Dance of the Gods Page 20

“Fairly effective,” she murmured when he lifted his head again.

“Well, sure it put some of the color back in your cheeks, so that’s fine for now.”

“You’d better put me down. If you carry me in there, it’ll scare them. They’ll be scared enough when we tell them what happened.”

He shifted her so her feet touched the ground, but kept his arms around her. “Steady enough?”

“Yeah, better, really.”

Still he kept a hand on her arm as they walked the rest of the way to the kitchen.

“I f this can be done, why is it they haven’t done it before?” Hoyt sat at the head of the table in the dining room, the fire crackling at his back. He looked down the length of it to Cian.

“I’ve never heard of it being done before.” With a shrug, Cian sampled the fish Glenna had prepared. “With a personal connection between the vampire and the human, yes, an invitation can be seduced or cajoled. But that’s most often due to the human’s instinctive denial of what it sees. This is a different matter, and from what both you and Larkin said, you were sleeping.”

“First time for everything.” With no appetite, Blair ate because she needed fuel. “We’ve got magical types on our team. So, obviously, does she. Some sort of spell.”

“I fell asleep in the library, and…” Moira sipped water to wet her throat. “There was something. Not what happened to you, Blair, not exactly. But it was as if she was there with me. Lilith. More, that I was with her and it wasn’t in the library, at all. We weren’t in the library. She was with me in my bedchamber, at home. In Geall.”

“What happened?” Blair asked her. “Do you remember?”

“I…” Moira’s gaze stayed on her plate as her color came up. “I’d been asleep, you see, and it seemed she was just there, as real as you are. She climbed into the bed with me. She…touched me. My body. I felt her hands on me.”

“That’s not unusual.” Blair toyed with her fish. “The dream, the clarity of it, maybe, but the content. Vampires are sexual creatures, and very often bisexual. It sounds like she was testing things out with you, playing at it.”

“I had an experience right after we came here,” Glenna said. “Afterwards, I took precautions, protected myself in sleep. It was stupid, stupid of me not to think to protect everyone else.”

“Well, that’s going on your permanent record.” Blair wagged her fork in Glenna’s direction. “Glenna doesn’t think of everything.”

“I appreciate the save by levity, but I should have thought of this.”

“We’ll figure it out now, because there’s no way they’re going to put the whammy on one of us and waltz in this house.”

“They have someone of power. Not a vampire.” Moira glanced toward Cian for confirmation, and got a slight nod. “I’ve read that there are some vampires who can cause a trance, but they must be there, physically there, with their victim. Or have bitten them before. This bite causes a connection, a bond, between them so that person, the human may be put under the vampire’s control.”

“Clear of bites here,” Blair pointed out.

“Aye. And you were sleeping, as I was—as Glenna was before. You couldn’t be caught in their eyes while you slept.”

“It takes a lot of juice for a vamp to whammy a human. A lot of energy,” Blair explained. “And practice.”

“True enough,” Cian confirmed.

“So they’ve turned a witch or sorcerer,” Hoyt said.

“No.” Moira bit her lip. “I think not. If what I’ve read is the truth. The vampire can gain power by drinking blood of power, but it becomes diluted. And if this person of power is turned, he would lose most, if not all, of his magic. It’s the price for the immortality. The demon he becomes loses the gift, or retains only the dregs of it.”

“So it’s more likely she has witches or whatever on her payroll, so to speak.” Blair considered it as she ate. “Someone who’d already turned to the dark side, we’ll say. Or someone she has in thrall. A half-vamp. A potent one.”

“I don’t know if that has to be.” Unlike the others, Larkin had already cleared his plate and was going for more. “I’ve been listening to all of this.”

“How can your ears work when your mouth is so busy?” Blair wondered.

He only smiled as he scooped up more fish, more rice. “It’s good food,” he said to Glenna. “If I don’t eat it, how would you know I appreciated it?”

“I’d like to know where you put all that appreciation. But you were saying,” Blair added, gesturing.

“These things happened in sleep, so it would seem to me the spell doesn’t work on the conscious mind. Wouldn’t it take more power to…” He fell back on Blair’s term. “To whammy someone when they were awake and aware?”

“It would.” Hoyt nodded. “Of course, it would.”

“And not just sleeping, not this day. Moira was all but ill with exhaustion from what she was part of today. Blair was worn through as well. I don’t know what it was like when it happened to you Glenna, but—”

“I was beat—worn out, upset. It was one of the reasons I didn’t think to take any precautions before I fell into bed.”

“There you have it then, I’m thinking. Not just sleep, but sleep when the body is weak and the mind at its most vulnerable. So it seems to me that whatever, whoever, she might be using isn’t as strong as what we have right here at this table.”

“You have been listening.” Blair considered him. “Dragon-boy here makes a good point. She hit us when our defenses were down, and she came damn close to getting lucky. What do we do about it?”

“Hoyt and I will work on protection. I’ve been using the most basic shield to this point.” Glenna looked at Hoyt. “We’ll pump it up.”

“Be good if we could do something for the house, too,” Blair pointed out. “Some sort of general woo-woo so they can’t get inside, even with an invite.”

“You can’t block an invitation.” Cian sat back with his wine. “You can withdraw it, with the right spell, but it can’t be blocked.”

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