Home > Dark Sentinel (Dark #28)(8)

Dark Sentinel (Dark #28)(8)
Author: Christine Feehan

He sent her a small smile. “You’re indulging me.”

She turned on her side and propped her head up with one hand. “Yes. I figure if you’re right, and the soil helps, it’s all to the good. If you’re wrong and you get some raging infection, at least I granted your last wish before you died.”

“I have decided I want to live.”

“The great debate you had going earlier. It didn’t make sense until I saw all those wounds on your body. You really were in a battle before the three stooges showed up.”

He picked up from her mind that the reference to “three stooges” was from a long-ago television show. Her natural shields were lowered because she’d started to grow comfortable with him. He knew he would have to work on that with her. They could never take the chance that a vampire nearby might read her thoughts, or creep into her mind.

“I was in a battle. I know I look like I didn’t do very well against them, but in my defense, there were several of them. I managed to defeat them, and while I was trying to heal the wounds, the band of assassins showed up.” There was just the slightest bit of ego in telling her the truth. He didn’t want her to think her lifemate couldn’t take care of her.

“I wondered how they managed to sneak up on you and do so much damage.”

“To heal a body, one has to shed their own body and become pure spirit. I didn’t have anyone guarding the empty shell I left behind. That gave them their opportunity.”

Her eyes widened. “Could you do that now? I could guard you. I wouldn’t let anything happen to you.” Her tone was skeptical but hopeful.

He nearly groaned. He wasn’t making a good showing as a potential husband or mate. “I’m too weak.”

“I’ll give you more blood.”

It was a generous offer considering she didn’t like anything to do with blood and she would have to remove the shields completely from her mind as she’d done before. “Thank you, sívamet. I appreciate your offer and certainly will take you up on it later, but at the moment, I wish to hear your voice. It soothes me and keeps the pain at bay.”

“What is sívamet? You call me that often. What language is it?”

“I’m from the Carpathian Mountains and sívamet is a word used in my world for a woman a man …” He had to be cautious. “Cares for,” he settled on. He couldn’t very well call her “his heart” when she had no understanding of their connection. “I do not know how to give you an exact translation that would make sense to you.”

“But it’s a good thing?”

“Yes, Lorraine. A very good thing. You think I was debating whether or not to end my life because I was wounded and in pain, but that wasn’t the reason. I had given up all hope of finding the woman meant for me. I was no longer certain I could endure loneliness without her.”

She frowned. His heart clenched hard in his chest. He had never thought in terms of cute or adorable. They were silly words humans came up with to describe children. Lorraine was not a child by any means. Nothing about her suggested a child, yet that frown, to him, was adorable. There was no other word for it.

He was fascinated by every expression that crossed her face. Every thought she had in her head. He wanted to know every single thing about her life before he was with her. More than anything, he wanted to comfort her and take away the pain he felt radiating from her every second she breathed. He was ashamed that he had considered ending his life, even for a moment. Had he done so, had he allowed the humans to succeed in killing him, she would have suffered alone.

“Andor, you don’t give up on life over a broken love affair.”

He could tell she wanted to say a lot more but had carefully chosen her words not to offend him. He couldn’t stop himself from reaching out and catching the thick strands of chestnut-colored hair between his fingers. It felt as silky as it looked. As soft. “So beautiful.” He murmured the words aloud. He thought them in his head. Tucked them somewhere close. Her hair was beautiful, but so was her soul. That half that she unknowingly held for him, it was beautiful as well. So much light in so small a package.

“Andor? This is important.”

So was feeling the silk of her hair and admiring the color. He hadn’t done such things in centuries. They were simple to her, but to him such things were miracles. “I’m listening, but you got it wrong, mica, I was looking for my woman. I hadn’t found her, and I was giving up. You’re absolutely right, though, I should never have even thought of giving up.” He was passing that advice on to his brethren. They needed to know their women would come to them in their darkest hour, or at the most unexpected time.

Relief softened the glint of temper in her eyes. He liked that fire in her. She would need it, dealing with their life together. She might want to stamp it out, but he knew sometimes the flare of heat, directed in the right way, could win battles.

“Tell me about your life, Andor.”

He had known that question had been coming and didn’t want to lie to her. He didn’t want to scare her off, either. “My people are few and scattered. Most live in the Carpathian Mountains, but a few live here in the United States. I was scouting for any threats when I ran across the ones I …” He searched for a benign word, but couldn’t find one. He sighed. “Hunted. I was hunting for the enemy. I didn’t expect so many and that is how I was wounded so severely.”

She was silent for so long he wasn’t certain she was going to speak. Her eyes stayed glued to his. She didn’t look away, nor did she look as if she didn’t believe him. “You don’t believe in the police.” There was no sarcasm in her eventual comment, merely a statement of fact.

He couldn’t stop himself from playing with her hair, running it through his fingers and bringing it occasionally to his face so he could inhale her scent. She was out in the wilderness camping and she still smelled feminine and good enough to devour. He tried to figure out the scents. Grapefruit for certain. Something else. It was faint. Elusive. A little wild.

“No. We have to handle things ourselves.”

“When you said you cleaned up the battlefield, did that mean you buried the bodies?”

Her eyes were steady on his, but he felt her holding her breath. There was that first touch of fear in her.

“Sívamet, I am no murderer. There are things you need to know, things that will frighten you. I will open my mind so you can see for yourself and then, once you have, I’ll answer your questions.” It was a gamble. A huge one. He couldn’t stop her if she chose to run. If he survived, he would go after her, and he’d tie them together so she couldn’t run from him. He had no doubt that he would be able to win her over. She was his true lifemate, and no one else would do for her any more than another woman would do for him.

“Tell me about your tattoos. They’re very unusual. I saw them when you rolled into the depression of soil I dug out. They drift up your neck and over your shoulders.” She touched one of the rigid scars just behind his shoulder.

Andor just offered to open his mind to her and she hadn’t responded. He refused to cheat and touch her mind or influence her in any way. If she wanted to move to a different topic in order to have time to think about it, he would happily give her that. Talking to her distracted him from the pain. He needed her blood to find the strength to set safeguards around them. The vampires he had defeated had to have sent word to their masters and it would be common knowledge by now that he had been wounded. They would send others to kill him.

We are on our way to you, Andor. Ferro travels with me.

Andor’s heart leapt and then settled. The voice in his mind, on that path the brethren had forged, was still a good distance away, but they had heard his call. Sandu and Ferro were monks and had passed two centuries in the monastery with him.

Ferro was considered the most dangerous of all of them. He had lost his family early and with that, his emotions. He was an efficient killing machine and would be nearly unstoppable as a vampire. He had hesitated leaving the monastery, determined to keep his honor, but the lure of a lifemate was too strong for any of them to resist.

That hope given to them had been a lifeline to desperate men. Their lives had loomed in front of them endlessly and this last hope had been grasped at, even if it might not have been the wisest choice for all of them. Yet, he had found Lorraine. Even Ferro had the chance of finding his lifemate—he just needed to be watched very, very closely.

I am not alone, Sandu. My wounds are very severe. I am safe for the moment and with me is my lifemate. She is unaware of the fact that she belongs with me, nor can I bind her to me.

There was a moment of silence while Sandu digested that and what it meant. Your injuries are mortal?

Yes. Several of them. I will take her blood and set safeguards, but I cannot go to ground. I am partially immersed in the soil, and my wounds are packed with it, but I will not survive another rising. Once I shut down my heart and lungs, she will think I am lost to her and she might leave my body to call for officials to come. If she does that …

We are making our way toward you. We will push it as long as we can before we go to ground and rise as early as possible. I have sent word for Gary to come. He is the strongest healer we have available to us. He is a distance away as well, but says he has already started toward you.

Andor didn’t know what to think about that. Gary Daratrazanoff was unknown to him. The prince had sent him to be Tariq Asenguard’s second-in-command. He was a Daratrazanoff, a member of one of the ancient lines of guardians and healers. Andor had no choice. He knew it would take not only Gary, but also his two fellow monks to save him.

I ask that you watch over my woman. He sent the image of Lorraine to Sandu and Ferro.

She will be safe. Sandu made his promise.

Their word was their honor. Sandu wouldn’t fail him.

She will be safe.

Andor closed his eyes briefly. Ferro giving his word was extraordinary. As a rule, the man didn’t speak. When he did, it was to issue an order, and even that was extremely rare. It was a relief to know that he’d given his word to protect Lorraine. Ferro, like Sandu, would never go back on that word, which meant, no matter how close Ferro was to darkness, how much that stain had spread through him, as long as Lorraine lived, so would Ferro and he would hold to his honor.

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