Home > Dark Sentinel (Dark #28)(9)

Dark Sentinel (Dark #28)(9)
Author: Christine Feehan

“Are you talking to someone?”

Andor’s gaze jumped back to Lorraine’s face. “How did you know?”

“I’m catching a word here and there. Why are you so uneasy speaking with them?”

How did he answer that? “Our species is older than yours.” There it was. She was either going to believe him or not. He had offered her the chance to look into his mind, and that offer was still open. “When we have lived too long, life can become intolerable.”

Her small white teeth sank into her lower lip, but her gaze didn’t waver from his. “The reason you’re still alive is your species is different than mine? Because no human being could possibly survive those wounds, healer or not.”

“Precisely the reason,” he agreed. “But even I cannot hope to live without aid. I need healers to help me and I put out the call. It is a toss-up to see who will arrive first, enemy or friend. Whoever went to ground closest to us will get here first.”

She pulled back just a little. Not enough to be worrisome, but she was analyzing what he’d said and she was an intelligent woman. The things he’d told her had to seem far-fetched in her modern world.

“Explain going to ground.”

“Are you certain you would not prefer to look into my mind and see the things I am telling you about?”

“I’m very certain. You tell me. I can always look if your explanation becomes too ludicrous to even contemplate.”

He figured that would happen very soon. He tugged on her hair and brought the strands against his mouth, rubbing them back and forth across his lips. Again, he expected her to pull away from him, but she didn’t. That meant something to him. He needed to touch her in some way, to stay connected. It gave him more pleasure than he had ever imagined just to feel the silk of her hair against his skin.

“I am Carpathian. We are an ancient species with many powerful gifts. With gifts comes balance. Always. The sun will burn us. We must sleep in the soil to rejuvenate, and during the midday, when the sun is at its highest, our bodies go into a paralyzed state. If you were to see me during daylight hours, you would think I was dead, when in fact, I am not.”

He waited. She just watched him closely without making a comment. He couldn’t tell by her expression whether or not she believed him, but he resisted the urge to touch her mind.

“When a male is born, his soul is split in two and the other half goes into the body of a female. Sometimes she is born immediately, other times not. Sometimes she lives a complete life cycle and is not found by her lifemate—her male. When that happens, she dies and is reborn again and again until he finds her. We thought, for centuries, that she had to be Carpathian. Our prince discovered by accident that a psychic human female could hold the other half of our souls.”

She frowned. “You’re saying that this woman you’re looking for, and have been looking for, might not be of your own species.”

He nodded slowly. “We had no idea. None. Too many of our males were lost because we did not have that information.”

“Lost to suicide?”

“Some met the dawn, yes. Others chose to give up their souls and embrace evil.”

She shook her head slightly, and this time, he could read her. She didn’t believe him.

“You’re back to vampires. If there were vampires in the world, don’t you think we’d know about it? Come on, Andor. They wouldn’t just be in the scary horror films, or the romance films, they’d be out feeding on and scaring the crap out of the public.”

He conceded the point with a nod. “That is true, unless hunters are sent out to destroy them and erase the memories of anyone who has seen them. Most who have witnessed them are now dead, so the mop-up on removing memories doesn’t occur that often.”

“Where do these vampires come from?”

“They are Carpathians who have chosen to give up their souls.” He wasn’t going to lie to her or soften the blow. “We have the potential to become vampire. I do. Every male must find his lifemate or eventually must end his life in the sun, or every night that he exists, he poses a danger to everyone around him.”

“You included.”

He nodded. “Me especially, although at the moment I am far too weak to harm anyone.”

“Why you especially?”

He was beginning to fall for her hard. It had nothing to do with her looks, and everything to do with her intellect and brightness. She had no idea how truly calm and disciplined she was to listen patiently when the things he was telling her had to sound completely absurd. Even so, she was paying attention and trying to suspend disbelief in order to judge for herself whether or not there was a possibility of realism in his statement.

“I have lived far too long. When the males of our species reach two hundred years, they lose all emotion. They feel nothing. Not good or bad. They simply exist. At first memories sustain them, the memory of how they felt with loved ones, that sort of thing, but after years go by, those memories begin to disappear. Around the same time that we lose emotions, colors fade to a dull gray. We hunt the vampire, and those vampires are often family members or friends we grew up with. Killing takes pieces of one’s soul until little remains but honor. Honor must sustain us until that day we choose to become evil, or to leave the world.”

She took a deep breath and let it out. “That’s a pretty bleak life you’re describing, Andor.”

He nodded. “It is.”

She was silent again, her eyes steady on his. Her fingers beat out a little tattoo on her sleeping bag. “If I look into your mind, what am I going to see?”

“Things that will terrify you.” He was honest.

“Things you’ve done to others?”

“Things done to me. Things done to innocent humans but not by me. And things done by me in retaliation for what was done to humans and to my people.”

“Aren’t you afraid that your telling me these things might make me leave you here alone to die? You’re taking a big chance.”

“You asked me and I answered honestly. There is the possibility that you will think I’m completely crazy. There’s also the possibility that you’ll run, but that isn’t too likely.”

Her long lashes swept down and then back up. The impact of those green eyes on him was enormous. He crushed the silky strands of her hair in his hand, holding them tightly as if he could hold her to him.

“Why do you say that?”

“It isn’t in you to leave a helpless person to die. Even if you thought I was a bad person, you wouldn’t leave.”

She didn’t argue that point. “Were you looking for this woman when you met these vampires?”

“I had foolishly given up on her. I was an advanced guard for a man named Tariq Asenguard. Have you heard of him?”

She nodded. “He owns a string of nightclubs with partners. He has a big club in San Diego. I don’t know a lot about him other than that.”

“He is Carpathian. Like me. He found his lifemate, and they have a compound—an estate—surrounded by other Carpathians. On every continent, Carpathians have been sent to hunt vampires to keep others safe. Tariq was named as the voice of our prince here in the United States. One of my brethren from the monastery, Dragomir, had come here, found his woman, and needed our help. We answered his call. That’s how I ended up being in this area.”

“Tariq Asenguard, the very hot millionaire or billionaire or whatever he is, is Carpathian?” There was disbelief in her voice.

“If one lives a long time, it is not difficult to acquire a fortune. I am uncertain why you refer to him as ‘hot,’ but if that is a compliment, I am not happy with you for giving it to him.”

She flashed a small smile, and a few of the knots he’d thought were pain from his wounds unraveled. “You think I’m her.”

“Her?”

“The one. Your lifemate. You think I’m that woman, the one with your soul.”

“One does not think; one knows. I know. It is impossible to make a mistake.”

“Enlighten me.”

He tugged on her hair until she yelped and glared at him, but she still didn’t pull away. He liked her little glare. It made him feel as if they were a couple who had been together for a long time and she felt comfortable with him. If he didn’t live through the following day, he had this with her.

“I have been without colors or emotions for centuries. Far, far too long. Long enough that I had given up hope. Then you charged to my rescue and I felt once more and saw colors so bright they hurt my eyes. They still do. It took a little bit of time to sort things out.”

She was silent again, her gaze drifting over his face. Finally, she shook her head. “I think you’re a little delirious. Drink some water, and I’ll make a run outside to take care of business and then you can give yourself another transfusion.”

“You aren’t going to look into my mind?”

“No. I’m going to let you have your fantasy and I’m going to stay sane a little while longer. I have to set up your protection just in case.”

“I have to set up yours. You cannot fight vampires. They have to be killed a certain way, and even with your impressive skills, you would be unable to succeed.”

“Hey, I’ve seen the movies.”

“The movies got it wrong.”

“Well, perhaps you’d better instruct me.”

He found it interesting that she didn’t sound sarcastic. She didn’t even sound as if she thought he was crazy. He had the feeling there was a big part of her that believed him. “You really cannot fight them.”

“Even so, Andor, if they come and I have no choice, at least if you tell me what I’m doing, I’d have a fighting chance. Without knowing, I wouldn’t have any chance at all.”

There was logic in what she said, whether he liked it or not. He might not wake up, and if that happened and the vampires arrived before his brethren, they would kill her for certain. If one came, and he was newly turned, a pawn for the master vampires in the area, there was a small chance she could stay alive.

   
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