And besides . . . I don’t want to leave you. Er, you guys.”He smiled, and it lit up his whole face. “Well, ‘we’ are certainly happy to hear that. Oh, and I’m also happy to watch our darling little love child dragon while you’re in St. Louis.”I grinned back.
She had to go on this quest. The fate of the world might depend on it. But part of him wanted to say: Forget the world. He didn’t want to be without her.
Relax, having kids is years away. But can you imagine? Your brains, my charm, our collective good looks... then add in the usual physical abilities dhampirs get. It's really not even fair to everyone else.
Adrian tipped my face up toward his and kissed me. Like always, the world around me stopped moving. No, the world became Adrian, only Adrian. Kissing him was as mind-blowing as ever, full of that same passion and need I had never believed I’d feel. But today, there was even more to it. I no longer had any doubt about whether this was wrong or right. It was a culmination of a long journey . . . or maybe the beginning of one.I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him closer. I didn’t care that we were out in public. I didn’t care that he was Moroi. All that mattered was that he was Adrian, my Adrian. My match. My partner in crime, in the long battle I’d just signed on for to right the wrongs in the Alchemist and Moroi worlds. Maybe Marcus was right that I’d also signed myself up for disaster, but I didn’t care. In that moment, it seemed that as long as Adrian and I were together, there was no challenge too great for us.I don’t know how long we stood there kissing. Like I said, the world around me was gone. Time had stopped. I was awash in the feel of Adrian’s body against mine, in his scent, and in the taste of his lips. That was all that mattered right now.
And as he reached for William's leg, the way a small child will reach for its mother's, there welled up through a small hole in the bottom of Mercer's soul a relief surpassing any he'd ever known in waking life.
That night, before bed, he goes first to Willem's side of the closet, which he has still not emptied. Here are Willem's shirts on their hangers, and his sweaters on their shelves, and his shoes lined up beneath. He takes down the shirt he needs, a burgundy plaid woven through with threads of yellow, which Willem used to wear around the house in the springtime, and shrugs it on over his head. But instead of putting his arms through its sleeves, he ties the sleeves in front of him, which makes the shirt look like a straitjacket, but which he can pretend—if he concentrates—are Willem's arms in an embrace around him. He climbs into bed. This ritual embarrasses and shames him, but he only does it when he really needs it, and tonight he really needs it.
Oh, look, the lights are so pretty,” I said dreamily, having just noticedthem.I smiled at the way the lights were dancing overhead, pink and yellow andblue. I felt some pressure on my arm and thought, I should look over and seewhat’s going on, but then the thought was gone, sliding away like Jell-O off ahot car hood.“Fang?”“Yeah. I’m here.”I struggled to focus on him. “I’m so glad you’re here.”“Yeah, I got that.”“I don’t know what I’d do without you.” I peered up at him, trying to seepast the too-bright lights.“You’d be fine,” he muttered.“No,” I said, suddenly struck by how unfine I would be. “I would be totallyunfine. Totally.” It seemed very urgent that he understand this.Again I felt some tugging on my arm, and I really wondered what that wasabout. Was Ella’s mom going to start this procedure any time soon?“It’s okay. Just relax.” He sounded stiff and nervous. “Just...relax. Don’ttry to talk.”“I don’t want my chip anymore,” I explained groggily, then frowned.“Actually, I never wanted that chip.”“Okay,” said Fang. “We’re taking it out.”“I just want you to hold my hand.”“I am holding your hand.”“Oh. I knew that.” I drifted off for a few minutes, barely aware ofanything, but feeling Fang’s hand still in mine.“Do you have a La-Z-Boy somewhere?” I roused myself to ask, every word aneffort.“Um, no,” said Ella’s voice, somewhere behind my head.“I think I would like a La-Z-Boy,” I mused, letting my eyes drift shutagain. “Fang, don’t go anywhere.”“I won’t. I’m here.”“Okay. I need you here. Don’t leave me.”“I won’t.”“Fang, Fang, Fang,” I murmured, overwhelmed with emotion. “I love you. Ilove you sooo much.” I tried to hold out my arms to show how much, but Icouldn’t move them.“Oh, jeez,” Fang said, sounding strangled.
He rolled his eyes and took my hand. His hand was hard and calloused, tough with muscle and old scars.The night settled around us like a blanket. I could hear the water lapping against the dock. We were totally alone.“You’re . . . ,” he began, and I waited, heart throbbing in my throat. “Such a pain,” he concluded.“What?” I asked, just as his head swooped in and his mouth touched mine. I tried to speak, but one ofFang’s hands held the back of my head, and he kept his lips pressed against me, kissing me softly but with a Fanglike determination.Oh, jeez, I thought distractedly. Jeez, this is Fang, and me, and . . . Fang tilted his head to kiss me more deeply, and I felt totally lightheaded. Then I remembered to breathe through my nose, and the fog cleared a tiny bit. Somehow we were pressed together, Fang’s arms around me now, sliding under mywings, his hands flat against my back.It was incredible. I loved it. I loved him.It was a total disaster.Gasping, I pulled back. “I, uh—,” I began oh so coherently, and then I jumped up, almost knocking himover, and raced down the dock. I took off, flying fast, like a rocket.
When he went to go get groceries, though, he asked Mercer to come. 'There's no one I'd rather get stuck in a snowdrift and freeze to death with,' William said.
Max, you can change your mind.” His voice was like autumn leaves droppinglightly onto the ground.“I don’t know how.”Then my throat felt tight, and I rubbed my fists against my eyes. I droppedmy face onto my arms, crossed over my knees. This sucked! I wanted to be backwith the oth-Fang’s hand gently smoothed my hair off my neck. My breath froze in mychest, and every sense seemed hyperalert. His hand stroked my hair again, sosoftly, and then trailed across my neck and shoulder and down my back, makingme shiver.I looked up. “What the heck are you doing?”“Helping you change your mind,” he whispered, and then he leaned over,tilted my chin up, and kissed me.
I’m not beautiful. My mother—”“I know. Your mother was a knockout, and you’re paper bag ugly... Sorry to upset all those cherished illusions of yours, but I don’t see it your way.”“That’s because you didn’t know her.”“Could your mother have led tiger back into its cage?”“Maybe not that, but she was very good with men. They’d do anything for her.”“This man will do anything for you.
Max.God, but she was stubborn. And tough. And closed in. Closed off. Except whenshe was holding Angel, or ruffling the Gasman’s hair, or pushing somethingcloser to Iggy’s hand so he could find it easily without knowing anyone hadhelped him. Or when she was trying to untangle Nudge’s mane of hair.Or-sometimes-when she was looking at Fang.He shifted on the hard ground, a half-dozen flashes of memory cyclingthrough his brain. Max looking at him and laughing. Max leaping off a cliff,snapping out her wings, flying off, so incredibly powerful and graceful thatit took his breath away.Max punching someone’s lights out, her face like stone.Max kissing that weiner Sam on Anne’s front porch.Gritting his teeth, Fang rolled onto his side.Max kissing him on the beach, after Ari had kicked Fang’s butt.Just now, her mouth soft under his.He wished she were here, if not next to him, then somewhere in the cave, sohe could hear her breathing.It was going to be hard to sleep without that tonight.
Winter’s head snapped around, away from Scarlet. Scarlet’s pace slowed, dread pulsing through her as she, too, heard the footsteps. Pounding footsteps, like someone was running at full speed toward them. She reached for the knife Jacin had given her. A man barrelled around the corner, heading straight for the princess. Winter tensed half a second before he reached her. Grabbing Winter’s elbow, he yanked back the red hood. Scarlet gasped. Her knees weakened. The man stared at Winter with a mixture of confusion and disappointment and maybe even anger, all locked up in eyes so vividly green that Scarlet could see them glowing from here. She was the one hallucinating now. She took a stumbling, uncertain step forward. Wanting to run toward him, but terrified it was a trick. Her hand tightened around the knife handle as Wolf, ignoring how Winter was trying to pull away, grabbed her arm and smelled the filthy red sleeve of Scarlet’s hoodie, streaked with dirt and blood. He growled, ready to tear the princess apart. “Where did you get this?” So desperate, so determined, so him. The knife slipped out of Scarlet’s hand. Wolf’s attention snapped to her. “Wolf?” she whispered. His eyes brightened, wild and hopeful. Releasing Winter, he strode forward. His tumultuous eyes scooped over her. Devoured her. When he was in arm’s reach, Scarlet almost collapsed into him, but at the last moment she had the presence of mind to step back. She planted a hand on his chest. Wolf froze, hurt flickering across his face. “I’m sorry,” said Scarlet, her voice teetering with exhaustion. “It’s just…I smell so awful, I can hardly stand to be around myself right now, so I can’t even imagine what it’s like for you with your sense of
Jacin’s fingers curled around his knife. It was torture. Jacin looked more afraid than when he’s stood on trial. More afraid than when his torso had been stripped raw from the lashings. This was the last time she would ever see him. This was her last moment. Her last breath. Suddenly, all of the politics and all of the games stopped mattering. Suddenly, she felt daring. “Jacin,” she said, with a shaky smile. “You must know. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t love you. I don’t think such a time ever existed.”His eyes filled with a thousand emotions. But before he could say whatever he would say, before he could kill her, Winter grabbed the front of his shirt with both hands and kissed him. He thawed much quicker than shed expected. Almost instantly, like he’d been waiting for this moment, he grabbed her hips and pulled her against him with a possessiveness that overwhelmed her. His lips were desperate and starved as he leaned into the kiss, pressing her against the rail. She gasped, and he deepened the kiss, threading one hand into the hair at the nape of her neck. Her head swam, muddles with heat and a lifetime of desire. Jacin’s other hand abandoned her hip. She heard the ring of steel as the knife was pulled from its scabbard. Winter shuddered and kissed him harder, filling it with every fantasy she’d ever had. Jacin’s hand slipped out of her hair. His arm encircled her. He held her against him like he couldn’t get close enough. Like he meant to absorb her body into his. Releasing his shirt, Winter found his neck, his jaw. She felt the tips of his hair on her thumbs. He made a noise and she couldn’t tell if it was desire or pain or regret or a mix of everything. His arm tensed against her back. His weight shifted as he raised the knife.
Jacin said nothing else. Neither did she. After the first ring was completed, she leaned her head against his thigh, making herself more comfortable as she picked out a sunburst orange. Overhead, Jacin sighed, and she felt the faintest brush of fingertips against her hair. A hint, a suggestion of togetherness, before he became a statue once more.
Still, for what Androma did to him, he should hate her, should want her dead.But seeing her before him, melting into rage and riot, her glowing grey eyes reflecting the electricity that swam around her swords...Godstars, she was magnificent, a creature that deserved to release her wrath on the world. It would be worth every drop of blood about to be shed to bring her to Cyprian's feet.
Snow's table manners are atrocious - it's like watching a wild dog eat. A wild dog you'd like to slip the tongue.