The Warlord Wants Forever (Immortals After Dark 1) - Page 32

"Shhh, Myst," Nïx murmured. "We've already heard the tales of your revenge. They'll never harm another maid. In fact, I doubt that league of men will ever trouble this coast again."

"But...the girl," Myst whispered, awash in confusion, tears streaming anew, "is simply gone." The last word was a sob.

"Yes, dearling," Nïx said. "Never to return."

Myst was weeping. "But...but it hurts when they die."

Nïx pressed her lips to Myst's forehead, murmuring, "And they always do."

Wroth's chest ached with Myst's sorrow as no physical wound had ever hurt him. She'd run from the men because the ones who would chase a "helpless" maiden were the ones who would die. Wroth wanted to stay with that memory, to make sure she recovered from this hellish pain, but another familiar dream began. Snow outside, packed so high it covered half of the window. The meeting around the hearth. "...teach her to be all that was good and honorable about the Valkyrie..."

Myst closed her eyes against a memory - the one he'd struggled to see - that she could never erase, never alleviate. She remembered and she vowed again that she would be worthy.

She was in the middle of her first field of battle, there as a chooser of the slain. She'd been sent young, barely fifteen, because she'd been born of a brave Pict who'd plunged a dagger into her own heart. Myst was supposed to be like that.

But she wasn't. Not yet. She was sick with terror.

One hundred thousand men, cut to pieces, blood like a river up to her ankles. "They were all brave," she said, peering around her, dizzily turning in circles as electricity rolled from her in waves. Sounding lost, she whispered, "How am I to choose? A beggar handing out coins..." She began trembling uncontrollably with fear.

He wanted to be there to protect her, comfort her.

Another memory. New to him. Could he withstand another?

Myst ran to him when he returned to Blachmount from some errand, and as he'd squeezed her up into his arms and kissed her, she'd thought, "I just ran to get in his arms. I just...Whoa. Whoa. Uhn-uh."

Wroth remembered she'd clambered down from him, looking flushed and panicky, joking about the Xbox, saying she felt "a little like Bobby Brown" for introducing him to the addictive game.

Now he knew why she'd panicked. Myst, along with all her sisters, had been taught that she would know her true partner when he opened his arms and she realized she'd forever run to get within them.

Wroth woke to his own yelling, thrashing over, clutching for her. Everything he'd thought about her was wrong. His chest hurt with the loss and anguish she'd experienced. "You're free. Myst..."

The bed was empty.

He shot to his feet, scanning the room, finding a bloody note on the table by the bed, under the cross. A heart for a heart...

Dread settled over him, numbing his mind, even as panic was sharp, stabbing at his body like a blade. He half-staggered, half-traced into the study, eyes falling on the safe wall. To his horror, he saw no safe, but as he neared, growing more sickened, he found blood on the stone that had housed it, clawed away in a frenzy. She'd dug through it to get to her chain, to her freedom.

Wroth fell to his knees, head bowed as a guttural sound of pain erupted from his chest. At the first opportunity, he'd offered her torture, only to follow it by stealing her freedom from her.

And then...

A heart for a heart. She'd made his beat. Had he broken hers?

He'd lost her. And he'd deserved to.

Chapter Twelve

The coven met around the safe, all of them waiting for Regin to swing the Sword of Woden to cut through the vampire's mojo-protected metal. Woden's sword cut through anything. Well, anything but the chain, as Myst and Regin could attest to after one scary experiment that nearly made Myst a good deal shorter.

The sisters were still debating who would accept the responsibility of the chain because Myst was no longer allowed, not as long as Wroth lived. But no one wanted the thing, and killing Wroth seemed a bingo solution to them.

Regin raised the sword above her, and even the wraiths flying outside that they'd hired to guard Val Hall against intruders - like Wroth - seemed to slow their circling to catch a window. With a dramatic breath, Regin sliced through the safe as easily as powder, though sparks flew. When all was clear, Myst wearily reached forward to collect her torment.

She frowned to find a small, ornate box of wood inside as well. All of her sisters seemed to realize at the same time that it was about the size of those velvet jewelry boxes - because the room went quiet, then they dove for it like a wedding bouquet. "Shiny, in the box, shiny," one of the younger sisters whimpered. Myst was closest and snagged it and even if she hadn't been able to she would've bitch-slapped anyone who made a run with it.

"Open it, then," Regin cried, out of breath.

Myst did.

And light seemed to blaze from it.

"Great Freya," someone breathed. "Diamond. Big. Glittery."

Another said, "That's not a rock, that's real estate. When did vampires start coming off with the bling? No. Really."

Myst closed her fingers over what had to be a perfect four-karat diamond, so she could look at the actual ring. It was inscribed with her name.

Suddenly feeling exhausted, she rose, dragging her feet to her room away from the excitement, though they booed her for taking away "My Precious." The chain was heavy and cold in her other hand. Nïx followed her up. She was a good listener and even though her lucidity came in erratic spurts, she'd been a boon to talk to.

Myst eyed her sister as she raised the ring. "You didn't look surprised about this." Nïx's pupils enlarged at it before Myst tucked it and the chain in her jewelry case. "You knew what was in the safe?"

Tags: Kresley Cole Immortals After Dark Vampires
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