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|Adam(Nightwalkers #6) by Jacquelyn Frank|
Gideon lifted a brow in Elijah’s direction at the sudden maternal streak in the notoriously child-phobic Queen of the Lycanthropes. Elijah shrugged a big shoulder, just as perplexed as the medic was. Then he turned to Jacob and knelt beside him, reaching to rest a hand on his friend’s shoulder. Jacob had such a death grip on Bella, his fingers were like rigid talons in her flesh. He jolted a little when Elijah touched him, but settled down when he looked into the warrior’s eyes and recognized a friend. The comfort of Elijah’s strength seemed to relax Jacob.
“Come with us. We’ll keep you all safe now,” he assured his friend.
“I will come with you,” Jacob said. Then he added vehemently, “But no one is safe until that evil bitch is rotting in her grave.”
“I think we’re all well agreed on that,” Elijah said.
Transportation. Electrical lines. Modern housing. Technology. These were just some of the things dotting the landscape the Demons covered on their way back to Noah’s holdings in England. If Adam had not believed he had been thrust into the future before, he certainly was convinced by the time Noah had brought him home. The fact that the Demon seat of power was now in Britain was alone an earth-shattering concept. But Noah explained that Adam’s homelands, the lands once populated by Demons, were now lands of war and contention among humans. It had become unwise for even a Nightwalker race to spend any further time there.
“Humans have made amazing advances in a relatively short period of time,” Noah remarked. “Although it remains to be seen if this is a betterment in the long run. I am not convinced of it myself. The very fact that our elemental chemistry interferes with technology, making us unable to use it, leads me to wonder if it is good for the natural world.”
“The oceans and the seas,” Adam said, heavy grief in his normally calm voice, “water everywhere is weighted with ... with disease and polluted with things I do not even recognize. I can feel the poisoning and the tolerances the sea creatures have had to develop. Noah, I can sense entire species are missing ... or near to it.”
“We have always known how thoughtless and uneducated mankind can be in the ways of the natural world’s delicate balances. Only now are humans learning the error of their ways.”
Noah guided the rather shell-shocked Demon into the Great Hall of the castle he had made the center of Demon culture and society, as well as his private home. The anachronistic décor had some power to soothe the displaced Enforcer as he moved toward the ever-present fire in Noah’s hearth, although it was still a far cry from the way things had been done in the Renaissance. Adam drew up short, however, when a woman with hair as white as cotton rose from one of the chairs and hurried into Noah’s embrace. Even as he stared at the King, who kissed the obviously human woman with a depth of passion and familiarity, Adam was becoming disgusted with his own state of seemingly never-ending, gape-mouthed shock at the things he saw around him.
He cleared his throat.
“Noah, please excuse me. I ... I think I need to take a walk. I need some time ...”
“You should not leave the bounds of my property,” Noah said, fully appreciating how Adam must be feeling. “Although the town and surrounding areas are seeded mostly with Demons, you are not familiar enough to navigate safely around, and I would not wish to attract attention.”
“No,” Adam agreed. “I would not know where to go anyway.” He turned away toward the arboretum, which led to the outside gardens, but hesitated a moment to ask, “Is it true?”
Noah raised a brow in query as he cuddled the pretty blonde to his side.
“What Jacob said about my parents,” he clarified.
Adam knew it was, just by the expression that fell over the King’s features. He didn’t need the nod of assent that followed.
“Thank you,” he said, resuming his exit.
Once the Water Demon was alone in the gardens, he methodically began to sort through all that had happened, the repercussions and the logic, and tried to reconcile how to fix all of the problems his appearance in this time had caused. There was only one solution, as he saw it. He had to make the Gypsy girl who had started all of this return him to where she had gotten him. He had to force her to return him to his own time, his own country, and his living, thriving family where his little brother did not speak to him with such cold contempt.
But that girl was gone. And yet not gone. Not even of age as yet, if he was understanding things correctly. Why had she done this? He ran it over in his head, all the things she had said to him, all the things he now knew. She had brought him to a moment that, had he not appeared just then, would likely have meant his brother’s death. Leah’s father’s death.
His niece. He had a niece. Named Leah. And his niece had just turned his life around. But hadn’t she asked him that very question? Hadn’t she asked him if he was willing to give up everything for Jacob? To sacrifice everything he knew?
His answer had been yes without even knowing what it would really mean. But, Adam realized, when all was said and done, even if he found out Damien the Vampire Prince was Noah’s best damn friend in the world, it wouldn’t matter. He would accept it. He would accept it all so long as it meant being able to be there when Jacob needed him most.
Jacob. As Enforcer? There had never been more than one Enforcer before. In this time there were two. The second was a human woman who was also his brother’s wife? Jacob was right. There would be no place for him here. This was clearly his brother’s time. A fulfillment of his Destiny.
So ... what did that leave for Adam?
He shoved the pitiful thought away. There was no considering it, he thought firmly. He was not defined by his role as Enforcer. He had been a man of power and vital use to his people long before he’d been passed the mantle of Enforcer, and he would be again. No matter which way the sand scattered once this child of Time was through playing with it, he would be of use and of power so long as there was breath in his body.
The sound of boots on stones drew his full attention. Adam suddenly found himself staring into sultry dark eyes the color of mink. The beautiful Vampire was fully clothed, but Adam’s breath rushed out of his body at the sight of her just as it had when she had stood naked before him. She wore breeches and boots, both hugging her legs like a second skin, the fabric smoothed lovingly to the curves of her hips and her backside. She wore some sort of shirt that barely reached below her fine breasts as it clung to them tightly enough to reveal the precise location of nipples whose mauve color he too easily recalled. She was bare along her flat midriff, except for the exotic addition of a silver and amethyst chain that circled her waist and linked through a hoop that pierced her navel.
As she stood there, proud and boldly beautiful as ever before, he realized her hair was worn a bit shorter now. She’d cropped the wavy black mass to just a few inches below her collarbone. A shame, he found himself thinking. It had been gorgeous as it had tumbled wet down the length of her bare back. Although he had to concede that there was something attractive about it this way as well.
“My, my,” Jasmine murmured in a voice low with lush amusement. “If it isn’t the so shy spying Demon. Adam, isn’t it?” She laughed, delighted she had recalled his name after so much time. Then again, her brief encounters with him were some of those memories that had just seemed to stick with her over the years. Actually, they had more than stuck, she admitted to herself quickly, as if the admission, like the removal of a Band-Aid, would hurt less that way. Time and again she had been wrapped up in those memories, overcome by a strange longing she couldn’t make herself understand. After all, it had just been an amusement. A tease. He had not been the first and he had not been the last she had taunted in such ways.
But he had been the most powerful. The memory had clung to her for four centuries, and she had wondered on more than one occasion where he had disappeared to. She also remembered his flustered reactions to her quite often when she elicited similar ones from others, but while she found her more recent sufferers to be pitiful, she had never recalled memories of him with such disrespect.
The funny thing was he looked almost exactly the same, from the disorderly curls of his longish black hair to the scuffed and worn leather of the boots riding high on his thick thighs. It was like looking through a portal into the past. He still wore a sword as well. The dagger was missing, yet again, and the scabbard was set empty on his hip.
“Have you spent all these years avoiding me, only to fail now?” she suggested in a blatant taunt.
It was all too much, really. He had been through enough in the past hours to shatter a man’s sanity. But he swore by Destiny he was not going to let this Vampire harlot stand there laughing at him, getting the best of him. She was on the land of his King, and her intentions couldn’t possibly be good if she so boldly strode onto Demon territory. If it was war she sought, well, Adam was ripe in mood to give it to her.
“Right then, my fine-bred little bitch,” he hissed as he drew his sword, “let us see how well you laugh through the slit in your throat.”
Jasmine barely leapt back in time to avoid the vicious swipe of the already bloodstained sword. Her boots sent the white pathway stones flying as she skidded back to a distance. This time her laugh was wholly incredulous.
“Have you lost your bloody mind?” she demanded, dodging back again when that wicked blade nearly nicked her shoulder.
“Aye. I am feeling rather insane at the moment. So anything is possible.” Adam grinned, flashing broad white teeth at her as an excited light entered his eyes for the first time in what felt like ages of confusion. This he knew. He knew how to fight and to kill in the name of his King and kind. This at least would never change, no matter how much time might pass.
Jasmine saw the eagerness for blood that shimmered into those amazing pale green eyes and she all but shivered with delight, in spite of her obvious peril. If there was one thing Jasmine could always appreciate, it was a thirst for blood. Of course, he wasn’t supposed to be thirsting for her blood. Their people were no longer at war, but he was acting as though she were still his enemy. Honestly, she hadn’t even been his enemy the first time they had met. She’d been more tempted to tumble the gorgeous brute than fight with him.
But either way, foreplay was foreplay.
“Well then, I am at a bit of a disadvantage, seeing as how you are armed and I am not.”
And why was that, Adam wondered sharply. If she had come to cause trouble, why come armed with only her fangs and her powers of the mind?
“Ahh, got you thinking, haven’t I?” she taunted him as they danced a couple more steps around each other. “If you wish to stick your sword in something, surely we could find you a better target.”
“I doubt that. You are as fine a sheath for my sword as I have ever seen,” he parried back with vehemence.
“Do you think so?” Jasmine launched into flight to avoid losing a leg. She flew over and behind him, landing with a flourish and a laugh before sweeping under his next reach and, to Adam’s unending shock, disarming him of his sword with just the hard thrust of her palms. She almost cracked his forearm in two with the blow and he roared with pain even as his blade flew several yards out of reach. To his surprise, though, the Vampire danced away from his reach instead of following up on his vulnerability. “Now you shall have to find a different sword to stick me with!” She chuckled.
“Why, you little ...”
The blatant taunt took him beyond logic and all his years of training. Then again, he’d never been in a fight quite like this before. Adam couldn’t believe it, but the cunning little minx was amusing him, frustrating him, and bloody well turning him on all at the same time!
“And why not?” he muttered to himself. “In a world turned mad and on its head, where Demons make babies with humans, why not a Demon wanting to make a smart Vampire wench scream his name once or twice?”
Adam lunged for his adversary and caught her in a fabulous full tackle. They went sailing off the rocky path and onto the lawn with a hard roll and tumble. To his amusement, she ended up on top. Her dark cloud of silky, shining hair formed a black nimbus around her head, her aristocrat’s features lean and lovely in the moonlight glowing from behind her. She planted her hands on his chest and purposely slid her bottom down the length of his torso until she was astride his hips, riding him like she might a prize stallion with her straight posture and outthrust breasts. She laughed again, her rich brown eyes dancing with life and merriment. Then she leaned close to him until her lips all but brushed against his.
“As I recall,” she whispered in rushes of hot breath against his mouth, “you are quite the well-armed warrior.” She rode her heated sex against his to be certain he took her meaning. “Let us bring your other weapons out to play.”
Adam reached up and grabbed her by her shoulders, dumping her hard over onto the ground until he was in the dominant position. He found himself snug between her strong thighs, her breasts crushed beneath his chest as he pinned her wrists to the ground close to her shoulders.
“I think you might get what you are looking for if you can stay alive long enough!”
“Do not make promises you do not intend to keep,” she breathed against his mouth just before she flicked her tongue out from between half-prominent fangs and licked his lips.
Adam jerked back at the contact. What he expected was to feel his skin crawl with utter disgust at the Vampire’s stolen intimacy. But what he felt instead was just the opposite. Heat exploded over his face, like a flash of embarrassment without the shameful feeling itself. Adam felt his entire body follow suit, surging with it in rough, overwhelming waves. His heart was already racing from their struggles, but now it was about so much more. Now all he could seem to focus on was the way she was breathing hard beneath him.