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Authors: Gina Rosavin

The Taste of Magic (28 page)

BOOK: The Taste of Magic
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She laid down on the bed, just for a minute, until she felt well enough to get up again.

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Adrian glanced up as the clock chimed off another hour. Kat had not emerged from her chamber. Yet, she'd been anxious to leave, to go to Olga. Something was wrong. He opened their link, reaching out to her. No response. His worry turned to fear. Had something happened? The threat posed by Machiavelli was very real, and Adrian wouldn't be surprised if the Italian would dare to enter his home again. He transported to her room, relieved to find her there.

 

His relief quickly faded as he studied her. She lay upon the bed, pale, motionless. His fear returned, greater than before, and he rushed to her, gathering her limp body into his arms.

 

"Kat, wake up." He patted her cheek, gently at first, then a little stronger. "Kat, please, open your eyes."

 

This was not a simple sleep, the dark circles under her eyes were from more than weariness, her breathing too shallow. Panicked, he sent a telepathic call for Dimitri. When the enchanter answered, Adrian ordered him to bring his wife and come immediately.

 

Dimitri and Olga materialized before him, Olga clinging tightly to her husband. Based on her terror-filled eyes, it was clear she didn't like the chosen method of transportation. Once her gaze settled on her daughter, a different fear reflected in her gaze.

 

"Katerina!" She rushed to the bedside. When she tugged at him, he reluctantly eased his hold on Katerina. Olga leaned over her, examining her much like a doctor would. She stood and turned an accusing stare toward Adrian. "What have you done?"

 

"Nothing."

 

"You drank her blood again."

 

"It was her wish."

 

Olga shook her head. "She wouldn't choose that."

 

"She did."

 

"You must leave. I cannot tend her with you here." She pushed against him, but he was immovable against her efforts.

 

Adrian shook his head. "No."

 

"Dimitri has more information for you. Take him and both of you go." Olga stared hard at the vampire, and although his eyes reflected his annoyance, he nodded, and led her husband from the room. She turned back to her daughter, and closed her eyes. It was too late. She could no longer save her daughter. Katerina was more securely bound to du Lac than ever before. Unless…

 

She strode to the open window and warbled a bird call. Within moments, a sparrow landed on the stone ledge. In its own language, she gave the bird a message, summoning Stefan. He would know what to do.

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Adrian paced anxiously. Although Dimitri's information had been leaked to the authorities, and his plan against Machiavelli underway, Adrian could not focus. All he could think about was Kat, and how he was somehow responsible for her condition. He dared a glance at Dimitri, who said little but watched him steadily for some time now.

 

"What?" He couldn't keep the sharpness from the word.

 

"If you have harmed Katerina, my loyalty will no longer be yours."

 

Adrian stiffened. "Loyal or not, I am still your master."

 

"You forced her here, and if she suffers because of that..."

 

"Your paternal instincts are admirable, but too late. Until now, you've not shown your daughter who you really are. You've avoided her."

 

Dimitri stepped closer, his hands clenched into fists at his side. "Knowing what I am would hurt her. She is not ready."

 

"I won't tell her. That is your place. But I will not have her blame me for your choice."

 

Some of the rebellion left Dimitri's dark eyes, and Adrian fully knew why. Dimitri's intervention on the night all this began had not been a coincidence. If the enchanter hadn't been drawn to immortality, Adrian would not be standing here arguing with him now. Dimitri feared his daughter's disappointment. Adrian would use this to contain his servant.

 

"When the time comes, I will tell her everything." Resignation deepened the enchanter's voice.

 

"Good. Now, go follow up on the progress. This needs to be monitored very closely."

 

Adrian resumed his pacing as Dimitri transported out of the room. His thoughts immediately returned to Katerina. How was she? He had to go see her. He strode down the hall, stopping short to hear his name called out. He turned, and silently cursed Olga Romanov. She would pay for this. Stefan Malinay strode toward Adrian, his burgundy cape flowing behind. The vampire folded his arms, and blocked the passage.

 

"You are not welcome here."

 

"I was summoned."

 

Adrian shook his head. "Leave peacefully, or I'll…"

 

"I'm not here for you, du Lac. If I were, you'd already be gone." Adrian stiffened, and took a menacing step toward the wizard.

 

"I'm here for Katerina. Olga sent for me."

 

Adrian eyed Stefan warily. "How?" As the wizard made a move to pass him, Adrian mirrored the step.

 

"It doesn't matter. What matters is my services are needed." Stefan's dark eyes glowed with malice. "Stand aside."

 

"Olga is a healer. Katerina will be fine." Adrian began to wonder, for if Olga had needed help, Katerina's condition must be serious. He wouldn't reveal the weakness of his fear.

 

"You're a fool to endanger her any more. I am here to help." For Katerina's sake, and only that, Adrian reluctantly realized he had no choice. He could not let his own conflict risk her health. He nodded and stepped aside to let Stefan pass.

 

"Don't think we are finished yet." Adrian's deceptively silky voice echoed in the hall.

 

"I wasn't counting on it." The wizard turned and entered Kat's chamber. Adrian followed.

 

Katerina was awake now, and relief flooded Adrian with warmth. Her gaze locked with his, and he could read the fear there. He tried to reach out to her with his mind, but she shook her head before he'd completed the link. He nodded.

 

"He should not be here." Olga pointed at Adrian.

 

"Could you give us some privacy?" Katerina asked. The hurt in his eyes was unmistakable, but she couldn't talk to him now. Not until she had all the facts.

 

"I wanted to make sure you were feeling better."

 

She opened her mind to him just a little, enough to feel the familiar warmth. Please, understand. I need some time.

 

He nodded, then disappeared from the room. Katerina turned to her mother and Stefan, anxious to hear what they had to say. When she'd awakened to her mother's frantic chanting, and seen the fear in her eyes, she'd known something was terribly wrong. But Olga wouldn't tell her anything. Now that Stefan was here, she wanted some answers. "Mama, are you going to tell me what's wrong with me?" She folded her arms expectantly.

 

"Your mother wants me to confirm something first," said Stefan. "In a moment, we'll be able to tell you."

 

Stefan stepped closer and held his arms out above her head. He closed his eyes, and Katerina watched as his hands, hovering a few inches above her, moved down along her body. When he reached her stomach, he stopped, fingers trembling. Please, no, he couldn't be checking for… she forced the thought aside, unwilling to even consider it. Impossible. Vampires couldn't sire children. Her heart pounded as she waited for her teacher to finish whatever he was doing.

 

He held the position for several moments, then opened his eyes and met her gaze.

 

"Olga, you were right." He held Katerina's gaze, and the intensity of his concern made her stomach clench.

 

"Right about what?" The effort to keep her voice calm and steady drained Katerina.

 

Olga sat beside her, taking her hands in her own. "I didn't think it could happen, but it has."

 

"Mama, tell me already."

 

Olga nodded. "Katerina, my child, you are pregnant."

 

Silence filled the room. Katerina stared at her mother. Her brain seemed to have shorted out at hearing that word. Not a single half-coherent thought could form, except her forbidden suspicions had indeed been correct. A baby. She was going to have a baby. Adrian's baby. A euphoric rush filled her. A moment later, despair and fear overcame the joy. Too many emotions tumbled through her, and she couldn't latch onto any of them long enough to dwell on them, let them grow.

 

A baby. She wrapped her arms around herself, suppressing the smile determined to come out. Aware both Stefan and her mother watched her anxiously, she didn't want to reveal anything. Yet.

 

"Do you understand what this means?" Stefan asked. "Yes, it means in a few months, I'm going to have a baby."

 

"It means you've bonded to him in a way…none of us can save you now."

 

Stefan waved his hand and frowned before turning away.

 

"Save me from what?"

 

"He will take you, Katerina." Olga grabbed her hand. "He will turn you."

 

Katerina shook her head. No, he wouldn't. He'd promised. But he'd lied before, and he would probably lie again, if it got him what he wanted. And he wanted her. She had no illusions his ultimate goal would be to turn her, but she couldn't let him drink from her to the point of death. What if she didn't come back? What if something went wrong, and she was really and truly dead?

 

She placed a hand on her stomach. "Mama, I have to trust Adrian will honor his word. I don't have much choice. But just to make sure, I'm not going to tell him yet. He's got too much going on with Machiavelli, and I don't want to give him another distraction. Besides, I have no idea how he feels about children."

 

"Well, you'd better find out soon," Stefan snapped, his back still to them.

 

"Can't anyone around here just speak plainly? What do you mean?"

 

Olga cleared her throat. "Katerina, you are carrying a vampire's child. Your pregnancy will not be like a normal human woman's."

 

Her stomach churned, her shoulders and neck tensed. What could possibly be worse? "I'm afraid to ask. Is my baby going to have…horns or something?"

 

Olga shook her head. "No, but she'll develop at a much faster rate."

 

"And…?"

 

"You'll give birth in about four months."

 

Katerina stared. Surely she'd misheard."That's impossible," she whispered.

 

Stefan finally turned back to her. "A vampire's child develops at a much faster rate than normal humans. You would have eventually learned that, if you hadn't rushed into this foolish situation."

 

Katerina's anger at her teacher grew. She recalled what she'd learned since she'd seen him last.

 

"How do you happen to know that, Stefan? Is it because you're a vampire hunter, as well as a wizard?"

 

His eyes widened, and he opened his mouth as if about to speak, then shut it again. His gaze held hers, and she could almost hear him trying to put together an explanation. This should be good. She folded her arms and waited. Finally, he spoke.

 

"When the time was right, you would have known everything." Katerina threw back the covers, ignoring her mother's protests as she stood. "You lied to me. You all did. Adrian isn't the only one at fault here."

 

Katerina turned to her mother. "Did you ask Stefan to teach me because you wanted him to destroy Adrian? Or because you wanted him to teach me how to do it?"

 

Olga lifted her chin. "You know nothing about this. You don't understand."

 

"You're right, I don't. But the reason I don't know anything is your fault. You sent me away. You kept this all a secret from me. You let me give myself to him, to free Papa, fat lot of good that did."

 

She turned away and strode to the window. She was aware of her mother following, but ignored her. There would be time later to learn more about her mother's reasons for keeping secrets. She had more urgent concerns now. She was pregnant, with a vampire's child. If anyone else fed her more lies, she was afraid she might explode. She needed to get away from all of them and be alone, to take some time and sort through everything. There was a child to consider now.

 

Stefan finally broke the silence. "Katerina, your child will affect countless others' lives."

 

She rolled her eyes and turned to face him. "Here we go again. I don't want to hear it. As of now, you are no longer my teacher. I'll find someone else."

 

"There is no one else," Olga protested.

 

"There's only one thing he's really going to teach me, isn't that right, Stefan?" She fixed him with a glare, daring him to deny it.

 

"Yes. I was to teach you how to use your magic to destroy vampires."

 

Hearing her teacher say it out loud was still unexpected. The words made it real. He wanted to make her a killer. Thunder sounded outside as she clenched her jaw and waved her hand. A vase flew past Stefan's face. He stepped back, slightly pale. But he recovered quickly, eyes narrowing as he stormed over to her.

 

"Don't think to go against me that way. I am far more powerful and can easily render you helpless."

 

She swallowed against the sudden fear thickening her throat. Her fingers curled and uncurled. For the first time she had a sense of how dangerous her teacher could be. Going against him would not be wise, but she wouldn't let him use her for his own purposes. No one would, ever again. "Maybe so, but don't think I'm going to sit back and let you use me to destroy people. Not anymore. You're on your own. And don't think I won't do everything in my power to stop you."

BOOK: The Taste of Magic
11.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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