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|Gideon(Nightwalkers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“See to Legna,” he demanded of Jacob. “She needs to recover quickly.”
Gideon knew nothing was wrong with Legna that some time to recharge her energy would not cure, so he felt no hesitation in leaving her to Jacob. The Enforcer, whose eyes had settled on his damaged mate, was not so rational. He ignored Gideon’s command as every fiber of his being screamed to go to his woman, who lay sprawled at painful angles in the spreading warmth of her own blood. Jacob crossed the room in a beat, his boots crunching through broken glass and other debris as he did so. Neither male gave the chaotic alteration to their surroundings any other thought as they both reached for Isabella.
Gideon connected with the inert figure of the small Druid female and immediately recognized that the petite creature seemed even smaller without the vibrancy that normally accompanied her consciousness. She lay like a pitifully broken sparrow, as if somehow a car had come through the parlor and crushed her at full speed. The medic saw Jacob’s impulse to catch up her hand in his, and his quick discarding of that need when he saw the burns and blood on both appendages. Though she was unconscious, the Enforcer could not tolerate causing his mate even the slightest of pain. So Jacob knelt on a single knee close to her side, the back of his fist resting against his lips as he seemed to press back the building rage that was turning his eyes a uniform black.
Gideon touched her forehead, his palm encompassing it entirely, going beyond the cold temperature of the grayed complexion of her face and sinking quickly and deeply into her body. Straight away he was filled with the alarms within her, her already active natural defenses and healing abilities drawing him to her wounds. But no matter how quickly Nightwalkers healed, they could never be able to compensate for a trauma such as this without outside intervention.
Clearly, someone had attacked the little Enforcer. She was battered and bruised from head to toe, apparently having been thrown about like a limp doll in some beast’s mouth. She was scored with the marks of an electrical attack, burned at the places the blasts had struck through her as effectively as bullets. It was the signature attack of a necromancer. The scent of her scorched flesh filled the room, underscored by the rusty aroma of blood.
Even in her pregnant state, it was clear Isabella had put up a remarkable fight. She had ferocious defensive wounds on her hands and arms, and the room around them had been obliterated in the confrontation. The question was, if a necromancer or any being of power was responsible for this, how had her attacker circumvented her awesome dampening and power-theft abilities?
The query could wait. Gideon focused on his task. Most of the blood was coming from the fetus Isabella carried, or rather, the placenta that nourished the tiny being within her. Though she lay in a pool of the precious liquid, Gideon could better assess the loss of it from within Isabella rather than by visual survey. It was bad, and getting worse. He could repair the damage, but he could not replace the blood without help.
“Jacob,” he said softly, his attention split between the beginnings of his healing and the import of filling in the Enforcer, “she is in critical need of blood.”
“Give her mine,” he said immediately, extending his arm quickly.
“No. You are Demon, Jacob. Your blood types are not compatible. Especially not with her being partially human.”
“We are all Demon here, Gideon. Who can donate to her if not her husband?”
Gideon looked up, meeting Jacob’s frantic eyes, realizing the fear he must be feeling.
“Her sister, Jacob. Corrine is the only other hybrid amongst us, and, luckily, her relative. It is enough to make her compatible. If she is not entirely so, I can help with that. But we must act quickly or we will lose her and the baby.”
“You will not lose her!” Jacob roared suddenly, his rage and fear getting the better of him as he surged to his feet, his hands coiled into violent fists. “Do you understand me, medic?” he continued with hoarse violence and pain seething from him as he shook with his emotions. “If she dies… ” Clearly the Enforcer couldn’t even finish the thought. He fell to his knees again, his pain so extreme that he couldn’t maintain any semblance of control.
Just then, Legna came to with a violent gasp, sitting up straight in one jerking movement. Jacob’s emotions had bombarded her unprotected mind, shocking her into wakefulness like a dose of electric voltage. She struggled for breath, gasping and choking, tears and a single, agonizing sob wrenching from her exactly as they were forcing themselves out of Jacob. Legna had never known such all-consuming anguish in the whole of her life. It felt as though she were being stripped of her soul, as if she were watching her own spirit die a terrible death and there was nothing that she could do about it. Even the agony of being Summoned could not compare to this devastation.
Then there was a soft touch within her mind—gentle, soothing, and healing. Her eyes lifted to meet Gideon’s, swimming with her sparkling tears as they trembled on her lashes. His gaze was strong, steady, and radiating his confidence in her. It was precisely the anchor she needed to begin to protect herself from Jacob’s unwitting mental assault.
Gideon gave her several breaths to reorder her thoughts and control. Her eyes cleared of pain and turned to calm, the steady protection of her safeguards flying up with awesome strength around her. He could tell by her slightly dazed expression that the power of them had amazed even her.
“Legna, I need you to fetch Corrine,” he said softly, their connection to one another allowing the request to repeat simultaneously in her mind so he would not speak loudly over Jacob’s grief.
Legna took the command in stride, this time only a moment of doubt wasting their precious time. She got quickly to her feet, drawing even Jacob’s attention as she did so. The Enforcer ran a hand over his wet face, looking up at the beautiful Demon with shock and disbelief.
And then hope.
As powerful as Jacob was, he could only travel so fast. Corrine and Kane had taken to splitting their dwellings between England and New York. At the moment, Corrine was in New York, an entire ocean away. He never would have been able to bring her there in time to save his wife. Even finding another Mind Demon powerful enough to do so would have taken an endless amount of time. But as the empath closed her eyes, taking a deep breath so long and so full it captivated him for a long minute, he realized that Legna was about to attempt to do this remarkable feat… and it would be an endeavor that even an Elder would have difficulty accomplishing.
Jacob rose quickly to his feet once more when he saw her fingers curl into her palms, her entire body trembling with her exertion. He did not dare touch her and disrupt her concentration, but he stood close, ready to save her from what would no doubt be a harsh consequence should she succeed. A moment later, Jacob felt a sensation cross over his skin, causing every hair on his body to stand on end. The next he knew, a brutal burst of air exploded in the center of the room, blowing back his hair with a nearly hurricane force. It lasted for a second, and suddenly Corrine was standing before them, looking stunned and just shy of screaming. Demons were used to being plucked suddenly out of their lives for one reason or another; the former human clearly was not.
Legna swayed for a moment, then collapsed once more. Her skin tone went from tan to a sickly beige. She lost consciousness with a rattling exhale of breath that gave Jacob a chill as he caught her against himself and lowered her gently to the floor, kneeling over her. He was awash with questions, and with immeasurable gratitude, but put them both aside as he checked Legna’s pulse and breathing. Drained power stores not only left a Demon vulnerable, but could potentially be damaging. As before, Legna was no longer protected from the emotions running rampant around the room and her mind could be injured or overrun by them. It was the kind of damage that could leave her completely comatose.
Realizing this, Jacob drew away from her. There was no controlling his state of distress in such a moment, but touching Legna made for a stronger pathway into her psyche.
Meanwhile, the moment Corrine saw Isabella lying on the floor in her own blood, she reacted with the speed only a loved one could manage. She skidded across the blood-soaked floor, kneeling in the sticky fluid as she heedlessly shoved Gideon aside, lifting up her sister’s head in order to cradle it gently in her lap.
“Bella,” the redhead sobbed softly, the long curls of her hair spilling over the unconscious woman like a protective curtain as Corrine bent to kiss her forehead. “Oh, sweetie, what have you gotten yourself into this time?” she asked in a combination of grief and exasperation.
“Corrine, I need your hand,” Gideon said quietly, holding out his palm to her.
Since Corrine had been living in Demon society almost as long as her sister and knew exactly who Gideon was, she did not hesitate to obey. The medic had saved her life once; she had to be positive he would save Bella’s as well. Gideon’s fingers curled around the slender wrist she extended, his opposite hand doing the same to Isabella’s. He began the needleless transfusion, rapidly gathering pockets of whole red blood cells from the one female and distributing them into the other. They were compatible enough that he only had to make minor adjustments to the life-giving cells. It was just as well. In her drastically weakened state, Isabella could not handle much more alteration of her internal body without causing distress to the already taxed fetus within her. Isabella’s color began to return and Gideon heard Jacob breathe again for the first time since the transfer of blood had begun. Corrine was a bit paler for the experience, he noted as he released her wrist, allowing her to sit back into her brother-in-law.
The pressing emergency had been dealt with, and Gideon was able to sit back and take a breath. He took that moment to examine the extraordinary emotional pain Jacob was going through. Now that he had just become part of an Imprinted pair himself, he wondered if he would find himself feeling as strongly as this. He was not an emotional being, so it disturbed him to realize it might be a possibility. He prided himself on his level nature and thinking. Being slave to his emotions could severely debilitate his judgment.
Gideon put his thoughts aside, but he was unable to help glancing at Legna’s prone form as he touched Isabella once more in order to continue the healing process. His destined mate was merely exhausted, a complete drain of her energy that could have been a bit dangerous if he had not been there. Even as he healed Isabella, a second level of his consciousness was loaning his personal energy to Legna, bringing her to a state of safe, deep sleep.
Turning his full attention to Bella, Gideon painstakingly began the task of repairing every gaping wound, a chore that would have been a daunting expenditure of energy and skill had it been anyone other than him. He did not bother with asking for permission to touch her, letting Jacob deal with it himself, knowing his priorities. He moved into the best position for his task, a classic doctor-patient gynecological form where he slid between her legs, resting her thighs atop his own to support the broken appendages and reaching for a straight-on access to her baby. The manipulation straightened her entire body, relieving pressure and pain. His hands slid over her belly, peeling back her bloody shirt and revealing the vicious bruises and lashing cuts all over it.
“Oh my God,” Corrine gasped with strangled horror.
It was clear what had been the target of this attack. As Jacob’s black-ice eyes took in the sight, Bella’s sister reached up to seize handfuls of his shirt, clearly holding him in place, keeping him from acting in rage while supporting him at the same time. Gideon closed his eyes and focused on Bella’s worst injury, the reattachment of the placenta taking priority and requiring a great deal of attention and energy. Her jeans were saturated in blood, which seeped brightly into his white pants, somehow making the reality of it far more real to those who loved her as they watched. Corrine began to cry and Jacob now held her in return. There was nothing Gideon could do about their emotional distress, so he simply attended his chores. He would tell them later how bruised the baby was and how all of Bella’s wounds were coming together in his mind. She had not fought. She had only protected. Every crushed bone, every laceration, even the position in which they had found her body told the story of a young mother who had lain curled into herself, protecting her child with every ounce of her will and consciousness as she had been kicked and beaten and bashed into this little heap of brokenness.
Gideon healed on. The fate of Destiny was perpetuity, he thought with no little respect. Destiny, a woman Herself, had lent Her fate to the tiny Druid. By lending it to Bella, she was allowing him to be able to heal her and the bruised baby in time to save them both from irreparable harm.
Destiny… and Magdelegna.
If she had not arrived to find Bella at exactly that moment, it would have been far too late by the time he and Jacob arrived on their own. Gideon appreciated the fact that Destiny and outright luck were key elements to this rescue recipe, especially when taking into consideration that he and Legna had only been Imprinted for a few hours. Had he not pressed to examine Legna that morning, he would never have been able to hear her desperate summons tonight. She might not have even thought to summon him at all, her rancor toward him interfering with her judgment.
Gideon recognized that Legna had sacrificed much tonight, and all for her love of this pretty little woman who would not only forever be the first of her kind, but in Gideon’s opinion, the most exceptional. How much of that opinion actually belonged to Legna he did not know, but their blending awareness was making him understand her perspective and respect for Bella much more clearly.
As powerful as he was, and though his abilities were ancient and refined, it still took well over an hour before he could sit back on his heels and take a breath that finally was not focused on directing healing energy into her.