Home > Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel #1)(13)

Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel #1)(13)
Author: Jeaniene Frost

I just needed to intensify my focus first. I concentrated on my breathing until nothing else existed and nothing else mattered. Then, when I was hovering between that perfect state of complete self-awareness and complete oblivion, I reached down and pulled my silver knife from my boot.


Ian’s muttered curse broke through my concentration, but it was confirmation that I’d succeeded in actually getting the knife this time. I trusted his reaction more than I did the feel of smooth silver in my hand. I’d been fooled by my senses before with this spell.

It took another few minutes before I could will myself back to where I was able to move the knife again. This time, I brought it to my chest—and instantly felt an unseen force seize my hand.

“What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?”

Ian sounded as if he was snarling the words into my ear, but when I opened my eyes, I saw nothing except mirrors. I couldn’t see his hand on mine, and now, I could no longer feel it, but I knew he was still gripping my wrist.

What was I doing? I was making sure that I could do what was necessary to end this spell. This spell might be useful in our trap for Dagon, but the demon was far more powerful than I. If I’d figured out a way out of this, he would, too. It had taken me the better part of three hours; I didn’t dare to hope it would take Dagon that long. He wasn’t just more powerful than me; he was also eons older. For all I knew, he’d been the creator of this spell, for all magic had its origin in demons.

Besides, if I did what was necessary to defeat this spell in front of Ian, he would figure out what I was. I couldn’t let that happen, since I didn’t want to kill Ian. Surprisingly, that wasn’t out of fear for what Mencheres would do. No, it was Ian’s devotion to his sire that had changed my mind. The kind of loyalty that looked hell in the eye and told it to do its worst because nothing would make you endanger the person you loved . . . That was rare. Well deserving of protection. The bruise to my ego was a small price to pay.

Better to have Ian think he’d used a spell on me I couldn’t defeat. Let him revel in his supposed win. It might be best to let Ian take the lead on choosing the hotspots, anyway. Had it really been ninety years since I’d gone out for some fun? How embarrassing.

And if I did strongly disagree about Ian’s methods, I could wait until I was out of his eyesight, then extract myself from this spell. Ian would never even know I’d done it.

Decision made, I opened my eyes, seeing only never-ending reflections of myself in the countless mirrors. “You win.”

“Come again?” Ian said, sounding surprised.

“You win,” I repeated. “I can’t break the spell and my time is almost up, isn’t it?”

“Five more minutes.” He still sounded much closer. “Why do I have the distinct impression that you haven’t truly given up? I don’t know what you intended before, but you damn near stabbed yourself in the heart, so I’m not letting go of your wrist.”

I couldn’t tell if I smiled for real or if the spell only tricked me into believing it. “And you saved me. My hero.”

“My arse,” he responded at once. “Somehow, you’re playing me. I can feel it.”

He had good instincts. It’s probably what had kept him alive when one of the underworld’s most powerful demons had been after him for decades. But there was a time-tested truism on my side: Men always wanted to believe they’d won a match of wits against a woman, even if their instincts told them otherwise.

“How many different ways do you want to hear me say you won?” I asked in a faux exasperated tone. “Very well, I concede, I surrender, I hand over my sword, I wave the white flag—”

“Enough.” His voice changed. Suspicion gave way to the steel of resolve. “As I’ve told you before, I can wait to find out what you’re hiding from me, but make no mistake—I will find out. What’s more”—now silkiness replaced that steel—“you’ll tell me willingly, little Guardian.”

It had to be the spell that caused me to feel as if his words danced along my nerve endings. Yes, that’s what it was, I told myself firmly. The spell.

“If I had a secret as big as you’re implying,” I replied, “I’d never share it with you.”

He laughed, low, sensual, and oh so enticingly confident. “Now that is a wager you will lose. Count on it.”

Chapter 11

The entrance to our hotel had been swept clean, but the rest of Times Square was still coated with streamers, confetti and other remnants from celebrations the night before. Seeing it, I wasn’t sorry we’d spent New Year’s Eve over the border in Canada. Not that I had anything against confetti or streamers; it was the crushing crowds I wasn’t fond of. Times Square on New Year’s Eve was the epitome of that.

When we exited the hotel, the bellhop offered to hail a cab for us. Ian turned to me. “Up for a walk instead?”

“Sure.” My ice-blue dress might be formal, but it didn’t restrict my stride, and since I was a vampire, I couldn’t get blisters despite today’s foot-contorting high heels.

Ian offered me his arm, which I took after a brief arch of my brow. “Careful, someone might mistake you for a gentleman.”

He flashed a grin at me. “Anyone who’d make such a mistake deserves what they get.”

His smile made his looks even more distracting, and that was quite an accomplishment. Once again, we’d gotten a suite with two bedrooms, so we’d had privacy while readying ourselves for tonight. When Ian had come out of his room with his auburn hair slicked back so his impossibly beautiful features were highlighted for maximum effect, wearing a tuxedo that draped his tall, muscled form as if the tailor who’d fit him for it had been in love . . . I’d had to look away before I did something ridiculous. Like proposition him on the spot.

I don’t know why I was having such a strong reaction to him. A week ago, I’d seen him naked and felt less affected. But I hadn’t really seen Ian as a man then. I’d seen him as a necessary burden that might end up stabbing me in the back. Now, I knew Ian was dangerously smart, complicated, loyal, powerful, lethal, sexy . . . and arrogant. Proudly so.

He took every second and third glance from the normally jaded New Yorkers as his due. He even flashed pitying looks at the people who abruptly turned and began to follow him, glancing at me before raising a brow at them as if to say, “Sorry, I’m hers tonight, and yes, that is your loss.”

After several instances of this, I was getting irritated. These people could clearly see my arm folded in his. Did I need to take more drastic measures to show that he was not available for their pleasure? Perhaps I’d feed from the next person who spun around and began to follow him like an animal catching an irresistible scent . . .

“Gods,” I muttered out loud. What was wrong with me?

Ian glanced at me. “Something amiss?”

“No,” I said while thinking yes!

Nearly all vampires were possessive over their personal food sources, their offspring and their lovers, yet Ian was none of those to me. I’d never turned a human into a vampire, so I couldn’t speak for offspring, but I’d never experienced that trademark surge of territoriality with any of my former lovers. Or the humans I’d put under my protection. For the past four thousand years, I’d been glad to find myself above such pettiness. So why was I now fantasizing about biting every male and female who had done nothing more than make their interest in Ian known?

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