Home > Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(20)

Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(20)
Author: H.M. Ward

Collin tilted his head back against the wall. "That's unusual." He let the words hang in the air, and when I didn't reply he added, "Normally the poison would travel through the victim - it spiders out away from the original wound like mold. But yours isn't?" I shook my head. Where was this going? Why was he looking at me like that? Collin stared at me for a few moments. I couldn't sense what he was thinking through the bond, although I reached out for it. He scolded as he felt me intrude into his thoughts, "Ask me, if you want to know. Don't try and press into my mind and steal what I'm thinking."

Feeling sheepish, I looked away and said, "You seem leery of something. I just wanted to know what it was. That's all. I didn't mean to..." I looked up at him. "I'll try not to do it again, but it's difficult to shut out your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I can't no matter how hard I try."

"Yeah, but right now that isn't what happened. You felt scared and went digging through my mind. Not the same." His words were warning, but I didn't back down so fast.

I pointed at him, "You did the same thing just now!" Smugness rolled off of me. "That's how you knew I felt scared."

He laughed, "No, that wasn't it." Leaning forward, he asked, "Damn, Ivy. Don't you use any of your senses anymore? I looked at you, okay? I see fear in your eyes. Something I said spooked you, so I asked what it was and you responded by diving into my thoughts." Well, that would explain it too. I looked back down at the book, as if it interested me amazingly so.

I shouldn't have pressed into his mind. Privacy was something we both valued, but I wanted it because I was hiding so many secrets. I was beginning to wonder if he was doing the same thing. "You're right," I muttered softly, not wanting to fight with him.

Collin walked over to me, and hovered over the book. Glancing out of the corner of my eye, I saw a smile spread across his face, "What was that, Ivy? Could you speak up? I didn't quite catch those last words."

My smugness evaporated. I shouldn't have pried and he knew it. I had no idea how he was controlling himself and not taking a mind dive when I didn't answer him, but he didn't. I hated admitting I was wrong, and he knew it. "Fine," I said, not taking my eyes off the book, "you deserve to gloat. You were right. I was wrong."

His fingers wrapped around my waist as he came up behind me. "What's that? I can't hear you!" The instant he said those words, he started tickling me. I jerked away from the book, swatting at his hands.

I tried to pull away from him to turn around, but he wouldn't let me. His fingers gently touched my waist and spots around my ribcage that were so ticklish that I couldn't stand up. Laughing so hard I thought I'd pee, I leaned into him and tickled him back.

"I'm always right!" I laughed, "And you're always wrong!" With that his fingers dug in mercilessly and I laughed so hard tears formed in my eyes.

Collin pushed me back onto the floor, as I swatted his advances and attempted a counterattack, but he wasn't as ticklish as I was. I kicked and wiggled, repeating myself and teasing him - basically taunting him to continue tickling me until I passed out. I made one last attempt to bring ticklish tears to his eyes, but before I knew it, he grabbed my wrists and pinned me to the floor. Breathless and laughing, he hovered over me. Joy was radiating off of him so intense that I couldn't ignore it. His eyes had crinkles in the corners, as his rich laughter filled the boathouse. His hair hung in his eyes as he looked down at me, and I smiled back up at him, still giggling. I was on the verge of having uncontrollable giggles and noticed that I hadn't felt like this in years. Laughter wasn't something I'd had in large quantities lately.  There'd been so many months of despair and sorrow. All of that misery was burnt up in the hysterical giggles in a matter of seconds.

Smile on my face, I teased, "You like it when I'm right."

Blue eyes blazing, he replied, "I LOVE it when you're right. The smirk you get on your face is priceless. And then you try not to say anything," he laughed, "as if you could possibly be humble! Take credit where credit's due, Ivy. Everyone can see it on your face anyway." He smiled down at me, inches from my face. "Take what's yours."

"Hmmmm," was the only thing I said, as I agreed with him. My tickling fingers stopped jabbing and poking, and threaded through his soft brown hair as I pulled him closer to me. The smile on his face faltered and softened, as he neared my lips. I released his hair and ran my fingers down the side of his face, enjoying the sensation of his warm breath on my skin.

Smiling softly I said, "You're mine," and leaned up and pressed my lips against his.

It was strange how everything went from being light and playful to hot and heavy in a matter of seconds. His words had almost sounded like a dare to me, as if he were telling me to kiss him. Up until now, he kissed me. I'd never initiated a kiss, other than the first time when he turned me down. His silky lips pressed against my mouth, as he lowered himself on top of me. The button on my jeans dug into my skin at an odd angle, but I didn't want to stop or ask him to move. Apparently, he was thought-peeking, because he shifted his weight and the brass button no longer hurt. His hands ran up and down my sides, sliding onto the small of my back as he pulled me closer to him and the kiss deepened. My pulse shot up higher and higher the longer he touched me.

Collin was breathless in my arms, as I slid my hands under his shirt. The warmth of his skin slid beneath my fingers. Collin's body arched slightly at the touch, as if I'd surprised him, and he suddenly pulled away from me. It felt like I couldn't breathe when his lips left mine. I'd hoped his mouth would have lingered and moved to my neck, and his hands would... I was so euphoric that I didn't see the worry on his face.

After he pulled back, he gently whispered, "I don't want to hurt you."

Breathless, I asked, "What? You won't," but he continued to pull away from me and sat up. "Collin...?"

His hands shook, as he pushed the hair out of his face. Something frazzled him. Not looking at me for a moment, he cleared his throat, and stood up. When his gaze returned to me, I had sat up and was feeling badly about him not wanting me. "It's not like that, and you know it." He said gently. "Damn, Ivy," he smiled wickedly at me, while extending his hand, "you make me totally crazy. I've never wanted anything in my entire life as much as I want you right now."

Taking his offered hand, I let him pull me up. I still felt uncertain, because he pulled away from me so fast, but I tried to bury the feelings. Collin said he was reading my face, but I knew he could read my thoughts. He could read my emotions too if he touched me, and his hands were just all over me. He had to know that his actions made me feel rejected. I didn't really understand why he kept pulling away. Part of me wanted to be with him. The other part of me thought that was terrifying and slightly insane.


Maybe Collin recovered quickly from our lustfest, or maybe he didn't. I couldn't tell and I promised I wouldn't go digging around in his thoughts anymore, so I tried to stay out. It was difficult, because I wanted to know what he was thinking. I wanted to know the real reason he pulled away. It couldn't have been because he thought he'd hurt me. Collin was the only Valefar who was able to control his bloodlust. The rest would have sucked my soul dry long ago, but he didn't. Maybe I was a tease. Maybe I was pushing him too hard. I glanced over at him, and he smiled back at me, taking my hand in his.

We were sitting at St. Bart's in the kitchen. Al was the only one there with us. It was risky to keep returning to the church, but I didn't know who else to ask. If anyone would know what language Eric's notes were written in, it would be her.

When asked about the other Martis, she answered, "Julia's called every Martis to action. They're doing something, and I told 'em they could do it without the likes of me." She stirred her tea cup, looking at the center, but I was sure she didn't see anything. Her mind was lost in thought, but she startled herself back to reality and saw Collin and I staring at her. "There aren't many new Martis forming, which limit our numbers greatly. The number of Valefar in this area alone has skyrocketed. It's odd that there aren't a proportionate number of new Martis to handle the problem. Julia is checking with every Martis compound worldwide, looking for new Martis, but there have been no reports of new blood. There hasn't been a new Martis reported since, well, since you were marked, Ivy." She gestured at me.

Collin's gaze cut from me to Al, confused at the information. "Ivy was marked over six months ago, though. Aren't there usually dozens of new Martis chosen during that much time?"

Al nodded, "Yes, there are. A dozen minimum, but with what's happening, it should have been many, many more. But, Julia can't find record of even one. It spooked her, so she pulled all the Martis home to Rome, with only sentries remaining at their old posts."

My eyes went wide, "There aren't any Martis here? They're all gone? Every single one?" She nodded, "And you're the sentry, aren't you?" A half smile smirked across her face. I laughed, "You crafty old nun, you! You stayed so you could help me?" I leaned forward, half exclaiming, half asking.

Her silvery eyes met mine. She tilted her head at me as she laid her spoon next to the untouched cup of tea. "Of course I did! I couldn't leave you to rot. I had no idea when you'd be back, but I knew you needed someone to help anchor you to yourself. You have a tendency to drift, you know?"

I snorted, "That's an understatement. But, I'm glad you stayed. I know I need you, and all the things you know. You say things to me that very few people would have the guts to say." I shrugged not wanting to get all mushy. "So, what's Julia doing, then? Why would she move all the Martis? What does she think is happening?" This had so many possibilities and sparked so many questions that I didn't know where to begin.

Al looked between me and Collin, "I don't know, but the angels only stopped creating more Martis at one other point in history - when they trapped Kreturus in the Underworld and overtook a portion of Hell. After that, they thought the battle was over and let our numbers dwindle. Angels don't like messing with the natural order of things and plucking some squirrelly kid from their life to fight in an immortal's war is kinda disruptive." She winked at me, and I nodded back. I was resentful that they'd chosen me. At the same time, if an angel hadn't given me my mark it was possible that I'd be dead now, or a Valefar. Jake's attack wasn't very forgiving. "When the angels realized that the Valefar were running amuck here, they saw the need to continue creating Martis over the centuries, so they did. The angels always made more Martis - until now."

My eyes were wide. This was weird. Why would I be the last person the angels turned Martis? What were they doing?

Collin articulated my questions before I could ask. "So, there's no way to know what the angels are doing? There's no way to ask? Because, this looks bad Althea. It looks like your kind is being..." he swallowed, not wanting to finish the sentence. A mixture of emotions was flowing from Collin, thick and uncensored. I sensed them immediately without meaning to, and looked over at him. He returned my gaze with worry in his eyes.

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