Chapter 5

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"We. Can't. Keep. Meeting. Like this," I said between kisses.

"Hmm. I can't stop thinking about you," he murmured at the base of my neck.

That made two of us. It was even worse now that we had sealed our future in irreversible ways. Not that I would have wanted to sever the link that forged us together by blood, love, and magick. To do so would have grave consequences, but being apart was making me miserable.

"I'm glad I'm not the only one suffering," I replied, before his lips covered mine in a toe-curling kiss.

His fingers skirted the edge of my waistline, and my belly jumped. "Not seeing you is worse than seeing the sun."

Dramatic, but I could relate. The time we spent apart had been a wake up call. Our link never let me forget that I had bound myself to a vampire. Not that I regretted it, because the moment I saw Devlin's face, I realized he was worth the risk. I ran my hands along the muscles in his back, feeling them ripple under my fingertips. "What are we going to do?" I asked with genuine worry in my voice.

His lips traced my jawline, fangs scraping the skin lightly. "I can't think when I'm touching you."

That went both ways, and it was going to get us in trouble. As if my thoughts manifested, trouble materialized in the form of a tall, hazel-eyed vampire. I wanted to whiteout the last thirty seconds in the hope that Devlin and I might have more time before the bomb hit.

"Well, well, look what the night dragged in," said a deep and nasty voice from behind us.

We both jumped, but Devlin kept a protective hand on my waist. A vampire sauntered out of the shadows with a dirt bag grin, laced with an underlying hate in his glowing eyes.

"You're sloppy, cuz. You never even heard me coming." The vampire took a long perusal of me, making my skin crawl. "But I see why," he added when he finished eye-raping me.

Oh God. I was going to be sick.

"Blake," Devlin growled.

"Care to explain what's going on here? I hate to assume. I have such a wild imagination," Blake said.

Devlin managed to angle himself in front of me. "This doesn't concern. You should leave. Now." The warning was very clear.

Our secrecy was threatened. My heart hammered in my ear, and I tingled with magick, even though I wasn't certain I could use it on the vamp. The rules were changing, but I just didn't know how fast. I could feel it in the winds. I could feel it inside me. And it started with Devlin and me.

"Not my concern." Blake gave a haunting laugh. "You are my cousin, our future king, and you don't think hooking up with a voodoo bitch is a concern?" he spat in disgust.

Devlin roared deep in his throat—a menacing sound. "You leave me no choice."

The hand I had placed on Devlin's arm bunch with barely restrained power. I had the feeling his cousin was about to issue his own death sentence if he didn't agree to keep his trap shut. By the look on Blake's face, that wasn't a possibility. It was obvious there was no lost love between the two vamps.

"Ah, so be it. Your father will not take the news well," Blake sneered.

Devlin fangs extended, eyes darkening, and that was when all hell broke loose.

In a blur of colors, I stifled a screeched as the two vampires clashed together in inhuman strength. The sound thundered like lightning hitting the ground. I heard the crunch of flesh against bone before I could see who had delivered the blow. Their movements distorted in front of my eyes, jerking in and out of my sight. Even if I wanted to throw in a spell or two, I was afraid to hit the wrong vamp.

This was bad. Nine moons kind of bad.

I cried Devlin's name when he fell out of nowhere and belly-flopped at my feet, but no sooner had I spoken his name and he'd taken back off toward the woods. I tried not to be grossed out by the blood that stained the ground where he had landed. That could not be good. Vampire or not, blood was a bad omen. When I was finally able to focus again, I released a rush of air at seeing Devlin alive and possibly having the upper hand. He had Blake strung up against a tree, pinning him by just his throat. Being that Blake didn't have a pulse, or need to breathe technically, he wasn't really in any pain or suffering. Oh no. Just the opposite.

He was laughing.

And Devlin's ears were blowing smoke.

"If you say anything, Blake," Devlin said between gritted teeth. His voice was so low it made me shiver. "You won't see another moon."

Blake had a shithead grin on his face that made me want to smack him across the face. "As if you have it in you, we both know you're not your father."

Devlin's eyes burned like amber flames, his fangs dripping with fresh blood. "You don't know what I am capable of if pushed. I won't let you hurt her."

"I guess we are about to find out." And then in some bullshit act of Houdini, Blake disappeared.

Shit. Shit. Oh shit.

Devlin ran his hands through his already messy, dark hair. Lines of worry creased at the corners of his eyes and frowning mouth, the vein at this neck pulsing in rage. I approached him slow and cautiously, laying a hand on his shoulder, needing to see that he was all right, feel that he was okay.

He jerked under my touch, and then immediately took a long, ragged breath. "I can't stay," he said gravelly, turning to face me.

"I know. Be careful." Even as I uttered the words, I knew there would be bloodshed before the next nightfall.

"We could not hide forever, nor would I ask you to, Aurora." Pain and anguish filled his eyes. He would turn his back on his family for me.

He knew it.

I knew it.

And a rush of loved filled my body and soul.

I brushed the pad of my thumb across the jagged cut on his cheek, and with magick tingling in my fingers, I watched as the skin healed, leaving no scars behind, only his bad boy face. "Blessed be, Devlin."

"I will need more than your goddess and my god tonight." He took my face in his hands and kissed me. Long. Hard. Searing.

We parted neither of us ready or prepared for what was to come, both having pressing matters to take care of. Me—the high priestess ceremony. And Devlin—dirty family matters. Oh, let the fun and games begin.

There was a fear gnawing inside me as I strolled back into Caledonia that night for Devlin. The red moon at my back made my insides tremor. I couldn't shake the feeling something terrible was about to ensue, but there wasn't time to contemplate, not when there was a good chance I might be late to my own crowning.

Dear God, my mother was going to shoot me with a blast of magick.

I was getting to good at sneaking in and out of the castle. Not a soul stirred as I snuck back through the wooden door.

My head hit the silky pillow; eyes fluttering shut and no sooner did the sunrise. The few hours of sleep were restless and did me no good. I knew something was wrong the second I woke up. Inside, I could feel Devlin's turmoil, but there was nothing I could do, no aid I could give.

Today, I became high priestess.

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