Pretty When She Dies

Page 36

Cian was just settling in beside her when she sat up gasping with fear. Her hands clutched the bedclothes as she looked around the chamber in terror. His hand gently touched her arm and she looked at him with fright in her eyes.

Her sluggish heart was beating harder than it had in days. She pressed her hands between her breasts, feeling its harsh thumping. Leaning over, she rested her forehead on her drawn up knees.

“What did you dream?” Cian asked softly.

“I was dying.”

She could vividly remember the way her hot blood had sprayed the professor's clothing as he savagely tore into her. Her own heart had betrayed her and continued to pump her blood out in rhythmic spurts.

She felt Cian put an arm about her shoulders and leaned toward her. “Your mortal death?”

“Yes.” She turned her head, rested her cheek on her knee, and stared at him. “I was bleeding out so fast. I could feel my life draining out of me.”

Cian's fingers gently moved her hair back from her face, and he asked in a very tender tone, “Can you tell me what happened next?”

Blinking, she exhaled slowly, emptying her dead lungs, then nodded. “I think I blacked out. I remember coming to on the ground. I felt very cold. He was leaning over me and whispering words in another language. I could see...” She struggled for words. The image had come to her so vividly in her dreams, but it was fading away. “His eyes were white. Completely white and I could see that his shadow was it was reaching into me and making my heart beat and my lungs breathe.”

“Like he was keeping you alive?”

“Yeah. With some sort of voodoo magic or something. Then he held his wrist over my lips and his blood began to drop into my mouth. I started to choke, but he kept trying to get me to swallow.”

“And the whole time his eyes were glowing white?”

She nodded the affirmative, then let herself drop backward onto the bed. Her hair splayed out around her as she stared up into the dim light filling the small chamber. “I think he even told me not to die too soon. That it wasn't part of the plan.”

Cian sat next to her looking quite thoughtful. She could almost see him breaking apart her words and examining them, looking for some sort of clue to some mystery he alone seemed to know about or want to solve.

“Tonight, when that creature-”


“Rob attacked you, you banished him. How did you do that?”

Amaliya blinked, and then shook her head. “Did I banish him for real?”

Cian gave her a short nod. “Yes, you did.”

“I don't know. I just knew that he needed to get off me and go back to where he came from. I kinda imagined him falling into his own grave and then he just sank away into the earth. So I did that? For sure?”

“I'm pretty sure you did. The same way the Summoner's eyes glow white when he controls the dead, so did yours.”

“Can you do that?”

“No. I can't.” Cian lay down next to her. “I think that when he kept you alive using his necromancy, he may have inadvertently ended up giving you some of that power.”

“To control dead things?”


“Ugh. Do not want!” She did not want to deal with ugly zombie things like Rob ever again.

“Well, it could work to your advantage if The Summoner truly gave you a bit of his power by accident. If you can figure out how to use it, you may be able to use it against him.”

“I just don't want to deal with him,” Amaliya groused, and rolled onto her side to face Cian.

“I know, but you will have to,” Cian responded somberly.

“Your girlfriend must hate me,” she said after a beat.

“I think she hates me a little right now.” Cian rubbed his eyelids slowly. He sounded weary. “She was riling against you being here and it infuriated me because she and Roberto cannot understand my position.”

“And you're the big bad Master of the Austin, eh?”

“Well,” Cian pondered this. “Yes, I am. I shouldn't be questioned.”

“Vampire stuff kicking in, huh?” Amaliya smiled at him. “Getting all reconnected into the dark side of the force.”

“Something like that,” Cian admitted.

“Glad to be of service,” she joked, and adjusted the pillow under her head. “But honestly, Cian, I will be gone soon and they won't have to worry about me corrupting you.”

“You can't corrupt me.” Cian laughed. “I am already corrupted. You're just reminding me of that.”


“The sun will rise soon. Go back to sleep.”

Amaliya sighed and closed her eyes. She did feel weary, but she also felt anxious. If what Cian said was true, then maybe she had a few more tricks in her bag then she realized. Her eyes flashed open and she said, “Hey, can I turn into a bat?”

“We'll talk about that tomorrow.” His tone sounded amused.

Pouting slightly, she snuggled down in the covers. “Fine.”

He deliberately rolled over and put his back to her and she stared at the curve of his shoulders, then closed her eyes.

I'm not attracted to him, she whispered in her own mind. He's just not my type. Plus he's short. I like tall men.

“I'm marrying Samantha,” Cian's voice said from near her. But it did not sound so sure anymore. “I worked hard to create this life.”

“You're not my type anyway,” Amaliya said with a little laugh. “Don't worry about it.”

There was silence from his side of the bed, then he reached over and turned out the light. The darkness was strangely comforting, despite the night's events, and she pulled the heavy comforter over her as the cold air whispered over her skin.

“When I died, I lost my entire life. My wife, my children, everything. For years I mourned them and struggled to escape The Summoner and his twisted reality. Austin is where I found my freedom from him at last. I finally won his twisted game and he released me. It took a lot of time and planning to be where I am now. Samantha was just unexpected. She was so full of life and energy. She made me laugh. She made me feel human again. And when she discovered what I was, she didn't run away screaming. Samantha sees everything that is good in me.” Cian's voice was very soft, yet full of deep emotion and torment.

Amaliya reached out and touched his shoulder lightly. “That is why you should marry her.”

“I will,” he said with a slight tinge of defiance in his tone. “I will.”

Something heavy and unspoken hovered in the air between them and Amaliya felt herself struggling not to do something obscenely stupid.

“It doesn't make me stop wanting you. Doesn't make it any easier not to sink my teeth into you and feed. Or want to be in you as you drink from me,” his voice said with raw need and desire. “You remind me of everything I truly am. The parts of me I have been denying.”

She drew her hand away slowly, but he caught it.

“I'll teach you the basics of our abilities tomorrow and then you must leave.”

“Okay,” she said softly.

“Because if you don't go,” he hesitated. “If you don't go tomorrow, I may never let you go.”

Chapter Sixteen

Taking the day off was easy for Samantha. Being the boss definitely had its perks at times. It was easy for things to go terribly wrong when it came to dealing with State agencies, but luckily her small staff was pretty competent. When she called her office manager to leave a voice mail that she was taking the day off, she felt secure that the office could survive one day without her.

Crawling out of bed around ten o'clock, she had stumbled through her small 1940's house to the kitchen and poured herself some coffee. She loved automatic timers. Her cat curled around her feet, muttering about the lack of food, and she managed to pour most of the cat food into the bowl and not onto the floor. The tabby she had picked up at the Town Lake Animal Shelter did not act like it had ever been a stray. Beatrice was decidedly aristocratic in bearing and threw a disdainful look at the few bits of kibble on the floor.

“Fine.” Samantha picked up the bits of food and almost tossed them in the bowl, but didn't want to upset her Feline Majesty, so she threw them away.

She had never needed much sleep before meeting Cian, so usually their late nights did not really affect her, but last night had drained her. The bright sunshine pouring through the trees that towered over her small house filled it with dappled light and shadow. Opening the refrigerator, she pulled out cold Pesto A Go Go pizza from Austin Pizza and began to eat. Breakfast was so overrated.

She had snagged as many of Austin's free publications as she could last night at the Magnolia Cafe after she had left Cian's. She had felt upset and wanted queso. Sitting in a corner table, feeling like a jilted girlfriend, she had gone through all the announcements and ads she could find, looking desperately for someone who could help her. She had considered the Catholic church, but as someone raised Southern Baptist, she was slightly suspicious of their methods.

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