|Home > Rebecca Zanetti > Dark Protectors > Shadowed (Page 36)|
|Shadowed(Dark Protectors #6) by Rebecca Zanetti|
Brenna dropped her hand and side-armed a ball at his leg. The plasma hit hard, knocking him back a step.
He growled and lunged for her.
She yelped, hands up in defense. Her palms burned through his shirt, shredding the cotton. He grabbed her, ice washing along her skin.
Thank goodness. She hadn’t meant to burn him. “I’m sorry.”
The corners of his eyes crinkled. “I’ve always thought you were hot.”
God. That charm would be the end to her. “Let go of me.”
“Not going to happen.” He slid his arms around her waist. “Ever.”
Tempting as sin, he was. She shook her head. “I want love.”
“You have it.”
Her heart lurched, and she searched for calmness. “The real kind.”
He grinned, flashing a dimple. “I love you with everything I am, with everything I’ll ever be, and with every hope I could ever dream.”
Now that was just sweet. She wanted to fall into the dream, but reality always returned. “What about Suri?”
“I don’t love him at all.” Jase pulled her closer, into his hard body.
“You know what I mean.” The man had left her once to chase revenge, just when she’d needed him.
Jase leaned back, his gaze serious. “You come first, no matter what.”
This was too good to be real. She shook her head to keep sane. “No.”
She bit her lip. “What about revenge?”
“I still want it—and I want Suri dead.” Jase’s hold tightened. “But I won’t leave you when you need me, I promise.”
Dreams didn’t come true like this. “Jase—”
“I’m damaged, and I’m determined to kill.” Regret twisted his lip. “But I’m all yours, baby. The good and the bad.”
Well, now. “No, you don’t understand.”
“I do understand. What’s more, I love you. Completely. Please stay.”
The words rang with truth, and her heart thumped hard. If she wanted him to accept her for herself, she could do no less for him. She needed him, and she wanted to be there every day to help him fight his demons. Who knew? Maybe they’d actually win. “All right.”
He lifted an eyebrow. “And?”
Her smile broke free. “I love you, too.”
His smile beat hers. “In that case”—he released her and dropped to one knee—“how about we do this right?”
She stopped breathing. “Right?”
“Yeah.” He pulled out a platinum diamond solitaire surrounded by intricate Celtic knots. “This reminded me of you. Consider it a late birthday present.” He slipped the ring on her finger.
The morning light flickered across the amazing stone. She blinked.
He grinned. “Marry me.”
“You’re supposed to ask.” She grinned. A Kayrs didn’t ask, but the thought was amusing.
“Would you do me the incredible honor of marrying me?” he asked softly.
The man was full of surprises. “Yes.” She rushed him, and he caught her, falling back with a laugh.
A golden cuff instantly fastened around her left wrist, the magic metal re-forming to a tight fit. She frowned. “What in the world?”
“My brothers and I each have a cuff from childhood—they attach to our mates, too.” Jase rolled her over, pressing her into the ground.
“Take it off.”
“Nope. It stays on.” He tangled his fingers in her hair.
Desire warmed her torso. “My sister doesn’t wear a cuff.”
“I think it’s on her ankle.” Jase captured Brenna’s mouth in a hard kiss. “Though maybe you could convince me to take it off . . .”
Brenna had finally found her home. Who knew it’d be with a wounded, scarred vampire? “Not a problem, Kayrs.” Hooking her ankles at his waist, she kissed him with all the love she’d held back until now.
The king of the Realm finished securing the ancient cuff links at his wrists, his mind focusing on fifteen other matters at once. A rustle sounded by the doorway of his bedroom, and he turned.
The world silenced.
The blue of Emma’s dress was stunning, yet it didn’t come close to the beauty of her eyes. His mate had pinned her dark hair up and left her delicate throat bare. His fangs wanted to drop low and bite. Quite possibly the smartest woman he’d ever met, she still held a kindness in her that humbled him every day. Her determination to cure Virus-27 concerned him because he understood obsession.
She was his.
Dage eyed the gold cuff wrapped around her upper arm. “What made you decide to wear the cuff?”
She flashed a smile. “The bride requested we all wear the cuffs since Jase refuses to remove the one from her wrist.”
How odd. He and his brothers were all mated. Happily mated to incredible women. Dage forced a smile to hide his concern and took a swig from his ever-present grape energy drink.
Emma lifted an eyebrow. “What’s wrong?”
He gave a sheepish smile and tossed the can in the garbage. “Everyone is happy for the moment. Just waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
“I thought a real clodhopper dropped earlier this morning?” She removed a clutch sitting on the dresser.
“Good point.” He lifted a jewelry box from his tuxedo pants and flipped the lid open.
She gasped, reaching for the beautiful necklace. “The stone is beautiful—what is it?”
“Red diamond.” He’d searched the globe for the rare stone, and it had taken two years to broker the sale. “Its beauty isn’t close to yours.”
She grinned. “Charming, King. Very charming.”
Well, a guy liked to try. “Thank you, love.” He turned her and quickly fastened the necklace, turning her back around. “Now, that’s pretty.” Of course, he was talking about her smooth skin, but the jewelry wasn’t bad, either.
She smoothed down his lapels. “Did you tell your brothers about the offer?”
“Yes.” Now wasn’t the time to discuss this.
She tightened her hold. “Did you tell Jase?”
“No.” Dage ran his palms down her toned arms—such delicate bones to protect. “I figure we’ll inform him after the honeymoon.”
“Tell him now.” Emma shook her head. “No more protecting him for his own good. He deserves better.”
When his little scientist was right, she was right. “I’ll talk to him today after the wedding.”
“Good.” Emma fingered the diamond pendant at her throat. “Do you think the demons really want a truce?”
“I don’t know. We took out Willa and Malco, so Suri is scrambling. He also knows Jase will find him sometime, so maybe he really does want a truce.” The demon leader had called to offer negotiation that morning. “He seemed to think he could get the Kurjans to the table.” Ending the war would be the best thing for the Realm—for Janie. But first Dage had to convince his brothers to end the war. Damn. He had to convince himself.
Emma pursed her lips. “Considering the timing, it’s probably a trick.”
“Janie. The Kurjans want her alive, the demons want her dead, and countless other species want her, too. She’d an adult . . . and something is coming.”
Dage exhaled slowly. Sometimes he forgot the human woman he’d married had been a psychic even before they’d mated. “I feel it, too. Something is coming.”
Emma took his hand and led him to the door. “But today we celebrate. Our family is strong and whole. Let’s go pick up Talen and Cara and worry about the rest tomorrow.”
Three centuries ago, the king had learned to enjoy the good days to the fullest, because they rarely lasted. But this woman? She lasted. No matter what happened, they’d last. So he took her hand and followed her toward the chaos that was a family gathering. “I love you, Emma,” he whispered.
She turned, surprise in her eyes. Then she smiled. “I love you, King.”
Talen watched his mate try to make the gold cuff fasten to her wrist. The cuff’s magic lay in the mating bond, and his had been damaged the second she’d been infected with Virus-27. So far, the virus had weakened her and messed with their mating bond by slowly unraveling her chromosomal pairs. She was currently somewhere between a vampire mate and a human. Safe for now.
But they had to figure out a way to stop the damn things from unraveling.
“There,” Cara said triumphantly, nearly dislodging one of several potted plants on their dresser. “I used tape.”
He forced his lips to curve and mask his fury at the virus. “You look beautiful.” And she did. Her hair was down around her shoulders, and she wore a blue gown that matched her eyes. Almost. Her eyes held a luminosity no fabric could duplicate.
“We’re all wearing blue. Brenna’s a bossy bride,” she said.
Yeah. She’d insisted the brothers wear tuxedos. Talen belonged in a tuxedo as much as a Doberman belonged in high heels. But any sacrifice was worth it if Jase had found some peace. Maybe even happiness. “Jase is doing better, right?” he asked, tucking a weapon beneath his jacket.
The little empath grinned. “Yeah. Jase is on the mend, so stop worrying.”
Thank God. “I don’t worry. I fix.”
“Right. Speaking of which, your temper has seemed rather dormant considering your daughter gave the Kurjans info on our tunnels and tried to sacrifice herself for her brother.” Cara slid gold earrings into her ears.
Talen sighed. “She did what any of us would do to save family. The idea of either Janie or Garrett in danger makes my gut hurt, but they’re well-trained, and they’re smart.”
Cara snorted. “You increased security on them both.”
Well, of course he had, right after he’d increased security on Cara. “I don’t know what you mean, mate.”
“Hmmm.” Cara shook her head. “What do you think of the demon leader’s offer to end the war?”
“It’s a good strategic move, considering we took out several of his lieutenants this year.” Talen kept his voice calm and his face bland. As the strategic leader of the Realm, he’d end up between Dage, who’d want to end the war, and Jase, who’d want to kill Suri first. But that was a problem for another day. So he stepped into his mate and backed her into the wall. “We have a few minutes here.”
A pretty blush covered her cheekbones, and she batted at his tie. “Knock it off. Emma and Dage will arrive any minute to take us to the main lodge.”
“No.” He wrapped his hands around her waist and lifted her until they were eye-to-eye.
“Yes.” She slid her palms over his shoulders, a feminine smirk on her lips. “If you smudge my makeup, the bride, who is a rather powerful witch, will throw plasma at you.”
He’d been burned before. So he covered Cara’s mouth with his, taking one simple taste to assure him of their future. To assure him they’d beat the virus, beat the demons, destroy the Kurjans, and find peace for their children. Releasing her, he smiled at the bemused look in her eyes. “How long do we have to stay at the reception?”
“We have to stay until the speeches and cake.” Cara fixed his tie. “But I have a feeling you and your brothers will start celebrating, so my guess is we’ll be home around dawn.”
That’s what she thought. They needed time alone, and he needed her. “We’ll see about that, little mate.”
Max Petrovsky hated tuxedos, he hated social functions, and he hated wearing boxers. “The boxers are too much.”
His mate glanced up from securing a pretty anklet around her ankle, her foot on a kitchen chair. “I read boxers increase sperm count. You want to have a baby, right?”
“I’m a damn vampire and have more sperm than you can imagine.” By all that was holy. It took centuries for vampires to have kids, as it should. They lived forever usually. He and Sarah had only been mated for a short time, and kids would come someday.
“Did you just swear at me?” Sarah’s brown eyes sparkled.
“Ah, no.” He tugged on his tie. “I would never swear at you.” Jeez. He shuffled his size-eighteen feet. “I’m sorry.”
She sauntered toward him, the sweetest woman he’d ever met, to straighten his shirt. “You’re forgiven.”
He relaxed his shoulders. Yeah, he was the king’s bodyguard, more like a brother, and he was known as the most dangerous hunter in existence. But one woman could reduce him to nothing if she wanted.
Good thing his Sarah had a kind heart and would never hurt anybody. Well, usually. Max grinned at the little teacher. “I heard you almost skinned Garrett Kayrs along with two of his friends yesterday in class.”
Sarah chuckled and fixed his tie. In her heels, she stood over six feet tall, still several inches shorter than he. “Those three. Too much energy, too much intelligence, and way too much testosterone. They used the main computer as a dating site—and Garrett arranged to meet a much older woman from Toledo. She agreed to send him a plane ticket, of all things. Thank goodness I caught them first.”
“What did you do?” Max asked.
“I made them write essays about true love and how to respect women.” Sarah bit her lip. “You should’ve seen Garrett when he got to the part of the assignment that required him to write a poem.” She threw back her head and laughed, the sound free.
Max smiled. “You’re a mean one when you want.”