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What he would tell her was his present dilemma. The truth was out of the question.
Alexandra was already obsessed with finding a "cure" that would transform Kyn back into humans, and learning of Faryl's self-inflicted disease would only fan the fires of her determination. Michael had yet to tell her that even if she did find some treatment with which to reverse the process, the Kyn would summarily refuse it. Alex might still think of herself and them as human, but the Kyn had shed their humanity a long time ago.
His lover refused to accept a very basic fact: None of them wanted to be human again.
Except Alexandra, Michael thought, who would cure herself and condemn me to an eternity of loneliness.
He could use his talent to make her forget Faryl Paviere and his hopeless condition, finding a cure, or anything else he wished. Although like nearly all Kyn talent, Michael's only affected humans, Alex had never developed an immunity to it.
What that meant troubled Michael even more than Alex's dogged ambition to turn their world upside down.
She is not human, or Kyn. She is becoming something else.
The electronic gates outside La Fontaine, Michael's home and the heart of the New Orleans jardin, parted silently for Paviere's driver. When the chauffeur came to open the door for Michael, he said in French, "Seigneur, forgive me, but may I speak?"
Michael rarely conversed with another Kyn's human servant—away from their masters, they were to be seen and not heard—but he knew Faryl's actions had Paviere's entire household on edge. "What is it?"
"Master Gard is so distraught," the driver said. He was an older Creole, and his dark eyes looked as if they missed little. "Gard is a faithful son, you see, and would do anything for his family. No one knew Faryl was still alive. I would beg you to remember this in the days to come. He is… a desperate man."
He was upset, even terrified for his master. Such devotion was common among the Kyn, who had lived under feudal rule for seven centuries, but very rare in their modern human servants.
"I know." Michael rested a hand on the chauffeur's shoulder. "Your concern is a testimonial to the sort of man your master is. I assure you that I will attend to this matter with Faryl as quickly and as mercifully as I can. Go home, and do what you can to care for the family."
The driver bowed and departed.
Michael followed the long, manicured hedge of white tea roses that Alexandra kept threatening to dig up and replace with hibiscus to the square marble footstones leading to the front of the house. His roses served as camouflage for the rosy brick of the privacy wall surrounding the old Victorian mansion. A tresoran architect had traveled from England to design his home, which resembled a Victorian fantasy on the surface but served as a fortress underneath stucco-concealed casing stone.
Perhaps he should have commissioned something more dignified to suit his diminutive castle than the carved white marble fountain in the center of the fore yard. But Michael liked the sound of bubbling water, and as a boy had been very fond of sketching the fish that swam in the river on his parents' country estate.
So often now he longed for those days, when nothing was more important than sunlight, silence, and peace.
He sat on the edge of the fountain's enormous basin and looked up at the fountain's top piece, a pair of angel fish with their long, flowing fins entwined. Cella Evareaux had sculpted them for him out of a block of old ivory-and-gold marble she had brought back from Greece, and silently presented them as her tribute when he was made suzerain of New Orleans.
How can I thank you for this ? Michael remembered asking her.
Her reply had been identical to his own secret desire: Leave me to my art, my lord. Leave me in peace.
His growing awareness told him it would be midnight soon, and he looked up at his bedchamber window. Alexandra was up there waiting for him. The night and day did not have as much effect on her as it did Michael and the other Kyn. She would want answers he could not give her, reasons he dared not explain.
He had no choice but to make her forget Faryl Paviere.
Michael went into the house and up to his bedchamber. There he found Alexandra curled up asleep in their bed, swathed in one of the satin nightdresses he had given her, her fiery chestnut curls spread over his pillow. He stood watching her breathe, but when he reached out to rest his hand on her slim throat, her eyelids lifted.
A smile slowly curved her lips. "Hey, handsome."
He sat down beside her. "I didn't mean to disturb you."
"Then you should never have kidnapped me." She struggled up into a sitting position and pushed her hair away from her face. "You just get home?" When he nodded, she rubbed her eyes. "Gard all right?"
"As much as can be expected."
"Poor guy. What a shit thing to happen to his brother. I liked meeting Marcella, by the way." Alex rubbed her eyes. "I thought she might be as stuck-up as her brother, but she's all right, for a gorgeous, somewhat grouchy hermit artist."
"Cella prefers her solitude, and rarely speaks to anyone. You should feel flattered." He brought one of her small, clever hands to his lips. "When was the last time I told you how I love you?"
Her smooth brow furrowed. "You've never told me that."
"No?" His cock grew thick and heavy as he opened the front of her nightdress and exposed her small, pretty breasts. "I distinctly remember saying the words."
"Well, when I took a copper bolt in the chest for you that day in Chicago I think you mentioned it, but you were babbling a lot of nonsense." Her gaze shifted to the window. "What is it, about midnight? We'd better get busy if we want to get going before dawn."
"Indeed." He bent to kiss her, but she wriggled out from under him.
"You can have your wicked way with me on the jet," she assured him as she stood and walked to the armoire. "How many suits should I pack? And do you want all Armani, as usual, or should we be more daring this time and pack a few Calvin Kleins?"
"Pack." He thought she was jesting with him until he saw her remove two cases from the bottom and place them on the bed. "Where are we going?"
"To Florida," she said with exaggerated patience. "Faryl's on foot, as far as we know, right? We should be able to beat him to Lucan's place." She picked up her medical case and checked the contents. "I need time to make up some darts, in case he wants to pull a Thierry."
Michael went to the open suitcase and closed it. "We are not chasing after Faryl, Alexandra."
"Of course we are. The guy is in serious trouble. Parts of his body are falling off him." She looked up, exasperated. "You can play nice with Lucan long enough for me to tranquilize the guy and have Phillipe haul him back to the plane."
"Faryl is not like Thierry. What Faryl did to himself, he did deliberately." He reached for her throat, but she glided out of reach.
"Wait a minute." She breathed in, and outrage flared in her eyes. "You don't smell like that unless you're hunting or trying to use your talent. You want to lift my memories? After all we've—How fucking dare you?"
He shook his head. "It is better this way, ma belle. Let me help you."
"Help me what? Forget what I know about the Pavieres?" She glanced down at his erection. "I get it. You can't screw me into submission, so you'll mind-wipe me? Is that the deal here?"
"You can't save everyone," Michael shouted.
"Why the hell not?" she yelled back, and then her eyes narrowed. "What did Faryl do? What's going on? God damn it, Michael, you say you love me, then trust me enough to tell me."
All the anger drained out of him. He couldn't bring himself to lie to her, or to erase her memory. She was right: He loved her too much. All that was left was the truth.
"Faryl was a devout Templar, but unlike most of us the change did not destroy his faith. He has remained a Catholic ever since he rose from his grave." He went to the window to close the curtains against the first light of dawn. "He is like many were in the beginning. He despised being Darkyn, and loathed our dependency on humans as nourishment. Over the centuries Faryl tried to accept his needs, but the struggle between faith and survival became too much for him. Two hundred years ago he disappeared. We thought him dead, but he isolated himself in the swamps away from people. He has been feeding on the creatures that live there."
"He's been drinking animal blood for two centuries?" Alex demanded. "Nothing else?"
Michael nodded. "You know from your own experience that to do so makes us ill. However, we can feed on animals for very short periods of time. It is the last resort. If a Darkyn continues to feed exclusively on animal blood…" How could he tell her this?
"Let me guess." She closed her eyes briefly. "They get something like leprosy and their bodies begin to rot."
It was not far from the truth. "Something like that, yes."
"Okay, so Faryl is falling to pieces because he hates being a vampire, but he has to go to Lucan and ask Mr. Badass to kill him because Faryl is a Catholic and can't commit suicide. Which makes him as dumb as a brick." She eyed him. "Have I got this right?"
Michael went to her. "I know Gard and the Pavieres would wish it differently, but it would be best for everyone involved to allow Lucan to dispatch Faryl, as he wishes."
She gnawed at her bottom lip. "This leprosy condition, is it irreversible?"
"I cannot say." The only other living Darkyn with Faryl's condition would not thank him for revealing too many details about the beast drinkers. "All who have suffered it have never… recovered."
"The Darkyn have never had me on the payroll." Alex slipped her arms around his waist. "If I'm going to understand what is happening to me, and has happened to the rest of you, I have to analyze everything about our condition. Even something as repulsive to you as this thing with Faryl. As for him, if he really wants to die, he'll find a way no matter what we do."