She crash-landed back onto the overstuffed couch, with an audible thump
. Her stomach felt a little queasy with all the abrupt swooshing around. She felt like an otherworldly yo-yo, being pulled across lines of invisible universes.
She was back in the bat cave, with its black, carved walls and mysterious gold lights. She remembered what Camus said about a wall. Could this be the wall he had been talking about?
Thoughts of Camus fled as she realized she wasn't alone.
Eremon leaned against the obsidian wall, his arms crossed in front of his broad, muscled chest, a picture of arrogance.
“You must forget whatever it is they have told you,” he said coldly. “I am not interested in this game, or anything to do with it. You may go. Now.”
Lydia jumped up, her heart pounding. Eremon towered over her, his black eyebrows low over hooded emerald eyes. He radiated a palpable sense of danger, setting her heart beating even harder.
The dim light around them lifted as if to showcase his presence, and she gulped at the rugged, sculptured lines of his face. He was quite simply the most magnificent man she had ever seen. Familiar electrical currents were starting a jig up her spine. She breathed in the increasing scent of smoke and tried not to think of sex.
“You do not belong here,” he snapped.
“Well then, tell me how I get out.” The boldness in her voice surprised her. As if they created their own tiny microclimate, the air became denser, charged. Eremon straightened and took a step toward her, and she immediately backed up.
“You must forget us. You have been put through much, for all my family's good intentions.” Without warning, he raised a hand and lifted a strand of her hair. For a brief moment he held it to his face, his eyes closed, and an expression like pain crossed his face. Then it was gone, replaced by an inscrutable look. He dropped his hand abruptly and turned away.
Lydia stood, stunned. She could still feel the electrical charge of his hand on her hair, catching a brief glimpse of long, thick fingers and a flash of calluses and scars. His touch had been unexpectedly gentle. Suddenly, trying not to question, she knew she wasn't ready to leave this. Not quite yet.
* * * * *
Eremon paced back and forth, unable to look at Lydia. How could he explain why she must go, when she didn't even understand why she was here at all?
His back spasmed in reaction to the emotions swirling around him, and he ached to spread his wings. He didn't want this false promise of hope to rip out his heart again.
He was done. They all were. It was time to let it go, let the humans have what was left.
Nareen's unrelenting scheming and spell casting always left a price to pay. He would not be the one to suffer again with the results of her meddling in the powers only the gods should have.
The scent of the human woman wafted in the cave air, tantalizing and testing his resolve. She was not what he expected. Most shocking of all, once he'd gotten a real whiff of her, his cock, flaccid for a hundred years, had burst into almost painful life. He refused to believe what he'd felt in the reception room when she'd walked in. He barely believed it now.
A small growl escaped, his beast awake, interested. The predator in him, the brother to his human nature, had been full of approval from the moment they both caught a glimpse of her. Still, he resisted what his senses were telling him: a faint Draca essence swam in tiny currents through her blood. If it was real, her journeys to the Caves of Remembering must have activated the powers in her blood to the potency that allowed them to detect her.
No wonder his brothers and sisters were going crazy.
It couldn't be true. Nareen had to be wrong about this, yet when he looked at the woman, she shone with a familiar Draca beauty. She probably had no idea how she appeared to them, or what it was about her that attracted his kin so strongly. Her auburn hair glinted with the same shades of red as all the Garnet Clan. The high, delicate cheekbones reminded him of his sisters, and a strength he would never have expected resonated from her.
How bravely she faced him! He could swat her down in an instant; she must know that, yet she didn't flinch. This only made her more attractive to one of his kind.
The thin fabric of her dress clearly showed a sweet swell of breasts and a lean, athletic build. He could just make out stiff nipples and caught the scent of her arousal mixed with his own. Something pulled at him, something he was determined to resist.
He circled the edges of the cave, avoiding Lydia's eyes. He should not have touched her hair. For a brief instant, a door in his consciousness had crashed open. A door that he had shut, cemented in place, a hundred years before. A blazing memory seared to life, before he had a chance to slam the door closed again.
No. This must not be. He could not allow it. Humans weren't the answer; they were too weak. They couldn't even survive the breeding ceremony, let alone endure the rigors and dangers of giving birth to the children of Draca. He had no desire to watch any more brave, beautiful women torn apart by childbirth in this senseless pursuit of the impossible.
Every attempt to use humans had been a complete, disastrous failure. His brother Camus's small stature was just one of the failures that haunted him, one he'd been paying for every single day of his long, meaningless life.
And now Nareen had somehow found Lydia, and all his kin's impossible hopes had been rekindled.
“No!” he snarled. Yet unable to stop himself, needing to know for sure, he reached out and grasped Lydia's slim shoulders in his hands. She gasped, and her head snapped back, but she didn't pull away. Her eyes were huge, full of questions and a trace of fear. But she stood her ground.
He gripped her harder, and still she didn't flinch. He said through gritted teeth, “You have no idea why they brought you here, do you? What could happen to you, what you must endure. Has no one explained?”
His sexual awareness was stirring; he felt his talons stretching to the surface, and his wings pulsed with the subtle beat that signaled such hunger. He wanted to shake her. Shake her or just…crush his mouth against hers, so near to his own, so red and moist and trembling. Rings of agitated smoke circled the room, his cock pulsed to hard attention, and the very air crackled in the awakening sexual pulse of a Draca male.
This human Daughter of Draca was upsetting everything.
He felt the echoing response from the Draca kin, invisible all around him. Alert, aroused. Waiting for his next move. At the thought of all the Draca cocks that could possibly be springing to life, intense irritation flooded him. How dare these brothers assume they had any right at all to…
“Please…” Lydia said breathlessly. “The way you look--Are you going to kiss me or kill me? Make up your mind before I fall over in a dead faint at your feet.”
His last resistance crumbled, and he brought his mouth down on hers. His lips met hers in a heady rush of long-forgotten sensation. He opened his mouth and pulled in her tongue, suckling and licking. The feel of cool human flesh under his hands, in his mouth, her tongue stroking his… It seared him with the intoxicating promise of life itself.