Shadow Games

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Chapter 10

Serina grew impatient as she watched Alec pace back and forth. He’d not been able to reach his brethren. Apparently many were too busy to answer their general’s summons.

“I thought you were their leader.” Serina muttered bitterly and refused to look at him as his footsteps faltered. She could feel his eyes on her. Could feel the path they burned across her skin. Silently she damned her body for the heat that bloomed low in her abdomen. Unfazed, but not unaware of her reaction, Alec strolled lazily to the able between them. They hadn’t left when everyone else had retired either to do research, unwind or what ever they were doing at a time like this. Edie and Scarlet held a silent vigil at Vin’s side. James left discussing family business with Blinx and Patrick. That had left Serina and Alec to their own devices. While under other circumstances that would have been just fine, at the moment it felt awkward. The silence was full of tension whether it was sexual or from the stress of the day. It was a toss up really, Serina couldn’t focus on one or the other for any significant amount of time to settle on one.

“Don’t sulk, the expression doesn’t suit you.” He murmured as he rested his fingertips lightly on the tabled and she refused to look at him.

“I’m not sulking.” Serina huffed as she moodily flipped her hair back, finally caving into her body. It was a mistake and inwardly she cursed herself. Alec wore his cocky half smirk and she gasped a short breath.

“You’re not very patient, are you?” He asked as he turned to sit with one leg resting on the table. He slowly folded his hands and rested them on his lap. It was Serina’s turn to smirk.

“I can admit I have become more impatient over the last few years. Hazard of being on a mission I guess.” She shrugged as she leaned forward, her eyes turned up to meet his.

“Ah, your elusive mission. I’m guessing someone to do with all this has to do with what you’re after?”

Serina’s gaze drifted before she shrugged again.

“Maybe, maybe not.” She said playing at being coy but it came out snarky. Alec’s expression never wavered but he leaned forward, moving his face closer to hers. Serina stood forcing him to move if only to keep the same distance. Turning her back on him felt like a little victory. Proving she could turn from temptation. It didn’t last. However, she lifted herself to sit on the table then spun again until her feet dangled on the same side as his. The entire time she’d been turned from him he’d watched her, an amused expression barely breaking through his hooded gaze. Crossing her legs, Serina leaned back on her hands and her lips twitched in a half smile. Without warning Alec stood and placed his hands on either side of her, his face a mere breath from hers. An unmistakable emotion burned in his blank eyes, lust. She didn’t move as he raised a hand and gently moved her hair back from her shoulder. The warmth that had simmered spread rapidly and an involuntary shiver shook her.

Alec’s smirk was brief as he bent to kiss her neck. Serina drew in a short gasp as heat flared inside her. She tilted her head to allow him to trail his magma fueled kisses up to her jaw. There he stopped, his nose moving along it. He paused before chuckling quietly.

“How long has it been?” He murmured as a he traced a hand across her stomach and her muscles clenched. Serina couldn’t think. She couldn’t make sense of words or language, only the feel of him.

“Years...” She breathed and again their eyes met. This time his eyes weren’t only lust filled, she could see his confidence and determination. Alec had never been turned down and he didn’t expect to be now. A part of Serina toyed with the idea of leaving him hanging. The thought was too quiet and her body again betrayed her, screaming at her. It told her that she wanted him, needed him. If only for the moment.

This time she didn’t wait for his move. Her hands came up to tangle in his hair and she kissed him with all the fire she felt burning through her. To her surprise, Alec was the one to gasp this time. Whether it was in shock or a sudden flame of his own, she didn’t know or care. As she didn’t care when his hands moved over her body, removing clothes as they went. Finally hers left the silky mess of shock white hair and did the same for him. Serina laughed as the cuff of his pants stuck on his foot and he tripped. Catching himself, Alec grinned and pulled Serina to him. Sitting on the edge of the table she looked up at him. The minor bit of comedy had sobered them both. It was no longer a headlong rush into satisfaction, it was now an act acknowledging and addressing what was between them.

Serina ran her fingertips down his bare chest, watching as goosebumps sprang up in their wake, barely visible beneath the dark skin and tattoos. Alec had positioned himself so he stood between her knees then stopped. The fact he was holding back looked almost painful but he rested his hands on her thighs and watched her. The contrast of their skin amazed Serina but again it was a small voice compared to rushing of emotions that were raging through her. In that moment Serina needed him, she needed him to be possibility, a catalyst to rekindle something in her that she’d figured long dead. Alec had sparked a hope in her that she’d thought lost.

The moment finally came where he couldn’t hold himself back any longer and moved forward. He lifted her easily onto him and she wrapped her legs around him. When he began to move inside her there was nothing. No more pain or lust or joy, only the raw feel of the fire building higher between them making her muscles tighten in all the right places. She could feel his lips and hands move over her body as he never skipped a beat in his motion. His breathing became ragged and she met his eyes again. Alec was intense any day of the week it seemed but even more so now. His ghostly depths glowed and Serina felt like he was looking into her soul rather than at her body. Again her body tightened and she flung her head back as Alec picked up his pace until she could no longer contain the fire that had been building inside her. With an arch of her back she cried out, feeling herself shatter. Wave after wave came crashing down on her and Alec followed shortly after. Serina clung to him as if he might keep her from falling apart. Their heavy breathing was the only noise left to echo around the big room and Serina watched as Alec closed his eyes, then laid his forehead on her shoulder. His arms tightened around her waist and she gently ran her fingers up and down his back.

“Well... that was an interesting turn of events.” Serina murmured and Alec chuckled as he held her close.

Serina took her time feeling the smoothness of his skin on hers, she breathed in the smell of him. She was enjoying every aspect of him while she could, committing it to memory, something she’d begun doing for everyone in her life. Maybe not quite the same way but it was effective.

“We should collect ourselves.” She murmured with a soft kiss to the top of his head as she nuzzled his hair. As she pulled back from him Alec’s arms tightened around her and he growled playfully.

“Why?” He whined again toying with her and lifted his head to look at her.

“Because we are currently resting on my father’s conference table... naked I might add.”

Humor drained from his eyes and his expression became stony as he dropped his arms and stood back.

“So? It’s not like it would be the first time someone has, knowing James.”

Alec muttered moodily as Serina raised an eyebrow and slid off the table. She thought to answer his attitude with her own but the urge died as soon as it occurred to her. Her lack of fight made her pause but Alec getting dressed brought her back to the present.

“You don’t like to enjoy yourself, do you?” He said absently as he pulled his pants on and buttoned them.

“Haven’t hand the chance.” She snapped as she snatched up her underthings and put them on clumsily. Alec faltered over his come back and his eyes focused behind her. Serina felt her cheeks flush before she turned to see who’d caught them.

She was standing in a very public room with very little clothes and she could already hear the jokes she knew Patrick would throw at her. But who she saw standing in the doorway made her frown. Serina couldn’t figure out why Wiloe had sought out Alec nor why she now looked furious. Nothing seemed to click so she simply stood there staring.

“Whore...” Wiloe spat, baring her small teeth, her pale cheeks glowing with anger. Serina opened her mouth to say something but she was cut off.

“Go back to our rooms.” Alec commanded, his tone dark. Wiloe’s eyes cut from Serina to Alec and her jaw tightened.

“So you can keep wasting our time here with... her.” She sputtered and Alec’s eyes tightened with anger again. The inflection in the small girl’s voice made anger flare in Serina and she turned, forgetting she hadn’t managed to get fully dressed and crossed her arms. Again she wasn’t able to respond in anger or otherwise.

“I said go... now.” He repeated dangerously and this time it made Wiloe bow her head. Some dark part of Serina made her smile at what it perceived as competition being put in her place. Before the smirk turned into more Serina turned and gathered her clothes, putting them on as the two stood silently. One waiting for obedience and the other defying it with every fiber of her being.

“Wiloe...” Alec murmured, his tone pleading this time.

“No.” She answered him but the quaver in her voice said she was losing the battle of wills.

“How could you?” Wiloe sniffed as her emotions got the better of her and Serina turned to see a battle of emotions flitting through Alec’s eyes. She was shocked to see guilt finally settle there. Serina felt her eyes prick suddenly with tears and as she blinked them back anger flared again. She wouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed, refused to.

“It’s...” Alec paused fearing the reaction his next words would get.

“It’s none of your business.” The intended callousness of the rebuke fell flat as his voice trailed off.

“None of my...?” Wiloe started but her outrage cut her words off. Her eyes flashed between Serina and Alec before settling on the former with a murderous glare.

“Fine.” She spat before spinning and storming from the room.

The room was unnaturally still as Alec lowered his head and stood motionless. Serina crossed and uncrossed her arms finally settling on hooking her thumbs in the back pockets of her jeans. The thrum of her anger started to slow as she watched him and finally the last embers died out as she shuffled her feet.

“What was that about.” Serina asked, her curiosity genuine. Alec didn’t respond or move and she thought he wasn’t going to answer her. He breathed a sigh and shook his head looking somehow deflated.

“A long and extremely complicated story.” He muttered before running his fingers through his hair and smoothing his hand over his face.

“For another time. I may need to do damage control.”

Serina dipped her head and listened to him leave the room without another word. She’d decided it wasn’t worth the headache to stop him and absentmindedly shuffled back to the table. The sound of the door swooshing open and then closing quietly barely caught her attention. She knew it wouldn’t be Alec coming back to her, someone else had to be returning. When no one spoke she turned as she swept her hair into a ponytail and recognized the figure in the door way.

“You’ve taken up voyeurism in your time away?” Serina shot a mock glare over her shoulder, a glint of humor flashing in her silver eyes. Vin leaned rather than stood against the closed door.

“What can I say? Being dead was boring, can’t blame me for wanting to absorb all aspects of what I’d missed.” He rolled his eyes to hide a wince as he pushed away from the door. Serina didn’t move, knowing he’d refuse any offer of help.

“So you really were watching?” She asked quietly as she hoped up, sitting on the table. She suddenly found her gaze riveted to the space just to the left of Vin’s head. She projected as much cool confidence as she could muster but a tinge of embarrassment threatened to make her blush.

“Nah.” Vin laughed. “Maybe accidentally heard a little, right before the little ankle biter barreled past me.” He winced as he brought a hand up to rub the back of his head.

“Yeah, she’s a bit of a trip.” She muttered and finally looked straight at him. It didn’t make her feel any better but those thoughts fled when she really looked at him. She felt her smile fall as she examined the still healing wounds.

“Vin...” Serina reached out as she slid from the table.

“I’m fine...” He assured her as he took a seat on the table next to where she’d been and again she slid into place next to him.

“So...” Vin glanced over, a small smile curling his lips. “You and Mr. Arrogant?”

Serina narrowed her eyes and toyed with the thought of punching him.

“Shut up.” She muttered instead.

“Don’t get me wrong... from what I hear you’ve been quite repressed lately. For years actually.”

“I’d really not like to think about that last time.” She whispered and Vin dipped his head.

“Understandable. So, why an angel of death? Trying to live dangerously? Or is toying with death just your thing now?” Vin’s voice had become hard as he asked. Obviously the jovial part of their conversation had drawn to a close and now it was time for the lecture.

Serina looked away keeping her lips in a tight line. She couldn’t answer his question because she honestly didn’t know the answer. She didn’t know why she had a fascination with Alec or why he’d had such an easy time getting under her skin. For so long her emotions had been on lock down and somehow he’d gotten a key. Or a lock pick. She thought with a sigh.

“Don’t like the topic change?” Vin asked quietly but the edge still tainted his words.

“I don’t know.” Serina admitted quietly. She hated that he could get answers that she wasn’t readily willing to give. Vin raised his eyebrows as he leaned back on his hands, staring at the ceiling.

“You don’t? Really?” The sarcasm was laid on a little thicker than the question warranted and Serina rolled her eyes.

“Yes really. I just don’t know, and trust me I’ve tried to figure it out. Maybe my subconscious has a death wish or wants to live dangerously but me, the me that’s here and now is clueless.”

Vin furrowed his eyebrows trying to makes sense of her logic.

Serina licked her lips as she thought how to explain it.

“He walked in and every emotion I’ve been avoiding for all this time…” She paused trying to think of the right words.

“…crashed in on me. All at once and with such force I felt like a teenager with a freakin crush.”

Vin barked a laugh with such force that it made her, not for the first time, question his stability.

“It’s like a kid with sugar. They have it regularly and it doesn’t bother them. But you get that one kid that’s never been allowed to have it and they go bonkers.”

“You really have lost it haven’t you?” Serina asked with one eyebrow quirked.

“That’s beside the point. Is it better to say that you’ve been emotionally dieting and you’re just now deciding to binge? I don’t know, pick an analogy. What I’m saying is that you’ve deprived yourself of something for so long that when you’re finally ready to put a toe into the shallow end of the kiddie pool, you end up diving into the deep end of an Olympic one.”

Serina stared at him in awe. Not for his skills as a wordsmith but at the fact that he could come up with theories that made no sense and perfect sense at the same time.

“So you’re saying, basically, that I’m over indulging in the first thing that gives me attention.” She said flatly.

“Exactly. We’ll leave out the fact that he’s an arrogant, self-centered ass hat for now.”

“He’s not that bad…” She interjected.

“Really?” He asked and honestly waited for an answer.

“Well… he’s not an ass hat. And he’s been actually kind of sweet to me.”

“Because….” Vin prompted and made a continue motion with his hand.

“Because…?” Serina questioned.

“I swear you’d think you were the one to lose your mind. Because you were a challenge. A mountain to climb… a race to win, whatever. You were shut off from the world, had taken no other lovers or whatever. For god’s sake you have a reputation for being unapproachable, dangerous even. He wanted you, engaged you and got what he came for… victory.”

Serina sputtered a denial flying to her lips but she paused. Had she really been that bad? She tried to think of the past three years but most of it was a dark blur. Serina had been lost in her own thoughts, her own darkness for most of it.

“Maybe.” She begrudgingly admitted.

“I’m pretty sure.” He nodded as he began to swing his feet.

“Whatever, crazy man.” She smiled and he returned it. It was nice to have a good, honest conversation without fear. She’d grown tired of the frightened looks or wary glances she got. She really had been completely lost in herself and in her vendetta. Somehow that stung her a bit, she felt selfish and horrified that she’d treated her family like outsiders to her life.

“Hey I only had a little temporary insanity…” His tone grew distant as his grin faded.

“A slip that will, once this mess is over, have me brooding and contemplating what I’ve done.” He murmured.

“Like we all haven’t been through that.” Serina said trying to lighten the mood but it felt more like a confession. They sat in silence, the only noise was the soft swish of Vin’s feet slowly moving through the air.

***

After having a few depressing moments in the conference room Vin had declared happy hour. This, according to him, was any hour he wanted as long as he declared it so. So the pair of them had moved to Serina’s study after pilfering one of James’ finer liquors and a couple of glasses. Serina sat with her legs stretched out and ankles crossed on the couch, her head resting against the arm. Vin reclined in the overstuffed chair and after removing his heavy boots, propped his feet on the low coffee table. Serina had draped an arm over her forehead as the other hand dangled over the edge of the couch, lightly holding the tumbler a bare inch above the floor. She decided this was the safest place for it, if she dropped it, it wouldn’t have far to fall. Crystal and its contents were safe from damage. Vin, while still looking battered, managed to look utterly relaxed for the first time since he’d come back. There was nothing like a good conversation with someone you trust implicitly to take the weight off your shoulders, at least for a little while.

“So what is up with the ankle biter?” Vin blurted out without moving from his comfy spot.

“Wiloe?”

“No the other one that lives under your couch.” He sighed with a chuckle.

“Smart ass.” She grinned as she lowered her arm from her face, leaving only little creases from the fabric of her shirt. “She’s his ward… apparently promised her mother that he’d take care of her. I think.”

“She’s in love with him.” Vin mused with a swirl of his glass.

“That’s obvious.” She agreed.

“I think there’s something there. He seems to drop a little of his arrogance with her.”

“How do you know that?” She glanced at him and considered getting up but then decided she was entirely too comfortable.

“When she nearly knocked me over he followed her out. It wasn’t too much anger showing, it was worry. Like he’d done something wrong, to offend her. He’s got a thing for the girl.”

“I think I’m mildly appalled by that. He basically raised her, he should be like a father figure to her.” Serina muttered, the truth of it making her stomach clench.

“When you live as long as we all do who keeps track of things like time and age?” He asked with a wiggle of his eyebrows.

“Or such annoyances as guardianship.” She laughed. “Maybe he is kind of an ass hat.” She grumbled into her glass as she took a sip and cringed as it burned all the way down.

“Oh, who could blame you for falling for that dark devilish charm? You were in lust with all those fun naughty feelings.”

She rolled her eyes and finally levered herself up and sat with her elbows resting on her knees.

“It was more than that.” She muttered, not entirely sure of the truth of it.

“I’m sure there was some animal instincts somewhere in there.” Vin scoffed as he downed the last few sips of his drink and slid the glass across the table. Serina’s cheeks warmed as she looked down into her own unfinished drink.

“There may have been a little something like that.” She admitted, embarrassed. Vin shrugged and laid his head back, the tightness in his shoulders eased as he sighed.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“What doesn’t matter?” Serina asked as she placed her own drink on the table.

“What we do in our private lives.” He added.

“And why doesn’t it matter?” She asked quietly and leaned back.

“Because we fight bigger evils than gossip.” He said flatly.

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