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Authors: Lydia Michaels

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Romantic Erotica

Called to Order (28 page)

BOOK: Called to Order
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His eyes found hers, and the pain she saw in those silver pools lanced through her like a bolt of lightning. “Dear Lord.” The oath left his lips as a turbulent sea of self-loathing overcame him. Anna began to relax. He was himself again.

Annalise wanted to assure him that he had stopped, regained his control, before he took things too far, but she needed to take a minute for herself. She shut her eyes and tried to mentally collect the pieces of her heart that had chipped away during his assault.

She took a deep breath and opened her eyes, but Adam was gone. Anna hadn’t heard him move. She sat up, her lower back and shoulders protesting the hassled movement. Anna had no time to think of her sore muscles. Her mind was pinched in an acute panic that Adam had deserted her.

She spotted him standing in the shadows about twenty feet away and breathed a sigh of relief. When she registered the fear in his eyes, she rushed to get out of the truck.

“Adam—”

“Stay away from me!” He held up his hand in meek defense, which she almost found comical. It was as if
he
feared he could not defend himself against
her
.

She took a measured step but paused when he matched her step with a retreating one. “Adam, it’s okay. I’m okay.”

He shook his head. His hand, suspended in the air before him, trembled. “No. Do not come near me, Anna. I am dangerous.”

“Adam, do you see me?” He nodded. “Do I look harmed? I was just scared. I couldn’t get through to you for a minute, but now you’re here with me. As long as you can hear me and see me and have control of yourself, everything will be fine.”

“That’s just it. I do not have control. I cannot recall even coming to this place, only being inside and wanting to tear the throat out of every man who dared to look at you. I have no recollection of how much time has passed or what took place in that time. I hurt you.” He said the last three words as if simply imagining it made him ache with self-disgust.

“Here, Adam.” She placed her palm on her heart. “You hurt me here, because I was afraid I had lost you. I couldn’t get through to you. What you were doing came second hand to the ache in my heart. I was afraid I may have waited too long and lost the sweet man I see when I look into your eyes. Only here. Nowhere else am I hurt.”

He looked as if he didn’t believe her. She slowly took another few steps toward him while he was occupied considering her words. She paused when he looked in her direction again. As if his own tears clogged his throat, he whispered, “I never want to hurt you,
ainsicht
.”

“I know.” Another step.

“I never want to cause you regret.”

“I know.” She was only a few feet away now.

“If you ask, I will go. I will end this for us both.”

“I know.”

“Is that what you want?” he asked, is eyes focused on the narrow piece of ground now separating them. She knew if she said yes he would do exactly that, go into the woods and wait for the sun, somehow entrapping himself so he would not survive.

She reached up to touch his jaw. “No, Adam, that is not what I want.” He swallowed, his Adam’s apple scraping over the stiffness of his throat. “When I couldn’t reach you, I was so scared. Scared that I had lost you once and for all. Only then did I realize how much you mean to me. Maybe it’s the dreams, maybe it’s knowing your family, maybe it’s how enchanting I find your home, maybe it’s the way I feel like you truly see me when you’re watching me, I don’t know. All I know is that something about you is meant to be a part of me. It’s as if you are the invisible thread tying me together and pulling you out of my life will cause everything else to fall apart in a meaningless heap. Perhaps we are tied together by destiny, but I do not have the faith you have in such things. To me that seems like an excuse, it somehow cheapens what I feel for you, and I find it offensive.”

His eyes closed as he pressed his cheek into her palm. “You are more than my destiny, Annalise. You are my salvation. Not because I felt you before I knew you, but because I feel you now. I feel you make my heart race. I feel my lips curl in happiness when I watch you. The way you sing so terribly makes my ears rejoice. When I see you fix our bed and tidy up my razor and leather in a neat little line, it fills me with warm pride. When I watch your lips part in a cry of ecstasy as you come undone, I have to fight my own body’s demand to fall away with you. The way your hair captures the sun and holds it well past dusk, the way you nibble your poor thumb when you are nervous, the sound of your laugh on the breeze, the honey-scented perfume of your skin, it all has to do with you. If I were called to another I doubt I could leave you for her. I love you. Not because God determined it so, but because you give me reason to. You, Anna, simply by being the beautiful soul you are.”

Somewhere in between all that, Adam had turned and now cradled her face in his gentle palms. His image shimmered before her through a glaze of unshed tears. “I love you, Adam. I love you in a way I never realized a person could care for another, emotions so anchored in fear that it could all be suddenly taken away. I know I have some decisions to make, but for now, for tonight, can it just be us? Two people who love each other with no thoughts of consequences or urgency. I just want to feel what it is to be loved for who I am, not what I can offer.”

He kissed her. The unhurried way his lips caressed hers felt as if it were a sacrament, too holy to be simply called a kiss. Their affection poured into something tangible she could cling to.

They returned to her apartment in silence. Adam guided her to her small bedroom and slowly stripped her out of her clothes as she did the same for him. He was so incredibly beautiful. Strength radiated from his pores, though not simply due to his stature or build. She attributed it more to his character, the patient determination he approached life with. If she let him, he would love her more than any creature deserved, she only hoped she could live up the worth he saw in her. The goodness in him seemed sewn into his bones, but she was just an average waitress.

She was completely ignorant when it came to pure living and holy practices. She had a closeted fear that if she did agree to bond with him in that small window of death during the transition, God would reject her because she was someone unworthy of eternity and her past transgressions would destroy any hope for Adam finding peace. Next to a man as honest and pure as Adam, she felt filthy and inadequate in the eyes of God.

Adam led her to the bed, and she banished her insecure fears from her mind. Let tomorrow be a day to contemplate consequence. Tonight was for them.

He followed her down to the rumpled bedding, his mouth anointing her flesh with every taste he took. Their bodies tangled in a slow cocoon of limbs, mouths searching, savoring. There was no time in this moment, only them, only feeling.

When he filled her, she shivered and clung to him as if he were as essential as the air she breathed. There was no rush, no urgent grasping of flesh, yet the moment seemed more intense than anything Anna had ever experienced. The weight of the moment could not grow any heavier, yet with each caress, each stroke, her heart climbed another unfathomable step closer to nirvana. When they reached the precipice, their minds were apart from their bodies, incapable of processing thoughts, only feeling, pure, uncontaminated emotion.

It was the most beautiful experience of both their lives. Afterward, they held each other and murmured words of love, a look of disbelief on each of their faces as they accepted what an incredible gift they had each been given. Gone were the questions of did she want him and did he truly see her. The truth was there, it lingered in every caress and every breath. They belonged to each other. There would never be anyone else.

Chapter 20

Annalise was cold and alone. She was walking down her street, which was oddly vacant. Fog rolled from the pavement in the murky twilight. She could not tell if it was dusk or dawn. The streetlights were lit, illuminating small dots along the walks, but something looked different. Had the township installed new street lamps while she was away? These new lamps were smaller, fancier. She walked faster, staring at the next lamp. It flickered as if it were not electric but powered by oil.

She shivered and wrapped her arms around herself to fight off the chill in the air. That was when she felt the sticky dampness. Looking down, she realized she was still wearing her yellow top and white skirt, but it they were now covered in blood. The oily smears coated her arms, throat, and fingers.

Was she dead? Had she not escaped the nightmare? Had her mind taken leave and created a fantasy in order to cope? She frowned and continued to walk. The lines of reality blurred in her memory. She was disoriented and unsteady on her feet. Her ankles were cold. She had forgotten her shoes.

The silent street suddenly filled with the clip-clop of horse hooves. Anna turned and saw a carriage breaking through the fog. The reins reached from the gelding’s thick neck and disappeared into the black shadows of the covered carriage.

She stilled and waited to see if the driver would stop. The reins pulled tight, and the huge horse whinnied, stomping his fur-covered hooves into the pavement. The buggy rocked to a stop, and the small black door slowly pushed open with a rickety squeak.

A large male hand reached out expectantly, palm up, as if requesting she place her hand there.

Ainsicht.”

Anna examined the hand and stepped closer. When she saw Adam smiling at her, immeasurable relief washed over her. She began to slip her hand into his, but hesitated when she saw the blood coating her fingers and staining her fingernails. He clucked his tongue at her and reached the rest of the way for her. He wrapped his hand gently around hers and gave her a reassuring tug. She carefully stepped into the carriage, her slight weight causing the handcrafted vehicle to sway slightly.

It was small and dark. When Adam closed the diminutive door, shutting out the cold, he leaned back, his face disappearing in the shadows. She sat on the bench across from him and fidgeted with her ruined clothing. The space was so narrow their knees almost touched.

“Do you love him?” he asked.

“Who?”

“Me.”

Anna’s mouth opened and shut. “I—I don’t know.” Why did she say that? She knew she loved Adam. She had told him that evening. Or had that all been a dream meant to cover up an ugly memory she could not bare to see?

“And yet you offer yourself up like an English whore.”

She flinched at his nasty words, her mouth agape, speechless. The carriage lurched, and she fell across his lap. Why was she suddenly so clumsy? It was as if her limbs were not her own. He shoved her back into her seat and frowned when blood from her clothing smeared his shirt. “You look like a spring lamb fresh from the slaughter.”

The carriage rattled loudly as the clomping steps of the horse began to take them away. “Where are we going?” she asked.

“We are going to end this. You stink like him.”

“Who?” He was being cruel, the way he looked at her and the things he said.

“Adam,” he growled.

“You aren’t making any sense, Ada—”

“Do not
dare
call me by his name!”

“Wha—”
 
She suddenly understood. “Cain?”

His smile was slow and wicked, drawing her gaze to his very sharp fangs. “That a girl.”

She looked toward the door and out the small window where the world rushed by. Should she reach for it? Jump? Where was Adam? He would be looking for her. Suddenly a knobby latch slammed down, locking them in. She turned to him. He was watching her, making himself comfortable, his elbow curved and resting along the back of the seat. “You need to let me go,” she declared with less conviction than she had aimed for.

“I need to do nothing but what God has chosen for me.”

“And what is that?” she asked, hating how her voice quivered.

“Find my mate.”

“But I’m Adam’s mate.”

“There seems to have been a mistake. You do not belong to my brother. You belong to me.”

“No.”

He waved his finger at her in a slow, disapproving manner. “Careful, pet. Telling your male no will land you in trouble with the master.”

“I am not your mate.”

He raised an eyebrow, seeming unimpressed. “I do tire of the debate. Now, off with your clothing.”

She sputtered at him. “Excuse me?”

“Are you daft? A whore and an imbecile, oh what a sense of humor our Lord has. Remove the clothing, or I shall do it for you.”

“No.”

In less than a second Anna found herself flipped around and painfully shoved against the hard seat. Cain held her hands against the hard wall of the carriage, both her wrists locked between one strong-clawed hand. His extreme weight crushed her into the sharp angles of the bench.

He snarled in her ear, “
Ferleicht
you have me confused again. I am not Adam. I do not negotiate. You are my mate, and I am entitled to take from you when I want, what I want. Your words mean nothing to me! Now,” She heard what sounded like someone biting into a juicy apple. He held his wrist in front of her face, his blood seeping darkly from the wound. “
Drink!

Her lips sealed together. Anna fought back with all of her might. His knees jammed against hers to fill the space between. She scratched and squirmed. He suddenly released his hold of her hands and grabbed a handful of her hair. Her mouth opened on a gasp. He forced her head toward his bloody limb and his warm blood smeared across her lips. She gagged and spit. Her elbow struck something soft, and he grunted, his hold on her loosening for a split second.

She turned and sprung at him as much as the cramped space allowed. She reached for his face in the dark and dug her thumbs into his eye sockets, hoping to gouge them out.

He roared a beastly sound that had her retreating to the far corner of the carriage. “You
bitch
!”
He turned on her, saliva dripping from his fangs and his eyes glowing under the bloody vessels she had ruptured there. He lunged at her, his hands wrenching her chin back painfully, prepared to sink his teeth deep into her flesh of her vulnerable throat. “You will pay for that for the next hundred years. I am your master! You will respect me and submit to my wishes! There is no escaping me! The more you run and fight the more I will make you suffer!”

“Adam!”
she screamed at the top of her lungs.

* * * *

Anna’s shrill scream filled the silent apartment, sending a stab of panic right to his heart. He flew to the bed, quickly gathering her into his arms. “Anna, Anna, wake up. Wake up now!”

Her eyes fluttered open, and she tried to scramble out of his arms. He held her tightly, worried he needed to protect her from herself in such a state. “
Ainsicht,
you are safe. I have you.”

“No! Get away from me!”

So shocked by her statement, still hating himself for his behavior hours earlier, he loosened his grip on her, and she wrenched herself out of his arms, hurrying off the bed. As if just then comprehending she’d had a nightmare, Anna frantically searched the room as if she were taking account of the familiar space. She looked down at her clothing and touched his shirt she was wearing with a shaky hand. She looked at him, terrified. “Adam?”

“Yes, Anna. It’s me.”

She fell to her knees and began to sob. He was by her side, pulling her to his lap in a heartbeat. “
Ainsicht,
tell me what happened.”

“Oh God, Adam, it’s him!” she sobbed. “It’s Cain! He’s sharing dreams with me. He says I’m his mate.”

“That’s impossible.”

“No, he said there was some kind of a mistake. He was mad with bloodlust and told me you wouldn’t be able to stop him from taking what was rightfully his. He said he’s coming for me. He will be here soon. Oh, Adam, he’s going to force me to bond, and I’m not strong enough to stop him…” She fell into hysterics.

Adam needed to think. “Shh, shh, Anna, I will keep you safe. He won’t get you.”

“How can we stop him?”

“We can hide.”

“He will find us. He’s coming. You don’t know how determined he was. He won’t give up until he has me!”

“There is one way he can’t hurt you.”

“How?”

“Bond with me first.”

BOOK: Called to Order
9.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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