The Shadows(Black Dagger Brotherhood, book 13)(40) by J.R.Ward
“Thank you.” She gave his thin arm a squeeze, making him blush. “And just until it’s time for dessert to be served. I know that you’ll want free rein in here for that.”
“Yes, mistress. Thank you, mistress. And I shall personally clean up after you both.”
The butler bowed deeply, grabbed the last silver tray, and ushered everyone out. As the flap door stilled, Rhage’s beloved shellan looked over at him.
“Eggs?” she said.
At the one word, Rhage’s stomach let out a roar. “Oh, God, that sounds amazing.”
Mary nodded and went over to the Sub-Zero. Taking out a fresh carton, she grabbed a gallon container of whole milk and a box of butter; then hit the cupboards, snagging a frying pan, a big mixing bowl, and various and sundry utensils.
“So,” she said as she broke the first of twelve eggs. “I’d really like to hear what happened out there.”
Up until this moment, Rhage had been successful in ducking that question. Apparently, the reprieve was over.
“I’m fine, honest.”
“Okay.” She paused in mid-crack and smiled at him. “As your wife, though, how you are is really important to me. So if there’s something bothering you, it makes me feel left out if I don’t know what it is.”
Ugh. Just … ugh.
As she began whisking the gallon of nascent scrambled egg, the sloshy sound reminded him of his own head.
Looking down at the pitted tabletop, he picked at one of the veins in the broad oak boards. “The truth is, I don’t know what happened. I just felt really weird and had to sit down. I’m tight now, though. Probably just one of those random things.”
“Mmm, well, tell me what your night was like.”
“It was no big deal. I headed to the Band of Bastards’ safe house and went through it—”
“Didn’t you start down in the clinic, with Trez and Selena?”
“Oh, yeah. But that was, like, yesterday when she was … you know, taken there.” He shook his head. “I don’t want to think about that right now, if you don’t mind.”
“Okay, so tonight you went to the Band of Bastards’ place?”
“Well, first we went to Abalone’s. His cousin defected from Xcor’s troops and told us where their hideout was. Anyway, me and V went through the place.”
“What were you looking for?”
He shrugged. “Bombs. Booby traps. That kind of shit. No big deal.”
She made another mmmmm sound as she poured the contents of the bowl into a pan the size of the bucket seat in Qhuinn’s Hummer. “Were you worried about getting hurt there?”
“No. Well … I worried about my brothers, sure. But that’s just the job.”
“Okay. And then where did you go?”
“I saw you. Then I went to D’s old house. We reported in to Wrath and came back here. I was supposed to have a checkup with Manny to make sure my injury has healed properly. Same with V.”
“Okay.” She moved over to the six-slot toaster and filled the thing up with his favorite bleached-flour, totally processed, incredibly plastic-fantastic white bread. “So you got home, and what did you find?”
He blinked and saw Layla’s foot sticking out of the vestibule. Then pictured Qhuinn’s face as the Brother crouched down by the stricken female who was carrying his young.
“Oh, you know.”
“Mmmm?” The scent of cooking eggs further tickled his Eat Now trigger. “What?”
“Well, you know what happened.”
By the time Mary arrived, a stretcher had been brought up from the clinic and Layla was being loaded on, her body moved carefully by Qhuinn at her head and Blay at her feet.
Rhage fell silent and massaged his chest.
Pop! went his toast, and a moment later, a platter with everything done exactly the way he liked was in front of him.
Along with a mug of hot chocolate, a napkin, silverware … but most important, his lovely Mary.
“This is the best meal I have ever had,” he said, just looking at the food.
“You always say that.”
“Only when you cook for me.”
It was funny. As a human, his Mary never had been able to understand the way a male vampire responded when the female he’d bonded with produced food with her own hands for him. That kind of thing was a sacred act, because it went against a male’s core instinct to provide and meet his mate’s needs first and foremost over those everything and everybody, including his own, his brothers’, his King’s, and those of any young they might have.
Rhage was hardwired to feed her first and then eat whatever was left. But before she’d ordered Fritz and the doggen out, she’d told him she was full, having grabbed a quick snack at Safe Place an hour ago.
“It’s getting cold,” she said, rubbing his forearm.
For some reason, his eyes got blurry and he had to blink things clear.
“Rhage?” she whispered. “Whatever it is, let it out.”
With a quick jerk, he shook his head. “I’m fine. I just want to enjoy this feast.”
He picked up his fork and started to alternate: one load of egg, one bite of toast, one load of egg, one bite of toast, sip, sip, sip of hot chocolate. And repeat until he had cleaned his plate.
“How is the female doing?” he asked, as he wiped his mouth and eased back in the wooden chair.
“I don’t know.” Mary shook her head. “I just don’t know how this one is going to go.”
“That bad?” When she shrugged, he said, “If there’s anything I can do…”
She reached out, took his hand, and turned it over so the palm was facing up. It was a while before she spoke, but as he was beginning to get worried, she said, “I want you to entertain, just for a moment, that it might have been upsetting for you to see Selena almost die and for you to witness Trez’s pain. I want you to consider that it is not business as usual, for anyone, to have to go through some house they’ve never been in before, not knowing whether an explosion or an ambush is going to kill them or someone they cared about. I want you to reflect that going to Wrath and not being able to tell him that you’d found the Bastards or disarmed something or captured some kind of information might feel like a failure. And finally, I want you to understand that for you to come home and see Layla passed out, and know that she’s pregnant, and care about her and Qhuinn and Blay, is yet another trauma. I think you’ve had a really hard twenty-four hours, and that your emotions have kind of tapped out on you.”
“I didn’t feel upset, though, my Mary. By any of it. I was just fine—”
“Until you had the panic attack in front of the house.”
“I didn’t have a panic attack.”
“You said you couldn’t breathe. That your hands and feet were tingling. That you were having trouble connecting to reality. Sounds like a classic panic attack to me.”
He shook his head. “I don’t think that was it.”
Rhage took a deep breath and focused on his beloved’s face. “You are the most beautiful female I have ever seen.”
“I’m pretty sure that isn’t—”
He captured her face in his hands, cradling her with care. As his eyes roamed around her familiar features, he couldn’t get enough of them. God, it was never enough. Not a night, a month, a year, a decade … not the eternity the Scribe Virgin had miraculously given them both, was ever going to be enough for him.
“You are the most beautiful female I have ever seen.” He brushed her lips with his own. “I don’t know what I did to deserve a destiny with you, but I will never, ever take that for granted.”
The smile he got in response was better than the sunrise he would never see, shaming even that great glowing fireball that was the sustainer of all life, including even those who could not bear its rays.
They were still sitting like that, staring into each other’s eyes, when the doggen came in for dessert.
“You wanna go upstairs,” he said in a dark, deep voice, his beast starting to surge under his skin. “I’m ready for dessert.”
Her scent flared. “Are you.”
“You want me to get you some ice cream?”
He narrowed his stare on her mouth. “Not even close. I want to lick something else.”
“Well, then,” she whispered, putting her mouth to his. “Let’s get you fed.”
Trez woke up in an absolute cold sweat, every inch of his skin drenched, his core temperature all arctic, his heart going so fast it felt like someone had swapped the thing for a cake mixer. Bursting up off the pillows, he shouted—
Bedroom. Instead of something terrible and shocking … all he saw was a whole lot of his bedroom, and everything was on the normal-normal, from the lamp that was glowing next to him, to his clothes draped over the chaise lounge, to his shoes askew from where he’d kicked them off the other dawn.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online