“Maybe it is you I am looking for?”
“Do not toy with me, Equan Black. I do not like it.” I did not know where this bravery was coming from. Stupidity?
Being fed up with being a captive in the hotel? That was a strong possibility.
Being powerless? That was a feeling I have had far too often lately.
My gaze landed on the scar bisecting his face. He would understand that.
I had heard Theo say Taniss had kept Equan Black for weeks thirty years ago. While he tortured and killed the Equan’s brother and young sister.
I can only imagine the horror.
Compassion had me acting a bit bolder than I probably should have. I stood.
I wasn’t lost to exactly what I was wearing, either. It was warm in my suite, I wore nothing more substantial than polyster short pajamas in Woald yellow.
And I had lost the elastic at the end of my braid.
My ridicuously wild hair was all over the place. I pushed it aside quickly. His eyes watched me, then darkened. His face tightened.
“You are quite a breathtaking looking little creature, aren’t you? I don’t remember you being quite so alluring those days in Theo’s office when our paths would cross. Too bad. But then again…I have heard of your remarkable…change.”
He stood. Towered over me. He was far more formidable than Tol or Wiac, or every one of those Jareth brothers.
Then his hands were around my waist. Holding me still. At least I think it was his hands keeping me from moving—it might have been the power thrumming around us. One hand trailed up, to tangle in my hair. He tilted my head back.
I thought about protesting but…well…I just couldn’t.
There was something about the male’s eyes that prevented me from moving even a muscle.
Pain. Longing. For something I did understand.
Connection to another being. That’s all it was.
A longing to matter to someone. If only for a moment.
I whispered the male’s name, my hands on his broad chest.
His other hand came up to brush against my lips. “Were it even just four months ago, I would have amused myself with you. But now…now, I cannot. Who knew a female with wild curls, foolish bravery, and a too-sweet soul would be enough to captivate me now.”
He stepped back, almost reluctantly. Or so I’d like to think.
I am not exactly a femme fatale. Or a demon temptress. Or a more base enchantress like some of the Caeruleus Fae are known to be.
I am just me, Jume, after all.
“Stay out of this business of Evalanedea. It is far too dangerous. You and Boltier’s green-eyed little whelp are not powerful enough, nor strong enough, to fight those involved in this.”
“My people were said to be Evalanedean. Not Dardaptoan. The Woald legends…” I looked to where my notes had been neatly spread out over my small desk. In rows I most definitely had not arranged them in.
“Some say they are mere myth, little kitten.” He was still standing so close…
In that moment, if I was type of female to have random affairs, I would have actually considered something more with this male.
I was feeling something from him now. Something he probably didn’t even realize he was feeling.
So deep that very few others could ever understand it.
“I do not believe they are. My-my-my mother told me they were real. And that…that…that…one day, our world would know it.” And that I was to be brave if Evalanedea ever came to me.
That I would be well.
That the goddess would always protect me in the end. Because I am Woald.
Well, I’ve told you my feelings about the goddess before.
“See to it that you are not the one to bring that news.” I thought he was going to go, then.
He moved quickly.
His hands cupped my cheeks. And he pressed his lips to mine. Just for one lightning fast moment.
When he pulled back, he had a mocking smile on his lips. “That answers my question. Yes, had I stumbled into your little adventure even a mere four months ago, before those damned Tanisses and Boltiers invaded this place, we…would have enjoyed each other.”
“S-s-sure of yourself, aren’t you?”
I have known of this male for fifty years. I had served him coffee and cookies on many occasions. Yet now he noticed I am alive? Why?
Had that much about me changed?
“At my age, you’d better believe it. Stay out of this, girl. The house of Black. It is filled with some seriously dangerous assholes. And I am cleaning house.”
“Like Olietus?” This was that evil male’s cousin. And surely Theo had told him of what Olietus had tried to do.
“What about that little shit? I heard he is in Texas now.”
“But will he return and try to kill me again?”
His face darkened. His hands tightened. When had they slipped around my waist? I found myself pulled right into his hard chest. I just gawked up at him like an idiot. “Tell me exactly what you mean, kitten. Everything.”
“Because this is the first I’ve heard of it.”
I just stared at him. This was the head of the Black House. “Didn’t Theo and Cormac tell you?”