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|Noah(Nightwalkers #5) by Jacquelyn Frank|
The lead Vampire passed Banda's path a fourth time, and the 'Dweller had to push down the fear that rose in his throat. He tried to hold his shadow. Tried like hell to focus. The Vampire suddenly whirled on him, reaching into the nothingness with unsheathed claws and grabbing Banda by the face. As Banda stumbled out of the shadows, he felt those talons puncturing five separate holes in his cheeks and forehead. The Vampire resituated his grip, creating five altogether different holes. He dragged the struggling Shadowdweller up against his chest, laughing and making his partners laugh as well.
The Vampire jerked Banda's head back with undue violence, nearly decapitating the boy with the force exerted against his light bone structure. Banda made a strangled sound of protest or fear, feeling the burning rip of claws again as the Vampire tore the collar of his shirt off his shoulder. The leader's palm prevented him from crying out, actually suffocating him in the process, forcing him to hold his breath again. He felt a cold, slimy tongue and hot, unnecessary breath licking over his neck, and he shuddered with revulsion. The tongue suddenly stopped, and Banda could feel his own pulse beating against that wet thing that sought it as fear pumped through him.
Cygnus reared back and struck with the speed of a snake, only he did not puncture and remove to feed as all of his kind did. He used his fangs to rip the 'Dweller's throat open on the side, blood spurting and welling all over his mouth and clothes as he took several long, drugging gulps of the powerful, fear-laced Nightwalker blood.
The others pressed forward for their turns.
"I really need to patrol the border. With those rogues out there, I cannot feel safe unless I do."
Syreena looked up at her husband from her position sprawled over his naked body. She had been lazily kissing his chest and neck, adding those sinful little licks against his throat that she knew drove him just shy of madness.
"Damien, you know they won't come here. It's certain death. With you, Stephan, and Jasmine in the same household? The household staff in itself is a small army. Did I mention the full guard and their meticulous security measures which you and Stephan both planned out?"
"Jasmine is not here," he pointed out, reaching to rub her irresistible shoulder, the pale line so graceful and elegant. Damien knew she tended to see herself more as a scrapper, a stalwart and steadfast support rather than a thing of great feminine beauty. She always insisted that her siren of a sister Siena, the sexy Queen of Lycanthropes, had inherited all the womanly genes along with her mountain cat aspects. He had very different opinions on the matter.
"Oh yes." Syreena sighed with happiness and snuggled back down to kissing his neck with a contented chuckle. "That's right. I was enjoying the peace so very much I had almost forgotten. Have I ever mentioned…?"
Damien groaned and suddenly moved, dumping her off his body and gaining his feet. He ignored her laughter.
"Whatever it is, I would prefer you continue not mentioning it," he warned her, a storm of seriousness sweeping his dark features.
Syreena's continuing giggles told him she wasn't fazed by his warnings as she sprawled in their bed with her head hung over the edge, facing him, her charcoal hair snaking off the mattress all around her like a thousand little serpents. Since her hair was alive, with blood flow and feeling from root to tip, the imagery was completed as the soft waves sprang up to keep from touching the cold floor.
"Damien," she crooned as she looked at him upside down from her position. "You must have noticed that she has an incredibly bad habit of concocting urgent situations that always seem to coincide with our lovemaking."
Damien had known she was going to bring that up. Why wouldn't she? Jasmine had been subtle at first, but it was clear she was growing bolder and less caring about getting caught in her mischief. Jasmine's singular intention was to give Syreena grief and to play a power game with her.
The Vampire Prince looked at his wife, his response delayed for a moment by the sight of her irresistible body being spread out like a virgin sacrifice across the rumpled bedding. He also wondered if she was aware that she was absently running her hands over her body as they spoke. He could see no purposeful seduction in the movements, only that unending craving for stimulation that came with her current state of heightened sexuality. He made a soft, predatory sound in the back of his throat as his body instantly responded with hard flashes of heat and molten need that he knew would never be satiated, even after they'd been together for centuries. He loved her. Everything about her. From flaws to perfections, she was unbearably exquisite to him. And he wasn't even describing her physically, although he would confess to a partiality for the next few weeks.
He saw her smile, knowing her eyes were fully on his body, that she was taking a great deal of satisfaction in the way it was reacting as he watched her. She lifted an arm and crooked that naughty little finger at him again, beckoning him to her, knowing he would come and the knowledge of it flashing with smug confidence over her entire being. She purposely licked her lips, and Damien suddenly was made aware of their current positions and all their intriguing possibilities, if only he took a few steps forward.
"When she gets back, I will have a talk with her," he said before taking those few steps and once again forgetting all about patrolling his borders.
Kestra woke with a start, sitting up and blinking against the muted light as she tried to adjust.
The importance of light was instantly superseded by the smell of soap and steam. Then she saw Noah moving into the room from the far door, a towel swathing his hips and another in his hands as he dried his dripping curls. She found she was holding her breath as she watched him move. He was far too graceful for someone of his build, but too beautiful to be denied, either. His muscles flexed and moved beneath his skin with that repressed power that reminded her of a panther as it stalked slowly and with purpose through its natural habitat.
Likening him to a predator was only natural. He was just as polite and polished as she was, but as a woman she had advantages when trying to hide her dangerous and deadly sides. Simply, no one expected a sugar-haired blonde to pose a danger. But a male of his physical caliber fought the opposite prejudice-that all he could be was male and aggressive and quite possibly capable of violence, just as he was clearly built to be. But she was learning that there was far more to this man than his obvious virility, a depth that instantly sent a sensation of warning creeping across the back of her mind. She was getting too comfortable. She was beginning to like him. She couldn't afford attachments or, even worse, entanglements. Watching him stalk with such ease of power around the room, she realized she could be in over her head, and that if this man decided he wanted her, there would be nowhere she could hide.
The problem was, she had known that from the very first time she'd laid eyes on him. The crisis part of the equation was that she was aware it was already far too late to jump off the road that was careening so wildly in his direction.
Okay, fine, she reasoned. This could be fun. It has great potential. He's damn sexy, an incredible lover even with a far too brief sample to go by, and he isn't an idiot who will bore me to tears. She was attracted to him. Okay. Correction. She was hot for him. And he had that nice sense of honor and morality going on so that if she did want to bring it all to a crashing halt, she could just tell him what she did for a "living." Yeah, that would chase him off pretty damn quick.
All she had to do was keep from doing anything stupid. Like falling for him. Actually, in his case, it was probably best to reserve all emotions. Because for all his physical size and aura of power, the danger in Noah came from the threat he posed to a heart starved for even a small sense of closeness, anything beyond the camaraderie she shared with the only person she considered herself close to: James. And that was almost a stretch of the imagination in many instances.
"Hey, you are conscious."
The teasing remark drew her attention to Noah as he moved toward the wardrobe near the bed. How was it that she always ended up in his bed or in a room with one or both of them being half to fully naked? Just her luck, she supposed. Question was, was it good luck or bad luck?
Good. She watched him move and held back a sigh. Definitely good. The man was a walking sin waiting to happen. After all, she had already sinned and burned for it all at the same time. She was still burning for it. She could feel the physical ache of her body increase as he neared. Her libido remembered him on sight. Her mind did, too. If she could keep her heart and soul out of the equation, one plus one could equal two happily orgasmic people.
She knew he wanted her. She also knew that was an under-statement. There was outright hunger in his eyes, though he tried to hide it behind clouds of smoke gray and his polished manners. Kestra reached up to toy with the neckline of her dress as she fixed her eyes on her target and didn't look away. Water beaded on his dusky skin, rolling down his chest, arms, and back with a tempting slowness. His muscular form made gravity work for its claim on the clear droplets of liquid. Kestra absently licked her lips as she thought about catching the drop currently running down his abdomen toward his navel.
That naturally focused her attention on the path of dark hair leading down to the edge of his towel, the cloth spoiling her fun and forcing her to skip lower. The dark hair on his thighs was wet, slicked down onto his skin. She had to confess to a weakness for the sheer power and maleness that seemed to be reflected in the rock-steady brace of his thighs. Kes shifted, warmth infusing her entire body as she thought about having the opportunity to touch, to taste…to smell up close the sensual scent of masculinity and smoldering sweet wood.
No, it wouldn't be so bad to enjoy him for a time if he shared her lighthearted intentions. She craved what he had made her feel. She was starving for it, in all honesty. Partly, she feared it was a fluke that had only come in the heat of that long-awaited moment in the parlor. She was afraid of never feeling that intensity again, that release. God, how she needed that release. It stirred within her so hungrily that a fine sheen of perspiration broke out across her skin. She had to draw in a shaking, cooling breath before she jumped him like a demented sex maniac.
This was so unlike her. Why was she thinking this way? Feeling this way? She was aroused and her body was seeking him even though he was ignorant of it as he moved easily around his bedchamber. If he took a moment to look at her, to see the glistening of her skin and the thrust of her straining nipples beneath red velvet, what would she do? Pull him down to her? Invite him to fill the hollow place he had left between her legs when he'd withdrawn from her the last time? Would that be such a crime?
Noah opened the wardrobe door and stepped out of her line of sight, carefully hiding his expression and forcefully tamping down the surges of emotion and need twisting through him like a storm. He bent his head and tried to breathe, tried to cool the raging torrent of heated blood flooding him into iron hardness until he throbbed painfully with it. Even if he hadn't seen the obvious sensuality wending sinuously through her body, even if he'd missed the rampant flush of her rising body temperature, he would have known her thoughts. They were so powerful that they had burst the confines of her mind and crashed into his. Not words or sentences, but bold impressions of her desire for him, of her cravings and the demands her body wanted to make upon his.
He had been used to receiving thoughts and impressions from his sister Legna. As a Mind Demon, she had always shared emotional impressions and experiences with him as practice and just because it was a knee-jerk response to their close sibling relationship.
But all of that was a mere shadow compared to the power of reading the wild thoughts of his Imprinted mate. To feel and to know of her appetite for him, to understand with undeniable clarity what she wanted on so base a level, it was intoxicating. However, she didn't know he was becoming able to read her thoughts, or that she could possibly read his as well. He had to be careful. With her inexperience, it could be his needs she was mistaking for her own. She could inadvertently be mirroring his own savage desires if she tapped into what he was trying so hard to repress. He had some mighty powerful passions locked up inside himself; Kestra endangered his control like nothing else could. While many of those passions could be intensely pleasurable, there were potentially dangerous ones as well.
Noah didn't think that even Demons fully understood the emotions that came with the element of Fire. They thought emotions were attributable to females and therefore, less dangerous. They thought he was all about the physical, the fire, and the energy. The emotions were for Hannah, his sister and a female Fire Demon.
But there were never absolutes when it came to Demon power past a certain age, or perhaps even in a certain genetic combination. As time ticked nearer to making an Ancient of him, his power grew, but additionally, his emotions grew more and more volatile. Only his study, responsibilities, and iron will had kept them under control thus far. Jealousy. Anger. Rage. Hatred. Passion. Love. Devotion. Hurt. Loyalty. Joy. Ecstasy. The potential was staggering. The times when others had thought he'd lost control? They hadn't suspected that he was actually still half in control in those moments of volatile overflow, that he wasn't truly flinging himself wildly into the emotional discharge. There was no true release for him, and he did not think there ever could be. Even so, losing half his control had made for some pretty impressive and damaging displays. He couldn't think about what he would be capable of if he ever lost completely his grip on his inner serenity. He had come so close before Kestra had arrived, before he'd finally touched her and smelled her sweet and soothing availability.
What would happen if someone as green and as unsuspecting as Kestra was were to accidentally tap into that volatility? With no training and no grounding? Noah had to prepare her. He was running out of time, and dawn would be approaching in only a few hours. What could potentially happen between them on the night of the Hallowed moon? No one knew. His kind was a rarity, his power phenomenal and unheard of at this age and level.