Home > Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Immortals After Dark #9)(11)

Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Immortals After Dark #9)(11)
Author: Kresley Cole

At times, Emma had screamed that she was being put into a fire.

Lucia could do nothing but watch - and remember. Like Emma, Lucia had been a young immortal on the verge of death....

Emma's lids fluttered open, revealing frightened blue eyes. "Aunt Luce, am I dying?" The fear in her gaze. Lucia knew exactly what she was feeling.

"Of course not, sweet," Lucia said, choking back a sob.

Who could have hurt Em like this? When they'd asked her, she'd answered unintelligibly. Annika was beside herself with worry, inconsolable and casting the blame at Lachlain, but Lucia knew it was not him. Gentle Emma had faced something far more horrifying than even a crazed Lykae.

Em raised a hand to Lucia. "Please..."

Just like Lucia had pleaded a thousand years ago. But I have no power to save her.

The pain, the fear... I feel it as if it were yesterday. Tears tracked down her cheeks. Just don't let her suffer.

Damn that bluidy dart. Garreth slapped his neck, too late.

Outside his cell, Regin cackled. "Watch big werewolf go boom!"

As his body dropped to the floor, his last thought was: I'm going to kill that glowing bitch....

When he came to, his hands were shackled behind him, and Regin was shoving him up and out of the cell, while Lucia quietly admonished her for being unnecessarily rough.

He must be getting inured to the tranquilizer - he was shaking off its effects much faster than before. He could have escaped, was longing to block Regin's next hit and toss her on her arse, but he knew where they were taking him, had heard their whispers. The Valkyrie, at least, believed Lachlain was alive.

And they believed some dying vampire female named Emma was his mate. Regin and Lucia were taking Garreth to her.

Lachlain's mate a vampire? The idea was laughable. No one had despised leeches like Lachlain.

Once they entered a bedroom upstairs, Garreth saw Annika, standing beside a bed. A female lay atop it, shivering as she fitfully slept, though she was covered to her chin with piled blankets. Her face was pale, her cheekbones jutting. She hardly looked like a proud werewolf's queen.

Seeming to shake with rage, Annika pointed at her. "Is this who Lachlain should take his vengeance out on?"

As if Lachlain would harm an insignificant female like this. If he even lived.

"We've all suffered at the vampires' hands," Annika continued, "yet that dog thinks to punish our Emma, who is nothing but innocent and kind." She snatched the blankets from Emma, uncovering her leg. "Look at these gashes! They won't heal! What has he done to her? You will tell me or - "

"Christ," he murmured. Annika had also uncovered the vampire's neck. Was that a Lykae's mark? Is it my brother's mark? "That's his... no, it canna be." He strode forward, but Regin yanked on his bonds. "Let me closer," he growled over his shoulder. "Closer, or you'll get no help from me."

When Garreth closed in on Emma, he lost a breath. My brother's claimed her. As well as Garreth could recognize his brother's signature, the beast within him recognized the mark as Lachlain's.

He truly was alive.

This should be a time of jubilation, but the relief he felt was replaced by dread. Lachlain's pale-haired little mate would not last the week.

If she succumbed, Lachlain would be lost all over again. Garreth's voice grew deadly. "Get her well."

"We've tried everything!"

"Why will she no' drink? Aye, Valkyrie, I hear your whispers. I know what she is. What I doona know is how she is my brother's mate." A vampire, a blood drinker. He gazed at Lucia. Her expression was inscrutable.

Annika answered, "Emma will never be a 'mate' to one of you!"

But 'twas done. A male marked his woman to keep other males away, to brand her as his. Yet since the bite was done in the throes of taking her for the first time, it could also be an indication of how much he wanted his female. Any doubt that Lachlain wanted Emma for his own vanished with one look at her neck.

Lachlain had marked the ever-living hell out of her. Vampire or not, he desired this female desperately.

Any thoughts of escaping vanished as well. Garreth knew he had to remain here. This was where Lachlain would be. Just a matter of time. "It has been done," he grated. "I assure you."

Annika struck him.

He gave her a killing look. "He's marked her," Garreth bit out. "He'll be coming for her. I'm just surprised he's no' here already."

Annika raised her hand again, but Emma had awakened and murmured, "Annika, don't...."

"Force blood down her throat," Garreth said.

"You think we have not tried that? She can't keep it down."

"Try other blood, then." Though being bitten by a vampire was considered deeply shameful by Lykae, Garreth said, "Take mine!"

"Why do you care?"

"Because that's my queen, and I'll die for her."

"Now do you believe me?" Lucia asked in a deadened tone. Hours after MacRieve's confrontation with Annika, she was sitting outside his cage once more, watching him pacing within. "Your brother abducted her in France."

"Aye, but he would no' harm the female like that!"

"We know Emma was with him for weeks, and now she returns to us delirious, talking about fires and war and blood. She mumbles about Furie, our missing Valkyrie queen, and about Kristoff, the rebel vampire king. Lachlain captured Emma, and now she lies dying."

MacRieve shook his head hard. "It was no' Lachlain."

"How do you know what he's capable of?" Lucia asked. "You don't know where he's been for nearly two centuries. He could've been trapped somewhere, tortured. He likely was - there are rumors that Demestriu has Furie chained to the bottom of the ocean, dooming her to die and regenerate back to life over and over. Maybe he did the same or worse to your brother." She shuddered. "Lachlain was famous for his hatred of vampires, and Emma is one. You can't speak for him."

"You'll never convince me of this. I know my brother."

"Annika will exact retribution for this."

"And what will you try to do to him?" Garreth demanded. "Kill him?"

"MacRieve, you can't just abduct one of our own and not suffer repercussions. Your clan would do the exact same thing."

She was right. "Lachlain will be coming for her."

Lucia met his gaze, her face hard, another facet of her revealed. "We're counting on it."


 15

That night, Garreth shot upright on his cot. He sensed Lykae all around Val Hall. Were they planning to war with the Valkyrie to free him and retrieve their queen?

Please, gods, let his brother be one among their number....

"I'm taking Emma from this place tonight," Lachlain called from outside the manor.

His brother's voice. Garreth's eyes slid shut, and he sagged with relief. Just doona war with them, doona hurt Lousha.

Annika called back, "Never would I give my daughter to a dog."

Good luck with that one, Lachlain.

"Then trade me for my brother."

Wait, bargaining himself for Garreth? Oh, bluidy hell no. Brotherly irritation - so welcome to Garreth - flared. In Gaelic, he bellowed, "Goddamnit, Lachlain, I just got into this house!"

"Or take both of us," Lachlain amended. "Just let me talk to her."

More whispers from within. They'd be fools to turn down his offer - and the Valkyrie were no fools. Moments later, Garreth heard louder footsteps upstairs and scented his brother inside. They were bringing him to the basement. So I can see him for myself.

Once they led Lachlain down the stairs and into the cell, Garreth stared at him as though seeing a ghost. Lachlain didn't resist, even when the door clanged shut behind him.

Since the last time Garreth had seen Lachlain, his brother's appearance had been altered - his build was rangier, his countenance more haggard. But it was Lachlain before him. Running a hand over his face, Garreth muttered, "My eyes doona betray me?"

"No, it's me."

Garreth rushed to him, grin in place, and whaled slaps on his back. Now everything would come together. Lachlain would explain what really happened to the vampire, and they'd figure out how to heal her. Lucia would see that the Lykae weren't that bad. Aye, all will be better with Lachlain's return. "Well, brother, what have you gotten us into now?"

He raised his brows. "It's good to see you as well."

"I thought you were..." Garreth trailed off. Gods almighty, my brother is just here before me. Shaking himself, he said, "When they said you'd taken Emma, I thought they were mad. Until I saw her, saw you'd marked her." He frowned. "Marked her hard, no?" He shook his head. "Ach, anyway, it's good to have you back. Under any circumstances. I've so many questions."

Where have you been that I could no' find you? Why did you leave against our warnings?

Are the rumors of Demestriu's tortures... true?

Yet Lachlain looked so tormented with worry over his mate, Garreth said, "But that can wait. You need news about her?"

At his nod, Garreth said, "She's injured, Lachlain. She has gashes down her side, and she could no' drink though she was... she was about to die in just the first couple of hours."

Now the scent of blood arose. Garreth glanced down, saw Lachlain's claws stabbing into his palms. His voice a rasp, he said, "What saved her?"

"An IV."

When Lachlain's brows knit in confusion, as if he'd never heard the term, a jolt of dread ran through Garreth. Where had his brother been? Lucia had said, He could've been trapped somewhere, tortured.

Garreth explained, "They gave her blood through a tube that fed it straight to her veins. They think she's stabilized, but the gashes will no' heal. I suspect whatever got her had poisoned claws. Maybe a ghoul, but I doona know."

"I do." Lachlain ran his hand through his hair. "Demestriu did this to her. I saw it all."

Demestriu. Garreth gnashed his teeth. For millennia that evil fiend had been a scourge on their family. What else had he done - what else could he do? This time I will find him, destroy him -


 6

Lucia entered then. His plans for revenge immediately shifted to concern for his mate. He could see that she'd been crying, and even after all she'd done to him, and to Lachlain, Garreth's chest ached at the sight.

As Lucia descended the stairs, Garreth shot to his feet beside his brother, both standing so tall and proud. She was struck by how similar they were in looks, with the same rich brown hair, the same intense golden eyes.

Absently, she wondered if Lachlain had told Garreth about the Valkyrie's incursion yesterday at Kinevane - specifically Lucia's own actions. And she might have felt a twinge of guilt that the brothers' reunion had to be as prisoners in her basement.

"Lucia?" Garreth said, a question in his gaze.

Not wanting the Lykae to see she'd been crying, she tilted her head so her hair covered her face.

"She's no' better?" he asked.

Lucia shook her head. "Aunt Luce, am I dying?" Keep it together, Lucia!

Lachlain clenched the bars, looking to be in agony over Emma. "She heals whenever she drinks from me."

Garreth appeared stunned. "You let her...?" When Lachlain nodded, Garreth said to Lucia, "Then Lachlain must go to her."

"Annika forbids it. He's not to go near her. Emma sees things that aren't there, mumbles nonsense as though she's gone mad. Annika puts the blame squarely on his shoulders."

Garreth asked, "What does she see?"

"Emma says that Demestriu was her father, and he put her in the fire, so she killed him."

Lachlain answered, "She - did."

Both of them swung their heads toward him.

"She did. She killed Demestriu."

Lucia shook her head. "Sweet Emma? Kill the most powerful and deadly vampire ever to live?"

"Aye. He hurt her. Do none of you believe her?"

Garreth gave him an incredulous expression. "Demestriu's finally dead? Because of that wee thing? I've seen her - she's as fragile as an eggshell."

Lucia added, "Lachlain, when she finds a moth inside and tries to free it - well, if she accidentally dusts its wings, she's distraught for an entire night. I just don't see her killing this fiend on his home ground when our fiercest Valkyrie have failed to do so on a field of battle. And Furie, the strongest of us? If Demestriu could be killed by a Valkyrie, then surely she'd have done it."

"You doona know Emma as I do. No' anymore - "

"Then what does she mean when she says Furie is alive but shouldn't be?" Lucia demanded, afraid to hope....

"She's been imprisoned by the Horde. Demestriu never expected her to live this long."

Lucia swayed. Imprisoned? Perhaps trapped at the bottom of the ocean? In a smaller voice, she asked, "And when she says King Kristoff has her blood?"

"They're first cousins."

Her lips parted in surprise. "Furie lives."

"If you doona believe me, there's a video of the entire fight. I left it with Bowen, a member of our clan."

Garreth stopped gaping at Lachlain and turned to Lucia. "Go get it. For Annika to see."

She raised her eyebrows. "You want me to go to the clan?" To the compound? The kennel?

Garreth said, "Tell them I sent you, and they will no' hurt you. I vow it."

Please. "I know they won't succeed in hurting me. But you're sending me, who'll be carrying a bow, among your people. They will not thank you for it."

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