Burning Skies Page 33

“Oh.” Her gaze shifted and then she sort of crumpled, dropping to sit down on the planked floor as though her legs simply wouldn’t hold her up any longer.

Well, finally. A normal reaction.

* * *

Marcus smiled. He battled with his sword like the warrior he had been all those centuries ago. He and Medichi had Leto backed up into a ficus tree.

Leto had been a good friend to Marcus, a drinking buddy, in times gone by. Now he was a goddamn traitor—something he still found hard to believe.

The women had long since dematerialized, hopefully to Medichi’s villa. Crace was gone as well. So now there was just the traitor to take care of.

Again Marcus smiled. And Medichi smiled. Because it was only a matter of time before they finished Leto off, but shit, the warrior was still an amazing swordsman.

Marcus pressed from the left. Medichi from the right. Swords clanged. Marcus felt a punch to his right side but ignored the sensation and attacked. Suddenly Marcus’s sword hit what felt like a wall, his arm jarred from the vibration of the strike, but he wasn’t anywhere near something that solid.

Fuck. Leto had cast one helluva shield. Who the hell could do that? He sure as hell couldn’t. He struck again and was rewarded with another painful stinging vibration shooting straight up his arm. “What the fuck!” he shouted.

Medichi did the same and came away cursing with pain and holding his sword elbow with his other palm. “What the hell is that, traitor? A fucking shield? You afraid to fight, you goddamn motherfucker?”

Marcus stared hard at Leto. The bastard was sweating and breathing hard but then they all were. He looked from one to the other. “Nice to see you again, assholes, but I need you to get a message to Endelle. Tell her that there’s a party planned for the Ambassadors Festival. Watch the skies.”

“What party, you fucking traitor?”

But that was all Leto would say. He gave Marcus a wide smile, all teeth, flipped him off, then vanished.

Marcus turned to Medichi, who was still holding his elbow.

“What the fuck was that all about?” Medichi let go of his sword-arm and gave it a shake. He was breathing hard. He glanced at Marcus, at his abdomen. “Hey. You’re bleeding.”

Marcus felt the warm trickle and looked at his side. Leto had sliced him, deep and all the way through. As though acknowledging the blood had opened a floodgate, suddenly he felt the pain. “Aw, fuck.”

Medichi bent over at the waist, catching his breath. “It doesn’t look too bad. I’ve got to get back to New River. You know New River, that place where I’m doing that job you refuse to do?”

Marcus found breathing difficult. He wanted to flip him off but couldn’t. He now braced his abdomen with his arm. As Medichi lifted up from the waist, Marcus asked, “How the hell did you know to come over here? Did Thorne send you?”


“Then how did you know?” Shit, his side had really started to hurt, and now he was bent over.

Medichi grinned. “Well, asshole, you’re just going to have to find that out for yourself. But I guarantee you one thing, when you do find out, you ain’t gonna like it.” He tapped his forehead, laughed, then lifted his arm and vanished.

Marcus shouted obscenities after him or at least tried to. What the hell did Medichi mean by that? Or was he just fucking with his head?

He clutched his side. Blood poured down his abdomen. His pants were getting soaked. Shit.


He folded his sword back to Bainbridge.

He needed his wound tended to and he also needed to get back to Havily and the mortal-with-wings. He’d seen them fold out of the house just before Crace got to either of them. Damn, his woman was good.

Oh, man, he couldn’t breathe. He’d also need a boost through the dimension and oh, shit, it was going to hurt even more because of the sword slice. Shit.

He called Jeannie at Central. First things first. “Did Havily call you? Are the women okay?”

“Yep. She has the mortal at the villa.”

“Good.” He was panting now.

“What’s wrong, duhuro?”

He didn’t have the energy to argue with her over her form of address. “I got cut and I need a lift to the villa. Can you get me there?”

“Damn straight, but I gotta warn you, the pain will be worse.”

“I know,” Marcus whispered. “Just do it.”

“Feel better. I’ll send Horace.”


The vibration struck and as he moved through nether-space he knew he was screaming. When he landed in the entrance near Havily and a now-clothed mortal, he was still shouting like a sonofabitch. Words poured out of his mouth, inappropriate words, but the hell if he could hold them back.

He landed on his feet but fell to the floor and writhed. He forgot how bad it hurt to fold with a wound like this. Sonofabitch. He breathed hard. Sweat poured off his body. He lay on his back and hit the planked floor with one hand over and over. With the other, he held the wound at his side.

He felt a hand on his arm. When had Havily dropped down next to him?

“You’re wounded.”

“Yep. Horace on the way.” He took one more deep breath then passed out.

* * *

Havily knelt beside Marcus as blood pooled from his waist. The cornflower-blue silk shirt he wore was torn and bloodied.

Horace didn’t come.

He didn’t come.

Where the hell was he?

Marcus moaned. Havily put her hand on his shoulder very gently. His eyes opened, but they looked wild with pain.

“Horace isn’t here yet,” she said, “and I know my blood can help. Will you take it?”

He nodded.

She put her wrist to her mouth and with her right fang made a nice suicide cut across all the veins. The sting of it hurt but based on what had happened when Marcus drank from her, she knew her blood would help heal him. She put her wrist against his lips and let him taste.

His eyes popped wide and, as though she’d offered an elixir of Olympian quality, he moaned and started taking deep pulls.

She heard Parisa gasp.

Havily turned in her direction and shrugged. “I might have forgotten to mention that Second Earth is also the world of the vampire.”

Parisa nodded. “I knew that.” She was still sitting on the floor. She stared at the joined wrist and mouth and put her hand on her neck. Her lips parted and the color on her cheeks turned pink, but not in embarrassment.

Havily looked away. Yes, the suckling motion, and the exchange of blood to mouth, all spoke of a more intimate connection. She wasn’t surprised that Parisa rose to her feet and without a word left the room.

* * *

So this really is the world of the vampire.

Parisa left the foyer, but once she entered the expansive formal living room, out of sight of Havily and Marcus, she turned swiftly to lean against the wall. She closed her eyes and took deep breaths. She put two fingers to her neck right above the vein. She hadn’t been disgusted or even distressed by the blood-taking. It had seemed … natural … but very erotic.

In her visions of Warrior Medichi, Parisa had once seen him take a woman’s blood. He’d been in some kind of club with red velvet booths and loud music and he’d taken a woman into one of the booths. He’d sucked blood from her neck while he’d made love to her and the whole time Parisa had wished she had been beneath his big warrior body. She was embarrassed by the memory, not because of what he’d done but because instead of retreating, she’d kept her special vision open and had watched the whole thing from start to finish.

She was such a voyeur.

Now she was here, in his home.

She hadn’t told Havily, but she recognized this house. She had seen Warrior Medichi here many times before.

Many times.

She pushed away from the wall because she could still hear the suckling sounds. She moved into the room full of heavy antique sofas and chairs covered in cream silk. Large woven rugs anchored the furniture and olive-green silk panels flanked the windows at both the east and west sides of the room.

She needed separation from the oh-so-intimate contact going on in the next room. She sighed. How could she explain what it was she felt right now? From the moment she had entered Warrior Medichi’s villa she had been overcome, not by fear, but by lust, pure, heavy, saturated lust that kept her sex in an uproar. She caught the scent of sweet sage everywhere and had to conclude that since this was Medichi’s home, the sage smell must belong to him. Perhaps he used the spice a lot when he cooked. Whatever it was, her body loved it.

“Better?” she heard Havily say.

“Much,” Marcus responded.

The sounds of their voices, so tender, forced Parisa to move on, deeper into the house, one step in front of the other. She knew exactly where she was going.

She crossed the room and found herself in a second but much smaller foyer. A rectangular oak table sat in the center of the space.

Branching off from this smaller connecting room was a wing that faced west; a window down the hall gave a view of a rolling lawn and mountains beyond. She had never seen Warrior Medichi go into these rooms during one of her visions. She supposed these might be guest rooms.

The villa hallway stretched to the south, and she knew that the warrior’s private suite of rooms formed the entire southern wing of the house. Yes, she had been inside this suite of rooms in her visions as well. She felt a profound desire to explore them but squeezed her eyes shut and forced herself to set aside such invasive thoughts. She had no right to enter his rooms.

So she headed to the one room that made sense. To the east, opposite the supposed suite of guest rooms, was one very large room—the library. She had seen Medichi in this room numerous times as well. She was, after all, a librarian by trade.

She crossed to the arched doorway, and the smell of leather and sage drew her in. She couldn’t imagine a more erotic combination than what greeted her. A love of books was in her blood, deep, passionate, ages old, so that she would have loved this room no matter whom it belonged to. But smelling that rich sage scent embedded in all this leather nearly sent her crumpling to the floor all over again.

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