"Admit it. You like the fact that I don't automatically genuflect when you speak." The blonde woman stood with her hands on her hips and smirk on her lips. Adriel was torn between wanting to throw up his hands in exasperation and kissing her into submission. He went with the latter option.
When she saw him step forward, she laughed and began to run. She sprinted down the dark corridor until he couldn't see her anymore.
"Wait for me!" he yelled. He didn't know why, but it was imperative that she wait for him. Why was he suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of dread?
"Come out now!" He ran as fast as he could. The strands of her white-blonde hair seemed to glow in the torchlight; they moved farther and farther away.
When he lost sight of her completely, his heart seized.
"Please, love!" he begged.
He slowed down when splatters of blood began to appear on the stone floor. The trail led to a large wooden door. With a shaking hand, he turned the doorknob, and the door swung open.
His mate dangled from a large hook in the center of the room, her eyes unseeing as her blood dripped down her body and onto the floor.
"No!" His rage consumed him, sending his heart into darkness. Just when he felt his soul slip away, he jolted awake.
Adriel sat up in bed and tried to remember how to breathe. He had been having the same nightmare for weeks. He was never able to save her, and he never saw his enemy. He was no witch; why did these dreams plague him?
He got out of bed and ran a hand over the glow basket; immediately, the room was bathed in a soft warm light.
"I'm too old to believe light keeps evil at bay." He shook his head at his own actions and began to get dressed.
More than ever, he was going to miss Leif Grassfield and Travis Hickory. Last week, the two seasoned witches had been recalled to Storm Keep and replaced by the Morninglory twins, Nigel and Neil. He had never felt so ancient and jaded as when he was around those two. They had just turned one hundred and were practically babies. He wanted to send them back to Storm Keep to give them a chance to grow up, to keep them safe while they matured and gained experience, but they had begged to stay, stating there was nothing for them to go back to. He had handed off the twins to their respective unit leaders. Nigel had gone to Dimitri Romanov of the Theta Unit, and Neil had gone to Godard Kipling of the Kappa Unit. They were now their headaches.
Maybe he could call Leif later and ask him about the dreams. Looking in the mirror, he straightened his tie, pulling it tight to fit snuggly against his starched collar. His long navy blue coat was spotless and pressed to perfection. As the leader of the units here in Noctem Falls, he always made sure he was impeccably groomed so that none of the Noble or Founding families could find fault with his appearance.
Grabbing his clipboard, he left his quarters and headed to the galley where his men gathered to eat. It was just another day in the City of the Night. To take his mind off the haunting dreams, he began his daily routine with his men and let the repetitious and mundane tasks soothe him.
Adriel ran a finger around his collar and cracked his neck. They had been waiting at the fae portal for nearly an hour for the visiting delegation from Lycaonia. It had been almost two months since their prince had extended the invitation, but they were finally on their way. While he had initially been excited to learn that little Bethy was returning for a visit, he was less than happy with the arrival of her companions. He wasn't sure he would be able to stay in the same room as Gavriel Ambrosios without calling him out. The Royal family of Ambrosios had died out long ago, there was no way this man could claim that name. Despite reassurances from Prince Magnus, he harbored a deep-seated mistrust for the warrior.
Next was Aiden McKenzie. He had never had the chance to meet his commander so he was looking forward to meeting the man, but his mate was another story. He had heard rumors that the woman was a complete menace. Not only had she insulted a member of the Noble family Evreux to his face, she also seemed to cause chaos and destruction wherever she went. The city's gossips reported that she had been directly responsible for the destruction of not only Lycaonia's five-thousand-year-old Council Manor, but she had also ruined the city square. Why his prince invited such a troublemaker to their city was beyond him. They had enough on their plate searching for missing families to deal with an unbalanced human.
When the portal in front of him lit up, he stepped back.
"I can't wait to see Bethy." Declan Lionhart grinned beside him.
Adriel straightened. "We have all missed her." He heard a snort and turned to raise an eyebrow at his oldest friend. "Yes?"
Declan shook his head, his mouth twitching. "Nothing."
Behind them, Adriel heard more chuckles. He turned around to find that Grant Douglas, Etain Vi'Aerlin and Micah Sageson were hiding smiles behind their hands.
"What?" he demanded.
Micah rolled his eyes. "Come on Adriel, we all know you've missed her more than anyone, except maybe her family. Admit it, you've had a soft spot for the accident prone bunny since she asked you to be her valentine when she was four."
Adriel cleared his throat and turned back to the portal. "She is an endearing individual who takes her responsibilities seriously. I respect that."
"And the fact that she became an organizer with her cute little planner, which is her own version of your clipboard means absolutely nothing," Etain teased.
Adriel fought a smile. "Here they come. Look sharp," he commanded.