Lover in Stone, Installment No. 7

 

INSTALLMENT NO. 7 #gargoyles #romance
Merrick didn’t look at the woman. He needed to keep his gaze drilled on the ancient trio seated in front of him. The clothing he wore had grown tight enough as it was, he didn’t need it cinching his crotch. Nor did he need to dwell on why he thickened in that region in the first place.
“The Scriptum, it seems, won’t come back in your hands.”
Oh, but damn. Her voice stroked like warm silk across his skin, making his chin tilt to better indulge the caress of her tone. He ground his jaw the second he realized what he was doing.
He was acting like a dog who loved the scratch of his furry ears.
“I’ll bring it back,” he growled, and instantly regretted the alarm flaring in those blue-black eyes. Merrick took an unpracticed step back. “What I meant was–”
“Of course you will, Mr. Merrick,” she assured him, as if she’d never flinched. “But I’m afraid that’s not the issue.”
Mr. Merrick. Like he wore a business suit and wasn’t part Gargoyle.
“Only she can bring it back. The Scriptum wanted her to touch it. She has to be the one to bring it back.” Aro’s needling grated on Merrick’s one nerve, and his claws pierced into his fisted palms.
Ignore him. Ignore her. Concentrate on the Triumvirate.
No better advice had ever been given. With a practiced eye, he watched the trio’s every subtle movement. His sharp hearing trained on the slender thrumming of their pulses, on Anton’s heartbeat.
The Vampyre suffered, yet did not speak against his daughter’s participation, or Aro’s assumption.
“If you don’t trust me…” Merrick dangled the bait, his sly gaze holding to the three in front of him.
“It is not a matter of trust, Merrick.” Anton rose, pushing his knuckles against the highly polished table top. “It is a matter of my daughter’s safety. She must go in, but she cannot go in alone. We need you, Chimera, to escort her, to keep her safe. That is all we ask.” He spread his hands, as if defenseless.
Because he was. This daughter meant a lot to the Vampyre. “And the Scriptum?” Merrick challenged.
Anton hesitated less than a heartbeat, yet Merrick couldn’t have missed it. He wasn’t just Gargoyle. His blood was an elixir of three formidable creatures, and Merrick knew the Vampyre could smell the subtle potency of the combination.
Even without being the one to escort Anton’s daughter through Hell, the Vampyre would deem it necessary to respect him. It would be perilous to do otherwise.
Resignation softened Anton’s expression. “I wish I could say it meant nothing. But I, too, have my duty to my kind. We will all benefit from the teachings of the Scriptum, its secrets. We cannot leave it in the hands of those who have stolen it away to Hell.
“My daughter is the one to retrieve it for us,” he admitted, his breath vacating his lungs on a long exhale. Anton’s silver eyes held Merrick’s, and hid nothing of his fear for his adopted daughter.
Merrick locked his gaze where it was while he chewed on his predicament.
The seconds limped by.
Keep not one, but two, precious items from getting destroyed? A nearly impossible feat given where he and the woman were expected to go.
“It will cost you,” he finally conceded, as forthright as the Vampyre who stood at the dais.
“Anything, Chimera.” The deal steeped down to the two players, as if the others in the room evaporated like non-essential vapor.
Well, not all of the others. Merrick never lost the trace of the human woman’s scent, of her watching him. She watched her father, too. He couldn’t have missed a single gesture of hers if he tried.
Anton and the Triumvirate would pay for that, too. Why not. “When I bring your daughter back with this book, you will owe the Kynd a building in their honor. One engineered with their retirement in mind.”
He couldn’t bring himself to say their deaths. The Kynd didn’t truly die. At first, anyway. They spent centuries encased in stone, perched on eroding ledges. They witnessed ceaselessly, watching the living below them until their bodies crumbled under the incessant ravages of time and weather.
Christ on the cross. Where was the deliverance from that torture? Oh, right. There wasn’t one. The Kynd got the nosebleed seats to the eternal game of life. Perennial passes for every season.
“It will be done, Chimera.” Anton’s acceptance rained on Merrick’s pity party, but his attention snapped back to the fore, like a pitbull scenting blood.
Just like that? This woman meant an awful lot to the Vampyre, and he cursed that he might fathom why. Merrick risked an appraising glance toward the woman who had cost the Vampyre so much, surreptitiously observed her dark eyes pool with tears, her fingers press to her lips before they formed the words Papa in a dreadful sigh.
Dear God. He wanted to hold her. Not just feel her small body enclosed in his arms, but to rub himself all over with that honey-lavender scent.
By thunder, Anton would pay. The Chimera would not rescind this deal, not when this human woman confounded him, made his body ache to do things it had never done before.
Merrick nodded his agreement, then peeled his attention onto the rest of the Triumvirate. “You mentioned packs for the journey. We’ll leave before this hour is up.” He didn’t wait for their reply, but stalked from the stone room that had begun to press on him like a cave.
He hated the underground. But more than that, he hated that he felt as if he’d just bargained for more than what was on the table.
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 8 coming Saturday, February 21, 2015

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