“That's you," Wrath said. You shall be called the Black Dagger warrior Dhestroyer, descended of Wrath son of Wrath."
"But you'll always be Butch to us," Rhage cut in. "As well as hard-ass. Smart-ass. Royal pain in the ass. You know, whatever the situation calls for. I think as long as there's an ASS in there, it'll be accurate."
"How about bASStard?" Z suggested.
"Nice. I feel that.”
“I liked you, cop. From the moment I met you. No… not the first moment. I wanted to kill you when I first met you. But then I liked you. A lot.”
“V was half way down the hall when he heard a yelp. He hightailed it back, barging through the door. “What? What’s …”
“I’m going bald!”
V whipped back the shower curtain and frowned. “What are you talking about? You’ve still got your hair…”
“Not my head! My body, you idiot! I’m going bald!”
Vishous glanced down. Butch’s torso and legs were shedding, a rush of dark brown fuzz pooling around the drain.
V started laughing. “Think of it this way. At least you won’t have to worry about shaving your back as you get old, true? No manscaping for you.”
He was not surprised when a bar of soap came firing at him.”
“You're such a pain in the ass. (Butch)
Said the SIG to the Glock. (V)”
“Butch repositioned the Sox cap, and as his wrist passed by his nose, he got another whiff of himself. "Ah, V. . . listen, there is something a little weird going down on me."
"I smell like men's cologne."
"Good for you. Females dig that kind of thing."
"Vishous, I smell like Obsession for Men, only I'm not WEARING any, you feel me?"
There was silence on the line. Then, "Humans don't bond."
"Oh, really. You want to tell that to my central nervous system and my sweat glands? They'd appreciate the news flash, I'm sure.”
“Man" Rhage muttered, "someone hit this place with the Hallmark stick."
Until it broke.”
“Thanks for putting me up for it ... trahyner." As V's eyes flared, Butch said, "Yeah, I looked up what the word meant. 'Beloved Friend' fits you perfect as far as I'm concerned."
V Flushed. Cleared his throat. "Good Deal, cop. Good... deal.”
“Jesus Christ. . . he was not Omega's son. Was he?
"No." V said. "You are not. He just wants to believe you are. And he wants you to think you are. But that doesn't make it true."
There was a long silence. Then Rhage's hand landed on Butch's shoulder. "Besides, you don't look a thing like him. I mean. . . hello? You are this beefy Irish white boy. He's like. . . bus exhaust or some shit."
Butch glanced over at Hollywood. "You're sick, you know that?"
"Yeah, but you love me, right? Come on, I know you feel me.”
“Shit. . . this was a bad idea. A pure-blooded, bonded male vampire about to watch his shellan feed someone else. Holy hell, when the Scribe Virgin had suggested Beth come down, V had assumed it was for ceremonial purposes, not so she could be a vein. But what was the choice? Butch was going to suck Marissa dry and not have enough and there wasn't another female in the house who could do the job: Mary was still human and Bella was pregnant.
Besides, like dealing with Rhage or Z would be any easier? For the beast, they'd need a tranq gun the size of a cannon and Z. . . well, shit.”
“You've got some of me in you, cop.' Wrath's smile stuck around as he slid his glasses back on. 'Course, I always knew you were a royal. Just didn't think it went past the pain-in-the-ass-part is all.”
“As he vomited, he felt, though did not see, V come over. Forcing his head up, Butch groaned, "Help me..."
I'm going to, trahyner. Give me your hand." As Butch held his palm up in despair, Vishous whipped off his glove and grabbed on good and hard. V's energy, that beautiful, white light, poured down Butch's arm and ripped through him in a blast, cleansing, renewing.
United by their clasped hands, they became again the two halves, the light and the dark. The Destroyer and the Savior. A whole.”
“Butch: -I hear ya. No one's biz but yours. One question though
Butch: -When the females tie you down, do they paint your toe-nails and shit? Or just do your makeup? Wait... they tickle your pits with feather, right?”
“Butch nodded, finding as comfortable a bite as he could on the leather. He braced himself as V lifted an arm.
Except when his roommate's palm landed on his bare chest all he felt was a warm weight. Butch frowned. This was it? This was fucking it? Scaring the shit out of Marissa for no good-
He looked down, pissed off.
Oh, wrong hand.”
“So would you like to try on some clothes?" Beth nodded at what was in her arms. "I don't have many dresses but Fritz can get you some."
You know what?" Marissa eyed the blue jeans the queen had on. "I've never worn a pair of pants before."
I've got two pairs here if you want to try them out."
Well, wasn't this a night for firsts. Sex. Arson. Pants.”
“...When it was finished, the scaled dragon looked around and as the thing spotted V, a growl rippled up to the bleachers, then ended in a snort. "You finished, big guy?" Va called down. "FYI, goalpost over there would work righteous as a toothpick.”
“All right, then, her first rule for the rest of her days: no more looking outside for definitions. She might not have any clue who she was, but better to be lost and searching than shoved into a social box by someone else.”
“V?" Butch said. "Don't leave, okay?"
"Never." V brushed Butch's hair back with a gesture so tender it was out of place coming from a male.”
“You're a good Irishman, right?" When Butch nodded, V said, "Irish, Irish… let me think. Yeah…" Vishous's eyes sobered, and in a voice that cracked, he said, "May the road rise to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rains fall soft upon your fields. And… my dearest friend… until we meet again may the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand.”
“V, you know I love you like a brother, right?"
"You feed her and I'll tear out your fucking throat out.”
“Beth wrapped her arms around Wrath's waist and leaned into her hellren's body. Their black hair mixed together, his straight, hers wavy. God, Wrath's was so damn long now. But word was that Beth liked the stuff so he'd grown it out for her.
V wiped his mouth again. Weird, how males do shit like that.”
“When he heard light, rushing footfalls, he turned his head. Someone was racing along the second-floor balcony. Then laughter drifted down from above. Glorious feminine laughter.
He leaned out the archway and glanced at the grand staircase.
Bella appeared on the landing above, breathless, smiling, a black satin robe gathered in her hands. As she slowed at the head of the stairs, she looked over her shoulder, her thick dark hair swinging like a mane.
The pounding that came next was heavy and distant, growing louder until it was like boulders hitting the ground. Obviously, it was what she was waiting for. She let out a laugh, yanked her robe up even higher, and started down the stairs, bare feet skirting the steps as if she were floating. At the bottom, she hit the mosaic floor of the foyer and wheeled around just as Zsadist appeared in second-story hallway.
The Brother spotted her and went straight for the balcony, pegging his hands into the rail, swinging his legs up and pushing himself straight off into thin air. He flew outward, body in a perfect swan dive--except he wasn't over water, he was two floors up over hard stone.
John's cry for help came out as a mute, sustained rush of air--
Which was cut off as Zsadist dematerialized at the height of the dive. He took form twenty feet in front of Bella, who watched the show with glowing happiness.
Meanwhile, John's heart pounded from shock...then pumped fast for a different reason.
Bella smiled up at her mate, her breath still hard, her hands still gripping the robe, her eyes heavy with invitation. And Zsadist came forward to answer her call, seeming to get even bigger as he stalked over to her. The Brother's bonding scent filled the foyer, just as his low, lionlike growl did. The male was all animal at the moment....a very sexual animal.
"You like to be chased, nalla, " Z said in a voice so deep it distorted.
Bella's smile got even wider as she backed up into a corner. "Maybe."
"So run some more, why don't you." The words were dark and even John caught the erotic threat in them.
Bella took off, darting around her mate, going for the billiards room. Z tracked her like prey, pivoting around, his eyes leveled on the female's streaming hair and graceful body. As his lips peeled off his fangs, the white canines elongated, protruding from his mouth. And they weren't the only response he had to his shellan.
At his hips, pressing into the front of his leathers, was an erection the size of a tree trunk.
Z shot John a quick glance and then went back to his hunt, disappearing into the room, the pumping growl getting louder. From out of the open doors, there was a delighted squeal, a scramble, a female's gasp, and then....nothing.
He'd caught her.
......When Zsadist came out a moment later, he had Bella in his arms, her dark hair trailing down his shoulder as she lounged in the strength that held her. Her eyes locked on Z's face while he looked where he was going, her hand stroking his chest, her lips curved in a private smile.
There was a bite mark on her neck, one that had very definitely not been there before, and Bella's satisfaction as she stared at the hunger in her hellren's face was utterly compelling. John knew instinctively that Zsadist was going to finish two things upstairs: the mating and the feeding. The Brother was going to be at her throat and in between her legs. Probably at the same time.
God, John wanted that kind of connection.”
“Hell, any plan that added "and then we pray" is not a trip to Disneyland.”
“Vishous's chest expanded. . . and his diamond stare slowly swung to Butch. There was a heartbeat of intensity. Then V reached out and repositioned the cross so it once again hung over Butch's heart. "You did well, cop. Congratulations, true?”
“Rhage's hand landed on Butch's shoulder. "Besides, you don't look a thing like him. I mean...hello? You're this beefy Irish boy. He's like...bus exhaust or some shit.”
“Course, I always knew you were a royal. Just didn't know it went past the pain-in-the-ass part.”
“Wait", Butch said, thinking about the glymera. "Marissa's mated now, right? I mean, even if I die, she will have had a mate right?"
"Death wish," V said under his breath. "Fucking Death Wish Boy we got over here."
The Scribe Virgin seemed flat-out amazed "I should kill you now.”
“The Destroyer has arrived and you are he.”
“Darkness will never take me... because I have you. Light of my life, Marissa. That's what you are."
-Butch and Marissa”
“A cold blast hit him and he laughed at the sting as he stepped outside, surveyed the night sky, and drank deeply.
Such a good liar he was. Such a good one.
Everyone thought he was fine because he'd camo'd his little problems. He wore a Sox hat to hide the eye twitch. Set his wristwatch to go off every half hour to beat back the dream. Ate though he wasn't angry. Laughed though he found nothing funny.
And he'd always smoked like a chimney.”
“Don't think I was the only reason he healed. You're his light, Marissa. Don't ever forget that.”
“Mentally Connie gathered her strands of thinking into thick handfuls, trying to braid them into a coherent whole.”
“The part of the philanthropist is indeed a dangerous one; and the man who would do his neighbour good must first study how not to do him evil, and must begin by pulling the beam out of his own eye.”
“Sometimes, when one communicates with others, one produces results.”
“The warm of his voice touched a quickness in her that left her fingers trembling as she raised the candle. “Will you light this please? I need it to find my way back.”
He ignored her request and reached to take the lantern from the wall. “I’ll take you upstairs.”
“It isn’t necessary,” she was quick to insist, afraid for more reasons than one.
“I’d never forgive myself if some harm came to you down here,” he responded lightly. He lifted the lantern, casting its glow before them, and waited on her pleasure with amused patience. Erienne saw the challenge in his eyes and groaned inwardly. How could she refuse to pick up the gauntlet when she knew he would taunt her with his chiding humor if she did not? Adjusting the oversize coat about her shoulders, she rose to the bait against her better judgment and moved with him along the stony corridor. They were well past the bend when a sudden scurrying accompanied by strident squeaking came from the darkness. At the sound, Erienne stumbled back with a gasp, having an intense aversion for the rodents. In the next instant, the heel of her slipper caught on a rock lip, twisting her ankle and nearly sending her sprawling. Almost before the cry of pain was wrenched from her lips, Christopher’s arms were about her, and he used the excuse to bring her snugly against his own hard body. Embarrassed by the contact that brought bosom to chest and thigh to thigh and made her excruciatingly aware of his masculinity, Erienne pushed hurriedly away. She tried to walk again, anxious to be away, but when her weight came down on her ankle, a quick grimace touched her features. Christopher caught her reaction and, without so much as a murmured pardon, took the coat from her shoulders, pressed the lantern in her hand, and lifted her up in his arms.
“You can’t take me upstairs!” she protested. “What if you’re seen?”
The lights danced in his eyes as he met her astonished stare. “I’m beginning to think, madam, that you worry more about propriety than yourself. Most of the servants are in bed asleep.”
“But what if Stuart comes?” she argued. “You said he’s on his way.” Christopher chuckled.
“Meeting him now would be most interesting. He might even challenge me to a duel over your honor.” He raised a brow at her. “Would you be grieved if he wounded me?”
“Don’t you realize a thing like that could happen?” she questioned, angry because he dismissed the possibility with flippant ease.
“Don’t fret, my love,” he cajoled with a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. “If I hear him coming, I’ll run, and as clumsy as he is, he’ll never be able to catch me.”
He shifted her weight closer against him and smiled into her chiding stare. “I like the way you feel in my arms.”
“Remember yourself, sir,” she admonished crisply, ignoring her leaping pulse.
“I’m trying, madam. I’m really trying.”
-Erienne & Christopher”
“You love her. (Shanus)
I barely know her. (Wulf)
Time has no meaning to the heart. (Shanus)”
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