Blood Will Tell

Page 23


Although the Princeps didn’t smile Noah recognized the lightening of his eyes as pleasure. “She did?”
“Yeah. She was really brave.”
“That may not mean anything,” Alain sighed. “Cyrus, I am concerned. I don’t want you to get your hopes up.”
Cyrus strode towards Noah’s father and placed a gentling hand on his shoulder. “I appreciate your concern, Alain, but you know I can save her.”
“She isn’t Valeria, Cyrus,” Alain disagreed.
“Dad, she’s strong,” Noah insisted. “She can do this.”
“She threatened to kill you,” his father snapped. “How can you defend that?”
He felt his patience thinning. “Because when she had the chance she didn’t.”
“That was before we killed her brother.”
“Look.” Noah shook his head. “You’re right. She might never forgive me. But I believe she’ll forgive and trust Cyrus.”
Emma reached for her husband’s hand and squeezed it. They shared one of those looks that Noah had always envied, the kind of look in which a whole conversation passed between them. Finally his father gave a small nod. “OK. I’ll reserve judgment and pray that you are both correct.”
Cyrus nodded gratefully and watched his friend and fellow warrior quietly leave the room with his wife, an air of anxiety pulsing all around him. The Princeps heaved a sigh and turned to Noah. “Your father is a good friend and a great warrior, but sometimes his pragmatism gets in the way of his faith. You don’t share that quality, Noah. In some ways you are much like him. Arrogant and elitist,” he teased. “But in other ways you are very open-minded.”
“You mean with Eden?”
“I spent a lot of time with her. I know her. I believe in her.”
“And yet you believe she will never forgive you?”
“She might not, no.”
“And that matters?”
Noah snorted and raked a shaky hand through his hair, not quite able to meet the Princeps’ eyes. “More than I ever thought it would.”
“Then I want you to stay.”
“What?” He frowned, looking up sharply.
Cyrus’ face had hardened again, as it did when he was relaying an order. “Eden may be angry with you, but you are also the one thing that has pushed her to hold tight to humanity. I believe in that more than I believe in her anger. You will stay-”
“But, Princeps-”
“No buts. We are in this together, Noah Valois.” And finally Cyrus let himself smile a little. It was a smile of hope and Noah felt a twinge in his chest at the expression. He prayed that Eden didn’t let this noble warrior down. “Me, you, Eden and Valeria.”
At the mention of the ancient Ankh, Noah raised an eyebrow. “Valeria has finished her assignment then? She’s returning?”
Cyrus nodded. “She is already on the plane. Alain and I are driving to meet her at the airport. We will be gone a few hours, so I leave you and Emma in charge. Valeria’s presence here should help greatly.”
Noah sighed. God, I hope so.
Chapter Nineteen
Me, Myself & I
Eden, we have to get out of here. Can’t you hear the heartbeats all around, the heartbeats of such delicious pure souls? Oh Eden, Eden, get us out of here. We need to feed, Eden. Let’s take them, Eden. They deserve it, Eden. For Stellan. They took him from us, Paradise. They cut him apart and snuffed out his life without caring. Why should we care if we do the same to one of them? Get the blonde, the one who killed Stellan.
The hunger shredded her insides with its vicious claws.
Hmm, yes. The blonde. Smell the souls, Eden. We want them. Need them. Need. Need. Take. Take. Stellan. No. Souls. Souls. Pure. Stellan. Need. Want. Give in. Forget. Stellan. Hungry, Eden. Hungry. Take. Take.
Eden screamed, pulling at her hair, yanking strands of it from her scalp in her desperation. Her chest was burning with agony from the hunger, her heart weeping in pain from the grief and her mind wrestling with the sanity to deal with both together. Her nerves felt fried, as if there was too much blood and muscle and veins for her skin to contain. Her entire being bubbled beneath the surface, desperate to break apart, free.
She began to hyperventilate.
Sometime later, Eden awoke, her body aching from having passed out on the lumpy mattress in the basement Cyrus had put her in. He hadn’t wanted to. Or so he had said. And despite Eden wanting to trust him – no, needing to trust him - she couldn’t. She couldn’t trust anyone anymore. As the blurriness of unconsciousness faded, Eden struggled to sit up. She felt mildly better, although she could sense the hunger beginning to awake along with the rest of her body. She’d really thought she was going crazy before she collapsed. Maybe she already was crazy.
I wonder how long he’ll keep me here.
Eden gazed around at her dismal setting. At least Cyrus hadn’t chained her up.
And that will be his first and last mistake. As soon as someone came into the basement, Eden was getting out of there. Even if she died trying.
Unfortunately she had to wait a while, and the longer she waited the hungrier and angrier she grew. Her grief for Stellan hovered and throbbed around her, despite her reasoning that he probably had known the truth about who she was. It didn’t matter. She had known he had loved her. Would have died for her.
And he had.
He was gone because of her. Because of Romany. The grief was easier to handle when she contemplated revenge. So that’s what she did: she thought on the revenge she would one day exact. She didn’t care how long it took her, she would hunt Romany down and kill her exactly the same way the Neith had murdered Stellan. Anticipation zinged in Eden’s blood giving her an energy she lacked from being hungry both for a soul and for actual food. When the lock on the basement door clicked and an unfamiliar warrior walked in with a plate of food and a glass of water, Eden was ready. She clocked the dagger in the pouch strapped around the hips of the female Neith/Ankh? Eden didn’t care which. She just took the opportunity. She didn’t know if they’d been watching, or what. Had they been expecting her to be so tired they didn’t worry about the chances of her getting past a warrior?
It was disgustingly easy.
She flew at the warrior, a blur of movement across the basement, her hand ripping the dagger from the warrior, whose reflexes were good enough to whip out of Eden’s path, but not good enough to retain the dagger. Eden slashed at the air in front of the warrior, who jumped back, the tray of food clattering to the ground, the glass smashing into pieces.
“I don’t want to fight, Eden.” The woman held her hands up in the air defensively. She looked vaguely familiar with her auburn hair and cobalt eyes. “I’m Noah’s mother, Emma. We don’t want to hurt you.”
At the mention of Noah’s name, Eden’s eyes narrowed, not even bothering to be surprised that, like Alain, Emma looked barely ten years older than her son. How would Noah feel if she killed his mother, huh? Would he understand then? The unbearable guilt and emptiness. Would he get it then?!
She shook with indecision as Emma turned her kind eyes on her. They befuddled her. “Just hand me back the weapon and we’ll wait for Cyrus, and we can talk. Let’s just… all talk. I won’t hurt you, sweetheart.”
A pang of bitterness swelled in Eden’s chest at the endearment. No one had ever called her sweetheart before.
She wouldn’t kill Emma. This wasn’t her fault.
Eden nodded, as if she were agreeing, and lowered the dagger. Emma’s shoulders seemed to sag a little in relief. Thinking the warrior duped, Eden kicked out at her with her leg. Two seconds later she was shocked to find herself flat on her back on the floor of the basement, Emma straddling her, holding her down with an amazing strength that belied her small stature. Wow, she’d underestimated the power of the Ankh.
Despite Eden’s attack, Emma’s eyes remained kind. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
The pressure on her wrists and body clamping her to the ground was immovable. There was no way she was getting out of here. Crap. What now?
Eden’s eyes narrowed in thought. Did the compulsion work against the Ankh? She didn’t know. But it was worth a try right? She locked eyes with Emma. “No, you’re not going to hurt me.”
Emma’s face slackened but her eyes widened. She trembled as if she were fighting with herself. “I’m not going to hurt you,” she replied in the flat voice of one under compulsion.
“Let me go, Emma.”
It took a minute, and Emma’s eyes seemed to shine with tears of disbelief, but she let go and stood up robotically. Eden jumped to her feet, still clasping the dagger in her hand. She gazed quizzically at the Ankh. If she didn’t know any better she’d say the compulsion worked but Emma was aware of it happening to her. “You’re going to let me go and not follow me.”
“I’m going to let you go and not follow you.”
Not taking any chances, Eden patted Emma’s pockets and pulled out the key to the basement door. She felt a wallet and stepped around the warrior to stare down into her eyes. “You’re going to give me any money you have on you.”
Emma blinked and reached into her back pocket, pulling out a girly pink leather wallet that seemed at odds with the warrior. She rifled through it and pulled out a wad of cash. Eden took it, her eyes widening as she counted it. There was at least two hundred bucks there.
“Thanks,” she replied and handed the empty wallet back. As she did, her eyes touched on the cool dagger pouch around Emma’s hips. She untied it, still amazed that the warrior didn’t even move, and strapped it around her own hips, sliding the dagger back into the pouch. Just in case. Eden took a step towards the door and then glanced down at her feet. Damn. She sighed and walked back around to stare into Emma’s eyes. “Take off your shoes.”
The ankle boots were a little too small but Eden shoved her feet into them anyway.