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Midnight bite, p.13

Midnight Bite, page 13

 

Midnight Bite
 


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  Never again. She can never be threatened again.

  And the bastard before him was a threat to his queen.

  “You’re going back to hell,” Devereaux told the hound flatly. “I’ve got witches coming in to do the job.”

  Noren yanked at the metal restraints that held him in place. They were in the basement, back in the cells that held the enemies of the vampires. “You’ve gotten awfully chummy with the witches. Did you forget they were lining up to burn your queen not too long ago?”

  “I don’t forget anything. When I needed a fast way to teleport to Oris’s tower, they sent me and my men. We worked out a deal, you see.”

  Noren panted. “What were the terms of that deal? Because I don’t think you fully realize—”

  “I let them live.”

  Noren waited. “Uh, what else?”

  Why did there have to be more? “That’s it. I let them keep living. If they hadn’t helped me, I would have killed them all right then and there.”

  “Fuck. Does Lark know what a bastard you are?”

  He hoped she never found out. Devereaux opened his mouth to growl out a response—

  “I know exactly what he is.”

  Devereaux spun around. Lark stood just a few feet away. He could only shake his head. “No one else can sneak up on me. How do you do it?” His senses were so acute, so advanced, so—

  She shrugged one delicate shoulder. Looked sexy as all hell. “Maybe I just get beneath your guard?”

  Yeah, love, you do.

  “Maybe you know I’d never be a threat, so you just don’t worry when I get close.” She smiled at him.

  Warmth spread within Devereaux. He’d waited centuries for his mate, and he knew the wait had more than been worth it. For her, he would have waited as long as necessary.

  Lark strolled toward him. Slid her arm around his waist. “The bonding ceremony is tonight, but I find you hanging out in the basement?”

  “Last minute business,” he told her gruffly. “Nothing to worry about.”

  Noren cleared his throat. “Uh, hello! I happen to think my life is something to worry about.”

  The guy was getting on Devereaux’s nerves.

  And the hellhound just kept raging. “I came to this place willingly. I followed the whole team after Oris was killed. I thought we were all coming back here to celebrate. You know, because we were winners. We fought the biggest vamp villain out there and won.”

  Both Devereaux and Lark turned to look at him.

  “We?” Lark repeated carefully.

  Devereaux’s eyes narrowed on the hellhound. “Want to tell us exactly how you helped?”

  “Of course.” Noren’s eyes flashed. “I helped you to take the battle to Oris, something the guy didn’t expect.”

  “You kidnapped me,” Lark reminded him.

  “I gave you the element of surprise. I knew that once I had you before Oris, then Devereaux would come running. Hell, I even knew he’d turn to the witches for help because he’d need a fast transport. And who do you think convinced the witches to help?” He stared at them expectantly.

  “I did,” Devereaux snapped. “Because I told them they either helped or they died.”

  Noren rolled his eyes. “Look, buddy, I don’t get who told you the lie that you were charming because you’re not. The witches didn’t help because of you, they did that because of me. Because after Lark summoned me at her place and they had the burning party outside, I’m the one who went and talked them down when they retreated to a local bar to lick their wounds.” A furrow appeared between his brows. “The ones still alive, anyway. I told them that it was far better to deal with you and Lark—a woman who wasn’t exactly super keen on paranormal bloodshed.” He glanced at her with a knowing gleam in his eyes. “I saw that based on personal experience.”

  “The idea of bloodshed appeals more and more,” she snapped at him with a cold smile. “Or have you forgotten what I did to Oris?”

  Noren nodded. “Yeah, see, that was the tricky part. The witches didn’t think you’d actually go through with it and kill him. The witches hated Oris more than they hated any hunter out there. The guy had drained more of them than you could count. He got some magic high off their blood, and they were his delicacy of choice. That’s why they were so eager to burn you. They thought killing you would hurt Oris.” A shrug—or as much of a shrug as he could manage while secured in the restraints. “But the witches listened to me. They trusted me. After all, I used to be a warlock. I convinced them it would be better for everyone if we helped you and Devereaux kill Oris. I mean, sure, you might not have gone through with it, but I knew Devereaux would. In the end, Oris would be dust.”

  Devereaux took a step toward the bastard. “You took her from me.”

  Lark lunged forward, too. “And you burned Devereaux!”

  At that accusation, Noren winced. “Can we chalk that up to some overzealous showmanship? Sorry, but I had to make the scene look real.” He jutted his chin toward Lark. “And when Devereaux burned, when you turned all angry and started punching me, when I saw the rage inside of you, I knew I was right to bet on you. You could kill your father, if there was something he threatened that mattered to you. Something—someone—you wanted to protect.”

  Her gaze slid to Devereaux.

  Noren wasn’t done. “The witches had two to one odds that Devereaux would be the one to take out Oris. They already knew he was crazy about you. They saw that shit firsthand at your apartment. He’d do anything to keep you safe. And the guy hadn’t told you what a total freak job your dad was—probably because he was trying to protect you.”

  “Shut the fuck up,” Devereaux ordered.

  Noren clamped his lips shut.

  Devereaux thought about how easy it would be to permanently shut up the hound. You ready to visit hell again?

  But Lark’s soft hand pressed to Devereaux’s chest. “Why didn’t you want me to know what Oris was really like?”

  “Because your mom already gave you a life of hell. I didn’t want any more pain for you. You aren’t like either of them, love. You’re strong and you’re good, and you are everything that a queen should be. I’ve never met your equal.” He exhaled. “I planned to keep you away from Oris. I knew he’d want to use you, to hurt you, and it just couldn’t happen.”

  She stared up at him. Her gaze was so deep and tender. “Noren is wrong.”

  The hellhound sucked in a breath.

  “I find you to be quite charming.” Her smile lit her eyes. “Charming and fierce. Dangerous and sexy. Everything that I could ever want.”

  She wanted dangerous?

  “Let’s go get bonded, Dev. Because I’m ready for a future with you.” She leaned onto her toes. He pulled her closer. Their mouths met.

  Noren coughed. “Um, before you two head off and get busy…what about me?”

  “Let me send him to hell,” Devereaux whispered against her mouth. “It can be a wedding present.”

  “No!” Noren yelled. “Would you listen? My curse is broken! It ended when Oris turned to dust. I still have a hellhound’s powers, but I don’t feel the chain around me any longer. I don’t feel the link that tied me to hell. I don’t have to go back. Listen! Shit, I can help. I can be the best damn guard you’ve ever had. You gave the frigging Van Helsing family a chance, and we all know how crazy they were. Give me a chance, give me a—”

  “You have a chance,” Lark said.

  Devereaux sighed.

  She winked at him. “Wedding present?”

  Fine. As if he could deny her anything.

  “This is why I bet on you!” Noren crowed. “Because you do what’s right! I knew that, in the end, you’d be the one to kill Oris. Because you kill the real monsters. Those of us who are just…different…or who may turn into a flaming beast from hell, you know that we aren’t the real threats. You’ll stop those threats, Lark. You’ll change the world, you’ll—”

  “I’m going to get married.” Her v
oice was flat. “I’m bonding with the man I love. My prince charming, and he is charming, by the way. Say anything different, and his charming self will kick your ass while I eat some popcorn and enjoy the show.”

  Noren was sweating.

  She glared at the hound. “I’m trusting you because there were dozens of times when we stood in that tower room—plenty of moments—when you could have killed me, if that was what you truly wanted to do.”

  Devereaux stiffened. But he’d also realized the same thing. That was why he hadn’t destroyed the hound—yet.

  “When Oris told you to take me to hell, you could have vanished with me in a blink,” Lark continued in her careful voice. “You didn’t. You wanted him defeated.”

  “Talk to the witches,” Noren urged as he strained against his restraints. “They’ll back up my story. They’ll tell you that I was working to help you two win all along!”

  Devereaux gave the guy a cold smile. “We already talked to them. They are now our allies, so we had to check in with them.”

  The hellhound gaped. “All along…you knew? You knew the truth about me? But I’ve been in this prison for days!”

  Yes, he had been. “Maybe next time you won’t kidnap a queen…”

  “Or burn a vampire prince,” Lark concluded with a nod.

  And Noren slowly smiled. “You two…I swear, I like you both.”

  Devereaux twined his fingers with Lark’s. “Our ceremony is waiting.”

  She nodded.

  They turned and walked away.

  “Hey!” Noren yelled. “I want to be there! Come on, don’t leave me! I want to see you two get hitched! It’s the big show! The big moment! I want to see it—”

  “Our bonding will be private. Just for us.” Devereaux’s hold tightened on Lark’s hand. “But we’ll consider inviting you to the after party.”

  “Dammit, Devereaux!”

  Devereaux led his queen from the cell. His fingers were almost shaking. The moment he’d waited for, the moment he’d wanted was almost there.

  He would have Lark forever.

  He would have the only thing he wanted.

  The only woman he craved—his. Forever.

  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

  New Year’s Resolution Number Fifteen: Live happily ever freaking after.

  “So…” Lark stood in the middle of Devereaux’s bedroom. Candles had been lit all around the room, and their soft light filled the space. “How does this work?”

  A table had been set up in the middle of the room. Two knives were on that table. Very sharp knives.

  She was glad they weren’t doing this ceremony in front of an audience. She just wanted to be with Devereaux, and she was so nervous that her knees were knocking together. “Will it hurt?”

  He was still holding her hand, and he brought her fingers to his lips. Devereaux pressed a kiss to the back of her knuckles. “Only the tiniest bit.”

  Okay. She glanced at the knives again. “Can’t we just bite? I mean, do we have to use the knives?”

  He led her to the table. “Pick up your weapon.”

  Weapon. “It makes it sound like we’re going into battle. Not bonding.”

  “That’s how the bonding started. Warring vamp kingdoms found peace when they used their weapons not for death, but for life.”

  He let go of her hand and picked up his knife.

  She picked up her weapon, too. The hilt was lined with diamonds.

  “I, Devereaux Mancini, swear to dedicate my life to you.”

  She looked up. His eyes were on hers. He was staring at her as if she was his entire world. A lump rose in Lark’s throat.

  “I will live for you, I will die for you, and I will spend every day and night working to make you happy. You are the blood in my veins…” He pricked his left index finger with the tip of the knife. “And the light in my soul.”

  Oh, that was sweet.

  “Now it’s your turn.” He nodded toward her.

  “Do I say the same things?” There really should have been a guide for this. A little how-to prep.

  He flashed his dimples at her. “You say your name, and then you say anything you want. But you have to prick your finger with the knife. The knives are enchanted, and you’ll feel their magic soon enough.”

  Enchanted knives. Of course, because why not? Well, the magic at least explained why they used the blades instead of just biting. She inhaled deeply and slowly let out her breath. What am I supposed to say?

  Yet as she stared into Devereaux’s eyes, Lark just knew. “I, Lark Kinsley, swear to dedicate my life to you.” Her hold on the knife tightened. “I will love you, and I will fight for you, and I will stand beside you as we face each day and each night.”

  His smile stretched.

  “I will be charmed by you. I will charm you. And I will not let anything or anyone come between us. You are the passion in my blood.” She pricked her fingertip, and as he’d said, it hurt, a bit. “And you are the happiness that slipped into my heart when I least expected it.”

  He put down his knife.

  Fumbling, she did the same.

  “Now what?” Lark whispered. Whispered, even though they were alone in the room.

  “We mix our blood. Just a drop. That’s all the binding ceremony needs. The magic came when we made the cut.” He lifted his hand toward her. She lifted hers toward him.

  Their index fingers touched and she felt him.

  Felt his warmth and strength surge through her. Felt his power and his need and his hunger. But more than anything, she felt his love sweep through her. Pure and powerful and so deep.

  She lost her breath as her heart raced. Her entire body seemed to glow and for just an instant, she wasn’t Lark any longer.

  They were one. They were bonded. Together.

  He leaned forward. “Forever,” Devereaux promised as his lips hovered over hers.

  “Forever,” she told him.

  They kissed. She hadn’t thought it was possible to taste love, but right then, she did. It was sweet. So sweet.

  He slowly pulled back.

  She stopped feeling him inside of her. Within her. And she hated the loss. A gasp escaped her.

  “I’ll always be here, sweetheart. I promise.” His hand cupped her face.

  She knew that he would be. “What’s next?”

  “Any fucking thing we want.”

  A soft laugh slipped from her. Then he was kissing her. She was kissing him. He pulled her into his arms and carried her to the bed. She realized that she could still feel a part of him, inside herself. A warmth in her heart.

  Love. His love.

  And she knew he felt her love, too.

  His touch was careful on her. Gentle and tender as he stroked every single inch of her body. First with his fingers, then with his mouth. He licked her breasts, sucked her nipples, and had her moaning and arching against him. Down, down he went, his fingers gliding over her skin. Increasing her desire as he spread her legs and eased between them.

  She looked at him. Broad shoulders. Dark head. He bent to her sex and kissed her. Licked her. Stroked her with his tongue and his fingers. Her head tipped back as her whole body tightened.

  Any fucking thing we want.

  The first climax hit her as he worked her with his mouth. She cried out and arched her hips against him. He licked and sucked and drove his fingers into her as she came, heightening her pleasure.

  Before the aftershocks had even stopped, he plunged into her, filling her with his heavy cock. Thrusting so deep. Her legs locked around him, and she turned her head to the side, offering her neck, wanting his bite.

  She’d always want him.

  Their fingers laced together. In and out, he pounded into her, and her eager sex clamped greedily around him. Over and over.

  His fangs sank into her neck.

  Pleasure erupted, and she screamed his name.

  He kept plunging into her as she rode out her second climax.

  Then she was pu
shing Devereaux onto his back. Keeping him inside her but moving so that she was on top. Her knees were on either side of his body. Her hands flat on his chest. He was lodged fully inside of her. Deep and thick.

  “Sweetheart, I am so close—”

  Lark bit him. She sank her fangs into his neck and shoved her hips down against him. When he came, he roared her name.

  And she didn’t care who heard them.

  They were bonded, they were mated, and they’d be together forever.

  Her breathing heaved out as her heart raced. She licked his neck, catching the drops of blood there, savoring them, and then her head lifted so that she could stare into his eyes.

  Her vampire.

  “I think the after party can wait a while,” Lark told him. Any fucking thing we want. “Because I want more of you.”

  His laughter rumbled in his chest. “Love, I’m yours…”

  Yes, he was.

  Just as she belonged to him.

  “Ready for another round?” Devereaux growled.

  New Year’s Resolution Number One: Don’t be afraid to say…yes.

  She stared into his eyes. “Yes.”

  Want more from Cynthia Eden? Then get ready for an all new, sexy romance, PROTECTING PIPER.

  PROTECTING PIPER

  She was off limits.

  Eric Wilde has always known that Piper Lane isn’t for him. She is his younger brother’s best friend…and probably more. But that hasn’t stopped Eric from wanting her. For longing for the one woman that he can’t have. Sure, he’s rich, successful—he’s built a security empire, and he’s got the world at his feet. Only he doesn’t have her.

  He is the one man she needs the most.

  Free-spirited Piper Lane has always considered Eric to be the enemy. He’s seemed to resent her, and the guy just flat-out makes her nervous. Every time she’s around him, she winds up doing something horribly embarrassing. But, this time…everything has changed. This time, he’s the one man she needs the most.

 
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