Eternity Embraced

Page 6

"I can't lose you," she said.

Pleaded, really.

The resolve in his steel-cut eyes sliced through her like a razor blade.

"We can't be together."

"I don't care what you are.

I'm tired of losing people I love.

I can't do it again."

He laughed bitterly.

"Really, Andrea?

You don't care what I am?

How can you ever trust me?

How can you think I won't turn into a ravenous beast and kill you?"

"Because you aren't Gabrielle."

The words made his head snap back as if she'd slapped him, but she pressed the advantage, going right for his jugular, because they didn't have time for a leisurely chat.

She had to get through to him now.

"Gabrielle became a creature that couldn't recognize the person she loved, and she couldn't control her nature.

But you can control yourself, Kaden.

You were starving in that cell, and you could have killed me.

You didn't.

If anything, you wanted me.

You've been turned, but you aren't evil.

I don't care what The Aegis says.

They aren't always right."

Strain put lines at the corners of his made-to-please mouth.

"Even if what I've become isn't an issue for us, it'll be a damned big issue for The Aegis.

They aren't going to welcome me with open arms."

"There has to be a way."

Her mind worked furiously, searching the darkest, dustiest corners of her brain for anything useful. She could leave The Aegis, but that would be a last resort.

Hunting demons was the one thing she was good at, and after an entire life spent quitting jobs, clubs, and college, she didn't want to abandon this, either.

Maybe she could transfer again.

Someplace where having a vampire boyfriend wouldn't be a big deal.

She almost laughed at that, because...wait...she sucked in a harsh breath at her sudden idea.

"I got it."

Andrea bounced on her toes, excited for the first time since all of this began.

"We can move to New York.

One of the cells there is rumored to have a half-demon Regent.

And remember how we heard that one of the Elders is married to a demon?"

Surely one of the twelve supreme Aegis leaders wasn't involved with a demon in any way, but the story had spread like wildfire.

"Those are just rumors."

Kaden's voice was tired, resigned.

Andrea's hope that they still had a shot at something began to wither.

"I know, but--"

"Even if those things are true, life in The Aegis can't be easy for them.

I won't subject you to that."

"I can handle it."

"I know you can," he rasped.

"But I can't.

I can't stand by and watch you be scorned."

"Then what are our options?

Stay here and let yourself be killed?

I don't freaking think so."

She got right up in his face and poked him in the chest.

"I've given up on everything in my life at some point.

And I mean everything.

If I attempt something new and I suck at it, I won't do it again.

If I fail at something, I quit.

The Aegis and you are the only things I've ever stuck with, and I will not go back to being a quitter.

We will work this out."

Kaden stepped back, and the hardest thing she'd ever done was give him that foot of space.

"And what am I supposed to do while you're out doing your job?

Sit home and watch soap operas?"

He had a point.

Here she was thinking of her job, when he'd just lost his.

He'd just lost everything, actually.

"Okay...what if you could work for The Aegis?

I mean, your diet has changed, but you haven't."

"Oh, I have," he growled, flashing fangs that made very clear just how much he'd changed.

Shaking his head, he looked up at the ceiling.

"There's no way they'll even let me live.


Her breath hitched, just a tiny catch of hope re-awakening.

"Unless what?"

One of the guys just outside the chamber whispered for them to hurry up, but Kaden ignored him and scrubbed one hand over his face.

"Remember how Tony brought up that radical idea once?

When he was drunk and half out of his mind?"

She rolled her eyes.

"You'll have to be more specific.

We're talking about Tony, the guy who thinks fairies enchant his weapons while he sleeps."

He snorted.

"Good point.

You know, his nutty idea about getting a Guardian to turn vampire and infiltrate clans as a spy?"

"That was crazy," she said.

"I mean--" She cut off with a gasp, as what he was saying slapped her upside the head.

"That's what you want to do?"

"Why not?"


She trailed off, because actually...why not?

He was right about how the Aegis wouldn't accept him as a regular member anymore.

But if they went for this, he could still work, still do the job, but from the other side.

"So instead of fighting Cedric's clan..."

"I'd join them."

The idea filled her with terror, but at least it offered a shot at keeping him off the Aegis's most-wanted list -- and alive.

So to speak.

"What if they refuse?"

He slid a covert glance at the Guardians, who were still watching him with murder in their eyes, and no, he wouldn't get any other kind of reception at headquarters.

"They'll try.

But look what happened when you attacked this den.

Vampire ops are dangerous.

If I can help, they've got to give it a shot."

Her chest constricted with doubt.

"It won't be easy to convince them."

"Then we consider your idea about moving to New York.

Or I work anyway, and feed you the intel.

Either way, this is what I have to do, just as you need to keep working for The Aegis."

That all sounded great, but the most important part of this discussion was still an elephant in the room.

"Okay, but what about us?"

In a blur of motion, Kaden caught her shoulders and tugged her against him.

Her heart went crazy in her chest, skipping around like a lovesick idiot.

"I was a fool before.

But dying kicked me in the ass and made me see things a little more clearly."

Tenderly, he cupped her cheek in one palm.

"Everything is intensified now.

All my emotions.

Including love."


He crushed her to him, holding on so tight she had trouble breathing.

Not that she would change anything.

"I love you," he said.

"I've loved you for a long time but was afraid to say it."

He pressed a kiss to the top of her head and then drew back, but his intense gaze drilled into hers.

"I still don't know how to handle my new status, and I've got a lot to learn, but my parents taught me that everyone stumbles, and it's okay to feel your way around.

Took me until now to remember that.

Still, I can't promise it'll be easy for either of us."

She pressed a finger to his lips.

"One day at a time.

All I ask is that we try.

No quitting without a fight."

His smile stole her breath.

"No quitting."

He cupped her cheek in his palm, a very brief, loving gesture before he dropped his arm, his expression grew serious once again.

"You need to go."

"I still don't want to leave you here."

"You have to.

Before Cedric's clan catches me with you.

Right now they don't know I was involved with his death."

Outside the chamber, one of they guys cleared his throat impatiently, and she checked her watch.

"It's nearly dawn."

"I'll be fine.

At sunset, I'll meet you at your place.

And remember what I said we'd do later?"

Her body heated up, because oh, boy, did she remember.


The sharp little points of his fangs gleamed, matching the wicked light in his eyes.

"Good, because later, I'm going to see just how much more intense everything can be."

She couldn't wait.

They definitely had a rough road ahead, but it seemed that, for the first time in her life, the road wasn't a dead-end.

This was one journey she would not fail.

Chapter Eight

Tayla Mancuso hadn't been sure what to think when she'd gotten the call from the head of The Aegis's Portland cell.

Sure, Guardians transferred all the time, but the Regent, Shawn, said that this was a special case, and he wouldn't elaborate.

Then, when one of the Guardians he'd called about, Andrea, contacted Tayla and asked to meet at the apartment Tay shared with her husband, Eidolon, instead of at the New York City cell's headquarters, Tay had gotten real suspicious.

There were very few reasons a Guardian wouldn't want to meet at a cell's highly fortified headquarters, and topping the list would be if said Guardian couldn't make it past the wards that prevented underworld beings from entering.

Or if the Guardian was worried about being recognized by cell members for some reason.

Or if the Guardian wanted to get Tayla alone, somewhere unprotected.

Tayla went through all of the scenarios, and though she was suspicious, her internal danger alarm hadn't triggered.

She'd meet Andrea, but she'd make sure Eidolon was safe.

Tayla never lied to E, but before she agreed to see Andrea, she'd made sure he was working a shift at Underworld General, the hospital he and his brothers ran for anyone who couldn't be seen at a human medical facility.

Eidolon was a demon, a rare breed of incubus, and there was no way Tayla was allowing a demon slayer into the apartment with him there.

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