Home > The 13th Prophecy (Demon Kissed #5)(10)

The 13th Prophecy (Demon Kissed #5)(10)
Author: H.M. Ward

I snorted a laugh, “What? What are you talking about?” I turned to look up at him.

“I can compel you to take your clothes off, but I can’t get you to answer a question. A question that I already saw the answer to in your mind...” He pressed a kiss to the top of my head, smiling as he spoke.

I averted my eyes, feeling shy, “Then why are you asking?”

“Because, I need to hear it from you. It’s different. Willingly giving something to someone is different than taking it. Those memories were stolen. Things that rushed forth that I wasn’t supposed to see. Things I wasn’t supposed to know...” his voice trailed off. The blood bond allowed him to see into my mind for only a second. And he’d seen some of my most intimate thoughts—secrets—about how I felt about him. And us.

Silence followed. He didn’t demand I tell him. And it wasn’t Collin that I didn’t want to admit it to—it was me. I couldn’t say the words, because then I’d have to accept them. But there was no turning back. There was no tomorrow for all I knew, so I wasn’t going to waste today.

Shoving my fear aside, I took a deep breath and said, “I was afraid of acting on it. I told you once before—there’s no such thing as true love. I believed it. I believed it so deeply that it masked what was in front of my eyes. That day on the beach. That night when you found me, and I had no idea how or why—I was just so grateful that it was you.” I gazed down at his arms around me, his long tapered fingers holding me firmly to him. “I recognized the attraction, as we sat in the sand watching the sun set. That’s what I kept telling myself. That I wanted you because you were hot. And that was it. But it wasn’t. That wasn’t the reason.”

I pressed my lips together hard. Collin’s hand stroked the side of my face as his arms tightened, hugging me harder. I started telling him. I had to finish. I had to say it. “Death screwed me up. Losing my sister, well, that year was unbearable. The thought of losing you was too much. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t risk loving you, because I might lose you. And I couldn’t take another loss. It would have destroyed me. So, I never allowed the thought to surface again, but you did things—said things—that made me smile and the thoughts, the affection for you, popped up again anyway.” I smiled, averting my gaze from his. “Denial goes a long way...”

He pressed a kiss onto the top of my head. “If the bond weren’t broken, I’d tell you to look into the memory of that day on the beach.” He smiled. “You’d see everything. You’d see how much I adored you, and how desperately I wanted to ease your pain. You were everything to me. I wish I could show you...”

I turned in his arms and looked into his sparkling sapphire eyes. Smiling I said, “I love you, Collin Smith.” My throat tightened as I looked at him. One moment of bliss. One moment of knowing that I was truly loved, came and went. And that drop of blood was more powerful than I’d known.


Eric took his time getting back. I rested my head on Collin’s lap after we were both clothed again. His warm hands stroked my hair gently across my forehead. A blush would rise in my cheeks if I thought about what we did. His fingers traced the curve of my cheek as he smiled down at me.

After much comfortable silence he said, “Close your eyes. Rest. When Eric gets back, it’ll be time to fight. If he gets back.” The thought had crossed my mind as well. Sorta-mortal Eric ran off into the middle of a battle zone. I was certain things worsened since the last time we were above ground, but I had no desire to look and see how much. It would make it impossible to rest. Fury raged through me just thinking about it.

“He’ll be back,” I replied softly. There were things about Eric that I knew. Secret things. Eric wasn’t leaving.

Collin’s palm stroked the hair away from my face as he looked down at me. “There’s no way to be certain of him, Ivy. I can tell there’s more to it. More you aren’t telling me. Just watching the two of you, I can see it. But I don’t know what it is.” His words were troubled, not jealous. He wanted to protect me from pain and hurt. And Eric was pain and hurt.

Tilting my chin up, I said, “You don’t need to worry about him.” I didn’t affirm his suspicion. Although I was surprised he hadn’t seen it, or heard me speak to Eric when—whatever that was—happened. A chill ran through me. Fatigue gnawed at my bones. I felt every inch of my body, being so near to Collin. It was something I hadn’t thought of. I assumed the bloodlust would subdue. I thought I could push it away and call it back when I wanted it. But the emotions remained on the surface, sliding across my face as my brow pinched together.

“Maybe not, but you’re worried. About something.” His hand slid over my brow again in a gentle stroke. My eyes closed and opened as his hand touched me, soothing me.

I glanced up at him, “The thirteenth prophecy. I wonder if it says what the price will be for using the stone. I close my eyes and see your face painted on the canvas. It’s like an omen—a morbid omen—telling me to make sure you’re safe. But how could I possibly do that?” I laughed sadly. “Whenever I’m not talking, the price of the stone wanders through my mind. Lorren’s price was horrible. He’s encased in a tomb of beauty, forced to listen to the screams of the dying as they become part of his labyrinth. Eric is so much worse.”

My hand drifted to my throat as my voice caught. I looked away, lost in thought—lost in nightmares that never ended, “I can’t even describe how terrifying it would be to live his life. To never have peace. To constantly be out of control, falling farther and farther away from the ideals that once formed who you were.” My mouth hung open. I was at a loss for words. Gazing up, I added, “I’m not that strong. I couldn’t pay that price. You’re my peace. You always have been. I can’t lose you.”

Collin shifted, lifting me up and wrapping his arms around me. When he pulled away, he kept his hands on my arms and squeezed. Hard. “Listen to me. I’ve done everything I could think of to stop this, and it’s only caused you more pain. I can accept that I’m not the one to stop it. But,” he brushed the stray curl out of my dark eyes, “the same thought swam through my mind. I would use the stone for you, but I think that will only make things worse. Every prophecy, every scroll, every painting has you at the center of this. Ivy, you’re strong enough to deal with whatever the stone throws at you.”

When I looked down, his hand tucked under my chin and lifted my face to meet his eyes. “You killed a Dreanok—that thing at the Pool—without a second thought. You let the most powerful demon, besides Kreturus, screw with your mind. And you survived. Locoicia is evil beyond comprehension. The fact that you even survived her lessons is a testament to your strength. You are strong. You’ll do what’s right when the time comes, because that’s who you are. And I’ll be there by your side.”

Hope swelled within me. It was an emotion, crushed flat with all the others from the Demon Princess’ training. But in Collin’s arms I felt it crack open inside of me and spill into every last inch of my body. Hope holds power. Power that someone tried to take from me. Collin’s blood gave it back. I wrapped my arms around his neck, and buried my face in his chest. Collin’s hands rubbed my back, and then tightened the embrace.

He whispered in my ear, “I’ll always be there for you.”


As I rested in Collin’s lap, my mind finally slowed enough to have some sense of peace so I could rest. I felt safe and warm in his arms. He was right, when Eric returned; it’d be time to fight. So I did the best I could and shoved every thought out of my head. Soon the silence rang in my ears and the only sound I was aware of was the beating of my heart.

That’s when it happened. I knew it was coming, but it still startled me. My mind swam between the place where sleep and wake are easily confused. The black mirror appeared in front of me, as the school basement and Collin faded from existence. Instead of waiting for her to suck me through the glass, I lifted my hand and pressed through.

One of my boot heels clacked on the stone floor. Then the other. As I emerged from the mirror, Locoicia was standing in front of me. Amethyst eyes blazed beneath a black hood, hiding her face. The supple fabric flowed to the floor. A black gloved hand snatched my wrist and yanked me forward into the room. Away from the mirror—the only way to escape.

She chuckled, “Little One. So nice for you to visit.” Her voice was overly sweet. I stood in front of her, not willing to be bullied by her. Her presence still scared me more than I wanted to admit. Because there was something alluring about her too. Her power, maybe? The way she wielded it. The confidence in her choices. I rarely felt that way. Most of my decisions were an accident made on the fly.

When I didn’t respond, her arms folded across her chest. The long dark sleeves of her gown revealed leather gloves that went from her fingertips to elbows. She leaned closer to my face. A prick of fear ran down my spine. Her voice was deep and deadly. “Did you forget to tell me something? Hmm?” Her warm breath washed across my face.

I tensed, but refused to move. I wasn’t going to back down. If I lost this argument, I lost everything. I didn’t know who decided if a blood bargain defaulted, but I didn’t want to be the one at fault. It wasn’t my fault. “I didn’t forget anything,” I snapped. “I said the spell perfectly. I didn’t stop when I saw the victim that was sucked through the glass, either.” I glared at her. “You should have told me that. It was withholding information that could have jeopardized the spell. Instead you allowed me to believe he might be in possession of a human—some random Valefar. Not...” I bit off my words, not wanting to say his name in the off chance she didn’t know. But the look on her face said otherwise.

“You didn’t need to know,” she retorted sharply. “You said so yourself, you continued the spell, which means that bit of information was not imperative. And yet, there was something left out. Some difference that caused the spell to go awry.” Her fingers tapped on her arms, waiting for me to volunteer what happened. I had to fight to not clench my fingers into fists. Collin’s effect on me was slipping in, making it harder to focus.

I pushed the feelings back, forcing them down before Locoicia tried to rip them out of me. “It was your spell. It didn’t work. He didn’t die.”

She sucked in a breath, filling the bodice of her gown and released it slowly. She was livid. Her eerie eyes fixated on me. “Tell me what happened. Exactly. Leave no part out.”

I considered walking away, but I couldn’t. I had to know the blood bargain was broken. It seemed like it was, but I wasn’t certain. I restated the events of the night as callously as possible, omitting Eric completely, and erasing Collin’s name from the story. I felt protective of them—both of them. When I finished, she turned away with her spine ramrod straight, and she rushed to the shelf holding the chalices. She reached for the goblet that held our blood. When she lowered it in front of her, the tension in her shoulders faded. There was an audible sigh of relief. But I didn’t know what she was looking at. What had changed? I rushed to the cup, expecting her to hide it from me. Instead she set it on the table and extended her arm, directing me to come closer.

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