Dance of the Gods Page 37

In any case, his color was good.

“How’re you doing?”

“Well enough, though I’d’ve been better if you’d been beside me when I woke.”

“Didn’t know how long you’d need to sleep. How’s the bite?”

“Barely know it’s there.” He moved to her, took her hand, turned up her wrist. “We’ll both have our scars now.”

“Your hair’s wet.”

“I got in the shower. My bones were aching, and I think I smelled fairly ripe after my night of it.”

“You’ll have soaked the bandage.” She frowned as she nudged him around. “Let me have a look.”

“Itches mostly,” he said, enjoying having her fingers in his hair, on his skin.

“It’s healing fast. Glenna’s magic balm. Boy, I wish I’d had some of that after my round. Guess you’ll do.”

“Will I?” He turned, gripped her waist, then boosted her up so she sat on the table.

“Careful there, Bunky, you’re not off the disabled list.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Doesn’t matter so much. I was thinking before how I like watching your mouth move.” He rubbed his thumb over her bottom lip. “It’s got such energy.”

“Didn’t you wake up all frisky? I think you’d better—”

It was as far as she got before her mouth was very busy.

He didn’t just taste this time but feasted. Didn’t just sample, but possessed. This was more hunger, more demand than she’d been prepared for, the sort that swamped mind and body and left her floundering with need.

She hadn’t put her defenses up, not in time. Now it was too late to do anything but meet the assault.

She’d yielded, just a little, just enough, then the heat flooded back into her. He could feel it, pouring out and up, and through him, a glorious scorching. He ran his hands over her, touching, finally touching, up the lean torso, over firm br**sts, along strong shoulders and back again.

He felt her shudder of response, heard the moan of it catch in her throat, and knew she’d belong to him.

But she pressed her hands to his chest. “Wait. Wait. Let’s step back a minute.”

Her voice was thick and breathy, and made him want to lap her up like cream. “Why?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll think of a reason in a minute, as soon as my IQ goes back up above the level of a turnip.”

“I don’t know what your eye queue might be, but the rest of you is perfect.”

She managed a laugh but kept her hands firm so his mouth wouldn’t take hers again and fry her brain a second time. “I’m not. Not nearly perfect. And it’s not that I don’t think diving into this would feel really good. Really good. More than likely we’re going to end up doing just that eventually. But it’s complicated, Larkin.”

“Things are as simple or as complicated as you make them.”

“No. Sometimes things just are. You don’t even know me.”

“Blair Murphy, demon hunter. That’s what you’d think of first—that’s what you’ve been taught to think of first. But it’s not nearly the whole of you. Strong, for certain, and full of courage.”

She started to interrupt, but he laid a finger on her lips. “But there’s more in you than valor and duty. You’ve soft places in your heart. I saw them when Glenna and Hoyt handfasted. You fussed with the flowers and the candles because you wanted them to have their moment. You knew they loved, and that it’s important. There was sweetness in that.”

“Larkin—”

“And you’ve been hurt. The bruises are all inside, all wrapped up where no one should see them. Hurting makes you think you’re alone, that you need to be. But you’re not. I know you’ve fought your whole life against something horrible, and you’ve never turned away from it. And even so, you can smile, and laugh, and get dewy-eyed when two people in love make promises to each other. I don’t know your favorite color or what book you last read when you had a moment of leisure, but I know you.”

“I don’t know what to do about you,” she said when she could speak again. “I really don’t. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be for me. I’m always supposed to know.”

“And no surprises? I’m happy to change that for you. Well, since I don’t think I’m going to be getting the clothes off you right at the moment, why don’t we have a walk.”

“Ah…Hoyt and I did a sweep through the woods this morning. Took out three.”

“I didn’t say a hunt. A walk. Just a walk. There’s plenty of light left in the day.”

“Oh. Ah—”

“You’ll need a shirt, or a jacket. We’ll go down through the kitchen, grab one for you. That way we can get ourselves a box of biscuits.”

J ust how strange was it, she wondered, to go walking over fields with a man in the late-afternoon sun? With no real purpose but to walk—no mission, no scouting, no hunt. Armed with sword and stake, and sugar cookies.

“Did you know, Hoyt will be staying here with Glenna after this is all done?”

She bit into a cookie, frowned at him. “Here, in Ireland? How do you know?”

“We talk of things, Hoyt and I, when we tend the horse. Here in Ireland, yes. In this place. Cian made them a gift of the house and land.”

“Cian gave them the house?” She ate more cookie. “I can’t figure him either. I know some vampires—or I’ve heard—go off the juice. Human juice. There are rumors, legends mostly, of some living among us, passing for human, going off the kill. I never really believed any of it.”

“Passing as human doesn’t make them so. And yet, Cian’s one I’d trust more than most men. I wonder if living so long a life has something to do with it.”

“Tell that to Lilith. She’s got twice his years.”

“Demons would have choices, wouldn’t they? Go this way or that. I don’t know the answers there. And when this is done, you’ll go back to your Chicago?”

“I don’t know.” There was an itch between her shoulder blades at the thought of it. “Somewhere else, I think. Maybe New York for a while.”

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