Painted Scars (The Millennium Wolves 03)

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Chapter 7

I busied myself for the rest of the day touring around the Pack House and the rest of the city, healing the bruised, injured and sick, making sure some of the elders of the city were still somewhat kicking ass, before I returned to the Pack House at evening.

All day, I’d planned. I needed to find a way to stay true to my words, to actually make Shade fall for me. But throughout the day, I found myself regretting my ballsy statement a little. How could I do such a thing when many a woman tried and failed so miserably? Sure, I was his mate and not just some woman, but he had his unhealthy control over himself. What could I do to make him finally snap and let loose?

That wasn’t the worst of my thoughts. Insecurities born from years of feeling like the abomination my mother had called me gnawed at my emotions. Was I even good enough for someone like Shade, who was scarred so deep? Wasn’t I truly ugly from the inside?

But by the end of the day, as I made my way back to the Pack House, I decided that none of those notions mattered. I made a vow: To bring Shade to his knees. Whoever, whatever I might be, it had no say in this decision of mine. Insecurities were just the brain’s way to keep one in check, to make sure that some people wouldn’t be too vain. I could handle the situation, because I was strong enough.

And because a small voice whispered that Shade had suffered enough consequences of people who made promises and broke them.

So after I went to my room and freshened up, I began hunting my mate down. I wore my casual clothes, because my plan, the one I’d been working on all day, began with, obviously, Stage 1: Making Him Talk. Shade was not a talker, not by a long shot, but that would have to change first before I began truly seducing him. Besides, I suspected that sex would have to wait until much, much later. So no sex for me until I got the stupid Gamma to talk.

I found Shade sitting in the Dinning Hall, eating dinner with Zack, Claire, Miles and Zavier. Like usual, Shade was watching the other guys and Claire talking, his eyes as calculative as always and his mouth zipped shut. Claire was laughing at something Zavier said, while Zack scowled, two red spots blossoming on his cheeks. Miles, much like Shade, seemed to keep silent, and he was watching his food with eyes who really didn’t see anything.

I’d been trying to heal Miles after his mate died, but it was impossible. The only reason he was alive was that he didn’t mate her, and the knowledge that he would never have the chance to mate her... It was destroying him bit by bit with every day that passed. I wished he found another woman who could get him out of it, but no matter how some of the she-wolves in Lumen gathered the courage to try, he always snarled them away.

But while Miles was worrisome, I’d already done whatever I could. Now I had my own personal problem and I was going to deal with it now. Putting on a small smile, I entered the room fully and before anyone could say anything, I slid into the empty seat next to Shade. I felt him tensing next to me.

Zavier sent me a look, then his eyes darted from me to Shade and back like he couldn’t decide who was more intriguing. “Hey, Daze,” he said cautiously, as though afraid to do something that would piss Shade off.

But Shade’s face remained the mask of coolness, even though I noted more tension rolling of his body. He was doing a good job not to let everyone sense he was strung up tight so much, but since I was sitting right next to him, I could feel the waves of danger pouring off him. He was pissed off, but I had a hunch this feeling wasn’t aimed at Zavier at the moment. “Evening,” I said back to my beta, not taking my eyes off Shade’s now-fists-curled hands.

There was a short silence in which I felt the diners watching Shade and me hesitantly, before the chattering resumed. I kept quiet, glancing at Shade as I did, and saw him not even looking at me. He pretended to listen to whatever the others were talking about.

He was trying to give me the cold shoulder. I didn’t need to be a genius to figure this out. But I would make it very fucking difficult to ignore me. Smiling wickedly, I murmured so only he could hear, “I missed you today.”

His eyes remained on the others, but his shoulders were now taut. My smile widened and I leaned closer to him, not touching any part of him, just tilting my head enough so I could talk directly into his ear alone. “You’re not getting rid of me anytime soon, Shade,” I informed him in a soft murmur, “ignoring me wouldn’t do either. I’m the kind of girl who pushes and pushes until she’s not longer avoided.”

By now, he was so tensed, I was kind of surprised I didn’t hear a pop as one of his muscles snapped or something. He was also pretending to listen to the others now. I knew his attention was on me, whether he admitted it or not. My wolf felt his own wolf close to the surface, his aura circling me, warning me off, wanting me to back off.

But Shade underestimating my resolve only made me want to push him farther. “I really did miss you,” I lowered my voice, turning it husky. At the change of my tone, it appeared Shade could no longer ignore me completely and his eyes snapped to mine, furious. I didn’t dare smiling triumphantly at that. “Did you miss me too?” I asked and gave him my best doe-eyed look, although the hopefulness in it wasn’t exactly feigned.

He said nothing as he simply stared at me with a blank expression, but his eyes... His jungle eyes were firing at me, threatening me to keep my mouth shut. But I didn’t. I kept on pushing. “I want to hear you say it,” I told him, giving him a solemn look this time. “I want to hear you say that you missed me to.”

A few taut moments later, Shade whispered, voice barely audible, “Shut the fuck up, Luxford.”

His words cut, but my sense of fulfillment was greater, soothing the pain. He might only be whispering, but it indicated some loss of control. I smiled inwardly. “Why?” I demanded, not letting this go. “Why are you so bothered by the fact I was thinking about you all day and missed you?”

A low, quiet growl made his chest rumble and his eyes flashed, going neon-green. “Shut. Up.” His voice was louder now. Good.

Faintly, I noticed the conversation around us stopped. But I only focused on my mate. “Tell me why,” I said, daring him with my own wolf-blue eyes, “tell me why you’re so adamant I’ll shut up, when all I say is simply my feelings – “

I didn’t get the chance to finish my sentence when suddenly right next to Zavier, who sat before me, teleported Kimbringe. My words died in my mouth as everyone jumped to their feet, including Shade, and then calmed down when they saw him smiling and waving. I found myself staring at the Deity for a few stunned moments before I remembered my tasked and returned my gaze to Shade...

Who put himself under lockdown again, no apparent emotion on his face. Anger rose inside of me. I’d been so close to make him snap...

Kimbringe rose swiftly onto his feet. “Good evening, my friends,” he said, and smiled when Claire came over and gave him a hug. Chuckling, he hugged her back and looked to Zack with a nod. The Beta of the Millennium nodded back. “I’m sorry for coming unannounced like that, but I’m afraid there are some things we need to discuss.”

As if they heard him say it, Eve and Raphael entered the hall. Raphael growled at the Deity. “Next time you give us a call, make sure you teleport an hour later so we can prepare,” he snarled.

Eve put a hand on her mate’s shoulder. “Ignore his mood, even though he’s kind of right,” she said and then, with Raphael in tow, they sat down before Kim. “You told us it’s an emergency.”

Kimbringe nodded, his face suddenly grim. “My brother paid me a visit yesterday.”

“Ambrose?” Claire leaned forward, frowning. “But he doesn’t visit you more than once after a Season, right?”

The Deity nodded, and I noticed he looked tired. I saw him a few times in the past, and even though I wasn’t so closed to him, I felt my magic call to his. Kim was an Empath, you see, someone who could gauge emotions by a flicker of thought. I suspected he could heal people’s internal scars but he never said something of the sorts. Glancing at Shade momentarily and seeing his dangerous eyes on the Deity, I figured he would never let him try to do that anyway.

“Something happened in Logia,” Kimbringe said, referring to the “parallel” land that co-existed with Earth. He looked at Claire with sorrow in his eyes. “It involves the Demonomancer you’ve raised.”

Claire paled as she asked in a small voice, “What happened?”

Kim’s face turned even grimmer. “The Demonomancer found the portal from Midedge, where she’d been raised, to Mana. She took the Dark Kingdom from its previous ruler, and now she has power in her hands.”

Zack, Shade, Miles and Claire were the only ones who completely understood the impact of Kim’s words. Claire blanched, Zack seemed a little sick, Miles’s face darkened, and Shade was even tenser than before. Eve, who was as confused as I was, asked, “The Dark Kingdom?”

“The Dark Kingdom of Mana in Logia,” Kimbringe explained, “is a country full of, well, mana, the darker form of magic. There’s no sun in Mana, only night all day, and the entire place feel off. If the ruler of the place got her hands on the weird magic there, especially since the palace resides in the City of Stars...” Kimbringe seemed a little ill, too. “I’m afraid the Demonomancer would be able to become an evil being who can control mana and seek more power. She already gave herself an appropriate name for the task.”

“What are you talking about?” Claire asked, her voice barely audible. She looked terrified, and I could understand where she came from. She probably believed it to be her fault for raising the Demonomancer. And I guess it kind of was.

“She calls herself Sabina,” Kim said, disgust written on his face, “Sabina, in the old Logia, was the sister of Sahara, the other Deity who lives in Logia with Ambrose and who’s called the Queen and protects the portal between Logia and Earth.”

“If Sabina is the name of a Deity’s sister, then doesn’t it mean she’s a Deity?” Zack asked, looking grave. He tucked Claire closer to his side, as though having her closer would alter the foundation of the information. One could hope, I guess.

“No, it doesn’t,” Kim looked pained. “Sabina died before the Logia war, before the dragons gifted the Deities and all hell broke lose. She was a powerful magic-user of sorts, although even someone as old as I have trouble to locate exactly what her powers were.”

“To have some Demonomancer calling herself after a Deity...” Claire shuddered, and Zack hugged her even more tightly.

I didn’t feel like it was my place to intrude, but I wanted to ask the obvious question no one seemed to want to ask. “Isn’t there a chance that the Demonomancer is actually that Sabina herself?”

Kim looked at me, and much like with Dorian yesterday, he didn’t seem to notice me until now. His amber eyes seemed to sear mine as he studied me. “This Demonomancer,” he answered slowly, “cannot be Sabina for the sole reason that, when the original Sabina died, she died in a fire, her body burned beyond saving.”

I could understand what he was saying in this simple sentence. For Necromancers to raise the dead, they needed to have an intact body in order to bring the soul back into it, as Claire told me. There had been Tollier, the Necromancer who raised Claire and Chloe, and who managed to somehow raise Claire’s body from ashes, but only succeeded to do so after experiments he’d made in his past. The true Sabina’s body wasn’t just ashed, it probably burned to all kind of directions, and so there probably wasn’t a chance for Tollier to get his hands on those specific ashes.

Thank God this Necromancer was dead now.

Kim took his eyes off me and sighed as he rose. “I came here to tell you this and give you a warning,” he looked at Eve. “Vera said she saw something about the Demonomancer that might be related to your Snow. Also,” Kimbringe seemed to hesitate before saying, “Vera said she has a feeling someone is using your daughter for reasons she’s not aware of.”

Eve’s eyes turned purple at once, and the tension in the room shot up a notch. If you looked at everyone in here, you wouldn’t have assumed Eve was a threat. That was until she was as pissed off as she was right now. “Do you have any idea who uses her?” Eve inquired, voice low, threatening. Raphael, next to her, began to growl.

At that moment, Kimbringe eyes flickered to me and then back to Eve. He said nothing aloud, but I heard his voice. In my mind. I’d suggest you tell her yourself, once you’re ready, he said softly. And I’d also suggest, Daisy Rachel Luxford, that you tell me why I shall keep this a secret from now on until you do so.

I swallowed hard at that and I didn’t even bother with lies. I exchanged Snow’s blood in order to find more about the man who... who sired me.

And who that man might be? Kim probed.

But he had every right to do so. So I replied, Webb Montgomery.

At once, his entire body jerked. Everyone who watched the Deity seemed stunned when, all of a sudden, his face turned white with absolute terror. Drop this immediately, he warned, voice almost a bark in my head. Leave this subject. Don’t take Snow’s blood anymore. It’s dangerous. Don’t talk about that man.

“Kimbringe?” Eve snarled. “What’s going on with you?”

I remembered then that Eve could read minds at will. The last thing I needed was for he to overheard this particular, peculiar conversation. So I forced myself to think about anything but how Kim reacted right now.

Kimbringe said nothing for a few moments and when he spoke, I could see his face was still as white as sheet. “That’s it for now. I’ll keep in touch.” Then, before Eve could protest, he teleported away.

The dinning table flew all the way across the room as Eve looked with rage at all the people in the room. “Anyone of you looking at Snow the wrong way,” she hissed menacingly, “will have a word with me.”

“And me,” Raphael growled, eyes golden like the dark wolf within him.

Eve and the One True Alpha stormed out of the room. Claire was shaking and Zack, who hugged her tightly and murmured soft words to her, seemed to be out of balance as well. Miles slumped in his chair, staring blankly at the food, and Zavier pinched the bridge between his eyebrows, seeming to suffer from instant migraine.

I felt Shade’s eyes on me before I heard him speak. “Care to tell me why you’re using Snow?”

How did he figure it out when Kim barely even looked at me, I had no idea. But I knew now that my plan would have to wait a little bit, because if he was willing to talk about this kind of stuff, then I had to retreat. There were things best left silent.

So I rose from my seat and gave him a fake smile. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I lied to his face before I left the room, my heart booming in my chest.

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