Home > Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy #3)(12)

Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy #3)(12)
Author: K.F. Breene

“Anything you want. Shall I surprise you, like usual?”

When it came to food, I’d never received a bad surprise from him. “See you there in a while.”

He hesitated. “Do you plan to go straight there?”

“Wow. I didn’t peg you for the insecure type.” When he didn’t move, I grinned. “Yes, darling, I will go straight there. I promise I won’t heed the call of the bar and the challenge of catching that danged were-badger.”

“You were thinking about it,” he said, flashing me a smile.

I laughed and shut my door, because there was no denying it. I needed to take my mind off this awful situation for a while, regardless of whether that was a good idea. Food had a stronger pull, of course, and Darius put on the best spread in town.

“All this in under an hour, huh?” I stood in the doorway to his dining room, a large space with a huge table laden with a feast. All the chairs except for two had been removed from the room. This was due to the fact that I had once mentioned the twenty or so empty chairs weirded me out, and could I please eat in the kitchen? That had been just one of the many reasons I’d begged to eat in the kitchen, but it was the only one he’d latched on to. He didn’t seem to get that it was the unreal finery of the room that put me off.

“I knew I would be speaking with you tonight,” Darius said, holding out his hand to insinuate I should have a seat. “I also knew you would be hungry. I had this prepared in anticipation.”

“But how did you know I would come here?” I took off my dirty boots and left them on the rubber mat set out just for me. I slipped into the cozy slippers next to it, also there for me. I’d eaten at Darius’s a time or eight since I’d met him. He knew I was afraid to get the cream-colored…everything dirty.

“I didn’t. My staff was standing by, waiting for my order. I would’ve had the meal taken to wherever you were comfortable.”

“Crazy,” I said, sitting in my chair.

“Crazy amazing, I think you would say.” He grinned, and I blinked at him for a few seconds, because when we both let our guards down, I couldn’t shrug off how G-D handsome the guy was. A real panty melter.

I blew out a breath and stood with my plate. My lady bits were growling as loudly as my stomach. Waiting around for one of Darius’s staff to serve me was not in the cards.

“I will allow you to have your way, this time, as relates to the server.” Darius rose and moved to the door. It closed with a soft click.

“Aw, whadda guy.” I perused the options.

“But I will not allow you to fill your plate like a peasant.” He took the fine china from my hand. “Go sit down and be attended to like a lady should.”

“Ladies don’t do what they’re told. Callie says so. Of course, ladies aren’t fools, either.” I laughed and did as he said, because why not? If he wanted to wait on me, so be it.

He finished loading my plate with a bit of everything, obviously knowing I wasn’t picky when food was handed to me. He placed it in front of me with a small bow.

“Thank you,” I said.

He sat gracefully. “May I speak to you regarding our present situation while you eat, or would you rather wait until after?”

I glanced at my empty crystal wine glass. Then looked around for the wine bottle I hoped loitered just out of sight.

“Forgive me.” Darius stood smoothly and disappeared from the room. My mouth was full of mashed potatoes when he returned with a bottle of red. “Here you are.”

“No cognac for you?” I asked as he finished pouring my wine and sat.

His gaze was deep and open. “Not just now.” He paused for a moment, and a surprise wash of tingles raced across my skin. “You didn’t answer me earlier. Would you be open to speaking about our situation?”

“Sure.” It was hard to swallow. Something in that look, in his open regard and the depth of his gaze, made me want to run. It also made me want to melt into him while he carried me away.

“Yesterday I spent time with one of the oldest vampires I could easily track down.” He leaned back, his eyes taking on a keen edge. “She resides in the Realm like a hermit, mostly removed from the rest of my species, and only visits one or two other magical people when she needs to feed—which is not often, given her age.”

“Is she much older than you?”

“Yes. A great deal, from what I have heard.”

Darius was nearly a grand, a term I used because a thousand years old sounded too ancient to comprehend. So she must’ve been crazy old. Crazy, silly old. Too old to put numbers to, surely, which was why I didn’t ask for specifics.

“Why is she a hermit?” I speared a carrot.

“I did not ask.”

Not inquisitive, this vampire. “So what did you ask her?”

“How a vampire could travel into the heart of the Dark Kingdom.”

I slowed my chewing. He stared at me silently. Clearly he needed prodding to continue. “And did she have an answer? Inquiring minds, and all that.”

“Yes. As far as she was concerned, it was simple. Bond a demon.”

“Ew. I hope there are some nicer-looking ones than I’ve seen. Although, if you go after it in monster form, it will be tough to say who is grosser.”

“When we bond with another being, we impart some of our vampire traits and strengths to that being, like seeing in the dark, increased speed, things like that. From those we bond, we often get an increased sense of emotion and empathy. If we bond with a stronger species, it has been said that we can last in the sunlight a hair longer. Certainly we can withstand the glow a bit better. Higher-powered demons certainly count as a strong species, and therefore, we are apparently imparted some of their gifts, one of which is the ability to travel across the river.”

“If that were true, Vlad would be shacking up with a demon already. Or can he already travel those lands?”

Darius shook his head, watching me closely. “He cannot. While it is not written in our laws, it is socially forbidden to bond a demon. Taboo. This I heard from Ja—”


“That is the vampire’s name.” He waited for me to nod before continuing. “I did not even know it could be done. It has been out of favor for so long, I bet only a very few know it is a possibility.”

“Why wouldn’t that occur to you? Or are there other magical creatures you can’t bond?”

He rose and reached for my plate. I scooped up the last morsel of sauce-soaked potato before letting him get me seconds. “I’m sure there are, though I don’t know which. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me. With such a social stigma, one would think a rebellious sort of vampire would question. But then again, the demons are mostly confined to their world, whether because they want to be, because they are forced to be, or because Lucifer has made it so following an agreement with the elves. Out of sight, out of mind.”

“Maybe the idea will cross Vlad’s mind eventually,” I said, sitting back and rubbing my belly. I was almost full, but I would do my best to have more. Darius really did put on the best dinners in town. And in New Orleans, that was saying something.

“Perhaps. Regardless, the ability to enter the Dark Kingdom is within my grasp. Ja has been there.”

I grimaced on his behalf. “Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, except for the fact that you’d have to call a level-five demon, somehow convince it to swap blood, actually swap blood with a gross creature, because it wouldn’t be able to stay in human form when giving a lot of blood, and then be bonded to—”

The words died on my lips. A moment later, the moisture dried up in my mouth and reappeared on my forehead…and between my thighs. My heart started to hammer and the fight-or-flight reflex kicked into high gear.

“Stupid me,” I whispered, realizing what he meant.

“Yes, Reagan.” He set my plate down in front of me, his gaze probing mine. He lingered for just a moment, and I breathed in his spicy, masculine scent tinged with divine cologne. “You were being incredibly dull-witted just now.”

I let out a quivering breath as the implications dawned on me. My arousal rose, matching the potency of my need to run really fast out of the room. Then the house. Then the whole dang town.

I had sworn I would never go down this road. Sworn it. Feeling things for a vampire was one thing. Dating him, sharing his bed, spending large quantities of time with him—all of those things were temporary. They ended when I wanted them to. I was in control.

Bonding took the control away. Burned up the temporary status. All the fail safes.

Bonding was forever.

I shook my head, everything in me wanting to back away (except for the distinctly feminine parts, which I worked hard to ignore).

“No,” I blurted. “I can’t.”

“Regardless of the fact that you don’t yet know how to use all of your power…” He sat down slowly, his eyes hungry yet soft. Sparkling with lust and emotion. “You are an extremely powerful creature. If you don’t rival the elves now, you will when you grow into your birthright. You will impart to me more than the level-five demon that bonded Ja. You can get me into the Dark Kingdom.”

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