Macrieve, p.22
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       MacRieve, p.22
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         Part #14 of Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole
Page 22


  "And your brother does? Come on, I can recognize utter hatred when I see it. "

  "Did you know this was going to happen?" he asked, deflecting the subject.

  She narrowed her eyes, but allowed it. "I knew something was off inside me. My senses went haywire a few weeks ago. "

  "Thats common for transitioning halflings. "

  "I told my dad about it. He said I needed to avoid a trigger, but didnt tell me what it was. He hinted that my mom was an immortal, but again, wouldnt tell me what kind. "

  "A trigger? It must have been when you and Will had sex. "

  She whipped her head up. "We didnt. Not all the way. We just fooled around. "

  Differently than they had yesterday? Oh. Munro could deduce what the trigger had been. Shed . . . fed for the first time.

  Judging by Chloes blushing, shed deduced it as well. "Your father dinna tell you no to be with men . . . that way? I would think hed do anything to keep you from turning. "

  "He probably didnt think he had anything to worry about. I never had much interest in guys. "

  "I see. Its no unheard of for a halflings powers or . . . appetites to be dormant until some catalyst. Ive heard of a human halfling becoming a Valkyrie after a lightning strike. "

  "I had no idea about any of that. Dad just plopped the Book of Lore in my lap and took off on a business trip. He told me wed talk when he returned. He . . . he never did. His phone was disconnected. " Her voice wavered, which clearly aggravated her. "The next thing I know, Ive got Lore creatures in my house and Im getting kidnapped. "

  "Im sorry, Chloe. " Munro couldnt even imagine her confusion and fear. Again that protectiveness surged within him. "Considering his hatred of immortals, your father probably believed his actions merciful. "

  She shrugged, feigning indifference. "So spill about succubae. Give it to me straight. Im a big girl. "

  He only had vague reports from others to draw from, and his brothers bitter recollections of Ruelle. "Youre a cambion-a human and succubus halfling, which makes you part of the Ubus Peoples. They hail from the Ubus Realm, located on a hidden plane. Males are incubi, females are succubae. No much is known about your kind. Some say males can fly and females can turn invisible. All we know for certain is that your species draws nourishment from a partners sexual release. "

  "So when MacRieve called me a seed-feeder, was that . . . literal?"

  Munro pulled at his collar, as uncomfortable with this as she clearly was. It was like explaining the birds and the bees-to his brothers mate. "Some say theres a mystical energy with release, and your species can convert it to a life force. " Could this be any more awkward? "In that case, seed could be just an attractant of sorts, kind of the icing on the . . . " He trailed off. "Any metaphor I come up with at this point is just going to sound perverted. "

  Her cheeks flushed even brighter red. "I get it. "

  "Others say, well, that the physical, uh, result is what gets converted. " He coughed into his fist. "I do know it can be from intercourse or oral sex. " Will had once revealed that though Ruelle could feed both ways, shed never deigned to perform oral sex and had no interest in it herself.

  "How often do I have to do that? Months? Weeks?"

  "Since youre young, youll need it more often. Id guess every day. Mayhap every other. "

  Her face paled. "That much?" she cried. "What happens if I dont?"

  "For a cambion, I doona rightly know. But for a succubus, the longer she goes, the more intense her desire for a male grows. By a certain point, she becomes mindless and animalistic with need. " Like the succubae whod stalked Will, intent on raping him.

  Gods, mayhap this was far too much to ask of him.

  "Great. Anything else?"

  "If you have intercourse with the same male more than three times, you can bind him to you, envenoming him-"

  "Like venom out of fangs?" She was aghast.

  "No, no, its a mystical bond. Once that tie is formed, hell sicken without you. " He recalled Will rocking in his bed, covered in sweat. "I understand that its like heroin withdrawal, but it never gets better. "

  She gave him an incredulous look. "Then why would anyone have sex with a succubus in the first place?"

  "Youre bonny. And you can emit chemicals that make males crazed. Its called strewing. "

  "How do I emit them?"

  "From what I understand, it comes from your verra breath. Its scentless, so its impossible to detect until the result is felt. Even an unwilling male would find it difficult to resist, if no impossible. Mated males are thought to be immune. "

  She stopped. "So my new feeding m. o. is to roofie men, then get them hooked on me like heroin, so theyll keep coming back to the dealer? Thats just messed up. "

  He couldnt disagree. He remained silent, giving her time to work through all the angles.

  "Im going to be dependent on guys, really dependent on them, for the rest of my life?" She looked like she was about to be sick. More to herself, she said, "I was making a great living. I had my future planned out. " Another group passed them, casting her hesitant looks. "What are you gawking at?" she snapped.

  Munro told her, "News spreads fast around here, Im afraid. "

  "Well, they need to keep their eyes in their heads. "

  Before, shed appeared woeful. With each second that she grew accustomed to all these surprises, her expression grew more mutinous.

  Succubae were known to be fawning. They coaxed and beguiled men wherever they went. Chloe looked like she was on the verge of head-butting unsuspecting bystanders.

  Munro tilted his head, a flare of hope rising. This female acted like a wee bruiser. Shed made a living as a professional athlete, about the least likely career Munro could imagine for a succubus.

  His own innate wariness toward her was fading. Just because she was a halfling succubus didnt mean shed be anything like Ruelle.

  There was a spark in Chloes eyes, a toughness in her demeanor that was so radically different from Munros memories of that other creature, so different from any succubae hed encountered over his long life.

  Which meant Munro still believed her a fitting match for Will.

  "What about pregnancy?" she asked.

  "Full succubae have a few cycles of fertility in a year. I doona know what will happen with you. Theres a soothsayer we can contact to determine more, but it will likely take time. "

  "Im going to wake up, and this will all be a bad dream. " She rubbed her temples. "Is there any upside here?"

  "Youre immortal now. You could live forever. "

  "Live forever as an out-of-work, roofie-dispensing, drug-dealing skank? If thats my upside . . . "

  "Youll be stronger. Youll regenerate from any wound. Other than decapitation, of course. "

  She perked up. "Stronger?"

  "Take a swing at me. " He patted his upper arm.

  She shrugged, then launched her good fist.

  He gritted his teeth, saying, "Aye. Stronger. " The pain was pleasant to him. It meant his newfound sister might survive in the Lore.

  She frowned at her other hand. "Its healing really fast. "

  He rubbed his nape. "You and Will, uh, your morning together would help that along. "

  Her skin flushed again. "What would happen if I never did that again? Im a halfling. Maybe I could still exist on food. It used to stave off the worst of my symptoms. "

  "It might be possible. "

  She narrowed her gaze. "If its even remotely possible, Ill make it work. " Her hazel eyes flickered then gleamed green with determination. "If I want something bad enough, itll happen. "

  Chloe was like the anti-Ruelle. Suddenly, this didnt feel like a tragedy in the making. This might be . . . workable.

  At that moment, they heard an agonized roar from the woods. Trees crashed down.

  Will. Sorting out his issues.

  Chloe gazed up at MacRieves twin. "Thats him, isnt it?" As if she could ever forget that
horrifying sound.

  "Aye," Munro said, surprising her by telling the truth.

  Shed sensed he was well-meaning. And at least he wasnt violent. A huge improvement over the other one.

  She still couldnt believe the way this morning had gone to hell. Before that monster had showed-talking to her like it was from Aesops fucking Fables-shed been happy, feeling desire and being desired. Shed liked MacRieve, had found him to be a sexy, exciting lover.

  I lost everything today. Her dad had freaked at the possibility of her transition. How would he feel about his detrus daughter now? Olympics? Forever out of reach. Shed been paranoid about her drug tests in Florida; now she could only imagine how wonky they would be. Not to mention her newfound strength and glowing eyes.

  She wanted to blame MacRieve for all this-he deserved nothing less-but now she realized how inevitable her change had been. Considering the nature of her dreams and her awareness of men, sooner or later she wouldve found a guy and been triggered-with or without MacRieve.

  "Are there any succubae I can talk to about all this?" To say it was a lot to take in . . .

  At least now she knew why shed felt that sense of dread each time shed even considered embarking on a flirtation. Because, evidently, her first boyfriend couldve triggered her with his semen.

  Maybe her human half had tried to keep her from going down that path? Chloe was brave, physically at least. But shed been too cowardly to explore her dread, to try and overcome it. Itd been easier to make excuses.

  Too busy. Too driven. Too committed.

  So why hadnt she felt dread with MacRieve?

  "Chloe, any succubae Ive ever encountered have proven to be evil and malicious," Munro said. "I would no recommend reaching out to them. "

  She frowned. "So my mom was evil?"

  If possible, Munro looked even more uncomfortable about that question than hed been about the sex talk. "I canna say. "

  If Dad hated Loreans, why would he ever be with one? "Maybe my dad hates immortals because he was hurt by my mom?" She recalled how hed peered at that picture of Fiore. Had Chloes mother forced him to love her?

  "Its possible. Though its more likely that he was already a member of the Order. From what we understand, your father has been at this for decades. "

  What if her mom had been his prisoner? As usual, her feelings toward her father were in turmoil. Last night shed been outraged that anyone would want to hurt people like MacRieve and Ronan and other Lore kids.

  This morning shed realized why MacRieve was a danger to society. Had her mother been one as well?

  Hunt for the upside, Chlo. After lifelong blood tests, she no longer had to worry about the big C. No, she could potentially live forever.

  She grimaced. She was an independent female, yet she was now expected to depend on males to survive-not just for one lifetime, but for eternity.

  Another thought struck her. Those "womanly instincts" shed experienced earlier . . . they were succubus instincts, instructing her how to land the best score. Ugh!

  The idea of living forever like that appealed to her not at all.

  "We should get you back," Munro said. "My brother will no like that youre gone. "

  "Hell be angry? Wonder what thatll be like!"

  "Again, he will no harm you. " Munro raked his fingers through his dark hair, reminding her of how handsome the twins were. And what lurked beneath.

  "What makes you so certain?"

  "He wouldve already. I have no seen him so out of control in memory. I think its much worse because of the timing, coming on the heels of his torture in an Order prison. Hes no been right since he returned. "

  "He was vivisected, right?" She recalled last night when MacRieves shaking hand had covered his heart. As shed kissed his chest, shed vowed to herself that shed never let anyone hurt him again. How much had changed so quickly. "He was tortured by my dads people?"

  Golden eyes flickering, Munro admitted, "One doctor showed him his beating heart. "

  She pressed the back of her hand over her mouth. Even after everything, she felt sympathy for MacRieve. God, shed never been so confused in her life. After seeing MacRieves beast, she understood why the Order feared Lykae. But then she gazed up at Munro-serious, grave Munro-and couldnt imagine anyone harming him. "So your brother could get past that to be with me, but my transition makes him want to kill me? You need to tell me why that is. "

  Munros expression was stark. "Chloe, its-"

  "Complicated. Got it. " She sighed, tempering her tone. None of this was Munros fault. He was just trying to be helpful. "Look, I cant stay here. There has to be a way for me to get past those creatures at the wall. "

  "Im sorry. Thats no possible right now. "

  "Okay, I might be stuck in this compound, but that doesnt mean I need to be staying at his house. Im not living with him!"

  "No one else would take you in. "

  "Because Im a succubus?"

  "Because youre Wills mate. His Instinct will demand he keep you close. Even if he hates it at the time. "

  Shed been as good as abducted again. From the witches clutches to the Lykaes.

  As her situation sank in, Chloe repeated to herself, Rub some dirt on it, rub some dirt on it. But this was so far beyond the realm of Im just happy to be here.

  Some things she knew for certain?

  She couldnt change what she was, so to be punished for it by that werewolf wasnt happening.

  Shed be planning to escape as soon as possible. In the meantime, she didnt have to live by their rules at ye olde compound.

  She refused to be afraid of MacRieve. All her life, shed faced bigger opponents. When theyd attacked, barreling down upon her on a field, shed trained herself to stand her ground. Once shed mastered that, shed trained herself to strike back. Shed marched into myriad stadiums all over the world, turning herself into a fucking gladiator. Even knowing what horror roiled inside MacRieve, Chloe would not falter.

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