Burning Skies Page 5

His gaze fell to his heavy cock, partially stiff from sleep and from thoughts of Havily. Even a quick image of her flashing through his mind brought desire streaking the entire length. He flicked the tip in punishment since he couldn’t get Havily off his mind. But the sharp jolt made him hiss. These days it took so little to make him come. One or two thoughts about the redheaded ascender, a few tugs, and he was gone. So, shit.

His gaze ran upward to his hair. Endelle was right. He’d been letting his hair grow. Because he’d had a corporate cut for at least the last century, he’d forgotten that his hair curled at the tips. Would Havily like his hair longer?

Then he chastised himself for wondering anything so useless.

He left the bathroom and moved to the windows. He pushed open the far-right pane and heard the soft lap of the sound’s water hitting the sandy beach below. A rush of cool damp air followed.

So why hadn’t Havily come to him?

He turned back and looked at his bed, a nice big bed to accommodate his warrior body. Funny thing was, he never brought any of his dates here. He had never wanted to. Now, every other minute, he pictured Havily right there, on her back, on his bed, her body writhing. His cock responded all over again. He glanced in the direction of his groin. “Down, boy. She’s not here. Won’t be here. Get used to it.”

His thoughts traveled back and hooked on the last time he’d truly been with Havily, four months ago, at Endelle’s palace. He’d been so consumed by her, by her honeysuckle scent, that he’d kissed her.

But that wasn’t all that had happened. The craving he’d been feeling for her swamped him, caught him in a heavy undertow, and pulled him down. He’d been 100 percent out of his mind with his need to be with her, to take her sexually, to partake of her blood, to get inside her head in deep mind-engagement. He’d pushed her into an adjoining room of the palace and pinned her against the wall. She in turn had been equally as lost and had been an oh-so-willing, whimpering, moaning participant. There had been no doubt in his mind that had they not been interrupted, he would have taken her then and there and she would have been with him all the way.

But Luken, thank God, had stopped him. He’d peeled him off Havily, beaten the shit out of him, and essentially knocked some sense into his head.

Marcus had never been so out of control as that last night on Second Earth. Afterward, he’d apologized to the Warriors of the Blood then folded back to Mortal Earth, back here to his home on Bainbridge. He’d considered apologizing to Havily as well, but he hadn’t trusted himself to be anywhere near her.

Now he stood by an open window, in the early hours of the morning, knowing that something had happened to her tonight and wondering what the hell to do about it. His protective urges rose, a line of restless stallions, ready to gallop but nowhere to go.

He thought about calling her; then his rational mind stepped up to the gate and shut him down but good. He had nothing to offer Havily, and to be calling her and asking if she was all right would suggest that he had some kind of intention of getting involved in her life and he sure as hell wasn’t going to do that.

Havily lived on Second Earth, one whole dimension away. Most of his nineteen corporations had dealings with Second Earth but he never went there himself, not for business, not for any reason. He had plenty of support staff, self-exiled vampires who made regular dimensional trips to Second Earth, all by legal permit, to conduct and foster his various businesses.

No, he had no real reason to call Havily, not now, not ever.

There was, however, someone he could call who could give him information—and she would definitely be up this time of night.

He crossed the room to his nightstand. Picking up his interdimensional iPhone, he thumbed the screen.

“This is Jeannie. How can I help?”

“Hey, Jeannie.” Would she recognize his voice?

“Warrior Marcus,” she shrieked, then toned it down immediately. “That is, good evening, Warrior Marcus, how can I help?”

Marcus laughed. He’d known Jeannie a very long time, long before his departure from Second Earth two hundred years ago. She worked at Central Command, manning the communications night after night between Thorne and all the Warriors of the Blood. She’d been a good friend to him through the centuries; she was one reason he’d hated to leave. “I need to know if Havily Morgan is all right.”

A pause followed as well as a sigh. “You know I’m not allowed to discuss warrior business. Even if my channels are secure, your phone isn’t.”

“I’m not asking about the warriors. I just need to know if Havily was involved in any of the activities this evening?”

“Yes.” But she volunteered no other information.

Marcus put a hand to his chest. Shit, he was struggling to breathe. “Was she … injured?”

“No, not at all. I can promise you that. She is perfectly well.” A pause, then more stridently, “But I really can’t say anything more.”

“I understand.” He released a sigh. “Thank you, Jeannie. You’ve helped a lot.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I’ll say good night.”



“You were always my favorite.”

“Back atcha.”

“Coming back anytime soon?”

In the dark and in the comfort of his bedroom on Bainbridge Island, he smiled. “Don’t think so.”

“Too fucking bad, Warrior. Thorne’s calling. Gotta go.”

He thumbed his iPhone and set it back on the table.

Good. Havily was all right but Jeannie’s unspoken words indicated there had been some problem tonight in which Havily had been involved.

He climbed back into bed, stretched out, then laced his hands behind his head. What was he supposed to do with the conundrum that had become Havily Morgan?

Tonight? Nothing.

Tomorrow he’d head back to his office building, the one he owned in downtown Seattle. Business was a perfect distraction from a situation he needed to ignore anyway.

He worked hard keeping his empire in line. Lately he’d been dealing with a couple of strikes on different continents and some serious competition from a Chinese firm looking to move in on his Mortal Earth European operations.

Tomorrow he had two board meetings. One corporation exported PCs to Second Earth; the other was a highly specialized company designed to serve the horticulture industry. So yeah, he needed his rest.

He yawned, closed his eyes.

Okay. There was just way too much here he couldn’t control.


* * *

Endelle, Supreme High Administrator of Second Earth, reclined on her chaise longue. She wore a soft purple linen gown for comfort since she would be on duty all through the night, just as her Warriors of the Blood were on duty, however different their assigned tasks.

Instead of battling with a sword, Endelle hunted her prey in the midst of the darkening, that piece of nether-space she inhabited during her meditations. While in a state of meditation, she was able to split-self, to become two separate corporeal forms—one that reclined on the chaise, the other that slipped into the nether-space of the darkening, free to move around and act within that space in a second physical body.

What her second split-self couldn’t do was leave the darkening, except to return to, and rejoin, her first corporeal self—all very third-dimensional preternatural shit that no one else on Second Earth, not even Greaves himself, could do.

So here she was, her primary self reclining in meditation and her second self, her split-self, chasing that bastard, Darian Greaves, from one end of the planet to the other, at least while in the darkening.

She had one job to perform during her nightly vigils—to keep Greaves from increasing the size of his army of death vampires here in Phoenix.

In the past decade he’d taken to shipping death vamps from all over the world to the metropolitan area in an ongoing effort to destroy the Warriors of the Blood, to wear them down so that they made mistakes and got themselves killed. It was a clever, subtle strategy that did not in any way alert the authorities to his machinations.

COPASS was the committee that governed the process of ascension to Second Earth and which had also established several critical rules for how each faction could conduct its war efforts. Basically, she and Greaves weren’t allowed to engage in open warfare for the simple reason that they were each too powerful. Engagement had atomic implications, and both she and the Commander had agreed not to do battle personally.

But Greaves could ship death vampires to Phoenix Two and Endelle could chase his sorry ass through the darkening and stop him.

At least, thank God, Greaves wasn’t omnipotent. Yes, she could thank the Creator for small favors.

As she moved in her split-self, she drew close, so close to her prey. Silver tendrils appeared, small beacons of light that belonged exclusively to Greaves. His light trails never ceased to surprise her because evil ought to be represented by red flames and black smoke, not silver streams of light, for Christ’s sake.

His voice came to her next, full of persuasive resonance, as he addressed his minions. “A place, my brother ascenders, has been prepared for you, of great honor for your service to my cause. In return, being stationed in Metro Phoenix will provide all the opportunity you need to sate your appetites, since the Sonoran Desert has five access points to Mortal Earth.”

An interpreter spoke rapidly in a language she didn’t know, but something that sounded like East Indian. This last statement mentioning five access points, once flushed through the interpreter, was met with a round of lifted fists and war cries. Funny how Greaves failed to note that the access points were guarded by Warriors of the Blood.

A moment more and she skidded into Greaves’s arena, thinning the line between real-space and nether-space, so that she could see her prey. He was absurdly attractive, with his bald head and muscular warrior build. He had large, round dark eyes and carried himself like a cultured gentleman. He wore what he always wore, a fine-pressed wool suit. He preferred Hugo Boss. He was a fucking hypocrite and she loathed him.

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