Page 36

Alys watched his face as he glided in and out of her lips, shaking as he felt every tug of her mouth. She felt his shaft growing even harder, and when she felt the first throb, she dug her nails into his thighs.

Beau hunched over, bracing himself with one hand, his big frame shaking as his seed jetted into her mouth.

Alys drank him in, taking everything he gave her, and when he drew out of her, she smiled. “Yes.”

Beau moved down the length of her body, his hand parting her thighs and his fingers finding her slick folds. He bent his head, laving her with his tongue as he worked two fingers into the tight wetness of her sheath, bringing her over so fast and hard Alys cried out.

Beau held her close, lifting her up and stretching out with her on his bed. “Does this mean you’ll have me, then?” he asked as he traced the curves of her mouth.

“Oh, you’re definitely mine now.” She snuggled up against him. “For as long as you want to be.”

He kissed her brow. “That would be forever.”

Chris knocked on Simone’s door, opening it to look in on her sister. “Rise and shine, Frenchy.”

A mumble came from the mound of covers on Simone’s bed.

“Don’t be lazy. The boys are supposed to arrive tonight, remember? You’ll be spending plenty of time horizontal.”

She walked over to the bed, slowing only when she saw Simone’s hand hanging limply over the side. It looked so much like her mother’s hand, hanging over the edge of the bathtub in which she’d killed herself, that Chris’s stomach turned.

“Simone, wake up.” When her sister didn’t move, she reached down to pull back the linens, appalled to see that her hand was shaking badly. “Okay, no more all-night movie marathons for you.”

Chris slowly uncovered her sister. Simone lay on her side, blankly staring at nothing, her skin an icy white.

“Jesus.” Chris rolled her onto her back, crawling onto the bed and kneeling beside her as she felt for a pulse and found none. “No. You are not dying on me.” She raked her dents acérées across her palm and pressed it to Simone’s lips.

At first the blood merely trickled out of the other side of the Frenchwoman’s mouth, but slowly her lips pursed and covered the wounds. Her skin took on a delicate flush, and her eyes fluttered as she whispered, “Chris.”

“It’s okay.” She bent down. “I’m here. What happened—”

Simone seized her by the throat, rolling over and dragging her from the bed. As Chris tried to free herself, she saw the body of another woman on the floor by the door, her arm outstretched, as if she’d collapsed while trying to crawl toward it.

Simone. Chris clawed at the steely fingers biting into her flesh, trying to scream but unable to make a sound.

The woman strangling her began to grow taller and bulkier, her body radiating a strange dark yellow glow as her features broadened and her hair disappeared.

Chris recognized the dark features of the man trying to choke the life out of her. “Cristophe.” She used her Kyn strength to shove him away. “What are you doing?”

“What I and my kin vowed we would do,” the smith told her flatly. “Protect the emeralds from the Kyn and the mortal world. Everything I have done has been for that reason. But you and your sister and your lovers have failed to relieve me of my burden. Simone returned to France, and you ran away to the islands with your boy lover. Now there are only two left to save the world. The last of my blood must take my place before it is too late, and I will allow neither of you to interfere.”

When he came at her again, Chris used all her strength to slam her fist into the side of his head. He staggered, releasing her, and she jumped to the other side of the bed. “I’m not a mortal anymore. Neither is Simone. Why come after us?”

Cristophe touched the side of his head, where his scalp burned away from a path of light.

A burning sensation made her look down at her hand, where flecks of molten gold were sinking into her skin. “What the hell?”

The smith raised his hand, and one of the tall iron candlesticks flew toward Chris, wrapping itself around her legs before she could evade it. She fell backward, and shrieked as Cristophe used his power over the metal to drag her body across the floor to him.

“You failed me,” he repeated. “Now you and your sister will do my bidding.”

“I can’t believe a mortal did this.” Alexandra Keller used her scope to inspect the neat, near-lethal wound in the Kyn male’s side. “Judging by your man’s condition, the blade came within a millimeter or two of piercing his heart. Did you recover the weapon?”

Jayr went to the storage cabinet and brought a dagger to her. “It was found near his body.”

Alex took the blade, sniffing the blood staining it before she held it up and studied the length. “Yeah, this did the dirty work.”

“Will he die, Alex?” Jayr asked.

“Doubt it.” Absently she set aside the blade and began checking the pulse points on his limbs. “You followed to the letter the instructions I gave you over the phone, which diluted the poison in his blood but didn’t send him into thrall. That’s half the battle.” She combed her fingers through Farlae’s matted hair before she nodded and straightened. “He’s in the process of shedding the copper. He’ll be out of commission for a couple of weeks, but a few more carefully timed transfusions, a decent haircut, and he should make it.”

Jayr dropped into the chair beside Farlae’s bed and braced her head in her hands. “I cannot thank you enough.”

“You’re welcome, but it wasn’t anything I did.” She nodded toward the blade. “The killer mortal wasn’t much of a killer. He missed the heart. Or maybe he’s a very good killer. He knew exactly where to put the blade, and the correct angle to thrust, but he didn’t shove it all the way in. Or he could be bonkers. Who in his right mind would try to kill a Kyn and not finish the job? Where is this guy, anyway?”

“Byrne had him taken to the dungeons.” Jayr sighed and dropped her hands. “I have to go now to interrogate him, but I confess, Alex, I never wish to lay eyes on him again.”

“You’d rather Byrne do the honors?” Jayr’s appalled look made her smile grimly. “Didn’t think so. I bet the prisoner is immune to l’attrait, too.”

“What am I going to do?” Jayr spread her hands. “Leeds came here under false pretenses, and attacked Farlae without provocation. I have to know why.”

“This is why I never go for the position of absolute power. Being in charge sucks.” Alex took out a chart from her medical case and started making notes on it. “I can talk to the bad man later if you want. I don’t do torture, naturally, but I’m his generation and I have an excellent cell-side manner. He might open up to me.”

“No, this is my duty. However much it, as you say, sucks.” Jayr stood. “Christian and Simone are visiting us, and I know they will wish to see you. When you are finished here, perhaps you’ll join us in the main hall?”

“Sure.” Alex watched her go before she looked down at her patient. “It’s safe now. You can quit pretending to be unconscious.” As Farlae did, and revealed the nightmarish flaw in his eye, she made a face. “That’s not a very nice birth defect. Are you blind in it?”

“I was, until I changed.” His voice rasped with weariness. “So I hear I am to live.”

“I guess that’s why they made you the spy.” She took out her sample kit. “I need to draw some blood and run some tests. Don’t give me any grief, and I won’t tell Jayr you were eavesdropping.”

“You must keep her away from him, my lady.” Farlae managed to grab her wrist. “Leeds is a desperate man.”

“Take it easy.” She pried his hand off and placed it back at her side. “The guy is sitting in a dungeon with every vampire in the place pissed off at him. He’s not going anywhere.”

“I mean he is desperate for Jayr.” Farlae subsided with a groan. “Give me something to get me back on my feet.”

“Sadly, I didn’t bring a forklift with me.” She sat down on the edge of the bed. “Maybe you should tell me what the hell is going on here.”

Before Farlae could reply, the door to the infirmary swung open and Jayr came in, followed by two warriors carrying Chris and Simone.

Alex got to her feet. “What happened?”

“We found them on the floor in Simone’s chamber. We cannot rouse them.” Jayr directed the men to put the women down on two cots. “They show no sign of injury.”

Alex went to Chris, checking her pulse and her pupils before doing the same to Simone. “It looks like they’re in thrall.” She jerked up her head. “You find any unconscious, dying mortals lying around?”

“No. Our human staff remains on holiday,” Jayr said. “The only mortal here is Dr. Stuart, and she is with Beaumaris in his chambers.”

“Okay.” Alex took off her jacket and rolled up her sleeves. “Someone please call my lord and master and let him know I’m going to be here for a while. I could also use some nurses.” She met Jayr’s gaze. “You’d better go have a word with your traitor, and see if he’s somehow responsible for this. Right now.”

Beau left Alys in his chambers just before dawn.

“I must go and make my peace with Harlech.” He tucked the covers in around her. “Sleep.”

Alys smiled as she watched him go, and snuggled down into the sheets that smelled as darkly sweet as her lover. She still couldn’t quite believe all this was real; it felt like a dream and any moment she would wake up and find herself back at the site.

I don’t have a site anymore. She fell back against the pillows and stared at the interlocking stonework that formed the ceiling. The project is over. Somehow she’d have to send word to her team that the dig was closed.

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