He reached out to her, grabbing her by both of her upper arms and giving her a shake to stop the progression of her racing, panicked mind. It forced her wide green gaze up to his, forced her to look into his eyes and into him.

“Nothing I say or do is going to make up for the underhanded ways I have dealt with you in the past, and for that I am incredibly sorry. I know it was wrong. I beg your forgiveness for it. But the truth is I would do it all again. I don’t think I would even have an ounce of free will that could compel me otherwise. Corrine, I am now, and will always be, tied to your side. Destiny laid out a plan for you and me. She predestined that we should walk a powerful path together, that I should, in all things, be devoted to you. If that is shameful in your eyes, if that is something you perceive as nefarious and wrong. . then I am so sorry. I am. . heartbroken. I am at a loss as to how to be anything better for you than what I am. And to have failed my one true mate in this life shames me.”

There was no denying the weight of the shame she saw in his eyes. It simply took her breath away. Whatever was truth and whatever was made up by the power of his mind, there was nothing as clear to her as his sincerity in that moment. She should have doubted him. She should have remembered all the games men had played with her all these years as they strove to take one thing or another from her. She should have held him just as accountable for his lies as she did the other males who’d lied to her.

But she didn’t. For all of that history, for all of that mistrust and those painful lessons in deception, they had never touched the true heart of her. She had never stopped wanting forever after and a soul mate. She continued to crave a real partner in life who would support her when she needed it and who would look to her for support when he needed it.

When she looked at Kane, when she collated all he had been telling her and all she had seen and experienced so far, she saw exactly what she had been looking for. However, it would take a huge leap of faith on her part. There was a very fine line between what she craved and the attentions of a psychotic stalker. How would she tell the difference? How did anyone tell the difference?

“They can’t tell the difference, to be honest,” Kane said, reminding her how easily he could read her thoughts. “They go purely on faith. They have to trust themselves and what they are feeling. You need to trust yourself. You will make a wise, solid choice based on your intelligence and your instincts.”

“I would,” she breathed, pulling closer to him so she could gaze up into his clean, honest eyes. “But you have to admit, your power is enough to make anyone doubt the workings of their own mind.”

“What can I do to make it better for you? To make it easier? Tell me. Anything. I’ll do it.”

“A promise. A promise that you’ll never manipulate my mind again without asking me first. Even something like this.” She looked up and around at the crisp dark sky filled with the stars. They were sharp, bright, and beautiful. Breathtaking.

“What you’re asking. . it will be hard for me. Let me explain,” he said hastily when she frowned. “All of my life I’ve been trained to use the powers of my mind in all ways and in all things. Demons use their powers as reflexively as humans draw breath. I will never mean you any harm and I do not intend to lord my power over you, but my need to use power is unthinking. Just as you would thrust your hands out in front of you to break a fall, if I were in danger. . if you were in danger, I would not be able to help my reaction.”

She had to give him credit for his honesty. He had the power to make a promise and then do as he wished, wiping her memory of any transgressions or trespasses.

“That I can promise you,” he said, interrupting her thoughts. “I can swear to you never to erase your memory of anything again. . without your express permission. It is my philosophy that our experiences, both good and bad, shape our character. It does us little good to constantly remove what is ill from our memory. Yes, it gives us peace from trauma, but it is hard to know if that serves us or harms us in the long run. There may even come a time, in the future, when you will beg me for my skill and I will need to deny you. Understand I will do so only because it is morally right and hopefully best for you in the long run. My heart, however, will wish only to spare you any and all pain.”

Kane reached up to touch her face, his pinky coming to trace over the high sculpture of her exquisite cheekbone. He took that peaceful moment, his first in so many days, to marvel over the contrast of his dark skin in comparison to hers. Oh, yes, in that part of himself which he had left behind in that room in Noah’s castle, his blood still raged for her. His body ached for her. But for that single sweet moment he could treasure this one gorgeous difference between them, and the spectacular way his darkness enhanced her crisp, clean beauty.

Her lashes were a brilliant red, as were her brows, perfect complements to her spiraling hair. Her skin was rich like peaches and cream, the way he remembered it from before she had become so ill and come so close to death.

“I think,” she whispered softly, close to his lips, “I read your mind before.”

The confession took him aback, almost completely shattering his control over the illusion they were dwelling in. It was things like this, easy distractions like this that marked him as a youth amongst Demons. But to be fair, he’d had no clue she’d walked in his thoughts, and the fact that she had was proof positive that they were becoming more and more bound together.

“It’s. . it’s a mark of the Imprinting,” he told her, “though I confess I had not expected it with you being so weakened.”

“They were. . very vehement thoughts. It wasn’t like when you speak into my mind. That’s much clearer. These were weaker, with almost an echo, and yet there was strong emotion attached. Yes—” she searched his eyes hard. “It was more like reading your emotions than your thoughts, although I heard the words. You said, ‘I just need to get through tonight. . I can give you the romance as well as the passion. I can give you everything!’”

“It’s true,” he swore to her on a soft breath. “I know I’m behaving like a beast, taking advantage of the chemistry the Imprinting has created between us, but I don’t want it to be all about chemistry, Corrine. I don’t want you to think that predestination is all this is; that I’ll take our connection or you for granted; that I’ll treat this as something easy or a foregone conclusion.”

If anything, Corrine thought, he had proven just the opposite. Every time she had been overwhelmed by the ferocious heat of the Hallowed moon, he had done something to negate her desire, to distract her from it or break it off. Even this very illusion had been a way of veering off and away from the need that had overwhelmed her. And she was new to it all. From what she was understanding, it was even worse for him, and he had been suffering it for ages.

“Kane,” she said, “take us back.”

“Back?” he questioned, his voice full of breath. He was a telepath. There was no need for him to doubt her intentions or what she said. It was just his way of dodging the onrush of emotion and excitement that was flooding him. “Don’t you. . wouldn’t you rather be here? Free from. . from the way I am back there?”

And the real point of the illusion he’d created became clear to her. If he was here, orchestrating this scenario with all his will and concentration, then he could not subject her to the beast lashed by her side. He was protecting her from him. Trying to buy himself some time from what she understood was inevitable torture. Even now, as she glanced upward into the night sky, she could see the stars vibrating, making white, unstable streaks in their bed of darkness. His focus was unraveling.

She reached up to cradle his face in both of her hands, brushing her fingers over clean shaven contours that were much handsomer when they were real and covered in a brusque sheet of whiskers.

“Take me back,” she breathed softly, her lips barely brushing his.

“Corrine. . I can’t control. .” He began to breathe hard, his hands coming to grip her by the back of her shoulders. The stars began to drop out of the sky, streaking down like burning cinders, the grass beneath her bare feet lost the texture of the individual blades, sliding like sand under her heels.

“Then don’t.”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he swore harshly. “I don’t want to be what I am back there.”

“I’m going to take care of it. This time, I will provide the escape we need.”

And like a sudden deluge of water, the sky dropped in a sudden cloak of blackness all around her.

Chapter 5

Вы читаете Kane
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату