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|Gideon(Nightwalkers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“So I am correct in assuming that you can teleport without leaving the display of smoke and sulfur behind, as accomplished Elders can?”
“Yes. How did you know that?”
“Because it clearly takes concentration for you to leave those traces of residue with which you are covering up the advanced ability. I have noticed that you have been taking a few seconds longer to teleport when, before this, your speed had increased. This indicated to me that you were taking slightly longer to think about what you were doing. Also, there is no reason why I should have been able to stop you just now. I may be fast and strong, Legna, but you have surpassed being easily distracted long ago. The motion of your wrist is little more than habit and, I believe, an attempt to remind yourself to take that one last step of adding camouflage before the actual teleport. I should also mention that I saw you teleport once in an urgent situation where you completely forgot to add the… smoke and mirrors.”
Legna blushed and looked down at the carpet, sliding her slipper into a threadbare portion of it in consternation. She had thought she was being careful, and it bothered her to know she had been so transparent to Gideon.
“So, does this make me some sort of mutant?”
“It is far too soon to make a diagnosis of that accuracy,” he chided, reaching to take her hand and guiding her into the center of the room. “I need to do an intensive scan, Legna, and for that I need your complete cooperation.”
Legna sighed with impatience, her hands resting on her hips in a sign of pique she had clearly adopted from the Druid Isabella.
“I said I would, did I not?”
“There is no need for your acerbic remarks, Magdelegna. I warn everyone before I begin a scan of this nature because it is very intimate. I must touch you, for instance. It is very similar to a mind touch, but it is done both physically and with my power. I may project my astral self into you if necessary. You will have no secrets from me physically at that point.”
Legna swallowed, her heart fluttering with anxiety at the idea of allowing herself to be so vulnerable to him. But she had grown weary of the act she had been putting on and the fear that was riding so heavily behind it.
“Well, so long as you do not poke around where you do not belong,” she said. Gideon lifted a silver brow, making Legna realize the way what she had just said could be interpreted. Again, her tanned skin blushed a sharp hue of pink. “You know what I mean,” she added, unable to look at him for some ridiculous reason. “Stay away from my mind. I know that you are powerful enough to decode brain synapses.”
“That is something I do very rarely, for it takes a great deal of effort and can be a bit painful for me. Also, the intrusion of my power on those maps can affect memory patterns.”
“My point exactly.”
He made no reply. Instead, he began to walk a circle around her, his eyes visually assessing every inch of her body. Gideon noticed immediately that Legna had a tendency toward rapid respiration lately. He was aware of the training her type of Demon went through, and even more personally aware that Legna had always prided herself on her smooth, level nature, so similar to his own with its methodical thoughtfulness before action was spoken or taken. It was often the way of empaths and telepaths from their race to show a face of utter calm and serenity. Lately, whenever Gideon had encountered her, she seemed more emotional, or at least allowing emotion to show in ways she hadn’t done since becoming an adult. The point that had compelled him, in fact, was the one they had just argued over. Why now, all of a sudden, was she letting him be aware of her wounded pride from that night that had passed between them? Oh, he had known his thoughtless behavior was very likely to evoke adverse emotions in her, but Legna would never have let them show.
He moved around to her back and stepped closer. He was aware of her closing her eyes and trying to settle her breathing, regulating her flighty pulse with a chosen meditation technique. The change that slid through her physiology was swift and remarkable. She had an impressive control over both her voluntary and involuntary systems, another indication of her skills having risen closer to Elder ability rather than adult.
Gideon reached out to gather her heavy hair in his hands, dropping the silky sheet of it over her shoulder. He then placed his hand on the back of her neck, encircling the warm, slender column as he stepped closer still. He closed his eyes, not a necessary action, but one that helped him focus. Immediately he began to extend his sensory abilities into her, beginning by slipping down the length of her spine and spreading throughout her nervous system.
He felt the electrical feedback sparking through him and he took its measure, finding her to be a little over-stressed and hyperaware of her surroundings at that moment, but that was understandable considering her anxiety over the exam itself. He reached deeper into her nerves and synapses, measuring the chemicals within that regulated pain, reflex, and conduction. Unthinkingly, he touched his forehead to the back of her head, his deep, even breaths slipping over her neck and shoulders. He felt her shiver, but from the inside out, and the resulting feedback washed back through him and into his own body, forcing him to mimic the reaction. Startled, Gideon opened his eyes. That sort of response had not happened to him since his adult years. He had long ago learned to prevent himself from being affected by the nervous impulses of a patient he was examining. His brows lowered with puzzlement, but he returned to his task, once more embedding himself deeply into her nervous system, this time reaching cellular levels. He scanned one bundle of nerve structures at a time, picking through them from dendrite to DNA. At the same time, his hands moved over her shoulders, cupping them, curving around her arms.
He splayed his fingers as he came around to her collarbone, embedding himself into the structures and functions of her lungs and heart. He felt the beat of her heart flutter almost uncertainly, but then it began to trip a rapid cadence that was nowhere near what it had been moments ago. Again, Gideon felt a flashback of sensory input, his own heart suddenly speeding up to match hers in perfect syncopation. The medic inhaled sharply, resisting the urge to pull away, to shut himself off from these abnormalities. It was nothing too dramatic, really. Nothing that could be thought of as dangerous. It was simply a peculiar aberration. But the aberration continued to affect him in other ways. Her breath quickened once more, and his did as well. Her body heat blossomed above normal, sending swirls of heat spreading through his tissues.
Gideon pulled away from her suddenly, all of the reactions distracting him so much that he was forced to take a moment to regain his focus and concentration. He glanced down at his hands, shocked to realize they were shaking.
“Is something wrong?”
His eyes darted up. She had turned around to face him. Her skin was flushed, a beautiful coral pink that could have been part of the dawn breaking just outside her window. She was a remarkable work of feminine beauty. He had always thought so, but in that moment, there was more, a depth that he had not been previously aware of. It was a sort of magnetic allure, one that seemed to sing into him, feeling like a hum that vibrated over his nerves, heightening his already sharp awareness of her.
“No,” he responded absently to her question. “I do not know,” he corrected himself, taking one more step back away from her.
“Gideon, you are worrying me,” she said in a soft pitch that was all but breathless.
“It is… unintentional, I assure you. Everything seems to be fine so far. I have only just begun the intensive scan.”
“Then why did you stop?”
Why indeed? He could hardly explain to her what he did not understand himself. But he was an Ancient member of this mighty race, the only one of his kind. Certainly he could absorb or circumvent these minor anomalies until it was time to include them in his final analysis. He was more convinced than ever that there was more happening to Legna than met the immediate eye. The solution, however, would not be as easy to discern as he had originally thought.
“I needed a moment to refocus,” he explained at last. “I am ready to resume.”
“Okay,” she said carefully, sounding as though she had not been completely convinced by his explanation. However, she obediently began to turn back around.
“No.” He stopped her, a hand on her shoulder. “Remain facing me.”
She complied, tossing her hair back over her shoulder so he would not have to move it for her. She did not close her eyes again, this time watching him closely. He flexed the fingers of both hands and then reached for her. This time his target was her waist. His palms slid over the silk of her gown, curving around her hips. Legna was not thin in any human sense of the word. She was a proud display of grand, graceful height and extremely feminine curves. She was fit, just muscular enough to make her quite strong, yet sculpted with a womanly definition. Humans who knew Demon females socially, not realizing they were of a differing species, often referred to them as goddesses or Amazons. Gideon was able to understand why quite easily. Legna would cast a shadow over any female of any race.
He realized he was allowing himself to be distracted and shook his head gently to refocus himself. He fixed his eyes on the track his hands were following, from hips into the distinct curve of her waist, up to the spread of her rib cage. Instantly, he could visualize her internal organs. He scanned them thoroughly, finding the anatomy to be as clean and healthy as those of any Demon of her youthful age. Apparently, though her abilities had aged before her time, her body had not joined them. There was an aberrant condition that struck the occasional Demon, causing them to age faster than they should. Gideon was grateful this was not the case with Legna. It was one of the few diseases that could kill a Demon. The medics had not been able to break down the causes of it, and so could not prepare a solution as yet. Luckily, there had not been a case of it in 103 years.
He slid his hands back down the path they had just traveled, moving closer to her as he spread his fingers and palms over her hips. Legna gasped softly, her body jerking unexpectedly. Instinctively, Gideon held her tightly, not wanting to break the deep connection he was forming.
“Be still,” he murmured.
“Forgive me… ” she said, the uneasiness of her voice lost on him.
Gideon was quickly checking through her muscular structure and then weaving very gently into the complexities of her reproductive system. Suddenly Legna cried out again, her hands hitting his chest and grabbing fistfuls of his shirt, her entire body trembling from head to toe. This time Gideon gave the reaction his full attention. He looked into her wide eyes, the pupils dilating as he watched. Her mouth formed a soft, silent circle of surprise.
“What are you doing?” she asked, her breath falling short and quick.
“Nothing,” he insisted, his expression reflecting his baffled thoughts. “Merely continuing the exam. What are you feeling?”
Legna couldn’t put the sensation into words. Her entire body felt as if it were pooling with liquid fire, like magma dripping through her, centering under the hand he had just splayed over her lower belly. So, being the empath she was, she described it the only way she could with any efficiency and effectiveness. She sent the sensations to him, deeply, firmly, without preparation or permission, exactly the way she had received them.
In an instant, Gideon went from being in control of a neutral examination to an internal thermonuclear flash-point of arousal that literally took his breath away. His hand flexed on her belly, crushing the silk of her dress within his fist.
“Legna!” he cried hoarsely. “What are you doing?”
She didn’t even seem aware of him, her eyes sliding closed and her head falling back as she tried to gulp in oxygen. His eyes slid down over her and he saw the flush and rigidity of erogenous heat building with incredible speed beneath her skin. And as it built in her, it built in him. She had created a loop between them, a locked cycle that started nowhere, ended nowhere. All it did was spill through and through them.
“Stop,” he commanded, his voice rough and desperate as he tried to clear his mind and control the impulses surging through him. “Legna, stop this!”
Legna dropped her head forward, her eyes flicking open and upward until she was gazing at him from under her lashes with the volatile, predatory gaze of a cat.
A cat in heat.
Gideon was riveted in place, the huntress’s look in her eyes holding him more than her hands did in that moment. Suddenly, the nine years between that long-ago Samhain night and this one evaporated. Gideon remembered everything he had been feeling when she had accidentally stumbled upon him that particular full moon, the very same memories and feelings he had refused to examine ever since. Loneliness, pain, and a brutal hunger beyond the scope of all definition. He had been assaulted relentlessly by them all. It had been twisting through him, worse and worse, year after year, threatening his sanity. It had made him angry, feeling somehow weakened and cheated. He had spent a millennium learning how to control everything about and around himself. He was the most powerful Demon in their history. How could this petty, primal thing be affecting him as if he were some kind of cosmic tadpole flipping around mindlessly in a primordial ooze?
And then Legna had suddenly been standing before him, just as she was now, and everything had changed. It had become all about heat, and need, and the desire for a taboo youth and beauty he had always admired above all others. Not only that, but she had looked at him with that catlike intensity in that moment as well. It was so seductive, so powerful, and so clearly determined. Her will was a formidable thing, but he had never realized how formidable until she had turned it on him.
And now, it was burning into him again, her eyes hot with intent, flaring to a jeweled green color as she slowly, thoroughly, measured him as a male. That purposeful gaze sent flames licking over his skin. Arousal ten times more powerful than even the Hallowed moon had inspired went roaring through him. It had been centuries since he had last shown any real interest in a being of the opposite sex. With a life so long as his, one tended to transcend the physical needs of the body, either with more intellectual pursuits or just because no matter what the variety of partners, nothing new could come from the experience and a sensation of repetition set in.