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|Gideon(Nightwalkers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank|
Gideon realized now that he also knew the source of her seemingly strange development. This exchange had actually begun nine years back. It was the parts of himself he had left behind within her, from that brief, torrid encounter, that had sped her maturity. He had made her stronger than she had been, her chemistry becoming flooded with the traits of his. That was why he had adapted to her autonomic functions during his scan. She had already begun to become a part of him, just as he had begun to become a part of her. They had been too lost in their clashing emotions to recognize it.
“Gideon, I am afraid.”
Her confession was not wholly unexpected. He had felt as much. It was why he had let her break away from him. It was why he was going to ignore the strangling demands of his body and allow her time to accept him outside of the bewitching physical need they shared.
“I know you are,” he said softly, his soothing touch on her cheek helping her to focus, to calm her violent emotions.
“You are so powerful, Gideon. You are the most revered Ancient in all of Demon society, past and present. How can I possibly… You were right,” she blurted out. “Compared to you, I am a child. What can I possibly offer to you that would have this Imprinting make sense?”
“A powerful lineage. A fascinating and complex intelligence. Beauty of the ages.” He leaned closer, his mouth hovering a breath away from hers. “An Imprinting does not need to make sense. It is what it is.”
Gideon moved that breath forward, capturing her mouth for what felt like the first time in forever. He was instantly intoxicated by the heat, the texture, and the immediate passion of her kiss. She accepted him so readily, so without reservation of the body even though her mind feared him. Desire for her began to burn through his soul all over again, if indeed it had ever truly stopped. He shared the sensation with her, swallowing her startled gasp when the feelings made their impact on her. His mouth took from hers wildly, his hands coming to cradle her head as she swayed forward into him, deeper and deeper into the hot clash of taste and tongues. She was pristine ambrosia, food for the gods, and it sent spears of want plunging down through his body. Control? It was hers and hers alone. He suddenly understood what it might be like for those on the receiving end of his power. What he was receiving from her was electric, powerful, and a healing of his self-imposed solitude that was like a beneficent balm.
Legna felt soft impressions flowing into her thoughts. She felt Gideon’s realization of what his age and isolationism had cost him in loneliness. She ached for him, in both need and sympathy, as he allowed himself to bathe in her presence, her touch, and her kiss. She heard words of passion, as old as time itself, swirling through her mind. His voice, even in her mind, was so rich and so darkly seductive as it drifted through her thoughts, encouraging her, reassuring her, telling her in both graphic and poetic detail what her kiss was doing to him.
When he finally broke away from her, they were both boasting eyes as magically bright as tinsel and gasping for an elusive, calming breath that would take far too long to come to either of them.
But Gideon forced himself to step back from her, although he never broke their intense eye contact.
“You have fears,” he rasped quietly. “You need time. I will give it to you as best I can, Neliss. Nelissuna. My beautiful one.” The romantic endearment made Legna’s head spin with hundreds of emotions, both his and hers. “But,” he continued, his tone clearly reluctant, “Beltane approaches rapidly, and I will not be able to maintain any semblance of chivalry on that ancient night. No Imprinted pair can resist the lure of that powerful night of fertility and rebirth.”
“I know. I remember the stories,” she whispered, her heart beating so fast that it ought to have exploded from her chest. “I am grateful for whatever time you give me, Gideon. I… I can feel the pain you are in at this moment from your… your denial.”
“It is our combined pain, Legna, just as it is our combined need. I can only be thankful that it is not the month of Samhain. That would be an unbearable torture. It has been for nearly this entire decade.”
She nodded, reaching up to touch his handsome face, suddenly needing to, now that she was free to do so. His eyes closed and he took in a deep breath to try and center himself. She was aware that even so simple a touch had a profound influence on him. It amazed her. It fascinated her.
He opened his eyes then, white fire flaring hotly within them.
“Send me home, Legna,” he commanded her, his voice hoarse with suppressed emotion.
She moved her head in affirmation even as she leaned toward him to catch his mouth once more in a brief, territorial kiss, her teeth scoring his bottom lip as she broke away. It was an incidental wound, one he could heal in the blink of an eye. But he wouldn’t erase her mark on him, and they both knew it.
Finally, she stepped back, closed her eyes, and concentrated on picturing his home in her thoughts. She had been in his parlor dozens of times as a guest, always accompanied by Noah. His library, his kitchen, even the grounds of the isolated estate were well known to her. She could have sent him to any of those locations.
But as she began to focus, her mind’s eye was filled with the image of a dark, elegant room she had never seen before. Hand-carved ebony-paneled walls soared up into a vast ceiling, enormous windows of intricate stained glass spilled colored light over the entire room as if a multitude of rainbows had taken up residence. It all centered around an enormous bed, the coverlet’s color indistinguishable under the blanket of colorful dawn sunlight that streamed into the room. She could feel the sun’s warmth, ready and waiting to cocoon any weary occupant who thrived on sleeping in the heat of the muted daylight sun. It was a beautiful room, and she knew without a doubt that it was Gideon’s bedroom and that he had shared the image of it with her. If she sent him there, it would be the first time she had ever teleported someone to a place she had not first seen for herself. The ability to take images of places from others’ minds for teleporting purposes was an advanced Elder ability.
“You can do it,” he encouraged her softly, all of his thoughts and his will completely full of his belief in that statement.
Legna kept his gaze for one last long moment, and with a flick of a wrist sent him from the room with a soft pop of moving air. She exhaled in wonder, everything inside of her knowing without a doubt that he had appeared in his bedroom, safe and sound, that very next second. Legna turned to look at her own bed and wondered how she would ever be able to sleep.
Nelissuna… go to bed. I will help you sleep.
Gideon’s voice washed through her, warming her, comforting her in a way she hadn’t thought possible. This was the connection that Jacob and Isabella shared. For the rest of the time both of them lived, each would be privy to the other’s innermost thoughts. She realized that because he was the more powerful, it was quite possible he would be able master parts of himself, probably even hide things from her awareness and keep them private—at least, until she learned how to work her new ability with better skill. After all, she was a Demon of the Mind. It was part of her innate state of being to figure the workings of their complex minds.
She removed her slippers and pushed the sleeves of her dress from her shoulders so that it sheeted off her in one smooth whisper of fabric. She closed her eyes, avoiding looking in the mirror or at herself, very aware of Gideon’s eyes behind her own.
His masculine laughter vibrated through her, setting her skin to tingle.
So, you are both shy and bold… he said with amusement as she quickly slid beneath her covers. You are a source of contradictions and surprises, Legna. My world has begun anew.
As if living for over a millennium is not long enough? she asked him.
On the contrary. Without you, it was far, far too long. Go to sleep, Nelissuna.
And a moment after she received the thought, her eyes slid closed with a weight she could not have contradicted even if she had wanted to.
Her last thought, as she drifted off, was that she had to make a point of telling Isabella that she might have been wrong about what it meant to have another to share one’s mind with.
It was well after dark by the time Legna roused herself from Gideon’s highly effective sleep inducement. She stood in the dark of her room for a long time, leaning against the windowsill, her face turned up to the night lights in the darkened sky.
Somehow, everything seemed incredibly different. Scents, sounds, silence. It all felt more tangible, more real. It was an impressive sensation for one who had lived her entire life seeing deeply beneath the surfaces of things. She felt the cold night air sweeping over her bare skin, the sensuality of standing nude before it a stimulating experience. With a smile, she moved to her wardrobe to select something to wear.
Legna had always taken particular care in the way she dressed, her clothes and style quite distinctive, always feminine, always reflecting her special grace. Still, this day she was compelled to take even greater pains with her appearance. It did not take a genius to figure out why, and she could not help but laugh out loud at herself as she pivoted before her mirror to view the flow of her heavy satin skirt. The dress was full length, dropping over one shoulder in the Grecian style of a toga, then twisting and falling from her waist in the trailing folds of a train of ruby satin shot through with silver threads that reminded her of Gideon’s eyes.
She blushed softly as she viewed herself in the mirror, suddenly aware that he was once more behind her eyes, seeing her just as she did.
“You could at least warn me,” she said aloud, cocking a scolding brow at her reflection.
And deprive myself of this side of you? I would not dream of it.
Legna smiled, moving closer to her looking glass.
She gasped when she got a closer look at herself, her hand coming up to her cheek in shock as she looked into her eyes.
“My eyes!” she exclaimed.
My eyes, he said.
He couldn’t have spoken a clearer truth. It was his mercury-colored irises that had become part of her reflection, the multicolored gray and green gone from their familiar place. She sighed with resignation, supposing to herself that since it wasn’t likely she could do anything about it, she would have to get used to it.
“I do not suppose you will show up here suddenly sprouting coffee-colored hair?” she asked hopefully.
No, sweet, that is not likely.
“Well, this is a highly unfair situation!” she cried with exaggerated petulance. “An exchange historically indicates one thing being swapped for another. So far I only see you in me, but none of me in you. It feels terribly high-handed. How typical of you.”
He did not respond, only a soft impression of laughter flitting through her mind. Odd, but she realized then that she had hardly ever heard him laugh before. She was surprised by how comfortable it sounded on him. He had always been so serious, so…
“If you do not mind, do refrain from editing my personal thoughts,” she scolded, her arching tone taunting and haughty.
Gideon replied with silence, and flashing a triumphant grin into the mirror, she flipped the long braid of her hair over her shoulder and glided out of her room. She stepped rapidly down the white marble stairway that led directly into the Great Hall, the train of her dress a billowing, shining banner behind her. She flew off the last few steps, nearly running over Noah in her haste. Her brother caught her around her waist, swinging her into a safe balance at his side so she wouldn’t fall for tripping over him.
“Noah!” she greeted breathlessly, her hands steadying herself on his arms. “I am sorry, I did not see you.”
“That much is clear,” he teased her in return, kissing her cheek in greeting as she kissed his. “You seem to be in a hurry. Oversleep, did we?”
“I… suppose. Yes.” Legna lowered her eyes, avoiding his direct line of sight as she released him in order to fuss with her already perfect skirts.
Noah’s head snapped up all of a sudden, his sensory abilities sparking like flint and steel around them.
“What is it?” Legna asked.
“I’m… ” He hesitated a long minute. “I’m not sure. I had the strangest feeling that Gideon was here.”
Legna couldn’t help it, she had to turn her head away in order to hide the telltale flush that swept over her. The movement caught Noah’s attention and he narrowed his eyes on his youngest sister.
“Legna? Is Gideon here?”
“Not that I know of. I just woke up, remember? I have to go.” Legna flew up to kiss him quickly and then like a flash was out of Noah’s reach and heading for the front entrance.
However, Noah was not above extending his reach. Legna was forced to come up short of her goal when a wall of heat, just hot enough to give her the equivalent of a sunburn, fell over the portal. Legna uttered a sound of consternation, her hands resting on her hips as she turned to face her brother.
“All right, what is this? House arrest?”
“If you choose to call it that,” Noah remarked absently, moving to approach his sister to better scrutinize her. “What is going on, Legna? I get the funny feeling I am on the outside of some sort of cockamamy scheme you are engaged in. No doubt something my Enforcer’s troublemaking wife has goaded you into.”
“Funny feeling or not, brother dearest, you are going to have to do a lot better than this to keep me still enough to find out!”
And with a flick of her wrist, she was gone, the snap of the change in air pressure making Noah’s sinuses twinge. She did that on purpose, he thought to himself, his internal voice sounding as petulant as he felt as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. Whoever had said that Fire Demons were the most powerful of their breed was a total moron. Sure, he was one of the most destructive of his brethren, but Legna had it all coming and going, and she knew it. She never had to sit still for anything she didn’t want to. She could travel anywhere instantaneously. And to top it off, she was able to tell him what he was feeling long before he could tell it to himself. And those were merely her innate abilities. Her intelligence and simpatico ease when it came to deciphering psyches and societies put her even further out front.