Dark Wolf Page 46

That was it. Her name. She sent him a look from under her lashes, one she usually reserved for Josef. Are you mocking me?

Teasing you. Just a little. We’re getting the wolf pups. How could I possibly say no to a gift like that? You would never stop arguing with me.

Discussing. I was totally prepared to be reasonable and listen to you and then show you all the reasons you were absolutely wrong if you disagreed.

Dimitri burst out laughing. “Skyler Rose has a spine of steel. Yes. Yes with thanks. There are no words to express our appreciation of such a rare gift. We both want them.”

Skyler leaned toward Ivory. “Thank you for the amazing offer to train me. I certainly accept. It would be an honor to get such an experience. I’ve always envied you for your wolves. They’re so beautiful.”

“But deadly,” Ivory reminded. “They hunt the vampire with us. The pups have already hunted as well. Our adults share knowledge with them and they know what to do. You’ll never be able to have a home in a city or even a town, not with your pack.”

The shelter around them trembled. The western corner folded over. Once again the ground shifted beneath them.

“Our fortress is destabilizing rapidly,” Dimitri said. “And the De La Cruz brothers have returned.”

Skyler took a deep breath. “I’m not certain I can fix it. I can try, but . . .” She trailed off. She glanced over the other Carpathians, who had formed a loose circle and were discussing how to leave without starting a war. She could feel eyes watching them and she shivered, knowing they would have to leave their temporary sanctuary and once again face the Lycans.

“We should join the others,” Razvan suggested. He reached out his hand to his daughter. “I know you’ve grown up with Gabriel and Francesca, and they’re your parents. I would never want to take anything from them, but we do want you in our lives, Skyler.”

“I love Gabriel and Francesca with all my heart,” she admitted. “Without them, I wouldn’t be here. They showed me what love was, what a relationship could be—should be. They also taught me that love is endless, that we have the capacity to love many people and it never takes away from those already in our lives.”

She looked up at Dimitri and then made her confession in a little rush. “When Tamara was born, I have to admit, I was a little afraid I’d be pushed aside. I wasn’t Carpathian and I had a lot of problems, but that never happened. Tamara enhanced all of our lives, mine as well as Gabriel and Francesca’s. Becoming closer to the two of you would never take anything away from Gabriel and Francesca.”

“I would like that,” Razvan said.

Skyler could still feel that little space between Ivory and everyone else but Razvan. She was very protective of her lifemate, used to others shunning him. Skyler leaned over to touch Ivory’s hand, wanted to connect with her. “I feared my relationship with Razvan,” she admitted, “not because I thought he was a criminal or horrible, but because he was mage. I didn’t want to be mage born. The idea of that scared me to death.”

Ivory frowned. “Why? Not every mage is out for power like Xavier. How could you know to fear mages?”

That was a good question. Skyler found herself matching Ivory’s frown. Somewhere, deep inside, was a memory that slipped away faster than she could catch it. Her heart accelerated and she tasted fear in her mouth. She’d closed the door on that memory. Even cracking it open just an inch brought a terrible panic so that she could barely breathe.

Dimitri immediately wrapped his arm around her shoulders and drew her back against him. “You’ve embraced being mage. What could be so alarming that your body reacts with such anxiety when your mind is comfortable with the knowledge of who you are?”

“You don’t have to remember,” Razvan said. “Not for me.”

“But Ivory’s right. I spent my childhood in the human world. Granted, I was around monsters, but they were human monsters. How would I have developed a fear of mages? How would I have even heard of them? Even after Gabriel and Francesca adopted me, I was very sheltered for years. I certainly never ran across a mage.”

“You’ve blocked something out,” Ivory said. “Your reaction to your birth father wasn’t normal. Most girls would have been curious, especially when he showed interest.”

Skyler looked up at Dimitri. “I want to remember. I want to know. Can you find the memory for me?”

“If you want me to find it, Skyler,” Dimitri assured. “I’ll do it.”

“I’ve faced every monster in my life. I can’t imagine what’s buried in my memories that would give me such an aversion to mages—to my own birth father. I’ve shared everything I can remember with you. I don’t mind you knowing this, too.”

Dimitri shook his head. Skyler was brave to allow him into her mind, exploring her memories when she knew what he would find. He knew about her past. He’d certainly shared dark nightmares with her. He’d seen the ugly things a sick individual could do to children—to her—but going into her memories and reliving such moments was an altogether different thing.

He didn’t wait, preferring not to drag out her nervous tension. He wrapped his arms around her tightly, pulling her back against his chest, sheltering her protectively as he breathed her into his lungs. She opened her mind to him easily. He took the time to be astonished at how adept she was at merging with him. Their connection was so strong sometimes he couldn’t tell where she started and he left off.

He sorted through her memories quickly, going to her childhood, trying not to see those nightmare times and the things done to her by depraved men. He had the urge to hunt them down, one at a time, and dispose of them.

I believe my uncle Lucian and my father have already done so, although I’m not supposed to know. There was humor in her voice.

He followed the memories down to her toddler years. There was her mother. She looked hauntingly like Skyler. A beautiful young girl, barely a woman herself. Her laughter was so like Skyler’s. She sat beside her young daughter and absently began to make the rain dance, just by flicking her fingers toward the drops.

The two of them—mother and daughter—sat together very close, on a narrow plank with a single blanket which her mother had wrapped her child in to keep her warm. There were bars on the window and a chain around her mother’s foot. Skyler’s mother entertained her by creating music with the rain. She even whispered little rhymes to her daughter, helping the little fingers make the rain dance as well.

This, then, was where Skyler’s gifts had begun to be so powerful. She’d been trained by the games her mother had played with her. Small insects suddenly poured into the room. Skyler stiffened, but she didn’t cry. Her mother thrust her behind her, a finger to her lips.

“No matter what happens. Say nothing. Don’t ever speak to him. Don’t ever let on you can do anything at all extraordinary. Promise me. On my life, promise me.”

The little toddler nodded her head solemnly.

A man burst into the room. Not Xavier, but someone Dimitri recognized from long ago, someone who seemed to lurk in the rooms where Xavier taught his classes to the more gifted. He strode into the room, lifted his hand and knocked Skyler’s mother so hard she fell across the bed. He caught Skyler and dragged him to her.

“You little brat. This is the last time I come here. If you can’t give him what he wants, you and your mother will be sold.” He withdrew a knife.

Dimitri watched Skyler’s mother, unable to bear seeing the toddler as the knife sliced through her little arm. She made no sound at all. Not one, as if she was mute. Skyler’s mother tapped her thigh and danced her fingers toward the drops. She was the one to make a sound, drawing the mage’s attention. When he turned, the drops of rain crept in through the bars on the windows and mingled with the blood seeping along Skyler’s cut.

My mother saved me from Xavier, Skyler told him. He didn’t think the Dragonseeker blood in me was strong enough so he sold us. I didn’t speak, so they thought me useless to them.

Even as a toddler Skyler had impressive control. What baby wouldn’t cry when an evil stranger cut across her arm with a knife? Dimitri wondered how that could be, but then when he went to examine the child, he realized her mother had taught her to retreat into a place in her mind no one could follow. It was how she kept her daughter safe.

“Who is that bad man?” Skyler asked her mother.

“He is mage, baby. Never go near a mage.”

My mother warned me to keep me away from mages. That memory was so vivid when you pulled it up, yet I buried it deep. I want to remember everything I can about my mother. She pressed her head back against Dimitri. He made her feel safe when she looked into her memories. Thank you.

“Razvan, forgive me for asking,” Skyler ventured, “but do you remember anything at all about my mother?”

He looked regretful. “Xavier possessed my body. I could see and hear what was taking place, but I couldn’t interfere. I was pretty far gone by that time. Seeing what he was using my body for was worse than physical torture. I couldn’t help the women he seduced. Of course he made certain they were fertile. I knew what was in store for them and their children, but I was completely helpless to stop it. Mostly the women ran together because, to stay sane, I tried to separate myself.”

Skyler nodded. It was understandable, when terrible things were being done to her body, she had retreated into her mind in order to save her sanity, but still, she had wanted to know more about her mother. She retained glimpses of her, small little vignettes that at times she feared she’d made up.

Dimitri nuzzled the top of her head. She was real. She loved and protected you as best she could. And then Gabriel and Francesca came into your life and now Razvan and Ivory. You are loved, csitri. Very loved.

“One thing I do remember,” Razvan said, “was how excited he was to find your mother. She was a powerful human psychic. Extremely powerful. He couldn’t believe she was human. He said she was descended from the Incas and the line was extraordinary and very pure. He raged for months over the fact that the child produced was useless to him, and he wanted to punish your mother and you for disappointing him.”

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