Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(45) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
In life and death.
And in her mind, she remembered when Max had first asked her to. It’d been right after they’d been mated. After she’d tossed the knife away and accepted him.
His unexpected request had shocked her.
“Would you bond with me, Maxis?”
He went completely still and turned rigid around her. “Pardon?”
Lifting herself up, she looked down at him. “Can we bond?”
A light scowl drew his brows together as he brushed the hair back from her face. “There is nothing on this earth I’d like more…”
“Then why do I sense a but in your tone of voice?”
“You know the but. I’m under a death warrant, with pretty much every Were-Hunter in existence gunning for me. And we have two dragonets who need their mother to watch over them. I can’t risk the chance that I fall and take you with me to the grave.”
“I won’t let them have you.”
He tightened his arms around her. “And that is the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me. Thank you. But I can’t accept a bond with you right now.”
Wishing for things to be different, Seraphina laid her head on his chest and touched the mark on his leg. “How do we stop the demons who want you?”
“That is the question, my lady, that I wish desperately I had an answer for.”
Suddenly, a fierce screeching cry sounded from the forest around them.
Sera pulled back. “What is that?”
Max sat up immediately. “It’s a Bane-Cry. Illarion’s under attack.”
Max returned to Sanctuary to find all manner of hell breaking loose. Rémi was holed up in Peltier House with his brother Cherif, Carson, and the children and pregnant females, along with the Howlers and a contingency of Arcadians and Katagaria ready to lay down their lives for Aimee and the others.
As he came down the stairs from his attic with Sera behind him, he met Rémi in the hallway outside Aimee’s bedroom. No doubt Rémi had taken that post to make sure no one came near his sister and threatened her while she rested.
Max paused in front of him. “What’s going on? I heard my brother call.”
With his familiar sneer in place, Rémi jerked his chin toward the stairs that led down to the main part of the house. “Illarion’s with the others in the bar. We’re holding the fort here. The Amazons returned with the Kattalakis Arcadian wolves who want your ass on a platter. You should probably stay here while Dev and the others deal. Personally wish they’d have let me get an ounce of wolf flesh. Since I can’t have Fang for taking my sister, I’d settle for his cousins.”
In spite of the fact that most shifters and people didn’t like Rémi due to his acerbic personality, Max strangely did. They’d always seen eye to eye with their basic philosophy. When in doubt, kill them all and let the gods sort it out.
Rémi glanced past Max’s shoulder to Sera. “You want me to guard your dragonswan while you see to them?”
Max turned slightly to smile at the perturbed expression on her beautiful face. “Um… no.” He draped an arm around her shoulders. “I think I’ll unleash her on them. She’s far more fierce than I am.”
Rémi came as close to a smile as the bear could. At least until his nephew Jake came out of the nursery with a small, sleepy toddler in his arms.
“Hey Uncle Rémi, you think it’s safe to grab some milk from the kitchen? I don’t want to wake my mom and we’re out. I tried to get Aubie to go back to sleep without it, but he’s not listening to me.”
Max didn’t miss the familiar deep pain that flashed across Rémi’s blue eyes at the sight of Jake and Aubert. They were the sons of his identical twin Quinn and his mate Becca – the bearswan Rémi was still desperately in love with and had wanted to be mated to. But the Fates had been even more unkind to him than they’d been to Max and Sera.
Masking the pain, Rémi brushed his hand over Aubert’s dark hair to soothe the fussing boy who wanted his milk. “I’ll get it. You two stay here where it’s safest.”
“Okay. I’ll go change him.” Jake headed back to the nursery while his little brother whined in protest.
“Aubie want milk!”
As they walked down the stairs and into the kitchen, toward the bar, they could hear the angry shouts that strangely reminded him of Aubert’s childish cries.
Rémi bit his lip as he mumbled under his breath at how much he wanted to fight. “Bust some ass for me, Max,” he said in a louder tone, before grabbing the milk and heading back toward his nephews.
As Max started for the swinging doors, Sera took his arm. “Run with me?”
He smiled at her unexpected offer. “Now you see my way of thinking?”
“My lady’s timing stinks.” Max took a moment to pull her into his arms and kiss her forehead. “Nothing would mean more to me. But I can’t do that to the Peltiers and my brother. Not after everything they’ve done for me over the years.”
“And that’s why I love and hate you.”
Snorting at her strange sense of humor, he released her and slid through the swinging door to see what was happening out in the bar.
Fang, Vane, Dev, Illarion, and the wolves and bears were in the bar, ready to war against every member of Seraphina’s tribe. Thankfully, the bar was still closed to humans or this would have been an even worse situation.
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