Betrayed by blood, p.8
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       Betrayed By Blood, p.8

           Tiffany Shand
 
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  ***

  Light crept in the through the makeshift window from the crystals hanging in the tunnel. Elijah blinked as he came awake and heard the thump of another heartbeat. Turning, he saw Kaylan lying beside him. Her bright red hair fell across her face. He couldn’t remember the last time they’d been together like this, before they had been torn apart.

  How had she ended up in his bed? They were both still fully clothed. That both relieved and disappointed him. Thinking back, he couldn’t remember coming home either.

  Elijah groaned. The beast must have taken control. Not again! Worse, Kaylan must have seen it. What would she think of him now? The thought of her leaving terrified him.

  Slipping out of bed, he headed for the makeshift shower, the cold water from the underground stream did nothing to ease his pain. Dressing in a shirt and jeans, Elijah headed back into the bedroom. Kaylan was more beautiful than any memory he’d conjured of her. Part of him wanted nothing more than just to hold her. He shook his head. He had to banish such thoughts.

  Heading out, he found Geth asleep in the outer tunnel. “What happened last night?” Elijah demanded as he sat down.

  Geth opened his eyes and shook his head. “Wow, you wake up with a beautiful woman in your bed and you’re in a bad mood.”

  Elijah scowled and grabbed a piece of bread from Geth’s backpack. “Keep your voice down,” he hissed. “Or you’ll wake Kaylan.”

  “What do you remember?” his friend asked.

  He thought for a moment. “I was with Kaylan, then…” Elijah shook his head. “I can’t remember. What happened? Did I hurt her? I changed, didn’t I?”

  Elijah’s heart pounded. Who had he hurt this time? Normally his beast turned on evil doers. He couldn’t have more innocent blood on his hands. How had Kaylan reacted to his transformation?

  “You rescued Kaylan from Ena.” Geth grinned and sipped his flask of coffee.

  He breathed a sigh of relief. “But why did I lose control again?”

  “I’m going to put that to the test later. Red and I had an interesting chat last night—” Geth told him. “—after you carried her all the way down here and wouldn’t let her go.”

  He groaned. “I doubt she liked that.”

  “No, but you wouldn’t let go.”

  “Why…”

  Geth shrugged. “Only the beast knows that.”

  “It’s getting worse. I can’t go above ground again until we fix it.”

  “That’s why we’re running an experiment this morning. Red is helping.”

  “Kaylan? Why?” Elijah thought she’d be desperate to get above ground to work on finding her sister.

  “She offered.”

  He grabbed some of the breakfast items Sierra had brought down for them and carried them back to his chamber. He had no idea why his beast would bring Kaylan down here. Did it have a fascination with her? If so, he’d damn well stay away.

  Kaylan was up and wearing nothing but a towel when he came in. “Oh!” He turned away, face red with embarrassment. “Sorry.”

  She laughed. “It’s alright.”

  “It’s good to hear you laugh again.” The words were out of his mouth before he realised it as a familiar ache formed in his chest. “And I brought breakfast,” Elijah added, shaking his head to chase away the bittersweet memories.

  “Thanks.”

  The earthy musk of his soap mixed with her own feminine scent sent a flood of desire through him. The tray rattled as he clutched it and fought for control. Mine, a voice inside him whispered. Take her.

  Elijah put the tray on the table. “I’ll come back later.”

  “No, it’s fine you can turn around now.” Dressed in her usual black t-shirt and jeans that hugged every curve, she looked every inch the warrior.

  “Sorry about last night,” Elijah muttered.

  “Want to tell me why you carried me off like a sack of potatoes?”

  “I…” He shook his head. “I honestly don’t know. I lost control and I hate it.”

  She glanced over at the tray and smiled. “You always brought me breakfast in bed.”

  Elijah grinned at the memory and felt a pang of sadness. Mine, the voice came again. “Shouldn’t you be getting back?” he added. He could hardly believe his own words. The thought of losing her again cut deep, but if she left the madness would stop.

  Kaylan shook her head. “I need to be here.”

  Elijah took Kaylan to one of the larger caves where they had set up a gym. Geth stood waiting for them.

  “What is this about?” Elijah asked.

  “We’re going to test you,” Geth explained. “Or rather your beast.”

  His eyes narrowed. “Why?”

  “You want to learn to control it, don’t you?”

  He’d been trying to control the beast for over a year yet nothing seemed to help. He could shift when he chose to, but when the beast wanted to come out there was nothing to stop it.

  “I may be able to help,” Kaylan added. “You know I’m good at creating new spells.”

  “What kind of test?” Elijah persisted.

  Geth lunged at Kaylan, muttered something that slammed her against the wall. His fingers wrapped around her throat as she struggled against the spell holding her in place.

  Elijah flew at Geth, claws out as rage burned through his veins, hot and hard. Both he and his beast wanted to feel the satisfying crush of death. This man had dared to hurt what was his. It no longer mattered if Geth was friend or foe.

  “That answers that question.” Geth smiled and backed away. “Elijah, calm down.”

  Elijah hesitated for a moment; the anger flowed hot. He wanted power, blood from the man who dared to hurt his mate.

  Kaylan gasped. “Elijah.” She pushed Geth out of the way, staring at the beast directly

  in the eye. “Stop. I’m fine.”

  All at once the anger receded and his claws retracted. “Was that?” he demanded.

  “Part of the test,” Geth replied. “Kaylan being in danger brought out the beast.”

  “Why?” She wanted to know. “I’ve only been back a couple of days.”

  “It’s a danger response. I’ve noticed that, but with you, it seems more primal.” Elijah ran a hand through his hair. He cursed Geth. He’d never wanted Kaylan to see him like this. It felt humiliating. Knowing what he was was one thing, but most people were reviled when they saw the fine line he walked.

  “Are we done with the tests?” Elijah asked. He already had a good idea of what his beast was capable of without it being on display for everyone. “Shouldn’t we be focused on finding out why Freya is working with Ena?”

  “Who was Ena?” Geth wanted to know.

  “She was my brother, Alex’s, wife, but we thought she died the night my parents and Alex were killed,” Kaylan answered.

  “Then what does it have to do with Elijah being turned?”

  “That’s a good question,” Elijah said. “I was turned during the explosion and your parents were killed in a fire. The two must be connected somehow.”

  Kaylan bit her lip. “I don’t remember much about what happened the night my parents died.”

  “Maybe there’s a way we can find out,” Elijah suggested.

  “How?”

  “We could go into your mind and see what happened for ourselves.”

  “I’ll leave you to alone,” Geth told them and headed back up the tunnel.

  Elijah put a gym mat on the floor and sat down.

  “Are you sure this is a good idea?” Kaylan crossed her legs and stared at over him, brow creased.

  “It’s the only way to find out what’s going on.” He reached over and took her hands. “Don’t worry, I’ll be right there with you.”

  “I’ve done everything I can to get away from these memories. Now I have to face them.” She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath.

  Elijah closed his eyes too, letting darkness take him in. When he opened them again, he was no longer
in the underground cave with its bare stone walls running with dampness. Instead, he stood on a set of stone steps. Jasmine and honeysuckle filled the air around him. He knew this place. It was the gardens surrounding the High Lord’s mansion.

  “Kaylan?”

  “Here.” She walked over to him. “Strange, I thought we would be seeing this through my eyes. Not witnessing it. It looks just like I remember it.”

  “What were you doing that night?”

  She grinned. “We snuck off to that party so we could spend time together.”

  Elijah smiled. “Right. That was a lot of fun.”

  Kaylan glanced back at the house. “It must be around 10pm. My parents would have been heading to bed.” She hurried up the steps to the patio doors. “I remember my brother, Alex and Ena had already gone to bed when the fire broke out.”

  “Right, I remember your parents being really pissed off when they heard they got married.”

  The sound of a loud crash and a bright flash of light made them look up to the first floor window.

  Kaylan reached for the door handle, remembered it was only a memory and hurried back through the house. Elijah rushed after her. The feeling of heat scolded his skin as he followed Kaylan into her parents’ bedroom. His eyes scanned the room, spotted a shadow lurking in the corner but that was soon forgotten when he saw Kaylan’s mother, Diamante, sprawled on the floor, bleeding from deep wounds in her chest as Ena stood over Kaylan’s father, Edmund.

  “Where is it? Where is the book?” Ena demanded.

  Edmund shoved Ena away. “The Amaranthine Chronicles contain dark and dangerous magics. Too dangerous for anyone to possess.”

  “Fool, your reign as High Lord is over. The Zegans will control the city and I’ll work with them until I finally possess that book.” Silver flashed as Ena raised her knife. “At least they will appreciate me!”

  “No!” Kaylan screamed.

  They were both breathing hard as the memory faded and they woke up back in the cave.

  “Are you alright?” Elijah asked.

  Chest still heaving, Kaylan reached up, put a hand behind his head and pulled him down for a kiss. His eyes widened in shock for a moment before he wrapped an arm around her and pulled her closer. Heat burned between them and his beast demanded more. She was his, his true mate. He and the beast knew that.

  Kaylan moaned as she deepened their kiss. This kiss was filled with months of longing, of need to be close to each other again. It felt good just to hold her, feel her again but Elijah pulled away.

  “What’s wrong?” she gasped, eyes wide.

  He stood up, feeling all desire rush away. “I told you, I can’t be with you again.”

  “I know you still want me. I can see it in your eyes.” Kaylan rose and met his gaze. “Don’t try to deny it.”

  “Of course I want you,” he said through gritted teeth. “That’s the problem.”

  “But–”

  Elijah’s hands clenched into fists, he felt his claws come out as he fought for control again. “I want you,” he repeated. “So does the thing inside me. I won’t let it hurt you.”

  “I’m not afraid of you.” Kaylan reached up, stroking his cheek.

  “Well, you should be. After we’ve stopped Ena, we can’t see each other again.” A familiar ache formed in his chest and the look of pain in her eyes threatened to send him over the edge.

  “I’m not walking away again. No matter what you say or do.”

  The beast growled inside his mind, it wanted out. To claim what was his. Elijah turned, eyes flashing bright gold as he gripped her by the shoulders. He wanted to shake her. Why couldn’t she see the monster he’d become? Fangs sprang out as he backed her against the wall.

  Surprise shone in her dark eyes for a moment, but she didn’t back down.

  “How can you ever love this?” Elijah hissed, claws elongating as his eyes shone brighter.

  “Because I know the man I love is still in there. You’re still you. Whether you run away and hide or not,” Kaylan said. “You can growl and snarl as much as you like, but I am not losing you again.”

  This time he did shake her before yanking her head up so he could capture her mouth in one last hungry kiss. His fangs grazed her lips, gone was the passion. Now there was only hunger, only need. Kaylan kissed him back just as roughly before pulling away.

  “Nice try.” She wiped her bloodied lip. “But you’re not getting rid of me. We’re not done yet.”

  Elijah growled as he fought for control. “The memory...” Talking about that felt easier than discussing their broken relationship.

  She looked away. “Ena killed them.”

  “What is the Amaranthine Chronicles?”

  “It’s a book of ancient magics. The old Amaranthine were an order who helped right the wrongs of this world — like we do now. They kept their secrets in a book — it was handed down through my family for centuries. Ena wants it.”

  “Why?”

  “Legend says they contained the secret to immortal life. Ena always was ambitious. She must think the book can give her all the power she needs,” Kaylan used.

  “Do you know where the book is?” Elijah asked.

  She shook her head. “No, my father never shared that secret with anyone. Ena must think Freya can help her find the book. We need to get her out of there before it’s too late.”

 

 
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