Home > Valley of Silence (Circle Trilogy #3)(17)

Valley of Silence (Circle Trilogy #3)(17)
Author: Nora Roberts

He went up, and out, where the dark was thick and the music from the hall only a silvery echo. Clouds had rolled over the moon, and the stars were smothered by them. Rain would come before morning; he could already smell it.

Below, there were torches to light the courtyards, and guards stood at post at the gates, on the walls.

He heard one of them cough and spit, and the quick flap of the flags overhead in a sudden kick of wind. He could hear, if he tuned himself to it, the rustle of mice in their nest tucked in a gap of the stones, or the papery swish of the wings of a bat that circled overhead.

He could hear what others didn’t.

He scented human—that salt on the flesh, and the rich run of blood beneath it. There was a part of him—always—that burned a little with the need. To hunt, to kill, to feed.

That burst of blood in the mouth, in the throat. The sheer life of it that could never be tasted in what came in cool packs of plastic. Hot, he remembered, always hot, that first taste. It heated all the places that were cold and dead, and for that moment, life—or its shadow—stirred inside that cold and that dead.

It was good to remember, now and then, the unspeakable pleasure of it. Good to remember what he pit his will against. Vital to remember what it was those they fought craved.

The humans did not, could not. Not even Blair who understood more than most.

Still they would fight, and they would die. More would come behind them to fight, and to die. Some would run, of course—some always did. Some would break with fear and simply stand and be slaughtered, like rabbits caught in a jacklight.

But most wouldn’t run, wouldn’t hide, wouldn’t freeze in terror. In all the years he’d watched humans live and die, he knew when their backs were pressed hardest to the wall, they fought like demons.

If they won, they would end up romanticizing the whole business, songs and stories. Old men would sit by fires years from now and speak of the glory days while they showed their scars.

And others of them would wake in cold sweats from reliving the horror of war in their dreams.

If he lived, what would it be for him? he wondered. Glory days or nightmares? Neither, he thought, for he wasn’t human enough to spend his time on what was over and done.

If Lilith managed to end him, well, true death was an experience he’d yet to have. It might be interesting.

And because he heard what others didn’t, he caught the footsteps on the stone stairs. Moira’s footsteps, as he knew her gait as well as her scent.

He nearly melted back into the shadows, then cursed himself for being a coward. She was only a woman, only a human. She could and would be nothing more to him.

When she stepped out, he heard her sigh once, long and deep as if she’d just shed some enormous weight. She moved to the stone rail, tipped her head back, closed her eyes. And breathed.

Her face was flushed from the heat of the fire, the exertion of the dance, but there were shadows of fatigue haunting her eyes.

Someone had worked slender braids through her long hair, so the weaving of them with their thin ropes of gold rippled through the rain of glossy brown.

He saw the minute she sensed she wasn’t alone. The sudden stiffening in her shoulders, and the slide of her hand into the folds of her gown.

“If you’ve a stake tucked in there,” he said, “I’d as soon you didn’t point it in my direction.”

Though her shoulders didn’t relax, her hand dropped to her side as she turned. “I didn’t see you. I wanted some air. It’s so warm inside, and I’ve drunk too much.”

“More that you didn’t eat enough. I’ll leave you to your air.”

“Oh, stay. I’m only taking a moment, then you can have the damned air to yourself again.” She pushed at her hair, then cocked her head.

He got a good look at her face now, her eyes, and thought, yes, indeed, the little queen was on the way to being plowed.

“Do you come out here to think deep thoughts? I can’t decide if deep thoughts require space like this, or are better turned over in confines. I imagine you have many thoughts, with all that you’ve seen.”

She stumbled a little, laughed a little when he caught her arm. And immediately released it.

“You’re so careful not to touch me,” she commented. “Unless you’re saving me from death or injury. Or bashing at me in training. I find that interesting. You’re a man of interests, how do you find it?”

“I don’t.”

“Except for that one time,” she continued as if he hadn’t spoken, and moved a step closer. “That one time you touched me good and proper. You put your hands on me then, and your mouth. I’ve wondered about that.”

He very nearly took a step in retreat, and the realization of it mortified him. “It was meant to teach you a lesson.”

“I’m a scholar, and I do love my lessons. Give me another then.”

“The wine’s made you foolish.” He was annoyed with the stiff and pompous sound of his own voice. “You should go in, have your ladies take you to your bed.”

“It has made me foolish. I’ll be sorry for it tomorrow, but well, that’s tomorrow, isn’t it? Oh, what a day this has been for me.” She did a slow turn that had her skirts swaying over the stones. “Was it only this morning I walked to the stone? How could it be only this morning? I feel I’ve carried that sword and the stone with it through this day. Now I’m setting them down, until tomorrow, I’m setting them down. I’m the worse for drink, and what of it?”

She stepped closer yet, and pride wouldn’t let him back away.

“I’d hoped you’d dance with me tonight. I hoped, and I wondered what it would be like to have you touch me when it wasn’t in a fight or out of manners or mistake.”

“I wasn’t in the mood for dancing.”

“Oh, and you’re full of moods, you are.” She watched his face carefully, studying him, he thought, as she might the pages of a book. “And sure, so am I. I was in an angry mood when you kissed me before. And a little frightened around it. I’m not angry or frightened now. But I think you are.”

“Now you’re adding ridiculous to foolish.”

“Prove it then.” She closed that last bit of distance, tipped up her face to his. “Teach me a lesson.”

He could hardly be damned for it. He’d been damned long before. He wasn’t gentle; he wasn’t tender. But yanked her against him and nearly off her feet before his mouth swooped down to plunder hers.

Hot Series
» Vampire Academy Series read online
» Crossfire Series read online
» Fifty Shades trilogy read online
» Kate Daniels Series read online
» Black Dagger Brotherhood Series read online
» Cassandra Palmer Series read online
» Rosemary Beach Series read online
» Sea Breeze Series read online
» Too Far Series read online
» Shatter Me Series read online
» Thoughtless Series read online
» Marriage to a Billionaire Series read online
Most Popular
» Drawn into Love (Fluke My Life #4)
» Nightchaser (Endeavor #1)
» Right Where I Want You
» Tangled Like Us (Like Us #4)
» Be the Girl
» Playing for Keeps (Heartbreaker Bay #7)
» If I Only Knew
» Vengeance Road (Torpedo Ink #2)
» 99 Percent Mine
» Free (Chaos #6)
» Work in Progress (Red Lipstick Coalition #3
» Moonlight Scandals (de Vincent #3)