Authors: Cc MacKenzie
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Vampires, #Witches & Wizards
James was sitting in the spacious lounge of the penthouse apartment of Gillespie, Pattullo and Hindmarch in downtown San Francisco wondering how his whole world had gone to hell in less than three days.
His hands smarted to squeeze the neck of a certain vampyre bitch, Eleanor Pattullo.
The house of Charlotte's dreams, their beautiful home, was nothing more than a pile of dust and rubble thanks to an earthquake which had taken out an entire block. They could only be thankful no one had been killed or badly injured.
An earthquake caused, no doubt, by the opening of a portal.
Christ, he just couldn't credit all the weird crap that was going on in his life, in his world.
And there was no sign of Ezekiel or his Legion.
James wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
His father was already heading the search for Eleanor who had disappeared from the face of the earth, literally, since no trace of her could be found. A vampyre can sense the presence of another of their species, a sixth sense they are born with. And it isn’t until a vampyre enters The Fade or is buried deep below ground it is noticed by all when the palpitation of a beating heart, beats no more.
Four sets of double doors were open to a wrap-around balcony where he saw Marcus, still wearing one of his dark Armani suits, standing utterly still looking out into the night. James knew his brother was deeply worried about Anais. Hell, James was worried about Anais himself. His sister-in-law always returned from a visit to Charlotte physically exhausted and emotionally drained. Now he watched as Marcus lifted his face to the moon as if taking rays from the sun before turning and stepping into the luxurious sitting room to join his brothers.
in our world,” Daniel Gillespie’s voice was deep and low, stating the obvious about Eleanor, even as his tone spoke of his burning desire for payback.
Hurt one Gillespie and you hurt them all.
"Eleanor was ever overindulged, spoiled, by her father. Even as a child she was touched with wickedness," was Adam Gillespie's view.
Adam was based and worked for the firm in Edinburgh in Scotland. A City where he ruled a vampyre colony with an iron fist. Adam had found his mate fifteen years ago when she'd been a young girl of eight years. A young girl who'd been attacked in an attempted snatch by Ezekiel and his Legion. Since that day Adam had watched over every part her daily life very carefully. The woman was now mature, worked as a senior nurse practitioner in a top hospital. The time was coming, and soon, for Adam to make his move to bring her into their world.
James’s eyes met those of his younger brother. "Eleanor is
. She almost succeeded in killing my Charlotte. And knowing Eleanor, she'll try again. Remember, she’s
The blood tests Saira and her team had done on the wine found in his home told the truth.
The vampyre DNA belonged to Eleanor Pattullo. And James made a sacred vow that no matter where she hid, it was his solemn duty to destroy Eleanor. There was no point in fretting over what she might do next. What was the point? He and his brothers, and his father, were making ready. A little voice asked him what he thought he could do against dark magic? Probably not a lot, but that didn't mean they were prepared to be sitting ducks. They might go down, but they'd go down fighting.
After too many hours where she'd diced with death, Charlotte was responding well to treatment. However, they had a problem, a biggie. Her vampyre might have healed her physically, but it was in complete control of her mind and refusing anyone except Saira and Anais to come near her.
Not being able to see his wife, to touch her, was slowly killing James, and he wasn't too proud to admit it.
He prayed with everything he had in him that Anais had managed to make a breakthrough.
As if his mind had conjured her out of thin air, Anais entered wearing low slung, blue skinny jeans and a sleeveless fitted shirt of white cotton.
She was tall with long legs and slim golden arms. Her glossy hair, black as coal was tied back in a sleek tail. She strolled over to Marcus to give him a hug and a searing kiss right on the mouth, before she moved to sit next to James.
She took his hand.
Big dark eyes framed with thick lashes that tilted at the edges looked into deep his.
"She’s asking for you," said Anais.
Joy had James preparing to leap to his feet, but her hand squeeze held him back. For such a little thing she had an incredibly strong grip. Anais took a deep breath as those dark almond shaped eyes held his. He read worry and anxiety. Joy slid away as dismay fisted in his gut.
"You will find her greatly changed, James. Intellectually, she knows and understands she is vampyre, but her human side refuses to believe or accept it. Saira is deeply concerned that if her humanity is destroyed we might not be able to bring her back. Do you understand what I am saying?"
James did and his heart ached.
And he couldn't help but agree with Adam's heartfelt whisper of, "Fuck."
Few humans survived becoming vampyre. Many went insane while others walked into The Fade rather than live a life as a creature they considered to be less than human.
His throat closed with the pain of it.
He should never have put her through this, should never have followed his heart or married her.
Regret and guilt roiled deep in his gut.
He nodded. "I’ll be careful. I'll be gentle with her."
A voice drawled from the doorway,
"Actually, I think that’s been your problem all along." Saira leaned her shoulder against the doorpost and folded her arms. Dressed in black leather she looked like a long haired, kick-ass vampyre from an action movie rather than a medic.
"How is she?"
Saira pushed away from the door and strolled to the corner bar and poured herself a glass of red wine.
Holding the glass, she turned to stare at him through dark eyes that narrowed fractionally.
"Physically, she’s about seventy-five per cent healed. Amazing really, after everything she's been through. She's feeding now, which is a positive sign and aiding her recovery. Her vampyre is strong, powerful. However, her humanity is struggling. If you want my advice tough love is called for. Charlotte loves you. You’ll need to use that love to turn the key in the lock and open the door to her heart."
Confused, James dragged frustrated his hands through his hair.
"Christ, I nearly killed her when I used tough love."
Saira simply raised a brow at his attitude and tone.
"Far be it for me to remind you that by delaying bringing her into our world, you left the door wide open for my dear sister to step through in an attempt to destroy the woman you love. I’m not talking about getting physical with Charlotte. What is it with you Gillespie boys?" She raised her hand and tapped her forehead. "The issue is in here. What’s the worst thing that could happen to her now?"
"The worst thing’s already happened to her, thanks to your bluidy sister," Daniel's deep voice spoke the words everyone was thinking. He was the third of Duncan Gillespie's sons and based in New York where he ran their legal banking arm. He was also a clever empath. Not that he looked as if he was feeling particularly empathic towards Saira at the moment.
Saira lifted her chin even as heat flared in her dark eyes at the way he'd attacked her sibling.
It wasn’t a state secret that the twins were not close.
"Eleanor has always been twisted and furtive when she doesn't get her way. My father has applied for a Juristic Ruling by the Elders and put up a bounty for her return."
James nodded thoughtfully.
If the Elders ruled in Eleanor’s absence and found her guilty of the attempted murder of a mated female, never mind the attack on Anais in Shanghai, the penalty was instant destruction. Eleanor would be a marked woman for every single vampyre bounty hunter on earth.
"Charlotte was quite certain she’d killed you, James," Anais spoke softly. "She's finding it difficult to believe that she's not turned into a kind of monster."
James turned to look at his beautiful sister-in-law and opened his heart.
"I should have trusted my instincts and never tried to bring her into our world."
"You didn't begin the change," she reminded him. "Eleanor did that. Part of Charlotte will always have tainted blood running through her veins."
"She's only human, Anais. Can't we give her more time to come to terms with everything that's happened to her?" asked James.
"You're wrong," Saira interrupted before Anais could respond. "Charlotte is not one hundred per cent human."
Stunned, James felt the jolt of shock right down to his toes.
Hope flickered in his heart as his eyes flew to hers.
"She has vampyre DNA?"
Then his heart fell as Saira shook her head.
"Nope. But according to someone who should know, Ezekiel reckons she has a witchy side."
A fist seemed to catch his heart and squeezed.
They say bad things come in threes.
He’d bitten his wife.
She’d been poisoned and nearly died a hideous death.
And she was a witch?
His mind spun through all the possibilities and what it might mean.
He frowned, the question was, what kind of witch?
Saira grinned as if she read his mind. "Don't worry, not the dark and spooky kind. The tip toeing among the flowers kind. She’s a white witch." She rubbed the bridge of her nose. "I wonder if she’ll be able to do the twitchy nose thing.’
Daniel started to laugh then stopped when James slanted him a lethal look.
"You find this
?" he growled, the rumble of his voice a specific threat.
His brother held up both hands in peace.
James looked at Saira searching desperately for some sort of clarity.
"So, she’s a vampyre and a witch?"
"It appears so," said Saira. She took a sip of her wine. "Although she’s not happy with either. I’d say you have a challenge on your hands."
"But," said a very confused James. "I know nothing about magic."
Saira raised her glass, gave him a white toothy grin.
"Then that’ll make two of you. Christ, it’ll be the blind leading the blind."
At the other side of the room, Marcus's attention was not on James and Saira, his attention was focused one hundred per cent on Anais.
She looked too pale with an exhaustion that had become too familiar over the past days. Every time she returned from Charlotte's bedside, she came back emotionally exhausted and physically depleted. As she listened to Saira's opinion, her dark eyes filled. The way she bit down hard on her trembling bottom lip, had him move. But his brother Daniel got to her before he did. Daniel took her in his arms, not too close, and cupped her face to stare deep into her eyes.
"You need to learn to pace yourself as you learn your new skill, Anais, to keep a part of
back when you enter another's mind. If you like I can teach you some meditation techniques to assist your cognitive process."
She nodded. "Thank you. Ezekiel has been a great teacher. He helped me to focus, but since he disappeared I'm desperately worried I don't know what I'm doing. I'm worried I'm doing more harm than good."
Daniel smiled. "You follow your instincts. If she'd let me I'd have helped Charlotte myself, but there was no way she could cope with me entering her mind. The fact she's now prepared to talk to James tells me you've done a pretty good job."
The way Anais attempted a pitiful smile had Marcus step forward to scoop up his wife.
With a nod of thanks to his brother and holding her close, he carried her out of the room. He felt her arms wind around his neck as her head dropped to his shoulder. He was so proud of her and the way she was coping with his world and his family. Even his father, who was a man very hard to please at times, adored her. Anais was a team player, always had been, always would be. But now she was putting herself, her mental health, at risk. For days he'd watched her struggle to reach Charlotte, knowing that if he interfered or tried to stop her, it may cause a significant breach in their new and fragile relationship. He had no doubt she loved him. No doubt. But Marcus wasn't absolutely certain she'd forgiven him for everything she'd gone through.
Hell, he hadn't forgiven himself.
Perhaps they'd work on forgiveness together.
He used his shoulder to shove open the door to a huge bedroom suite, complete with bath, sitting area and dressing room and headed for the big bed that dominated the space.
With a kindness he didn't know he possessed, he laid her on her back and simply stared down at the woman who held his heart captive. She was staring, unblinking, up at the ceiling and quietly weeping. A river of tears ran into her hairline to seep into the comforter.
Marcus took a breath, she was over-emotional, worn-out and fretting about Charlotte. He could feel waves of all three coming from her mind. Plus, he noted with a frown, she'd lost weight. She needed to feed. But first, she required pampering and support and a lot of love.
First up, a bath.
Shrugging off his suit jacket, his tie, his shirt as he went into the bathroom, he tossed salts and a couple of drops of her favourite bath oil into water steaming from the taps. While the enormous tub filled, he stripped, stepped into the power shower and washed away the stresses and strains of the day. He was picking up a lot of the business slack for James, which meant his workload had doubled. Not that he was complaining. Hadn't James done exactly the same for him when he'd messed up with Anais in Shanghai?
By the time he'd towel dried his hair, her bath was ready.
When he returned to their bed, she hadn't moved.
Tears were drying on her drenched cheeks.
Those beautiful big almond shaped eyes were unbearably sad.
God, he couldn't remember the last time he'd seen such a luminous beauty. It was as if Anais was lit from within.
Without speaking he started to strip her and she simply lay there and let him.
He took a selfish moment to admire long lean arms and legs, the tight little breasts with their tight little nipples the color of caramel and her flat belly, her pubis. All of which made him hard as stone. Wryly he bit his top lip. There was no sign of his predictable response to her diminishing any time soon.
Scooping her up in his arms he carried her through to the bathroom and placed her in warm, scented water.
"Too hot?" he asked.
She shook her head and her eyes closed as she sat, wrapped her arms around her legs and rested her cheek on her knees. With gentle hands he removed the hair-tie from her slippery tresses, piled her hair on top of her head and tied it in a messy top-knot to keep it dry. Then he knelt beside the tub, grabbed a large sponge and soap and set about looking after his woman.
Anais wondered if the black fog in her mind was what depression felt like.
She'd no idea since she'd never been depressed in her life, not even when Marcus brought her into his world. She'd been spitting mad. Sometimes she still felt mad. No, the darkness that weighed her down was different. Charlotte was in so much pain. Her mind living in a place of pandemonium and bewilderment. And who could blame her? Anais closed her eyes as the too tight muscles in her shoulders were massaged with firm fingers.
God, her husband had magic hands.
And he knew exactly how to use them.
"Do you want to lie back? Or do you want me in there with you?"
Her eyelids were so heavy it took an incredible act of will simply to lift them.
When she did, she saw a sight for sore eyes.
Her man was watching her like a hawk, his violently blue eyes edged with disgracefully long lashes seemed to reach right into her soul. His hair, black as jet, was damp and tousled and his strong jaw badly needed a shave. She loved the hard bones of that brooding face with a mouth just made for kissing.
"I want you in here with me," she said.
The flash of dimple in his left cheek was somewhat incongruous. After all, who'd ever heard of a big bad vampyre with a dimple? He rose and she couldn't help but catch the sight of his dazzling arousal. Satin over steel. She felt that shaft settle at her back as he slid in behind her. Now she sat between his legs and lay back against him, letting him take her weight, as he continued long leisurely strokes of the sponge down her torso. He lifted her arms up to link her hands around his neck. In this position she was wide open to him. He payed particular attention to her breasts and then slid the sponge gently between her legs. Oh yes, her man was thorough, very thorough, in all that he did. When he was satisfied she was scented and spotless, he lay back with her in his strong arms and placed his cheek on top of her head.
Even though every single cell in her body was aroused, she simply relaxed and enjoyed the moment. It was like being cocooned with pure love. When the water began to cool, she felt him stir as he lifted her and rose.
She stood before him, helpless as a child as he dried her with a warm bath sheet, wrapped her tight and carried her to their bed.
It wasn't until she was all warm and snug that he stood next to the bed and stared down at her.
"Do you want a bag of blood, or do you want to feed from me?"
She could either take a bag from the fridge, drink it and sink into sleep, or if she fed from her mate, that would mean making love. Really, there was no choice.
"I want you."
The dimple flashed again as he climbed in beside her and turned down the bedside light.
She turned into his arms, felt him release her hair and lifted her face to his kiss.
Her lips were soft and sweet as he tasted the honeyed depth of her mouth. The idea was to keep everything soft and gentle. Marcus knew his woman needed care this night. And he was determined to give rather than receive. Gentle hands explored the silky, perfumed skin. She smelled of a summer meadow, wild flowers and soothing herbs. His mouth went on a voyage of discovery over her face, placing tiny kisses on her closed eyelids, tasted a little salt which told him her emotions were still all over the place. Poor darling. When his lips trailed open-mouthed kisses to the frantic pulse, her carotid, her breath hitched. She was so amazingly responsive to him, his woman. But he wasn't going to taste her, not yet. Instead, he dipped his head and sampled her nipple, sucked the dusky bud between his tongue and the roof of his mouth. Her moan and the way her pelvis rose made him smile. She liked that. He did it again. And again. But he wasn't finished. Now he trailed a path of kisses down, down, to her navel, let the tip of his tongue explore her belly button and her hips rose again. She was becoming impatient. The scent of her arousal was like nectar to his vampyre who actually whimpered in his mind.
,' Marcus growled in response. '
She needs tender loving. There will be no rough stuff this night.'
"Marcus," she breathed his name. "I need you inside me."
Since he only lived to serve her, he paused, lifted his head to find her on her elbows, her eyes burning into his.
Watching her, he slid his fingers into her hot slick sheath, saw her eyes go almost opaque.
"I wanted to taste you, to bring you pleasure."
She blinked, lay down and held out her arms.
"I want you inside me. Please Marcus."
Her legs spread wide and he positioned himself in the cradle of her pelvis and slid right in to the hilt. He couldn't help the moan of a pleasure so deep it was almost pain. Now her legs were around his waist, pulling him even further into her body. Tight. So tight. Her face was flushed. Her mouth trembled with each thrust of his hips as he gave her the ultimate pleasure. He kissed her, surging into her again and again. Now she was writhing almost squirming beneath him, trying to lift her pelvis to make him go faster. But he pinned her to the bed as he went slow and steady. He could feel the way he stretched her flesh, her tendons. And then her internal muscles clenched and released, clenched and released. Now he was the one who was trembling. Closing his eyes tight, he fought a war of attrition with the sting of release racing down his spine and into his sac. He groaned out loud with the pleasure of it and opened his eyes to find her vampyre staring into his eyes. The shock nearly made him lose it as his vampyre leapt.
The beast, however, did not impale her fast and furious.
Instead his vampyre went perfectly still.
A sound of submission.
Abruptly, his shaft swelled, stretching her tight sinews further. He took her painfully slowly as his hands caught hers, fingers entwined, and pressed them on the bed next to her head. A pleasure so deep rose between them as his vampyre offered his mate his neck to feed, to take her fill.
The tip of her tongue licked his carotid and he held absolutely still as her fangs sank into his flesh to drink, to feed, to replenish her body, her mind. When she was replete, he moved into her again and again until he felt her womb clench as she became wetter, her voice high and begging, pleading with him to go faster, harder. Now he was riding her hard, driving his flesh into hers. Hot. So hot.
The climax that had a scream rip through her, the way her body bore down on his triggered his own. Hot jets released his seed into her again and again. Christ, her claws were digging into his shoulders. They were going to make a mess of the white cotton sheets, and he couldn't give a damn.
Marcus lifted the weight of his body from hers, leaning on his arms, his breath sawing in and out of his lungs. The eyes that stared back into his were his Anais. A very satisfied cat's-got-the-cream Anais. He kissed her, he couldn't help it, and watched her smile.
"That wasn't supposed to happen like that," he admitted. "Tonight was supposed to be all about you."
Through her lashes, she stared up at the darkly sensual and sexy man above her. His eyes now were the darker blue she'd come to equate with passion, ownership and he was still hard inside her. How was it even possible?
"I will never get enough of you," he said, plucking the thought right out of her mind.
"Stay out of my head."
Ignoring the cranky tone, he kissed her and she kissed him back.
He rolled to his side and took her with him, hooked her leg over his hip and pressed closer.
"I read your face, not your mind. You have a very expressive face, my wee darlin’."
Her little mew of self-disgust that he could read her like a book was heartfelt.
Anais slid her fingers through his silky black hair. He always made her feel wonderful when they made love. As if she was the most beautiful woman in the world for him, as if he could never, ever, get enough of her. He'd made her forget, just for a moment, all the pain and hurt and dismay she'd felt when joined with Charlotte. "I love you, Marcus."
She shifted to get a good look at his marvelous face. His eyes were an almost violent blue with a delight that thrilled her and she read everything in them. Love. Eternal, ever-lasting shone right back at her, as did possession. A possession that was almost naked in its raw state. It was aggressive. And it was all Marcus.
Her gaze dropped to the claw-marks on his shoulders, already healing.