Others of Edenton: Book 5
Copyright 2014 Brandy L Rivers
His head throbbed in sync with the sound of his phone buzzing out of reach. Preston cracked one eye open to find her elegant face relaxed in peaceful slumber.
Slivers of memory floated through his mind. Toryn’s party. Dacia throwing herself at him. Then it went fuzzy, other than flashes of explosive sex.
He regretted his temporary lack of memory, which he hoped would be restored once the hangover abated. The unrelenting metallic vibration started again, and he sat up to take a look at his surroundings.
Last time he was here, everything had ended in disaster. He nearly died at her hands, though she wasn’t in charge of them, thanks to a shadow fae taking possession of her body. Then Amethyst, the woman he’d been trying not to love healed him, shattering the dam of pent-up emotion he had walled off so long he nearly drowned in the ensuing rush. Jamie, who knew their relationship was over before he did, ended things that night. At least Amethyst and Jamie had found their soulmates, even if he was left behind.
He wasn’t sure Dacia was his forever, but he wanted to find out. If she’d let him. There was definitely a spark between them.
Insistent buzzing from his phone jerked Preston back to the here and now. He spotted his pants hanging from a chair. His shirt was on a bed post. Dacia’s dress lay on the floor in at least two separate pieces.
Must have been in a hurry. A stupid grin spread on his face as he remembered Dacia screaming out his name.
Shaking off a wave of desire, he got up to grab his phone and found a list of texts and missed calls from Robert.
The texts were nagging him about what he’d learned, and trouble with the fae. He scrubbed a hand over his face and tried to remember what Robert was referring to.
What the hell? I never forget anything—not even when I want to.
He sat on the bed and Dacia curled around him in her sleep. A slow smile reappeared on his lips as her satin skin caressed his.
Looking down, he saw her, the real her, without makeup or glamour. She didn’t need any artificial shit. Dacia looked a lot like her aunt, the queen of the Air Kingdom in Faerie. Unfortunately, her piece of shit, twisted-as-a-Twizzler-stick father was still at large after being caught conspiring against the queen, plotting unthinkable acts against his niece, and torturing women. Yup, inter-dimensional scumbag.
Dacia had a few issues, but deep down she was a tough woman dealing with a fucked-up family, much like him. She was so used to disappointment she’d built a fortress around herself, and had recently developed an annoying habit of bolting rather than risk being disappointed. Sooner or later he would scale the walls and sneak inside.
Maybe last night he had. Maybe. But he couldn’t remember much—certainly not enough.
“You’re still here,” she murmured sleepily, hope shining in her eyes.
“I told you, and I’ll keep telling you, it’s you I want to get to know, you I want to please, only you.” He brushed his knuckle down the faint scar on her cheek. The line ran from just below the inner corner of her eye, down to the corner of her jaw.
She flinched away, covering that side of her face. The hope died as her gaze went stony. “Because you feel sorry for me. I don’t need your pity.”
“No, fuck, not because of that! Yes, I’m sorry I put the mark there. But listen closely, that scar isn’t what I see when I close my eyes. What I see is a feisty woman who holds my interest for a laundry list of reasons. I want to learn everything about you.”
“You keep touching it, kissing it. You pay too much attention to it. Even when I have my glamour in place.”
He did, but only because it was seriously hot. That might make him a freak but he was okay with that. He gave a sheepish shrug, and tried for an innocent tone. “You don’t want to hear my reason.” She was too vain to appreciate his point of view.
Her eyes flashed with anger as she ghosted out of bed. She materialized a few feet in front of him with her hands on her hips. “Because you feel guilty for making me ugly!”
And damn him, but Dacia pissed off made him hard as adamantium. He rose to his feet, pointing to his cock that stood at attention, wanting nothing more than to be buried to the hilt in her heat. “Does it look like I feel sorry for you? Or maybe that I don’t like what I see? Trust me, Minx, I want you any way I can get you. This,” he gripped his length and her gaze followed his hand as she hungrily watched the slow stroke, “should be a significant indicator that you—scar included—are more than sexy. I can’t stop imagining your taste, the feel of your nails in my skin, the way you wrap around me. This is what you do to me.”
He blinked and she was gone. Then he was shoved onto the mattress and she was over him, sliding onto his thick length as her mouth closed over his, taking what she wanted. Borderline punishing, her nails cut past skin as she rode him hard. Tears fell on his chest.
Grabbing her face, he rolled them over, gentling the pace while he dried her tears. “Don’t cry, Dacia. I’m not giving you a reason to cry. I want your pleasure, your desire, I want us, but I don’t want to be the reason you cry,” he promised as he thrust into her slowly.
Her big onyx eyes bored into his. “Why?” she whispered. “No, don’t answer.” Dacia flipped them over, pushing her pace harder, faster. Her mouth meshed with his, their tongues dancing.
He was right there on the edge, trying to hold back, when her core started to ripple around him. They both cried out as flames danced over them and everything in the room was picked up in the whirlwind that surrounded her bed.
A rush of excitement, desire, and panic shot through them as he tried to pull her closer but she phased out as the fires faded and her belongings fell around him.
Stunned, Preston lay there, wracking his brain for an explanation, but the pounding in his head renewed with force.
He felt her, floating in the room. Her eyes burned a brand into him. “Dacia, please talk to me.”
* * * *
Dacia couldn’t catch her breath. Without form she shouldn’t need air. Yet, she felt dizzy and was burning up.
His fire smoldered through her, as if she were solid. He wasn’t fae, which made the mate bond thrumming through her even more inconceivable. Mages and half-fae didn’t bond. Unless… no…
She would have sensed that. Wouldn’t she? What did she really know about the mage? Well, besides his delicious body and the way her heart wanted to believe him.
“Dacia, please talk to me.” It was a tender plea, filled with as much confusion as she felt.
Preston sat up, scooting to the edge of the bed with his shoulders slumped. “I get it. I’m not the man you would choose.” He sighed and pushed his fingers through his hair. One corner of his mouth curved as he looked in her direction. “Though, I think you ought to give me a chance. The cosmos seems to think we’re meant for each other. Does it hurt to try?”
A good point. Unless he knew a way to fake a bond. He was a mage, after all.
Preston groaned, scrubbing both hands over his face. “What do I have to do to prove I’m sincere? Give me that much at least. I’m not claiming undying love. I’m claiming genuine interest in an infuriating woman. A woman I can’t stop thinking about. I want to know you, Dacia.”
No tears he’d requested, but more wanted to fall. She held them back and materialized before him.
Preston captured her hands, drawing her closer, then settled his hands on her waist.
Unable to accept his sincerity, she demanded, “First, how?”
“How the fuck did you fake the bond?”
One corner of his mouth lifted. “Want to know a secret?”
“What the f—” she started at the top of her lungs.
He stood, covering her mouth. “I’m half-fae. Only daddy doesn’t know about me.”
“If you say my father—”
His expression twisted in disgust. “If he were, I wouldn’t be here. My father’s a fire fae, not air. So chill. Where do you think the flames came from?”
“That’s the million dollar question. You’re a mage, and fire is your element.”
“I’m fae. Whether you want to believe it, or not, I’m fae. Well, half. Like you.” A cocky smile flirted across his lips.
She shoved at his chest with a sneer. “You’re full of shit. The Silver Council would never accept you if they knew.”
“They don’t. Not even my oldest friend knows. So, please, don’t tell anyone.”
“Why are you trusting me?” she balked.
“When the shock wears off, it’s the only answer. I’m hoping my honesty will gain your trust.”
“Why?” she demanded.
“Damn, you’re infuriating, woman. I’ve already proved I got it bad for you. What do I have to do to convince you I want more than sex?”
“I don’t know,” she cried.
* * * *
Her phone rang. Her father’s tone. As much as Preston wanted to ask, he held his tongue. He could get the information another way. Hopefully the restraint proved something to her.
“Should I leave?” he asked casually.
Dacia crossed her arms over her chest with a huff. “I’m not answering. I refuse to help him.”
While he believed Dacia, he had to wonder how much she knew about her father’s situation. Like the fact he was wanted for treason and an encyclopedia-length list of crimes against women. Or the fact that, last he heard, Remus was near-death when he escaped.
Then his phone started up again. He sighed. “I should probably find out what has Robert’s panties in a wad. He’s never this persistent.”
“Go ahead. I need a shower.”
“I’d rather join you.”
“Look, I’m beginning to believe you. But I still need time to think. Without you clogging up my head. So you go to work, or whatever. Let me decompress. Tonight you can take me out.”
Preston pushed his fingers through his hair. “I’ll call you once I find out what I’m doing today. If I’m on assignment, I may not be able to take you out.”
She chewed her lip a moment. “You’ll call either way?”
“I will. I want to see you tonight. We’ll figure something out.”
Nodding, she turned and shut herself in the bathroom.
* * * *
Preston pulled his clothes on, snagged his phone, and left Dacia’s house. He climbed into his Maserati and pressed his fingers against his temples in a futile attempt to subdue the migraine.
Whatever was going on, he was lost, and he hoped Robert might have answers. Without checking the messages or texts, he called his oldest friend.
“About time,” Robert answered.
“Sorry. It’s been a crazy morning.”
“Where are you?” he asked urgently. That tone meant Robert planned to translocate his happy ass to wherever they needed to be.
“Fuck me. I’ll warn you now, I’m hung-over. Hurling on you is a definite possibility if you zap me around.”
“I’ll take that chance. We need you. Before our fae counterparts break the treaty they’ve yet to sign and hunt Remus down themselves.”
“I could drive to Seattle to meet with Toryn Flame.”
“Where are you, exactly?”
“Three blocks from my place.”
“Meet me there. You can drive. You do sound like hell.”
“Thanks.” He plugged his phone in and drove to meet Robert.
* * * *
Dacia stood in her bathroom until Preston left. She believed he wanted her and not information on her father. But she was scared to death she was wrong. On impulse, she made a rash decision to follow him.
Skipping the shower, she phased out, taking up residence in the Maserati without materializing. She only heard one side of the phone conversation, but the name Toryn Flame caught her attention.
Dacia knew Preston was working on finding her father. However, he hadn’t asked about Remus for over a week. Then, out of nowhere, he asked to take her to her cousin’s place for a housewarming party she reluctantly agreed to attend.
Amazingly, not one person asked about her father when they probably should have.
Which was why she decided to give in to temptation in the first place. She needed to know if Preston was for real, and the best way was to let him closer to see what he would do. What’s the saying? Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. She was beginning to believe he wasn’t an enemy.
The bond was a surprise. Remus had told her half-fae couldn’t bond, though she honestly didn’t know if that was true. Her father filled her with so many twisted truths and prejudiced beliefs, it was hard to know what to believe.
Preston parked his car in front of his apartment and Robert appeared in the seat next to him. Robert’s pale brow arched as he looked over. “You look like hell.”
“I warned you. I’m hung-over.”
“Should I drive?”
“Fuck you. I like this car.” Preston pulled back onto the street and pushed the pedal to the metal. “What the hell did I miss?”
“For starters, Toryn wants an update, but claims they are ready to sign the treaty if they are satisfied with your conversation.”
Preston massaged the back of his neck with a grumble. “I’m working on getting information. At least they’re cooperating.”
“What happened last night? Why are you in this state? I don’t remember you ever drinking enough to leave you incapacitated.”
“Yes, honestly,” Robert replied with narrowed eyes as his hand wrapped around the door handle in a death grip.
Preston’s attention shifted back to the road. “I think someone slipped something into my drink at Toryn’s party.”
Dacia almost materialized to beat him upside the head, or worse. His lack of memory cut deep.
Robert snorted. “Dacia? You took her to the party. Are you sure it wasn’t her?”
Preston’s hands tightened on the steering wheel. He didn’t hesitate and there was heat in his voice. “No. It wasn’t her. I know it wasn’t her. I wish I remembered more of last night.” Regret laced the last words.
Robert’s brow arched. “How are you so certain?”
“I was with her all night. I don’t believe she would drug me, and then seduce me with the way she wants to believe what I feel is real.”
“What do you feel?” Dacia smiled as Robert spoke the words on her mind.
“I’m not ready to define it. I want her. There’s something powerful between us, but she’s making it really damned hard with the way she runs hot and cold.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “Doesn’t matter, I want her so damned bad I’ll endure it. I need to explore what we share.”
Robert shook his head. “You sure you aren’t simply ready to settle down and she’s the first woman available?”
“It’s not that. If it was that simple, I would have already moved on. You know me, I don’t stay and fight for a woman who doesn’t want me. Dacia’s pretty damned insistent about shoving me away. I need to figure out how to convince her to give me a real chance.”
In that honest moment, Preston did convince her. He wasn’t using her for information, and he could have. She travelled back home before they made the freeway.