Home > Dark Legacy (Dark #27)(17)

Dark Legacy (Dark #27)(17)
Author: Christine Feehan

Emeline pressed her forehead to his chest, unable to meet his eyes. “I know she’s alive, aware, and she’s innocent. She didn’t want what happened any more than I did. I have to protect her. There’s no one else. I don’t know how she can survive much longer, not with him torturing her to get to me. I know if the others find out about her, there is a very large possibility that they will want me to leave the compound, and maybe rightly so. I don’t know how much control Vadim will gain over her as she grows. I know you can’t possibly understand…”

“You are not thinking clearly, sívamet. The baby will not survive his torture. He knows that. As she grows, his tortures will worsen. Eventually, as you grow to love the child, he will use that against you. He knows you will go to him in an effort to save your daughter.”

It was true. Knowing she would end up in the hands of a master vampire, she had still gone into the underground city to save children she didn’t know. Strangers. The only thing she had in common with them was that they were street kids like she had been. She hadn’t been able to stop herself. Vadim knew her better than she knew herself. Already the baby’s piteous cries day and night, echoing through her mind, were wearing on her. She had already considered – and discarded – the idea of giving in and going to him, but as the child grew, so would the connection between them. If Vadim stepped up his torture, what other recourse would she have?

She moaned and shook her head in defeat. “I don’t know what to do. I considered ending both our lives. All those women down in the tunnels. Dead. Their unborn children dead. I didn’t want to be like that.”

“Tell me what happened.” His voice was so gentle it turned her heart over. She had never had gentle. Never. She’d been homeless. She didn’t even remember her mother and father, only relatives that treated her like a burden. Never gentle until this man.

She closed her eyes and leaned into him, tried to burrow into him, become part of all that strength. She had tried to forget. To put those minutes – not even a full hour of her life – behind a solid steel door in her mind, but she couldn’t. Those seconds and minutes were carved deep into her soul and would never fade. She hadn’t told anyone, not even Blaze. She couldn’t.

The thought of telling it, reliving it… But she had to. Dragomir deserved to know. He was sticking by her, even going so far as to believe she was his lifemate, mostly, she was certain, so others would believe it. He made her feel cherished, sitting in the chair, on his lap, his arms holding her securely, as if he could keep her safe from evil.

“Vadim had several others with him. They were so hideous. Teeth so pointy and stained with blood. They dug their nails into me, into my arms to hold me. Not like regular fingernails, but these long, thick claws like a grizzly bear.” She rubbed her arms, from her biceps to her wrists, feeling those long talons digging into her flesh, right down to the bone. The pain had been unlike anything she’d ever experienced. The wounds deep, burning, as if they’d poured acid into her veins.

“Even so, I fought him. I kept thinking if I fought, someone might come. Someone would help me.” The lump in her throat grew until she thought she might choke. “Someone would save me,” she whispered, remembering the hopeless feeling she had had when they took her to the ground. “I kicked him hard, really hard, and he just smiled at me.” Her body shuddered and she pressed her forehead to his. “I was scared. So scared.” Her confession came out in a whisper because she couldn’t speak above that mere thread of sound. She didn’t want Vadim in the room with them.

“You are safe now, sívamet. I am with you, and I am not going anywhere.” He rubbed the nape of her neck, his body rock solid, arms strong as they encircled her. “He didn’t control you with his mind?”

Another tremor shook her. “He tried. I thought he’d be furious when he couldn’t, when I continued to fight him, but he seemed pleased. Why? Why would that make him happy? He tries now and when he can’t he is extremely angry. It doesn’t make sense.”

He framed her face with his hands. “You’re strong. Psychically strong. He needed that in a host body. He hunted you because you could resist his compulsions. Now that he needs to reacquire you, it isn’t an asset for him. He wants you back and he can’t force you.”

She searched his eyes. Those strange, golden eyes – so hot they burned. She brought her hands up and tried to put her fingers around his thick wrists. She felt his pulse beat beneath the pads of her fingers. Strong. Steady. So like him. He should be dead, or at least unconscious in the ground, but he was holding her close, like she mattered to him. Giving her a feeling of safety in a world she knew wasn’t safe and never would be again.

“They held me down by pinning me to the ground with long claws, almost like ice picks only much thicker. They stretched my legs so far apart I thought they’d tear them off and then they pierced my arms and legs, driving what felt like spikes through my muscles and bone right into the ground. I was surrounded by them, so many.” The shaking was impossible to stop, and Dragomir pulled her close again, holding her against his chest, his arms a sanctuary. “I didn’t know anything could hurt like that.”

He stroked his hand down her hair, and she wished she’d brushed it, that the tangles were gone and she was beautiful for him. He deserved beautiful. It was a strange desire, when she was reliving the worst moments of her life, but the way it felt, that hand moving through her hair, made her want to look her best for him.

“Vadim knelt down, between my legs, and I thought…” She touched her tongue to her top lip, her brain trying to shut down to protect her. “He gripped my body right over my ovaries, squeezing, pressing so hard it felt as if he was trying to shove his fingers through my skin. He kept massaging and then he…” She turned her face away from him, a sob escaping. She shoved her fist into her mouth.

He immediately pressed her head into his chest, his hand on the back of her skull, fingers in her scalp, creating a soothing massage. “I would not ask you to relive this moment, Emeline, if it didn’t matter. I need to know what he did. I can take these memories from you, or ease them to make the burden lighter, but I must know. I do not ask idly.”

God. He was so amazing. So perfect. She was desperate to protect him, but she couldn’t stop the compulsion to tell him the entire vile story. It was almost as if he were taking part of the pain, the suffering, onto his shoulders and off hers. She pressed her forehead into his chest, staring down at the rows of muscles his tight shirt revealed. Concentrating on them, on the beauty of his body, she continued.

“He was kneeling between my legs and my clothes were suddenly gone. He’d removed them without touching them. I was already feeling so vulnerable, and that made it all the worse. They were all staring at me, grinning macabrely. He put his hand in me.” She stuttered over that, her heart pounding. Her mouth went dry. “It hurt. Really, really hurt. Then it felt like he was moving in me, oily and foul, moving through my body, but he was kneeling right there.”

“In the same way a healer does? Going outside his body?”

“Maybe, but the healer completely left his body. I could tell. He was pure spirit, pure energy. Vadim was still in his own body.” Somehow talking about it with Dragomir being so matter-of-fact, as if it didn’t disgust him that Vadim had touched her body so intimately, the way it disgusted her, made her feel stronger.

“He wouldn’t risk his body to other vampires. They are not a loyal lot. He couldn’t take that chance. Emeline, you’re being so courageous for me. I know this is difficult for you, but it helps me understand.”

She nodded, keeping her head tight against him. He was her courage. He gave her that when it had been long gone. “He suddenly became gleeful and he started yelling to the others that now was the moment, to hurry. He gripped my body both inside and out, and one of the vampires, one he called Sergey, brought him this enormous needle. The tube was about ten inches long and filled with a dark liquid. I knew. I knew exactly what it was. The needle was very long. He shoved it into my skin, and it burned like hell. Then he began moving it around as if searching for something. There was so much pain.”

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