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  • Home > Christine Feehan > Dark Series > Dark Blood (Chapter 9)     
    Dark Blood(Dark #26) by Christine Feehan

    She reached out to take the wrist Dimitri offered, her gesture casual. Every muscle in Zev’s body coiled for action, a red-hot rage sweeping through him. The reaction of his wolf was completely unexpected and he was unprepared for the wildness rising in him. He tasted the hot burst of blood in his mouth, took in the scent of his enemy, his vision banding with colors.

    Stop it. Her voice was low, but carried a command. I’m feeding from Dimitri. Your brother-kin. It is natural and right and you need to think with your brains not your . . . um . . . you know. You need to put Wolfie back in his cave.

    Her laughter bubbled up, infectious and beautiful, spreading through him like a tide of joy. Once again it was her humor that saved him. He found it impossible not to laugh with her. Wolfie? Really? I probably am thinking with my . . . um.

    The wolf receded, and he felt stronger for keeping it at bay when he was so obviously vulnerable to the very ugly trait of jealousy. He had refused to even acknowledge that he could feel such a petty emotion, but there it was, intense and demanding. She was right, he definitely had been thinking with his . . . um. He laughed again, grateful she’d freed him from his own failings.

    Not failings. We aren’t tied together. Your reaction is primal. You’re a predator, Zev, a very lethal one, and your instincts are what have always saved you. Your instinct is to protect me and to keep all other males away from me. That’s natural.

    Zev took Fen’s offered wrist, savoring the life-giving substance flowing into his starved cells and injured organs. Dimitri is insanely in love with his lifemate. I don’t think he notices other women are alive. More, I’m in his head. He thinks of you as a sister. It isn’t natural.

    Her laughter stroked over him like a caress. Just know that until you claim me with the ritual words and tie our souls together, that will most likely be your reaction. Wolfie will come flying out all in a primitive caveman sort of rage, snarling at everyone, me included.

    Great. What if a member of the Lycan council stared at her with hungry eyes? He nearly groaned. That wouldn’t work, either. Woman, you’re going to be the death of me.

    Or your savior, she murmured softly.

    “Don’t you dare go against my wishes,” he snapped aloud, all humor vanishing abruptly, his wolf giving him that razor-sharp, low, fierce tone of the alpha.

    She enveloped herself in silence. He realized Dimitri had made no comment about Skyler and her crazy scheme. It was impossible to tell from Dimitri’s stone face whether or not he agreed with his lifemate’s insanity. Dimitri was logical, and what the women had proposed was not the least bit logical.

    “You ready for this?” Fen’s tone was grim.

    “As ready as I ever will be,” Zev said, shooting Branislava another warning glance.

    Branislava sent him an enigmatic smile and took to the air. He had to admire her smooth, easy takeoff. She leapt, a graceful dancer’s leap, shifting as she did so into a small owl. Everything about her was fascinating. Everything. He loved the sound of her voice, the way she moved, her sense of humor and her vulnerability. He wasn’t so enamored with her stubborn streak.

    Fen caught him up in strong arms, making him feel weak. It was a little humiliating to be carted around as if his injuries were so severe that he couldn’t take baby steps.

    Your injuries are that severe, Branislava reminded.

    What was he going to do about her? If he asked Mikhail to remove the weave of spirits between them, she would be hurt beyond anything he might be able to repair. He took a deep breath. He had to stay alive. There was no other choice. Whatever Mikhail and Gregori planned to do to heal his wound, he had to be strong enough to survive it—for Branislava. He was not going to take her chance at a life away from her.

    She’d been locked up, a prisoner her entire life, and now that she was free, he was determined to see to it that her life was filled with happiness. She needed to live. Resolution settled deep in him. He wouldn’t risk the others, no matter what, but Branislava was already tied to him. He still didn’t know much about lifemates, but if he couldn’t stand being away from her, then it stood to reason that she would have a difficult time without him.

    Fen took him to another cave. This one was completely different than the chamber of warriors. Everything in the cave was soothing, from the colors of the formations inside to the deep pools of water. One was quite hot, the other cool and inviting. The cave was large, but not even close in size to the warrior’s chamber.

    The walls were ringed with Carpathians, some he recognized and others he didn’t. Tatijana, Skyler and Dimitri stood close to the circle where Mikhail and Gregori waited for him. Beside them was a very tall man with wide-set shoulders and long dark hair. His eyes were striking, a strange, almost metallic green, piercing right through a man when he looked at you. He had scars from burns running up his neck to his face. This had to be Branislava’s uncle. Beside him was a much shorter woman who looked as if she’d be more at home in the wildest jungle than a healing cave. He felt exactly the same way.

    Mikhail stepped forward to greet him, clasping his forearms. “Well met, brother-kin,” he said. “We owe you a great debt of gratitude. This can’t have been an easy decision.”

    Zev felt power running through the prince like a strong current of electricity. “If it prevents a war, it is the only one.” He gripped the prince’s forearms with the same strength, trying to convey that he was ready for this.

    Mikhail nodded in approval before stepping back to allow Gregori to greet him as well.

    To his surprise, Gregori afforded him that same warrior’s tribute, clasping his forearms. “I greet a friend and brother,” he said formally.

    Zev returned the strong grip. “Let’s get this done.”

    Gregori nodded his head. “Fen tells me he believes you are the last remaining Dark Blood. If that is so, you are strong enough to endure anything, Zev. Your bloodline is revered by our people. It is legendary.”

    Zev understood that Gregori was giving him encouragement and he appreciated it. He had already made up his mind that he could withstand the power of the combination of the two men’s healing abilities. He inclined his head and stepped back. He had one more thing to do. He wasn’t going to die this night, but still . . .

    He turned and found her beside her sister. Branislava. She stood straight, her chin up, but she was very pale. Her hand was in Tatijana’s and he detected a slight tremor running through her body. He willed his body not to fail him. She was only about five feet from him, but the distance seemed to stretch ahead of him for miles. He would have forded a river if that’s what it took to get to her.

    He managed to walk straight, upright, not betraying that every jarring step sent waves of sickening pain crashing through his body. He concentrated on her. Only her. His woman. He stopped directly in front of her and took both of her hands in his.

    We’ll do this together, mon chaton féroce, and I won’t fail you.

    She swallowed hard and nodded, her gaze clinging to his. She nodded several times. He leaned over, ignoring the excruciating pain and the feel of blood running down his body again. He needed to kiss her. He caught her chin and gently brushed his lips across hers. Her lips trembled beneath his, soft and warm and inviting. That was all, the merest touch, but it was enough to convince him that his every reason to fight for his life was standing right in front of him.

    He looked at her a long time, breathing in her scent, tasting that addictive flavor of cinnamon mixed with honey, willing her to believe he would get them through this. When she nodded, he smiled at her, turned and made his way back to Mikhail and Gregori. Blood soaked the shirt that had been pristine white. He ignored it, just as they did. It was simply more evidence that he was nowhere near ready to investigate who was behind attempting to start a war between Lycan and Carpathian.

    Fen and Dimitri helped Zev up to the bed of stone, where he stretched out. He thought the surface would be hard and rough, but it wasn’t, and he settled into it. He wasn’t certain what to expect, but just the small amount of movement had exhausted him. He was so comfortable he was afraid he might fall asleep. He felt Fen’s hands opening the buttons of his shirt, exposing his wound, but he didn’t look at him.

    Both Fen and Dimitri touched his shoulder in a kind of salute, but neither spoke. They didn’t have to. He felt their affection, the brotherhood they’d offered. For just a moment, Tatijana touched his mind and then Skyler. He had forgotten what it was like to have family. It had been far too many years.

    Feeling a burn behind his eyes, Zev closed them. He became aware of the scent of the aromatic candles. Hundreds of them burned in the cave with a combination of healing fragrances. Mikhail stepped up to the side of the raised bed with Gregori gliding into position beside him. He felt their close proximity without having to see either of them. The combination of the two men radiated an extraordinary power.

    A hush settled in the chamber. He felt a searing heat drive right through his stomach and his eyes flew open. Gregori stood over him, hands raised, palms facing the wound in his gut, the white-hot energy unlike anything Zev had ever experienced. Gregori’s hands were a good twelve inches from his body, but he could have been touching him with a red-hot poker.

    The Carpathians present in the chamber began to chant, the language ancient, the words powerful. Others outside the healing cave, in the far distance, joined, their voices rising to aid in his healing. There was something comforting in the knowledge that an entire community could come together to try to save a single member from death.

    The heat generated by Gregori alone was so scorching hot his mind shied away from the fact that Mikhail would amplify it. Once the two joined together he couldn’t imagine the degree of heat.

    Mikhail spoke in a low, carrying tone.

    kudejek kuntanak en Karpatiinak és kuntanak en hän ku pesänak. I call upon generations of the line of the prince and the line of the protector.

    The Carpathians in the cavern replied back to him.

    It kule megem, oma kontak, hän ku pusmak. Hear us now, warriors of old, healers we summon.

    Mikhail inhaled deeply and trusted his judgment.

    kudejek kuntanak Köd-verinak, kontak és hän ku pusmak päläpälä. I call upon generations of the line of Dark Blood, warriors and healers alike.

    The surrounding Carpathians called back.

    It kule megem, oma kontak, hän ku pusmak. Hear us now, warriors of old, healers we summon.

    Mikhail continued.

    Juttanak kuntamet en Karpatiinak és kuntamet en hän ku pesänak és kuntamet Köd-verinak. Join the line of the prince with the line of the protector and the line of Dark Blood. It kule megem, oma kontak, hän ku pusmak. Bring them together as one.

    Those in the chamber intoned back.

    It kule megem, oma kontak, hän ku pusmak. Hear us now, warriors of old, healers we summon.

    Mikhail placed his hands on either side of Gregori’s body.

    Päläpälä mekenak tuli ku pusm és katt3nak hän ainaba jamatan ekänkak. Together we bring forth the fire of healing and send it into the body of our fallen brother.

    The Carpathian people called back in response.

    It kule megem, oma kontak, hän ku pusmak. Hear us now, warriors of old, healers we summon.

    Mikhail added one last plea to the spirits of their ancestors.

    Andak jamatan ekänkhoz wäke bekit kutni takkapet. Give our fallen brother the strength to endure this trial. Pusmak jakamaka és saγedak hängem wäkeva ainaval, kont o sívanak, és umuš käktäveritkuntaknak. Heal his wounds and bring him forth with a strong body, strong heart and the wisdom of our combined bloodlines.

    The Carpathians responded with one last invocation.

    It kule megem, oma kontak, hän ku pusmak. Hear us now, warriors of old, healers we summon.

    Mikhail’s entire body glowed white, his hands shimmering with fire. The fire leapt from him to Gregori. Gregori’s body stiffened, and then jerked hard as if he’d absorbed a terrible blow. Flames ran down his arms and flickered over his fingers. He plunged his hand into the hole in Zev’s gut.

    Zev’s entire body convulsed. He heard the wolf howl, a distant, painful cry as it retreated, desperate to escape the burn of pure fire. His Carpathian side leapt toward the cleansing fire while the wolf raced away. Sweat poured from his body, so that his entire body was dotted with tiny beads of blood.

    Connected as he was to the two men through the blood of the ancient lines, Zev felt the force as a form of raw electrical charge. Gregori battled to stay in control of so much power. Mikhail fought to hold back the sheer energy radiating from him. All Carpathian people were connected through him and he drew their strength and energy like a magnet. It was as if a hundred suns had been lit and he carried them all.

    “You’re killing him,” Fen hissed. He gripped Dimitri’s shoulder, his knuckles turning white. “It’s too much, back off.”

    Mikhail shot him a glance of pure reprimand. Fen started to turn away, but couldn’t. Tatijana reached out to him, slipping her hand in his in an effort to comfort him.

    Skyler leaned back against Dimitri, looking over her shoulder at him. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her body into the shelter of his.

    Light escaped from Gregori’s hands, streaking through the chamber, so bright many of them had to turn away or close their eyes. Several rock formations exploded. He didn’t look away from his task, the terrible gaping hole in Zev’s abdomen, but broke out into a sweat. Tiny beads of blood ran down his face. His features were carved with concentration as he directed the light into Zev’s body.

    Zev’s body turned bright red, as if his temperature soared and he could no longer control it. His hair grew damp and his body writhed and seized.