Burning Skies Page 61

Expanding awareness,

Opens the universe.

—Collected Proverbs, Beatrice of Fourth

Chapter 20

Havily went with her instincts and waited to be recalled. Both Endelle and Marcus were present, and she knew that either ascender was powerful enough to communicate with her in the darkening. They’d certainly done so before.

“Havily,” Endelle barked within nether-space. “Please return with Thorne.”

Havily glanced at him and dipped her chin. “You ready?” she asked.

Thorne smiled. “You’re fucking amazing, Hav.” He nodded in return.

Havily couldn’t help but give him an answering smile. She closed her eyes and thought the thought. The swishing began.

When she opened her eyes, she stood near Endelle with Thorne right next to her.

Marcus moved in close. He slipped his arm around her waist, tighter than before. She leaned into him. His body was a rock wall of tension, which for some reason eased her. “You okay?” he asked.

She nodded.

Thorne took a moment to scan the entire room. When he was satisfied, he turned to Endelle. “So, what the fuck was that all about? What happened? I take it Havily just saved my ass.”

Endelle jerked her head toward the side wall in the direction of the palm trees. “Colonel Seriffe is collecting the evidence right now. A death vamp would have had you if our girl, here, hadn’t taken you into the darkening.”

Thorne glanced at the Militia Warriors clustered around the dagger. One of them had a plastic Baggie, and another wore gloves. He whistled then turned to Havily and clapped her on the shoulder. “Thanks, Hav. Well done.”

“My pleasure, boss.”

He chuckled. “You’ll do.”

“There’s more,” Marcus said. “Crace was here.”

“Crace?” Havily cried. A shiver went down her back, and she couldn’t keep from also taking a quick look around.

“Shielded,” Endelle explained. “But I felt him, felt his presence. He has a lot of power. When I located his mist, I sent a little gift package. He folded at the same moment but I might have winged him.”

Havily shuddered. “Are you sure it was Crace?”

“I recognized him,” Endelle said. “And Morgan … good job.”

“Thank you.” Her fingers trembled. Too much adrenaline. She glanced toward the center of the room. “I see the party left.”

“Yep,” Endelle said. “He didn’t have the balls to stay and fight even though I offered. One day I’m going mano-a-mano with that bastard.” She blew the air from her cheeks. “Well, I guess we’d better get on with the show, but as for you, Morgan, I want you back at the villa. That’s an order.”

“May I ask why?” She hated the thought that she might have let Endelle down in some way, but she honestly didn’t know how she could have prevented an attempted assassination, not with Greaves and his generals able to get into the building despite all their security precautions. That Crace could get in as well was equally alarming.

Endelle shifted her gaze to Marcus then back to Havily. “I have reason to believe that Greaves was hunting you. Your powers are emerging, which means that you’ve probably been lighting up the future streams and God knows Greaves has turned enough High Administrators to have access to any number of Seers Fortresses around the globe, the prick. That’s the why of it and for fuck’s sake don’t read anything else into this.”

Well, that changed things. “Okay, but please call if you need me.”

Endelle smiled. “Damn, Morgan, you just keep disappointing my lousy opinion of you.” She laughed at her joke. “But believe it or not, we can see a goddamn reception through without your help. Now get going. I’m sure you’ll figure out something to do with your time.” She threw a knowing glance at Marcus then turned on her heel and headed back to her throne.

Thorne fell into step beside her as if nothing untoward had just happened. However, his right hand flexed as though he felt the need for his sword. He followed Endelle up the steps and flanked her as he had before, his arms crossed over his chest as he once more surveyed the crowd.

He was all man, all warrior. He carried the lion’s share of the burden for the Warriors of the Blood.

“What are you looking at Thorne for?” Marcus asked, his arm tightening around her waist.

“I really admire him,” she said, completely without thinking. But she understood her mistake when she heard a low growl right next to her ear.

“You admire him?”

Havily couldn’t help but smile. Maybe she shouldn’t have, but she loved that he was jealous. “I admire him as a leader,” she stated in as cool a voice as she could manage. “He’s carried the load more than any other warrior here on Second Earth.”

* * *

Marcus turned slightly to watch Thorne. He could have been killed tonight. Instead Havily had saved him so that he could keep on keeping on. Christ, he even shared a telepathic link with Her Supremeness. Havily was right: Thorne carried the load.

Guilt pounded Marcus. He’d been gone for two centuries while Thorne and the warriors took care of business. If he was coming back, he had a lot of making up to do, and he could begin right now by doing everything he could to keep Havily safe.

He took Havily’s hand. “Ready?”

She nodded.

He thought the thought. He felt the blinking out then sudden hard awareness. When his feet touched the planked floor of Medichi’s villa, he still had hold of her hand. She gave it a squeeze and smiled at him.

He was about to gather her up in his arms when Medichi walked into the foyer from the direction of the kitchen, his brow low. His nostrils flared as he said, “This guardian business is for shit.” He then closed his eyes and sucked in a deep breath. He made an attempt to relax his shoulders but didn’t quite succeed. He looked like Atlas struggling to hold up the world.

“What gives?” Marcus asked. He wanted to be understanding but he sure as hell hoped Medichi would make it quick. Havily was still wearing her high heels.

He jerked his thumb toward the south wing. “I have Parisa with me … in my bedroom … for the night.” His molars made a grinding noise. “Hey. Don’t look at me like that. My suite has a den. I’m sleeping in there.”

“What’s going on?” Havily asked.

He looked about ready to bite her head off. “What’s going on? This house is too fucking big, that’s what’s going on. How can I protect her if she sleeps across from your rooms?”

Marcus grinned. He couldn’t help it. He knew all too well the pain of wanting something, with all the gentleness of a tornado, and being unable to have it, take it, be with it, plan a future with it. So, yeah, he grinned.

Medichi huffed a heavy sigh. “I’ll say good night. Parisa’s not happy, either, but she’s showering and I’m closing the door. Once we’re locked in, we’re in for the night.”

He didn’t wait for a response but turned and marched, shoulders once more around his ears, in the direction of his suite. But he called back, “I’ve left the motion detectors off but don’t open any doors or windows, got it?”

“Got it,” Marcus called after him.

“Wow,” Havily murmured. “I think he’s got it bad.”

“No shit.”

He turned to Havily. She held her arms pinned around her chest, like she was barely holding herself together. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

She glanced at him. “Yeah. Just a little rattled still.”

He inclined his head toward her tightly folded arms then lifted a brow.

She laughed and uncrossed her arms. She showed him her shaking hands. “Adrenaline.”

He nodded. He understood completely. “Breathe.”

“Trying to.”

“You were fantastic,” he said. He took a step toward her and stroked the back of her arm.

She met his gaze, still looking a little wild-eyed. She tilted her head. “The thing is, Marcus, after tonight, I really think I can start making a difference in the war. I saved Thorne’s life.”

“Yes, you did and yes, you can. I think you already have. What you’ve done with Endelle’s administrative offices alone is a wonder. And that was a top-notch reception you put together tonight.”

“I was referring to the darkening.”

He slung an arm around her waist and guided her in the direction of the north wing. She allowed him to ease her into the adjoining receiving room. She was keyed up as hell and he needed to talk her down. He also had a plan, a serious plan that involved his hands, and other things, all over her body.

“Because of Parisa, I saw the death vamp just in time. I didn’t even think the thought, I just latched onto him with my mind and took him into the darkening. I still can’t believe I did that.”


“Yeah. It really was.”

He glanced at her and felt an inkling of unease. “You still need a lot of practice to figure this thing out, though.”

“Yes, yes, I know. Oh, Lord, I must sound like I’m so full of myself right now but I didn’t mean it that way. I just can’t believe that I helped, I really helped.”

He moved her through the dining room and into the kitchen. He led her past the island and farther down the hall.

Near the doors leading to the patio, he guided her to the left through an open archway.

“The music room,” Havily murmured. “What do you have in mind, Warrior?” He loved that she called him that. Her gaze fell to the couch with a connected chaise-longue. A little swirl of honeysuckle made him smile as he moved past her. Yeah, there were a lot of things he could do on that couch.

“Just wait,” he murmured.

He hunted through his CDs and found the one he wanted. Decades ago, he’d seen the artist perform live, one of the singular advantages of immortality. He’d seen a lot of artists through the ages perform live.

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