Burning Skies Page 50

The screams and fists only made it better.

God, he loved being a vampire.

* * *

Marcus stood beside Medichi in the small turreted room. No Havily. No Parisa. Where the hell were they?

Medichi ducked beneath the canopy and smoothed a hand over the black-and-red quilt covering the bed. “Parisa was here. Her scent is near the bed. Do you think somehow Crace got her?”

His dark eyes were wild as he met Marcus’s gaze.

“I don’t know. I’m trying to figure out what happened.” Havily had definitely been here as well. He could smell honeysuckle thick in the space. He took a deep breath and calmed his racing heart. He folded his sword to Bainbridge since the space was so confined. Medichi followed suit, his sword disappearing as well. Identified swords were dangerous.

He searched for folding traces but found, thank God, only one faint telltale stream of light, which meant Crace had dematerialized alone.

“I’m only seeing one trace,” Marcus said. “Not even two, never mind three.”

He saw the small door off to the side. He opened it and found one helluva small bathroom, a shower in the corner, toilet, a sink the size of a tortoiseshell. But no one was in there.

He turned back into the bedroom and met Medichi’s tortured gaze.

“Where are the women?” Medichi asked. Sweat from the recent battle flooded his face and dripped down his neck.

In that instant, Marcus knew exactly what had happened to them. “Havily,” he said in a strong voice. “You can come out now.”

Medichi frowned, turned toward the bed, and dropped to his knees. He peered under. “They’re not here.”

“If it’s where I think they are, they’re safe. Really safe.”

“Well, where the hell do you think they are?”

“The darkening.”

Medichi rose up and stared at him. “You’re shitting me.”

Marcus shook his head. “Nope.” He even smiled.

Medichi glanced around the room once more. “I won’t believe it until they’re standing right next to me.”

And then there they were, both women, standing right next to him. Havily had her arms around Parisa, who in turn was weeping against Havily’s neck.

The sight broke his heart. His smile dimmed.

“My fault. My fault,” Parisa sobbed.

“Hey,” Marcus called softly. He met Havily’s gaze, but she shook her head.

“I’m not sure what to do,” she said softly. “She blames herself.”

Marcus glanced at Medichi, whose gaze was fixed to Parisa. Medichi paled as he stared at her. He blinked a couple of times then started backing out of the room. The next moment he disappeared through the doorway. Medichi’s heavy boots could be heard thumping down the spiral staircase.

Marcus turned his attention back to the ascendiate. “This was not your fault, Parisa,” he said. “You are never to be blamed if an attack comes.”

Suddenly he was angry. He hated that this innocent woman had been attacked, he hated the war, he hated death vampires, he hated that Endelle’s administration was so ineffectual, she’d lost ground in the past decade. “goddammit, Parisa, it’s not your fault!”

“Marcus,” Havily said, her eyes wide. “I don’t think you’re helping.” But Parisa turned in her arms, her eyes wet and puffy, and looked at him.

Marcus couldn’t contain his rage and he cried once more, “It’s not your fucking fault!”

Parisa hiccuped and a new wave of tears slid down her face.

He was out of control and he knew it. He wanted to hit something. He swiped the back of his hand over his forehead. Sweat flowed.

Havily was right, he wasn’t helping. So he turned on his heel and hurried down the narrow staircase, just as Medichi had and maybe for the same reason. One shoulder or the other jostled the plastered walls as he moved. He cursed the entire distance.

When he reached the hallway, he punched the air several times then saw a flash of light outside where the battle had taken place. Central had just done cleanup on Medichi’s front yard. He drew a deep breath. For some reason that settled him down. Twelve pretty-boys out of the picture permanently. Go fucking team.

He made his way through the kitchen, dining room, and receiving room to the foyer. The massive front door was wide open; hot June air assaulted the cooler interior.

He followed the sound of male voices.

When he reached the threshold, he paused.

There they were. The Warriors of the Blood, all of them, with the exception of Kerrick. Even Luken had arrived in the interim, bearing his sword and wearing flight gear. Flight gear. Holy shit. Was he really ready to start battling again? Even flying?

Something gentled within Marcus at the sight of him. Luken was healed up and ready to make war again. To a man, the warriors had gathered around him.

Luken held his arms akimbo and flexed his biceps and pecs, all the while smiling as he struck a bodybuilder pose. The next moment his wings flew with preternatural speed through his wing-locks and a fully restored pair emerged, popping high into full-mount. He had elegant, powerful wings in a light blue. How the hell had he healed so fast? Well, wasn’t that ascension for you?

Slowly, Marcus made his way across the lawn. His heart swelled at the sight of the men who had come so fast to take care of business.

Zach shoved Luken’s shoulder. “Who the hell could keep you down for long?”

Luken grinned. The warrior was happy to be back. Yep, ready for battle.

Jean-Pierre lifted his hand. Luken gripped it hard, then dragged the Frenchman against him for a hug, his wings shimmying with the movement.

Thorne stood apart and smiled at his men.

Medichi was next as he cupped the back of the warrior’s neck. He put his forehead on Luken’s. “Welcome back, big guy.”

“I get Luken tonight,” Santiago cried out. He had a cloth in hand, wiping down the blade of his sword. “Okay with you, jefe?”

“I’ll leave that up to Luken.”

Luken met Marcus’s gaze. “I’ll take Marcus if you’re battling tonight.”

Marcus shook his head. “Would if I could. I’m on guardian duty.”

“You staying long?” Luken asked.

Well, wasn’t that the million-dollar question. Marcus shrugged. “I’m taking it one day at a time.”

Luken’s smile broadened to a grin. “Sounds like a yes to me.” His gaze moved past Marcus and he added, “Of course there is one reason I’d like to see you go.” His smile dimmed as affection filled his eyes.

“Luken,” Havily cried from across the lawn. “Your wings!”

Marcus turned and watched her start to run. She still wore flight gear, which hugged her body like a wet suit. He had a powerful impulse to step in front of her and block her as she drew close, but somehow he mastered the overwhelming instinct.

“You’ve got wings. Your wings are back!”

She ran into Luken’s arms and Luken swallowed her up in a hug. He twirled her in a series of big circles so that Havily’s legs were almost parallel to the ground. His wings moved and lifted them both into the air. Havily squealed and laughed.

Marcus started breathing hard. His woman, his breh, was in the arms of another man. She was in the air and in the arms of another man. He felt Thorne come up on his left and grip his left arm. Medichi whirled back, took one look at him, and caught his right arm going the other direction.

“It’s just friendly,” Medichi whispered. “Luken would never hurt her, and if he hasn’t won her in a hundred years, he won’t today.”

Marcus heard the growl in his throat, his vampire nature in ascendance.

Luken grinned at Marcus from about twenty feet in the air. His wings flapped and he moved slowly downward until his feet touched earth. With Havily’s naked back on display and her arms still wrapped around Luken’s neck, the bastard flipped him off.

If Thorne and Medichi hadn’t held him back, he would have leaped at Luken and knocked him flat, or at least tried to. Luken was one big motherfucker.

“Uh, Havily,” Thorne called out.

She slid her arms from around Luken, took one look at Marcus, and blanched. “Oh, God.” She patted Luken’s weapons harness. “Glad you’re back.” She turned around and headed in the direction of the house. She didn’t stop to say anything to Marcus nor did she look at him, which was probably wise.

“That went well,” Thorne muttered.

Luken drew his wings in. He approached Marcus and said, “She’s yours, asshole. We all know it. Just please stick around and take care of her. At least in that way you can put me out of my misery.”

The sad expression in Luken’s eye dimmed the rage that boiled in Marcus’s veins. Luken had had a crush on Havily apparently since he’d served as her guardian during her rite of ascension. So … shit. How much simpler all of this would have been if Havily had been Luken’s breh, instead of his.

Sometimes he thought destiny had one sick sense of humor.

Marcus turned as if to follow after Havily but Thorne held him back. “I’ll have to give Endelle a report. Tell me what happened with Crace.”

* * *

When Havily returned to Parisa, she found the mortal had begun weeping again, not hysterically but in that exhausted way of someone who had been through way too much in too short a time. First the thrill of flying, then being chased by a maniac who tried to kill her, then finding herself in the darkening. Not to mention that she’d had one swift dunk into the world of the vampire.

She led the ascendiate back into the house, her arm around her shoulders. She was grateful to have a distraction. The look on Marcus’s face had frightened her. She’d never quite seen him that enraged, and it hadn’t escaped her that both Thorne and Medichi were physically restraining him.

She took a deep breath, guiding Parisa in the direction of the kitchen. Maybe a glass of wine would help … both of them.

She drew a bottle of Cabernet from the wine rack and two glasses from the cupboard. Then she had another thought that might be of even more use than the wine—but she’d need her phone. Before she set about opening the bottle, she closed her eyes. She actually had to search her memory to figure out where she had left her iPhone. She found it on the dresser in her bedroom, their bedroom, then folded it into her hands.

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