Autumn Whispers (Page 39)

“That doesn’t sound good.”

“It isn’t. But right now, I can’t tell you any more than that. Except—you and Tad, don’t you go poking around. This is bigger than you think, and dangerous, and we need you guys to mind your manners and leave the detective work to us or you could endanger a lot of lives. Do you understand?” Perhaps it was pouring gasoline onto fire, but I had to make certain they understood that this wasn’t a Hardy Boys mystery where they could run out and play detective.

After a pause, Albert answered. “I get it. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I get it. We’ll keep our noses out of it, and I’ll take care of Tumpkins. Please though, if you can, save Violet. I know what monsters are lurking out there in the night.” A hush, then, “I am one of the monsters.”

My heart went out to the programmer. “No, Albert. Vampire or not, you’re one of the good guys. So is Tad, and so is my sister Menolly. To be a monster—that begins in the heart. It’s a choice.”

But even as I said good-bye and put my phone away, a little voice inside whispered, “No, Delilah. There is evil in the world, and you are facing it every day. There are monsters who come from the depths, who live in anger and hatred and desire . . . and they are born to it.”

“What you thinking, fuzz bucket?” Vanzir tweaked my elbow, and I shook myself out of the dark reverie into which I’d slipped.

I stared at the dream-chaser demon. He’d been born to evil, and he’d made a choice. He’d chosen to stand on our side, to fight the menace. Was he good? Probably not. But he’d chosen to turn his back on a greater evil. Life was full of all shades between black and white.

With a sigh, I flashed him a faint smile. “I don’t know. Good. Evil. Choices. It sounds like Hanna has dinner on, and here comes Trillian. Let’s go eat.” And with that, we all headed into the kitchen, to our own war council.

• • •

Trillian gobbled up the macaroni and cheese like he was starving. Along with the meat loaf, salad, and cherry pie, it was a full dinner and perfect on the drizzly October night.

“Kelvashan is destroyed. I have no idea of how many elves were killed, but the land is decimated. Almost all the villages are gone, and goblins swarm the lands. On the plus side, Tanaquar’s warriors are numerous, and there are armies on the march from Svartalfheim, Dahnsburg, Nebulveori, and the Moon Mother’s grove. Ceredream is holding its hand yet, which is not going over well among the northern lands. But we shall see. They’re probably worried because they are an easy target from the Southern Wastes, and it’s known that the sorcerers are based there.”

He glanced over at Camille and me. “I have no idea how you escaped the destruction of the palace, but when I saw what was left, my heart was in my throat. You are lucky and cunning.”

“We would have been trapped if it hadn’t been for the unicorn horn,” Camille said. “We couldn’t get those doors open.”

Trillian shook his head. “Well, the palace is obliterated. Sharah and Trenyth have their headquarters set up in a secret location and they put me under a geas. I couldn’t tell you where it is, if I wanted to. The Knights were scattered, of course. I managed to find Amber and her child on the outskirts of the city, hiding in the woods. Luke was nearby.”

“What about Tam Lin? Trenyth said he was captured?” Morio stabbed a piece of meatloaf with his fork.

“Rozurial was on the trail of Tam Lin when he saw a brigade of goblins swoop in and cart him away. They knew who they had, I’ll tell you that, because they didn’t hurt a hair on his head, even when he somehow managed to kill a good six or seven of them.” Trillian stared at his plate.

“How did he do that?” Shade handed me the salad and I passed it over to Chase, who gave me a soft smile.

“Roz said there was some sort of blinding light . . . it came from the spirit seal. When it cleared, several of the goblins lay dead. But there were too many, and they overwhelmed poor Tom. I wish him a speedy death, because being carted before Shadow Wing?” Trillian shuddered.

The thought of poor Tom, as broken as he was, being dragged before the Demon Lord was more than any of us could handle. I could see it round the table, crossing everyone’s face.

I spoke to break the silence. “You say Smoky and Roz are still hunting for Venus the Moonchild and Benjamin?”

Trillian nodded. “Yes.”

“Venus is crafty and he’s a shaman. Chances are, if anybody makes it out of there, he will. If Ben happens to be with him, so much the better.” I sent a silent prayer to Bastus that my old friend, the former shaman of the Rainier Puma Pride, had made it safe. “One thing is for sure, if the goblins catch Venus, he’ll take them down as hard as he can before he gives up the ghost.”

We filled Trillian in on what had been happening with us as the evening wore on. Nobody wanted to leave the table—it was too safe, too homey, and for a brief moment, it felt like we could rest.

But as dinner came to an end, a terrific gust of wind passed over the house and the sound of breaking branches hit the roof.

Trillian wiped his mouth and stood. “Sounds like it’s brewing up a storm out there. I’ll go and make sure there was no damage to the roof.”

“I’ll help.” Morio followed him out.

Hanna began to clear the table and Nerissa jumped up to assist her.

Chase stood and yawned. “I guess I’ll head back to Iris’s and hit the hay early. I’m exhausted and we’ve all got a long day tomorrow.”

Camille brewed a pot of tea while waiting for Morio and Trillian to return, and Menolly headed downstairs to keep Amber and Luke company. Shade and I said good night and wearily made our way upstairs.

Tomorrow, we’d have to start sorting out the pieces. Tomorrow, we’d face the mess we were mired in and figure out some way to deal with all of it. But tonight . . . tonight was for healing and resting, and hopefully, for peaceful dreams.

Chapter 20

Shade closed the door behind us and turned on the music. As the strains of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” filtered through the room, we looked at each other. What could we say? So much had happened in the past few days, yet here we were, in a brief lull, not knowing how long the fragile moment would last.

He held out his arms and I slipped into them, leaning softly against his chest. He kissed my cheeks, brushing away stray wisps of my bangs. I caught my breath as his lips trailed down my face, softly pressing against my own. Melting into his arms, I inhaled deeply, the warm scent of his musk firing my hunger.

In silence, I reached down to unbuckle his belt. He held up one hand, and motioned for me to raise my arms. As I did, he lifted my shirt over my head, then softly turned me around to unhook my bra. His arms slid around my waist and he reached up to cup my breasts, breathing gently against my neck. I shivered at his touch, wanting him to throw me down, take me hard, make me forget the sorrow and tears and death that surrounded us.

Slowly, I pressed back against him, as he fingered my nipples, bringing them to attention. With a long breath, I unzipped my jeans and shoved them down, using my feet to kick them off. He slid his hands down from my breasts to slip his fingers under the sides of my panties, and with a smooth gesture, pushed them down my hips. Still with his arms around me, he traced his way across my stomach, his fingers tickling as he brought them down to finger my clit. I moaned gently, moving in rhythm to the music as he began to stroke me, circling softly at first, then harder as he picked up the pace.

I squirmed, letting out a loud groan, but still he moved with precision, not hurrying, not letting me hurry him. I could feel his erect cock through his pants, pressing against my back, and all I could think about was how much I wanted him inside me, filling me up, thrusting deep to take me out of my head.

“Shade—” I started to say but he shushed me.

“Quiet. Let me do this.” Abruptly, he turned me to face him, and slid his arms around my waist and began to dance with me, his knee pushing between mine as we moved to the sultry music. I laughed, suddenly, and kicked off the panties from where they’d fallen to my feet.

“I want to feel your chest,” I whispered, tugging at his shirt.

Still grinding against me, he let go and quickly divested himself of his shirt, then his arms were right back around my waist. I pressed my breasts against his bare chest, the coffee of his skin warm against my paleness. Draping my arms around his neck, I pressed my lips to his, my tongue dancing with his. We kissed, slow and long and deep, the fire kindling between us.

Shade chuckled, one hand caressing my lower back as he cupped my butt with the other. “Oh Delilah, you are ripe on the vine. You are my puss in heat.”

I let out a little growl, playfully nipping him on the nose. “What are you going to do about it? Going to scratch my itch? Going to give me a taste of what you have under those pants?”

“You want it, babe? You want it hard and fast?”

“Hard, fast, and deep.” And the energy shifted again, from playful to serious as I pulled away, crooking my finger as I backed up to the bed. “Come get me if you want me.”

He unbuckled his belt and slid it out from the loops, then stripped out of his pants. He was glorious, dark and rich skin shimmering in the dim light. I gazed at his cock, hungry and licking my lips.

Responding to my challenge, he strode over, grabbing me up and tossing me on the bed. The next moment, he landed between my legs, his lips fastening around one nipple to tease and nip at me. I let out a little cry as he lowered his lips to between my legs, and the next moment, he was licking me, his tongue creating delicious swirls. I could barely catch my breath as he continued, unrelenting, until I couldn’t think, couldn’t feel anything but the pulse of his tongue driving me higher. Panting, I let out a choked cry as I came, hard and sharp, and tears began to run down my face as the stress of the past few days let go in one long wave of release.

Shade immediately rose up to thrust his cock deep inside me, and I wrapped my legs around his back, rocking with him as we drove the demons into the night, pushing them away with our passion.

And, in the midst of death and destruction, there was this: the stroke of his cock, inside me, creating the union that made all the pain and worry worth it. As he came, I let go and, once again, tumbled into the minor death that is orgasm. And there, watching over both of us, stood my lord Hi’ran, Elemental Lord of the Harvest, the fire of passion crackling between the three of us even as the fires of war raged on in my homeworld.