Burning Skies Page 17

He had forgotten what it was to have women like this in his life. Mothers, sisters, lovers, the warmth of family, something he hadn’t had for such a long time. Something he hadn’t allowed himself from the day he ascended, from the time he had slaughtered those who had raped and killed his pregnant wife.

He weaved on his feet at the swell of empathy that filled the room. Sweet Jesus, Alison had power. Sometimes he even thought she exceeded Endelle, which had to be impossible. Although certainly not when it came to empathy.

He looked back in the direction of the couch. Yes, the concern, the pure love that radiated from the woman who was now holding Havily in her arms most certainly exceeded Endelle.

Within a few minutes Havily had stilled in Alison’s arms, and her complexion took on more color. She blinked several times and even folded a tissue into her hand to wipe her cheeks.

Alison turned to him. “Antony, would you please see if Horace could come to us for a few minutes? I’d like him to tend to Havily’s throat.”

These words tensed his stomach and he was ready to fight all over again. He glanced at his sword. He folded the damn thing back to his vault deep within his villa.

He nodded to Alison and brought his phone back up to his ear.

Jeannie’s voice came back on the line. “How’s our girl?”

“We need Horace here.” He heard the gasp, so he said, “Just a small repair … at her throat.”

Jeannie never cursed, but the string of profanity that now left her mouth shocked even Medichi. “You okay?” he asked.

“There are some things that just get to me. I’ll have Horace over there in five. He’s been with Santiago at the Awatukee Borderland. Don’t worry, the brother’s okay. Just a skin burn.”

Medichi laughed. Skin burn was code for a cut deep enough to slice through layers of muscle but not so deep that an artery had been hit. “Thanks,” he murmured. “When you’ve relayed the message to Horace, I’ll need Thorne to call. I’ll be at this location probably through the night.”

“No prob, duhuro.”

“Jeannie, why the hell are you calling us that again?”

“Just showin’ the love.” She giggled as the phone went dead. He sure liked the girls at Central. Nothing fazed them … thank you, God. But the use of the word duhuro, an old-language word of deep, almost reverential respect—whose literal meaning was a combination of “servant” and “master”—still chapped his hide. He was a warrior who took lives every night of his life. The violent war he made didn’t deserve that kind of accolade, as necessary as the nightly battling was.

Alison met his gaze. She had an arm around Havily, who in turn had her head pressed into Alison’s shoulder. “I think we need Endelle in on this,” she said. “I’m sensing something malevolent here, purposeful, unfinished. And you?”

“The same. Jeannie’s contacting Thorne.”

“Good. We need them both.”

He nodded his agreement.

Havily shifted slightly to meet his gaze as well, and for just a moment he couldn’t breathe. Even with both women in no makeup, and hair standing every which way, they were beauty personified, something that always hit his brain hard. His chest started to hurt all over again. He cleared his throat.

“I intend to stay here in case Hav receives another visit. Do you want to call Endelle or shall I?”

Medichi stared at her and she stared back. Now there was a duty filled with a thousand poisonous snakes.

But Alison laughed. “I can see how this is going to go for the next millennium. I’ve become cupbearer to the queen, haven’t I? The messenger who usually gets shot?”

Medichi smiled, and some of his tension dissipated. “You’re the one who said you were a Guardian of Ascension. I heard it with my own ears. I’m sorry, Alison, but some shit-jobs just come with the territory.”

She responded with another laugh. “No doubt it would be best if I went to her.” But she turned to Havily and gave her shoulder a squeeze at the same time. “You okay with that?”

Havily pulled out of her arms and nodded. “Thank you, Lissy. I am. You’ve been a great help. Antony will take care of me.”

Alison’s gaze returned to him, and once more she smiled. “There is no finer warrior than Medichi. Just don’t tell Kerrick I said that. He gets a little … jealous.”

Medichi laughed. “Sorry. Can’t guarantee that. Your breh is so damn powerful that it’s always good to take him down a peg or two.” Kerrick had been to hell and back when Alison had showed up a few months ago. Medichi had watched him suffer unimaginable torment beneath the pull of the breh-hedden. But Alison had been worth it. She had become a source of great comfort to all of them, a piece of a puzzle that had been missing so long they hadn’t even known of their need for her. And she had fulfilled their brother, given him a daily refuge, her love, and the child in her womb. She represented hope in a hopeless situation. Medichi loved her but dammit, his chest was on fire.

Alison rose to her feet. She folded a brush and some kind of ruffled thing into her hands. She took a few swipes at her long blond hair with the brush, swept the mass into a ponytail, and used the ruffled thing to hold it in place. Without another word, she lifted a hand and disappeared. He took a step backward, almost stumbling. Because she had lifted her hand, he’d had a view of her swelling stomach.

He’d known of her pregnancy, but seeing it now made it real for the first time, knocking his consciousness sideways. Her emergence as a part of their team, as one critical member of the whole, had changed the dynamics of the Warriors of the Blood as well as the relationship between the Warriors and Endelle. Alison had changed so much and yet in the scheme of the war, very little. In fact the war had ramped up, but she’d somehow become a soothing oil between a lot of grating edges.

And she carried Kerrick’s child.

Medichi’s mind flashed with images of his long-deceased wife and her swollen belly. Pain slashed through him all over again, as real as if a dagger had been plunged into his heart. He drew air into his lungs as his throat tightened. He hadn’t thought of her in a long, long time, at least not in this way, not in a way that reminded him of their child. And now he’d been reminded of her twice in one evening. Shit.

“What is it, Antony?” Havily asked.

He turned to stare at her, uncertain what she’d said.

“You look really upset. Are you all right? Are you worried about me?” She put a hand to her throat and winced. “I’m okay. Really.”

He sucked in a deep breath and forced the phantoms away. Havily came into sharp focus. “Endelle will give us some kind of direction concerning this attack. We’ll figure out what to do next.”

But what the hell could they do? Havily had been attacked in her home by a powerful vampire he knew nothing about. So who was this bastard who had just turned their world upside down?

He approached her again and once more knelt beside the couch. “Can you tell me anything about the death vampire who attacked you? I’ve never seen him before but he was big, warrior-big.”

“His name was Crace. He called himself Crace.”

Sleep. What would that be like?

—Kerrick, Warrior of the Blood, Second Earth

Chapter 6

Endelle swam in the clear waters off the Great Barrier Reef. She streamed power in the same way that her hair flowed behind her. Even great whites didn’t dare come close.

The ocean was her solace, a place of rebirth and regeneration, of soothing fingers all over her skin, easing her tensions.

And yet something about the waters didn’t seem quite right. She needed to surface soon. Her lungs had started to ache for air. With long sure strokes, she swam for the surface.

How much could a vampire take?

She’d asked herself that question a lot lately.

She could see the surface and pulled toward the break between the water and deep blue sky beyond. She needed air now, desperately, but the harder she swam the farther the blue sky receded.

She was going to drown. Why?

She pushed, thrashed toward the surface. She dug down deep, into the most powerful reserves she had. She tried to fold a scuba tank to her, but failed. She tried to dematerialize back to her administrative offices, but couldn’t. Instead the waters sucked at her ankles, pulling her deeper. What the hell was going on?

Endelle. Wake up.

Wake up? She was awake and she was fucking drowning.


With a hard jerk, the water disappeared and her marble desktop, hot beneath her cheek, appeared, along with the laptop. She blinked. Her office. She was in her office. She wasn’t underwater. She wasn’t drowning. She was safe. She sucked in air.

“Madame Endelle,” a soft feminine voice called to her, a lovely melodic sound now as familiar to her as the marble of the desk. Alison. Kerrick’s breh, his bonded mate. What the fuck was she doing here? It had to be the middle of the night. She glanced at her clock. It was only eleven.

Endelle was so tired. Shit, she’d been dreaming. Dreaming and drowning in the waters off the coast of Australia. She slurped a long stream of saliva back into her mouth and swallowed.

Charming. But then who the fuck cared?

She was drenched as well, and she’d perspired all over her brand-new cream ferret halter. Aw, shit. Her red leather pants were stuck in her crack. She shifted and made the adjustment.

She needed to get to her meditation chamber. She needed to pursue Greaves around the globe, prevent more death vampires from reaching Phoenix Two and continuing the assault on her Warriors of the Blood.

She sat up and blinked several times in loopy weaving swags of her eyelids. Alison was across the room in the doorway.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Her gaze flicked once more to the clock on the wall to her right above the never-used fireplace, then back to the blond goddess. “You should be home asleep, getting ready for Kerrick to return at dawn.”

Her gaze dropped to the faint bulge at Alison’s waist, made more prominent by hands folded in front of her. Warrior Kerrick had gotten his breh pregnant before she’d even ascended to Second. Talk about one hot virile vampire.

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