Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(52) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Illarion gestured his agreement at Sera. How many more challenges are you planning to issue? Sheez, Max. There are far less painful ways to die. Drowning in acid comes to mind.
Suddenly, a light flashed in the room with them. Max started toward it, but something kept him in place. A strong, unseen force he couldn’t break.
Furious, he manifested a fire blast to attack. Until he recognized the source of the power.
Only this time, he wasn’t in dragon form. Dressed in their ancient black war garb, he wore the skins and furs of the slayers who’d made the mistake of coming after him, as trophies and testament to his unsurpassed martial skills. His black hair was short except for one long braid that was wrapped around his throat and adorned with a silver dragon pendant that matched his pale eyes. They flashed like mercury in the dim light.
And they missed no detail at all.
Illarion’s eyes widened as he saw him there. He inclined his head in acknowledgment of his older brother’s birth order and out of respect.
Returning the gesture to Illarion, Falcyn closed the distance between them with that fierce predatorial walk that was uniquely his.
Without a word, he stopped in front of Seraphina and met Max’s gaze. “May I?” It was forbidden for a drakomas to touch another’s mate without permission. To do so was a killing offense in their culture.
Sera frowned at him as she looked back and forth between them. “Max?”
“It’s all right, Sera. This is my brother Falcyn. I trust him… most days.”
Ignoring his teasing barb, Falcyn touched her icy forehead, then her hand. “Who curses her?”
He scoffed disdainfully. “Then I hope this seriously pisses that bastard by-blow off. You should have told me that originally. I wouldn’t have had to soul-search nearly as long before helping you.”
With one claw, Falcyn made a small incision on his wrist until he could gather three drops of blood. From his satchel, he pulled a small oblong ball that resembled an egg, then coated it with his blood. He placed it in her hands and cupped them around it while he chanted in their mother’s tongue. He used her hands to turn the egg round and round.
After a few seconds, Sera sucked her breath in sharply, but Falcyn held her hands in place around the egg. She hissed. “It’s burning.”
Max tightened his arms around her. “It’ll be all right. He’s drawing the poison from you. Give him time to work.”
Only then did she relax a degree.
By the time Falcyn finished the ritual, she was even paler, but her breathing was more solid.
Falcyn wiped the stone off on his sleeve, and returned it to his satchel. He glanced about the loft expectantly. “You said you have dragonets?”
“A son and daughter. They’re with Blaise. In Avalon.”
For the first time, Falcyn’s stern features softened. Blaise had always held a special place in his affections. “I’ll see them protected and shielded, too.”
As he started to leave, Max stopped him. “Thank you, brother. Can I ask why you changed your mind?”
Falcyn turned at the curtains to look back first at Max, then to Sera. “I still think you’re an idiot. I still hate and begrudge every breath that fills your lungs. But you are my brother and we are drakomai. It’s not my place to take from you your heart… If there is any way to help her, then I am honor bound to do so. You know the code we live and die by. Regardless of my feelings for you, it is my responsibility to protect what you love and preserve our bloodline.”
“Again, thank you.”
Falcyn didn’t respond to that. It was as if a part of him was embarrassed by the gratitude. Instead, he turned toward Illarion. “You still have your dragon’s claw I gave you?”
“Yeah, not what I heard.” Falcyn clapped him on the arm. “I heard you loaned it out to an addanc. What the hell’s wrong with you? Did I teach you nothing?” He shook his head at Illarion. “An addanc? Really?”
Falcyn made a sound of supreme disgust. “All my brothers are morons. I swear. Now take me to the dragonets before Blaise sucks what little intelligence they have out and leaves them lacking, too.”
Illarion rolled his eyes.
After they left, Max laughed.
Sera scowled at him. “What?”
“I just realized why I like Rémi so much. He reminds me of my own asshole brother.”
“And you find that funny?”
Sera held her arms out to examine them as if waiting to start growing cold and sluggish again. “Will this last?”
“It should. Falcyn is the oldest of our kind, to my knowledge.” He wrinkled his nose at her. “He’s even older than I am.”
“Wow! So why does he hate you, then?”
“I failed him and Hadyn. It’s why I won’t ever fail anyone else I love.” He brushed his hand through her hair before lifting a lock up to rub against his bottom lip.
That single action sent chills over her. Worse, it awakened her hunger for him in a way that was frightening. Before she could stop herself, she cupped his face in her hands and led his lips to hers so that she could ravage his mouth and drink her fill of him.
Max laughed as he picked her up and pressed her against the wall behind her. “How can my swan be starving so soon?”
She nipped at his whiskered chin, wanting to forget about everything else.
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