Eternity Embraced

Page 2

"Andrea, you're a Guardian.

You're tougher than this.

You need to go."

She opened her mouth, but he didn't get to hear what she would have said, because suddenly, the cell door slammed shut, trapping them both.

On the other side was Cedric, grinning like a rabid coyote as he peered between the bars.

He must have tripped a lever next to the door, because the clamp around Kaden's neck snapped open with an ominous, metallic clang.

He was a manner of speaking.

Cedric's smile widened.

"Now," he said, "let's party."

Chapter Three

Disbelief and anger clawed at Andrea.

How the hell had she let herself be trapped like this?

"You are so dead," she snarled at the bastard who'd closed the door.

Through the barred slot, the ugly piece of shit smiled at her idle threat, his pallid, fishy lips peeling back off yellowed teeth.

"We've slaughtered most of your colleagues," he said, his harsh words hitting her like a punch to the gut, "but I'm holding onto a few.

I'll enjoy turning them, just like I did with your boy here."

He walked away, leaving her alone with Kaden...

...who was now loose in the cage with her.

Evil unchained.

Except she couldn't see Kaden as anything but the man whose touch had lit her on fire, who had been a gentle or urgent lover, depending on his mood.

Then again, on the job he was a ruthless fighter, capable of cutting down entire nests of viper ghouls by himself.

Oh, yes, she'd stood by and admired the way he used his hands with lethal skill, the way he could gut a demon twice his size and shrug it off like it was nothing.

Afterward, the jacked-up burn of the fight had sent him into her arms, a warrior on a mission to claim her as his prize.

She couldn't count the number of times they'd won a battle and then attacked each other, unable to wait for a bedroom.?

They hadn't needed anything but a wall or a tree to support her back and shield them from prying eyes.

Their passion had heated up snowy nights, steamed up rainy days, and drawn lightning during storms.

And now he was looking at Andrea with that same battle-lust in his eyes, the adrenaline high that gripped all Guardians when the victory, the kill, was close.

Heartbreak and fear collided, making her clumsy as she settled into a defensive position, stake ready.

"I don't want to have to destroy you."

And she wasn't sure she would be able to.

They'd always been evenly matched in skill, but with his strength and size he'd had the advantage when they sparred.

And now, as a vampire, he'd be even stronger ...and faster as well.

"The idea doesn't thrill me, either."

He closed his eyes and clenched his hands into fists, the way he did when he was angry and trying to keep his temper contained -- something he rarely had to do.

Kaden had always been cool, calm, and level to the point where Andrea sometimes needled him just to get a reaction.

Now, it appeared that no needling would be necessary.

"Andrea...I don't...I don't know if I can control myself."

"You want to kill me?"

His eyes flew open, the gray depths turning steely.


Never," he swore.

"But I'm...hungry."

His gaze dropped to her throat.

His lush lips parted and he drew closer.

For some reason, she couldn't move, was anchored to the spot, mesmerized by the fierce hunger in his expression.

Everything around her, from the damp, musty odor of the dungeon, to the skittering sounds of scavenging rodents, faded into the background.

There was nothing but him.

Swallowing nervously, she found her voice.


He uttered a rough noise of anguish and threw himself to the far side of cell, shuddering so hard his teeth chattered.

Something inside her broke, and she reached for him, only to jerk back when he hissed.

This was bad.

Very, very bad.

She had to find a way out of the cell before Kaden lost control and she was forced into the fight of her life.

Whirling, she attacked the door.

She shoved at it, rattled it, trying to fight the panic that had wrapped around her chest like a clamp.

She'd always believed she could take down any vampire without mercy, but Kaden didn't seem like a vamp.

He seemed like...Kaden.

With fangs.

And maybe an extra scoop of menace.

But other than that, he was the man she loved, and she couldn't stake him.

Thing was, she couldn't even be shocked by the knowledge.

She'd failed at most everything she'd ever tried, from bowling, to cooking, to protecting her family.

Never in her life had she stuck with anything when the going got rough or if she wasn't immediately good at it.

Not until she'd joined The Aegis, anyway.

She'd stayed, because she was damned good at killing.

At least, she was.

Until now.

"Let me try."

His voice was guttural, warped, as though every word was being funneled through a shrinking pipe.

She stepped aside as he hit the door with his entire body.

His weight left a dent, but on his fourth try it became clear that the cells had been built to handle creatures much stronger than any man.

Or any vampire.

She shivered.

God, the very idea that Kaden was horrified her.

And yet, as she watched him pound on the door with eye-blurring speed, the thick muscles in his chest and arms bunching and rippling, some secret, shameful part of her was fascinated.

And maybe a little turned on by the raw power behind his every punch.


Slowly, he turned, braced his back against the door, and slid to his ass.

Exhaustion put hollows in his cheeks, but his eyes were sharp as daggers.


Maintaining a grip on the stake, she crouched and eased toward him.

"What's it like?"

When he looked at the stake in her hand and growled, she carefully set the stake on the floor and showed him her empty palms.

She wasn't stupid though; she made sure the weapon was within reach.

She also had an Aegis-modified squirt gun filled with holy water in her jacket pocket, as well as several blades stashed on her body.

But he'd know that.

His roving hands had long since learned the location of every one of her weapon hiding places.

The memories made her body tingle and her mouth go dry.

"It's weird," he said gruffly.

"I thought I'd feel like a beast.

But I don't feel any different."

He frowned.

"No, that's not true.

I feel stronger.

And more...feral."


He nodded.

"It's like I'm a mass of instincts.

Everything is magnified, from my senses, to my desires.

I don't know how to control them."

He pegged her with a stare so scorching she drew a harsh breath.

"I've always tried to be gentle with you.

But right now..." He threw his head back against the wall, and his throat worked on a hard swallow.

"Damn, the things I want to do to you."

She didn't have to guess.

His fangs had elongated into sharp, wicked daggers, and between his legs, his erection was a thick rod punching against the fly of his pants.

Liquid heat flooded her body, a completely inappropriate response, given what he was and where they were.

But that dark part of her was enthralled with this new Kaden.


Cautiously, she reached for him.

The moment her fingers touched his knee, he went taut, his head snapped forward, and once again she was in the crosshairs of his laser gaze.

Startled, she drew her hand away, but lightning-fast, he caught her wrist.

For a breathless heartbeat, terror turned the air in her lungs to cement.

The stake was out of reach.

"I warned you," he growled.

"I need...I hunger..."

His fingers tightened, digging into her skin.

Common sense and self-preservation kicked in.

He wasn't the only one with powerful instincts.

Andrea threw a punch, nailing him in the jaw with her free hand.

He didn't even flinch.

She swung again, but this time, he palmed her fist, stopping her throw as if she'd slammed her knuckles into a brick wall.

"Wow," she breathed.

"You're really fast now."

"I wasn't exactly a slouch before."

His voice was a husky purr that rumbled through every part of her body.

She snorted.

"Becoming undead certainly hasn't done anything for your ego."

A slow, cocky smile turned up the corners of his mouth.

Good Lord, were they really bantering?

In this incredibly f**ked-up situation?

He seemed to realize the incongruity of it all as well, and he sobered, releasing her as if she were a burning coal.

"Get away from me."

He shoved at her, knocking her off balance and sending her sprawling.

Instantly, he was on his knees beside her, his hands on her shoulders.

"Oh, shit.

Andy, I'm sorry."

She allowed him to help her sit up, but he didn't remove his hands.

Neither of them moved a single muscle.

Even the air went still with the uncertain tension hanging in the cell.

Gradually, she became aware of the fact that Kaden's entire body was trembling, and once more, his gaze was fixed on her throat.

Something touched her hand.

The stake.

He pressed it into her palm even as he lowered his head toward her neck.

Her heart slammed into her rib cage and her stomach clenched, but she remained motionless, focusing all her energy on simply breathing, because that, at least, was still in her control.

"Don't let me do it," he rasped, but his lips were grazing her suddenly sensitive skin.

He closed her fingers around the stake.

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