Burning Skies Page 51

She guided the screen. A moment later Alison, her voice a little breathless, said, “Havily. What’s going on?”

In the background, she heard Kerrick say, “Come back to bed. I still have twenty minutes before I report to Thorne.” A growl followed.

Havily felt a blush on her cheeks. She almost said she would call back later, but Alison said, “Just ignore that. What’s going on? How can I help?” A pause, and Alison’s voice was muffled as she said, “Stop that. Havily needs me.” She came back on the line. “Well, that’s settled … for the moment. Talk to me. I can feel your distress.”

Havily felt an instant calm descend over her. Thank God for Alison. She relayed the events that had just occurred, then her request that Alison come to the villa and spend some time with Parisa.

“Of course I will.” Another pause, then, “Will ten minutes be all right? I’ll come now, if—”

“Make it fifteen,” Havily said, rushing her words.

“Good that’s good. See you in fifteen.” Then a sound like the phone had hit something solid, like a wall. “Kerrick,” Alison cried, her voice distant. “We can’t keep buying new phones. Oh, stop that.” A lot of giggling ensued followed by a series of moans. When things got serious, only then did Havily break from the really improper listening in and end the call.

She stared at her phone for a long moment. She knew what they were doing and for some reason it made her want to cry. They were so in love, so completely bonded. They were married now, if not by ceremony then by their bond, their commitment, their unity, by the completion of the breh-hedden.

For the past four months, their happiness had been a thorn in Havily’s side. She had once been that happy with Duncan. She knew what that kind of happiness felt like.

“What is it?” Parisa asked. “You look so sad right now.”

“Do I?” Havily asked. She then gave her head a shake. “Alison will be over in a few minutes. She’ll help get us through this.”

* * *

Medichi paced the length of the dining room table.

He didn’t dare get any closer to the kitchen.

He heard the distress in Parisa’s voice. He could feel her distress as though she stood next to him and stared into his eyes.

He wanted to go to her, to put his arms around her, to comfort her. He ached to be with her, to calm her. But he couldn’t. Of course he couldn’t.

Where the hell was Alison? Havily had said she would be here in fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes had come and gone. Now it was seventeen minutes. Where the hell was the empathic wonder who could keep Endelle calm and make anyone around her feel like life would be okay just because she was close by? Yeah, where the hell was she?

He ground his teeth. He paced from the window to just in front of the opening that led to the dining room. He didn’t want to see Parisa or be seen.

He headed back to the window. Where the fuck was Alison?

He felt a movement of air from the foyer. He stalked in there and glared. “Finally,” he all but shouted.

Alison’s brows rose. “Medichi, what is it? Has something else happened? The ascendiate, is she all right?”

“No, she’s not all right. She’s really upset.” He flung a hand in the direction of the kitchen. “She’s in there!”

Alison held his gaze as she moved past him in the direction of the archway that led to the kitchen.

He continued to glare, letting her feel just how much he disapproved that she hadn’t arrived exactly when she said she would. She should have been here three minutes ago. Okay, two. No, three now. Three lousy minutes.

But Alison stopped in her tracks and turned to face him.

“Go,” he cried, his arm still pointing the way.

She shook her head. “Not until you tell me what’s going on and why you’re about an inch away from striking me with a bolt of lightning.”

His nostrils flared. “Because she needed you here sooner.” He glanced in the direction of the kitchen, still standing out of range.

“Havily? Havily needed me here?” Her eyes had narrowed, those blue eyes that always searched to understand. He felt her empathy surrounding him, reading him, wanting to be of use to him.

“Would you stop that? I don’t have need of your services. And no, I’m not concerned about Havily … it’s her, the ascendiate … Parisa.” The last word came out, much to his horror, like a caress.

Alison’s mouth opened then closed. Her eyes glittered. “Oh, Antony, are you kidding? Are there to be more of us?”

Medichi took a step back. He sucked in a tight breath. “Fuck,” he muttered. “Just take care of her.”

He lifted his arm and dematerialized the hell out of there.

* * *

Crace sat in the low chair in his deity’s office. Even with his increase in sheer muscle bulk, the chair barely put him at neck level with the edge of Greaves’s enormous black desk. He understood the purpose of the relationship of the low chair to the big desk, a symbol of power and submission that he used to admire as very clever. Now he was just plain pissed off.

Was it only a few months ago that he had sat in this exact chair, in this spot, leaking sweat like lemon juice squeezed through a strainer? He had a hard time remembering the why of all that sweat.

Of course part of the reason had to do with his current state of mind. He wasn’t exactly present in this room. He was back in Medichi’s villa with his blood donor. Dammit, he’d been so close to achieving his goal. Right now all he could smell was Havily Morgan’s blood in his nose and feel his desire to have her blood down his throat. But where had she gone?

He watched the Commander’s mouth move. Half of what he said, he spoke in the direction of Rith, who stood a few feet back and off to the left side of Crace. The vampire brown-noser was dressed in a suit and looked like a cheaper version of Greaves.

Crace was pissed off. He’d been within a pig’s snout of snatching his prize and somehow she’d gotten away from him, but how? If she hadn’t folded somewhere, then where the hell had she gone?

His attention was drawn quite suddenly away from his concerns by a paper flying off the desk and floating toward him. Crace plucked it from the air. He stared at it frowning. Shit, he needed to get his act together and afford this meeting at least some attention. He scanned the document. “I don’t understand,” he murmured. “Why do I need to know the details about the warrior Thorne’s movements?”

“My dear Crace, you weary me with your inattention. I have been speaking of this for the past ten minutes. Do I need to take your forge from you?”

Crace felt his temper spike but clamped his lips shut. He’d always hated being talked to as though he were a child.

Greaves narrowed his eyes at him, something he’d been doing a lot lately. Crace lowered his gaze and took deep breaths. “My apologies, Commander. I have a lot on my mind. The mortal-with-wings…” A fucking lie, but whatever.

He felt a sudden pressure on his mind, but his shields had gained strength. Though he couldn’t prevent Greaves from entering his head, he could still bury certain memories very deep and overlay them with impenetrable mini shields.

The pressure increased. He began to perspire, and his head felt as though Greaves had just stuffed a watermelon between his ears. Now he remembered the cause of all that former sweat. Jesus. H. Christ.

“What are you hiding from me, I wonder?”

Crace didn’t relent. He wouldn’t release the mini shields even when stars danced in front of his eyes.

The pressure stopped and only with a profound act of will did he keep from vomiting. Sweet motherfucker, that hurt.

“The whole point, my dear Crace, is that you aren’t yourself these days and I am … disturbed. However, if you will look the document over, these are the essential details you’ll need for the assassination of Thorne and no, I do not expect you to do it yourself. But I want you to arrange it. Can you do that for me? The assassin will of course be executed immediately by COPASS, which cannot be helped, but I feel a very powerful need for a demonstration at the Reception to be held in honor of the ambassadors. The Reception, Crace. Not the Festival. Are you hearing me?”

Crace shifted to stare at Greaves. “Yes,” he stated. But he was now in shock. Greaves meant to take out the leader of the Warriors of the Blood? This was one helluva bold step. He approved. He even sat up a little straighter, or as much as he could in this fucking chair that angled back like he’d be getting his teeth cleaned next. “I’ll see to it. You can rely on me.”

Greaves smiled. “There is one more thing, which ought to please you. I want you to know that I very much approve of the incendiary bomb you used at the Superstitions. I regret that Warrior Luken did not die, but the attempt was quite lovely. Rith provided a DVD of the event. Very well done.”

“Thank you.” He was startled by the praise.

“Yes, the bomb was quite effective, and I understand you have a little demonstration planned for the spectacle over White Lake.”

Crace couldn’t withhold his smile. “Yes, master, I do.”

“More firebombs?”

“Combined with fireworks.”

Both of Greaves’s manicured brows lifted in approval. “I look forward to the event with great interest. In the meantime, tell me what happened at the villa.”

Crace drew in a deep breath. He spoke of the breach in the mist by the mortal-with-wings, which seemed to interest Greaves very much. He detailed the loss of the three squads to the Warriors of the Blood and ended with the inexplicable disappearance of the women.

“They vanished without a trace?” Greaves asked.

Crace stared at his master. Had he just made a joke? “Yes, master, without a trace, without a single trail of light to follow, and you know I have power in that area.”

Greaves leaned forward slightly and his eyes flared. “You know what I think this means?”

Crace shook his head, but his heart rate had started to climb and a shiver slid down his neck and arms. He was about to receive a revelation.

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