Burning Skies Page 19

Her beauty had made his head swim, his heart ache; every longing he’d ever known had strangled his chest. Like the vampire he was, he’d craved her.

And now some death vampire had drunk from her with intent, which may or may not have been of a sexual nature. But that didn’t matter. The bastard had punctured her throat with his fangs. That was sexual enough.

His own fangs emerged to sharp pulsing points. He couldn’t seem to get enough air, but that was because he was breathing like a monster, in deep heaving gulps. His cock had taken the shape of a missile pulling hard at the towel around his waist.

The need he felt split him into two equal parts. The first flooded the muscles of his shoulders, arms, and fists with preternatural power in search of the ascended enemy; his wing-locks were flooded with moisture, ready to release. The second part was pure sex, pure need to stake and claim what he knew by every burning cell of his body was his, belonged to him, not to any other vampire ascender or mortal in any other fucking dimension.

A single thought dominated his head: Nobody drinks from Havily but me.

Endelle had just effectively ended his two-hundred-year retreat from events on Second Earth. It was one thing to meet Havily in his dreams—or whatever the hell that was—and quite another to learn she’d been attacked, in her home, by a death vampire.

Dammit, she could have died. She probably would have if Medichi hadn’t arrived to scare the bastard out of her house.

Yet even the thought of Medichi being in Havily’s home—to come to her aid or not—sent shards of jealous rage slicing through his veins, bunching the muscles of his arms and curling his fingers into rock-solid fists.

The breh-hedden had him in a tight grip and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it. He couldn’t go back to his simple corporate life, to his dedicated pursuit of more and more.

And just like that, the axis of his life shifted.

When he glanced at Endelle, she still had one brow up but she was examining her fingernails. “I need a manicure.” She blinked once. Twice. Three times. “There, that’s much better.” Her nails were now neon pink.

She was the most absurd woman he’d ever known. “So you happy about this or what?” he asked.

She turned to him, her wooded eyes settling on him in unexpected compassion. “Welcome back, asshole. Do what you have to do, then get your butt over to Havily’s and for God’s sake take care of business. Don’t be the idiot Kerrick was and wait to complete the breh-hedden. Apparently—” She paused to roll her eyes. “—your woman is valuable to the enemy.”

She lifted a hand and vanished.

Oh, shit. This couldn’t be happening but it was, and he was done trying to feel differently about his woman. He was already half in love with her for many reasons, but the breh-hedden’s call was as much on his soul as it was in his body and he simply needed to be with Havily. He didn’t try to look into the future. That she was in danger and needed him was enough.


He got dressed the old-fashioned way, one sock, one pant leg, one shirtsleeve at a time, slowly, carefully, because he had to think about what to do with his empire at least for the next few days until he figured out what to do about Havily.

Once dressed, he continued functioning in mortal time and making use of mortal ways. He set the security alarm and locked up his house. He settled into his Jaguar and drove to the ferry, heading to Seattle.

An hour later, he was in his office. He went to his safe and withdrew several documents to sign over limited power of attorney to his second-in-command.

He pressed the button on his phone that connected him to his exec assist.

“Yes, Mr. Amargi.”

“I need Ennis here. He’s in the building. Find him for me. Tell him I need him ASAP.”


Everything he’d just said was a code, or rather several codes. ASAP was code for “Now or die, motherfucker.” And in the building had been designed for the benefit of his executive assistant, leading her to believe Ennis was close by when in reality he could be on either Mortal or Second Earth or halfway around the world either dimension.

Farrell Ennis, his fellow ascender-in-exile, was one powerful vampire and about a hairbreadth from warrior size.

A moment later, a knock and a shove on the door brought the man into his office.

“Marcus, you bastard,” Ennis cried as he slammed the door behind him. The wall rattled its displeasure. “What the fuck are you doing calling me back at this hour?”

Marcus laughed. Ennis had one fine sheen of sweat on his tanned face and the frustrated look of a man who’d gotten pulled from a bed he’d not been sleeping in. He was dressed, as befitted his second-in-command, in a black Valentino, but his tie was really lopsided. “She pretty?”

He groaned. “Chocolate skin, large green eyes, and breasts the size of…” He closed his eyes and cupped his hands in front of him. “I hope to hell this won’t take long.”

Ennis stood almost as tall as Marcus. He’d been one of several right-hand men he’d had at Sumer Industries for the last two centuries. Marcus had met him in a bar brawl in the Mediterranean, when one of his shipments headed for Rome had been attacked by Barbary pirates off the coast of Sicily. That was a long time ago, a lot of bar fights ago, a lot of stories told over swirling brandy. Ennis was an old-fashioned drinking buddy, a rogue ascender, an honorable vampire, and one of his best friends.

Marcus trusted the bastard with his life.

“So what’s the emergency, asshole?”

Marcus took a deep breath. “Nothing much. I need you to take over … for a while.”

Ennis’s eyes lit up and he planted his cantaloupe-forming hands on his hips. “It’s that fucking Liaison Officer, isn’t it? Well, what do you know.”

Marcus didn’t blink, couldn’t blink. His entire being hit a wall of paralysis. His chin lowered slowly, his arms stiffened, the hairs on his neck bristled. His nostrils flared as a low growl formed at the back of his throat, a resonant sound that slowly rippled up and out and filled the room.

Ennis lifted a brow then another. “What the fuck?” slipped from between his teeth, a whisper really, but the bastard grinned. “So the goddamn rumors are true?”

“Take it back,” Marcus said.

“So the breh-hedden is real.”

Marcus growled again.

Ennis lifted both hands. “Okay, okay. I apologize for saying fucking Liaison Officer.”

Marcus watched his behavior from the side of his brain still capable of rational thought. He was astonished at the intense physical reaction he’d had to the disparaging comment. He tried to talk sense to his other self, the one standing like a caveman, feet planted more than a foot apart, knees bent, thighs flexed and twitching as he lowered his body. Give him a sword and a dagger and he’d be content to chop Ennis up into a few dozen packages of prime fillets.

Despite the apology, Marcus had a hard time easing up from his fighting crouch. He breathed hard, and his wing-locks were a mess of weeping. He’d need to change his shirt after this.

“Shit, Marcus,” Ennis whispered.

Now there was a fucking understatement. With what was left of his normal vampire brain, Marcus forced himself to relax, to stand down, to breathe. Sweet Jesus.

“You okay?”

Marcus glared. He didn’t want to, but he was acting as though he’d already bonded with Havily, already completed the breh-hedden, like she’d become the sun, moon, and stars to him when all he’d done was meet her in his dreams.

The memory, of Havily riding him and screaming, swooped down on him, condor-like, and grabbed his mind with both talons. That had been the beginning of this current nightmare. From the point that he’d finally succeeded in doing what he’d wanted to do with Havily for months, his whole life had been taking one giant plunge down the mountainside, just the way his hog had gone over the Olympic cliff.

Aw … fuck.

He closed his eyes and drew himself upright, shoulders back, spine straight for God’s sake. He flared his nostrils again but this time to draw in a long deep breath. After about a minute, he opened his eyes.

Ennis shook his head but a new grin quirked his lips. “Get going, asshole,” he said, buddy-like. “I’ll hold the fucking fort. Take care of your woman. Make her safe and, for fuck’s sake, do all of us a favor and make her yours.”

“You sure you got this?”

“Yep. Now get the hell out.”

Marcus turned back to his desk and pressed the Jane button.

“Yes, Mr. Amargi?”

“I’ll be leaving town for a few days. Ennis is taking the helm. Please bring him up to speed.”

“Of course, Mr. Amargi.” He released the button.

“There’s just one thing I want you to tell me before you go. What does your name mean? Amargi. You told me you’d tell me one of these days. Today looks like a damn good day for a revelation.”

Marcus looked at him and somehow knew that there was great irony in what he was about to reveal. “‘Freedom.’ In Sumerian, amargi means ‘freedom.’”

That Ennis shook his head, grinned, then laughed, told Marcus he thought the same damn thing. Just how much freedom was Marcus going to have in the next few days, months, years? Hell, millennia … shit.

* * *

I don’t know what to do.

Havily paced beneath the ficus trees on her small patio at the back of her town house. She rubbed her arms. Even though the June morning was hot and she wore a long-sleeved gray silk shirt and black leggings, she was cold.

She glanced at the window of her bedroom. At least it had been repaired already. Medichi had arranged for it, calling in a couple of favors to make sure that her home was safe once more. Safe. Now, there was a joke.

Militia Warriors swarmed the property, at least two dozen of them, some in front of her town house, some in her patio, a few more in the yard to the east of her home, a couple within her house, and another bunch traipsing along the exposed west side of her property. Behind the enclosed patio, Camelback Mountain climbed in a steep rocky incline to its twelve hundred feet.

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