Dark Bites (Page 50)

Dark Bites (Dream-Hunter #1)(50)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

She couldn’t see anything as she pushed, kicked, and fought until she finally saw what she’d come for. Rafael knocked a Daimon off him while another was trying to pin him to the ground. But what made her panic swell most was the Daimon coming toward them with an axe.

If they managed to cut off Rafael’s head, it was over.

The Daimons pulled back as someone grabbed her from behind. Reacting on pure instinct, Celena head-butted her assailant with the back of her head and launched herself at Rafael who still lay on the ground. From the corner of her eye, she saw the axe falling.

She curled herself around Rafael’s head and waited for the pain of the axe slicing through her.

It never came.

There was a sudden silence that rang out as everything seemed to freeze into place. Her heart racing, Celena opened her eyes to see the Apollites and Daimons staring above her. She rolled over to find the Daimon who’d held the axe. Only now the axe was gone.

It was in the hands of the groom who stared not at them but at the others with a stern glare. “Enough!” he roared. “This is supposed to be my wedding!” He looked over at the bride, whose face was pale, her delicate lips trembling. “And you’re upsetting Chloe. I’ve only got five more years with her before I die and the last thing I want is to have what few memories I have left ruined by a bunch of bloodthirsty ass**les.” He picked out with his gaze the ones who must be Daimons. “No more bloodshed!”

The Daimon next to Celena curled his lip. “He killed my brother.”

The groom snarled. “Your brother was a dickhead and he’s lucky I didn’t kill him. I told all of you that you weren’t to cause any problems tonight, didn’t I?”

The Daimon turned sheepish.

The groom tossed the axe overboard before he approached them. To Celena’s complete shock, he held his hand out to her.

She exchanged an uncertain look with Rafael before she reached out, clasped the groom’s hand, and allowed him to pull her to her feet.

“You can’t let him go,” another Daimon sneered.

“It’s my wedding. I can do what I please. This is supposed to be a night of celebration – ”

“Then let’s celebrate by killing a Dark-Hunter.”

The groom looked disgusted. “Someone stake that bastard, please, and for the sake of the gods, dust Benny off the table by the fountain. That powder’s disgusting and it’s getting into the blood.” He helped Rafael up. “Don’t worry. It’s not human blood. It’s ours.”

Rafael wasn’t sure what to think as he faced the Apollite in front of him. They could have killed him and Celena both. He was having a hard time believing that they would just let him go.

“Why are you doing this?” Rafael asked.

The groom looked back at his bride. “Because life’s too short to spend it fighting when you could be holding the one you love. And love’s too rare to squander it with petty concerns.” He took his wife’s hand in his and held it tight. “I’m lucky I have Chloe and I have no intention of letting a war I didn’t start rob me of one second of my time with her. Go in peace, Dark-Hunter.”

Rafael was surprised by his words, but even more so by his charity. “You’re a good man.”

The Apollite scoffed. “I guess we’ll see in about five years, huh? If I die peacefully, then I’m good. If not, then we’ll face each other again as predators.” He indicated the ramp with a jerk of his chin. “Now go before I change my mind.”

Deciding not to press his luck, Rafael draped his arm around Celena and held her close to him to protect her as they made their way off the boat. He didn’t stop walking until they’d made their way over to the dock by his boat. He paused at the prow to turn back and see the Apollites and Daimons resuming their party.

“That was flipping amazing!” He looked up to see Jeff in the shadows.

He reminded Rafael of a kid who’d just got away with something. “I thought you were dead. Man, I was in the process of calling Acheron for help when I saw the two of you leaving. How did you manage it?”

Instead of removing his arm from around Celena, Rafael leaned his head against hers. “Luck… which I’ll take over skill any day.”

Jeff’s face sobered as he realized Celena was there. He actually gulped. “I’m dead, aren’t I?”

Rafael held his breath as he met Celena’s speculative gaze. He expected her to shove him away from her and go after Jeff.

Instead, she wrapped her arm around Rafael’s hips. “I made a deal with Rafael, and it seems you’re safe from me.”

A small smile hovered at the edges of Rafael’s lips as he stared at her in the moonlight. “Go home, Jeff.”

“Okay, let me pack and – ”

“No,” he said sternly. “Go home right now and don’t stop until you’re safe in your room. You can get your stuff later.”

He could tell Jeff wanted to argue, but luckily for his Squire, the man caught the tone of his voice and immediately left. And as soon as he did, Rafael did what he’d been dying to do. He finally kissed Celena.

Celena moaned at the taste of Rafael as his tongue swept against hers. He cupped her face in his hands as she inhaled the sharp scent of his skin and aftershave. It was a breathtaking combination, and all she wanted to do was peel his clothes off him and lick every inch of his body.

She knew she had no business with him, and for once she didn’t care about rules. The Apollite had been right. There were some things more important than something so trivial.

Rafael pulled back from the kiss. “Why did you come for me?”

“I was afraid you were in danger.”

He shook his head at her. “You know that was amazingly stupid of you. I’m rancid meat to them, but you… you’re a buffet. You’re damn lucky they let you go.”

She smiled up at him before she repeated her earlier words. “Yeah, well, I’ll take luck over skill any day.”

He laughed before he kissed her again. “And that still doesn’t tell me why you came after me. You broke a dozen rules by following me tonight.”

And for some reason that didn’t bother her. Nothing had mattered to her except seeing him safe. “I know, but I couldn’t let you die.”

“Why?”

She bit her lip as the reasonable side of her brain begged her not to say anything else. But all the years of her hiding her emotions for this man rushed to the forefront, and after being with him for this last week, she couldn’t hide it anymore. “Because I love you.”

Rafael couldn’t have been more stunned had she stabbed him. He stood there in complete shock as he watched her eyes dilate ever so slightly. In all the centuries he’d lived, only one other woman had ever said those words to him…

And she had died in his arms on their wedding night under the assault of his enemies.

He’d never had the chance to taste her. Never had a chance to show her just how much he loved her.

He wasn’t going to take that chance with Celena. His body burning, he scooped her up in his arms and carried her on board his boat.

“What are you doing?” she asked as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Carpe noctem. I’m seizing the night. But most of all, I’m seizing the woman in my arms.”

Celena didn’t say another word as he took her below the deck. As soon as they were out of the sight of any passersby, she literally ripped the shirt from his back so that she could finally touch the body that had haunted her dreams for the last few years.

Her career as a Squire was over, but she didn’t care. The only thing that mattered right then was being with Rafael. She shivered as he pulled her shirt over her head and cupped her breast through her bra.

Closing her eyes, she savored the heat of his hand as he pushed the satin aside to touch her flesh. She captured his lips with hers as she feverishly opened his fly, then dipped her hand down to touch him. He hissed in response, making her soar in satisfaction.

“Boy,” he whispered against her lips, “When you break the rules, you seriously break the rules.”

Celena didn’t respond as he pulled her pants down her legs. She sucked her breath in sharply between her teeth as she saw him kneeling on the ground at her feet. Lifting her foot, she let him remove her shoes, which he tossed over his shoulder before he undressed her.

His dark eyes flashed an instant before he reached up to remove her panties. Her entire body burned as he bared her to his hungry gaze. Reaching down, she traced the outline of his lips as he gently tongued her fingertips. She’d dreamed of this moment a thousand times.

He was the main reason she’d never really dated. After she’d met him, other men never seemed to compare. They weren’t as handsome. Weren’t as dangerous.

Weren’t as forbidden.

And now she was finally going to know what it felt like to hold him…

Rafael couldn’t breathe as he slowly rose to his feet. He still couldn’t believe that Celena was here with him. That she who lived for rules and regulations was willing to sacrifice her Squire’s oath.

His heart pounding, he reached down to brush his hand against the softness of her abdomen, then lower to the short, crisp hairs until he found what he sought. He groaned at the sensation of her wet heat against his fingers while she stroked him with her hand.

Unable to stand it anymore, he pinned her back against the wall and kissed her passionately.

Celena clung to him as she lifted one leg to wrap it around his hips. Taking the invitation, he drove himself deep inside her.

Rafael’s head spun as an unimagined ecstasy tore through him. Celena had almost died to protect him. No woman had ever done such a thing for him before. Her strength, her courage…

It was unlike anything he’d ever known.

And now she met him stroke for stroke as they made love furiously. He smiled as each thrust was punctuated by the sound of the beads on the ends of her braids scraping against the wall.

Celena buried her lips against Rafael’s throat as she forced herself not to think about what was going to happen tomorrow. She couldn’t stay with him. She knew it. He was a Dark-Hunter. But here for the moment, he was hers, and that was all that mattered.

Arching her back, she cried out with every powerful thrust of him inside her as she clutched him to her. He dipped his head down to capture her breast and tongue it in time to his strokes. She cradled his head to her as her body was overwhelmed by pleasure. With every stroke it increased until she finally couldn’t stand it anymore. Her body burst into a thousand tendrils of ecstasy.

Rafael growled as he felt Celena cli**xing. Wanting to give her even more, he quickened his strokes and watched as she threw her head back and moaned.

His smile faded as he lost himself to his own orgasm. Burying himself deep inside her, he shook with the force of it. Her breathing ragged in his ear, she gently stroked his back as he slowly drifted back into himself. This was one of the most amazing moments in his life. Not because of the sex, but because he was being held by a woman who was willing to sacrifice herself for him. A woman who was willing to break the rules…

Most of all, a woman who loved him.

He kissed her tenderly on the lips. “Don’t leave, Celena.”

“I’ll be here until morning.”

“No,” he said, his voice thick with the emotions that were churning inside him. “I mean don’t leave. Ever.”

Her mouth opened ever so slightly. “What are you saying, Rafael?”

“I love you.”

She couldn’t believe her ears. It was more than she’d ever hoped for. “You don’t have to say that.”

“It’s not that I’m saying it. It’s that I’m feeling it.”

Thrilled by his words, she squeezed him tight. “So what’s to become of us now?”

“Looks like I’ll be joining the human race again.”

“Are you sure?”

Rafael grew quiet as he considered it. If he continued being a Dark-Hunter, he’d have to let her go.

The Apollite’s words rang in Rafael’s head. He’d been alone for all these centuries. Not once in all this time had any woman ever made him feel his emotions more strongly than Celena. She made him crazy, angry, happy…

But most of all, she made him feel like he could fly.

He didn’t want to live without this. Without her.

“Yeah, I’m sure. That is, if you’re willing to take Artemis’s test.”

“For you, my pirate, I’d walk through the fires of hell.”

Epilogue

Two months later

Celena stared at Acheron, the Dark-Hunter leader, as he explained that in order to free Rafael from Artemis’s service she would have to kill him. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Do I look like I’m joking?”

She raked her gaze from the top of Acheron’s long black hair to the tips of his custom-made Goth biker boots with bat buckles. And at six foot eight there was a lot of him to rake, too, but every bit of his long, lean frame was deadly sincere, which made her sick to her stomach.