Home > Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark #11)(16)

Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark #11)(16)
Author: Kresley Cole

When they passed Brandr's cel , Regin told him in Old Norse, "My time here grows nigh." Though her attitude was confident, she knew several factors would work against her.

First, she wasn't a golden-tongued and persuasive Valkyrie; in fact, she was considered just the opposite-abrasive and smart-assed.

Second, she didn't do subterfuge, preferring to be brutal y honest at all times.

Third, she had earned a reputation for flying off the handle with little provocation. Justly earned. Her emotions were notoriously volatile.

Yet now she would have to pretend to be attracted to a man who'd mercilessly tormented her? Instead of giving in to her need to play-dress him in his own intestines?

One move open to her. "His time grows nigh as well."

Brandr was at the glass in a heartbeat. His light green eyes were bloodshot, his handsome face wan.

Chase must've worked him over too. still Brandr said, "Regin, don't do it! I'll warn him."

For all that she and Brandr had never gotten along, she couldn't fault his loyalty. "Stay out of my way, or you break your vow. ..." She trailed off. Were those staples peeking out just above his shirt collar?

Dear gods, Chase had ordered Brandr's vivisection? If he'd do it to his one-time best friend, he'd do it to her.

When she and Vincente reached the hub connecting two other wards, the guard squired her into one fil ed with offices and labs, all empty this late. They fol owed it to the end, then entered a dark-paneled office.

Chase was already there, seated behind a large desk. He wore his uniform as usual, his dress immaculate. She could even scent boot polish. His hair was off his face again, and he wasn't as pale as usual. Nice lips, she realized with a start.

"Lemme guess," Regin said. "You had your introductory spiel all planned, but rational thought deserted you when you saw me strol in braless."

Chase's angry gaze raked over her br**sts. They were pressing against her tight T-shirt even more than usual since her arms were bound behind her back.

"Leave us, Vincente," he commanded.

Without any expression, the man did.

"For the record," she continued, "it's not my fault I came in here looking like Chesty LaRue. You caught me on laundry day, so I have no undergarments on. Though I will cop to a little extra spring in my step for your benefit."

He subtly adjusted his legs behind his desk. Hard-on. Zing! Regin one; Chase zero.

Yet his resentment only seemed to increase.

She didn't know when Chase might summon her again-if ever-so she had to make this one chance count. To rekindle his memories, she needed either to coax him to kiss her or to provoke the berserker inside him.

Sex or protracted violence should do it.

"Yeah, weirdly, our cel doesn't have laundry facilities. So I figure I'll wash undies at one time and outerwear at another, always keeping some cover for the cameras. I'm not shy, but frankly, I've had my limit of men chubbing themselves to videos of me. It's moved from simple idolatry to something more sinister." She sauntered over to his desk, hopping atop it, sitting on his papers. "A little too Caged Heat, you know?" Those angry eyes were rapt on her bouncing br**sts.

Between gritted teeth, he ordered her, "Remove yourself from my desk, Valkyrie."

"Fine, huffy." She hopped down and began exploring his office. He said nothing, merely restacked his papers as he observed her.

The decor was modern and posh. Aside from the large mahogany desk and matching floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, he had a luxe leather couch and chairs. Office cabinets had been built into the wal s. Two enormous windows revealed a temperate forest shadowed by night. Only so many places in the world where trees like that grew. ...

Yet there were no pictures or decorations. The bookshelves were empty.

She turned to him. "I'm just relieved you weren't one of the men going fap-fap-fap to my vid. Or were you?" she asked with a stage wink, but his demeanor remained frosty. "So, what's with the gloves? The rumors say you don't like to touch others, or be touched. Care to comment?" She settled on the couch, drawing one knee up to her chest. "I wonder how you have sex. Or maybe you don't."

He'd turned off his anger, his interest, everything. A light extinguished. "You know nothing about me."

"The Blademan's blade is sheathed, huh?" She gave him a slow grin. "I vow to you that I know you better than you know yourself."

"So you keep saying."

Survival time, Regin. She took a steadying breath. Aidan would want me to live.

Besides, she didn't have any choice. Lucia needed her help; Regin needed to survive. Yet still she had difficulty with this plan. Centuries of secret hopes and waiting warred with the need to save Lucia-and herself.

Valkyrie won. "Yeah. A long time ago you were cal ed Aidan the Fierce. I've known you for over a thousand years."

The tension in him eased somewhat. "And yet I'm not even forty."

"You reincarnate. A lot."

"Reincarnate. And often, too? Now, this sounds interesting," he said with a sneer. "How many times would this make it?"

"This is the fourth time that I know of."

"Do I look the same?" He was clearly toying with her.

"Your eyes are the same, but the rest of you is always different. I can recognize you, and you always sense I'm familiar. Even now on some level you do, don't you? Our little torture session probably hurt you just as much as me."

"You're insane," he said easily, confidently.

"I vow to the Lore that I'm tell ing the truth. You know I'm bound by that vow."

"Only when it's made to another of the Lore."

His darkening expression warned her she was on thin ice. Of course, when had that ever stopped her?

"I know you don't want to believe you have anything in common with me. But you are of the Lore." She heard his leather gloves clenching beneath the table, knew he was probably envisioning strangling her.

"Look, let's make a deal. I'll tell you more info about the Lore than you've ever gotten out of any prisoner, and You'll grant me some concessions."

"Such as?"

"As long as I'm giving you information, you don't torture me or Carrow. Or Brandr and Uil eam MacRieve any more than you have," she said. "Or Natalya and Thad. Just lay off me and those friends, and I'll divvy."

She could see the wheels turning. He ful y believed she was nuts. But he also was weighing the odds that she'd reveal something he could use.

Again Chase took the bait. "Agreed. So tell me, Valkyrie. How did you and I meet?"

Chapter FIFTEEN

You were a warlord in the Northlands," the Valkyrie said.

Declan waved her on. But, as she'd done before, she seemed to be wrestling with a decision. Likely deciding the best way to deceive the mortal.

Or perhaps this wasn't a game. Many of the older immortals grew maddened. She might believe what she said.

Yet her eyes looked lucid. "A berserker warlord."

He froze. Of all the factions she could choose ... Brandr had looked familiar to him. As had Regin.

No, this was some sort of scam, a plan to undermine him. He stifled his anger, knowing he would have to tolerate this bul shite in order to garner information from her. "Tel me what you consider a berserker to be." To even pretend this was a possibility rankled, but he didn't see an alternative.

"A berserker is a mortal born with uncommon speed and strength," she said. "He worships the bear and can channel its ferocity into a berserkrage, making him as strong as the most powerful beings on earth. At least temporarily. Afterward, he's debilitated." She cast him a measuring glance.

He evinced no reaction, even as a suspicion began to arise. This might all go back to ... Nix.

"The berserkers swore all egiance to Woden and fought battles in his name."

Though myths rarely corresponded with reality, Declan had researched the Valkyrie's. "Woden is all egedly the father of the Valkyrie."

She nodded. "I'm the daughter of gods. well , two of my three parents are."

"How is there a third parent?"

"When a maiden warrior cal s out for courage as she dies, Woden and Freya strike her with lightning and rescue her to Valhal a. I was in the lightning." She glanced at his expression. "You don't believe me, do you?"

"Immortals are notorious for aggrandizing their own origins. But I've learned never to discount any-thing completely."

"Fair enough."

"Though I do wonder, if your parents are deities, why would they let you be captured by me?"

"Woden and Freya sleep to conserve power. They take sustenance from worship, and the last few centuries have been lean on the Norse god devotion."

If any of this was true ... Information here for the taking. "Who is the third parent?"

"She belonged to a people cal ed the Radiant Ones, an ancient race of mortals who glowed. Does it soften you toward me to know that a mortal woman birthed me?"

It ... surprised him. "Where is she? Where are the Radiant Ones located?"

It ... surprised him. "Where is she? Where are the Radiant Ones located?"

"She's long dead. They all are. I'm the last one of my kind."

"How did they die?"

"Like I said, hers was an ancient race, and they were mortal. Time gives and time takes," she said with a shrug, but her eyes flickered, belying her casual air.

"Berserkers, Valhal a, and Norse gods. I suppose you met Aidan over a horn ful of mead."

She stood, sauntering to one of the windows with that hip-swinging swagger that riveted his gaze and ratcheted up his pulse. Knowing she could hear his heartbeat, he tried to control it.

"Actual y, I'd just left Valhal a when we met. And I didn't drink mead. I was only twelve."

"Where is Valhal a?"

Over her shoulder, she answered, "It's a different dimension. A godplane."

"So why would you leave? Wouldn't that be like leaving heaven?"

"Yeah, but my sister Lucia was in trouble. So out I went into this strange and harsh world thinking to save her. I was attacked by vampires directly. Barely escaped them."

"Is that why you hate them so much?"

"Partly. The Horde has been hard on the Valkyrie. all of the Pravus army has been. Do you know who they are?"

"I'm aware of your subjective delineations." Their leagues. The Valkyrie, Wiccae, fey, and Lykae belonged to an all iance cal ed the Vertas. The Horde vampires, some demons, and most of the more beastlike beings aligned with the Pravus.

"Just remember that the Vertas are the ones you want to pul for in the Accession." She cocked her head. "You do know what the Accession is, don't you?"

"Of course. It's a war between all the factions in the Lore, occurring every five hundred years. We just don't know when exactly or where it will play out." When she chuckled, he grated, "What?"

"It's not a single battle. It's a force that pits factions against one another. The Accession drags us into conflict, keeping our numbers in check."

Yet more intel. One of the things he'd hated most about detrus was how they spread uncontrol ably, unchecked by disease, injury, or old age. Now she was tell ing him there existed an inherent mechanism to make them kil off one another? "Then why not resist that force?"

"Because it also seeds all iances and brings mates together. Plus, fighting is fun."

"And now humankind will be dragged into your fun."

At that, she burst out laughing. "Mortals in the Accession? I think you kids should ride the pine in this one."

Christ, she got him riled. "Both the Vertas and Pravus have taken out specific human targets recently and aggressed against the Order itself. As in the past, we've had no choice but to defend ourselves against the threat both sides pose."

She headed back to the couch. "I hate to correct you, but we just don't know about you. I'd never heard of your little dot-org until you told me about it. No one I know has."

"A war between immortals and humans is on the horizon."

"Humans aren't going to war against us-they have no clue we exist. The idea's laughable."

"One thing you all have in common? Arrogance. What's laughable is for your kind to believe we aren't aware of you. Part of our mission is to conceal your existence-an impossible task when you flaunt your- selves? You yourself brazenly go out in public with your skin glowing!"

She slapped her palms to her cheeks and cried, "My skin glows?" Then she grinned. "Should I be banished from public simply because I touched a radioactive alien c*ck once? Now you're just being silly, Chase."

Fuckin' hate her! She was a foulmouthed, conscience-less kil er, unfeeling at best and vicious at worst.

And now she was assessing him with those uncanny eyes, her ears twitching.

His own eyes narrowed with realization. She was saying these things to provoke a rise out of him, to gauge his reactions. Before, he'd thought her flighty and heedless. Now he recognized that she'd been systematical y uncovering chinks in his armor.

"Lookit, I didn't come here to fight. I was tell ing you all about your being a berserker. Though you don't believe a word of it."

"My parents were normal mortals."

"You must have inherited a recessive gene of something," she said. "It's not unheard of."

"No, but it's convenient."

"I thought I saw recognition on your face when I spoke Old Norse to you."

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