Burning Skies Page 20

The Militia Warriors treated her like a delicate orchid because she’d once been engaged to one of their own, her beloved Eric. Even though that had been fifteen years ago, the Militia Warrior family looked after her. The fact that she’d been attacked in her home had telegraphed through the ranks like lightning, and the assignment to protect her had been picked up by several of Eric’s good friends, a testament to his character and their loyalty.

However, not a single Militia Warrior was a match for even the weakest death vampire, which was part of the reason Second Earth was in such desperate straits these days. Knowing that these men were at risk had her pacing the patio and even rubbing her arms, though the June temp had already climbed past a hundred and it was maybe ten in the morning. What distressed her the most was that she didn’t want to be the cause of a Militia Warrior’s death. Should the enemy attack, men would die, good men, some of them with families, and all because of her.

She put her hand on her throat. The fangs in her neck had been savage but, because of her quick healing, and Horace’s help, she didn’t even show a bruise. She paced and shook her head. The death vampire who had attacked her, Crace, had intended to do damage, to hurt her, to make her scream. She had fought his hold on her because the pain had been excruciating.

She felt nauseated by the thought. She put her fist to her mouth and bit her thumb to keep from screaming.

How had this happened? Why had this happened? She didn’t have advanced powers, not like Alison, not like any of the Warriors of the Blood. Why on earth had Crace targeted her? It made no sense.

She had always felt inadequate that her ascension, which had required a warrior guardian, had been such a fierce disappointment to Madame Endelle and probably to the brothers as well. The side of right desperately needed powerful ascenders, but here she was putting so many in jeopardy—and for what?

Her eyes burned. The only remotely powerful thing she’d done was to have an inexplicable vision and arrange for Thorne to get over to the Superstitions and save Luken’s life. Everyone kept saying that she had saved Luken but Thorne had killed the death vampires, Thorne had gotten Horace and an ambulance to the Superstitions, Thorne, Thorne, Thorne.

She brushed her tears away and slapped at a few low-hanging ficus leaves as she whirled and paced the other direction. The three Militia Warriors in the patio looked anywhere but at her.

At least the attack last night had prevented a recurrence of the dreams she somehow shared with Warrior Marcus.


A deep, warm masculine voice called to her from the sliders that led to her kitchen. She whirled and gave an odd wave as she caught sight of Medichi. Then she did the worst thing she could. She burst into a bout of really embarrassing girlish tears.

“Hey,” he called out. The Militia Warriors each took a step away from him in deference as he crossed the patio. He was so tall, so heavy with muscle that he seemed to take up the entire small space. He gathered her against him and held her close. “Hey,” he murmured again, petting her hair. She relaxed into his warm body.

“You didn’t have to come by,” she mumbled against his chest. “Shouldn’t you be sleeping?” The Warriors of the Blood fought all night and needed to rest during the day.

She felt him sigh. “I can always sleep,” he said. “So how you doin’, although I think I can guess.” He had a very deep voice and his chest rumbled against her face as he spoke.

“I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” she whispered.

“Not one of these men gives a rat’s ass about that. We’re here for you. We’ll die for you and you’re worth every damn molecule of effort. Look at me.”

She drew back about half an inch and craned her neck to look up at him.

She heard a soft intake of breath as he blinked down at her. She saw his throat move in a rippling wave as he swallowed. He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and seemed to gather himself. When he opened his eyes he said gently, “Call him back. We need him and you need him.”

She didn’t pretend she didn’t know he was talking about Marcus. And maybe she should call him back. Maybe it was the only sensible thing to do.

She was about to reassure him that she would think about it when another deep masculine voice called out, this one with more resonance and punch to his words. “How about you take your hands off her, asshole.”

Havily gasped as Medichi’s hands fell away. The three Militia Warriors stationed in the patio turned in his direction, swords drawn, but each almost immediately pointed his sword toward the ground. “Sorry, sir,” flowed from mouth to mouth.

Medichi shifted and turned, which afforded Havily a perfect view of … Marcus. He didn’t look at her but glared at Medichi. His muscled shoulders were up around his ears and his hands were knotted into a pair of heavy fists.

Marcus was here? At her home? On Second?

Medichi took a step away from Havily, then another. He lifted his hands, palms facing Marcus. “I was just leaving,” he said, and before Havily could protest, the flutter of air near her told her he was dematerializing.

She lifted a hand in Medichi’s direction, not wanting him to leave her alone with Marcus, but too late.

She turned to settle a scathing glance on him. “Why are you here?” she cried, lifting an imperious brow and crossing her arms over her chest. She may crave him, she may even have thought she should consider asking him to come back for her sake, but ultimately, she still thought he was a horrible deserter and wanted nothing to do with him.

The terrible bond of the breh-hedden,

Breaks down walls.

—Collected Proverbs, Beatrice of Fourth

Chapter 7

Marcus stared at Havily. The decision to come to her had cost him so much and now all he could do was stare at her and wonder. He drew in a long drag of air through his nostrils, letting the honeysuckle scent of her scrape his nose raw. He loved every millisecond of it, every flare of nerve ending as his brain pounded with the certain knowledge that he had come home. At long last, he was home.

He had told Ennis that he would be gone a few days, to sort this out, but he knew, he knew, he wouldn’t be going back. He’d returned to Second Earth, to this house, to Havily, to the goddamn fucking war.

He belonged here.

When he’d folded to the front door of her condo, he hadn’t thought he was making such a final decision, but he was. There’d be no going back even though he also knew to a certainty that whatever this was between himself and Havily, breh-hedden or not, wasn’t permanent, either.

His sister, Helena, had died because she’d married a Warrior of the Blood, and Marcus had every intention of picking up his sword and dagger again. Which meant that he wouldn’t take a wife, or in this case a breh. He wouldn’t do that to Havily—or any woman for that matter. Besides, what kind of hypocrite would that make him if he were to marry where he had once begged Kerrick not to?

Havily was so beautiful and even in casual dress she looked stylish. She wore snug black leggings and a loose, flowing gray silk shirt almost to her knees, reminiscent of Vera Wang, the latter a perfect complement to her peachy-red waves. She stood in the June heat looking crisp and fresh, her long, layered hair sparkling in the sun.

But her expression was all Havily, her brow raised, her lips curled in a soft, oh-so-pretty sneer. Her opinion of his character wouldn’t exactly encourage a permanent connection, and that could only work to his advantage in the long term.

For whatever reason, though, in this moment in time, they were connected. They might even have something they needed to accomplish together. He was here now with his first duty already laid out for him by the call of the breh-hedden—to protect this woman. The warriors knew it. He knew it. He’d get to the bottom of the recent attack on her life, see her through this current crisis, then once more take up his place with the Warriors of the Blood.

For a moment, however, the past caught up with him, a particular memory that almost knocked him flat. He wasn’t sure why he was thinking of his sister, of Helena, right now, but a vision of her came to him.

It was her wedding day, the day she had married Kerrick. She was the only family he had left on Second Earth, and he had begged her many times not to marry a Warrior of the Blood. Anyone connected to those who battled death vampires every night would be targeted by the Commander.

He had stood beside her at the top of the long walkway beneath an arch of honeysuckle. At the end of that archway, Kerrick waited for his bride. On either side of the archway, a hundred guests had all turned to watch Helena, but Marcus had stayed her with a hand on her arm.

Telepathically, he sent, Please don’t do this. Surely, you know what the end will be?

She had sighed, smiled, patted his cheek. “Stop worrying,” she had whispered. “This is what I want.” How beautiful she had looked, her lovely light brown eyes, the same color as his, full of hope, compassion, and finally wisdom, for she had said, “Life is for the living, dear brother, and I love him.”

Marcus had walked her down that long, difficult path beneath the archway of honeysuckle but all his fear became fixed on his brother warrior, his soon-to-be brother-in-law.

Kerrick had glowed with his love for Helena. Marcus had never doubted the man’s love, but he questioned his selfishness. Marcus knew that if anything ever happened to Helena because of this marriage, he would never forgive Kerrick. Never.

When Helena had been killed, her children with her, something inside Marcus had gone wild with rage. His grief had transformed into a hatred so virulent that he knew he would have taken Kerrick’s life. So instead of killing his brother warrior, he’d exiled himself to Mortal Earth. He had never thought to return.

Now he was here, staring at Havily.

He still wanted to beat the shit out of Kerrick for having married his sister, for having been the cause of her death, but even these powerful impulses dimmed in the face of the overwhelming need he had to be with Havily, spread his wings over her, make sure she was safe.

He strode toward her now, long confident steps, sure steps. She backed away from him in small shuffles since a bank of shrubs was directly behind her. He caught her by the arms and held her in a rough grip.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies