Burning Skies Page 26

Finally, she achieved equilibrium. She unfurled her wings and her feet were steady. She drew a sharp breath into her lungs even as tears touched her eyes. Was she really going to do this?

She couldn’t imagine the picture she made, with just her lace briefs on, her breasts fully exposed, and her wings spreading above the courtyard. But how happy she was.

She knew there was a danger if she didn’t do this properly, but she wouldn’t think of that now. Instead, with a sweep of her wings, she dropped into the space below. Her wings, just as she hoped, caught air and eased her onto the hard pavers.

Oh. My. God.

First flight.

Her first flight!

She smiled and glanced from one tip of her wings to the other. Her heart pounded, loud and hard. She took a breath and drew her wings close to her body once more. She turned and stared up at the railing, at least sixteen feet above her, more than a story.

She thought of flapping her wings and seeing if she could regain the railing, but that was too much of a risk to attempt tonight. What if she flapped too hard and ended up clearing the roofline? What if a draft caught her wings and carried her toward the hill behind her house? No, she wouldn’t do that, but she was willing to bring her wings in close, go back inside, and return up the stairs to the railing. Yes, this she could do.

And she did, again … and again … and again.

Nurture the gifted and a land will prosper.

—Collected Proverbs, Beatrice of Fourth

Chapter 9

Havily awoke and stretched. She glanced toward the window. She could tell by the fading light that it had to be late—at least seven, maybe later. The clock on the nightstand proved her theory. Almost seven thirty. She had slept through most of the afternoon and well into the evening. Of course when she thought back to all that had transpired the night before, beginning with a death vampire attack and ending this morning with an astonishing bout of lovemaking with Warrior Marcus … well, she wasn’t surprised sleep had claimed her. At long last.

She heard Marcus in the other room, in her kitchen. She heard pots banging around. She extended her hearing. “There’s really nothing in here but Yoplait yogurt.” He grunted his displeasure. Who was he talking to? “Okay. So it’s called Give Me Greek. No, that’s okay. I’ll call and order. Thanks, Jeannie.”

Huh. Marcus had called Central, the place that oversaw the nightly war against death vampires, for information on local restaurants? Sometimes men were helpless … but at least Marcus was resourceful. But still, Central.

Mmm. Food. Her stomach rumbled.

She stretched. She glanced at the bathroom. A shower sounded like heaven as well. She slipped from bed and padded to the bathroom. A minute later she stepped into the shower, dipping her head below the heavenly spray.

Now that Marcus was separated from her by several walls, and his fennel scent wasn’t burrowing into her brain, her rational mind had a chance to surface. What on earth was she thinking? She had slept with the one man on the planet she had considered the last man on the planet, any dimension, that she would ever sleep with—Warrior Marcus, the deserter.

She needed to get a grip, to remember one salient fact: that Marcus, despite the fact that he made love to her like a god, had deserted his brothers-in-arms two hundred years ago. What did that say of his character, of his worth? More than once while caught in the pleasure of his body over hers, tender feelings had surfaced, but this was nothing more than the horrible breh-hedden trying to work its wiles on her, seduce her into caring for someone she did not feel deserved it.

So there.

With that settled, however, her thoughts drifted back to making love with the deserter. Oh. Dear. God.

Memories rose and fell on her, knocking her flat, drawing from her body remembered pleasure. And yes, his exotic fennel scent had swamped her, but exactly what were the two of them supposed to do now? Keep tumbling into bed, keep exploring each other’s bodies, keep drowning in each other’s scent, keep kissing those lips and putting her hands in his hair, and letting her fingers rake his muscled flesh and oh, God, she was aroused all over again.

“Dammit, Havily,” he called to her all the way from the kitchen. “Would you stop throwing honeysuckle at me? I swear I’ll come over there and break the door down if you keep that up.”

He could smell her all the way from the master bath to the kitchen?

She was so screwed.

Even if she hadn’t been drawn to Marcus by the breh-hedden, the truth was, she loved this. Oh, hell, she shouldn’t, but she did. Warrior Marcus was in full caveman mode and she loved that she could work him up just by thinking a lusty thought or two.

The trouble was, she hadn’t had a man in her bed for way too long and now she was just as bad as Marcus. She was a young woman on her honeymoon and everything she needed was in the other room.

She turned the shower off, stepped onto the bath mat, grabbed a purple towel, and dried herself off. She took her time working her Clinique lotion into every square inch of her skin.

She may be a vampire and she may heal fast but she vowed she looked better because of Clinique.

She heard a tapping on the door then a soft scratching. “Havily?” From beneath the door and around the doorjambs, fennel invaded the steamy bathroom.


“Yes.” The word kind of squeaked out.

“We need to talk.” Another soft scratching sounded. More fennel. Oh. God.

She drew a couple of deep breaths. “I know.” But she didn’t speed up her process. She tapped the moisturizer with her little finger very gently beneath her right eye, then her left. This really wasn’t necessary, but the ritual calmed her.

“How long are you going to be in there?”

“I don’t know. I feel safe in here.”

“I’m not a monster.”

“I know.”

“Just wanted you to know.”

“I know.” He was just a deserter. But he’d also saved her life four months ago during an attack at Endelle’s palace. The vampire wasn’t all bad.

“Okay. I’ve ordered Greek.”

“I’ll be out in a few. I promise.”


She stared at the door. So what was she supposed to do with this man?

* * *

Marcus felt lost as he stared at the bathroom door. He wanted to bust the damn thing down and drag Havily back to bed. He wanted to keep her there for maybe a year—or a century. He wanted to taste her … everywhere. He wanted her blood again.

He could smell her honeysuckle scent and his balls tightened. Dammit.

He turned on his heel and made his way out of the bedroom. He paced through the small suite of rooms that made up her town house, up and down the short hallways, through the kitchen back into the living room. He was uneasy and tense so he made this loop over and over, trying to just calm down.

Still, she remained in the bathroom, probably tending to her perfect hair and her stylish makeup. Okay, so he really approved of how she cared for herself. His approval wasn’t helping.

He’d finally made love to the woman he’d been craving for four months and the experience had been … incredible. Trouble was, as soon as he’d detected her lovely honeysuckle scent wafting from the bathroom, he’d grown as hard as flint, all over again. With Havily around, it didn’t take much.

He’d been awake for hours. He’d phoned Ennis several times, walking him through various aspects of his empire, things he thought Ennis would need to know. But the bastard sounded so fucking patronizing, yes, he knew about the contracts that needed to be signed, yes, the board meeting had gone off without a hitch, no, he didn’t think the COO of the corporation handling the horticulture exports needed to be replaced. Blah, blah, blah.

He kept pacing. This not having anything to do, even for a few hours, bugged the shit out of him. He was a man of forward motion and action. But all he could do right now was wait for Havily to get dressed and for the food to arrive. Then what? He felt ready to jump out of his skin. He never had this much downtime.

After a good half hour of pacing, he turned on his heel, left the dining room, and marched through the kitchen, down the hall, to a closed door he’d been ignoring. He turned the knob and pushed the door open.

What he saw stunned him. In the very center of what proved to be an office was a huge architectural rendering standing at least three feet by six feet or so and rising some four feet in the air. What the hell was this? Looked like some kind of incomplete office complex.

He noticed that the topmost level had several wide stretches of green, which he knew represented areas of lawn, which meant that all the levels of the building below were actually underground. He saw miniature steel girders sunk deep, indicating that the building would be many stories in height. Was this what Havily did in her spare time?

“What are you doing in here?”

He didn’t turn around immediately because he couldn’t believe what he was looking at. “I didn’t mean to pry. I’m a little antsy, but what is this? I’m really impressed.”

He heard her sigh. “Just a project I’ve been working on in conjunction with an architect for the past several years. It’s a military-admin complex. For a long time I’ve thought Madame Endelle’s operation could be seriously improved starting with a new facility. I had a mock-up completed and ready to present, but it got annihilated by a flamethrower.”

He glanced at her over his shoulder. “What do you mean?”

Another sigh. “I tried to present my ideas to Madame Endelle, but she took an instant dislike to my audacity. She torched the whole thing although I will admit my timing was atrocious. Still…”

Marcus turned around fully. “Well, I didn’t mean to invade your privacy. I was trying to distract myself…” He looked her up and down and his lips parted. What she wore wasn’t sexy, but it was stylish. He’d known a lot of models over the decades and he recognized the fashion influence. She wore silk cream pants cuffed tight at the ankle and leopard-print heels. The blouse was long-sleeved, rolled up to the elbows, in blue plaid, also in silk, very chic. She wore pearls in long loops. Her hair was a floating layer of red. Her makeup was perfection, as always, and expert shading and mascara enhanced her light green eyes. The woman knew how to put herself together.

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