Blood Feud Page 48

Everything else receded: Isabeau’s careful y blank expression, the tel tale way she clutched her hands together, the flickering light, the thunder of the waterfal . It was just me and the dog and the uneven stone.

I had one chance.

I had one chance.

I careful y made eye contact and bared my fangs.

He didn’t waste a single moment on barking or growling. His legs bunched up and he lunged at me, al teeth and wild eyes.

His col ar gleamed viciously. I bent, pushed off, and flung myself into a backflip that would have done any acrobat proud. I sailed graceful y through the air, nearly grinning.

The landing, however, wiped my smirk right off. The steel toe of my boot jammed into the wal . There wasn’t enough room for my entire foot, and not enough of a handhold to keep me comfortably upright. The stone crumbled under my heel as I teetered, cursing. I slipped, dropped to the ground. The jagged rock tore at my arms, drawing thick rivulets of blood. I nearly lost a tooth bashing the side of my face.

No one was looking at me anyway.

There was a snap of teeth on air and another growl.

Charlemagne sailed out of his position at Isabeau’s feet and landed between me and the war dog. He landed with more power and grace than I’d shown. He snapped his teeth, growling. The war dog paused, lowered his ears, and promptly sat down, whining.

My mouth dropped open.

Kala inclined her head. “Very good,” she said.

I wiped blood and grime off my hands. “What the hel just happened?”

“You passed the first trial,” she said as if I was slow, as if this sort of thing was perfectly normal. “And, much more impressively, one of our own dogs claimed you as his own. That does not often happen.”

I blinked sweat out of my eyes. Charlemagne’s tongue lol ed happily out of his mouth.

Kala sprinkled a handful of dried herbs and what looked like chalk into a smal fire burning at the limestone bank of the white lake. “Ground-up bones of some of our most sacred dogs,” she explained. She pointed to the hundreds of grottolike shrines that had been dug into the rock. They each held a candle or clay urns. “We keep them al close by, along with the ashes of our Mothers.” I assumed “Mother” was another term for “shamanka.” And the smoke from the fire fil ed my nostrils and I stopped caring about semantics and powdered bones. The Hounds seemed to fade slightly into the background and Isabeau might as wel have had a spotlight on her. She glowed like pearls and stars and moonlight. She was even more beautiful than usual, her long straight hair gleaming, her stance graceful, nearly coquettish. She wore a slinky dress of clinging satin in a deep burgundy, slit up one leg practical y to her hip. Her slender leg emerged as she took a step forward. My mouth went dry. She wasn’t wearing any jewelry, only those faded scars.

And she was smiling at me.

“Logan,” she said softly, her green eyes glowing with amusement and heat as she approached me.

“Isabeau,” I croaked. My voice cracked in a way it hadn’t done since I was thirteen years old. I felt about as suave as I had then. The fire crackled beside us, sending out curtains of scented smoke that lingered in the air between us and the others. We might have been entirely alone in the caves, in the others. We might have been entirely alone in the caves, in the whole world even.

She stopped when she was close enough to lick me without leaning forward.

Which she did.

She kissed me so thoroughly the war dog could have snuck up behind me and chomped on my leg and I wouldn’t have noticed. She tasted sweet, like mul ed wine and spices. Her tongue touched mine and I pul ed her so close against my chest there was no room between us even for the bil owing smoke.

She nipped at me playful y and then she was soft and pliant in my arms, clinging to me and sighing my name.

It took a moment for coherent thought to hit me.

Isabeau would never sigh and cling like that, never run her hand under my shirt, along the waistline of my trousers with her entire tribe watching.

Not Isabeau.

It stil required a supreme application of wil to enable me to pul away. She was barely an inch from me, our noses practical y touched. She licked her lower lip. I lost my train of thought. Shit, man up, Drake, I told myself.

She nuzzled my ear until shivers touched my spine.

“Logan, let’s leave this place,” she murmured. “Leave the Hounds and the Drakes and al of the politics. It could be just you and me. Alone.”

There was probably a real y good reason why I shouldn’t agree with her and let her lead me out of the caves. As soon as the blood returned to my brain, I’d remember what it was.

She nibbled on my earlobe and I knew I was in trouble.

Serious trouble. Vampire megalomaniacs and civil wars had nothing on this girl.

“Come with me, Logan.”

It was physical y painful to pul away. The smoke seemed thicker, it clung to her hair and stuck in my throat.

She ran a silver awl needle across the delicate skin of her inner wrist. I could see the blue rivers of her veins. Warm fragrant blood pooled on her winter-cool skin, across her arm to drip on the ground. She held up her red wrist.

“Drink, Logan. I want you to.”

Self-control around fresh blood was never exactly easy for a very young vampire. I knew if I hadn’t drunk my fil earlier that evening I’d have been utterly lost. Isabeau and blood were just too much to resist when put together. As it was I had to clench my back molars, trying to stop my fangs from protruding. I was only half successful.

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