Home > Dark Legacy (Dark #27)(14)

Dark Legacy (Dark #27)(14)
Author: Christine Feehan

Gary opened his mouth, closed it and shook his head. “You will be of no use to her if you die. You aren’t out of the woods yet.”

“Your reputation preceded you here. I have no doubt I will be just fine. I thank both of you.” Dragomir got to his feet with that same graceful way he always moved and led them to the door. “I’ll let Emeline know you wish to visit with her,” he added.

Blaze inclined her head. “I would appreciate that.”

He closed the door and leaned against it. “It is safe, Emeline. We need to talk.”

She’d been dreading this moment, but knew it had to come.

4

“Why won’t you put yourself in the ground?” Emeline asked. “You need to heal.”

“I need to know why you are so afraid all the time. Even afraid of your friend,” Dragomir said, no inflection whatsoever in his voice, yet she shivered, aware, without knowing how, that if Blaze had done something to make her afraid, he had no problem removing Blaze and Maksim from existence. He’d appointed himself her champion and would follow through, even if it meant putting him at odds with all Carpathians.

She shook her head. “Blaze would never do anything to hurt me.” But she didn’t know that anymore. She couldn’t be certain.

“Emeline. I have a need, not a want, to know why you’re afraid all the time.” Again, there was no inflection, but his gaze was very focused. “There is a difference and this is no idle question.”

Somehow, it was easier because his voice was so soft, almost gentle, as if he wasn’t judging her. She sank into the chair by the window. She was exhausted. He had to be even more so. “If I tell you the truth, you’ll want me thrown out of the compound. Vadim will get to me. This is the only safe place I have.” The truth came out in a hurried rush.

“You are under my protection, woman. I do not give that lightly. I do not take it back just because circumstances are difficult.”

She believed him. He was… extraordinary. He might sound arrogant and look even more so, but he was an unusual man and he deserved the truth. He had to know who he had committed to protecting. She didn’t want to tell him. She didn’t want him to look at her with contempt. She wouldn’t blame him, but she didn’t want to see it in his eyes. In such a short time, she felt as if she knew him more than she’d ever known – or trusted – anyone. That in itself was strange. She didn’t trust many people.

“I’m Vadim’s lifemate.” She just said it. Aloud. Feeling sick, disgusted. She couldn’t look away from him, waiting for condemnation.

Dragomir stared at her for a long time. “Woman, you’re insane.” He gave her what he must have thought was a faint smile, shaking his head as if she amused him. His smile was a very indistinct curve of his lower lip.

She blinked. She’d expected all sorts of reactions, but that was not one of them. She tried a scowl. She’d never been particularly good at scowling, but then until recently, she hadn’t been great at weeping, either, and now she was a faucet that couldn’t seem to be turned off. “I just told you that I’m Vadim’s lifemate, and you’re telling me I’m insane. Do you know how difficult it was to admit that to you?”

“What do you know of lifemates?”

She wished he would do something. He stood leaning against the door, looking far too pale, and it occurred to her the healer wouldn’t have bothered arguing with him. Gary Daratrazanoff had told him he needed to go to ground, an unnecessary comment – unless the healer was directing it toward her. He expected her to convince Dragomir to go to ground. She couldn’t convince him of the truth, let alone of something that was good for him.

“Blaze told me that when a Carpathian male is born, his soul is split and the other half is put into his lifemate’s keeping. She will be born again and again if he fails to find her.”

“And knowing this you realize there can only be one lifemate. The soul fits together when the ritual binding words are spoken by the male.”

“Yes, that is my understanding.”

“So if I said the ritual binding words to you, they wouldn’t work.”

She nodded.

“Did Vadim say them to you?” He looked so invincible standing there, but she could see he was exhausted. She scooted to the end of the couch and patted it. “Please come and sit down.”

“Did Vadim say the ritual binding words to you?”

Her hand crept defensively to her throat. “He said… did… horrible things. I don’t remember any words he spoke to me. I fought him. Everything he did hurt me.” She could barely tell him that much, her voice a whisper of raw horror.

Something flickered across his face but the expression was so fleeting she couldn’t catch it. “It is impossible for Vadim to be your lifemate no matter what he said or did.”

She shook her head. “I know that he is.” She was so ashamed. Blaze and Charlotte both had wonderful men. Her lifemate was one of the worst vampires in the history of the Carpthian world. He’d done terrible things, killed countless men and women. Killed children. Fed live children to his puppets. He was the worst nightmare visited on earth in the form of a monster, and she was his other half.

“You are my lifemate, Emeline.” He proclaimed it softly, but the vow carried, resonated deep inside her.

She gasped. “No. Don’t you dare sacrifice yourself for me or think that will keep everyone from throwing me out. No. I’m going to tell Tariq. I just needed time to come to terms with having to leave the protection of this place. I’ve already put those children in jeopardy…”

He straightened from where he’d been leaning lazily against the door. One swift, almost brutal movement. Fierce anger stamped pure aggression onto his face. “Those children put you and every other person living in this compound in jeopardy. They are spoiled and lack discipline. I will have a word with Tariq about them, but that is for another time.”

“Those children are victims —”

“Vadim nearly reacquired you,” he interrupted. “If you thought your life was hell the first time, you would come to know that it wasn’t even close.”

She shuddered. “I am prepared to confess to Tariq. I don’t want anyone else to suffer because of me. Thank you for standing up for me and for the fact that you are so willing to continue, to say to others that you’re my lifemate. I appreciate that more than I can say but —”

“So you have no objection if I attempt to bind you to me with the ritual words. My soul to yours, understanding it cannot possibly work if we are not true lifemates. With the full understanding that if it did work, you would be bound to me for all eternity.”

She patted the couch again. “If you lie down right here and rest, then you can say the words to me and see for yourself that they won’t work.”

“Your hair is black. A true black. No Carpathian can see a true black once he is beyond his two hundredth year. In my case, it was even before that. He only sees color if he is in the presence of his lifemate and hears her voice.”

She was very self-conscious of her tangled hair, and he seemed a bit obsessed with her hair. “I think you’re overwrought. Please come and sit down. The healer made it clear you need to be in the ground. I know he couldn’t have possibly given you enough blood, and I can’t give it to you because my blood is… tainted.” It was Vadim’s blood mixed with a Carpathian’s, one he’d held prisoner for a long, long time. Vadim’s blood burned and his parasites spread through her body, burning and torturing her, trying to force her obedience to their master. She wasn’t about to share her blood with him.

His eyebrow shot up. “Overwrought?” He repeated the word slowly as if he’d never heard it before. “Woman, a Carpathian hunter cannot possibly get overwrought. I just want to give you every possible opportunity to say you do not want me to bind you to me. I know you are my lifemate. I am ancient, and I do not always understand your modern world or the way women act toward their men. I believe it is my duty and privilege, my honor, to make you happy, but I am not certain I am capable of it when I believe strongly that my woman follows where I lead.”

   
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