Home > Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Immortals After Dark #9)(15)

Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Immortals After Dark #9)(15)
Author: Kresley Cole

"Have you gone insane?"

"Would you blame me if I had after all you've done to me? All you've denied me, denied us - "

"Who the hell is this?" a male demanded from behind them.

Garreth turned, spied a drunken human. Must be the captain. The man eyed Lucia's bow and Garreth's dripping clothes. With the look of a bloke who'd seen it all, he said to Lucia, "Is there a problem, doc?"

Doc? Though the mortal was packing muscle, Lucia had to know that he couldn't do anything to help her.

Her lips thinned. Oh, aye, she knew better. "No, no problem, Travis."

This Travis turned to him. "Lemme guess, you're our obligatory stowaway?"

"New passenger." Garreth dug into the pocket of his soaked jacket, then handed the man a soggy wad of cash. "Garreth MacRieve."

Travis glanced from Lucia to Garreth, then to his handful of bills, accepting it with a nod. "We don't have any cabins left - "

"No' a problem. I bunk with this one from now on."

Lucia opened her mouth to protest, but Travis said, "Then welcome the hell aboard." With that, he turned and climbed back up to the wheelhouse.

Lucia jerked from Garreth's grasp. "This isn't over. And if you lay another paw on me, MacRieve, I'll make you regret it."

When she turned from him, he laid another paw on her, giving her arse a possessive squeeze, groaning with pleasure; she whirled around and punched him with shocking force in the Adam's apple, doubling him over as he coughed.

As she hastened away, he grated, "Still doona regret it."


 19

On her way back to cabin seven, she swooped up her pack, then unlocked the heavy door, slamming it behind her. The rusted hinges screamed in protest.

At first glance, the wood-paneled room was larger than she'd thought it would be, the bed as well. Probably because both were so old, from a bygone era of luxury.

There was a writing desk and chair, a bedside table and lamp. A mosquito net dangled above the bed. Both a decent-sized bathroom and a cramped balcony adjoined.

After tossing her bag to the floor, she leaned back against the door, propping her bow and quiver against the wall.

What am I going to do? She was traveling on a vessel lousy with humans, dispatched on a mission by a half-mad being, replete with an embarrassing secret identity, an impending apocalyptic deadline, and now a nemesis who could prove her undoing.

A sexy nemesis.

Gods, he was still as attractive as ever. His dark charisma - which still seemed to make her mind go blank - was in full force.

Had he really missed her scent? As a Lykae, had he longed to experience it? The idea made her disconcertingly flushed - and irritated with herself. Why was she even contemplating things like that?

Instead, she needed to be worried about how he would retaliate for all she and Regin had done to him. There was no way he'd simply deem the last year water under the bridge....

Nïx had told her, "Call me as soon as you get on board." Oh, she would call all right!

Lucia snatched her sat-phone from her pack, dialing her. But the soothsayer wasn't answering - no shock - so Lucia left a message. In the calmest voice she could manage, she said, "Nïx, it's me. I'm under way. Call me back. Oh, and I think I hate you."

Once she hung up, she saw another text. RegRad: Didn't mean that last msg. Still BFFs? I should B there w/U. This town=LAME.

Lucia thought Regin should be with her, too. But at the outset, they'd disagreed on how to deal with MacRieve's hell-bent pursuit. Regin had decided to kill him, which Lucia couldn't abide. Not after he'd saved the lives of Regin, Annika, and herself.

How had Lucia repaid him? With pain.

And now she herself would be paying for that decision -

"Let me in, Lousha," he said from just outside the cabin.

Perhaps I should have let Regin have at the wolf. "Why are you doing this to me?"

"You ask questions that you know the answers to? Now, open up, or - "

"You'll huff and puff?" She glanced around the room, as if to find a way around letting him inside. Before she spied an alternative, he broke the lock, opening the door. "MacRieve!"

He strolled past her with an insolent chuck under her chin, then slammed the door closed.

"You got the cabin in the bow?" he said with a scowl. "Surprised you dinna just go with hammock class."

"If you have a problem with it, feel free to leave."

He ignored that, dropping his bulging duffle bag. Then he seemed to scent the area, checking nooks and crannies, rapping a knuckle on the wood-paneled wall, shuffling the faded green floor rug.

She took the opportunity to study him, finding him as insufferably gorgeous as ever. His thick dark hair remained longish and carelessly cut. His customary stubble shaded his lean cheeks and that stubborn cleft chin. Around his eyes, those faint lines fanned out, pale in his tanned skin.

Though he'd lost weight - he clearly hadn't been eating enough - his body was still massive. Nothing could diminish his towering height. Captain Travis was over six feet tall, and he'd had to look up to the Lykae.

Then she frowned. On his left wrist, MacRieve wore a silver cuff that looked as though it'd come from a suit of battered armor. It was what she'd initially seen glinting when she'd first caught sight of him. How odd.

"Still as ruggedly handsome," he said without turning around, "as I was the last time you saw me, Valkyrie."

Her face flushed red. She hadn't forgotten how gravelly his voice was, but for so long she'd denied its effect on her.

He opened up the double doors to the small balcony, peered out, then turned back to say, "Shame it's in the bow." Then he crossed to the cabin's sole chair to yank off his sodden boots.

"Why do you keep saying that?"

"You'll see." Barefooted, he unzipped his waterproof bag for a pair of faded jeans and a black T-shirt.

Her eyes widened. "You're not changing in here."

Fingers on the fly of his low-slung jeans, he raised his brows at her. "Oh, I'm no'?" He leisurely tugged down his zipper. "Leaving on wet clothes in the Amazon? Lesson one - that's no' too bright an idea."

Her first instinct was to whirl around, but then she'd be turning her back on a disrobing Lykae who lusted for her. Yet the alternative was just as bad. To see his na**d flesh again?

How many times had she fantasized about his big shaft, remembering how it'd looked when he'd been pumping it into her fist between those bars?

Don't look at it. Blushing, she finally whirled around from him, but then she was forced to listen to the sounds of his undressing. His smooth, tan skin would still be damp, as it'd been that rainy night in the bayou. She swallowed, assailed by memories of touching him, touching him everywhere....

"So, Valkyrie. Mind telling me what we're doing in Amazonia, of all places? I'd vowed I'd never return to this hellhole."

Without turning around, she said, "I do mind. And if you vowed never to return, then you - should - leave."

"Here's a thought. In the last year I've been chasing you, did you never consider hiding out at the Ritz?"

"Here's a thought. Stop chasing me!"

Suddenly she felt his breaths - on the back of her neck. She twisted around, craning her head to stare up at mesmerizing golden eyes.

As he gazed down at her, he rested his hand against the wall above her head, fingering a lock of her hair. "Ah, lass, I will. Now that I've caught you."

He had little flecks of black within the gold of his irises. She'd never noticed that before. And she dimly perceived that he had in fact redressed.

Was she disappointed? "Caught me?"

"Oh, aye."

The reality of her situation sunk in. She was the object of a Lykae's unwavering obsession. They just didn't give up. And the Valkyrie's usual remedy for this - a slaying - wasn't an option.

She was caught, she couldn't get rid of him, and short of leaving this boat, she was going to have to deal with MacRieve.

She'd have to try to reason with him. The only problem? He made her feel anything but reasonable! Even now, she wanted to rise up on her toes, rubbing against his chest on the way up, to whisper in his ear that she needed to be kissed. "I'll make a deal with you, MacRieve. If you leave me alone for just one year, then we'll meet up. I'll let you court me. But I need you off this boat, now."

"Meet up? Like that time in the swamp?" he said pointedly.

"I'd vow it to the Lore. Just leave here now, and I'll contact you as soon as I return from the Amazon."

"This is no' open for debate. I'm no' bargaining with you. That time is past. We do things my way now. I'm in this cabin and in that bed with you. Best come to terms with it."

"You can't be serious!"

"Are you no' tired of running? Settle this with me."

"One more time - I'm not running from you! I have an urgent matter to attend to, and I need to be focused. Which means you need to leave."

"Tell me what you have to 'attend to.'"

For a wild moment, she considered revealing everything about Cruach. She believed that the Broken Bloody One could in fact bring about an apocalypse - if she couldn't cast him back to the bowels of his lair for another five centuries. Nïx had said his power would now spread like wildfire, like a plague, if unchecked.

But Lucia knew if she laid it all out there, the Lykae would simply inform her that he would take care of Cruach. A male like MacRieve would never accept that she alone had the power to defeat a monster so powerful he could destroy the world.

"Tell me, Lousha...."

She steadied herself. Because she'd trusted one male, she was in this predicament - she wouldn't be blindly trusting another one to get her out of it! So she answered with a question: "How could you possibly get here so quickly? I saw you in the Northlands."

"I have ways. And I'll be as forthcoming as you are with me."

"Damn you, MacRieve, you can't comprehend how important this is."

"Then enlighten me."

She pursed her lips.

"Will no'? Then I doona give a damn about your business. All I care about is having you in my grasp. Maybe I dinna make myself clear. Before I would have been good to you, spoiled you. And I might have bargained with you. No longer. Now I simply want the use of your body and revenge for all you've done to me."

Stunned, she bit out, "Go to hell."

"Been there, Valkyrie. For the last twelve months."

"I'll escape you, MacRieve, just as I have time and again. If you want to play dirty - "

"I'll always play dirty with you, because it's the only way to win." His hand shot downward. Would he grab her, stroke her -

But he never touched her. Her jaw dropped. He snagged my bow! She lunged for it, but he yanked it back.

With a look of diabolical satisfaction, he said, "Bet this has no' been out of arm's reach in centuries."

"Wh-what are you doing?"

Her look of horror would have told Garreth all he needed to know even if lightning hadn't struck just off the port window. She'd do anything to get this back.

"Give it to me!" She made another futile grab.

"Ah-ah, Valkyrie." He half turned from her, examining it, checking the lines. Etched into the wood were bizarre symbols that raised his hackles, made him wary. Esoteric ones that he'd never seen, as mysterious as the woman before him.

Not for the first time, he felt as though he didn't know Lucia at all.

"If you want this back in this century... you'll do whatever I say."

Her lips thinned.

"I think we're beginning to understand each other. Now to make you more cooperative." He unstrung the bow, placing it into its case.

"MacRieve, no!"

He tossed the case on the bed. "Calm yourself. I'll give it back when you vow to the Lore that you will no' run."


 8

"I can't believe you would do this to me!"

He cast her an amused look. "Believe it," he said, savoring this victory, knowing he'd finally won a round - and it was decisive. "I'll do this and more. Show you all the mercy you showed me. You'll do whatever I tell you for the duration." He stepped back, his gaze raking over her body. "And right now, I'm telling you to strip for me."


 20

She froze, glaring up at him. "When I get that bow back, MacRieve, I'm going to use it to kill you."

"What's new there?" His gaze dropped to her lips. "For the last year, you've been exploding things at me and trying to end me."

"I've never tried to 'end' you before - as evidenced by the fact that you're still alive."

"What about the log truck? And the warehouse fire?"

One single flaming arrow plus a New Year's cache of fireworks equaled a whistling, popping, screeching inferno - that he'd been directly in the middle of.

He hadn't even brought up the Austrian incident: Regin, some shrieks, an avalanche, and a buried, pissed-off werewolf.

"Not to mention what you did to my quarters in Louisiana!"

She might have ordered "her subjects" to relocate the horses from the stable to his rooms. And possibly she'd cut all his more costly belongings in half, removing fifty percent of them. "What about your lies?" Lucia snapped. "Saying that I wasn't your mate!"

He didn't address that. "I've been patient with you, Lousha, forgiven any slights against me and my family. No more patience. I'm a different man now than I was then."

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