Home > The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(21)

The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(21)
Author: Sylvain Reynard

Chapter Twelve

As the first rays of morning sun illuminated the city, Raven awoke to discover a naked vampyre in her bed.

It was not an unwelcome discovery.

The bed was narrow—too narrow for two persons. Somehow William had slipped between the sheets without disturbing her. His naked body was spooned behind her, his arms around her waist, his long legs entangled with hers.

It was very comfortable, despite the coolness of his skin. She closed her eyes and settled into his embrace.

“I wondered when you’d stir.” William chuckled in her ear.

“You could have woken me.”

“And miss the opportunity to do—whatever they call this?”


He squeezed her waist. “I don’t know what it’s called, the way we are lying together.”

“It’s called spooning.”

William paused. “That is an extraordinarily silly description for something this sensual.”

Raven laughed and snuggled closer. He pressed a smile against her hair. “I enjoy the sound of your laughter. I can’t remember the last time I heard it.”

“I haven’t had much to laugh about recently.”

He flexed his hand against her abdomen, pulling her back against the cradle of his hips.

She sighed. “It’s fine.”

“Do not do that.”

“Do what?”


“I’m not lying.” Raven fidgeted with the old T-shirt she was wearing.

William’s hand slid to cover hers. “I can tell when you aren’t being truthful. I can hear it in your heartbeat. I can smell it through your skin.”

“Which is extraordinarily creepy and annoying,” she mumbled.

“Almost as annoying as humans who mumble.” William nipped at her ear playfully. “Tell me about your conversation with your sister.”

She twisted in his arms, but he wouldn’t release her. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“And her decision regarding your stepfather?” William touched the edge of her jaw, a gentle touch, as if he were trying to coax her to look at him. “I am sorry your conversation with your sister was not what you hoped.”

“That’s an understatement.”

William was quiet for a moment. Raven could almost hear him thinking. “You—concern me.”

She recognized his remark as akin to an admission of weakness.


“I can’t stop thinking about the other night. How upset you were.”

Raven’s lips twisted. “I’m sorry.”

“I don’t want an apology. You have nothing to apologize for.” William pushed his hair back from his forehead, his body noticeably tense. “What I want is to care for you.”

“You care for me well enough.” Raven relaxed minutely, thinking back to their shower together the previous evening. She felt her skin grow warm.

“I meant with respect to your heart and mind, not just your body.”

“My heart and mind are part of my body,” she whispered.

“Which is why I must care for them all.” Leisurely, he entwined their hands. He brought their connection to his mouth and began kissing the tips of her fingers. “I thought I was giving you a birthday gift, but I gave you a burden instead. I’d like to remove that burden. But I can wait.”

Raven changed the subject. “What about you? You seemed distracted last night.”

“We have some concerns about the principality.”

“Are they serious?”

“Yes, but they’re being addressed.”

“What kind of concerns?”

He began kissing her fingertips once again, drawing them into his mouth and laving them with his tongue. “I don’t want you to take on the worries of the city. You have enough trouble.”

“I care about you, William. If you’re worried, so am I.”

He kissed the back of her hand. “You honor me with your concern.”

“Then honor me by telling me what you’re worried about.”

“Only if you agree to tell me about your conversation with your sister.”

Raven swore, her body tense. “All right.” She relented after a pregnant pause. “You go first.”

William’s body shifted next to her. He looked surprised. Clearly, he hadn’t expected her to agree.

“Vampyres are prey to two groups. You met the weaker one, the hunters. Our spies informed us the stronger group, the Curia, has turned its eyes to Florence. We do not want their scrutiny.”

Raven placed a hand on his arm. “When you say Curia, are you referring to the Vatican?”

“Not precisely,” he hedged.

“Then who are they?”

“Our sworn enemies. A powerful group of human beings with—shall we say—supernatural abilities.” William watched her reaction, cocking his chin in the direction of her chest. “This is what I was worried about. I’ve made your heart race.”

“You can’t keep secrets from me just because I’ll get upset. I’m not made of glass. I’m not going to break.”

His expression tightened. “Human beings are easily broken.”

“I’m not.”

He stroked a single finger over the scar she wore on her forehead. “Unfortunately, my sweetheart, you are only too breakable. A break of any part of you is not something I can sustain.”

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