Embrace Me at Dawn

Page 26

“Yes, that’s exactly what I mean, you pathetic fuck,” Shock clarified.

Anka cried out again, the sound rife with frustration. She kicked and flailed, grabbing at the buttons on her pants and shoving at her black tank. “Help!”

As she grabbed a handful of her shirt, she scratched her way up her abdomen. Blood seeped up from the open wound, a little pool of crimson against her pale skin. She shoved at one of the straps of her top and ended up scratching a deep path down her arm. Blood quickly ran to her elbow. He was done asking questions or permission. Instead, Lucan lunged forward and grabbed Anka by the wrists.

“Stop.” He commanded her in a voice that brooked no disagreement.

She stilled instantly, before heartbreaking tears leaked from her eyes, wetting her cheeks. “Help!”

“I want to, love. What can I do?”

She began panting and twisting her arms, her body flailing helplessly. “Touch. Me.”

Fuck, he wanted to. So badly. He felt Shock’s stare on him, and their gazes connected. As Anka cried more, Shock looked willing to defend his right to Anka, like a dog pissing on a fire hydrant. Lucan swallowed back his bile. Anka came first. The argument could last longer than Anka had, given the severity of the spell affecting her. He would concede to Shock ten times over so that she could live. They could fight another day. A world without Anka? Unthinkable.

He leaned up in Shock’s face. “Take her upstairs. If she needs sex, give it to her. Fix her, whatever it takes.”

“Damn straight,” Shock snarled, then spun away with a still squirming, screeching Anka, pleading for him. For help. For sex. After his exit, an eerie hush settled over the room.

Bram clapped him on the back. “As hard as that must have been, you made the right choice, mate.”

Absently, he nodded. Logically, yes. Inside, he felt as if he’d signed away his right to Anka forever. Like he’d permanently shoved the sun behind thick gray clouds with his own two hands. Like he’d never know warmth or light or happiness again. But if that’s what it took to keep her alive, he’d endure it. If she died, though… He’d make it his mission in life to hunt Morganna le Fay down and murder the bitch in the most horrific way possible.

Duke and Mason excused themselves under the pretext of following up with the BBC and any local news authorities to see if any word of Morganna’s attack had leaked out. The Wolvesey twins were, for once, somber. They promised to teleport themselves to Swansea and keep watch over the rest of the females. A few had expressed interest in learning to fight physically, in case the Anarki came calling. All the wizards had agreed, and the twins had already spent a bit of time working with the ladies to start them on the basics. Marrok said he would tag along to help.

Caden threw an arm around Lucan’s shoulders. “How about I take you to The Witch’s Brew and get you sloppy drunk for a few hours?”


His brother looked over to Bram, silently begging for a little help. Bram shrugged.

“Come on, brother,” Caden tried to coax. “You don’t need to stay for this. After a pint or ten, you’ll no longer give a shit about anything.”

“I’m not leaving her until I know she’s all right.” He swallowed, knowing it would rip him open and tear out what was left of his heart to listen to her give her body to that bastard, to hear her cries of pleasure as Shock took her. But if he gave Anka what she needed to be well again, Lucan was willing to endure any agony, hear every one of her torturous sounds, just to know she’d come back whole.

Bram sighed, then nodded. “Let’s sit. Get comfortable.”

“And drink.” Caden shoved him to a sofa in Bram’s office then poured a bit of liquid into a crystal glass. It was amber, dark and aglow as the light hit it, like the color of Anka’s eyes when passion overtook her.

And Shock would be seeing that soon. He would be pulling away her clothes, taking her mouth under his, covering her body with his own, then shoving his cock— He couldn’t finish that thought.

Lucan slammed back the alcohol. “Another?”

Caden glanced at Bram, who nodded. Then his brother brought the decanter over and poured another glass full of the booze. Hell, he hadn’t taken the time to taste it. Didn’t know what it was. Didn’t care. Didn’t pause before he swallowed the rest of the glass again without another thought.

The warmth of the alcohol started to coat his bloodstream. It wended through his system quickly. Damn, it should be relaxing him. He should feel looser, be able to breathe without wanting to punch a wall or rip someone’s head off. Instead, it only made him realize how agitated—no, furious—he felt. Goddamn the motherfucking bastard. If Shock let Anka hurt herself again, if he harmed a single hair on her head…

Caden eased the glass from his hand with a tsking sound. “Brother, if you crush the glass, you’re only going to hurt your hand. Less time training with Anka, then.”

“True. Thank you.” He had to get his head screwed on straight, but he couldn’t do that sitting here like a fucking idiot, waiting for her first scream of pleasure to erupt. He leapt to his feet and prowled to the window, staring out at the dead grass browning the lawn. The gray sky hid every ray of sunlight, smothered the warmth. Wasn’t that a metaphor for his life? The last three months had been bleak in every way. Lost, without any way to reach Anka emotionally, he’d used every bit of his will to hold himself together. But now… God, how could he endure this?

For her, he had to.

Bram stepped out of the room, and a moment later a gong and a chime announced that Ice and Sabelle had arrived. The trio filed in quickly. No one said a word. The silence slowly killed, and all Lucan wanted to do was crawl into that fucking bottle and lose himself until this ordeal was over.

“Where are they, mate?” Ice asked Bram.

Bram’s reply was quiet. “Upstairs.”

Inside, Lucan shoved down his rage. He wanted Shock dead and would do whatever necessary to make that happen. In fact, the sooner the better. Like now.

He rose to his feet. Caden pushed him back down. “There’s nothing you can do, brother. Sit in silent support. Drink, if you must. But you cannot go up there. You’ve conceded to Shock, and your presence will only start a fight. Anka doesn’t need that.”

Lucan wanted to ask how Caden would feel if he had to give Sydney back to Jamie, the wanker, or any of the human men his mate once dated. But it was a pointless argument, and Caden wasn’t the enemy.

“You’re right.” He poured another glass with a shaking hand. He’d lifted it halfway to his lips before Anka’s scream pierced the air, a high-pitched screech. Pain? Terror? “What the hell?” He charged for the door. Bram and Ice held him back with a mighty shove. He struggled and shouldered, trying to work past them. Caden yanked on the back of his shirt, tossing him to the sofa with a shove.

“Stop it! We have to let them be, at least for a bit. See if Shock can help her.”

“What if the dumb wanker won’t admit that he’s hurting her? What if he causes her more harm?”

Or, Lucan wondered, what if he ran to Anka’s rescue, only to find that she didn’t want rescuing? That she no longer wanted him?

He surged to his feet and paced, feeling too tightly wound. He was going to break apart if he didn’t find some way to channel this energy. Shock was taking care of her, and he had to let it happen. Her needs were more important. His…his were all in his head now. He had to get it together.

“Then we’ll intervene,” Bram assured. “Sabelle, does what I’ve told you about Anka’s condition ring any bells?”

She shook her head, and Lucan’s heart sank. Not only was Anka upstairs with the biggest arsehole he’d ever met, but she suffered from some ailment none of them had ever seen or could even understand.

He sucked in a breath. “Is Millie coming?”

If anyone could shed light on Anka’s sufferings, it would be the older witch.

“On her way. Finishing up with the birth of a youngling. She said to give her a few minutes.”

Lucan raked a hand through his hair, wanting to pull it out. What if they didn’t have a few minutes? Above stairs, Anka screamed again, a shrill sound that bespoke terror. He darted for the door again. Once more, his brother and best friend held him back.

“He’s hurting her! God, can’t you hear that?”

“We heard a scream,” Caden said. “We don’t know what caused it, pain, pleasure, fright… Nothing terrible is going to happen to her up there. We have to let this play out.”

“Seriously? Shock is Mathias’s second in command. For all we know, he’s using some of his boss’s terror techniques on her and...” He couldn’t bear to contemplate all the ways Shock could hurt her. Or she could hurt herself if the frenzy continued untreated and unabated. Fuck, he should have told his own nobility to pack a lunch and take a hike, then grabbed Anka for himself.

A light tinkle of a chime and what sounded like the shake of a tambourine later, and Bram left to admit his Aunt Millie. The spry little woman sported a mountain of graying hair piled onto her head in a heavy bun. She looked like anyone’s dotty grandmother. Sharp as a blade, she had thankfully been around magickind forever and knew all kinds of magic none of them had ever seen.

Lucan ran to greet the woman at the door, standing beside Bram anxiously. The second she crossed the threshold, he held her hands. “Please tell me you can help her. I’m desperate.”

Bram slanted him a frustrated glance. “Let the poor woman breathe.”

He wanted to bite Bram’s head off. He wanted to tell Bram to go to hell and stay there. Instead, he backed off. Clearly, this wasn’t helping.

“Thank you.” Bram smiled tightly and explained the situation to Millie.

The little witch frowned. “If Morganna did something to her, I’m sorry to say it might be anything.”

“Can you sedate her or make her more comfortable—”

Another one of Anka’s sharp screams of terror cut its way down his spine. Fuck, he was going to crawl out of his skin if he had to hear that sound one more time. It hurt all the way to his soul every time he imagined her in the kind of agony that could produce that sound.

Bram grabbed him, holding him back again. Lucan hadn’t even been aware that he’d darted out the doorway and was making his way to the stairs. “If I have to hold you back again, I’m putting you into a deep sleep,” Bram told him. “And I’ll make sure you wake with one hell of a headache, mate.”

Was he the only one who heard Anka’s clawing pain and terror?

“I’ll need to look in on her,” Millie said. “Only then will I have any idea how or even if I can help.”

“I’ll take you.” Bram shot Lucan a warning glare that strongly advised him to stay put.

Caden wrapped an arm around his shoulders with a hearty slap. “No worries. I’ve got him. Go on.”

Watching Millie and Bram disappear up the stairs seemed to take forever. Sabelle followed. Wondering what Anka was suffering while the older woman took her time with every step she ascended gnawed away at his composure. Finally, the trio disappeared onto the landing, down the hall, and into a bedroom. Ice appeared a moment later, thrusting a full drink into his hands.

For a moment, he stared at the whiskey or scotch or whatever it was. Then he nodded his thanks at Ice, lifting the glass to his lips and tossing the liquid to the back of his throat. It burned a path all the way to his stomach, but it didn’t take away the anxiety gnawing at him.

He paced in the foyer. It was either that or bound up the stairs, brain Shock until he couldn’t move, and take Anka into his arms and give her whatever she needed. Sex? Love? Hell, he’d take her shopping for a year if that’s what she needed to snap out of this mystery ailment.

Minutes slid by, one turning into another, then another. The screams still sliced through the air now and then, punctuated by more than occasional whimpers. Each sounded more pitiful than the last. Fuck, he couldn’t take it anymore.

Asking Ice to refill his drink, he pretended to pace past Caden, then darted up the stairs. His brother was close behind him, but Lucan quickly found the door Anka lay behind by following her screams.

He burst inside the bedroom and found Shock, sans jacket. His leathers hung half open. He held Anka’s wrists to the mattress. Bram clasped her ankles. Between them, Anka thrashed and howled, her face contorted into a mask of agony. Millie stood above her, checking her glazed eyes, tsking at her feverish skin, trying to pet and soothe her while performing an exam.

Shoving Bram aside, he grabbed Anka’s ankles himself. She hesitated and opened her eyes to fix her gaze on him.


“I’m here, love.”

She whimpered, trying to curl into a ball. The sound was so pitiful, it tore at Lucan.

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