Home > Dark Sentinel (Dark #28)(16)

Dark Sentinel (Dark #28)(16)
Author: Christine Feehan

“It was necessary.”

You? You risked my lifemate? Do you know what she’s suffered?

“He didn’t.” Ferro was there, looking as dangerous as ever. Like Sandu, he was pale, although not quite as much. He nodded to Sandu. “Go feed. If necessary take animal blood. The others should join us by tomorrow night. They are on the way.” His strangely colored eyes bored into Andor, making him uncomfortable. “We have been unable to wake you for several risings.”

Several risings? He glanced again toward Lorraine’s sleeping figure. She’d been alone with his brethren and Gary for several risings. She looked exhausted. Had they been giving her their blood? Taking hers? He had to get up, get his strength back. Heal.

Andor politely closed the wound on Sandu’s wrist before letting go. He started to sit and instantly realized it was impossible. Most of his body was covered in soil. More, he was far too weak. He glared at Ferro.

“You had no right to risk her.”

Ferro shrugged. “She asked if there was another way when the healer returned and made it clear you were lost to us. There was another way, and she wanted to try it. We fortified her as best we could. She was brave and would have made a great warrior. Do not take that from her, Andor.”

“She lost her entire family. She was committing some form of suicide.”

“She was not. Do you think any of us, Sandu, Gary or I, would have allowed such a thing? She thought only of you when she made her decision. I took a vow and I will keep it. She was safe. We bound our souls to hers as well. Sandu and I, at your request, made certain your woman was safe. We would have pulled her free of that land.”

“She doesn’t know what the two of you did,” he guessed.

Ferro shook his head. “We had little time. She needed to learn the language.”

“That is how she could speak Carpathian so fluently and perfectly.”

“Yes. She had to understand, and she had to be able to appeal to what you would most understand.”

The fact that Ferro and Sandu had bound their souls as well to Lorraine was both touching and shocking. Warriors, especially ancient ones, would never, under any circumstances, bind themselves to another Carpathian male’s woman. In doing so, they, too, had risked their lives when she had traveled to the nether world to retrieve him.

“Why?” He didn’t understand. “I have lived my lifetime. Far more than my lifetime.”

“She has not,” Ferro said simply. “It is possible that we might find our lifemates in this century, but you did find her. She is a good, worthy mate. She deserves happiness, and she hasn’t had that in a while. We might never have the chance to achieve that for our women, but we could for yours, and you are ekäm—my brother.”

There was a sincerity in Ferro’s voice that humbled Andor. Ferro had rarely spoken to any of them, but he’d seemed different these last few weeks, more willing to communicate. The modern world was changing them all in some subtle way. Andor hoped it meant that all of the brethren would have more time to search for their lifemates so that they would have a better chance to find them, rather than locking themselves away as too dangerous for society.

“Ekäm.” They clasped forearms in the age-old greeting of warriors as Andor made his reply. Ferro had been his brother for over two hundred years.

“You did not bind her to you,” Ferro said. “Why?”

“I was too weak, but also, I knew the chances of me surviving were very slim. I did not want her to live a half-life here on earth. She is human. If she remained human without ties to me, she could eventually find another to go through life with.” The thought didn’t sit well, but he knew he didn’t want his woman to be alone, pining for a man she’d never had until the day she died. “I would not be a true lifemate if I had not looked out for her.”

Ferro nodded. “That is true, although it would have been easier to retrieve you.” His gaze moved slowly over his brethren. “You are pretty torn up. Did you know any of them?”

Andor shook his head. He was exhausted. He knew he had been given ancient blood and the healer must have worked on him, but the truth was, he didn’t feel much better than he had when Lorraine had buried his body in the hope that he would be alive when the others came. Ferro had said they had been fighting for him for several risings. He had assumed that meant he had been back in the land of the living for those risings. If he hadn’t … He glanced again at Lorraine.

“Did she hold me to this earth while all of you slept?” Because if they hadn’t rescued him in a single rising, he would have slipped back no matter how much headway the healer had made in bringing him back from the other world.

“She did,” Ferro answered. “She is worthy of you, Andor.”

He was astounded. She was human and not tied to him. How had she managed such a feat? “The question might be, am I worthy of her?”

“I believe you are.” Ferro turned his head and looked out into the night. His features had changed subtly. He looked more dangerous than ever. “We cannot stay here much longer.”

Realization came to Andor. “The vampires are continuing their attacks.”

Ferro nodded. “We have fought off three attacks, but our fear is they will send puppets during the day against Lorraine.”

“Bury me deep with safeguards and take her back to the Asenguard compound where she will be safe. They will think I have been taken with you.”

Ferro shook his head. “She will not leave you.”

“That does not sound like you. You would force your woman to go to safety.”

“Perhaps persuade is a much nicer way of putting it, but yes, she would go. I am a different man and my lifemate would be a different woman.”

Lorraine sat up, her chestnut hair tumbling madly in every direction. Andor watched it fall around her shoulders and settle down her back. Somehow, the silky strands were as shiny as ever. Her skin was very pale but looked as soft as ever. Those large green eyes of hers moved over his face, anxiety in them. She smiled at him as she came up on her knees beside him. “You’re awake. Oh my God, I can’t believe you’re awake.” Her gaze shifted to Ferro, moved over him, taking in every detail. “You’re healed again this evening. It’s such a miracle how you do that. I was worried when you went to ground.”

Ferro shrugged his axe-handle-wide shoulders. “There is no need to worry. I will heal or I will not. Worrying does not change the outcome.”

She rolled her eyes and then looked back at Andor. “I’m so glad you’re awake.”

“We are going to have to have many discussions about what is acceptable and what is not,” Andor said, his voice as stern as he could make it while he feasted his eyes on her. She was beautiful to him, glowing from the inside out. He knew her outer shell would be considered attractive by humans, but that mattered little to him. It was what was inside her that counted, that and the fact that she was his other half. She was his. He belonged to her.

“Yes, I couldn’t agree more,” she fired back. “Because getting yourself torn up like this is entirely unacceptable and not very wise. Whatever reasons you have for having no regard for your well-being aren’t good enough.”

“I will leave you two to your reunion. Andor, I caution you, do not try to move or come out from under the soil. The healer has worked every night with one of us as well. Until the others arrive, we cannot risk more damage.” Ferro stood, facing outward. “Stay in camp close to them and be prepared. The enemy is close.”

“How close are the brethren?” Andor asked.

“They come,” Ferro said. “They do not give away their positions.” He turned and strode away.

“He is amazing,” Lorraine said. “I don’t think he ever gets tired. He’s like a machine. Sandu and Gary are as well.” She reached out and brushed his hair from his face. “You really scared me, Andor.”

“You know that if the healer had been unable to retrieve me from the other world, you would have died as well. By binding yourself to me and following me to that other place, you risked everything.”

“So did they.”

“They are not you.”

“Andor, would you have gone after me?” She settled back on her heels.

He wanted her hands back on him. In his hair, on his jaw, just touching him. He needed that touch. “Of course. I am your lifemate.”

“Exactly.”

“You have no idea what that means. You were not searching for centuries for me. I deliberately did not bind us with the ritual words so if I died, you could continue on.”

Her smile was slow in coming but when it came, his heart clenched—it was so beautiful. “Perhaps you did bind us, you just didn’t know it, because when your brothers couldn’t find you in that cold, dark place, I did.”

He couldn’t reprimand her anymore. He was too proud of her. “Thank you, sívamet. I would have been lost without you.”

“It was a joint effort.” She brushed her hand down his face, her touch lingering. “Being locked in your mind, it’s amazing how much one learns. I think those few nights were a lifetime of learning, maybe several lifetimes.”

“You have the advantage. I was unconscious.”

“I think you were a little more than unconscious. You really scared me,” she reiterated. “You can’t do that again. What were you thinking, taking on seven of them? Two were considered master vampires, at least that is what Sandu told me.”

“He should not have.”

“If you were feeling better, I might kick you. I don’t have girlie kicks, either, Andor. When I kick you, you’re going to know I did, so refrain from ever treating me like an idiot. Of course, I have to know the difference between a master vampire, a lesser one and a pawn. I’m going to be living in your world. That means I’m going to encounter them, and if we have children, they will encounter them. My sons will need to learn to fight, but so will my daughters. I don’t believe in being helpless. I shoot. I can use a knife. I have practiced with a flamethrower and I’m deadly accurate. The others have helped me learn the things I need to know and I’ve found your mind, which is filled with battle tactics, extremely helpful.”

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