Burning Skies Page 15

“I need you to stop the dreaming,” she blurted, her gaze skating to him then returning to look well beyond downtown, far out into Puget Sound.

Of all the things he had expected to hear, that wasn’t one of them. How the hell had she construed their nocturnal engagements as something he instigated? “You’re kidding, right?”

Her porcelain cheeks developed bright spots of color as she once more turned toward him, her shoulders pulled back, her chin high. “What does that mean?”

“I think you know what it means. You come to me in my dreams, vampire, not the other way around.”

Confusion once more flitted over her eyes, her beautiful light green eyes, the same color … yeah … as the banding on his wings, just as Medichi had once observed. She shook her head back and forth. “That’s not the way it is. You summon me and I can’t seem to resist. I’m here to beg you to stop calling me to your bed.”

His jaw shifted back and forth. He narrowed his eyes. “You’ve got the wrong end of the stick. I awake and you are riding me … every damn time. Think about it, Havily. Isn’t that the way it always happens?”

She took a step back and dropped her purse as her hand flew to her chest. Her cheeks now flooded with color. “Warrior, please. The whole thing is distasteful and very wrong. I came to ask you to stop, not to have you throw the experience in my face. You have no idea how hard this is for me, to come to you, to ask this of you. I never wanted to see you again.”

“Of course not,” he muttered. “Not for perfect Havily Morgan to engage with a hedonistic captain of industry. You do know that my corporations provide millions of jobs around the world, don’t you?” Why the hell had he gone down this road, as though he needed to defend his choices? What did he care what she thought of him?

Her nostrils flared and her chin rose higher still. “You deserted your brothers-in-arms. I will never forgive you for that! How many ascenders, how many mortals have died because you couldn’t bear the war any longer? How many, Warrior Marcus? I swear I don’t know how you sleep at night.”

He crossed his arms over his chest. “Well, I haven’t been sleeping very much lately, now have I, not when I’m awakened by a dream-nymph making use of my body.” He was such a bastard.

“A dream-nymph?” she cried. “Oh, how I hate you for saying that.”

Well, at least she’d started showing some sense.

“I don’t summon you, Havily. When I wake up, you’re with me, in my bed … sort of. You come to me, though I have no idea how you do it, or even where we are when we’re together.”

She shook her head. “I can’t believe you’re putting this on me. But it really doesn’t matter how it’s happening, I just know it has to end and I’ve come here to ask you to stop doing what you’re doing.”

“All I’m doing is responding to you.”

“But why have you done it all this time? That’s what I don’t understand.”

Because I loved having you in my bed, on top of me, your scent flooding my nostrils. “I could ask the same of you.”

“I thought it was some kind of weird dream state, a kind of fantasy. I thought my subconscious was living out what I refused to do in my conscious life.”

At that he smiled, but not kindly. “So this was your fantasy? You on top?”

She covered her face with her hands. More pink showed between her splayed fingers and crept toward her chin. He was pushing her, but that’s what a man did when a woman held up a mirror and the man saw his reflection but disliked what he saw. And yes, it made him a bastard.

His conscience kicked in. He hadn’t always been such a prick.

He ran a hand through his hair. “Look, why don’t you sit down and we’ll talk this through. We’ll figure this out together. And I’ll … try not to be so abrasive. This whole thing has kicked me out of stride.” He gestured to the black leather sofa flanking the long wall to the left of the door.

She nodded. “Fine.” She picked up her purse and crossed in front of him.

He noticed her immaculate makeup, the careful striation of eye shadow, eyeliner, the tweezed, arched brows. She carried Marc Jacobs. She looked sleek, fit, stylish. He would have gone for her in any dimension.

She set her purse beside the sofa and sat down at the end nearest the windows, her gaze once more settled outside. “You have a lovely view of the sound.”

“I have a house on Bainbridge. It’s kind of rustic over there. Most of the island is very wooded but my house is on a spur of beachfront.” So why was he telling her this? He didn’t sit down but stood very still in front of her, watching her, savoring her beauty.

Her brow wrinkled. “Is that the place … where I come to you? In your bedroom on Bainbridge?”

He nodded. “Yes.”

* * *

Havily watched him. She felt exhausted, and she’d only been in his presence a few minutes. Her emotions were all over the place, as though she’d been dumped in a washing machine and set on the agitation cycle.

She was embarrassed and humiliated by the conversation. It had never occurred to her, not once, that she might be responsible for what had been happening between them, which in turn meant that he had every right to gloat and punish.

She wanted to disappear and for a moment thought about dematerializing … anywhere. Instead she murmured, “I used to live in this part of the world, on Mortal Earth.”

He glanced out the window then back. “You did? Here in Seattle?”

She shook her head. “North. Vancouver Island. My husband and I had a farm outside Victoria, a few miles from present-day Butchart Gardens.”

“You were married then?”

“Yes. A long time ago. Nineteen hundred two.”

He chuckled.

“Why do you laugh?” she asked. Couldn’t she even say that she’d been married without him laughing or smirking? “You know, you bug the hell out of me.”

He closed his eyes for a brief moment. When he opened them, his gaze was kinder. “I didn’t mean to offend you. But 1902 just doesn’t seem that long ago.”


He nodded. “Believe me, a hundred years is a flash of lightning in the scheme of things.”

He seemed tired suddenly as he moved to the window and looked down again, always looking down.

She knew he was four thousand years old. She tried to process that much time but couldn’t. She put her hand to her forehead. She was tired and her neck ached. The fact that she hadn’t gotten much sleep was getting to her. “Look. We don’t need to drag this out. The truth is, I don’t understand what’s happening at night … in my or maybe our dreams. I can’t seem to control what’s happening, but I do know that every night I come to a place of consciousness in which I’m very awake, very aware of what we’re doing. Can you tell me when that happens for you? When you become fully awake and aware?”

He looked uncomfortable as he shifted on his feet.

She gasped. “Are you telling me that you’re awake earlier than I am?”

He shrugged and looked at her over his shoulder. “Sorry, but I’m not about to shove a beautiful woman out of my bed when she wakes me up the way you do. No man of sense would. I just didn’t realize how serious this was until last night, when…”

She caught his gist and her cheeks flamed hot all over again. She knew exactly what he was referring to. She shaded her eyes with her hand. She couldn’t even look at him. At the very least, the evidence of a man’s orgasm was messy, but to be talking about it, referring to it, made her want to disappear from the face of the earth. The truth in this situation really distressed her—she didn’t know this man and yet here they were discussing his … seed.

He moved to the chair set at a right angle to the couch. She heard the leather creak as he sat down. “Havily … I’m sorry. Shit, I’d undo this if I could. But you’re right. We need to press on, get through this, and end it.

“As I was saying, I really wasn’t sure what was going on between us. It felt real and yet there was a rim of darkness all around the space we shared. Did you notice that?”

She let her hand drop away and leaned back. “Yes, I did.”

He nodded, and the sincerity in his face eased her embarrassment. She said, “What I’m asking is this: If I come to you again, will you awaken me early on so that we can try to end this impossible situation, not let it happen again?”

His gaze was considering, as though he weighed her words, held them in his hands, judged them. Finally, he said, “I will awaken you early on and I promise I won’t attempt to draw you farther into sleep or to seduce you ever again.”

She released a deep sigh. “Thank you for that. I’m truly … grateful.” She rose to her feet. “There is one more thing. I was commissioned to ask you to return to service as a Warrior of the Blood. What can I tell my boss?”

He stood up as well. “You mean, Endelle sent you to beg on her behalf?”

Havily nodded.

“She expected you to persuade me?”

Havily smiled suddenly. “I don’t think she knows you very well for all her nine thousand years. Even I understand how mulish you are. For that matter, the two of you have a lot in common. Still, she did know what happened at the palace between us, our attraction to each other, so she assumed I had some sort of power over you. But I can think of few things less likely than you returning to Second Earth. Tell me I am mistaken.”

“You are not mistaken. I will not return.”

* * *

Later that night Havily lay in bed, watching the bounce and spin of the glittery paper butterflies that hung suspended from the ceiling. The air-conditioning had come on, and the artificial breeze put the small winged creatures in flight. There were probably a hundred of them.

She had started with twelve, then kept adding to the collection over the years, as inspiration struck. The whole thing was one large piece of whimsy in what was otherwise a dull room of white walls, a green comforter, and black sheets, a room that never enjoyed any activity other than sleep.

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