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|Jacob(Nightwalkers #1) by Jacquelyn Frank|
Isabella was filled with an unexpected, wild terror. No one had ever touched her in this manner. In fact, no one had ever done half of the things to her that Jacob had been doing. As she gasped hysterically for breath and looked down at her body in his embrace, she realized that her wanton reactions would have never given that particular fact away.
“Jacob!” she cried, her hands scraping frantically at his shoulders as her fear mounted, choking off her ability to breathe.
“Shh, little flower, I will not hurt you.” The soothing tone of his voice washed over her, dulling every sharp edge of fear just slightly. “Just feel, Bella. Feel what my touch can create in you.”
His voice was hypnotic and seductive, as if he had Legna’s power to affect the will of others with it. She knew without a doubt that he spoke the truth. If she just relaxed, he would show her everything—every last thing she had dreamed of, and even things she could never have imagined. As she hesitated, as she was lured by that temptation, Jacob slid a long, seeking finger into the sheath of her body.
Bella gasped, the stuttering intake of sound reverberating loudly in the enormous library. Jacob exhaled a heated curse in his own language, the word clearly meant as an intense, expressive compliment. She laughed at him breathlessly, without knowing why. Probably because of the rise in sensation and frustration the intimate touch created.
Jacob felt her shudder, marveled at how tight she felt around his finger, how her very insides quivered with delicious, eager little spasms. He could pleasure her, just like this, make her completely mad with sensation and passion until she had no choice but to explode with it. Sweet Destiny, who would have thought she could be so responsive? Never had a woman fired so hotly under his touch. Never had a woman set him to burn as his little Bella was so easily able to do. She had her legs wrapped around both the man and the no-longer-hidden beast that were his make-up, and no one could ever have touched him that profoundly before. He pressed his thumb against the swell of feminine flesh that he knew would fill her with sensation, rubbing in minute, slow circles, moving his touch with deft, compelling skill in a stroking mock of what he would soon be doing to her body for real. She moaned, writhing against him, her reactions making him burn hotter and harder for her until he thought he might explode under the erotic duress. He wanted to rip free of the confines of his clothing, slide the throbbing and painful hardness of his aching sex against her… toying at that tight entrance for a moment before plunging himself deep into that taut, honeyed prison he was positive was meant to capture him and hold him forever. He pushed his insistent finger a little deeper into her body, just a moment longer, wanting to be fully assured that she was ready for him…
Jacob went very, very still. Something extremely important was swimming on the outside of his awareness, but he was deeply consumed with his need for her, instincts created at the birth of the Earth chaining him to his course. He broke out in a terrible sweat as she wriggled mindlessly against his frustratingly, abruptly still touch. So wet, and hot… and so tight.
The realization hit Jacob like ice water.
Suddenly, reality came washing back in on him. Everything. All of it. He closed his eyes, groaning with agony as his body rebelled against his impulses to follow his sense of moral right. The beast in him argued that he had already gone too far, that he had broken all threads with honor the moment he had plotted to come to her without monitoring. What was more, Isabella was protesting against his cruel touch that made contact but did not fulfill the promise of pleasures he now realized she didn’t realistically comprehend. How had he missed this important truth all this time he had traveled as a shadow in her mind?
Jacob realized he had not missed it. He had simply chosen to ignore the clues on a subconscious level because it would have interfered, as it was now doing, with his selfish desires. So now, he found himself in a position that tore him in two conflicting directions. If he did not leave her immediately, he would damage her badly, perhaps beyond all repair, as the risk of his darker nature taking over plagued him. But on the other hand, leaving her would be damaging in another sense. It screamed at everything Jacob was to not leave her so tormented, so close to pleasure, but left with the pain of being unfulfilled.
Jacob made a choice, slipping his touch out of her body, cringing at the agony of her confused protest. Better this than the alternative. They had come far too close as it was.
Isabella felt tears springing into her eyes, her face turning away from him as he slid her gently down onto her feet. His gentility only served to make her want to shatter even more. Her hands opened and closed on his shirtfront as she swallowed the rushing urge to sob out loud.
“Why?” she choked out instead. “Why?”
The plaintive question sent a sensation of betrayal slicing through Jacob’s midsection. He had come here, knowing he should not. He had been unable to resist the lure, had lied to them both when he’d said he was fully in control, and had almost robbed her of everything precious and innocent she possessed. But her state of naпvetй wasn’t even the issue. He had once again fallen prey to her unintentional lure, disregarded the laws that he, above all others, was sworn to uphold.
“Bella,” he croaked, the damp of wild frustration wetting his dark eyes. Rage swirled through him. It was all he could do to speak. “Forgive me. I beg you. Forgive me.”
Then he was launching away from her, hurtling into the air, disintegrating into a dust devil that escaped the room as rapidly as she blinked her eyes. The room shook with his departure, the floor shuddering and the shelves rocking slightly as a rumble roared through. The gaslights hanging from the ceiling swayed.
Isabella dropped to her knees, suddenly too weak to stand, too stunned to cry. With numb fingers, she redressed herself. She was half blind with anguish by the time the room settled. Fully clothed once more, she tried to pretend that every nerve of her body wasn’t wishing it, too, could leap up into the night sky in order to chase after the Demon who had left her so bereft.
She had no recourse for her feelings. She felt a horrific sense of deprivation and loss, an emotion she could only describe as grief. She didn’t understand, and she had no one she could speak with to help her figure things out. Logically, she knew why he had shut down, why he left without explanation. It was self-explanatory. She was human. She was too weak to make love with him. She was considered a lesser being, like a clever pet, and a taboo resource for passion.
She reached up to rub the deeply sore mark he had branded her shoulder with. This mark had not been thoughtless. He had made it with purpose. She had felt every ounce of the intention that had gone into it. Jacob didn’t think her below him. She wore the proof embedded in her skin. However primitive an act it had been, it had been a symbol of commitment from him, and it had meant as much to her.
She reached up and angrily fisted tears from her cheeks, sniffling as she turned to look around. It was these laws and words surrounding her that had dictated he leave. This was the history of a race of elitists. Snobs, part of her thought meanly. Their traditions were steeped in implacable beliefs, and the one she was facing, she believed, was a prejudice. Demons had a thing about purity. It wasn’t just humans who earned titles below their almighty culture. She had read the law herself, the one that had given birth to Jacob’s duties so long ago:
… it is therefore forbidden for any of Demonkind to mate with creatures who are not of their nature, not of their strength or power. Those lesser creatures are ours to protect from ourselves, not to be violated in impure sexual abomination. This is the law. The dog does not lie with the cat; the cat does not lie with the mouse. Whosoever breaks this sacred trust must suffer under the hand of the law…
She wanted to believe there was logic to this. She was a logical person. But there was never logic in encompassing statements, especially those written thousands of years ago, which, as she understood it, this one had been.
She had seen Saul. He was proof of the danger within every Demon, and she could accept that they were a volatile species in spite of their many efforts to be otherwise. Nevertheless, if she were cat to Jacob’s dog, then why did they feel this way? Why would two incompatible species find themselves so… so well made for each other’s needs?
Noah believed her to be unique, that she had a purpose in the future of Demon society. At first, Isabella had gone along with the idea just so she could stay and find out everything she could about this world of beings living parallel to her own. She would have been content to die a pale old lady in this library. There was more than enough knowledge within it to keep her sated for an entire lifetime.
Now she was beginning to believe she truly did have a purpose for being there. Maybe she was meant to find a way to kick the supreme starch out of their shorts. Yes. Something in this library could perhaps explain why every time Jacob barked, she purred.
She laughed at herself weakly. She looked around herself and saw the books she had accidentally pulled down lying on the floor. She scooted over to them to gather them up. She handled them gingerly, apologetically, sorry she had so mistreated them for so unrealized a moment. She dusted the front cover of one of them, reading the title.
She shuddered, not liking the ominous title in the least. Once again she was given proof of the extremism of the Demon race. She stood to replace the book, but suddenly she stopped. She blinked slowly, and clearing her mind of the last of her disturbed feelings, she looked at the title again.
Unexpectedly, she felt faint, the world spinning around her as the book dropped from her nerveless fingers.
She had just read the title of a book that was written in a language she had not been able to read only twenty minutes earlier.
Noah’s cat-green eyes followed Jacob’s pacing across his receiving-room floor, a frown etched into his mouth as his Enforcer’s disturbance rubbed his senses raw.
It was clear Jacob was not going to share his thoughts willingly, and Noah was left to speculate. Jacob was as honest, dutiful, and loyal a soul as he had ever encountered. He was, in fact, more devotedly Demon than many of the Elder Demons were. His belief in their ways, laws, and code of honor was so pure that Noah could not help but respect him for it. This was why it troubled Noah to see Jacob so embroiled in what was clearly a turmoil of conscience. He did not broach the Enforcer, though, no matter how powerful the urge to do so. Instead, he sat quietly as the other Demon wore a path in his floor.
Then, simultaneously, the males were jolted out of their ruminations and their heads swung toward the doorway leading into the Great Hall. Three heartbeats later, the doors burst open, allowing a flock of Demons and a dismayed servant entrance.
“Forgive me, Sire, but they would not let me announce them. They just pushed past!” the servant panted, his consternation flushing his normally tanned face.
“That is alright, Ezekiel,” Noah said, making a gentle sign of dismissal that absolved the other male of responsibility. Noah narrowed his attention on the nine Demons walking toward him, recognizing the remaining Elders of the Great Council, save the Warrior Captain, Elijah.
“Welcome to my home, Councillors.” He nodded to them and then focused on their apparently self-declared leader. “Ruth, would you care to explain what it is that brings you in such an impromptu throng?”
“Noah, it has come to our attention that you are aware of some happenings that you have not shared with the Council,” Ruth announced, her tone cool and bordering on reproachful. “Would you care to share them with us now?”
“If I did, I would have called you myself,” Noah countered, unapologetic and reminding them all of their failure in protocol with the easy observation. “However, since you have gone to such trouble to gather and approach me, I will discuss recent developments with you.”
Noah rose from his seat and moved from the Hall to the Great Council chamber, aware of Jacob falling into line at his back, all his personal disturbances put aside under the press of this potentially combustible development. Noah took his seat at the point of a large triangular table, Jacob at the second and all the others filling up the three sides in their usual places. Only the third point—other than Elijah’s chair—remained conspicuously empty, as it had for eight years now.
“Very well, Ruth, what is it you wish to know that you do not already?” Noah encouraged, his mildly patronizing tone making the female Demon bristle defensively.
“Is it true that one of us has been Summoned and destroyed?” Ruth had never been one to mince words, for all her persistently troublesome nature.
“Yes. It is. Saul is lost to us.”
A murmur of breath and distress slid down the sides of the table. Noah flicked his eyes to Jacob, finding the Enforcer’s brown-black gaze cold and unreadable.
“Enforcer,” Ruth said, as always refusing to use his common name, “I take it you have hunted and destroyed the creature responsible for this?”
“The necromancer does not exactly wear a bell around his neck, Councillor Ruth. But yes, I hunt him.”
“Hunt.” She spat the present tense at him like a derisive curse. “Which means we are still vulnerable.”
“That would be the logical conclusion,” Jacob returned coolly. “Also, I might remind you that the carriage of justice to other supernatural beings falls within the warriors’ realm. According to our laws and distinctions, the hunt for the necromancer falls under Elijah’s jurisdiction. However, I am in close contact with Elijah on this matter, as I have been the only one to get close to this magic-user. I will continue to assist the Warrior Captain in the hunt for him.”
Jacob’s calm made Ruth realize how badly she was coming off, and her face flushed with her discomfort. She didn’t apologize for herself, however. Jacob knew she never would.