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Home > Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Immortals After Dark #9)(15)

Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Immortals After Dark #9)(15)
Author: Kresley Cole

Lucia drilled her knuckle into Regin's upper arm. "Take it back."

"Yow!"

"How many times do I have to tell you? I'm not his mate! Full moon - no MacRieve. Case closed." To her everlasting confusion, he hadn't come for her the night it'd been full. Legend held that nothing could stop a male Lykae from reaching his mate on that night.

Lucia had been so sure she was his. Now she didn't know what to think.

Of course, she'd been pleased to confirm that she wasn't. Who would want a hulking male like that, one with a face that fell away, revealing a beast?

Yet, strangely, seeing him at his worst during the vampire attack hadn't been as bad as she'd imagined it. He'd been brutal and unsettling, but the terror she'd felt that night had ebbed - because once she got past her memories of Cruach, she saw how different MacRieve was from the Broken Bloody One.

That didn't mean she liked MacRieve's beast or anything; it just reminded her that nothing could be as bad as Cruach.

"Wait!" Nïx suddenly blurted. "Is anyone else seeing a pattern here?"

They all stared blankly at her.

She tilted her head. "Yeah, me neither." Then she grew enthralled with her palm. Nïx, crazy as ever.

Still rubbing her arm, Regin asked, "If you're not MacRieve's mate, then why does he keep following you?"

"I don't know," she lied. MacRieve had clearly ground out the words protect you. And she suspected he had been doing just that.

Just last night in the city, as she'd hunted back alleys for kobolds, an animus demon had been hunting her. Right when she'd been about to confront the colossal male, she heard a thud behind her. She'd whirled around and had seen the demon on the ground. Or at least his legs. The rest of his body had been concealed behind a building, but only for a split second, before he'd been yanked back out of her sight....

Annika hastened by then, with her blond brows drawn together, checking all the logistics of her trap, as meticulous as ever. Though she could motivate people and was a legendary strategist, she was never supposed to be leader of their coven - the missing Valkyrie queen Furie was.

Once Annika had buzzed past them, Regin said, "Things are getting intense around here, eh, Luce? With the vemon attacks - "

"Dempire," Nïx corrected, glancing up from her palm. "Demon vampire equals dempire, not vemon."

Regin shook her head hard. "Which sounds so lame. Say it in a sentence, Nïx. 'I got my ass kicked by a dempire.' Forget it! Vampire demon. Ve - mon."

"You're taking this stance just to be contrary," Nïx sniffed.

In truth, things were getting intense. The Valkyrie were on red alert. They'd hired the Wraiths, the Ancient Scourge, to protect Val Hall. That measure was drastic, but the vampire demon had shaken them.

Vemons were supposed to be truly mythical. The one they'd faced had been nearly invincible, which made them wonder how a creature like that had come to be - and how many more of them existed. They'd known Ivo was up to something nefarious.

"And now the long-lost werewolf king is in play as well," Regin said, tossing up her dagger.

Lucia herself had spoken to Lachlain, the werewolf king. That long-distance call had been so surreal, for more than one reason. She'd been standing in a room full of Valkyrie, and neither they, nor Lachlain, had any idea she'd been with his brother mere days ago, occupied with - oh, how had Garreth put it?  - riding his crotch like a wanton as she sucked his tongue.

As the "reasonable" one in the coven, Lucia had entreated Lachlain to release Emma. He'd refused. She'd asked him to be gentle with her. He hadn't sounded capable of gentle.

At least he hadn't seemed to want to hurt Emma - and he had protected her from a vampire search party, killing the three who'd come for her.

Annika's own attempts to further negotiate with Lachlain had ended with his roared "She's mine!" and Annika's chilling vow to go hunting for "Celts' pelts."

Afterward, everyone in the coven had voiced disgust for the Lykae, calling them dogs, animals, or worse, subhuman. Making Lucia's guilt mount. Aside from her own personal reasons, she simply had no business being with a Lykae.

Regin leaned in. "Luce, what's really going on with you?"

"I just think this is a bad idea." She plucked her bowstring faster.

"He's an animal. One hunt among many."

But that "animal" had used his unimaginable strength and ferocity to save their lives. Another example of how different he was from Cruach.

Lowering her voice, Regin said, "We keep secrets from everyone else - not from each other. I know you're holding back from me. Haven't I proved that I'm a vault where your secrets are concerned?"

Guilt flared. "Yes, always." This was too true, and besides, could anything be as shameful as Cruach? "Look, in a moment of temporary insanity, I might have... MacRieve and I" - she paused, then added in a rush - "we might have fooled around a little."

Regin's glowing skin paled. "What?"

Remaining away from Lucia had taken everything in Garreth. He needed to ease her pain from the night of the vampire attack, was frenzied to slaughter more of their kind for her.

Never had he seen a being in agony like his mate after she'd missed a shot. When he'd stormed into Val Hall, she'd been curled on the floor, writhing with her fingers knotted.

Gazing up at me in horror. He was desperate to erase that image of himself, to remind her how he normally looked. But the Instinct warned him to take it slowly with her.  - She will run. Be cautious.  -

So he'd been shadowing her, camping in the bayou near Val Hall. As long as Ivo, Lothaire, and that demon vampire remained at large, still looking for a specific Valkyrie, Garreth refused to leave the area, not even to return to the Lykae compound.

Leaving behind his kinsmen hadn't been as disagreeable as he'd thought - especially not those Lykae who'd found their mates within the clan. They had it so easy, were nauseatingly content. How I envy them.

But Garreth could still safeguard his own mate. He hadn't been able to spare the rest of his loved ones from the Horde - but he'd be damned before they hurt his woman. Whether Lucia wanted it or not, he'd watched over her every second he could. Except for the night of the full moon.

When he'd made other arrangements.

Not that she needed protection within her home. The disquieting manor house at Val Hall had just grown more so. After the vampire attack, the Valkyrie had called upon the Wraiths, the Ancient Scourge, to protect them. Red-robed skeletal females flew in a circle around Val Hall, their guard impenetrable. Each time a Valkyrie exited or entered, she lopped off a lock of her hair, handing it to the Wraiths - as if in payment. The creatures would then cackle with glee over the token.

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