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Chapter 89 –Power– Raine's POV

It was the first sound he had made!

I shot up, trying not the jostle him, and right away, I noticed his back. The mark was no longer red; instead it had settled into the fine black lines of a tattoo!

Hope soared in me.

He began to try to raise himself up with his forearms, a grunt releasing from his chest at the exertion. I pressed him back down and ordered firmly, "Oh no, you don't! You are not getting out of bed just yet!"

He collapsed back to the bed and growled petulantly, "Just joined, and already you're nagging and man-handling me."

A laugh escaped my lips. He was definitely feeling better. I murmured, "I'll tell you what. I'll compromise with you, and help you roll over. But that is as far as you are going right now."

He 'humphed' in the back of his throat but didn't argue. He lifted and I helped push him as he rolled to his side and then onto his back. When he was finally settled, he looked up at me and muttered, "You just wait until I am up and around again..."

I stared down at him, lost in the moment, overcome by emotions too heavy for me to even define, and couldn't help the tears that flooded my eyes. He was really going to be okay! Even though I had desperately hoped he would, I realized now, that I had still been deathly afraid something would go wrong to destroy our happy ending.

His gaze softened, and he pulled me down to his chest, his arms winding around me like unbreakable bands, comforting me not just with his words, but also the protective touch of his body. "Shhh Tigru...It's going to be okay."

I practically wrapped my lithe frame entirely around him, hooking one of my legs  over his hips, and snuggled as close as I physically could. I didn't care that we weren't alone in the room. Nothing else in the world mattered. Cage waited until my tears slowed and my breathing evened out, no longer riddled with intermittent gasps. There was no rush; he just held me, giving me what I needed, him. When I was finally calm, his voice was low and reassuring as he murmured in my ear, "Better?'

I sniffled and nodded my head.

Bringing much needed levity back into the stillness of the room, Cage teased softly, "Okay, I am feeling stronger by the second and am ready to get up. Are you going to wrestle me back down if I try?"

A short laugh escaped my throat. He did look stronger. I shook my head and leaned back to give him room. He sat up slowly and stretched his muscles, assessing his own strength, still unaware of the dramatic and irrevocable change on his body. He looked around the room and realized Armand, Felaern and Brialle were all staring at him intently. His voice was tight as he asked, "What happened?"

Felaern began, getting right to the point, "Your union caused her Royal mark to transfer to you."

Cage's eyebrows rose in confusion. He looked at Armand and then down to his chest to where he expected Armand's mark had now been transferred. Felaern clarified, answering his unspoken question,"No, it was not Armand's crest that transferred. It was Raine's."

"What the fuck?!" Cage breathed, his expression explicitly clear he assumed Felaern was making some sort of twisted joke, but Felaern remained silent and the punch line never came.

Tears pricked my eyes and I mumbled, "I'm so sorry! I didn't know."

Cage's glance cut to me, and my response was the confirmation he needed to know that none of this was a joke. He stared speechless as Felaern continued, "Yes, the reason Raine has a unique Bloodline scent is because she is the beginning of a new Bloodline."

"Shit..." Cage swore, his eyes widened in disbelief. "What does that mean?!"

"A few things. First, you are no longer Armand's successor," Felaern stated.

I gasped loudly, "What?!"

I hadn't realized that! More tears tumbled over my cheeks as I listened to Felaern explain, "Now that you carry Raine's crest, Armand's mark can never be transferred to you."

Cage's eyes tightened and I knew he was struggling with this revelation. His entire identity was founded in his relationship to Armand and his dedication to his kingdom.

And in just a single moment of time, I had stripped him of all of it.

I rushed to apologize again, "Cage, I swear to you, I didn't know! I never would have intentionally taken that away from you!"

He was silent, obviously trying to sort out the ramifications in his head.

Felaern looked at me and smirked, "Oh, he isn't losing  power in this transaction...Far from it."

Armand asked, "What do you mean?"

"He may no longer be your Prince...But he is now King  to her Queen. And this transfer is unlike any that have come before it. When each of the Bloodline vampires mated, they selected Royal counterparts from other lines; and each retained their respective marks. Neither of their crests was transferred. This is the very first time I have seen a Bloodline crest transfer, and it happened automatically at their union. It remains to be seen exactly how much and what type of power she infused in him. However, I suspect he will experience power similar, if not equal to, that of a Bloodline vampire himself."

"Fuck..." Cage exhaled in shock.

Felaern continued, "We could test a theory if you like. Every Bloodline vampire is immune to compulsion. Another reason, I should have suspected this sooner, but alas. Armand, if you will..."

Armand stood to his feet and walked to the edge of the bed, commenting, "But Raine isn't immune to my compulsion."

"About that..."I whispered.

His head snapped toward me.

"I actually am immune to yours...And Marku's...As well. I was afraid you were going to kill me on the spot if you knew...So I pretended..."

Armand's eyes opened wider for a moment and then he recovered. "Okay, what would you like me to do?"

Felaern answered, "It's simple. Try to compel Micage."

Armand faced Cage. His voice lowered hypnotically as he ordered, "Stand."

Cage remained seated, his face a mixture of surprise, but also deep satisfaction. He explained, "I felt the order, but I could resist it."

I breathed in agreement, "That was the same way I had felt."

Cage looked at me and contemplated out loud, "But how can she be a Bloodline vampire, when she isn't a vampire at all?"

Felaern chuckled, "Yes, she demanded to know the same thing. And I will tell you what I told her. She is the origin of this line. It comes from her, however you will sire the line...Beginning with her. I believe that is the reason her mark transferred in the way it did. I also believe it is imperative that no one else turn her but you."

I tried to keep from trembling violently at his words and whispered, "But I'm not ready to be a vampire...I don't know if I will ever be ready..."

His expression softened as he replied gently, "You are the daughter of a vampire,  you are mated to a vampire, and you are the beginning of a new vampire Bloodline. You are most certainly meant to be a vampire. There is no more resolute destiny for you than that."

There was that word again...Destiny.

I just wasn't sure I was ready to accept it...

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