Kiss of the Night (Page 20)

Kiss of the Night (Dark-Hunter #5)(20)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Cassandra wanted to go over and touch him again. She needed to feel close to him, but she could tell he wouldn’t welcome her.

He needed time and answers.

"I had fangs as a child," she explained, not wanting to hold anything back from him. He deserved to know what their child might need in order to survive. "My father had them filed off when I was ten to better hide me among the humans. Like the rest of my people, I need blood to live, but it doesn’t have to be Apollite, nor do I have to drink it or have it daily."

Cassandra paused as she thought about the necessities of her life and how much she wished she had been born human. But all in all, she had been much more fortunate than her sisters, who had tended to be more Apollite than she was. All four of them had been envious of how much easier life had been for Cassandra, who could walk in daylight.

"I usually go to the doctor for a transfusion every couple of weeks," she continued. "Since my father has a team of research doctors who work for him, he fabricated tests to say that I have a rare disease so that I can get what I need without alerting other doctors that I’m not quite human. I only go whenever I start to feel weak. And I haven’t aged as quickly as most Apollites either. I hit my puberty just like a human female."

"Then maybe our child will be even more human." She couldn’t miss the hopeful note in his voice as he spoke those words, and, like him, she prayed for the same thing. It would really be a miracle to have a human baby.

Not to mention the joy she felt that Wulf referred to the baby as theirs. At least that boded well.

For the baby anyway.

"You don’t deny the baby?" she asked.

His look blistered her. "I know I was with you in our dreams and as Kat said I’m living proof of what the gods are capable of. So, no, I don’t doubt the reality of this. The baby is mine and I will be a father to it."

"Thank you," she breathed as tears welled in her eyes. It was so much more than she had ever dared hope for.

She cleared her throat and banished her tears. She wouldn’t cry. Not over this. Cassandra was lucky and she knew it. Unlike others of her kind, her child would have a father to keep him safe. One who could watch him grow up. "Look on the bright side, you only have to tolerate me for a couple of months and then I’m out of your hair forever."

He gave her a look so feral that it made her step back. "Don’t ever treat death lightly."

She remembered what he had said in his dreams about watching his loved ones die. "Believe me, I don’t. I’m very much aware of just how fragile our lives are. But maybe the baby will live longer than twenty-seven years."

"And if it doesn’t?"

His hell would continue, only worse now because they would be his direct heirs.

His child.

His grandchildren. And he would be forced to watch them all die as young adults.

"I’m so sorry you got dragged into this."

"So am I." He stepped past her, and headed for a set of stairs that led downward.

"At least you will get to know the baby, Wulf," she called after him. "He or she will remember you. I will only have a few weeks with the baby before I have to die. He’ll never know me at all."

He stopped dead in his tracks. For a full minute he didn’t move.

Cassandra watched for any telltale emotions. His face was impassive. Without a comment, he continued on his way downstairs.

She tried to push his dismissal out of her thoughts. She had other things to focus on now, like the tiny baby that was growing inside her.

Heading for her room, she wanted to start making preparations. Time for her was all too critical and way too short.

Wulf entered his room and closed the door. He needed a little time alone to digest everything he’d been told.

He was going to be a father.

The child would remember him. But what if the child was more Apollite than Cassandra? Genetics was a weird science and he had lived long enough to see just how bizarre it could be. Look at Chris. No one had looked so much like Erik since Erik’s son had died more than twelve hundred years before. Yet Christopher was the very image of Wulf’s brother.

Chris even possessed Erik’s temperament and bearing. They could be the same man.

And what if his child turned Daimon one day? Could he hunt and kill his own son or daughter?

The thought made him cold inside. It terrified him.

Wulf didn’t know what to do. He needed advice. Someone who could help him sort through this. Picking up his phone, he called Talon.

No one answered.

Cursing, he only knew of one other person who might help. Acheron.

The Atlantean answered on the first ring. "What happened?"

He scoffed at Ash’s cynicism. "No ‘hi, Wulf, how’s it going’?"

"I know you, Viking. You only call whenever there’s a problem. So what’s up? You have trouble hooking up with Cassandra?"

"I’m going to be a father."

Total silence answered him. It was nice to know the news stunned Ash as much as it had stunned him.

"Well, I guess the answer to my question is a big no, huh?" Ash asked finally. He paused again before asking. "Are you okay?"

"So you’re not surprised at the fact that I made a woman pregnant?"

"No. I knew you could."

Wulf’s jaw went slack as rage gripped him tightly. Ash had known all this time? "You know, that information could have been vital to me, Ash. Damn you for not telling me this before now."

"What would it have changed had I told you? You would have spent the last twelve centuries paranoid of ever touching a woman for fear of making her pregnant and then her not remembering you as the father. You’ve had enough on you as it is. I didn’t see the point in adding that too."

Wulf was still angry. "What if I made someone else pregnant?"

"You haven’t."

"How do you know?"

"Believe me, I do. Had you ever made anyone pregnant, I would have told you. I’m not so big an ass as to withhold something that important."

Yeah, right. If Ash would withhold this, then there was no telling what other vital things the Atlantean had failed to mention. "And I’m supposed to trust you now after you’ve just admitted lying to me?"

"You know, I think you’ve been talking to Talon too much. Suddenly you two sound like the same person. Yes, Wulf, you can trust me. And I never lied to you. I just omitted a few facts."

Wulf didn’t say anything in response. But he would love to have Ash in front of him long enough to beat the hell out of him for this.

"So how’s Cassandra dealing with her pregnancy?" Ash asked.

Wulf went cold. There were times when Ash was truly spooky. "How did you know Cassandra was the mother?"

"I know lots of things when I apply myself."

"Then perhaps you should learn to share some of these details, especially when they involve other people’s lives."

Ash sighed. "If it makes you feel better, I’m not happy with the way all this went down any more than you are. But sometimes things have to go wrong in order to go right."

"What do you mean?"

"You’ll see one day, little brother. I promise."

Wulf ground his teeth. "I really hate it when you play Oracle."

"I know. All of you do. But what can I say? It’s my job to annoy you."

"I think you should find a new occupation."

"Why? I happen to enjoy the one I have." But something in Ash’s voice told Wulf the Atlantean was lying about that too.

So Wulf decided on a change of venue. "Since you don’t want to give me anything helpful, let me change the subject for a minute. Do you happen to know one of Artemis’s handmaidens named Katra? She’s here and she claims to be on our side. She says she’s been protecting Cassandra for five years, but I’m not sure if I should trust her or not."

"I don’t know the handmaidens by name, but I can ask Artemis about it."

For some bizarre reason that actually made him feel better. Ash wasn’t completely omniscient after all. "Okay. Just let me know immediately if she’s not friendly."

"I will definitely do that."

Wulf moved to hang up.

"By the way," Ash said as soon as he pulled the phone away.

Wulf replaced it to his ear. "What?"

"Congrats on the baby."

Wulf snorted at that. "Thanks. Maybe."

Cassandra wandered around the huge house. It was like walking through a museum. There were Old Norse artifacts everywhere. Not to mention oil paintings she’d never seen before by famous artists that she was sure were authentic.

There was one in particular outside her room by Jan van Eyck, of a dark-haired man and his wife. In some ways it reminded her of the famous Arnolfini portrait, but the couple in this one looked entirely different. The blond woman was dressed in vibrant red and the man in navy.

"It’s the wedding portrait for two of my descendants."

She jumped at the deep sound of Wulf’s voice behind her. She hadn’t heard him approach. "It’s beautiful. Did you commission it?"

He nodded and indicated the woman in the picture. "Isabella was quite an admirer of van Eyck’s work so I thought it would be a perfect wedding present for them. She was the eldest daughter of another Squire family who had been sent to marry my Squire Leif. Chris is descended from their third daughter."

"Wow," she breathed, impressed. "All my life, I have struggled to find out something about my heritage and lineage, and here you are, a walking textbook for Chris. Does he have any idea how lucky he is?"

He shrugged. "I’ve learned that at his age, most people aren’t interested in their past. Only their future. He’ll want to know as he gets older."

"I don’t know," she said, thinking of the way Chris’s eyes lit up whenever he tried to teach her Old English. "I think he knows a lot more about it than you realize. He’s a star student in class. You should listen to him go. When we were studying, he seemed to know just about everything about your culture."

Wulf’s features softened, turning him into the gentler man she’d seen in her dreams. "So he does listen."

"Yes, he does." Cassandra started for her room. "Well, it’s getting late and it’s been a really long night. I was going to go to sleep."

Wulf took her hand and pulled her to a stop. "I came to get you."

"Why?"

He stared at her intently. "Since you’re now pregnant with my baby, I don’t want you to sleep up here where I can’t get to you, should you need protection. I know I told you you could come and go in the daylight, but I’d rather you didn’t. The Daimons have human helpers just as we do. It would be too easy for one of them to get to you."

Her first reaction was to tell him to stuff it, but something in her refrained. "Are you ordering me?"

"No," he said quietly. "I’m asking you. For your safety and for the baby’s."

She smiled at that and at the edge in his voice that told her he wasn’t accustomed to asking anyone for anything. She’d heard him bark enough orders at Chris to know Wulf and free will weren’t exactly synonymous.

"Okay," she said, giving him a small smile, "but only because you asked me."

His features relaxed. Good grief, the man was gorgeous when he looked like that. "Is there anything you need from your apartment? I can send someone after it."

"Clothes would be nice. Makeup and a toothbrush even more so."

He pulled his phone out and dialed it. Cassandra listened to him introduce himself to his security men as she opened the door and he followed her inside her room. Kat, who was sitting in a chair reading, looked up without comment.

"Hang on." He handed the phone to her. "Here, tell them what you need and where you live."

"Why?"

"Because if I tell them, they’ll forget within five minutes what I said and won’t leave the premises. I always have to have someone, usually Ash, Chris, or my friend Talon, tell them what I need done, or I e-mail them. And right now e-mail or text-messaging would take too long."

Was he serious?

"I can go with them," Kat offered as she set her book aside. "I actually know what she uses and I want to grab a few things of my own."

Wulf relayed the message to his guards and then had Cassandra repeat every word of it.

Once she finished talking to the guard, she hung up the phone. Lord have mercy, and she had thought her life was screwed up. "So are you telling me that humans can’t even remember a conversation with you?"

"No, never."

"Then how do you keep Chris under wraps? Can’t he just tell them you said it was okay for him to leave?"

Wulf laughed. "Because any order concerning his safety has to be cleared through Ash first and Chris knows it. The security guards would never move without direct orders from Ash."

Wow, the man was strict.

Kat gave Cassandra a gentle smile as Cassandra picked up the clothes Wulf had given her from the dresser. "I’m glad you handled this so well this time. And Wulf too. It makes things a lot easier."

Cassandra nodded. It did indeed.

If only Wulf could accept her heritage as easily as he had the baby. But then what good would it do when she was destined to die?