When Darkness Ends(Guardians of Eternity,book 12)(87) by Alexandra Ivy
Careful not to move her throbbing head, Tonya forced her eyes open, baffled by the sight of her barren surroundings.
Where was her pretty canopied bed and walls painted to look like a sunny meadow?
Confusion raced through her as she realized she was in a dark cavern, lying on a smooth slab of rock.
What the hell? That really must have been some bender.
She glanced down, relieved to discover she was wearing clothes. That was something. Or it was until her gaze focused enough for her to see that her dress had several small holes and had been singed at the hem.
It looked as if she’d been in a fire.
Yes. She pressed a hand to her temple. Her memory started to come back.
The labyrinth had been collapsing and Magnus had remained behind, supporting the barriers so they could escape. She’d been furious when she discovered he wasn’t with them.
Dammit. He was supposed to be a selfish, arrogant prince. Not a martyr.
The stubborn ass.
So, of course, she’d gone back to rescue him.
And they’d very nearly made it. They’d been only steps away from the opening when everything had gone . . . kablooey.
With a groan, she pressed herself to a seated position on the hard slab, warily glancing toward the towering stone circle.
“Where am I?” she muttered, nearly jumping out of her skin when a male voice spoke directly behind her.
“Beneath the lair of the druid.”
She turned her head, warily watching as Magnus strolled to stand directly in front of her.
Like her, his clothing had been scorched and he had a few healing wounds on his impossibly beautiful face, but the explosion clearly hadn’t dented his enormous arrogance as he peered down his long nose at her.
“Why did you do that?”
She winched. “Yow, prince, tone it down,” she muttered, pressing a finger between her eyes. “My head hurts.”
“Of course it hurts.” His hands clenched and unclenched, as if he were under a great stress. “You were caught in the backlash of a very powerful spell. I told you to run.”
She scowled at his sharp words. She hadn’t expected him to fall on his knees in gratitude for her saving his life. But . . . Christ.
He could at least throw out a “thank you” before snapping at her.
She narrowed her gaze. “Since when do I take orders from you?”
He folded his arms over his chest, his gaze oddly piercing as he studied her upturned face.
“Why don’t I take orders?”
His lips flattened. “Why did you come back for me?”
She shrugged. That was a question she didn’t want to consider too deeply.
“Because I’m mental,” she muttered.
He leaned forward, surrounding her in the scent of aged whiskey.
“Answer the question.”
She made a sound of impatience. Dammit. Why couldn’t he just let it go?
“Obviously because I was afraid you weren’t going to make it out.”
The cognac eyes held her gaze with mesmerizing ease.
“Would it bother you if I didn’t?”
She bit her lip, a shudder shaking her body. She would never forget the moment she’d glanced back to discover this man wasn’t following them out of the collapsing spell.
It’d felt as if someone had reached into her chest and ripped out her heart.
Something she very much hoped never to feel again.
“Of course it would,” she muttered.
“Oh, for God’s sake, stop saying ‘Why?’,” she snapped, forcing herself to scoot off the slab and stand on her shaky legs.
Where the hell were Levet and the druids?
Magnus stepped nearer, his fingers closing around her upper arms.
“You think I’m arrogant,” he said.
“Because you are.”
He frowned, staring at her as if she were a ginormous puzzle.
“You believe I was cruel to Fallon.”
She hunched a shoulder. If she had to hear that woman’s name on his lips one more time . . .
“You were,” she said in clipped tones.
“You don’t like me.”
His touch was like a brand against her raw skin. So acutely pleasurable it was almost painful.
“You can be an ass,” she said, her voice husky.
His fingers skimmed up her arms, the heat of him wrapping around her with an intimate promise.
“So why do you care if I survive?”
Her lips parted to give a flippant response, then snapped shut as her breath tangled in her throat. Just for the briefest second she’d caught sight of something in those amazing cognac eyes.
Something that looked remarkably like vulnerability.
“Oh hell,” she muttered, heaving a deep sigh. “You’ve grown on me.”
His brows drew together. “Grown?”
“I . . .” She licked her dry lips. “I would miss you if you weren’t around.”
The world halted, the air heavy with a sense of anticipation as Magnus slowly lowered his head.
“You’ve grown on me as well,” he confessed, brushing her lips with a soft, reverent kiss. Her toes curled, something deep inside her melting. God Almighty, she was in trouble. He pressed another kiss to her lips, this one staking his claim before he lifted his head to regard her with a brooding gaze. “But if you ever do anything so foolish again I will have you chained to the wall.”
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