Embrace Me at Dawn

Page 31

Thoughts of Lucan made her sex clench and spasm. She needed him, had to have him. If she died without him… wouldn’t that be what she deserved?

Sweat rolled over her skin, and she closed her eyes, trying to close out everything but the fantasy in her head where Lucan found her, led her to his bed, crawled between her legs, and tongued his way up her slick flesh until she cried out in…

“No!” Anka sat upright, expecting to be huddled on the sofa. Instead, Shock knelt between her legs, holding her thighs wide, his lips slick with her juices.

“Still hurt?” he asked.

She nodded. “Don’t.”

He drew his hands away immediately.

Anka wanted to apologize for her rebuff, caress his cheek. She wished she could let him know that, whatever their respective shortfalls as people that didn’t allow them to be a real couple, a part of her would always love him, despite the fact that her heart had chosen another.

He sat back on his heels with a sigh. “Aquarius came home and found you delirious and writhing on her sofa. She called me. Why did you leave MacTavish? You love him. He wants you. Are you afraid to be happy?”

Shock made happiness sound so simple. Order it from the value menu and poof! Someone served it up immediately, steaming and tasty, in a cardboard takeaway container.

“Doesn’t matter.” She curled her knees into her chest as another cramp overtook her. She cried out and bit her lip. Had to be mindful of the neighbors.

“It fucking does.” He picked her up in his arms.

Even that small touch sent every nerve in her body hurtling headfirst into an acute pain that had her screaming, neighbors be damned. Shock dropped her like a hot potato and cursed.

“You need him, little one, especially now. I think he’s worthless, but…”

“Can’t have him.”

He sighed. “You’ve grown stubborn, Anka.”

“Living with you.” She grimaced, bracing for another wave of pain.

“You’re in agony and you’re making jokes?”

She forced a small smile. “Working?”

“For fuck’s sake. Where is your mobile?”

So he could call Lucan to come and care for her? Yes, that’s what he would do. Under all his bad attitude and bluster, he cared for her deeply. She had hurt him…yet he was willing to put her needs above his own.

“Not telling.”

Shock didn’t waste time chastising her, just rummaged through the pockets of her discarded clothes, finally pulling the device free. “Where is the wanker’s number?”

As he scrolled through her menus, she forced her mind away from the pain and the pending wave of ruthless desire threatening to choke her. “Make me sleep.”

“I already tried.”

She frowned, blinked up at his scowling face. “When?”

“The second I walked in and saw you thrashing about in total misery. Believe me, calling the do-good fucker isn’t my first choice.”

So, in the absence of any other plan, Shock would give her back to his enemy and sacrifice his own happiness to save her. His innate goodness and loyalty to those he cared for had endeared him to her from day one. She wished it could be enough.

“I found it.” He started pressing buttons.

In a moment, that call would connect. Lucan would be awake and probably come running. He would insist on giving her whatever she needed to feel better. And they would create the next generation of banshee. Lucan would draw ever closer to finding the truth she sought to protect him from.

She had run out of options and out of time.

With only a vague plan in mind, she’d come to Aquarius’s. The moment to set it in motion had arrived. Once these words were spoken, even Lucan couldn’t touch her.

Anka licked her dry lips, trying to form all the words coherently. “As I become a part of you, you become a part of me. I will be honest, good, and true—”

“What the fuck are you doing?” Shock threw the phone aside and knelt to her. “Don’t.”

Saying the words he’d waited over a century to hear. Binding to him. It had to be done eventually if either he or Lucan were ever going to really be free. This was manipulative and terrible—and the only way she could help both of the men she loved. “I heed your Call. ’Tis you I seek.”

“You don’t mean any of those words. Shut it! Bloody shut it right now!”

He needed this. He might really hate her timing, but someday he would thank her. The fact that it gave Lucan an easy reason to turn his back on her forever didn’t hurt, either.

Gathering her strength, she drew in a shuddering breath and finished her vow. “From this moment on, there is no other for me but you.”

An explosion rocked her, splintering her with an agony a hundred times worse than what she’d endured before. She only thought she’d known pain, but she’d been wrong. Apparently Binding to the wizard her heart hadn’t chosen while craving another made her pain more terrible.

She yelped and cried, curling into a tight ball on the sofa. Death had to be coming soon.

“Why the fuck did you do that?” he asked softly, his hand hovering over her as if he wanted to touch and comfort her but didn’t dare.

“I am…” She swallowed. “Your mate now.”

“Do you think I want you now, when I know your heart belongs to that wanker? I couldn’t escape to the bottom of a bottle fast enough every bloody time I fucked you and you were pining for him. I don’t want to do that for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be your second choice, Anka.”

“Agreed.” She clenched her fists, trying to breathe past the pain buzzing through her system. “Did this…for you.”

“So I can remember every fucking time I come near you that you didn’t want me first? No. Hell no.”

She shook her head and tried to focus on the words, not the suffering. “Take me to Millie.”

Shock hesitated before understanding dawned on his dark face. He ripped off his sunglasses, and she had no doubt he’d done it so that she would see how deeply her gesture had disturbed him. Eventually, he would thank her. Maybe in a century or two. Now, he was simply furious.

“Are you fucking kidding me? You did this for me, to free me. No. Absolutely not. A mate breaking right now will kill you.”

“Not…worst thing.”

“Is that what you think? That’s shit. Do you hear me? Shit! I’m already going to lose you and—”

“You don’t love me.”

“Oh, now you think you know my heart?”

Despite the torture of her raw pain and empty sex, she smiled. Shock was always confrontational when someone touched his emotions. “Yes.”

“You know fuck all.”

“Take me to Millie.”

He sighed and moved to curl his arm under her shoulders, then another under her knees.

The second he did, the torment of the touch became unbearable. “No! God, don’t. No…”

Shock jerked away immediately.

Sobs came. She needed to see this through. Let Shock loose to finally live the rest of his life so that he was completely free to fall in love with the mate destined to complete him, not the trophy he wanted to spit-polish shiny and show off to Lucan and every other Privileged bastard when the occasion arose. If Lucan believed that she’d chosen Shock to share her life with, at least temporarily… Well, that would make his decision to find a better woman even easier. And Bram might have insisted that she live with Shock, but he would have to get over it if she chose to put her head on another pillow.

“Fuck this.” Shock shoved his glasses back on and grabbed her phone again. “I’m not letting you die over this.”

“Lucan can’t touch me now.”

He paused. “He can’t fuck you. But I’m guessing he’s the only man who can touch you. He’ll get you to Millie. Once she douses this spell of Morganna’s, we’ll talk about what happens next.”

She opened her mouth to argue, and Shock shook his head, nudging her with his knee. Predictably, a whole new hurt ravaged her, reducing her to a panting, whimpering mass.

He completed the call, barking into the mobile. “Get to Aquarius’s. Anka needs you.”

Shock had barely disconnected the call before Lucan banged on the door.

“Don’t tell him,” she cried out.

“That you’re going to break our happy little mate bond? I’ll say whatever the fuck I want.”

With heavy, booted steps he stomped to the door and wrenched it open. Lucan charged in and took one look at her magical signature which now proclaimed her Shock’s mate.

The betrayal on his face broke her heart into a million pieces.

“Why?” He choked the word out.

She didn’t have to pretend agony this time. Anka lowered her head to her knees, still curled up to her chest, and let the sorrow pour out. She’d wanted to free Shock for all he’d done to help her. She’d wanted to drive Lucan away and spare him all the ugliness he couldn’t and shouldn’t have to handle.

But God, it hurt far worse than she’d ever imagined. Far worse than any side effect of Morganna’s spell ever could.

“Millie,” she gasped out.

“I can’t touch her,” Shock barked. “Binding to me only increased her pain.”

Lucan turned on him. “Then why did you let her? You had to know… Her heart made a different choice. Of course this was going to cause her untold anguish.”

“It’s not as if I encouraged her. I’d Called to her over a century ago. How was I to know that she’d pick this special fucking moment to finally accept?”

“You couldn’t read her bloody mind?”

“Not without feeling her pain, douchebag. So I stayed out of her head. Are you really going to blame me for this now?”

Anka listened to them argue, grimacing as the next wave of need dismantled her coping mechanisms and decimated her energy reserve. She screeched in agony. Both men lunged to her side.

“Stubborn witch,” Shock grumbled. “If I could touch you, I’d paddle your arse.”

She tried to smile. “Can’t.”

“But I can,” Lucan growled. “If you were any stronger…”

The worry on his face eclipsed any menace he might have been trying to convey. She reached out to touch him, then thought better of it. “Millie?”

Confusion twisted Lucan’s face, and Shock rolled his eyes. “Take her back to Bram’s, wankstain. She wants his aunt.”

Lucan looked ready to pound Shock’s skull into little pieces, and Shock’s raised brow certainly invited him to try. But they both backed down—for now. For her sake.

“This isn’t over. We’ll be talking about this. He might be your…mate—” Lucan spit the word at her. “—but once you’re better, we’re going to talk about everything, you and I.”

She nodded weakly, aware of another heated rush flushing her body as Lucan drew near. Her womb spasmed. Her sex gaped and clenched. Her nipples throbbed. And the raw craving for him sapped her energy so very quickly.

God, was Morganna’s spell going to kill her?

Finally, Lucan cursed and brought her into his arms, against his chest. The pain eased a bit, and she sighed with the momentary relief. “Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me yet,” Lucan snarled. “I’m not nearly done with you.”

~ ~ ~ ~

They teleported back to Bram’s house, and the moment their leader opened the door to admit them, his eyes widened as if he’d just seen flying pigs. Thankfully, Anka had passed out during the teleportation. The overload of pain making her scream had been more than Lucan could bear.

What had she been thinking, running away and Binding to Shock, especially while enduring Morganna’s spell?

“I don’t know,” Shock admitted.

“But bloody hell…” Bram’s accusing stare zipped up to Shock. “You let her Bind to you now?”

“I’ve already covered this shit with bachelor number one.” Shock hooked a thumb in Lucan’s direction. “Ease up, you git.”

“Where’s Millie?” Lucan demanded. “I want her to tell me more about whatever enchantment Morganna put on Anka. It’s sapping her energy too fast.”

And at this rate, it would likely kill her before it waned.

“I’ll summon her.” Bram looked Anka over with grim eyes. “And tell her it’s an emergency. Put Anka back in the bedroom.”

Lucan charged up the stairs, aware of Shock a half-step behind. He wanted to tell the bastard to go away, that Anka wasn’t any of his business. But she’d chosen him to be her mate, though she knew her heart had decided otherwise. Why?

As he set her on the bed, he looked up to find Shock rubbing a hand over his tired face. “She’s doing this to free me.”

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