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|Gideon(Nightwalkers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“Jacob,” he said at last, turning to meet the worried eyes of the other male, “she is sleeping now. I have healed her as far as needed. The bruises and minor cuts are up to her own healing system. I can do no more for her. Only rest and time will bring her the remainder of the way.”
Gideon was tired, and Jacob could see it clearly in the faded gray of his eyes. It reflected exactly how serious the situation had been that their most powerful healer found himself so taxed.
“Put her to bed,” the Ancient instructed him. “All is well with her and the babe.” Gideon paused to survey his surroundings for the first time. “It looks as though she was engaged in a very difficult battle,” he remarked, noticing burns that scored the walls and the complete tossing of all the objects in the immediate area, “but it is a lie.”
“How do you mean?” Jacob asked, watching Gideon gently ease away from Bella, laying her out gingerly and with infinite compassion in his every touch. It had always baffled Jacob how the medic could be so cold and detached in his personality, and yet when he healed or touched an injured being he transformed into the epitome of tenderness and seemingly emotional caring. It was almost as though he saved the power of his feelings so he could use it to heal.
He reached to touch Isabella’s chin as her husband came closer. Her head rolled easily aside, her sleep unable to be disturbed even if he had been harsh, because she was under his compulsion to remain so until she was healed and replenished. Gideon brushed back the wild tangle of her black hair from where it covered her throat, revealing two widely spaced puncture wounds in her neck.
“What the hell is that?” Jacob demanded hotly, reaching to touch the wounds.
“It looks like a bite from a Vampire!” Corrine said, her emerald eyes distressed.
“No… I do not think… ” Jacob looked up at Gideon helplessly.
“You fought the Vampire wars. Have you ever known a Vampire to take the blood of another Nightwalker?”
“No. It is taboo. And I have seen Vampire wounds. There are more than just two incisors in a Vampire’s mouth, and you can usually see their entire set of dental impressions for several hours after the bite.”
“And all of her blood is on the floor and in our clothes. No. This is some sort of weak attempt at deception.” Gideon shook his silvered head in puzzlement. “Also, the marks are burned, and they end just below the dermis. As an attack, it seems fairly ineffective an injury.”
“Oh!” Corrine’s gasp drew their attention as she leaned to brush her fingers over the suspect wounds. “I know this! Every New York girl knows this! It’s a stun gun!”
“A stun gun?” Gideon asked. Because the Demons lived without technology, and Gideon lived secluded from humans entirely, he had never heard of this weapon. But Jacob had.
“I think you are right, Corr.”
“Not a common handheld, though,” Corrine added. “One of those distance guns with dartlike barbs that shoot out and stick into the target as power is conducted through wire. They’re used in prisons.”
“But why would a necromancer—” Jacob halted himself, clearly answering his own question in his thoughts.
“To circumvent her abilities,” Gideon agreed with his silent but obvious conclusion. “Once she is hit by the gun, she is incapacitated, and the injury of that much voltage going through her would nullify her power with pain. Bella cannot use her ability if she is overrun with pain.” Gideon looked up at Jacob with a coldness added to his implacability. “You had best call Elijah and have him investigate this further. The capture of necromancers is his domain and responsibility, not yours, no matter how driven by your sense of retribution you are to take care of it yourself. Your place is with Bella. She needs your presence, your strength, and to know that you are safe from danger. It will take a while before she will be conscious enough to tell us what happened. A longer while still if you do not follow my instructions in this to the letter.
“When she does awaken, she is not to have visitors or arouse herself from her bed. You can question her for Elijah as needed. Her immune system is going to be very fragile for a while. Demons may not manifest many common ailments, but it does not mean they do not carry the pathogens for them around with them. She is still part human, and this incident will leave her both powerless and vulnerable for some time. It is little different than when you were ill, Corrine, only she will recover quicker.
“Take her to a safe haven. Make it a very short distance and do not alter her molecular structure, Jacob. I will attend her tomorrow and will be making frequent visits for the next week, so be prepared for that. She should be fine as long as a trauma of this magnitude does not reoccur. I suggest you have Elijah post warriors for her protection, especially when you have to hunt. And when I say complete bed rest, I mean it, Jacob. I know how stubborn she is. Make it clear to her. No lifting, no bending, no cleaning, no cooking, no exertion whatsoever until I say otherwise.”
Gideon didn’t spend another second to see if Jacob had understood or moved to obey his orders. He immediately stepped over to Legna and leaned over her. He picked up her limp hand, folding it into one of his as he brushed several stray hairs that had escaped her braid off of her forehead.
“Nelissuna,” he murmured softly, leaning close to her. He sank his power into her quickly, assessing her current health once more just as a precaution that was no doubt overprotective. But she was becoming his other half, so it was to be expected that he would behave in such ways, he determined to himself rather clinically. She was exhausted, and the only thing he could do now was let her sleep.
He moved his position, carefully sliding his hands beneath her until he could lift her up into the cradle of his arms. He stood up in a simple movement, her weight nothing to him. He felt her head roll gently against his shoulder, her warm face resting against the side of his neck. There was an answering ache from inside of his chest, forcing him to realize he was a little more disturbed by her state than he had expected to be. It did not matter that with all of his expertise he knew she was fine. What mattered was that she had suffered great stress and discomfort, most of it by his urging.
Their Imprinting on one another was going to be a little more difficult than he had originally thought. He could probably manage his feelings of concern for her well-being and health eventually, but he sincerely hoped he would not be afflicted with the possessiveness Jacob struggled with. The hope extended to Legna’s perspective, too. He did not think he could tolerate a possessive mate. Gideon could only take comfort in the idea that Legna was a professional at managing emotion and had studied how to do so almost all of her life. Nor did she seem to be the type to indulge in these kinds of jealous traits.
It was a terrible contradiction to Demon nature, this territorialism. Almost every Demon in existence used touch to share their abilities with one another. It wasn’t always necessary, but they were instinctively compelled to do it, just as they were an instinctively affectionate race. Certainly, all Demons were possessive to a certain degree when mated, but the ability to control it should not be any different than any other irrational emotion. Gideon was also realizing that the possessiveness of Jacob toward Isabella was unique because of how Jacob’s life had unfolded. It had been a difficult one, filled with the ostracism of his position in society. It was easy to see why he guarded his treasure so avidly.
“Gideon, I am going to take refuge at Noah’s,” Jacob said, lifting Bella from her bed of debris and battle. “I can take Legna.”
“I would prefer if you brought Legna and me to the manse,” Gideon countered. “Isabella requires peace and rest, as does Legna. I do not think that will last long with the two of them across the hall from one another.”
“Point taken,” Jacob agreed. “Corrine, will you watch over her? Also, are you in contact with my brother at the moment?”
“He’s right here,” she said, touching her temple to indicate Kane had been monitoring the entire situation with his telepathic abilities. This communication ability was the male counterpart of Legna’s empathy. “He is very concerned for both you and Bella. He says… ” Corrine paused to concentrate on the voice of her mate in her head. “He is about to teleport to Elijah’s home in order to speak with him on your behalf about Bella’s attack. He will also warn Noah of what is happening. After he speaks to Noah, he will come here to hold watch with me until you and the warriors arrive.”
“Thank you, Corr. And thank my baby brother for me as well.”
“Consider it done,” she assured gently. “Now let’s hurry and put Bella to bed. I’ll sit with her until it’s time to go to Noah’s. Kane and I will remain in England to be with you until she’s well.”
Jacob put Isabella to bed upstairs, under Corrine’s watchful eye, then came back down to Gideon. He stood before the Ancient for a long moment, his expression eloquent with his gratitude. Gideon nodded his head silently in acceptance. Jacob reached to touch the other two Demons, turning them both completely weightless and flying the three of them out of the door toward Gideon’s household. Since he was completely preoccupied with his wife’s condition, Jacob did not think twice about Gideon’s request to take Legna to his home rather than her own. The Enforcer, normally so observant, had not even noticed the significance of Legna’s increased abilities and change in eye color. Gideon was grateful for that. He wanted more time with his intended mate before others began to interject their feelings and opinions into the matter.
Jacob’s need to return to his wife overrode any desire he might have had to ask any further questions of Gideon, so he and Legna were left alone quickly after their arrival at the manse.
Gideon carefully carried his intended up the stairs, entering the very bedroom he had sent an image of to Legna that morning. It looked different in the dark, however. It was moonlight that struck the colors of the windows into the room, making them distinctively darker and more eerie than the fairylike comfort of the daylight refractions. But Gideon found it the more beautiful of the two, and so would Legna, he hoped.
Gideon had always indulged in his taste for uniquely beautiful things. His house was a museum of that particular facet of his make-up. Like most long-lived species, he had collected extraordinary art and antiquities over the centuries. His collection, however, was a rich display of one-of-a-kind beauty.
As he rested Magdelegna down in his bed, he could see all too clearly why she had been chosen to be his mate. Even in her exhausted state her repose was something to behold. He sat beside her gingerly, not wishing to disturb her natural sleep and, as a result, having to cast an inducement on her to replace it.
He reached to touch her cheek, the still-pale skin reflecting a star-shaped lavender design from the window opposite her. Of their own accord, his fingers moved to caress her throat. He allowed himself to feel the rush of need that coursed through him. It was a sharp, razor-bladed thing, and he knew that it would only become more honed over time.
But he had promised his incredibly brave mate time. She still feared him. He realized that he must keep that promise at all costs. He saw this need with extreme clarity. If a woman so courageous as to risk the unfeasible without any concern for herself found fear in something, then she deserved the luxury of as much time as he could sanely manage. He had known Legna all of her life, from the moment she had been born. Legna only knew what she had been raised to think about him. He had read it all in her mind these past few hours. He was the Ancient Demon, and no one truly knew the extent of his power. At the heart of his nature it was clear he was rooted in the old ways, when respect and obeisance had been not only expected but were deemed a divine right. He never asked, only demanded or stated, and he anticipated unquestioned results by doing so. His will was indomitable, impossible to fight, so she would be up for a pitched battle should she ever try.
Gideon was unlucky in one other way, a more serious way that would reflect a terrible representation of himself to her. Deeply within Legna’s subconscious, she had a memory of him that she was utterly unaware of.
It was the memory of the day her mother had died.
She did not remember it consciously. The trauma had been so painful for the little girl who had witnessed the tragedy that those who had been there had decided to remove it from her accessible memory. One day she would grow strong enough to retrieve it despite the methods they had used to circumvent the memory. Perhaps one day very soon. It would be a hard day for her, and a terrible day for him. He had always suspected that on some level she had been aware of his part in that day. It was perhaps why she always resisted being near him. She would not understand the compulsion as anything other than an unexplainable fear or aversion. No doubt she had always attributed it to the warnings Lucas had filled her head with during her youth in an attempt to teach her to respect those of greater age and power, according to custom.
The only thing within her that was in his favor was her experiences watching him heal others, and the one time he had healed her and Noah after a horrible accident that had nearly killed them both. She remembered the former with feelings of awe and respect, but also with curiosity and contemplation as she witnessed the gentleness of nature he exhibited during these acts. And, though she didn’t truly remember the healing during the latter incident, it was still a part of her, whispering positive impressions about him into her perpetually curious opinion of him.
It was on these slim images within her that he was basing all of his hope. All he could do otherwise was pray for the opportunity to win her trust and confidence in him—before she recalled the memory hidden so deep within her. If he could manage this, it would be so much less painful for her. If it happened too soon, it could cause incredible damage to them both.