Home > Dark Ghost (Drak #28)(7)

Dark Ghost (Drak #28)(7)
Author: Christine Feehan

 

He lay there now, his heart beginning its slow revival. He took his first breath, drawing her scent into his lungs. She was real. He didn’t know how to feel about that after centuries of hunting for her. Centuries of giving up on her. Centuries of being so alone he didn’t know how to be with anyone else, or even how to be civil.

 

The brief moment when he’d managed to beat the paralysis and open his eyes just enough to glimpse her had to be real, not a figment of his imagination, because he saw her in all her glorious color. Still, how had she gotten into his sleeping chamber? Into his cave? He had put up safeguards. Intricate safeguards, not based on mage guards, but ones he had devised himself over the centuries. Guards that shouldn’t have been penetrated.

 

He had to be dreaming. But in color? Nothing made sense. The moment his heart began to beat, blood began to stream from the various wounds on his body. Hunger struck. Clawed. Pain had to be shut off. Automatically he repaired the internal damage to his body, even as his mind went over every detail he remembered of the brief glimpse.

 

His lifemate had been very slight, very small, but he could see the steel in her. The determination. She was beautiful, more beautiful than any woman he’d ever seen – that in itself should tell him he was dreaming. Her skin was amazing, a dark soft expanse that any man would have a difficult time resisting touching. But she’d been covered in bruises. He could see blue and black in the mixture of color along her cheek, up by her eye and along her jaw. Her face was swollen, her lip torn.

 

She had a beautiful mouth, tilted at the corners, an inviting bow, her teeth small and white. Her eyes were a dark, dark chocolate. The lashes surrounding them were full and very black.

 

Her hair was long, a luxurious gleaming black, not dull gray, done in intricate cornrows and then swept back in a ponytail of small braids. The ponytail was easily as thick as his arm and fell to her waist. When she walked away from him, she was limping. He had to have been dreaming, because how could she be real after all the long centuries? And how could she have gotten past his safeguards?

 

He stayed very still, absorbing the feel of the cave. His senses told him he wasn’t alone. He smelled her. There was a mixture of fresh air, fog, the mountains, sweat and something else, something that called to him, like a particular scent carried on a summer wind. Almost like the earth smelled after a fresh rain. He needed more of it. He wanted more.

 

He heard her then, the soft running as she returned to him, just as she’d promised. She thought him dead. He’d heard the sorrow in her voice. She had asked him to stay. To come back to her. Had she come to find him? Had he been close to dying? He doubted it. He had work to do. Several vampires to kill. He wouldn’t have left them alive to harm others.

 

She dropped a backpack that was nearly as tall as she was onto the floor beside the entrance to the small chamber. She had a flashlight in her hand, the light dancing along the walls as she hurried toward him. He could see the colors of the wall. The rich veins of various minerals and the few gems that sparkled in the light. The edge of the light caught a crystalline rock jutting out of the wall. He remembered the formation from his youth, and was shocked that he hadn’t noticed it again until her dancing light spotlighted it for him.

 

Her scent enveloped him. This time he recognized the interesting mixture of wildflowers and rain. He inhaled her. The moment he did, she cried out and dropped to the ground beside him.

 

“You’re alive. Oh. My. God. You’re totally alive.”

 

Her hands ran over his chest. Her touch was featherlight, but everywhere the pads of her fingers touched he felt heat and something else, something that penetrated deep, right through his skin. He recognized the touch of a natural healer. She had immense power. He stayed very still, listening to the musical cadence of her voice. The sound of her struck an answering chord in him.

 

He realized she spoke English. Not just any English, but American English. She wasn’t from the Carpathian Mountains. She didn’t feel Carpathian. But she belonged to him. Absolutely belonged to him. He turned his head and locked his eyes on his prey. Seeing the swelling in her face hurt him. An actual pain. He couldn’t leave her like that. He refused.

 

She was an amazing healer and should have seen to herself before recklessly running into a cave. What was wrong with her that she didn’t see the danger to herself even now? Because she was in danger. Didn’t she feel it? He was starving. He’d lost too much blood, and there she was, bending over him, her throat exposed, her pulse pounding, her heart calling to his. He could hear the ebb and flow of her blood. Smell it even, through the wound on her mouth. The tear.

 

Someone had hurt his lifemate very recently. A male. He could smell the testosterone on her. Her shirt was torn, exposing the curve of her breast. She was tiny, but he could see the small, beautiful curve and he ached. The ache wasn’t enough to hold the beast at bay. Someone had attempted to harm her.

 

He lifted his hand to her face, his thumb sliding gently over the bruised swelling. “Who did this to you?” His English was good, but he had an English accent. He was unfamiliar with the American accent. His first words to his lifemate. He spoke softly, his voice pitched low, but there was a distinct growl, a note that made her entire body go still.

 

She pressed her lips together and then winced. “Let’s concentrate on you. Your wounds are horrific. I’m Teagan. Teagan Joanes.”

 

“I do not want to invade your privacy by taking this information from you, but I refuse to argue. Give me his name.”

 

Her long lashes swept down and then back up. She sank back on her heels, wincing as she did so, as if that movement hurt as well. He saw trepidation in her dark eyes, the beginnings of fear. He knew what she saw. He’d been alarming humans for centuries – and she was definitely human. He’d alarmed his own species. He wasn’t a man to trifle with. But his first obligation was to the safety and health of his lifemate, not the other way around. Fear or not, he would get his answer.

 

“Armend Jashari,” she replied, her voice a whisper. “He’s somewhere behind me. He told me he had friends camping nearby and they were going…” She trailed off.

 

He scowled at her and decided to take the information from her. He wasn’t the coaxing kind. This was too important. He needed to know what this man had done and what he intended to do. He needed to heal his woman and decide a course of action. Her dithering wasn’t helping the situation at all.

 

“Look at me,” he commanded, keeping his voice low. He deliberately didn’t move from his resting place, allowing her to keep a false sense of security.

 

Her gaze jumped to his. He didn’t allow her to look away. The moment her dark eyes met his, he ensnared her, whispering his command to her, so that she would accept his dark embrace. He sat up, pulling her into his arms, his mind reaching for hers, pushing past barriers, seeking information.

 

He found himself snarling. Lethal. Furious. His lifemate had been in jeopardy, nearly raped. She’d been beaten. Some man she trusted, the man he could see in her memories who she believed had been her friend, had assaulted her and then threatened her. Armend Jashari would be receiving a visit from him, and then Armend Jashari would know what real terror was.

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