Dark skye, p.38
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       Dark Skye, p.38

         Part #15 of Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole
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Chapter 37

  For a brief second, Lanthe wondered if Thronos would ignore the interruption and keep going. Gazing at the intense hunger on his face, she could tell he was debating it. . . . But then protectiveness or propriety made him stop. With a surprisingly vile curse, Thronos pulled out. As he stood, he dragged Lanthe up as well, tucking her back against his front as his wings enfolded their bodies. Lanthe narrowed her eyes at the dark-haired female who’d come upon them. It was none other than Nïx the Ever-Knowing. “Why are you in Feveris, Nïx?” “Am I in Feveris? Are we?” Her voice was melodious, her amber eyes amused. She had a freaking bat perched on her shoulder. “What if we’re not?” “I’ve been here before and know what it looks like. ” Lanthe could hardly believe she’d just been caught beneath a Vrekener. Would Nïx tell Sabine? Stressing the words, Lanthe said, “Not to mention that we’ve been bespelled with unending desire. ” “Yet you two have no urge to do me?” Lanthe muttered, “Maybe a little. ” Nïx was a dish. “Hey!” Thronos yanked Lanthe closer. “Understandable. ” Nïx twirled her long hair. “You two get dressed, and then we’ll talk. ” When the Valkyrie turned from them, Lanthe eased around within the circle of Thronos’s wings to face him. “We were bespelled. ” They might not have been bespelled. “Of course,” he said solemnly. “We must have been. ” Otherwise, Lanthe had so very nearly let Thronos Talos claim her—during her most fertile time. And she’d been about to shove her hips up to get him inside her faster! If she got pregnant with a Vrekener’s baby . . . with his baby . . . His expression was inscrutable. Was he angry at himself for their offendments? “Of course,” he repeated. “The Valkyrie must be mistaken. ” “Uh-huh. ” Untruth. He released Lanthe so they could find their clothes. She darted for her necklace right away. The Valkyrie sauntered back to them as soon as Lanthe and Thronos were dressed. Nïx herself wore a T-shirt that read: I lost my heart on Immortal Island! Recalling how Nïx had helped Thronos, Lanthe narrowed her eyes. “You told him how to capture me. Why would you betray me?” “Did I?” “I’ve been running from him for centuries. ” Or she had been. Act like partners long enough . . . “Have you?” “Will you stop answering questions with questions?” “Will I?” “Ugh!” Lanthe wanted to strangle her! “You both have roles to fulfill. ” “What roles?” Thronos grated. Nïx waved her hand in an arc above her as she breathed, “Future ones!” Wait . . . immortal island? “You were on the Order’s prison island, weren’t you?” “Was I?” Nïx asked with a coy smile. “You talked to me when I was unconscious!” Lanthe flashed a look of realization. “You hit me in the face with a log!” “You dare accuse me of such a thing?!” Nïx snapped, her Valkyrie emotions producing lightning above. “Outrageous! I would never!” Then she abruptly frowned. “I might have hit you in the face with a log. ” “You talked to me about realms and fires. Why?” “You were in the mortal plane, then Pandemonia, now here, and soon . . . there. You really are the cutest wittle devilkin of a catalyst!” “Catalyst? You’ve been steering my portals! You—you rigged my subconscious. ” Hadn’t Lanthe felt like this journey was bigger than just her and Thronos? Had Nïx wanted them in Pandemonia to shake up those demons? To bring peace to hell? After all, what could those armies fight over now? Or did Nïx want the dainty keys Lanthe now wore? Not without a fight, Valkyrie. Nïx murmured, “In one realm, hurt. In one realm, leave. In one realm, cleave. In one realm, shine. ” Lanthe had hurt in Pandemonia, as if the festering wounds of the past had been sliced open. At last to heal? “So here, I’m supposed to leave?” Nïx smiled blankly. “What are you playing at, Valkyrie?” Thronos sounded like he was struggling not to lose his temper. He must be regretting their actions as much as Lanthe did. Ignoring him, Nïx asked Lanthe, “How’s your power coming, sorceress? You look at it as if it’s a pot that needs to be filled. When in fact, it’s a muscle that has been flexed very little. ” This news was exciting! “So the more I use it, the stronger it’ll be?” “Use, use, rest. Use, use, use, rest. Use, use, use, use, rest—” “I get it!” To Thronos, the Valkyrie said, “How did you like your vacay in Pandemonia? Glad you saved up sick days? Did you feel all . . . liberated? And swagger-y? I bet that plane made your soft parts tingle. ” “Once and for all, tell me, woman: Are Vrekeners demons?” “Tell me, man: Does it matter?” she said with a roll of her eyes. “Yes! Absolutely. Are we a demonarchy?” “What would be the difference between your life now versus if you were a demon? You’d be able to trace. Big deal. ” Lanthe could sense his steep disappointment. Because he still didn’t have the conclusive answers he sought? Or because Nïx hadn’t denied Vrekeners were demons? “I’ll make you a deal, Thronos,” the Valkyrie said. “I’ll tell you where you really are if your mate stores something for me. ” “Stores what?” Lanthe didn’t even have a bag with her. Nïx plucked up a curl of her lustrous dark hair, peering down at it. “This is the one, you know. ” Lanthe didn’t know. “Which one?” “The one that enslaves all the Valkyries. The tipping point with the Scourge. ” “Okay,” Lanthe said slowly. “Your hair enslaves?” She turned to Thronos, as if he could make sense of Nïx’s ramblings. The Valkyrie nodded. “Quite. ” Baring her foreclaw, she sliced off the curl, then glanced around, muttering, “What to tie it with?” She beamed at the bat, who now had a length of string in its creepy little maw. “Why thank you, Bertil!” Nïx tied the end of the curl tight, handing it to Lanthe. “In your pocket, if you please. ” Lanthe patted down her outfit. “I don’t have a pock—” Sure enough, there was a concealed pocket in one of the leather bands of her skirt. “Okay, give it over. ” “I’m ready for an explanation, soothsayer,” Thronos told Nïx. “Melanthe and I both felt the influence of this place; there was no denying it. ” The Valkyrie’s eyes flashed like her lightning. “Or maybe you two simply wanted an excuse to have each other. Here, you were able to get around your premarital sex rule. Here, Lanthe reasoned that you couldn’t think badly of her because she would have no control over her actions. ” “Then where are we?” Thronos demanded. A sudden rank smell wafted over Lanthe, like . . . vomit. Where had that come from? “Very well. I’ll tell Thronos alone. ” Nïx sauntered up to him, standing on tiptoe. When he leaned down to accommodate her, putting their faces close together, a spike of irritation hit Lanthe. Jealousy? No, of course not. Still, she pointed out, “Hey, I’m part of this too!” Whatever Nïx was whispering made Thronos’s eyes widen. When she’d finished, he straightened, looking paler than Lanthe had ever seen him. His scars whitened. Nïx turned to her. “As much as I’d like to stay and discuss my plans for the Accession—hint: there will be wearable party favors!—I have a meeting that was penciled in one hundred and twenty-five years ago. Do take care with my lock, Lanthe. ” Then the Valkyrie gazed up at the sky, her eyes swirling like mercury. A split second later, a bolt of lightning struck her. When the smoke cleared and their eyes readjusted, Nïx was gone. Loreans had long wondered how Nïx traveled the world(s). Lightning bolts. Who knew? Thronos hastened to Lanthe, grabbing her shoulders. “What’s going on?” She winced as that pain in her side flared up again. She began to feel more burns up and down her legs. “You need to wake up with me. ” “What is wrong with you? I’m not asleep. ” She glanced past him. Had the fields of flowers wavered? Her nose was now burning with that ghastly smell. His hands tightened on her. “None of this is real. It’s a shared hallucination—so that we don’t fight our captivity. ” “Captivity?” “That last portal took us to . . . to a treacherous place. Into the belly of a beast. It will want to keep us—immortals are a source of constantly replenishing nourishment—but we’re going to fight. ” Was he saying she was something’s food? One of her worst fears. “Y-you’re scaring me. ” “I’ll get you free, but you’ll have to create a portal directly after, or we’ll be drugged and trapped once more. ” “This isn’t funny!” In a gallows tone, he said, “No, Lanthe. It isn’t. ”

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