Read Dark Curse Online

Authors: Christine Feehan

Tags: #Fiction, #Paranormal, #Horror, #Vampires, #Love Stories, #Occult & Supernatural, #Occult fiction, #Fantasy, #Romance

Dark Curse (9 page)

BOOK: Dark Curse
2.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Lara took Nicolas's outstretched hand and allowed him to pull her to her feet. "I'm fine, thank you. I hope no one was hurt."

"If I were hurt, I'd get a new second." Mikhail grinned at her. "Don't let him intimidate you. He practices that look every evening down by the lake."

Before she could stop herself, her gaze traveled to Gregori. His silver eyes made her queasy, but she forced herself to look at him. "I'm not intimidated, but I am sorry. I didn't mean to hurt anyone."

"No one was hurt, little sister," Gregori said, keeping his gaze on Terry. "If we are going to help your friend, we have to hurry."

Lara's heart leapt. She had all but forgotten Terry and Gerald, who were witnessing her bizarre behavior as well as her abilities to use energy. She shouldn't have worried. Neither seemed to be paying attention. One of the three Carpathian males had blocked their senses and gave them false memories of what had happened.

She was very ashamed of her behavior in front of these men. She hadn't even taken care of her friends. Squaring her shoulders, she took a step toward the bed. The presence of the parasites had opened the floodgates of her childhood memories, none of which were pleasant.

"Guard the door," Nicolas ordered, once more putting his solid mass between her and the bed. "We do not want the innkeeper or her husband to come into the room. It is too dangerous."

She tried not to look relieved, nodding her head and stepping back to allow them room. She leaned one hip against the door and watched the healer at work. She had never witnessed a master healer performing his arts before and was fascinated by the complete concentration and efficiency he used. He shed his body without hesitation, leaving only pure healing energy in his wake.

Mikhail lit candles and the aromatic scents filled the air, aiding in the healing process. Gregori left his own body and entered Terry's, working to drive out the quickly multiplying hordes of parasites working to consume the young man's body.

It was amazing to watch the seemingly endless energy being sucked out of Gregori, draining him of all strength, even with the other two Carpathian males working with him. His face turned gray. He swayed with weariness and time passed with infinite slowness.

Outside the window, snow began to fall, first a few flakes, and then at a much steadier pace. The inn grew quiet as patrons went to bed. Gerald shifted position often, but stayed, holding Terry's shoulders and talking soothingly to him. Terry ceased moaning after an hour and by the second hour he was resting far more comfortably.

Gregori came back into his own body, staggering, sitting on the floor abruptly, pale and drawn. He shook his head.
The parasites are multiplying as fast as I am destroying them. I am uncertain whether I can reduce the numbers fast enough to eventually get rid of them

Mikhail casually tore at his wrist with his teeth and extended his arm. Lara's gaze was immediately riveted on Gregori's mouth as he placed it over the wound. Her stomach knotted. Thunder crashed in her ears.

I will work with you
, Nicolas volunteered.

As will I
, the prince added.

! Both Carpathian males reacted violently.

You cannot, Mikhail
, Gregori said.
We cannot chance the tainted blood anywhere near you. The parasites sense your presence as it is. They swarm to whatever side is closest to you in the hopes of contaminating you

We will need your blood to aid us
, Nicolas added with a flick of his dark gaze toward Gregori.

Gregori sighed as he allowed Nicolas to pull him to his feet.
He is not a baby, Nicolas. He's a grown man who knows the Carpathian people cannot exist without him. If he is destroyed, our species will die out. As much as we want to believe someone else could take your place, Mikhail, you, as well as our enemies, know it is not true

Not necessarily
, Mikhail objected.
Savannah carries my bloodline and she is carrying twins. Raven carries my son, although she is having problems again

We cannot take chances. Lucian, Gabriel or Darius can easily take my place as your second, but there is no other male to fulfill your position
. There was an edge to Gregori's voice.

It was evident to Lara that they had had this discussion many times. She found the conversation very interesting and it helped to take her mind off the ragged tear in Mikhail's wrist. He had swept his tongue across the wound, but she could still see teeth marks and faint smears of blood. Her stomach lurched and bile rose. Her body temperature dropped abruptly.

There is my brother, Jacques
. Mikhail's voice had grown quiet, matching that edge to Gregori's voice.

Who still does not trust his mind without that of his lifemate. There can be no risk to you, Mikhail
. Gregori flicked him a glare.
Do not give me grief over this again, Pops

Mikhail choked and took a step toward his second who just happened to be his daughters lifemate. Terry's face twisted into sudden malevolence and he flung himself at the prince, growling, spittle running down his chin. Gerald seized his shoulders in an effort to restrain him, but Terry was amazingly strong for someone so injured, fighting free and leaping with outstretched hands, already curved into claws at Mikhail's eyes.

Nicolas waved his hand at exactly the same moment Gregori did. Lara whispered a shielding spell, her hands weaving a complicated pattern. Terry slammed into an invisible barrier. Teeth rattling, eyes spinning in his head, he rammed his skull over and over into the shield protecting the prince.

Gerald staggered across the bed, trying to control him, but Terry punched at his face, still growling like a rabid animal. Gerald fell back across the bed and Terry resumed head-butting the invisible wall to get at the prince.

Lara reached for Terry's mind in an attempt to calm him. She touched his mind gently, in reassurance. At once a boiling ball of parasites reacted to her presence, twisting and thrashing in a frenzy of venomous need. One moment she was in Terry's head, the next she found herself thrown out, a hard male shove sending her careening out of Terry's brain.

She spun around to glare at Nicolas. She was beginning to recognize his touch. He didn't spare her a glance, his entire attention on controlling Terry. She glanced over at Gregori. The healer actually had Mikhail pressed against the wall, but the concentration on his face indicated he was with Nicolas, restraining Terry.

Terry lay back on the bed, eyes unfocused, but his body calm, no longer fighting. Lara let her breath out slowly. Gregori motioned to Mikhail to leave and Mikhail flicked one look at him. He wasn't going anywhere and it was evident on his face—in his eyes.

"Get to work," Mikhail ordered.

Gregori shrugged his broad shoulders and once more, using pure healing energy, entered Terry's body.

"What's going on?" Gerald asked, scrambling off the bed and moving around the Carpathian healer toward Lara.

Nicolas glided, cutting off Gerald's route. "You have blood all over your shirt. You should go take a shower."

"He's right, Gerald," Lara agreed. "It isn't safe. Burn your clothes. Anything you were wearing today."

Gerald halted, glanced at Terry, yanked the door open and hurried out to his room across the hall.

Lara leaned one hip against the wall and watched as Nicolas joined Gregori, the two of them working furiously, in tandem, to save Terry's life. And it was a struggle for his life—for his soul. The parasites were desperate to take him over, to possess his body and mind and turn him to their master's bidding.

The men worked nonstop, and time slipped away. Both grew paler until they were nearly gray in color and eventually sank onto the bed beside Terry. Mikhail once again calmly tore at his wrist and pressed his offering to Nicolas.

She tried not to look at the bright red blood. She tried not to see Nicolas holding the prince's arm, his fingers gripping as the life force flowed from Mikhail into him, yet she was mesmerized and couldn't look away.

Her wrist burned. Her lungs burned. She shivered, her body cold no matter how much she tried to restore and equalize her body's temperature. The walls around her curved and took on a bluish tinge. She sucked in her breath, trying to focus on the wall above the prince, but her gaze—and mind—were continually pulled back to the sight of the blood where it trickled down on his arm, smeared a little on Nicolas's fingers and dripped to the floor.

Her stomach lurched. Desperate, she locked on to Terry's face. That, too, was a mistake. She imagined the parasites swarming through his bloodstream to his every organ, launching a massive attack, fighting the healer and Nicolas for possession of him.

Sweat beaded on her forehead. Terry's face wavered, his boyish features changing, morphing until he was undeniably handsome, with blazing turquoise eyes and midnight black hair spilling across his forehead. The hair streaked with waves of silver. The eyes opened and locked with hers.

Her breath caught in her lungs. Agony there. Awareness. Impotent fury. Fear. So much fear the room filled with it. The walls bulged outward, unable to contain such terror.

Run. Run, Lara. Hide
. She heard the sob in his voice, the overwhelming horror.

Nicolas found himself shivering with cold in an ice chamber. Chained to a wall, arms and chest burning from links coated with acidic vampire blood, Razvan fought to maintain possession of his own soul. Agony lived in his eyes and his black hair banded with platinum.

. The voice whispered with love. With fear. With despair.
Baby. Run. He is coming and I cannot protect you

Nicolas felt terror rising, choking him. He swung his head to peer into the corner. The female child was older this time. Maybe four or five. She huddled against the wall, trembling, tears running down her face, her heart beating so loudly he could hear it above his own steady rhythm.

Dragging footsteps came from behind. Nicolas turned and saw a hideous creature, part skeleton, part man coming toward them. Skin hung in places yet was drawn tight in others. All flesh was decayed and rotting. A few long strands of gray hair tufted from his bald head. A straggly beard hung to his chest, but vermin crawled in and out of the dank hair, moving continually. His nails were yellow and long, curving back on his gnarled hands. Rotted, black teeth flashed in a macabre, evil smirk. His eyes were alive in what was left of his face, a slashing light of glowing, silvery madness.

Fear escalated until Nicolas's own heartbeat began to change, hammering hard in anticipation. His lungs burned for air.

! Mikhail's voice became a sharp command, demanding he return to the present.
Peace, little sister. You are safe
, the prince added, attempting to calm Lara.

Nicolas knew only one way of keeping Lara from her nightmarish memories, the flashbacks recurring with even sharper images in the confines of the room. He caught her up in strong arms, thrust his mind fully into hers, taking complete command. Dragonseeker ran strong in her veins and she certainly was capable of shifting with his help. He dissolved them both and took her out of the room, out of the inn and into the fresh clean air of the night.

Chapter 4

Lara stood in the center of a very warm chamber, deep beneath the earth. Water rushed from the walls of the cave into a deep, steaming pool. Sconces on the walls spilled light from scented, flickering candles, throwing shadows on the crystal walls. The breath left her lungs in a little rush and she spun around in a circle, fingers curling around the hilt of her knife in her belt at her side.

She moistened her lips and turned to confront Nicolas. "Exactly where am I and how did I get here?"

"Before you get all crazy on me and throw that knife you have in your hand," Nicolas drawled, "you are not a prisoner. I left a path in your mind so you can find your way out anytime you need or want to go. This is the safest and most peaceful place I know of. Safeguards are in place for your protection. There is a bed in the next chamber where you can rest."

She searched her memories and found the way out, carefully placed as if she'd actually entered the cave a thousand times and knew every chamber and hallway. "I have a room at the inn." She didn't relax her grip on the knife.

"It is occupied with several men at the moment. I thought perhaps you would enjoy this retreat a little more."

His black hair spilled across his forehead, drawing attention to his very black, eyes. The urge to sweep the silky strands aside was so strong she took a step away from him to keep from reaching out.

"That doesn't explain how I got here or why you didn't consult me."

He shrugged powerful shoulders, causing an intriguing and very sexy rippling effect under his shirt. She tried not to stare.

"I carried you here. We shifted into mist so we could travel undetected and much faster."

BOOK: Dark Curse
2.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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