Night Play (Page 30)

Night Play (Dark-Hunter #6)(30)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

"He beat back the Greeks and reclaimed Rome for our people. Indeed, he was the one who destroyed the Macedonian threat and who single-handedly annihilated the greatest Greek general who had ever lived Kyrian of Thrace." Real hatred gleamed in his eyes, but she wasn’t sure who it was meant for. His grandfather or Kyrian.

"You mean Kyrian Hunter?" she asked. "The guy with the minivan who lives a few blocks over?"

Valerius’s eyes sparked at that. "He’s driving a mini-van?" There was no mistaking the humor in his tone.

"Well, yeah. I saw it parked out in front of his house and I know from Tabitha that Amanda drives a Camry."

He didn’t say anything else for a few minutes and Bride had no clue as to his mood.

So she gazed up at his grandfather, who commanded attention even centuries later. "You look a lot like him."

"I know and I was expected to follow in his grand footsteps."

"Did you?"

This time there was no mistaking the shame in his eyes before he averted his gaze from her. "When my grandfather died, there were parades for a full week of people who mourned his passage." He lifted his brandy up to his grandfather in a silent salute.

Still, she saw through his facade. "You didn’t care for him?"

Valerius looked surprised by her words. "I begrudged him every breath he took," he said quietly, then changed the subject to discuss his recent move from Washington, DC, to the den of iniquity that most people fondly called New Orleans.

As they headed back toward the house, Vane flashed in beside her.

Bride’s heart wanned instantly at his presence.

"Sorry it took so long," Vane said before he kissed her on the cheek. His scent surrounded her, making her heart pound at his presence. It was good to have him back with her.

"They let you see him?"

He nodded.

"Is he any better?" Valerius asked, surprising her with the depth of sincere concern that she heard in his voice. While they had dined, he had told her about the night the Daimons had attacked Vane’s pack and how he, Acheron, Vane, and Fang had fought them off.

Most of all, Valerius had told her how the two wolves had reacted at the death of their beloved sister.

How the last sight he’d had of Vane was him carrying his sister’s body away for burial.

"No," Vane said with a sigh. "He’s still comatose."

"My apologies." Valerius took a step back and inclined his head to them.

"Since you are here now, I shall take my leave to attend my duties."

Valerius took three steps, then paused and turned back toward them. "By the way, Vane, you have a most charming mate. It would indeed be a pity for the world to lose such a treasure as she. My sword is ever yours to command and my house is here for you so long as she needs protection."

He turned with an imperious whirl and quickly left them alone.

Bride didn’t know which of them was more stunned by Valerius’s noble declaration. "What did you do to him?" Vane asked her.

"Nothing. We just had dinner and toured the house and grounds."

He shook his head in disbelief. "See, you really are magic." He picked her hand up and placed a sweet kiss on her knuckles that made her stomach quiver.

Placing her hand in the crook of his arm, "You look lovely tonight," he said, then made a single long-stemmed rose appear out of nowhere.

Bride took it from him and smelled it. "If you’re trying to seduce me, Vane, you’re a bit late. At this point, I’m pretty much a sure thing for you."

He laughed. "In my world the only thing that I’m ever sure about is that someone is most likely lurking in the next shadow to try and kill me."

She stopped and frowned. "You’re not kidding, are you?"

"I wish I were. It’s what makes being with you so frightening to me. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m going to lose you somehow."

She placed a finger over his lips. "Don’t talk like that. Have faith."

"All right," he said, kissing her finger. "Tell me, what would you like to do tonight?"

She shrugged. "I don’t care as long as I’m with you."

"You are easy, aren’t you?"

"Shh," she said, holding her finger up to her lips. "Don’t let anyone else know."

He smiled. "Tell you what. I haven’t eaten yet. Want to go grab some beignets and then take a carriage ride around the Garden District with me?"

Bride’s eyes actually teared up at his offer. She’d lived in New Orleans all her life and had never taken a carriage ride before. They were terribly expensive.

Her father had always thought they were a waste of money for someone who lived in New Orleans, and as a teenager, she couldn’t afford the one hundred fifty dollars.

As for Taylor

He’d been too concerned that someone would see him and laugh at a "respectable" anchorman doing something so childish.

"I would love to."

"Good." He leaned down and kissed her deeply.

When he pulled back, she found herself standing in the shadowed back area of the French Market, a few feet from the legendary Cafi Du Monde.

"Don’t worry. No one saw us." He winked at her.

"You do have a motorcycle. I have seen it, right?"

"Yes. But Amanda and Grace said that you wouldn’t want to ride with me while you’re in a dress."

She looked down at the expensive green velvet. "Come to think of it, I’m not really dressed for beignets, either."

"Don’t worry. I can promise you that you won’t get a single powder stain on your dress."

"You can do that?"

He gave her a cocky grin. "Baby, there’s not much I can’t do."

"Then lead on, Sir Wolf."

Vane led her to a small table just to the side of the restaurant. As soon as they sat down a waiter came over to take their orders.

"I’ll have an order of beignets and a chocolate milk, please," Bride said.

"Four orders of beignets and a cafi au lait."

Bride gaped at him. "You’re going to eat all that?"

"I told you I was hungry."

She shivered as the waiter left them. "I hope Arcadians don’t get diabetes."

"We don’t. We’re strangely immune to everything but the common cold and a couple of weird diseases that are unique to my race."

"What kind of diseases?"

"Nothing you need to worry about. The worst is one that takes away our ability to use magic."

She shuddered at that and tried to imagine Vane without his powers. It would most likely kill him. "Is that what’s wrong with your mother? She said she couldn’t travel through time."

"No, that was my father’s doing. After she castrated him and before his own powers dried up, he jerked a lot of her powers from her to make sure she didn’t come back to kill him."

Bride closed her eyes in sympathetic pain. "Good grief, they had the relationship, huh?"

"Yeah. But honestly, it’s my mother I feel sorriest for. My father had no business hurting her. He got what he deserved as far as I’m concerned. I just wish there was some way to make her whole again."

Bride took his hand into hers and held it tight. "I can’t believe you can show compassion to her, considering what she was willing to do to you."

"It’s only because I got to you in time, I assure you. Had they harmed one hair on your head, there wouldn’t be one of them left standing right now."

A shiver went down her spine at the lethal tone in his voice. He meant that and she had no doubt he could kill someone.

She leaned back as the waiter returned with their order and placed it on the small, round table.

Bride stared at her three pastries warily.

"They won’t bite you," Vane teased. "Watch." He picked up a napkin and held it underneath the powdered beignet, then took a bite. True to his words, the powdered sugar didn’t go flying like it normally did.

Deciding to trust him, she followed suit and quickly found that so long as Vane was with her, she could actually eat one of these without making a total mess of herself.

The thought actually made her giggle.

Bride ate two of hers and sipped her milk while Vane finished all of his.

"Are you not going to eat that?" he asked.

"I’m full." Then at his suspicious look, she added, "I swear. Valerius fed me a full five-course meal."

"Good for him. He better feed my woman."

Shaking her head at him, she pushed her beignet toward him. "Go ahead, I know you want it."

He didn’t argue.

As soon as he had polished it off, he stood and helped her to her feet. He draped his arm around her shoulders and held her close as they strolled across the street to where the carriages were lined up along Decatur.

Vane led her to the first one and helped her up into the back. Bride settled herself in comfortably while he paid the female driver, then joined her.

He cradled her against his chest as the driver gently urged her mule, Caesar, onto the street, toward the Garden District.

"Are you two newlyweds?" Michaela, the driver, asked.

Vane looked at her.

"I guess we are," Bride said. Not sure how else to answer Michaela’s question.

"I thought so. You got that happy-in-love look about you. I can always spot it."

Bride closed her eyes as she inhaled the warm, masculine scent of Vane and considered just how much she would love to gobble him up. She could hear his heart pounding underneath her cheek while the mule’s hooves clip-clopped through the French Quarter. Music would occasionally drift out of the buildings and cars they passed: jazz, zydeco, rock, and even a country tune every now and again.

The air held just the hint of a chill to it, otherwise the night was extremely pleasant. Her hometown had never looked more lovely to her. And when she passed the street to her shop, she smiled as she remembered seeing Vane there for the first time.

In some ways it seemed like an eternity ago.

Vane leaned his head down so that his cheek rested on the top of her hair while he cupped her face with his hand.

They didn’t speak while the driver pointed out landmarks and buildings.

Vane couldn’t breathe as he held Bride. Caressing her skin was like stroking satin. She was so precious to him. He felt as if he had been reborn the day he first saw her with that touch of sadness in her eyes at Sunshine’s art stand.

He didn’t want to think about a future without her.

While visiting Fang, he had told his brother everything about Bride. He’d hoped that it might bring Fang out of his stupor.

It hadn’t.

If anything, it seemed to depress his brother more.

How he wished he knew some way to reach Fang. A part of him felt guilty that Bride made him happy while his brother was so miserable.

But he didn’t want to go back to the way he’d been before he’d found her. For the first time in his life, he didn’t have to hide himself from his lover. It was so incredible to be completely honest about who and what he was.

She didn’t judge him or hate him for things that weren’t his fault. She accepted him and that was the greatest miracle of all.

All too soon, the carriage returned to Decatur. Vane got out first, then helped Bride down. He tipped the driver, then took her hand and led her toward the St. Louis Cathedral. "Would you like to go dancing?"

Bride bit her lip at his offer. She hadn’t gone dancing in years. "I would love to."

"Do you have a favorite club?"

She shook her head.

"Hmmm, I can’t take you to Sanctuary, I’m still kind of banished from it for attacking one of my pack mates. Ash and Simi like to go dancing at someplace called the Dungeon, but knowing their taste in music and clubs, I doubt either one of us would be comfortable there. Nick Gautier hangs at Temptations Then again, knowing Nick, I have a feeling it’s probably not a good place for you, either."

"No," she said with a laugh at the mention of one of New Orleans’s more renowned gentlemen’s clubs. "We could try the Tricou House on Bourbon. Tabitha goes there a lot after work. Of course, she’s there looking for vampires to stake, but she says they have great music and food."

"Okay, sounds like a destination."

As they walked down Phre Antoine Alley, Vane began to slow his pace.

Bride frowned as he pulled away from her and put her behind him.

"What’s the" Her voice trailed off as she saw what appeared to be four blond men with an attractive brunette. At first she thought one of the men was making out with the woman in one of the alcoves, until the other three men saw Vane and cursed.

"Back off, Were-Hunter," one of the men snarled. His sinister gaze went to Bride. "You have too much to lose by fighting us."

"Let her go," Vane said in a deadly voice.

They didn’t.

"Stay here," Vane ordered her before he threw his hand out and sent two of the vampires flying.

Before he could move, something bright flashed in the alleyway. Bride held her hand up to shield her eyes as Vane made an inhuman cry.

"Grab his mate," someone said.

She was still bunded by the flash. Someone grabbed her roughly. Knowing Vane would never handle her that way, she gave a vicious kick that contacted with flesh.