Authors: Cc MacKenzie
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Vampires, #Witches & Wizards
Really, she should have been horrified that she'd done such a thing to his flawless skin.
Instead, she realized that she was as possessive and aggressive about him, too.
As she burrowed her face into his strong chest to hear the steady beat of his powerful heart, Anais discovered she didn't give a damn.
"Do you want to talk to me about Charlotte?" he whispered as he held her tight. "Daniel told me it would help you enormously to talk about what happened today, to get it all out. Share the burden with me. That's what marriage is all about, sharing the bad times as well as sharing the good times."
Anais closed her eyes, wishing they didn't have to break, what had been for her, such a special moment.
But the moment had already slipped away.
So she stayed where she was, wrapped up safe and warm in his arms and told him what had happened. By the time she was finished her heart was still heavy, but she felt lighter somehow.
"She suffers so terribly, Marcus. I don't know if she will ever be the same," she said at the end.
His hand stroked her hair as his mouth kissed her temple, her cheek and tasted her tears.
"Try not to cry, darlin’. I can't cope with it when you cry. It kills me."
He dropped a kiss on her nose.
"Nothing to be sorry for. I'm just a wimp."
She couldn't help but laugh.
Anyone who was less a wimp she'd yet to see.
Even if she dreaded the answer, she asked the question that had been tormenting her for days,
"What does one do with an unstable vampyre?"
"One kills it."
Stunned, Anais could only stare up at her husband in horror.
His blue eyes were dark now, cold.
And right then he looked exactly what he was, inhuman.
Ice filled her veins, pooled in her belly.
Nausea a beating fist in her throat.
It rose within her, fear.
He blinked and the otherworldly being was gone in an instant.
For a moment she thought that perhaps she'd imagined it.
But she wasn't a fool.
She wasn't self-deluded either.
Those violently blue preternatural eyes stared into hers as if seeing right into her soul.
She couldn't help it, she shivered.
A response that made him tip his head to study her very carefully.
It was a move that reminded her of the moment, a moment of utter stillness, before Eleanor had attacked her in Shanghai.
"If I had to, yes. But I won't have to. James will kill her."
He kissed her.
But for the first time she didn't feel it.
For the first time she just lay there and wondered what kind of monster was it she'd married.
James hadn’t seen Charlotte for three interminable days.
The memory of her broken body lying on a table in the operating theatre made that fist around his heart clench nice and tight. It didn’t matter what he had to do, James promised, he’d make all of it, everything, up to her. He'd fix it.
Telling himself it was utterly ridiculous to feel nervous, he took a deep breath and knocked on the door of the master bedroom suite. Not waiting for a response, he opened the door. The room was dark, lit only by a row of flickering candles grouped on a large serving table and reflected in a wall mirror. Scented candles, he realized. The air was filled with a pleasant herbal aroma.
Charlotte was seated in an elegant chair facing towards the window.
She sat utterly still, eerily illuminated by silver moonlight.
The thick beautiful hair he loved to bury his face in, loved to stream through his fingers, appeared almost black in the light.
She was dressed in a kimono of red silk. All he could see of her lovely face was her profile. Her hair was caught back from her face and flowed over her right shoulder in glossy curls. Curls? Her hands appeared relaxed on the arms on the chair and her breathing was shallow and steady.
Closing the door with a soft click, he stepped forward.
Even though he had the distinct feeling she'd heard him, she didn’t turn to look at him.
His heart did a crazy dance against his ribs, because now his instincts were telling him that something was wrong with her.
He stepped closer, his hungry gaze sweeping over her face.
With care, he inhaled, and icy fingers of fear crept up his spine.
The changes in the woman sitting before him were subtle but nonetheless devastating.
She didn’t quite
like his Charlotte.
She didn’t quite
like his Charlotte.
Her glossy hair was dark brown curls rather than the smooth strands he loved. The clear skin was pulled tight across high cheekbones and the full mouth appeared puffy, terribly swollen. The lashes were thick and heavy as they blinked once, twice. Then her nostrils twitched fractionally and she inhaled his scent.
Slowly, her head turned towards him.
Big eyes looked up into his and his knees went so weak so fast he nearly collapsed.
The creature who sat there did in no way resemble Charlotte Gillespie, ER medic or his human wife.
The creature that stared right through him with eyes the color of ripe cranberries was one hundred per cent vampyre. And a seriously pissed off vampyre at that.
Her fingers flexed on the arm of the chair as she very slowly and carefully rose to her feet.
Hadn't Anais told him Charlotte was in a great deal of pain?
He wanted to stretch out a hand to help her, but the look in her eyes for him held him back.
It cost him, but he held his ground.
Christ, she’d grown about six inches.
Those strange eyes went on a voyage from his head to his toes and back again as if seeing him for the very first time. The fine hairs on the back of James's neck stood to attention as the vampyre's mouth twisted, a contemptuous sneer, that made it crystal clear she was not impressed with what she saw.
And his vampyre growled in his mind at the perceived threat.
Instantly, she bared her fangs and James found he couldn’t swallow the hard, hot lump in his throat.
"Coward. Show yourself to me, vampyre," she almost hissed the words.
Oh my God.
What the hell had happened to that soft, sweet voice? The low tone sounded as if her vocal chords had been ripped out and stitched back together all wrong.
His vampyre didn’t give a rat’s ass about her voice or anything else as it leapt.
From deep inside her mind, Charlotte Gillespie felt as if she was watching a horror movie, except she was appearing, living, in the starring role.
Huddled in a dark corner of her psyche she watched James change from her loving husband into a fanged and brutal monster. Without mercy his hand lifted to slide tight around her throat. Then he slammed her body against the wall.
Trapped in a helpless agony of bone and muscle, Charlotte whimpered and closed her eyes tight as if to deny this was really happening to her.
But it made no difference, the being that lived within her roared in her mind. Every time she so much as took a breath or tried to have an original thought the beast that had taken over her body, her psyche, lashed out. And Charlotte knew she’d never survive living like this. Existing in a state of perpetual terror.
Then, as if from far, far, away, came the sound of a man's cry.
Ezekiel’s voice, so weak it was barely heard, now drifted through her mind, through the horror gripping her throat so hard she knew she'd be left bruised.
‘Help me, Charlotte. Help me...’
She squeezed her eyes tightly shut.
Now she was hearing voices in her head along with the constant whispering about vampyres and witchcraft? Why couldn’t they all just go away and leave her in peace?
Panic reigned now as it hurled more adrenaline into her battered system.
She couldn’t take much more of this.
But then she tuned back into what was happening to her physical body.
James wasn’t hurting her, but her heart was racing in her throat and his thumb rubbed the spot.
The thing that was her husband was speaking.
disrespect me, wife."
Huddled in the darkest corner of her mind, Charlotte watched her vampyre narrow her eyes as her fangs, sharp and too white, flashed.
"Respect? You do not know the meaning of the word, husband."
was filled to the brim with such utter disdain her husband tightened his fingers around her neck.
She didn’t even flinch. "I do not trust you, prince. I do not want you as my mate."
James let her go so fast she staggered and placed the flat of her hands against the wall to steady herself. The movement was agony, but she'd rather die than show him how much he'd hurt her.
It cost him, because his heart was breaking into thousands of tiny pieces, but James managed to take control of his vampyre.
"I want to talk to my wife, vampyre. You will release her."
Those eyes the color of the deepest crimson went into slits and James resisted the urge to let his vampyre have his way and teach his woman a lesson she’d never forget. But not only Saira’s remarks held him back. He could see absolutely no sign of attraction or arousal for him from her. And he didn’t feel attracted to her either when she was in this state, and that fact absolutely floored him.
"She is a weak, pathetic being who is so terrified she refuses to acknowledge my existence."
He spoke in a low, soft voice, "Release her. Or I will turn around walk out of here and never come back. And you should know this." Taking a step closer he looked into those merciless eyes and spoke directly to Charlotte from the heart. "You cannot exist as separate entities living in one body. You need to learn to merge with and control your vampyre or you will die. Let me help you. I was wrong not to tell you the truth, Charlie. I love you so much. Please come back to me," his voice broke, but pride in tatters, he battled on, "I need you."
For endless moments he simply stared into the pitiless eyes of the vampyre, desperately seeking a flicker of humanity, but he found none.
Heartsick, James stepped back and knew he’d never forgive himself for doing this to her.
Her vampyre was incredibly strong willed, fighting for her very survival after a baptism of fire. He understood that strength. Hell, he even respected it. But there was no way she could survive living solely as a vampyre. She was his wife and his responsibility which meant he could not let her go free to be a danger to herself and humanity. Eventually, she’d be hunted like an animal by humans and vampyres alike and killed.
The situation had turned into a complete nightmare.
done this to her and
needed to fix it.
Ultimately, if Charlotte was unable to merge fully with her vampyre, he would take full responsibility for what would happen next. She would be destroyed by his hand. He loved her enough to ensure she didn’t suffer.
Suppressing a shuddering breath, he turned to leave.
His hand was on the door handle when a faint whisper had him spin around,
He saw his wife was now curled up in a tight ball in a dark corner of the room and flashed to her side.
She was in his arms so fast she cried out loud in utter terror and pain.
He carried her to the bed and laid her down before switching the bedside light on low.
Haunted green eyes that were too big for her face stared into his.
She still had the curly dark hair which made her look so different, but he decided it suited her.
A trembling hand reached up to touch his face and a desperate sob heaved from her throat.
"You're alive," she whispered brokenly. "You’re real."
James touched her face, stroked her hair and inhaled the sweet, sensual aroma that was his wife, combined with another scent that put his vampyre on a state of high alert.
He firmly told his vampyre to back off.
Her tears flowed freely down pale cheeks and he drank the salty evidence of her raw emotional state.
"I’m sorry, so sorry, darlin’."
Her voice was no more than a breath, "But James, we have a problem."
He didn't care. He couldn’t stop touching her. He couldn’t stop pressing soft kisses to her forehead, her eyelids, the side of her mouth.
Her eyes closed as she burrowed into the warm cashmere of his sweater.
Now was not the time for his dick to fire.
But, Christ, the feeling was so amazing he simply took the time to enjoy the moment of sheer bliss.
Again she spoke, "James. We have a problem."
He lifted his head and cupped her jaw.
we cannot overcome together. Anais and Saira have promised to help you."
She shook her head.
"I’m hearing a voice in my head."
Again he pressed his mouth gently to hers.
"That’s your vampyre, darlin’, you’ll get used to her."
"No. It’s a man’s voice. Ezekiel's voice. And he’s asking me again and again for help."
Alarm had James bolt upright and immediately fear flooded those big green eyes he loved more than life itself.
"Where is he?"
She shook her head unable to answer the question.
"I don’t know."
With a tenderness that brought fresh tears streaming down her cheeks, James helped her sit.
She didn't question his instruction. Charlotte was relieved that her husband didn't think she was a raving lunatic. She closed her eyes and took a shuddering breath.
Trusting her instincts, she let her mind go and asked the question,
'Where are you? How can I help?'
After an unremitting moment she felt Ezekiel whisper a touch in her mind.
But it was so faint she hardly heard him.
'So brave. Good girl. I’m buried under your house. The sun will soon rise. I will not live to see another moon. Help me.'
A vivid memory of how Anais and Ezekiel helped her in the operating theatre had the ER nurse, that was such an essential part of Charlotte's caring nature, rise to take control.
Her eyes snapped open, flew to her husband who was watching her as if she was about to collapse.
"He’s trapped. We must hurry, James."