Home > The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(12)

The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(12)
Author: Sylvain Reynard

Raven averted her eyes, fidgeting with the knot of her robe.

“How does it work?”

A pair of shiny black shoes entered her field of vision, stopping an inch away from her bare feet. A single finger lifted her chin.

“It’s similar to hypnosis, I think. Not all human beings are susceptible to it. You, for example, are strong-minded enough to be resistant.”

“Then why did it work last night?”

He released her. “Because you were overwrought.”

Raven huffed. “Okay, I grant you hypnotized me or whatever because I was upset. But I want you to promise me you won’t do it again.”

He nodded.

“I need the words, William.”

He clenched his fists. “I—promise.”

She tensed, as if steeling herself for the next revelation. “Now tell me exactly why I was crying.”

“It could start again.” His voice held a warning. “You had an extreme reaction. What happens if it worsens?”

Raven rubbed her eyes with the heels of her hands. “I only remember bits and pieces of the week I spent here, after you rescued me. Even those pieces are hazy.”

“You were unconscious most of the time.”

“I decided I don’t want to relive those moments. But I need to know what happened last night.”

“Very well.” William nodded in the direction of her chair.

“Just spit it out.”

He took her warm fingers in his cold ones, cradling her hand in his. “I sent Luka after your stepfather because I intended to kill him. It was the least amount of justice you deserved and I wanted to give you that. When the time came, however, you and I were estranged. His execution wasn’t a decision I thought I could make.”

Raven’s eyes widened. “William, what did you do?”

“I threw him down a flight of stairs.”


“I wrenched his arm, the way you described he wrenched yours. His leg is now broken and he sustained other, minor injuries.” William’s expression was noticeably absent of remorse. “I decided to reserve the true punishment for you to mete out.”

Raven’s face paled and she pulled away. “Where is he?”

William pointed to the floorboards. “Down there.”

It took some time for Raven to process what William was saying.

“He’s here?” she whispered. “In the house?”


“I have to get out of here.” She limped toward the door that led to the hall.

“He’s locked in a cell, below the villa.” William followed, speaking quickly. “He will never hurt you again, I swear it.”

“Why did you bring him here?”

“I promised you justice.”

“Justice.” She laughed bitterly. “It’s too late.”

“It is never too late for justice. After I became a vampyre, years after Alicia was murdered, I tracked down her killers and ended them.”

Raven’s lower lip trembled. “Where were you when I was twelve?”

William caught her and encircled her with his arms. “You’re mine now. No one touches you. No one hurts you. And everyone who has will pay.”

She clung to him, hiding her face in his shirt. His arms tightened around her. “Your reaction to his presence now is about one-tenth of what it was before.”

“I hate him, William. Of course I’m going to have an extreme reaction.”

“I made a mistake bringing you to him. Seeing him face-to-face was too much of a shock.”

Raven lifted her face. “I saw him?”

“It’s a mercy you don’t remember. I think it was the sight of him that caused you so much distress.”

Raven began to tremble. He pulled back and began to rub her arms up and down. “Cassita, look at me.” He paused until she made eye contact. “You’re safe. You’re here with me and you don’t have to see him again.”

“You’re going to kill him?”

“Or we could turn him over to Aoibhe.”

“Why Aoibhe?”

“She hunts and kills rapists. I doubt it would take much to persuade her to dispose of your stepfather. She’d enjoy torturing him.”

Raven looked horrified.

“Cassita, I would prefer to be the one who ends him. But you’re the injured party. You should decide.”

“I never wanted to kill him. I just wanted Cara to be safe.”

William leaned forward, his voice dropping to an urgent whisper. “Say the word and I will punish him. Leave his fate to me. You won’t have to know.”

“But I would know.”

His gray eyes glittered. “You won’t see remorse on my face. I feel none.”

Raven was silent.

He rumbled in his chest. “Your stepfather deserves to be put to death. He struck you. He tried to kill you because you were protecting your sister.”

“I failed, William.” She disentangled herself from his arms, her gaze bending to the floorboards.

He set his teeth. “You didn’t fail. You protected her—not once but several times. And in return, he threw you down the stairs. Say the word and he will breathe his last with my hand on his throat.”

“What he did to the others was worse.”

“Then do this for them. Do this for your sister.” William’s hands folded into fists, his body shaking.

Suddenly, Raven brushed past him, limping toward the door. “I can’t make this decision.”

“If you can’t, then who can?” he called after her.


Chapter Nine

“Es natural condición de las mujeres desdeñar a quien las quiere y amar a quien las aborrece.”

A silken whisper came out of the darkness, tickling Aoibhe’s ears as she trod lightly over ashes and bone fragments. She cut quite a figure, the tall, strikingly beautiful vampyre climbing the secret burial ground that lay outside the city of Florence. The air was thick with the scents of death and another, more pleasant aroma.

“Show yourself or I’ll kill you, and this time, I won’t lend you the power of resurrection.” Aoibhe’s voice was low, the Irish lilt of her speech giving the words a musical quality.

A hooded figure stepped out from behind a tree and bowed elegantly.

“Good evening, Lady Aoibhe.” He addressed her in English. “You look beautiful, as always.”

“This had better be important.” She scanned the area, her senses alert. “It’s dangerous for us to meet.”

The figure laughed. “Why should you worry? Your pretty face and pretty lies will always save you. If I’m seen, my life is forfeit.”

She lifted her nose imperially. “Say what you need to say and be quick about it. If they call a Consilium meeting, my absence will be noted.”

“If the security system is anything like what it was, they already know you’ve left the city.” The figure threw back his hood, exposing a mane of thick black hair.

“You look remarkably well for a dead vampyre.” Aoibhe smiled.

Ibarra moved toward her, but she eluded him, retreating several feet.

“Don’t touch me. I can’t return to the city smelling of you. I was surprised to receive your missive. I thought you’d returned to your homeland.”

He shrugged. “It’s more convenient to plot my revenge here. What news from the principality?”

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