In the same moment he was nearly overwhelmed with the compulsion to take her far away from those who hunted her. To hide her in his lair and keep her safe. With his very life if necessary.
Two very dangerous obsessions that could get a vampire killed.
Damn the Oracles. They had known. They had known precisely what his reaction would be when this woman was plunged back into his life.
With an effort, Cezar thrust aside the strange unease that flared through his heart and concentrated on Anna.
Despite her stubborn expression and the wary glitter in her beautiful hazel eyes, he could smell the fear and confusion and weariness that trembled through her body.
He needed to get her into a warm bed with a large tray of food. The sooner the better.
Grasping her hand, Cezar urged his reluctant companion down the street. She hesitated only a moment before heaving a deep sigh and falling into step beside him.
“Where are we going?”
Cezar had already considered his options. The Oracles hadn’t yet given their permission to bring Anna into their presence or to reveal her own place on the Commission. And experience had taught him not to overstep his bounds, even if Anna’s life was in danger. Pissing off the Oracles was never a good thing.
His only other option was Styx.
Not a bad other option.
“To a friend’s house. You’ll be safe there.”
“How can you be so certain?”
He smiled wryly. “Trust me, there are few demons who would dare the wrath of Styx. He didn’t gain his name by accident.”
She flashed him a puzzled frown. “Styx?”
“It’s said that he leaves a river of dead in his wake.”
Cezar gave her fingers a slight squeeze. “Don’t worry. His mate has trained him to keep most of the bloodshed to a minimum.”
“I can’t reveal the depth of my relief,” she said dryly.
“You actually saw him earlier this evening.”
“Ah.” A tiny smile touched her lips. “The tall, gorgeous Aztec?”
Cezar’s gaze narrowed, a stark sense of possession making his fangs lengthen.
“Careful, querida. Darcy is not only Styx’s mate, she’s also a werewolf who is very possessive.” He tugged her close enough to his side that he could feel her heat wrap around him. “And even if she agreed to share, I wouldn’t.”
“A werewolf…” Her shock was abruptly replaced with an expression of feminine outrage. It was an expression that she had perfected to an art form over the past two centuries. “Wait, what do you mean you wouldn’t share?”
He caught and held her gaze. “You know precisely what I mean.”
Her steps faltered, then she tilted her chin and dredged up a glare. “You must be mental if you think you can pop in and out of my life every few centuries and claim me like some sort of booby prize.”
“Damn you, this isn’t funny.” She stomped her foot, only to grimace as her bare foot landed on a rock. “Ow.” With yet another glare, she lifted her foot to rub it. “Can’t we get a taxi?”
“I don’t want anyone knowing where we’ve gone, especially not a human taxi driver who would reveal everything, including his ATM PIN number, under the enchantment of a fairy.”
She heaved an aggravated sigh at his perfectly reasonable explanation.
“Then call your friend and have him pick us up,” she demanded.
Cezar shrugged. “I don’t have a cell phone.”
“You’re kidding me.” She stared at him in disbelief. “What century do you live in?”
He was wise enough to hide his amusement this time. Although she’d lived two centuries, she was still unfamiliar with the world that she was now a part of. It would take time for her to adjust.
“My powers disrupt a few modern conveniences.”
Her annoyance changed to curiosity. “Why?”
“No one has managed to discover why. There are just certain vampires who possess an aura that plays havoc with technology. There are some who can’t enter a town without downing the entire electric grid. Thankfully my own disruptions are limited to cell phones and wireless internet service. Not that great a loss.”“That must make downloading your porn a tedious business,” she mocked.
With a flurry of motion, Cezar had Anna pressed into the doorway of a large office building, his arms clamped around her waist and his head buried in the curve of her neck.
He’d ignored her mocking taunts because he realized she was terrified. But he’d be damned if he’d accept any slurs concerning his sexual prowess. Not when he was bloody well aching with a need to take her right there on a public street.
“Vampires have no need for such titillation,” he assured her, scraping his fangs over the pulsing vein at the base of her throat before pressing his lips to the sensitive flesh. She shivered, her hands clutching at his arms as if her knees were suddenly weak. He trailed his lips down her collarbone, using his teeth and tongue to make her groan in pleasure. “Why bother with faux sex when you can always have the real thing?”
Lifting his head he claimed her lips in a kiss that revealed the dark, hungry passion that held him captive. Her lips readily parted, allowing his tongue to tangle with hers as his hands skimmed over her back with a restless need.
Anna could snap and snarl all she wanted, but she couldn’t disguise the fact that she still desired him. The passion between them would never, could never, change. No matter how many centuries passed.
Drowning in pleasure, Cezar pressed her hard against his aching body, desperately wishing they were alone in a dark room with satin sheets and hours to spend in each other’s arms.
His fantasy was interrupted when Anna’s fingers tightened on his arms and her head arched back.
His hands gripped the back of her delicate gown, his muscles trembling with the effort to control his passions.
“I’ve been waiting two centuries,” he muttered thickly.
“I smell apples.”
He stilled, his eyes narrowed. “And?”
“And I always smell apples when Sybil Taylor is near.”
His senses reached out, easily locating the fairy who was creeping down the dark street toward them.
“Damn that fairy.” Reaching behind Anna he easily wrenched open the steel and glass door, thrusting Anna into the vast marble foyer as he followed close behind. “How the hell did she find us?”
He didn’t give his companion time to respond as he pressed her behind one of the large potted palms and took his own position next to the door. With a low word he was wrapped in shadows, invisible even to the fairy’s eyes.
Only a few minutes passed before Sybil was sniffing around the door, her expression wary as she stepped over the threshold and studied the darkness.
“Anna?” she called softly, a small crystal shimmering in her hand. “Anna, are you here?”
More than a little unhappy at having his intimate moment with Anna interrupted, Cezar flowed forward and wrapped his arms around the fairy.
“How did you follow us?” he demanded, squeezing her painfully as she attempted to struggle against his hold.
“Release me, vampire.”
“Wrong answer.” He pressed his fangs against her neck, hard enough to draw blood.
She gave a squeak, her struggles ending as she froze in fear. “No…wait.”
“How did you follow us?” he repeated.
“I scried for Anna,” she answered, referring to the art of crystal-gazing.
Unlike vampires, fairies were capable of small amounts of magic. But even fairies needed a part of the person they were scrying.
The scent of apples became nearly overwhelming as Sybil struggled to contain her fiery temper. Fairies were creatures of emotion, flitting from one to another with such speed a wise demon tended to give them a wide berth.
“I stole her hairbrush so I would have strands of her hair,” she at last gritted.
“Why? What do you want from her?”
“She has a bounty on her head.”
“A bounty?” Anna stepped from behind the potted plant, her face pale. “What the hell does that mean?”
“It means that someone wants you dead, querida,” he said, instantly regretting his blunt honesty when her eyes widened in shock.
“Oh my God.”
“Not dead,” Sybil interrupted. “Captured.”
Cezar shifted his arm so he could wrap his hand around the fairy’s throat. One squeeze and she’d be dead. Not as satisfying as draining her dry, but effective.
“Who offered the bounty?”
She hesitated before muttering a vile curse beneath her breath. “The Queen of Fairies.”
A chill stabbed through Cezar’s heart. Dammit, he should have paid closer attention to Anna’s revelation of what had happened to her aunt and cousin two centuries ago. It hadn’t occurred to him that it would have any bearing on the danger she faced today.