Home > Dark Legacy (Dark #27)(12)

Dark Legacy (Dark #27)(12)
Author: Christine Feehan

Dragomir turned to face the five vampires. Emeline pressed against the invisible barrier, her heart pounding and her mouth dry. She couldn’t stand watching, knowing it was going to be a massacre, but she couldn’t tear her gaze away from the big man striding across her porch with confidence.

He was far bigger than she had realized in the confines of the verandah. The blood and scars only served to make him appear invincible, a warrior of old defending his lady. Tears welled up. For him. For her. She wished he was hers. That man, so scarred and torn but standing unbending in the face of evil.

Dragomir moved with sudden blurring speed and she couldn’t help but notice how graceful he was, how fluid, like a great lion, bringing down his prey in one easy leap. He was on the first vampire before she could blink, his fist crashing through the chest wall so that his fingers could pry the heart free and toss it aside. He whirled and slammed his bloody arm into the second vampire’s chest. Lightning forked across the sky, and he directed it toward both hearts as he turned to face the third.

The third vampire was close, too close, although Dragomir managed to slam his fist deep. He looked exhausted. Tortured. She knew every breath he drew was difficult. He’d battled several vampires, then two master vampires, and suffered several severe injuries, but he kept going. The vampire had turned his body as Dragomir’s fist crashed through his chest, throwing the trajectory off just enough that Dragomir had to withdraw his arm and punch a second time, which he did with lightning speed, but that small second gave the remaining two vampires time to join the attack.

Emeline tried to warn him, screaming his name, battering with her fists at the shield preventing her from helping him. Both vampires tore at his body with their vicious teeth, acting as if they might devour him alive. They gulped blood – he had little to spare. Frantic, she battered at the shield and screamed for help until her voice was hoarse. Dragomir remained unbending, like a great lion in the midst of a pack of wild dogs. He didn’t move until he withdrew his fist and tossed the heart into the air, where lightning incinerated it.

The moment the heart left his hand, he turned to face both attackers, simultaneously slamming his fists into the walls of their chests. The vampires went berserk, clawing at him with terrible talons, raking deep furrows down his neck, throat and chest. They seemed to want to scrape the skin from his body, tearing it off in long strips.

Emeline wanted to close her eyes so she couldn’t see what they were doing to Dragomir, but she couldn’t look away. He never changed expression. There was no sign of the pain he had to be feeling, no anger or acknowledgment of any kind that those monsters were tearing up his body with so much glee. One kicked repeatedly at the wound in his right thigh, even as he tore at the hunter with his claws.

Very slowly Dragomir began to retract his closed fists. The vampires became even more frantic. Dragomir didn’t even blink at the wildness the two vampires displayed. One went for his eyes, trying to gouge them out. Dragomir moved his head, dodging the claws while he extracted the two hearts. He threw them away from the porch, out toward the play yard. The blackened organs sailed through the air. High. One vampire leapt into the air after them, while the other ran down the stairs.

Lightning lit the sky, a massive display, forks of sizzling whips streaking through the night to strike both hearts before they hit the ground, incinerating them. The vampire in the sky fell at the feet of his fellow undead. Emeline could see five bodies. Lightning kept crackling. The forks spread out and struck simultaneously, turning the five vampires to ashes.

“Let me out,” Emeline called. “Hurry.”

Dragomir was already staggering. She reached toward him, as if she might be able to keep him on his feet. The movement attracted his attention when her plea hadn’t. He glanced toward the compound, where the fighting had all but ceased, and then he waved his hand toward her. She had one hand pressed to the shield and knew the moment it came down.

Dragomir stumbled toward her and went down in the doorway, his weight taking her with him so that he fell inside. She didn’t have time to think about a Carpathian hunter entering her home or what secrets he might discover. She crouched down beside him, afraid he was unconscious, but his gaze was fixed on her face.

“Invite me in.”

“What? No.” She shook her head. Blaze, her friend, had told her it was never a good idea to invite them inside one’s home unless one was prepared to let them use their powers there.

He made a move toward the door, trying to drag himself out. She didn’t want that, either. “Wait. Just wait. I need to think.” She was in a state of full panic.

“No time.” He reached up and wrapped a length of her hair around his fingers. “So beautiful. The color. So beautiful.”

He sounded delirious. He was bleeding everywhere, but she could see he was still trying to force his body to move out of her home.

“Stop. Stop moving,” she demanded, horrified at the trail of blood.

“Going to have to shut down my heart and lungs. Can’t do it inside.”

Her mind was in complete chaos. She caught his shoulders, trying to keep him from moving back. His hand was still in her hair, connecting them. She felt that, as if a million strands bound them together, yet it was the only thing she had to stop him. She couldn’t take one more shoving with his toes and one elbow. She had to stop him.

“Okay. Come in. I want you to come inside.” Her mouth moved, voicing the invitation even when her brain screamed at her to stop. He couldn’t come in, yet she was desperate to keep him there.

His lower lip curved. It wasn’t a smile, but still, her heart nearly stopped. It didn’t soften the rough angles and planes of his face. He looked like a fallen angel, maybe Lucifer himself. She gently shoved his hair back from where it fell around his face. Grooves were torn there, made by claws. So much blood. So many scars. She knew Carpathians rarely scarred, yet something terrible had happened to this man.

“Can you make it to the couch?”

Something flickered in the depths of his eyes. Humor maybe. “Need dirt, sívamet, not a couch.” He dropped his hand from her hair and then she had his weight. His full weight, all of it. He was extremely heavy, slumping against her so that she nearly toppled over. She realized he was out. He’d shut down his heart and lungs in order to preserve what blood he had in his body, preventing it from leaking out or spraying the floor around them.

She sat for a moment, his head in her lap, her fingers smoothing back his hair. It was thick and as long as hers, falling to his waist. There were a few places it felt soft, but mostly it was sticky with blood. She sighed. At least he wasn’t dead. The children were safe. She could see to his wounds and then find out about Genevieve and the others.

He’s dead. Those children are dead. Your friend Blaze is dead. I’ll burn that place to the ground.

The vile voice filled her mind and with it came the crashing pain, burning through her veins as if whatever terrible parasites he’d put in her body were determined to punish her for him. Deep inside her womb, she heard the screams of pain, of fear, and she pressed both hands over her churning stomach, wishing she could turn back time. But what would she have done? Allow the flesh-eating puppets he created to devour Liv alive? Tears burned again and she was sick to death of crying. She’d made a decision, and she had to bear the consequences. Her. No one else.

Her gaze dropped to the man lying so still on her floor. She scooted, lifting his head so she could put it more fully in her lap. She knew he was unaware and that made her bold. She sat on the floor with him for longer than she should have.

“Emeline! Unlock the door, Em!” Blaze called. “Are you okay? Open the door.”

Emeline took a deep breath. Blaze McGuire was her closest friend. Maybe her only real friend. They were more like sisters, and yet she was so afraid to allow Blaze inside. She was lifemate to Maksim Volkov, co-owner of the nightclubs with Tariq Asenguard. Blaze had been human, but now she was completely in the Carpathian world.

“Emeline, I swear, if you don’t open this door, I’m going to break it down.”

“You’re Carpathian, crazy woman,” Emeline pointed out, gently setting Dragomir’s head on the floor so she could shift out from under him. “That means no entering without being invited.”

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