Authors: Laura Wright
As several others in cages around them began to shift and murmur, Juliet turned her body, so she was on her stomach, gripping the bars. “I thought I was dead, Syn,” she cried out. “I thought he’d killed me. Until I woke up here. In this cage.”
The anger raging inside Syn churned dangerous and hot, but he wouldn’t let her see that. “I’m here now, love. It’s all over. No one will hurt you again.”
“He doesn’t want to hurt me,” she cried. “He wants to mate me.”
Syn’s fingers tightened around the bars. “What?”
“I never told you. I never told anyone—didn’t want anyone to know. My father was a Breeding Male.” She shook her head, her eyes the saddest he’d ever seen them. “I didn’t know, but I have the gene, this rare gene that gives me all the same powers, same hellish needs as a Breeding Male.”
“A Breeding Female,” Synjon uttered.
Tears welled in her eyes. “Cruen took me, made it look like my death, only to grant me this…life. Lying beneath the Breeding Male—he wants to create a master race of vampires.”
Synjon could barely contain the fury that raged inside him. The one thing he knew was that Cruen would be creating nothing but his own funeral.
Juliet started to cry again.
“Please, Jules. No.” He didn’t give a shite, not for any of it. They could sort it out later, make sense of it later—when he took her from this miserable place. “I have you back. That’s all that matters.”
“I’ve thought about you,” she uttered, a shudder of pain rippling through her, and she gasped.
“I’ve thought about us,” she whispered, “every moment I’ve been here.”
His jaw was so bloody tight it might crack in two. “I’ll get you out of here, Jules.”
“Syn, please…” she begged as another wave of whatever it was moved through her.
He pounded the bars. “I swear it.”
“You swear it?”
Syn tensed at the words, at the voice, instinctively reaching for his weapon. Wasn’t there. Wasn’t goddamn there.
“That’s an ambitious statement from someone surrounded by iron bars.” Cruen stood in the laboratory doorway. He still wore his Order robes, still had the black circle around his left eye, still sported a pair of red fangs, but the rest of him—his skin, his eyes, his movement—had aged a hundred years at least. He walked to within a foot of Synjon’s cage and sneered. “Synjon Wise. I always thought you were overprized by the Order. A second-rate spy, at best.” He turned and glanced at Juliet, his smile brightening. “That is, until I realized what you truly possessed.
Feral rage suffused Syn’s tone. “My
will be allowed to walk free.”
Cruen’s eyebrows lifted. “Which
are we talking about? The one in the cage here who will never have a true mate, or the one who is hiding out with Lucian Roman?” He stepped closer to Juliet and grinned. “You know the one I mean, Synjon—the
you pretended was your true mate, gave your vow to in a Veracou ceremony not long ago.”
A gasp escaped the confines of Juliet’s cell, and Syn’s gaze locked on to his love—his one and only love. His soul died at what he saw. Pure misery deadened her orbs, and she dropped her head and cried.
Gripping both sides of the metal bars, Synjon growled at Cruen, who merely clucked his tongue and said with deep, deceptive sympathy, “She didn’t know, then. She didn’t know that you betrayed her, betrayed your love—that you found another’s legs to lie between.”
“Fuck you,” Syn snarled, knowing this mad vampire before him was going to die so slow and painfully he’d beg for the blade across his throat.
Cruen turned to Juliet and spoke softly. “News like this is difficult at first, my dear, but you will feel better when the Breeding Male is here, when he holds you in his arms and takes you as only a Breeding Male can—deliciously rough. Or so I am told.”
Synjon growled, slammed against the bars of the cage. “I will remove every organ from your body with a toothpick. Everything but the voice box.” He ground his molars. “I want to hear your screams, Cruen. For hours, days.”
Cruen laughed. “The only one who will be screaming will be this lovely one, this beautiful rare creature—this Breeding Female. And it will be screams of pleasure.” He cocked his head and smiled at Syn. “But I’ll tell you what, Mr. Wise—how about I let you watch?”
Maybe he was the one who deserved the slow death, Synjon thought wildly, slamming his body against the bars over and over to no avail. He was the one who had lived in a riotous sea of his own making, a sea of anger and bitterness, while the love of his heart—this innocent one—had existed in a cage, her fear taken only by the sick, twisted, crushing shock waves of an unending arousal.
As day slipped away and gave in to the cool comfort of evening, Bronwyn cuddled deeper into the strong arms of her lover, pretending that life outside their cottage didn’t exist. But the sounds of the birds landing on branches and rocks near the slowly melting loch snaked their way through the open window, defying
her daydreams. Life was happening all around them, and soon they would have to face it. Soon they would have to make decisions about where and when and if.
The command was quick and all male. Bronwyn raised her head. “What? Me?”
Lucian snorted and gave her backside a soft slap. “I can feel it.”
“Oh, come on.”
“’Tis true, lassie,” he said, rolling to his side, his white-blond hair dropping against his high cheekbone. “I can feel your thoughts in my blood. I can feel you everywhere. Sense every feeling, every want—every need.”
“Mmm, how convenient.”
She aimed for innocent. “And what am I thinking now,
? What am I thinking to bring about…this?” She reached down and palmed his cock, stiff as the stone cottage that enclosed them.
His grin widened like the unabashed rogue he was. He leaned in, his lips inches from hers. “You are thinking about pulling your knees back to your tits so the rod you hold in your hand can find its way home right quick.”
Smiling, she shook her head as she cupped his. “No, my crude
. Not what I was thinking.”
He groaned. “Disappointment’s such a bitch.” His nostrils flared as she stroked him. “Tell me, then.”
She licked her lips and his in the process. “I was thinking about
pulling my knees back to my tits so the rod you hold in your hand can find its way home right quick.”
His eyes widened and he broke out laughing. She followed, then squealed as he came at her growling playfully, his hands encircling her ankles, pushing her knees back.
“Prepare to be mounted then, lass,” he called, and was nearly inside her when the sound of horses’ hooves stayed him.
Bronwyn had never seen anyone move so fast. Lucian was up and off the bed, pulling on his jeans in under five seconds. “If I ask you to remain here, you won’t listen to me, right?”
“Something like that,” she said, grabbing the quilt from the bed.
,” he muttered, leaving the room and heading down the hall.
Bronwyn followed, wrapping the quilt tight around herself, wondering who could be visiting them, who had access. She wondered if it was the guards, finally the guards—then hated herself for praying it wasn’t.
When she reached the living area, the front door lay open. She ran out into the cool, moonlit evening, and saw a horse and rider at the gate, unable to pass with the enchantments. Lucian was heading straight for him, no shirt, no shoes.
“Master McCrary?” the rider called out.
Bronwyn continued down the path. McCrary? The rider obviously had the wrong place, wrong inhabitants. But when Lucian didn’t correct him, just stood there and sneered, she began to wonder.
“What do you want?” he asked brusquely.
“I’ve brought an invitation from yer ma,” the male said, holding out a pale yellow envelope.
“Well, you can take it back again,” Lucian said with menace. “Now get off this property.”
Bronwyn wasn’t sure what was happening, but she hurried forward and spoke directly to the worried-looking messenger. “Here, you can give it to me.”
Lucian tried to intercept, but Bronwyn threw him a dangerous look, and the Breeding Male cursed and backed off.
The Impure nodded, smiled. “Thank ye, lass.”
“You gave your letter,” Lucian said, his arm going around Bron as he turned back to the cottage. “Now, off with you.”
The male nodded. “We hope to see ye both there, Master McCrary.”
“I hope you all fuck off and die,” Lucian stated flatly. “But I doubt I’ll get my wish either.”
As the horse’s hooves pounded the earth behind them, Bronwyn gripped the letter and said to Lucian, “That was lovely, really smooth—very mature.”
“I thought so.”
She shook her head. “So, McCrary? Who is that?”
“’Tis my true surname.”
Bron stopped, stared at him. “Really? What about Roman?”
As the wind picked up, Lucian’s pale hair whipped around his handsome face. “My brothers and I took that name together, when we became a family—our only family.”
“It is the Breeding Male’s name,” she said, confused, though highly interested in the explanation. “Your father’s name. I’m surprised you chose to use it, considering…”
“Considering what?” His brow lifted. “Considering that we all despise him?”
He took a deep breath, and as he released it, he pulled the blanket closer around her shoulders. “We have all been treated as Sons of the Breeding Male for as long as each of us can remember. We decided to be what we are on our own terms. Simple.”
Hardly, she thought, but didn’t press it.
Lucian nodded at the letter. “Toss that into the loch, if you please.”
She looked down at the paper, the pretty writing, the request for their presence. “It’s an invitation.”
“Fine, you can toss it in the fire when we return to the cottage, then. I am not keen on littering.”
Her gaze moved over the words. “Tomorrow eve there’s a festival at the
“Or better yet, let’s burn it in the stove.”
“A spring festival, looks like.” As the wind jostled their hair, entwined the black and the white tresses, Bronwyn slipped her arm through his and tugged him toward the cottage. “It sounds fun and I’m going. I’d love it if you were my date.”
He laughed, bitter and harsh, like the Lucian she used to know. “What are you suggesting, Princess? Put the Breeding Male on a leash and escort him through town like prize livestock?”
He snorted. “Fucking right.”
“I don’t need a leash,” she said, grabbing the remainder of his chain as they reached the door. “I’ve got this.”
His eyes darkened, and he moved her in front of him, pressed her back against the wood. “Perhaps we should tie
up, Princess. See how you like it.”
“I think I may like it very much.” Grinning with sensual heat, she let the blanket drop, let his eyes feast on her for a moment. Then she fisted the chain once again.
“What do you say, lass?” he asked, letting her reel him in like a fish.
Grinning, she dropped the invitation and yanked him to her. “I say let’s tear this chain in two and make me a lovely pair of handcuffs.”
Dillon lay on a bed she didn’t recognize, in a room she didn’t recognize, and listened to a voice she did.
In the short time she’d been here, wherever it was she’d landed—another compound with another group of Impures readying themselves for war—this Impure male, the brother of Sara, the one she had saved from the Order’s blood castration ritual, hadn’t left her side.
She wished he would.
He sighed above her. “You need to blow on your wounds, D.”
She shook her head slowly.
“You don’t care if you bleed out? Get an infection.”
No. She didn’t care.
She didn’t care about anything.
“Fine,” he said tightly, resolutely. “I’ll have to keep cleaning them the old-fashioned way, then.”
Something rubbed against her arm, and maybe in the back of her mind she felt something, a quick
sting, a flash of pain, but it barely registered. She just wanted to stare at the wall, let her mind shut off, shut down.
“Wish we had a goddamn Pureblood female here,” Gray said, his hand on her shoulder as he cleaned her neck. “And I wish I could hear your thoughts.”
I wish they had just killed me.
A growl sounded, harsh and fearful, and echoed through the room, and for a moment Dillon wondered if he had heard her thoughts. “Why the hell is it that I can hear everyone around me, but not you?”
Her head turned; her eyes lifted to him.
Gray sat beside her on the bed, his gaze fierce, intense as he stared down at her. “That’s right. Every single human, every vamp. But not you. I don’t get it.”
Dillon stared at him for a moment, wondering if it was really him, really Gray—the Impure, the once-catatonic brother of Alexander’s mate. It wasn’t that he looked different exactly. He was handsome, wide in the shoulders like the Romans, a mouth that liked to tease sensitive body parts, and those hands, those scarred, fire-ravaged hands that only a short time ago had pulled her into the shower at her house, gripped her waist as he’d kissed her—gripped her shoulders as he’d bit into her neck. It was all there, but there was something else too…a supreme confidence or control…a quiet power.
His brow lifted. “Any idea why that would be?”
She turned back to the wall. “Fuck off.”
“Yeah, that’s the D I know and find irritating,” he said, a forced lightness in his voice.
Where she once would’ve verbally sparred back at
him, now there was little motivation and zero tenacity. She closed her eyes. She was tired.
“The Romans are acting pretty desperate to get at you,” he said to her back. “They’re all looking for you. Sara too.”
Blank. White noise. Happy white noise.
“They’re looking for the location of an ex–Order member.”
The white noise waned and Dillon’s fingers curled around the sheets.
“He used to be their leader,” Gray continued, “but has gone rogue. Cruen.”