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|Gideon(Nightwalkers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank|
The temperamental heat in the question gave the Ancient pause. He had not returned home looking for another fight, even if this, too, ended up just being an exercise of his wits. He had not thought he’d have to face such silly possessiveness from Legna. She was usually so well balanced with logic. It was her intellect above all else that made her so compatible with him.
“Oh, I see,” she hissed suddenly and softly, her entire body going stiff and resistant against his. “And I suppose all of this seems childish and irrational to you?”
“Of course it does,” he said with impatience. “If it were me acting this way, would you not think me foolish and irrational?”
“Foolish! Now I am foolish to you?” Magdelegna wrenched free of him, twisting out of his reach. “I understand,” she breathed hotly. “Even after all of this, after everything we have said to one another, you still think me a child! To you, this is all just some temperamental little tantrum!” Her quicksilver eyes were burning and furious as she ran her gaze down his length with unconcealed contempt. “Well, at least I have emotions! At least I am normal and real and have a live and beating heart that feels its way through life!”
“You mean you let yourself behave recklessly because of the whims of your feelings,” he countered sharply. “A moment ago you could not wait to hold me, now you reject me… all because of emotional caprice. Tell me, Legna, what benefit you find in that. Can you not see that this, what you are doing now, is how wars start? A simple surge in temper, and before you even realize it, everything snowballs out of control. Wallow in it for yourself if you must, but do not wish it on me!”
“You pompous, self-righteous ass!” she uttered, her face flushing with a beautiful fury that almost distracted Gideon from the point he wanted to drive into her. He understood that she could not help her emotionalism to a degree. After all, she was an empath and emotions were what empaths primarily dealt with, but she needed to learn control of herself or this would never work smoothly between them. “Of course,” she said with drowning sarcasm in response to his thoughts, “the fault must be mine. I am the child and you are the Ancient. You could not possibly be wrong about this.”
“Legna,” he warned tightly.
“Let us test the theory empirically, shall we?” she countered in a rush of breath and furiously intent eyes. “Show me. Show me the great benefits of this almighty control of yours, Gideon. The ability to share my heart has given me close family, dear friends, and the spirit to help others in desperate need of me. Have your cold, unfeeling ways given you these things? Where is your family? Where are your friends? Oh, you help others and wield a mighty power, Ancient, but do you care if you succeed or fail? Do you care if your patients live or die?”
“Of course I do!” he growled at her, his body surging up instinctively to intimidate hers as she hammered away at the tender spots in his psyche. “Do not dare accuse me of insensitivity when it comes to my patients, Magdelegna. You know nothing of what I—” Gideon broke off before he could finish the temper-driven sentence, his fingers curling into his palms as he tried to take a deep breath to steady himself.
“Feel?” she finished for him regardless of his checking himself. “You are damn right I know nothing of what you feel! You will not let me know it! You will not even allow yourself to know it! Tell me, Gideon, what do you see as the benefit of all this steadiness and flat affectation?”
“Things it is best you never come to understand,” he returned stiffly.
“Sweet Destiny, do you even hear the condescension you are spewing?”
“It is not condescension!”
Gideon wanted to turn his back to her, to walk away and put distance between them, but he could not force his body to comply. Even as they fought, the pull of her allure remained steadfast and powerful inside of him. As strong as his desire was to push her away, the need for her was even stronger. If that weren’t enough, she was taunting him with sins he had left long in the past. Oh, she was certainly ignorant of the fire she toyed with, and if he had any say in the matter, he was going to keep her ignorant. Those sins would be kept deep in the past and had no place in the life of the man he had become as a result.
“Gideon.” Her entire tone suddenly altered, from one of fury to something more coaxing and much more dangerous to his peace of mind. When Legna wanted to, she could use the power of her voice to lure others. It lured him even when she wasn’t trying, so now he was doubly tempted to give in to her sway over him. “I see the gentleness in you and your tenderness when you heal. This tells me how very much you do care, even though you keep yourself so very still both outside and in. But why is it you feel this is so necessary?”
Legna moved closer to him, banishing her anger of moments ago and driving herself to get answers from him by any means she could possibly manage. She reached out to touch his chest where his leather coat hung open, her fingertips moving softly against the cotton of his shirt. She closed her eyes and openly tuned her empathic senses to him, seeking even the smallest reflection of how he felt when she came this near to him. She needed to know he felt something. Anything. Else, how could she possibly spend all the rest of her days with a man who refused to feel anything for her? For anyone?
But despite his cold, emotionless armor at present, she had felt those distinct cracks breaking through him and ebbing into her today. Emotions. Small shows of emotional surges that he always quickly managed or suppressed, but he had them just the same, despite his quick cover-ups. She had even thought he was enjoying them… enjoying her and her effect on his calloused demeanor. She had been a shadow in his mind for all of it. She couldn’t be wrong about this!
With her hands slowly sliding up his chest, she purposely allowed him to fall victim to the spell that always overcame them whenever they touched. She used it to her advantage, working it as an avenue into the vault concealing everything he was capable of feeling, if only he would permit himself. She hooked her fingers over his broad shoulders and pushed, until she was urging them to shrug back. The leather coat dropped off his arms a moment later, but she caught it and stepped away slightly to fold it over the back of a nearby chair. She didn’t remove her touch completely, however, letting her lingering fingers keep him connected to her whether he was aware of it or not.
Gideon did not understand what she was up to, but it was hard for him to remain tense or on his guard when the warmth of her touch was soaking into him. Still, he would not let her think she was going to overpower his arguments this way.
“You will never change my mind on this matter, Magdelegna,” he said with soft heat as she moved closer to him once more. “You have to accept that this is the kind of man I am. I have been thus for twice your lifetime or better. To think of changing me, Legna, is an exercise in folly.”
Legna seemed to ignore him for the present, moving her fairylike touch to his gloved hands, slowly working the material free as if time no longer mattered to her. She was completely immersed in every movement, every sensation, and every reaction her activities elicited. It seemed strange that such a simple task would feel so erotic, but it was exactly that.
“Just because you have been unchanged and unmoved for so long,” she said quietly, “does not mean it is the way you should stay.”
After dropping his gloves onto the chair where she had placed the coat, Legna came around to face him head-on, her eyes stubborn and challenging him in such a way that he found her wickedly seductive. A deep, instinctual part of him bucked and reared at the way she boldly confronted him, demanding he prove his worth to her. Gideon shook his head, trying to regulate his focus and the reflexive rushing of his breath and blood as she tempted him in soft, minute movements and ideals that he knew from experience were flawed. Gideon held himself as still as he could as she moved slowly around him, her hot, thorough eyes scanning every inch of his body before her fingertips slid around the lower strap of his left thigh sheath. The way she freed the joined buckle was nothing unusual, but when she finished and curled her fingers so that her nails glided up the inside of his thigh as they traveled to the upper strap, Gideon’s entire body and soul flexed with instantaneous arousal.
Legna heard him utter an oath beneath a guttural sound of stimulation. A sly, knowing smile touched her lips. She dropped the freed sheath on top of the rest of his discarded objects. Then, purposely allowing her hand to trail over his lower back from one hip to the other, she passed behind him to come to the thigh on the opposite side. She did the same thing she had with the first, but it still sent an unimaginable shock of stimulation through him, as if he had not been expecting it.
As she discarded the last weapon with one hand, the other remained on the tightly flexed muscle of his upper leg. He stood so still, flexed so hard with awareness, his attention riveted on every movement and every touch she made, and she knew on a deep, primitive level that she had his desires and attentions literally at her fingertips.
“Think for a moment, Gideon, about the positive and rushing delight the best of feelings can bring to you. You cannot see those that are negative and denounce the whole lot of your emotions because of the harm they can do. Think of what you are feeling now, in this moment. Would you throw this away so easily?”
“This is lust, a-a physiological state of arousal caused by our compatible chemistries… ”
“Oh, is that all?” she asked him provocatively as she drew her lush and warm body up close to him, ignoring his stiff resistance and cuddling up to him warmly so she could rub her face against a pectoral muscle with kittenish pleasure. “Then why do you not control your body, Gideon? A Body Demon of your age and skill surely has the power to stop reacting to any of this… physiological state of arousal… even in spite of the Imprinting. Why do you not stop the racing of your heart, the burning of your skin… ” Legna let her fingertips ghost down over his belly and then dipped below his belt to caress the hard and heavy erection that strained behind the soft fabric of his trousers. “Why not ease away these tattletale signs that tell me you are far more engaged than you wish to admit to me?”
Gideon snapped. There was nothing else he could call it. One minute he was struggling to breathe and staring down the knowingly seductive squint of her eyes, and the next he had his hand around her throat and was heaving all of his weight against her. He forced her to step back in rapid retreat from the power of the raw strength and the fury of emotion surging out of him. Legna had no chance to react or even catch her breath until he had driven her down onto his bed and was nose to nose with her while his quicksilver eyes burned with his rage.
“Do not play with me, little girl!” he hissed into her face as he threw a leg over her and boxed her in beneath his weight. “Your beauty and your seductions of my body and my mind will fail! You should crave that they fail, because I promise you that you do not wish to meet my unfettered temper, Magdelegna! The last time it saw the light of day I screamed for the heads of an entire race! Stop trespassing in this territory, I warn you!”
“This is my territory,” she countered with a heated rasp as she grasped hold of his wrist where it was secured against her throat. “As an empath and as your mate, this is my territory! You are my territory! Mine! Ugly or beautiful, raging or passionate, you are mine for the rest of our existence, Gideon, just as you claim I am yours, and I will not let you feed yourself to me in select little bites and bits! I will have all of you or I will turn my back on you and take nothing at all!”
“Do not threaten me, you insolent girl!” he roared into her face. But Legna felt the clench of terror that gripped him inside and out. It was the reflexive emotion she had been seeking… needing. She needed to know that he couldn’t easily go on without her. She needed him to know it, too. He had to realize that his world had to change to accept her. He could not keep on as he always had, with her as a lonely little satellite that served his purposes only when he thought to make use of her.
“Are you of so little faith in yourself, Gideon, that you do not think you have learned from those terrible mistakes you once made?” she asked him, her voice so suddenly soft in the echoes of their shouting that it fell harder against him for it. “Because I have always seen in you a man of unparalleled confidence in himself. I never thought you were the sort who would let his past mistakes paralyze him in such a way.”
“I am not paralyzed,” he rasped out on rapid-fire breaths. “I am in control, Magdelegna. I need to be in control of myself! You do not understand what I have the power to do. You do not conceive of the responsibility my position in this society calls for.”
“Yes, I do,” she countered gently. “Do you forget so easily how I was raised at the knee of our King? All of my life I have seen him struggle between his natural-born temperament, the one his fiery element sets so deeply within him, and the responsibility he has to all of our people. I have known for a great many years that it was your lessons most of all that taught him to control what he felt so he would never harm anyone in his anger. But, Gideon, it was my lessons that taught him to indulge his passions safely and with pleasure. I taught him how to love deeply, despite the losses he has suffered. I guided him to the ways of indulging his fiercest emotions without any harm coming to him or anyone else. Do you not trust me to do the very same for you?”
“You are asking me to destroy a dam centuries in the making, Legna,” he said hoarsely, a fine tremor rolling through him that she felt like a vibration. “One created to protect lives and our culture.”
“Lashing down what you feel never protected any of us,” she said as she reached to caress his face with tender touches. “It was learning right from wrong, coming to the understanding that you had made grievous mistakes, and the actions you took to guide this society into a moral rightness that saved our people from themselves. Now I am sent to you by Destiny to guide you back to those feelings you have denied yourself for too long. Did you think you could have this Imprinting and not give your heart to it? To me?”