Unchained nr-1, page 28part #1 of Nephilim Rising Series
Lily swallowed thickly. “Neither is Luke.”
He shifted her wrists to one hand, grasping her chin. “Look at me, Lily. Listen to me,” he ordered fiercely. “You said you loved me. How can you love someone you don’t trust?”
“No! I didn’t mean it.”
“You lied? You can’t fool me. You just haven’t loved me as long as I’ve loved you.”
“No. No!” She tipped her head back, letting out a strangled cry. Yesterday—days before—she would have melted at his feet if she had heard him say that. Now her heart crumbled. “What you did to Micah…”
“Forget about Micah.” His hand slipped to the flare of her hip. “You question if I love you? Are my words not truthful? Hearing me say it is not enough for you?”
“No.” Her hands curled, and the blades retracted harmlessly into her bracelets. “I don’t want this—these lies. I don’t love you.” She was lying, desperately so, and quickly losing control of the situation, of herself. “You’re just a Fallen. I was wrong. I saw you as a man and not what you are. I can’t love what you are!”
Anger flared deep in his eyes. “You don’t believe that. Not after all the passion we’ve shared.”
She tilted her head away. Could he see through her so easily? Her heart stuttered in her chest as his hot breath caressed her cheeks, sending shivers through her.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do is protect you, ever since the first time I saw you fighting those minions and deadheads,” he said. “It was probably after you stabbed me, but damn it, I’d never met anyone like you.”
She squeezed her eyes shut. “Stop…”
“Before I knew it, I was following you when you weren’t working. I watched you put the garden together outside. I followed you when you went to that club, hating that I knew you were with someone else and not me.” He broke off, laughing harshly. “A fallen angel brought down by jealousy after hundreds and hundreds of years. You’d think I’d be above that, but I’m not. I wanted you day after day, night after night.
“Should I remind you of how much I love you?” His voice was husky, raw with emotion. “Do you need reminding of how much you love me?”
Everything was spiraling out of control. Anger and hurt, love and lust crashed down on her. Confused, she couldn’t tell where his emotions began and hers ended.
“Don’t doubt how I feel for you.” He pressed his forehead against hers. “What I would do for you.”
Lily shuddered as she twisted against the wall, desperately trying to escape the whirlwind of emotion building in her, but she was trapped.
“You question what’s between us?” he asked, his voice sounding broken. “What I would do for you?”
Lily shook her head. “What you did…”
“I did nothing but love you.”
To hear those words now shattered her, because it mirrored the strongest emotion inside her. She loved him. Cold reality slammed into her. She loved Julian.
“Lily…” he whispered, voice ragged.
Cold reality slammed into her. She pushed against his chest, stomach twisting dangerously. I love a monster…a monster who viciously gutted Micah. She pushed harder this time, and Julian finally released her.
“Please listen…to me.”
“No.” She swallowed against the sudden tightening in her throat. She felt sick, and her heart…God, it hurt something terrible. “I…I do love you, but I…can’t do this.”
“No, Lily, listen to me.” He looked terrified, and she had never seen him this way. “I didn’t do what you think I did.”
She closed her eyes, wanting nothing more than to believe him, but Luke would never lie to her. “Please…please stop. It’s in your nature…isn’t it? We can’t do this anymore. I brought this…on Micah. I brought this on myself.”
He took a step forward, but she threw up her arm. “You’ve said you trust me, Lily. You’ve said you love me. Why can’t you believe me? I haven’t touched another Nephilim since I met you.”
Lily met his eyes. Her heart demanded that she listen to him, to give him a chance, but her heart was foolish. “I can’t. Luke would never lie to me.”
The skin between his eyes puckered. “Is that who told you I hurt Micah?”
She nodded. “He saw you. And I trust him with my life.”
Understanding flashed across his face. “You would believe whatever Luke would tell you. He has been by your side since the beginning, hasn’t he?”
“Yes.” It was all she needed to say.
He turned his face. “Then there is nothing I can say.”
He was right. Lily loved him. God, she loved him more than anything. But what he did wasn’t something she could tuck away and pretend never happened. And this…this was bound to happen. They could not exist in each other’s worlds. She had hoped it would never be something like this that would tear them apart, but she had been stupid to rely on hope.
She took an unsteady breath. The wrenching in her chest increased. “You have to leave. Don’t…follow me—don’t look for me.”
“Don’t do this, Lily.”
She turned away, her heart breaking. “Leave—please leave. We can’t do this. I can’t look at you and not see Micah. Just leave, Julian. Please, just go.”
He inhaled unsteadily, his eyes drifting shut. Becoming as still as a marble statue, the sorrow that etched across his face was painfully striking, and resignation dulled his eyes.
He moved in a way she couldn’t stop him. Capturing her chin with his fingers, he brought her lips to his. The kiss was deep and lasting—the intensity of it and the purity to it. It was no longer just a kiss but a heart-wrenching good-bye that nearly tore her apart.
When he pulled back, his touch lingered. “I love you.”
With a rush of air he was gone, and it was like he had never been there.
Lily stood alone, her fingers trembling against her lips. She could still feel him. Not only on her lips but everywhere and inside of her. There was no shaking it, no denying it. In a daze she adjusted her clothing. She couldn’t stay here, and she couldn’t go back to the Sanctuary.
She stared blankly at the broken glass and destroyed pottery. The sickness and hurt threatened to consume her. She twisted, taking off through the balcony and into the night. Desperately running as if she could escape the events that led up to the moment her heart shattered into a million pieces.
There was no way they were making Michael stay at the Sanctuary while Nathaniel and Luke left to search for Lily. Only after threatening to leave on his own did Nathaniel finally agree. Since Michael couldn’t be left alone, Luke was regulated to the more human method of travel to accommodate him.
Luke drove the Cayenne through the clustered streets, knuckles bleached as he gripped the steering wheel. He hadn’t said a single word to Michael as he relentlessly dialed Lily’s cell over and over again. Each time he didn’t get an answer he grew more agitated. He pulled into a parking garage, not bothering to turn off the SUV before darting out the door and taking off. Out of habit, Michael grabbed the keys.
Michael raced up the stairs, gaining on Luke. Nathaniel had suspected she may have gone back to her apartment, or at least he had hoped so, and he had raced over the busy streets, beating them there.
Michael held on to the hope that she wouldn’t have done what the others feared. She would know better than to go after something that had been capable of doing what was done to Micah, but Lily was wild. He had seen it in the way she fought. She was crazy enough to run after a fallen angel, and he suspected she was crazy enough to love one.
Wasn’t that what all the odd looks were about whenever Julian was mentioned in the same sentence as Lily? Why everyone got so uptight and bothered about him falling for her?
Luke stopped outside Lily’s apartment, rapping on the door with his knuckles. Seconds later, Nathaniel appeared, looking on edge. “She’s not here. I’ve already checked all the rooms.”
“These doors were reinforced. I helped her pick them out. A common burglar wouldn’t have been able to do this,” said Nathaniel as he stared at the shattered door.
Michael stepped around Luke, surveying the scene with an analytical eye. The officer in him immediately took over, noting several things at once. The glass had been broken from the outside. There was a plant and a stand shattered across the area rug. Several footprints were clearly visible in the dirt that spilled across the floor, some way too large to belong to Lily. There was also blood. It was mingled among the puddles of water and smeared across the wall.
Michael couldn’t look at this as coolly as he should. He ran a hand through his hair, facing Nathaniel. The formidable man stared down at the floor, face drawn. “Damn it, Lily, what did you do?”
Luke inclined his head, dragging in a deep breath. “I’m going to kill him.”
Nathaniel turned. “I should have…I should have done more. I let her get out of control, but he wouldn’t have hurt her. I know this.”
Luke’s pale eyes snapped fire. “Are you serious? Do I need to remind you of what he did to Micah?”
Nathaniel stared at the splotch of blood far too high on the wall for Lily to reach. “You don’t need to remind me, Luke.” His eyes scanned the room. “Where Julian would have attacked any of us, he would not do so with Lily.”
“Damn you!” Luke exploded, full of rage and exasperation. “She will end up just like Anna! Is that what it will take? Look at this! There was clearly a fight here. There is blood, part of her goddamned clothes is in my hand!”
Michael’s eyes fell to the cloth Luke clenched. His stomach seized. “We need to find Lily. Now!”
Nathaniel faced both Nephilim. For the first time, Michael saw him exhibit some sort of emotion. Always calm and serene, Michael hadn’t thought Nathaniel felt anything. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Anger, waves and waves of it, radiated off him. A near unholy light filled his eyes, and he suddenly looked very dangerous.
“Call Danyal and every Nephilim available. Tear this city apart if you need to.”
“This is on you, Nathaniel.” Luke gritted out, backing away. “You could have stopped this at any time, but you didn’t. This is on you. Just like what happened with Anna is on you!”
Nathaniel briefly closed his eyes. “This I know.”
Rage—pure unbridled hatred—flickered over Luke’s face a second before he charged Nathaniel. Instinct kicked in, propelling Michael to place himself between the two. “Stop this!” he ordered. “What the fuck is this going to solve? Who gives a fuck about who’s to blame right now? This isn’t important!”
Luke shoved himself away, his hands clenched at his side. There was a moment when Michael thought Luke wouldn’t back down. The hatred that rolled off him was too potent to walk away from, but somehow he pulled it in. “This is over,” said Luke, tone eerily final.
“Luke…” Nathaniel stared at him, his eyes widening slightly. “No…”
He shook his head before turning, then disappeared out the balcony doors. Michael followed his movements, stunned. “What does he mean? What is he talking about?”
“We need to go back to the Sanctuary.” Nathaniel was already walking toward the door.
“What? We need to find Lily!”
Nathaniel turned on him. “We will, but first we need to go back to the Sanctuary. This isn’t up for discussion, Michael. I don’t expect you to understand, but I need you to listen to me and do exactly as I tell you.”
There was something in his tone that gave Michael pause. “What’s…going on?”
“Do you have the keys to the Porsche?” asked Nathaniel, walking out the door.
“Yes.” Michael followed him. He was missing something huge. He knew it.
Nathaniel nodded. “I need you to get us back to the Sanctuary as quickly as possible.”
Together they raced down the stairs and, once inside the Cayenne, Nathaniel pulled out his cell. Like Luke had done before, he tried reaching Lily—to no avail.
Michael gripped the steering wheel. “What is going on?”
Nathaniel held up his finger while he pressed another number on the phone. “Adrian, meet me back at the Sanctuary. We have a…problem.” He hung up the phone, his hand clenching the slim model. “Michael, when we get back to the Sanctuary, I need you to check Lily’s room. She may have gone back there.”
He switched lanes, narrowly avoiding a taxi as he sped through the streets. “Are you going to tell me what’s going on?”
“It’s about Anna,” said Nathaniel as if it made perfect sense. “It’s always been about Anna.”
Once they arrived at the Sanctuary, Nathaniel left him with orders to check Lily’s room, before disappearing with Adrian, and strict orders to not leave the building.
Michael had never been more frustrated in his life. Lily was out there somewhere, possibly hurt or worse, and he was expected to just chill. When he entered Lily’s room, he quickly discovered why no one had been able to reach her. Her cell phone lay next to her keys, the message light blinking rapidly. Sighing, he grabbed the phone and slipped it into the pocket of his pants.
There was no fucking way he was going to stand around. Whenever he closed his eyes, he saw Micah, and then Lily replaced Micah. Bloodied and beaten, lying dead somewhere out in the city. Screw this.
Nathaniel’s orders be damned.
His mind made up, he left Lily’s room. His first stop was the weapons’ room. He quickly grabbed two vicious blades and leg straps and hooked them to his thighs. As he straightened, he noticed a large rack mounted to the wall. Various keys hung there, labeled with what they belonged to. He approached the rack, brows raised as he read some of the labels. It was like a bike enthusiast’s wet dream—Michael’s wet dream. They had everything: Hondas, Harleys, Indians, and various crotch rockets, but it was the Hayabusa GSX that caught his eye.
“Holy shit,” he murmured.
It was one of the fastest bikes, accelerating to unimaginable speeds. The bike was made for all the adrenaline junkies in the world.
He didn’t think twice about grabbing those keys before heading to the parking garage in the back where they kept the fleet of vehicles. It had to be the only logical place where the bikes were kept.
He was right. On the bottom level, behind a steel cage, were several dozen bikes under lock and key. Staring at the key for a moment, he then grabbed one of the knives. It cut through the mesh wire like nothing, and he could only imagine what it did to flesh as he kicked open the gate. The platinum motorcycle was like a beacon. There was a moment of appreciation as he approached the bike, knowing he would probably never have the luxury of riding this thing again.
This was probably going to get him kicked out of the Sanctuary.
Spinning around, he saw Luke. Immediately, Michael thought the worst—and maybe the best. “Did you find Lily?”
“No.” He grabbed a helmet off the rack. “But I think I know where she would go. You game?”
“Let’s do this.” Michael straddled the bike, pausing before he slid the helmet on. “Lead the way.”
“Trust me,” Luke said. “We’ll find her.”
Lily couldn’t breathe as she barreled through the crowded sidewalk. Where in the hell were all these people coming from? They seemed to be closing in on her, and though the sun had already set, the air was thick with heat and humidity.
Picking up her pace, she balled her hands into fists, ignoring the looks of people she bumped into or cut off. It didn’t matter that she suspected Micah. He hadn’t deserved that. No one deserved that.
Not Julian. Her mind rebelled at the idea. He c
She turned the corner, narrowly avoiding a couple holding hands. Her heart clenched so tightly she stumbled.
Micah would most likely die, and she…she was in love with a killer, a monster.
She was searching for a distraction—trouble really. Anything to ease the twisting her heart did every so many minutes, but like the days before, there were no minions or deadheads to be found. It had been hours since she left her apartment, and…it was really starting to piss her off.
Anger… Yes, anger was better than the swamping grief that waited. Her step faltered, and she stopped on the footbridge. The Anacostia River rushed below, dark and uninviting. She wanted to sit down—right there—and sob. She wanted to scream, wanted to crawl into a hole somewhere.
And…damn it, she wanted Julian. Wanted to find him, beat the living shit out of him for doing this to her, and she wanted…to pretend what he did never happened.
Lily pushed away from the ledge, grinding her teeth. She started forward, breathing slowly. She was a hunter before Julian, and she would be a damn fine hunter after him.
“Damn it!” she hissed. “Can I not find one more thing to kill?”
A teenage street thug came around the corner, but seeing the deadly look on her face, he backed away. She would have laughed, but then she probably would have cried. It was really turning out to be a terrible night.
At least you aren’t sliced and diced like Micah, whispered that evil little voice that wouldn’t shut the fuck up. Speaking of Micah, Lily realized they’d probably never know why he had betrayed them.
It had to be Micah. Maybe Julian did it out of some sick way of helping clear her name. However, that would be pretty useless considering the fact Micah wouldn’t be confessing to anything or anyone anytime soon.