Chapter 12

 H.M. Ward

  • Background:
  • Text Font:
  • Text Size:
  • Line Height:
  • Line Break Height:
  • Frame:
Kahli swallowed hard. Looking up at Will, she said firmly, fighting to control her voice, "I don't know what you mean."
Will stepped back. His dark gaze left hers, as he glanced at the floor, and then at his hands. This was insane. Even saying it sounded too surreal, but it was necessary before they returned to the palace. He breathed deeply and looked up at her. Their connection was weak. It needed to be stronger. They needed to douse the King's pull on her. No matter what he did, Will would lose her if the King got to Kahli and Will wasn't there to protect her. This request was like putting a piece of glass in the way. It was an invisible barrier that would shatter when pressed hard enough, but it would slow the King down, and that was all Will could hope for.
Will pressed his lips together, deciding that the best thing to do was to say it directly. He glanced up at Kahli, his heart hammering in his chest. "There's a rule forbidding vampires from drinking directly from humans. No single vampire can be pair-bonded to a single human. The Queen forbids it. It weakens the humans too quickly and there aren't many left who can endure a direct bite and live."
Kahli's chest rose and fell as he spoke. The room felt warmer than it was. What was he saying? She didn't want to leap to the conclusion. Shaking her head, she stiffened, folding her arms over her chest and squeezing tight. "Why are you telling me this? What rule do you want to break, Will? You've already had my blood and I had yours. We're bonded, which I'm pretty sure means you're dead if we don't kill the Queen."
Will smiled forlornly, but he didn't step toward her. "The King drank directly from you, but you haven't been bonded to him. Yet. He will force it on you, as soon as you're within reach. If that happens, Kahli - there's nothing I can do to save you. You'll be his."
She blanched as Will spoke. He tried to maintain eye contact, but she looked away. Kahli's fingers were clutching her arms so hard that her knuckles paled and turned as white as her bodysuit. Finally, she asked, "And if we break a rule, it can prevent that?" Will nodded. "What rule?"
"The same one the King broke."
Kahli's jaw twitched. "What are you saying?"
Will watched her from across the room. He didn't want to force her, but he felt like she was going to run. Or fight. He didn't want to fight her anymore. "We need to work together or we'll die. You do understand that, right? No matter which way this pile of crap tumbles, you and I are screwed." She nodded. There were too many people who knew of her, of her blood, and every one of them would kill Will to get to her. "If you let me drink directly from you, if my fangs pierce your neck, it will - "
She flinched, "What? Your fangs? You don't - " but before she could finish talking, she knew she was wrong. Her heart hammered against her ribs, as she watched his lips part.
He smiled at her again, but it was the kind of smile that hid heartbreak. "Bane were created to drain humans. Of course I have fangs. The Queen's edict keeps me from using them." As he spoke, Kahli could see his white eyeteeth extend. They were sharper than any wolf's fang, extending into a narrow, lethal point.
The hair on the back of her neck prickled. Will doesn't eat. He barely sleeps. He has fangs. Her jaw hung open. Shock and disgust swam across her face.
"Don't look at me like you didn't know what I was," he sounded offended. "You've known more than anyone from the beginning. I told you exactly what I was."
Kahli's hand was over her mouth. She tried not to breathe. She tried to sound rational and process his request. "How will biting me help?"
He stepped toward her, "It will diminish the King's claim on you. It was an incomplete bond. And..." his voice trailed off.
"And," Kahli prompted.
"And, it will permanently bond us. I'll be yours. You'll be able to hear me, feel me, and know without any doubt if my intentions are good or not. And you'll be mine. Another vampire cannot claim you, as long as I live." Kahli was breathing hard, staring at him. She couldn't have been more shocked, if he hit her in the face with a bear. "It's the best protection I can offer you."
"But you're a Bane," she finally spit out. "You can't do that. Can you?"
"I don't see why not. I can't say that I've ever tried, but I'm a mortal vampire. It stands to reason that I could claim you. It would weaken the King's hold on you. It would make it possible to kill Sophia and the King, without worrying about the King claiming you for himself."
Kahli shook her head slowly. "I can't. I can't give away the little freedom I have left." The way her eyes lingered on his mouth made him brave. Will walked toward her slowly, carefully.
"But, there are other rules you would break, aren't there?" He stopped in front of her and glanced down into her face. Kahli couldn't look away. Will captivated her, making every inch of her skin prickle, demanding his touch. His breath fell warm and soft on her lips, and she wished his lips were there. Kahli wished he'd press his mouth to hers. Will's hands lifted to her face, gently brushing against the smooth skin on her cheeks. "Tell me when to stop. Tell me where the line is and I won't cross it."
Will lowered his lips to hers, pressing gently. Kahli didn't move. She didn't pull away, she didn't speak. She stood perfectly still, feeling his mouth on hers. Will blinked slowly, feeling the floor of his stomach fall away, as he deepened the kiss, learning the curves of her mouth, tasting her. Kahli's heart pounded harder, but she didn't push him away. She let him kiss her, as her fingers twitched at her sides, wanting to tangle in his hair.
Will pulled Kahli closer, feeling her body press against his. His hands slipped down her bodysuit, feeling the curve of her narrow waist and full hips. "Should I stop?" he breathed, breaking the kiss. His sapphire eyes met hers. Kahli couldn't speak. She should say, Yes, but she couldn't. Her eyes locked on his, and she wanted his mouth on her, again. Kahli shook her head gently, and Will continued to kiss her until her knees buckled.
They were both breathing hard when Will stopped and scooped her up in his arms. He kissed the side of Kahli's face, trailing kisses down her neck. When she didn't say anything, he asked, "Is this the line?" He kissed her neck gently, barely pressing his lips to her skin, making her shiver.
Kahli's eyes felt heavy. She wanted to lose herself in him. She wanted everything he offered her, and more. When his fangs scraped down the side of her neck, she went rigid in his arms. It didn't matter that he covered her in kisses. It was a jarring reminder that she was human and he was not.
"Will, don't," she breathed. Her arm was around his neck, her fingers in his dark hair. They both froze, Will held onto her, refusing to release the moment.
"I won't," he answered, his voice ragged. "I'd never force you." He leaned his forehead against her cheek for a moment, before saying, "I never thought this would happen. I tried so hard to keep you away from them, to protect you, and I completely failed. And now this..." He set her down, but before he could step away, Kahli took his wrists.
"What about this?" When he didn't answer, she squeezed his hands and said, "Will, this isn't your fault."
"This is totally my fault. I was supposed to stay away. I was supposed to protect you. I was supposed to get you to your...," he trailed off. "I'm not supposed to keep you for myself." He pulled his hands away and rubbed his face. Looking at her, Will smiled softly, "You're not mine, but I wish you were. I can't hide it, not now that we've - " He turned form her, not finishing the thought. "I've made too many mistakes."
Kahli reached out and took his hand. Will glanced at their fingers, as she wove them together, and then pulled their hands up into her face. "I don't know what this is, but it isn't a mistake."
Will was looking into her eyes. The bottomless lakes of blue peered back at her unconvinced. Before he could say anything, her fingers lifted to touch his lips. She trailed the pad of her finger across his mouth slowly before saying, "Show me."
Will's response to her was automatic. His body knew what she meant, what she wanted. He tensed as his fangs descended in front of her. Lifting her finger, she touched a smooth white tooth, dragging her finger across the needle-sharp tip. Will closed his eyes as she did it, careful not to move. When Kahli was done, she placed her hands on the side of his face and turned him toward her.
"Why do you pretend to be human?" she asked sadly.
Will smiled wanly. "Why do you hate vampires?"
"They're not like you." She smiled at him like she meant it, like she wanted him to believe it.
"We're more alike than you realize," he said, looking away.
Kahli took his face in her hands and tilted it up so she could see his eyes, "The Bane may be, but you - Will Tatum - are not."
Will's breath caught in his throat. The way her hands felt on him, the way they brought his runes to life, burning beneath his skin was intoxicating. Kahli made him feel more alive, and more secure, than he'd ever felt in his entire life. It wasn't just her endless curves and bright hair - it was her wit, the way she made him laugh, and the way he felt whole around her. So much of him was gone. Will never thought he'd feel this much for one person. He wanted to protect her. Will wanted things for her, things he couldn't give. Kahli was everything he wanted and everything he couldn't have. Before he could do something stupid beyond repair, Will looked away. He forced the moment to shatter and Kahli's hands slipped from his cheeks. Her absence was felt at his core.