Home > The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(10)

The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(10)
Author: Sylvain Reynard

She shrugged and sipped her drink, hiding behind her glass. William was seized with the impression he’d been tested and failed.

“I’ve not shared my secrets with anyone.” He looked down at his hands, turning them over in the firelight.

“Is that why you tampered with my memory? Because I uncovered one of your secrets?”

“No.” William’s response was sharp.

He lifted his goblet. “The story about relics involves the night I was changed. It was a dark time. I’ve never spoken of it.

“As for the blood, yes, it makes me stronger. But I am an old one and so its effects are lesser than they would be if a youngling ingested it.” He drained his glass in two swallows before making eye contact with her and licking his lips.

Raven stared at his mouth, appearing both repulsed and mesmerized. “Why do I get the impression you’re trying to seduce me?”

“Because there’s nothing I want more than to take you now. I could beckon you to my lap and have you take your pleasure or we could couple on the floor, next to the fire.”

Raven hesitated, the words of her beautiful, talented lover more than an enticement. “I asked you to let me in. You said you would.”

“Some knowledge is dangerous.”

“Fine.” She sounded frustrated. “I’m not going to argue over every piece of information you refuse to share. Let’s talk about amnesia. The last time I had memory problems was when you gave me vampyre blood.”

“You had a head injury. It’s possible the memory loss was caused by that.”

“So vampyre blood doesn’t always cause memory loss?”

“It can cause memory loss, yes, but euphoria is its most common side effect.”

She crossed her arms over her chest. “I don’t feel particularly euphoric at the moment. What happened last night?”

He turned his attention to the fire, as if its flames would give him the courage and wisdom he required. “Before I begin I need to know how you’re feeling.”

“I feel fine. Why do you keep asking me that?”

He scanned her face. “You don’t feel . . . upset?”

“I’m annoyed you keep evading my questions.”

He sighed. “Then let’s begin. Do you remember bargaining with me for Emerson’s life?”

Raven clutched at her heart and William’s nostrils were filled with the scent of her sudden panic. “You didn’t kill Professor Emerson, did you? Not after you promised you wouldn’t.”

William’s gray eyes pinned her to her chair. “I keep my promises, as I shall shortly explain. I paid a visit to him in Umbria. He and his family are alive, but Mrs. Emerson is in need of a doctor.”

Raven gave him a horrified look.

He shook his head. “You misunderstand. She has some kind of illness. I sensed it by smell and informed her husband. As I said, I keep my promises. You agreed to tell me about the ‘accident.’” At this, he glanced at her right leg. “I agreed to spare the Emersons. The day after our conversation, I sent Luka to America to make inquiries.”

“Inquiries about the Emersons?”

“No, about you.”

“You thought I made everything up?” She slid her leg out from under her, placing both feet on the floor.

“Not at all. In fact, I believed you told me only part of what happened.”

She grimaced. “I told you enough.”

“For reasons I’ll disclose in a moment, I ordered Luka to conduct a thorough investigation. He provided me with court records, witness statements, transcripts, and medical files.”

The color faded from Raven’s cheeks. “But they’re confidential.”

“Money can be a powerful motivator. When it failed, Luka used more creative means.”

Raven screwed her eyes shut and turned away from him in her chair.

His voice grew soft. “I saw the reports and the photographs. What I saw more than angered me, Cassita. It grieved me. More than I can adequately express. You sustained much more than just a fall down the stairs while protecting your sister. There were bruises on top of bruises and injuries to your arms.”

Unconsciously, Raven touched her left arm below the elbow. William followed her movement with watchful eyes.

“The file on your sister outstripped what you’d told me. I wanted to go to America to deal with the situation directly, but for various reasons, I had to remain here.

“I sent Luka to observe your sister and mother. As you said, your sister is successful and seems content with the man she’s chosen. I assume you know about your mother’s recent remarriage.”

“Cara told me.”

“If it had been up to me, I would have killed your mother. No reasonable adult could have been ignorant of what was going on in your household. She chose to ignore the signs and for that she should be punished. However, you asked me not to harm her. But your stepfather—”

Raven rose to her feet, interrupting him. “That’s enough.”

She turned her back on him, lifting the robe that had been tossed carelessly over the back of her chair. She pulled it on, covering as much cleavage as possible before knotting the belt tightly.

“I find it depressing that you’re only willing to share the barest of information about yourself, yet you feel compelled to send an investigator to Florida to find out everything about me and my dysfunctional family.”

William watched her movements with increasing worry. He could smell the spike of adrenaline in her blood and he felt his lungs, almost superfluous as they were, constrict. It was a terrible feeling—to know he was hurting the person he loved. And he hadn’t yet reminded her who was lying in a cell beneath the floorboards.

He had to tread more carefully.

“I take no pleasure in rehearsing these subjects with you,” he said gently. “Far from it. Try to imagine, if you would, what it would be like if our positions were reversed. How would you feel if you discovered I’d had your experiences as a child?”

“I’d probably feel the same as you. But I wouldn’t make you talk about it, because I’d know that makes it worse.” Raven’s shaking fingers went to the portion of her robe that opened around her neck and she pulled the fabric together, covering the base of her throat.

“There is a point to this, I promise. Something upset you last night and, for whatever reason, your mind blocked it out. I’d rather end my tale here.” He hesitated. “But if you insist on hearing what happened, I shall tell you.”

“I’ve come this far.” She hobbled around the chair and picked up her glass, draining the contents.

“Would you like another?”

She set the glass down with a loud thump. “Is it that bad?”

When he didn’t respond, Raven seated herself heavily in the chair. “Tell me.”

William watched as she curled herself into a protective ball, pillowing her cheek against the back of the chair.

He passed a hand over his face. “I made a promise to you after our conversation. I promised I would give you justice. That’s why I sent Luka to America. He discovered that your stepfather and his lawyers had manipulated the system in connection with the incident involving you and your sister. That is why he escaped punishment.

“When Luka located him, he discovered the man had used aliases before and after he married your mother. In fact, his marriage to your mother was fraudulent because he was already married.”

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
» Fixed series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)
» Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels #1)
» Norse Mythology