FOREVER KNIGHTS: #14 Broken Birds

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Things Which Thrive In the Light

The cave rumbled and torches flickered.

She saw him in the clearing of trees near a canyon. Heard the horrible snapping of bones and saw his shoulders jerk as he spasmed roughly on the ground.

His pants tore from hem to waist and a scaled leg erupted. His arms turned black and lengthened. His back arched and spine realigned. He was shouting in pain. His roar shook the ground and a black tail unrolled out to flip behind him.

Rising to his full height he skimmed the tops of trees. Shaking his head rapidly tossed away the last remnants of humanity.

Nora gave a bloodcurdling scream at the images and jerked her arm from his grip. Looking at him now she saw only the face of the man. Deragan. Shaking all over she clawed for her composure.

She panted heavily and took every ounce of his will to ignore the heave of her supple breasts beneath the soft fabric of her t-shirt. She blinked those long dark lashes as she scrambled for words. He heard her heartbeat fluttering in terror. Sensing it he willed its beat to slow, to calm her. It responded and in moments she could breathe again. Strangely calm.

“I’m sorry for scaring you. I just want you to understand everything. You should not have to question anything any longer. Least of all your sanity. Radix Malorum is coming for you. He always does. You’re the queen piece in our endless game of chess. A powerful weapon for either side.

“Radix wears gray with white fur on the neck and bottom.”

Deragan gave an acknowledging nod.

She scowled. “Why’d he warn you about King Philip in the canyon?”

“He knew what we’d become.” Deragan said dispassionately. “Knew we’d be the only thing that could stop him.” Deragan caught one of her small hands and rubbed the back gently before bringing it to his lips and placing a tender kiss on her palm.

“It is you that Radix wants.”

“Me?” She whimpered.

“You are the key to everything. An eternity of peace...or war.”

She shook her head. “How-How do you know I’m the Fallen?”

“I’m certain.”

She drug her tongue over her lips. Unaware how seductive the movement was. Chin lifting her back straightened.

“How?” Her voice was dangerously soft.

He looked away from her. She was torn between being relieved at escaping the intensity of those eyes and bereft without it.

“The Fallen is my mate. My heart, soul and lover throughout eternity. I know her when I find her.” His words were reminiscent of something from one of her dreams.

“You expect me to buy that?” She gave a rough laugh. Meeting that unblinking gaze her laughter died.

“You want to tell me who I am. I’ll play.” Lifting a brow she circled him. Eyes roving his body she kept the hunger from showing there.

“You’re a leader. Impossibly sure of yourself and certainly arrogant enough. Yet you’re honorable, concerned...hungry for everything.” Pausing she studied his profile. “You think you’re irresistible.

His head spun. “To you.”

Shooting him a look made him face forward as she continued to prowl around him. “You’re proud. You see yourself as dangerous.” He gave her a blank look.

“You think you’re strong but you’ve been weak enough to lose everything.” A flash of anger flicked through his eyes and his lips tightened.

“You disagree?” She taunted.

“I’ve been strong when I had to make horrible sacrifices. I’ve given up everything and endured every moment of loss for it.”

“You deny being weak?” He winced at the word. “And a coward.” His face flushed. “You’re hot tempered.” She traced a finger over the back of his leather overcoat.

“Never with you.” He interjected his face already calm again. His eyes were deep with emotion.

“You think you know me.” She muttered skeptically.

His eyes narrowed. Dropping to her feet they moved slowly up her body. The same perusal she’d given him as she circled.

“Every part of you.” His voice trailed across her skin. Warm and cool at the same time it was irresistibly tempting. Turning smoothly he faced her, face lowering to be close to her.

Step faltering she stopped moving and had to catch her breath. “Who are you?”

“Deragan Black.” He enunciated the words. “King of the Aeternus Tutela.” He said it as simply as if ordering breakfast.

“And what do you want from me?”

“Everything.” He drew so close she felt his warm breath against her lips. Already her face was turning up in offering. “You can tip the scale of good and evil.”

“You’re going to use that cliché.”

He blinked patiently. “A battle has been waged from the shadows away from the eyes of man for centuries.”

“Forever Knights versus Cimmerii.”

“Yes.” He nodded. “You need to admit who you are if the races of light are to live."

“Races of light?”

“All things thriving in light. Did you think man was the only one?” His lips twitched in amusement.

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