Home > Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy #3)(14)

Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy #3)(14)
Author: K.F. Breene

“If that were true, Vlad would be shacking up with a demon already. Or can he already travel those lands?”

Darius shook his head, watching me closely. “He cannot. While it is not written in our laws, it is socially forbidden to bond a demon. Taboo. This I heard from Ja—”

“Ja?”

“That is the vampire’s name.” He waited for me to nod before continuing. “I did not even know it could be done. It has been out of favor for so long, I bet only a very few know it is a possibility.”

“Why wouldn’t that occur to you? Or are there other magical creatures you can’t bond?”

He rose and reached for my plate. I scooped up the last morsel of sauce-soaked potato before letting him get me seconds. “I’m sure there are, though I don’t know which. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me. With such a social stigma, one would think a rebellious sort of vampire would question. But then again, the demons are mostly confined to their world, whether because they want to be, because they are forced to be, or because Lucifer has made it so following an agreement with the elves. Out of sight, out of mind.”

“Maybe the idea will cross Vlad’s mind eventually,” I said, sitting back and rubbing my belly. I was almost full, but I would do my best to have more. Darius really did put on the best dinners in town. And in New Orleans, that was saying something.

“Perhaps. Regardless, the ability to enter the Dark Kingdom is within my grasp. Ja has been there.”

I grimaced on his behalf. “Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, except for the fact that you’d have to call a level-five demon, somehow convince it to swap blood, actually swap blood with a gross creature, because it wouldn’t be able to stay in human form when giving a lot of blood, and then be bonded to—”

The words died on my lips. A moment later, the moisture dried up in my mouth and reappeared on my forehead…and between my thighs. My heart started to hammer and the fight-or-flight reflex kicked into high gear.

“Stupid me,” I whispered, realizing what he meant.

“Yes, Reagan.” He set my plate down in front of me, his gaze probing mine. He lingered for just a moment, and I breathed in his spicy, masculine scent tinged with divine cologne. “You were being incredibly dull-witted just now.”

I let out a quivering breath as the implications dawned on me. My arousal rose, matching the potency of my need to run really fast out of the room. Then the house. Then the whole dang town.

I had sworn I would never go down this road. Sworn it. Feeling things for a vampire was one thing. Dating him, sharing his bed, spending large quantities of time with him—all of those things were temporary. They ended when I wanted them to. I was in control.

Bonding took the control away. Burned up the temporary status. All the fail safes.

Bonding was forever.

I shook my head, everything in me wanting to back away (except for the distinctly feminine parts, which I worked hard to ignore).

“No,” I blurted. “I can’t.”

“Regardless of the fact that you don’t yet know how to use all of your power…” He sat down slowly, his eyes hungry yet soft. Sparkling with lust and emotion. “You are an extremely powerful creature. If you don’t rival the elves now, you will when you grow into your birthright. You will impart to me more than the level-five demon that bonded Ja. You can get me into the Dark Kingdom.”

“But…I can’t.”

He entwined his fingers and pushed his chair back so he could cross an ankle over his knee. “I know this frightens you. I also know that if I had a group of mages summon a level-five demon so I could bond with it, you would convince yourself my going with you would be blood on your hands.” My eye twitched with the ease of him getting that saying correct. “You would wish to protect me. You’d be long gone by the time I bonded with the creature, and sick with jealousy if—when you got back.”

I narrowed my eyes at the jealousy comment. I continued to ignore the distinctly feminine parts of me begging for his everlasting kiss, and now the emotional parts that wanted to knife a bitch if she/he/it touched my man.

“Look.” I ran my fingers through my hair. “I know you think this is a perfect solution. That you’d gladly go with me in spite of the danger. I know that. But I just can’t give myself to you in that way, Darius. While I would gratefully accept your help, I can’t in good conscience do it. I’m sorry.”

He held up a hand to stop me. I didn’t like his calm assurance, like he’d already mapped out this game of chess, and he was waiting for me to make the necessary moves to assure his win.

“Can I present to you my thoughts?” he asked eloquently.

I clenched my jaw. Oh yeah, he had the game mapped, all right.

He ignored my shaking head. “Without me, you will go alone into an extremely dangerous situation that you aren’t prepared for.”

“I’ve been alone for a great many dangerous situations,” I shot back lamely. We both knew this was vastly different. I wondered if he knew how afraid I was. I hadn’t even totally admitted it to myself, besides the fear that my ice magic would take over and eat away my humanity.

His voice softened, as if he did know. As if he could read me better than I could read myself. Which was annoying just now. “I realize that you would rather work alone. But we have learned to work together well, have we not? It was a boon to us in Seattle. I have learned when to back off, like with your decision to go into the Dark Kingdom, and when to push, which I won’t give you an example of or I will have to develop another tactic.”

I quirked my eyebrow at him and earned a gorgeous smile. My expression turned into a glower. Now wasn’t the time to flash his handsome at me. Or his charm. When it came to bonding, he was the enemy.

“Your next concern is that the connection will trap you to vampires,” he went on. “But you are already trapped. You can’t know about the unicorns and expect to go on your merry way. You will be watched for the rest of your life. It is not in my power to release you of that. I know what you’ll say.” He held up his hand to forestall the argument. “That connection isn’t personal. It’s business. It’s not a bond, but a liability.” I nodded, because yes, that was true. Very, very true. “Which is correct,” he went on. “However, you and I have already established a deep personal connection.”

I tightened my lips, because I was damned if I would admit that.

His teasing smile earned another glower. “Will you not agree?” He paused, saw I would not, and continued. “Love, Reagan.”

My stomach fluttered and my chest tightened. Warmth overflowed from my heart and burned down to my feet. I could scarcely breathe around the depth of what I felt, triggered by that one word and the emotion soaking through his gaze. By his desire to risk death to follow me into the Dark Kingdom, not wanting to leave my side in my greatest hour of need.

“What I had hoped for has come to pass,” he said softly. “For the first time in all of history, I am in love, Reagan. With you.”

Chapter Nine

Sparklers went off in my stomach, and the pull of emotion sucked me under, drowning me. I wiped my forehead of moisture and took a gulp of wine, not sure what to think, not wanting to admit how deeply this was affecting me, let alone the fact that I was undeniably in the same boat.

“You feel it, too,” he murmured, “but you do not need to admit it. I mention it merely to prove a point. Right now we wish to be near each other at all times, and when we aren’t, we long for our missing halves. We are not whole without each other. If we bond, only our physical selves will be separated when we part. Our hearts and souls will forever be one.”

Warmth filled me to the brim, surging through my heart.

“There is no downside to bonding,” he said.

There were downsides. I knew there were. I just couldn’t think of them right then.

He watched me patiently and finally I came up with a new argument. “But if you die, I’ll go crazy, right? Isn’t that what happens?”

It wasn’t a great argument, I grant you.

“You’ll feel pain, but you would anyway if I were to die. Nothing will change that for you. Nor for me if something were to happen to you. We are currently bonded with love, a more powerful connection than a mere blood bond. For you and me, bonding will make what we already have much sweeter.”

   
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