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  • Home > Christine Feehan > Dark Series > Dark Blood (Chapter 7)     
    Dark Blood(Dark #26) by Christine Feehan
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    Zev’s eyebrow shot up. “Are you forgetting that your lady is a Dragonseeker? I’ve felt the singe of her fire when she got riled up.” He swept his hand over the top of his hair. Tatijana, Branislava’s sister, had broken up a Lycan attack with her dragon, raining fire on them to drive them away from the shelter where wounded Carpathians had gathered.

    Fen looked a little hangdog. “Not really. She does have that same little character flaw.”

    Branislava’s eyebrows rose sharply. She flicked her finger toward Fen, and water poured down over his head. “I beg your pardon?” she asked in her sweetest tone.

    Fen yelped and jumped out from under the icy spray. The water mysteriously vanished as if it had never been. Fen stood there dripping wet, his clothes soaked and his hair hanging in long tails.

    Dimitri snickered. “I can’t imagine what you were thinking, bro.” He bowed low and very respectfully to Branislava. “Allow me to apologize for my nitwit of a brother. There is no such thing as a character flaw in a Dragonseeker woman.”

    She inclined her head, princess to peasant, keeping a sharp eye on her brother-in-law.

    Well done, Branka, well played. I do enjoy a wicked sense of humor, Zev commended her.

    “That was mean, Bronnie,” Fen accused, drying himself with a quick wave of his hand.

    “What’s mean, my brother-kin,” she said smiling complacently, “is telling my sister what you said about her.” She drummed her fingers on her thigh. “I might have to tell Skyler as well. After all, she is a Dragonseeker, and you were referencing her.”

    Fen held up both hands in surrender. “Tatijana told me you were the sweet one.”

    “Are you implying she was wrong?” Her eyebrows shot up again.

    “Zev. Do something.” Fen sounded a little desperate.

    Zev shook his head. “You stepped into this one all by yourself.” He wiped his forehead, and his hand came away with tiny smears of blood. He tried to imagine it away as Fen must have the water.

    “Lie back,” Branislava instructed. “Fen, will you and Dimitri give him more blood? I’d like to call Skyler and Tatijana in to aid me. We’ll take him down to the sleeping quarters and heal him there.”

    Zev shook his head. “I want us to talk first. We need to settle things between us.”

    “Skyler is with Tempest, Darius’s lifemate,” Dimitri said. “She’s playing with their son. He’s a beautiful boy and very serious, quite like Darius and Gregori. I’ll call her back.”

    “She loves children,” Fen said.

    “She’s worried that because we have mixed blood she won’t be able . . .” Dimitri trailed off, his gaze settling on Zev. “If your grandmother was Carpathian and became a mixed blood before she had her daughter, which she must have, that would mean . . .”

    “It’s possible to have children,” Fen finished for him, his eyes lighting up.

    “How do we find out if this is what really happened?” Dimitri asked. “I can’t imagine Skyler never having a child. One way or another, I know we will, but, Zev, if we can validate that you’re from the Dark Blood line, we’ll know it’s possible.”

    “How can we do that?”

    Zev, you need to lie down now.

    Zev tried not to smile at the bossy little note in her voice. He’d never been bossed around. His father had given up on telling him what to do by the time he was twelve. Already, he had become lead hunter of their pack. For her, to keep that worried look off her face, he complied, even though he knew movement was going to hurt like hell. Gritting his teeth, he eased back slowly. His face went white. He felt the color drain. Blood spread across his shirt again and a low hiss escaped between his teeth.

    He swore to himself. He hadn’t realized just how still he’d held his body. Movement was agony. She wiped the beads of blood from his face with a soft cloth, murmuring soothingly to him. He couldn’t quite catch the words. His pulse thundered in his ears, drowning out everything around him. The edges of his vision faded.

    I’m not certain what the advantage of being Lycan, Carpathian, Dark Blood or mixed blood is right at this moment. I thought I was supposed to heal fast, he said sarcastically to Fen and Dimitri.

    You’re supposed to use the gifts given you, Fen said, and get the hell out of the way when bombs go off. Had you moved a little faster, you would have escaped, but no, you just had to play hero and get your ass handed to you by a table, no less.

    Zev tried not to laugh. When he did, fiery pain ripped through his gut. I need to learn my woman’s water trick.

    Branislava pushed back the hair tumbling into his eyes with gentle fingers. “My sister and Skyler are on their way.”

    His eyes met hers. He knew she looked at the wolf. I said I wanted us to talk. There was that voice again. Alpha. A command.

    She couldn’t have everything her way, especially not this. He wasn’t going to go to ground without resolving a few of their issues. Not and go the next evening to try Mikhail and Gregori’s combined radical treatment that could kill him. He wasn’t stupid. If Fen was uncomfortable with the idea of it, then it was dangerous. Fen might kid around with him, but there was genuine affection and respect. Fen wasn’t a man to proclaim his feelings, but he had accepted Zev as his brother and he definitely felt the need to protect him.

    Branislava bit her lip. Her long hair banded with color, that deep swirling red that looked almost like glittering rubies falling over dark red wine. Her natural red gold nearly disappeared, although he could make it out through the changing color.

    I would be very grateful to you and the others to take this pain away and see what you can do with the wound, he said, but I’ll wait to go into the ground until we’re alone and we have a chance to talk. Can you live with that?

    Barely.

    She gave him that look from under her lashes, the one that said she meant business, the one a secret part of him found amusing. God, she was beautiful. How the hell did I get to be so lucky to have someone like you be my lifemate? I’m about as rough as a man can get and you—you take my breath away.

    She ran her fingers down the shadow along his jaw. You are a very charming man, and I can see you’ll find your way out of trouble very quickly.

    That was news to him. No one had ever said he was charming, but he’d take it if that meant she agreed with him. So we’ll wait to go to ground.

    The thought of that cool earth surrounding him was almost too much. The rich minerals and rejuvenating soil called to him. For a moment his lashes drifted down as he imagined sinking into the soil and allowing it to cover him. . . .

    His eyes flew open, narrowed at her. Rich minerals? Rejuvenating soil? Woman, what do you think you’re doing? I’m Lycan, not Carpathian. I would never think in those terms.

    Her soft laughter brushed through his mind. It was worth a try. And you are both.

    He wanted to kiss her. The thought came out of nowhere. He was staring up at her, at the laughter in her eyes and her full lips that were slightly parted, and all he could think about was tasting her. That wild honey and cinnamon mixture.

    He had taken her with him when he’d left the Carpathian Mountains for the forests of Russia. She hadn’t known it of course. That was his secret, that need to relive that moment he first saw her, when he’d first held her in his arms and replay it over and over in his mind. Her body had moved against his and he knew there would never be another woman in his life.

    He had no idea of lifemates, but he did know the real thing when he felt it. He had been alive a long time and he had never wanted a woman for himself—until Branislava. There had been something so mysterious and elusive about her. She had intrigued him from the moment he saw her, and after the music stopped and he’d had to let her go, she was forever imprinted on his body.

    I have often regretted that I did not kiss you that evening, Branislava admitted.

    He could have groaned aloud. Of course she was reading his thoughts. Branka, you’re far too innocent for a man like me. You can’t go around saying things like that to me when we have company. Wait until we’re alone.

    Her fingers were back in his hair, her touch sending little darts of fire through his body—the body that shouldn’t have been able to feel anything but pain.

    I like that you call me Branka when everyone else calls me Bronnie.

    He smiled at her. You will always be Branka to me. Or mon chaton féroce.

    She raised her eyebrow at him. I can be fierce, but a kitten? And French? That is French, isn’t it? How many languages do you speak?

    He grinned at her, enjoying their moment together. Claws. Spitting. Mine. And about ten very well and I can get by in five others. Well, now eleven if you count Carpathian.

    She rolled her eyes, but she didn’t claw or spit at him, which he took as a victory.

    “When you two are done flirting with each other, you might consider the answer to our question,” Fen said.

    “What question?” Zev asked.

    “Yeah, that’s pretty much what I thought. You’re so wrapped up in your woman that your brain short-circuited.”

    Dimitri gave a little snort of derision. “Where can we find the all-important information on your grandmother and mother, that’s the question. Whether Skyler, Tatijana and Bronnie can have children if they’re mixed blood like we are.”

    “Why would they be mixed blood?”

    Fen groaned. “You’ve really lost it, wolf man. Totally.”

    “Did you just call me ‘wolf man’?” Zev demanded. “I’m going to get up and kick your ass.”

    “Fen.” Tatijana slipped into the room. “What in the world are you doing provoking Zev at a time like this? Can’t you see he’s ill?”

    Zev groaned dramatically and placed a hand over his stomach.

    Tatijana shot Fen a glare and hurried over to him. She hugged her sister. “How is he?” How are you? I’ve been so worried.

    “He needs to rest and go to ground again,” Branislava answered aloud. I know, Tatijana. I’m sorry I worried you. He was slipping away and I had to stay focused on him.

    Don’t feel bad. If it was Fen I would have done the same. You told me he was your lifemate and I believed you, although I have no idea how.

    Zev managed another very real-sounding moan, which earned Fen a dark glare from both women.

    “Are you kidding me?” Fen said. “Can’t you see he’s faking it?”

    Dimitri snickered at his brother. Now you’ve done it. The man’s a hero with blood dripping all over the floor, a hole the size of Texas in his gut and you’re mocking his pain to women. You need lessons, bro.

    “Fen, if you can’t have just a little compassion when a man’s at death’s door, I suggest you wait outside for me,” Tatijana said. “I’m sorry, Zev. I have no idea what’s gotten into him.”

    “Oh, for God’s sake,” Fen burst out. “Zev, you’d better hope you keel over tomorrow, because if you don’t, you’re going to be taken out behind the barn and learn what big brothers are all about.”

    You’re just digging that hole for yourself deeper, Dimitri commented, his amusement growing.

    Before Tatijana could singe Fen’s hair, which she looked as if she might do at any moment, Skyler rushed in. She flung herself into Dimitri’s arms and kissed him. “You’re amazing. Amazing and incredible. I’m so lucky to have you.”

    Dimitri sent his older brother a quick triumphant glance. Did you hear that? Amazing and incredible. She’s lucky to have me. What was that Tatijana said about you?

    Zev could barely contain his laughter. “Why is Dimitri so amazing?”

    “He told me it looked as if it might be possible that we could have children together.” She bent over Zev to inspect the wound.

    Zev thought it was significant that Tatijana and Branislava moved aside for her. Skyler was much younger than both women but she was the acknowledged healer.

    “Why in the world did they allow you to wake?” Skyler spun around and glared at Fen. “I told you he would need at least another two or three months in the ground before we could even start to believe he was out of the woods.”

    Fen didn’t defend himself. Instead he apologized. “I know, Skyler. I’m sorry. Is there anything you can do to help? He’s in a lot of pain.”

    Zev could tell Fen’s reaction was genuine. Fen had put all teasing aside and focused on the young woman.

    “Fen, it isn’t that bad,” Zev said.

    Fen shot him a warning glance. She can help. And she can feel your pain, whether or not you downplay it. She saved your life.

    Of course Zev knew that. She might be the youngest of the Dragonseeker women, but she was talented, strong and determined. He didn’t realize she could feel his pain. Instantly he did his best to push the pain away, so that if she touched him, she wouldn’t hurt like he did.

    Thank you, Dimitri said simply. I know it isn’t easy when you’re weak to do that.

    Skyler ignored all of them. She sank down onto the floor, her spirit leaving her body as pure, white-hot healing energy to enter Zev’s. He was shocked at the heat. He could feel her cauterizing and sealing off veins and tissue deep inside. The pain lessened almost the moment she entered him, and he could hear her soft voice somewhere in his mind.

    That which is torn, raw and gives pain,

    I draw upon fire to heal and reclaim.

    Light that is life, fire that seals,

    I cast forth your power to each vessel seal.

    Fen tore at his wrist with his teeth and held the dripping blood over Zev’s mouth. “I offer freely, my brother. Take what you need to survive.”

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