Burning Skies Page 7

She was silent for a moment. “I wish Endelle would get here. She has healing abilities. Maybe she can help. Are you sure she’s on her way?”

“She’s coming.” He’d contacted her through their shared telepathic link, interrupting her meditations. He knew it would take her a few minutes to shake off the effects of doing her split-self moves through nether-space. The truth was he couldn’t have kept her away. She played her tough-bitch role really well, but he knew her heart, he knew how much she loved her men.

The air shimmered. Thorne slid away from Havily as gently as he could while at the same time drawing his sword into his hand, but thank fuck it was only Endelle. Speak of the devil. She wore a purple gown, something like a Grecian robe, which he knew she wore when she did her darkening work.

“Holy shit,” Endelle cried, her loud voice drawing the attention of all five healers in her direction. “Why the fuck does this room smell like someone’s been lighting chickens on fire?”

Havily burst into tears and moved to the window.

Thorne just stared at Her Supremeness. For being the ruler of all of Second Earth, the damn woman was as tactful as death vampires at a prayer meeting. “The enemy used some kind of firebomb, Endelle. Apparently, the sky all around Luken exploded. His wings were burned well into his back and he fell to earth … hard.”

Endelle whistled. “Well, shit, that’s gotta hurt.”

Understatement of the century, he sent, but aloud he said, “He passed out on-site.”

“Thank fuck for that. Is he on opiates?”

“Yes. Even Horace thought it was a good thing, and you know how he hates drugs of any kind.”

“So what is she doing here?” She jerked her chin in Havily’s direction, disapproval in her tone.

Thorne knew of Endelle’s disappointment in Havily, so he smiled a little as he said, “She saved Luken’s life. Now what do you say?”

“I say I find that fucking hard to believe.”

He rolled his eyes and told her the story even though he still didn’t understand how Havily had known what was going on. Her explanation of having had some kind of vision just didn’t fit into his current understanding of the usual ascender’s preternatural powers.

Endelle grimaced. “Morgan, get over here.”

Havily wiped her face before she turned around. To her credit, she stiffened her back and straightened her shoulders before rejoining them.

In her usual take-no-prisoners manner, Her Supremeness said, “What Thorne has told me doesn’t make a lot of sense and I want some answers. You say you had some kind of vision and saw Luken fall from the sky?”

“Yes. I watched him. I can’t exactly explain how it happened. But I woke up and the next thing I knew I was sitting in the desert, on the ground, and I could tell from the geography that I was at the Superstitions. I saw the sky on fire, then Luken—” She put her fingers once more to her lips, and her gaze skated back to the bed. The rest of the story came out almost in a whisper.

“Well, it sounds like you have some kind of link with Luken, maybe left over from his guardianship when you ascended.” She shook her head back and forth, scowling in disapproval. “These visions of yours? They ever happened before?”

Thorne watched color invade Havily’s creamy white cheeks, but she didn’t answer the question.

Endelle scowled all over again and glared at her. “Why the fuck did you just tighten your shields, Morgan? You hiding something from me?”

“It’s … it’s a little personal, but yes, I’ve had these visions before.”

“Anything I can use against the Commander?”

Havily shook her head. “No.”

“That’s what I thought. Well, if you happen to get any useful visions anytime in the next ten millennia, you’ll let me know, right?” Her sarcastic tone fried the air between the women.

“Of course,” Havily responded evenly. Thorne was fucking proud of her tonight. It took balls to stand up to Endelle or at the very least not to crumple into a faint.

“Then if the pair of you will excuse me, I’ve got a bastard to chase around the world.” She gritted her teeth. “And tomorrow I’m going to have to take this firebomb attack before COPASS, or at least request a hearing. An incendiary weapon works both ways. They start burning us, we’ll start setting all those glossy black wings on fire. Whatever. Havily, I’ll see you at the office tomorrow.”

“Yes, Madame Endelle.”

But Thorne waylaid her with a hand on her arm. He jerked his head toward Luken. “Can you do anything for him?”

Endelle glanced in the direction of the bed then sighed. “My healing powers don’t exceed Horace here. What can be done for him, Horace will do.” With that, she lifted her arm and was gone.

“God, I hate her sometimes,” he muttered.

Havily drew close once more, but a small chuckle left her lips. “You lie.”

Thorne laughed. “Yeah, I guess I do. I’d give my life for her, but you’d think she could try a little harder sometimes. And she sure has it in for you.”

“She’s just really frustrated right now.” Havily slipped her arm around Thorne’s and gave him a squeeze. “Alison tries to make headway with Endelle but even she loses it now and then, which is amazing because I swear Alison is a saint. Do you know what she said last week?”

Thorne looked down into light green eyes that actually showed some humor. Havily was a beautiful woman, and some of that beauty pierced his heart. He was so grateful for her presence among his warriors. “Tell me,” he said.

“She called Endelle a mule, an ‘ornery, ill-tempered, incorrigible mule!’ I smiled for days.”

Thorne chuckled. “Kerrick found himself one helluva mate.”

“And that door swings both ways.”

“I’ll say an amen, Havily Morgan.” His heart swelled. Yeah, she’d become a bright spot in their dark days and nights.

What the soul craves, the dream reveals.

—Collected Proverbs, Beatrice of Fourth

Chapter 3

At two in the morning Havily got a fold through the dimension back to Mortal Earth. Bless Jeannie. What would any of them do without her and the rest of the support staff at Central? Havily had some power; she could fold anywhere on Second Earth. But she still couldn’t fold between dimensions.

She was now back at her condo at the base of Camelback Mountain. She stripped off her socks and Nikes, jeans and T-shirt, bra and thong. She slid the cream-colored nightgown over her head, adjusted the lace straps, then climbed into bed. She fell face-first onto the pillows and groaned. Yep, exhausted.

Thorne would remain at the clinic through the night, standing guard, just in case any death vampires got the clever idea to attack Luken when he was out cold. Come morning, he would contact the Chief Militia Warrior for Metro Phoenix Two and have a detail assigned to the room, but not an ordinary detail. With death vamps around, at least a score would be needed to keep watch. Death vampires were considerably more powerful than the average Militia Warrior. To bring down a death vampire, a minimum of four Militia Warriors were required.

Havily rolled onto her back, took the edge of the top sheet in her fingers, and rubbed back and forth, the motion soothing. She stared at the multitude of paper butterflies she had hanging from the ceiling, all decorated with colored ink and glitter, each one a miniature work of art. Each butterfly was different in design and suspended so that when she looked up she could see the wingspans. From every angle they were beautiful.

She often counted them when she couldn’t sleep.

She had stayed at the clinic until the medical staff had entered the room to turn the massive warrior onto his back. The sight of the rest of Luken’s burned flesh brought on a serious gag reflex, which she had only barely controlled. When she started weeping again, Thorne ordered her to go home. She protested, of course, but he added very gently that he would appreciate it if she would still come to the Cave at seven to bring the warriors their usual coffee and doughnuts.

It was the least she could do when the Warriors of the Blood were all that stood between Endelle and her administration and a monster bent on taking over two worlds. Darian Greaves had been positioning himself for decades to do just that, building an army comprising both death vampires and regular Militia Warriors, seducing High Administrators around the globe into his camp, and generally winning an overall public relations war.

Havily loved Second Earth with a passion that went beyond comprehension—but then part of ascending to a new dimension involved a great deal of yearning and longing, the call of a new world, of a new experience, of a new everything.

She touched her incisors and felt her vampire fangs throb in response. She even loved being a vampire, having the ability to take blood, to give potions, as weird as it was. Except that it wasn’t weird once the ascension process was complete. Then being a vampire just felt right.

Her thoughts turned to her long-deceased fiancé, her beloved Eric. She had shared blood with him, and the act had been one of the finest experiences of her life. But she rarely allowed herself to think of him, because she was still sad, even after fifteen years. He had been a decorated Militia Warrior and had died battling death vampires. Once more the tears began to flow.

She folded a tissue into her hand and wiped her face. A rough sigh tumbled out of her exhausted body. She never stayed up this late. Working for Endelle during the day was an incredible challenge and she needed to be on her toes, all ten of them, to keep up with Her Supremeness and to not let the spiteful, ill-tempered scorpion-woman ruin her day.

Her gaze drifted from butterfly to butterfly. Her eyelids grew heavy. Maybe given the level of her fatigue she wouldn’t be drawn into the bizarre sexual fantasy-dream she usually experienced. Surely just this once she would be spared the horror of waking up while engaged in full-on sex with Warrior Marcus.

Whatever. She was too tired to fuss anymore.

She heaved one last sigh. As her head rolled on the pillow, sleep claimed her.

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