina entered the room with one of Ferrous’s large spell books. “Ferrous used this one to find each of you Zir. If we change a word and use Astrid’s hair, we should locate her.”
“Will that work with finding her essence?” Celeste walked to Fina. “Or will we simply see her asleep on the settee?”
Ilmir stood again and walked to Astrid. He grasped three strands of her hair and yanked them out. “Do this. Find her.” He handed the strands to Fina.
“Bring your water basin, and, Celeste, make haste to the library and bring the box of oils and herbs.”
Celeste returned with the box. She sat the box, which contained their only hope, on his dressing table, and Ilmir placed the basin in the center of it.
“This should work, as we need the mirror for this casting.” Fina set the three strands in the center of the bowl. “I will need all of you. We will form a half circle in front of the mirror and say the spell with Astrid’s name here.” She pointed to the word drang. “And vejr heks here.” She pointed to the word bloddrukkenbolt.
Ferrous had located each of the Zir using this spell, a spell that called them dragons and blood drinkers. Astrid was a weather witch, and so they would search for her that way.
They all stood around the mirror and table. Fina searched through the box of oils and herbs and removed black oil from the earth, dried Rosaceae flower, white sand and the shimmering oil Ferrous always used in his spells. Ilmir had no idea what Ferrous put in that oil, but his spells always worked.
Fina poured the black oil into the basin first, then crushed the dried Rosaceae flower and added the white sand. With her hands, she mixed them all together, then drizzled the shimmering oil in. She placed her hand into the oil. “Each of us must do this next part.” She removed her hand, shimmering with the mixture, and placed it on the mirror. “Now each of you, one by one.” She removed her hand, and a print of oil and texture stayed on the mirror.
Ilmir went next, then Jordan, Madoc and Celeste. Once all their prints were on the mirror, Fina grabbed Ilmir’s hand, “Join hands and cast the spell.”
Each of them interlocked their fingers.
“Lokaliser dette manglende væsen og show til os i dette reflektioner hvor de være. Dette væsen er Astrid og en heks af vejret. Hendes krop er her være hun er ikke. Vis os hvor hun være.”
The oil handprints on the mirror turned toward each other and interlocked fingers, creating a circle. Nothing more happened.
“Again.” Fina gripped Ilmir’s fingers harder.
“Lokaliser dette manglende væsen og show til os i dette reflektioner hvor de være. Dette væsen er Astrid og en heks af vejret. Hendes krop er her være hun er ikke. Vis os hvor hun være.”
The hands on the mirror shimmered, and blue sky shone in the middle. Nothing.
“Something is wrong.” Ilmir clenched his jaw. His ears tingled. He wanted to float into the blue sky of the mirror. The sensation of Astrid slipping behind him on the settee in the parlor slammed into his conscience. He jerked as she pressed her torn-open arm to his mouth. He bit her. His blood. Her blood.
The others started the spell over. The spell was wrong. It said, “Locate this missing being and show to us in this reflections where they be. This being is Astrid and a weather witch. Her body is here, but she is not. Show us where she be.”
She was more than a weather witch now. She was Zir.
Ilmir hastily said the spell but added af drage to the end.
“Why did you say that?” Fina stared at him. “You changed the words. Why?”
He stared at the mirror and didn’t answer.
The view within the mirror changed, and black obsidian shone. Heat radiated from the mirror, and lava covered the reflection outside the circle of hands. Inside the circle, a set of huge brown eyes stared back at them. “They see us.” Astrid’s voice floated out from the mirror. “Carmen, wake up. Wake up. They see us.”
A deep dark cackle came from the mirror, and black fog covered the reflections. “You will never find them.”
Ilmir broke his hold in the circle and punched his hand into the mirror just before the circle faded. “I will find her.”
A bright pop of light spread through the mirror before it cracked and the black fog dissipated.
“The fog was not truly here, Ilmir.” Madoc broke his hold on Fina’s other hand. “He was in between here and where they are.”
“I am aware.” Ilmir gritted his teeth and turned away from the mirror.
Fina grabbed hold of Ilmir’s bicep. “I wish to be where Carmen is.” A black frame opened that was big enough for Ilmir to step into.
Fina possessed the gift of being able to travel from one location to another. If she wished to be someplace, she simply stated the wish, and a window to that spot opened for her to jump through. “Walk toward her and grab her hand. Don’t let lose your grip on me, or I won’t get you back.”
Ilmir reached into hot dry air and then stepped with only his right foot. “Grab my hand. Grab my hand.” He wanted nothing to do with where he’d just moved. He only wanted Astrid back here. Now.
Cold bony fingers laced with his, and he yanked. A tumble of dried flesh over bones landed with a thud into the room. He jumped back. What was that? The frame closed up. They all stared at the body on the floor. A mass of black hair covered a dark-skinned, naked, dried-up body. Whoever it was, it was certainly not Astrid.
A gasp came from Astrid’s body on the settee.
Wiping his hand on his long white shirt, Ilmir rushed to her. “Are you well?”
Astrid blinked, then fell back into a deep slumber.
“She is back here. I don’t know how that worked, but the spell was a success.” Ilmir pulled the blanket that lay across her up to cover her shoulders. Even more, he had no inkling what to do with her now that he remembered he had bitten her.
Fina knelt next to the body that lay on the floor. She gently grasped the shoulders to turn the body over. The mass of black curls slipped down to reveal sunken cheeks and a mouth filled with long, pointed teeth. This person was a blood drinker, and Astrid had called the person with her Carmen. She was the Carmen who had been in her and Celeste’s head for years now. Celeste also knelt beside her.
“Madoc, get the blood from the pig we slaughtered for Grandmum’s night.”
Madoc disappeared and returned with a goblet filled with blood. Fina propped the woman’s shoulders up and poured the blood into her mouth. “Swallow. It is only a start, but we will get you more.”
She swallowed, gagged and spit blood across Fina’s bodice.
“No worries. Take more.”
The woman swallowed and swallowed until the glass was empty.
Fina set the glass down. “We will move her into the library.”
Jordan and Madoc bent down and gently lifted her.
Jordan pulled her fully into his arms. “She needs clothing and blankets.”
“I will retrieve them.” Madoc turned away.
“You are Carmen,” Fina and Celeste stated together as Fina stared into Carmen’s black eyes.
The woman nodded, clearly unable to speak.
“It’s nice to finally meet you,” they said in unison.
People screamed and ran everywhere. There was no air inside her lungs, only smoke and fog. She could not move as the fire ripped through walls and flames leapt directly at her. A thin thread of the dark fog that filled her lungs and blackened her veins held her. The fear was so real. The forgotten sensation from childhood as she ran from the men her mother brought home rang similar. But this terror was new. This terror she’d started and could not get away from. She stood in the theater, her arms, her will, being used to bring others harm.
Astrid awoke with a start and stared up at the white, slanted ceiling.
Cool sweat stuck the fabric of her clothing to her skin. The blankets beneath her back had bunched, and she now had two knots in her shoulder muscles. She inhaled deeply. She would never forget the despair and fear that pumped through her in the fire. She did, however, want to forget the screams.
She sat up. She was in Ilmir’s room on the settee that faced the bed. Beyond that, the wall against which she had watched him display that woman. Ilmir pushed up onto his elbows on the bed. He was dressed in a simple long white shirt over shiny black silk lounging pants.
He studied her with an expression of open relief. “I do not know how you survived letting me bite you. I had kept you away from me and from all I do to survive, only to have you save me when only human blood would.”
“You are my family, and you were correct—we all kill. I allowed my power to be used for an act that is horrible, simply because I trusted and wanted to learn. I will never use that gift again.”
“Come here.” He patted the bed. “You are not a killer.”
She slowly stood. Her head grew light as she staggered over to the bed where Ilmir lay like a king calling his paramour. “Oh my, your hair.” The once long locks were now snowy stubble.
“It burned off. It will grow back.” He pulled her to lie next to him. “You lived.” He cupped her face in his hands. “I do not know how to act with that fact.” He placed a kiss gently on her lips, then rolled over on top of her, pinning her to the mattress below.
“Ouch.” The same spots on her back ached.
He hastily pulled away and rolled off to her side. “Let me see.”
She sat up. “I am sure the ache is nothing but a muscle cramp.”
“Take off the dress so I can look.”
She shifted her gaze over her shoulder at him. Without his hair, his full face showed. The large nose and prominent chin looked gentlemanly. Handsome. Concern shone in his eyes, mixed with passion. “Are you asking to show me something new tonight?” She bit her lip and held hope he’d say indeed.
“I was not. I want to make sure you are well. Do you need water, or repast?”
She frowned. She was hungry, but what she wanted most was to forget all the bad that had just happened. To submerge herself in pleasure with him would help her do so. If only in this moment. She reached for the button at the top of the dress.
His smooth, warm hands slid over her cool ones. “Let me.” The memory of him stroking his fingers over hers in the carriage quickened her breath.
Her hands trembled, and she slowly lowered them to her lap.
A tug, and then another, all the way down her back. He slid the fabric down her arms, then stood and held out first one arm releasing the fabric, and then the other. “You are beautiful.” He trailed his fingers along her cheek to her chin. “Stand and step out of it. I will unlace you, and then I want you to remove your underclothes for me.”
He would see her naked for the first time. She smiled, and flutters took residence in her stomach. “I thought you were not going to show me anything tonight?”
His pale skin glimmered, and his pale blue eyes had darkened to sapphires. “I can indulge a bit.” He grinned, and his eyebrows wiggled.
She laughed. “As can I.” She wanted to remember this.
“I hope you do.”
She stood up and slipped her dress down her body. He quickly loosened her laces, and she undid the ties at the front of her corset, letting the confinement slip from her body. She inhaled deeply. His lilac scent filled her lungs, and she sighed. She turned around.
“Turn back,” Ilmir demanded.
She did so.
His fingers quickly slipped her chemise down over her shoulders, and he gasped.
“What is it?”
He touched the place that ached on her back.
The invisible binds of fear threatened to close off her throat. “Tell me, please.”
“There are two small mounds on your back. They are covered in opals.”
“Well, they are iridescent like them, but… No. I am not certain what they are.”
“Can you touch them? I need to know…”
He inhaled deeply and blew out a breath that cooled her back. His fingers wrapped over her shoulders. “I will move down slowly and will stop when my palm is over both spots.”
She nodded. His hands moved down over her shoulders to her upper shoulder blades, then inward to where the ache originated. He stopped when his palms covered the ache. “That is the spot.”
“They are cold. Like the breeze when I am in air form.” His fingers dug in and massaged.
Heat bloomed petal by petal through her back. She inhaled as pain slid to relief. Ilmir pushed back from her on a breeze. She rotated her shoulders and stretched her back. “Thank you—”
“Damn. You have wings.”
She spun toward him but could not see him. Iridescent wings hid him from view. Her wings? She turned her body and knocked Ilmir flat on the floor. “Pardon.”
“Stop moving.” He grasped her arm. “You can do damage with those.” He pulled up to his feet.
A giggle bubbled up. Her, do harm… The seriousness of the night before hit her. She shook her head. No. She would not think about the screams now.
Ilmir’s fingers touched her chin, and he turned her eyes to his. “You are beautiful. Always have been, but these…” He gently touched the thin bit of shiny translucent flap that hung down from her new wings.
“How do I make them go away?”
“Why would you wish to?”
She glared at him.
“Let me try.” He shifted around her, ducking under her wings. “Bloody hell.”
“Your wings are stunning. I want them.” His touch started at the far tip and slipped along her skin to where the knots resided in her back. He placed his palms over the bumps and messaged as he had before. The wings retreated.
She hunched forward with the discomfort of them tucking into her.
“They are gone.”
“Not gone. Just back inside.”
“You have no idea how stimulating and amazing that is. We need to show the others.” He turned toward the door.
She placed a hand on his thigh. “There is much to talk about. I was not expecting to still be here after I forced you to bite me. I am grateful but confused.”
“As am I.” He smiled at her. “I have been in love with you for years. I never would have bitten you. You made me bite you not because you love me, but because you were trying to save me. And you felt incredible guilt over what happened in the theater. I’m not going to rush us being mates in the true sense. Though with what you agreed to allow me to show you, I should. We are each other’s.”
There were questions and answers that were unknown. “Will you still bite other women?”
“I need blood just as before. I do not know what happens now that I have you.”
“You can’t keep killing people.”
“Let us not talk of this for now. The others should know what we now do. Come.” He held up his hand to her. “What would you like to wear?”
“My brown walking skirt and my soft white shirt.”
“I will fetch them for you.” He walked from his room.
She was not ready to confide in the family. She wanted more time with Ilmir. To talk. To figure things out… To touch.
She stood and slid off her knickers, and walked to the wall where he had displayed the woman the night she’d watched him. He’d had the woman’s arms above her. She could do that. She could display herself for him.
She slid her hands up the smooth wall and arched her back, pressing her breasts to the cool surface. Tingles shot up to the top of her head, and she shivered. When she moved her legs apart, her bottom and her secret places were exposed to his view.
She waited for him to return and swallowed hard. If he touched her hip first, would his hand go up to her breasts or down to her bottom? She wet her lips.
Footfalls echoed from her room into the hall and into the room and stopped.
“You decided to take matters into your own hands.” His words were tinged with laughter.
She said nothing and held still.
“Reach up farther with your hands.” The door clicked closed.
She slipped her fingers up the wall, stretching up.
“Farther. Push up on your tiptoes.”
She pressed up so that the only part of her foot on the floor was her toes.
“Beautiful. Stay just like that.” His footfalls came closer, but he did not touch her.
She wanted him closer. Close enough to touch her. She wanted to feel his lips on her skin. His hands on the parts that only she had touched. Moisture gathered between her legs, and she shifted her hips.
“You are intelligent, but I already knew that.” His voice was a whisper in her head. “You can speak to me. If you wish.”
She squeezed her eyes tight and rocked her hips, hoping she didn’t have to say a word. She quivered, both nervous of his first touch and wanting to feel him on every part of her.
“Temptation beyond any I have seen.” A slow breeze caressed her back. A lick to the opal mounds that had ached so acutely moments earlier; now other kinds of aches distracted from them. “I have never been with a being with wings.” His tongue fluttered around one spot, then moved to the other. The breeze never stopped, and cooled the wet skin on her back. “Open them for me.”
She was not sure she knew how. “Mmm.”
His hands slipped around her and cupped her breasts. “You can do this. You need to learn how to control them as you do your legs and arms. Open them.”
She bit her lip.
“Use the language. Control them.”
“I do not wish to use the language again,” came out in a whisper.
“Tsk, tsk,” he whispered. “Do I need to halt this?”
Her jaw tightened. “How can I use the language after…”
His hands grasped her shoulders and rubbed. “The theater was not you. Damn Marcus. Try this one small thing. Do you remember the word for open?”
She did remember. Could she do this? Focus. The bumps. The ache. The relief that happened when they unfolded. She wanted that release—more. Open. Unfold.
Åben udfolder, she said to herself in the language. Then out loud to the room.
Heat scorched through her, and light opened up from the ceiling.
”Eventually you should be capable of doing this without the language.”
She concentrated. Ache, relief. Wings open. The wings burst free from her back, and the ache between her legs increased. Her hips and body jerked and spasmed. Trembling, her knees weakened.
“I will take care of the rest.” Ilmir released one of her shoulders and pulled at his pantaloons. There was pressure against her bottom. “Are you prepared for this?” he whispered in her ear.
“Quite.” Sweat covered her, and her skin shimmered.
Ilmir glowed behind her. His body illuminated the room with a soft blue glow. His free hand wrapped her hip and slipped down into her nether curls. His fingers separated her as his member slipped along her lips from behind. “Certain?”
His fingers rimmed her entrance as the tip of his member caught the edge. She moaned and pushed her bottom back. The point poked inside. “This can hurt, Astrid. So tell me, and I will stop.”
She pushed her hips back again, and he stretched her opening wider. He rocked his hips and slid another portion inside. Half pleasure and half discomfort had her inner muscles gripping him. Wanting him deeper and wanting him out. Deeper won out. She widened her hips. He pushed in until his stomach pressed against her lower back. Pain radiated from the spot they joined. He didn’t move. “I need to bite you again. I—want to.”
“Then do.” She arched her head to the side, her hair slipping to expose her neck.
His teeth pierced her skin. Her body quivered, and the wings on her back flapped. The pain where they joined eased.
He slowly pulled his member out of her. The friction along her inside curled her toes. Thrusting back in, he sucked deep on her neck.
Sensations overpowered her. She groaned. Her hips moved with him and against him. She fought for more of the pleasure and less of the ache. He slid the hand on her breast across her shoulders and pulled her upper body to his, her wings between them. The other hand from between her thighs wrapped her stomach.
He pulled his mouth from her neck and cried out. Warm wetness slipped down her chest and back. “Brace your hands on the wall.”
He pulled her in and started the dance. Their bodies joined and slipped together and apart. Hard thrusts of his body against her bottom echoed in the room. Her nerves flew. How she wanted to truly fly. “Luftstrømhvirvel. Luftløft.” She flapped her wings, and with him clinging to her, they lifted off the ground.
He cried out and bit down again on her neck as he pulsed inside her. He continued to rock into her, slowing with each press.
They bumped into the ceiling.
“Ouch.” His member slipped from her.
She laughed. They laughed.
His limbs twined like a growing vine about her. They tumbled, and twisted together. He touched his ear and turned to translucent and then purple and then to air.
“Can I do that now too?” To be invisible to all would be quite an experience.
“I do not know. You have wings, and I do not. But what we do know is you can control air. Use the language and control me.”
“You remember what happened last time? I destroyed my room.”
“Ah, then we shall practice that again outside next time.”
Ilmir reappeared and entwined his legs with hers. She pulled him to her and hugged him tight. With a flap of her wings, they slowly floated to the floor. She straddled his hips and sat up, extending her wings out and arching her back. She rubbed her hips against his stomach, grinding the small ache that still pulsed there to a flame again.