entered their quarters as Jurek poured himself a drink. She stood and watched
him toss back the entire glassful and pour himself another. When he was
finished with the second, he faced her. The anger she’d expected wasn’t there.
In its place was disappointment.
“You could’ve at least warned me. Do you think that was
“No. It wasn’t fair. I am sorry for that. But if I had told
you ahead of time, we would’ve fought and argued for hours over it. And the end
result would’ve been the same. We both know it’s coming to a head. I have to
face him sooner or later and the truth is, I’m scared to death. So I’d rather
not sit around and wait anymore, because all this waiting only makes it worse.
The thought of January’s children locked in Abaddon’s realm brings me to my
knees. So I must act.”
“You emasculated me, Liasare. In front of everyone. Those
are my people. My subjects. Our subjects.” He threw his glass against the wall
and she watched it shatter into dozens of tiny pieces. Oddly enough, it was the
glass breaking that made her focus, because that was exactly how she didn’t
want this to end.
“I’m sorry that’s the way it felt to you. To me it’s a way
of drawing the hunter out. He knows we travel together. He may think I’m more
vulnerable without you. My intentions were never to make you feel that way.”
Jurek knew within his heart what he needed to do, but
abhorred the very idea of it. “Nevertheless, I suppose my feelings in this
matter are irrelevant. Liasare, listen to me. Do not, under any circumstances,
let your mind shield slip. He will attempt every trick he knows to cajole you
into thinking you are safe. You are never safe. Understand me? When you
enter Club Down, you will feel the worst brushes of evil abrading your power.
Do not succumb to it. And whatever you do, even if you must sacrifice the lives
of the Praestani that accompany you, keep yourself safe. Our species depends
upon you. You are The Light. This is a great burden you carry, but it is also
one you must protect at all costs. Tell me you understand this.”
His words imparted the gravity of what she would face in the
“I understand every word.”
Memories forced their way into Jurek’s mind, ones he didn’t
particularly care to think about. They were when Liasare had been held captive
by one of Abaddon’s minions. Then other memories infiltrated his head and
pushed the hideous ones aside.
“Tell me something. Remember back in our early days together
when I asked you never to lie to me?”
Liasare laughed. “How could I not? You scared me half to
death most of the time.”
His voice was gruff with emotion when he said, “But you
never cowered from me. You stood up to me like a soldier going to war, just as
you do now. So tell me, what is the real reason you want me to stay behind?”
She flinched at his question. It wasn’t possible to avoid
the truth, but by answering him, she knew it would cut him to the core. There
was only one thing to do and that was to face him, head on, with brutal
“I need you here because I’m fairly certain when I return I
will need all of your powers to heal me. Not only will you have to piece me
back together again, Jurek, I will also need you to tend to Justus while I am
healing. I don’t know what kind of shape I will be in, or whether I will be
able to see him. I don’t want him to see me until I am myself again. At least
if you remain here, you will be able to care for him while I am recovering.”
Though he expected an answer he wouldn’t like, her words
viciously punctured his heart. “Christ, Liasare. And how do you expect me to
send you out there, knowing this?”
“I’m not giving you that choice because it’s not yours to
He reached out his arm and touched her face. “How can I do
“This isn’t anything you can or can’t do. Don’t you see?
It’s what must be done. It’s the prophecy, Jurek. It’s been written about
centuries ago. I was born to do this. And either I go to him or he comes to me,
but it will happen, one way or another.”
Their clothes were gone, vanishing like smoke in a breeze.
His hands surfed her body, like he was skimming across the waves of the sea,
memorizing every dip and curve as they moved. His lips followed the path his
hands began, touching, kissing, and tasting every solid inch of her, pressing
into her skin, molding themselves to her as they trailed along. He inhaled her
scent, committed to memory her essence so when she was gone he could call it
forth. The room brightened with his power as a burst of energy danced across
her skin where his hands touched her.
Liasare responded in like, as her fingers weaved themselves
into Jurek’s hair.
Emotion smothered her words as she began to speak but she
forced it back because she wanted him to know what she felt at this moment. Her
hand trembled when she raised it to brush a lock of his hair off his forehead.
“The first time I ever saw you was that night as I sat drinking my beer. I
believe it was in Cosmos. Do you remember?”
She waited for him to nod and when he did, she continued.
“Your skin was so glorious. You looked like an exotic
gladiator, like the kind I had read about from the old history books on Earth.
You were dressed in your leathers and your tawny skin glowed. I could see it
even in that dim club we were in. And I couldn’t stop thinking about how
handsome you were. I had never seen anyone like you before. And there I sat,
holding my beer bottle, and I looked down at my arms as they were covered up
because I was so scarred. I thought to myself then, ‘I wonder how it must feel
to be that beautiful?’” Her hands lightly cupped his neck, thumbs tenderly
pressing the hollow at his throat. Then, following the curves and arches of his
shoulders and arms, fingers spread wide, she outlined every inch of him as if
she were caressing him for the very first time. When she reached his fingertips,
she kissed each one, and then journeyed to his torso, discovering the remainder
of his body.
“I was so afraid back then. Of everything. And then I
remember the first time you took me to the sanctuary, after you found and
healed me. But I couldn’t forget what happened. You came to me that one night
and knelt before me, begging me to talk to you.” Her brow was creased as she
thought back to that night. She touched her lips to the center of his chest
right over his heart before she continued. “I begged you to erase my memories.
I had this burning need for you to make love to me to help me forget. I was
madly in love with you. And I didn’t care if you loved me in return. I just
needed to feel you inside of me. But I was afraid you’d refuse, like you’d done
so many times before. I was slowly cracking into tiny pieces, bit by bit. And
there you were, right in front of me, and I wanted so much to throw myself at
you. I remember thinking again that you were the most beautiful site I’d ever
seen in my life. I couldn’t imagine how any man could be so perfect. And as
much as I was falling apart, I was more afraid that night that you would push
me away one final time. Do you know something? I think if you had refused me, I
would’ve found a way to end it all. But you didn’t. You said to me that if I
consented, there’d be no turning back. That you played for keeps.” She smiled
then. “Those were the greatest words I’d ever heard. I thought to myself,
‘Well, here he goes, saving my life again.’ And now you stand before me and
somehow you’ve become even more beautiful than you were then. You are my heart,
and will always be my heart. Facing the demon isn’t the worst thing I can
imagine.” Cupping his face, she said, “The worst thing for me would be facing
the rest of my life without you. I’m going to come back to you. But when I do,
I’ll need you more than ever. So yeah, I want you here, safe, but also so you
can heal me. Make love to me now, so that just for this little slice of time, I
can forget what I’m about to face.”
Liasare never saw Jurek after he rescued her from near death
or she would’ve recognized this emotion in him. His hands gripped her shoulders
and he looked at her, his lavender eyes heavily laced with silver in their
depths threatened to spill tears. “Liasare,” he began, but had to stop because
he couldn’t go on. Swallowing several times, he began again, “Liasare, when you
say things like this to me, it makes me want to carry you away from this
dreadful place. I … I am afraid. I’m afraid of letting you go. But I’m also
afraid of putting my arms around you. Because if I do, I may not let you
go. I know I must and I know you must do this … this thing you’ve been
charged with, but it’s my duty as your mate to protect you and here I am
sending you to the damn demon himself.”
She didn’t give him a chance to say anything else before she
kissed him, softly tasting and gently nipping at him.
Against his mouth she murmured, “I want to savor this
moment, relish every second. I want it slow and easy, Jurek.”
They stood together, touching each other, as if it were
their very first time.