tagNovels and NovellasA Dangerous Legacy Pt. 20

A Dangerous Legacy Pt. 20

bymadam_noe©

Chapter Twenty Two



When I woke it seemed only seconds had passed, but I found myself in my room surrounded by my three lovers.

"Is it too much to hope that was just the worst nightmare I've ever had?"

They were a storm of emotions. Pierre was worried, but I could tell more for me than the situation, and he was wary of his brother. Julian was his usual petulance now that he was perturbed, but there was a tinge of passionate anger there. Andre was cold, remote, yet threatening, an iceberg in the dark of night.

"What were you doing?" He growled out at last.

"The prophecy in my book. It was too much. I- I wanted to know what his prophecies had told him."

Andre leaned closer. "And why do you smell of desire?"

I scrambled away, or tried, but he caught me. "Anna, no! I will never pretend to be able to restrict whom you dally with, but I, nay, all of us, can demand honesty."

"Malachai did some sort of sorcerer trick, took me to a place where I had no power but he did, he said witches can't do it."

Pierre suddenly went deadly still. "He forced you?"

"Pierre!" Andre snapped and at last let me go. "Sorcerers have the power to see into the soul and learn the most hidden of desires. And the trick she describes is merely a chance to experience it."

Pierre looked at me, hurt, and pulled away.

Julian at least seemed to understand. "Anna, I fear sometimes my brothers forget just how young you are."

Normally I would have smiled and called them old men, but my guilt was eating at me and shame was burning. Andre was angry, Pierre too, but beneath that was hurt. They had a thousand years of training to expect betrayal and abuse and just a short time with me. Damn it, love took trust and respect, but why did it seem sometimes that love came easy and trust took forever?

I pushed to my feet and squared off at them.

"Do you understand that these prophecies, this child, all of this is to save magic. To save us! And if I have to betray a promise for one night, I, the queen must do it, but can you understand it's tearing me, Anna, the woman apart!?"

Andre gave me a look that made shame wash over me.

"And can you not understand that for a millennium we have been abused, abandoned, and lied to. Even Sigrid made us promises, and all too soon they were broken," Pierre said.

Andre gave him a sharp look but didn't contradict him.

I was wrung out, too exhausted. For God's sake, the weight of the world was truly on my shoulders. Billions of lives depended ion what I chose to do. "And if I must break a vow made without full knowledge once for duty, will that damn me for eternity in your eyes? Can we move past it?"

Andre stormed out at my words, without the backward glance Pierre spared me as he followed. Julian started to follow but stopped and sighed. "They are two pragmatic men, but you and I...we're creative types. You are young, Anna, and it is indeed part of your charm, but you do tend to think without acting. That is what scares us all."

He left too and I sank to the chair where not long ago I had slept in Andre's arms.

I was trapped. I knew enough of history to know Machiavelli was right: you had to strive to rule through fear and love, but in a crunch if you had to pick one, fear was the way to go. A smart ruler would order the men to shut up and know their place, and go and do what must be done.

Ruler. I laughed out loud, a hollow sound, as I stared at the mountains with the fresh snow. I heard scratches at the door and used magic to open it, and Diego padded in to aggressively snuffle me as if chastising me for forgetting him. I closed the door and spent a few minutes playing with him like we were plain human and canine again, scratching behind his ears and ruffling his furry belly.

"Boy, what do I do?"

He gave me the usual canine look of wonderment, as if everything I said was brilliant. And that was why I was a dog person. If I wanted derision at worst and tolerance at best, well, I had people for that. Werewolves these days.

Diego sat promptly, nudged my hand to make sure I kept petting him, and waited patiently. I had often in the past worked through issues like this, but without creatures with superhuman hearing on the other side of the door.

"At heart I am an anarchist, you know that boy, don't you? I rather hate being in charge. I get no ego trip from power, but the responsibility feels like an anchor tied around my neck. And now, if I do this one thing, not only do I save the damn world, but the child that results would grow up to rule all of magic, and I could step down. That way we would have centuries where I would never have to choose between my duty and my love."

Diego licked my hand and I laughed quietly and sank back into the chair. "I think I already know what I have to do, and Julian is right. Maybe I do act too quickly, but he who hesitates is last."

My familiar's look suggested I win a Nobel prize for that statement so I ordered him to lie down. The ego boost was terrific but I needed to be in the dog house. What I hadn't told them and yet they knew was I was in no way, shape, or form physically adverse to fucking Malachai. No woman with an ounce of sanity would be. The bad boy was a classic for a reason, after all.

But now Kenneth was added to the mix. He hated me. Well, I thought back to our duel, maybe he didn't hate me, but right now I was a great symbol for everything wrong in his life. His mother...she had reason to hate me.

Maybe if I was smart I could pull this off but make some slight changes. No one said Alessandra had to be raped to produce Kenneth. I had time travel, the aid of the sorcerer king, and the ability to conjure up Barry White and an orchestra with a thought.

Oh, there I'd gone again. I had made the decision to go ahead without talking to them. Time to suck it up, mea culpa, and lay it all on the table. I rose and stepped over Diego who'd decided to nap as soon as my inner monologue had taken over.

I opened the doors and found my pack watching a movie, reading the prophecy book, and working on the computer by turns. "All right. Pack meeting. Let's go over everything that has happened, and figure out what we have to do next." I met their eyes settling last on Andre's. "And I do mean we as in us all."

***



In perhaps the strangest turn of events I sat in my suite with Malachai on the chair, eyeing me on the couch as we awaited an answer to our summons. Kind of humbling to have to have the king of sorcerers show me a basic magic of summoning a subject. Kenneth may be both Malachai's and mine, but Alessandra was fully a subject of the witch queen, and since I had that role at the moment I had to call her.

It is time I said simply, counting that even in her rage, she would do her duty. Oh, Alessandra would seek any loophole possible, like a lawyer negotiating a contract, but I knew to watch for it.

In Malachai's rooms Andre and Pierre sat talking with Nadine and Francine. The discussion was how to play nice when the sovereigns they loved bumped uglies. Julian had assembled my Council and Malachai's trusted advisors to go over the plan with them and Horus, who was still with us in case we needed a shot in the arm of his supercharged power.

I had never been so nervous in my life. Malachai sat patiently as I fidgeted wondering if my outfit was appropriate. What did a woman wear when she wanted to seduce her sworn enemy and promise his mother it was for the good of mankind, and oh, by the way, I can pimp you out better than I did before in the future to come.

It was only because of my magic I didn't suffer horrible migraines.

"Relax, you have chosen well."

I looked down at my simple dress, the same green as my eyes and casual enough for daily wear it didn't scream femme fatale. The straps were thin, the neck line sweetheart, but it hung to the muddle of my calves in a gentle wash of silk and I covered my bare shoulders in one of my camisoles that tied in the front and held a little sparkle. I had done my hair up in a French twist simply, and kept my makeup light.

On the other hand, Malachai was dressed in a suit that shimmered dark maroon, catching the light and flashing like blood. His shirt was white silk, his tie black as pitch, and his dark hair was left loose and waving around his shoulders. He was pale enough that the getup seemed better suited to a high vampire than the king od sorcerers.

"Should we discuss this before they arrive?"

"We have discussed enough," he purred. "I shall enjoy you, and you will definitely enjoy me. All that is left is for Kenneth to decide his role."

"How does this even work? I know magic is... well, fucked up and all, but we're still human where it counts. Last I checked one baby means on sperm donor and one egg donor."

"Such a charming way to put it. Trust me in this. Love is your domain, so once the child is made I will bend my will to yours to see it comes to fruition. But sex is my domain. Passion and lust are their own kind of magic, my young queen."

"Knock off the flirting," I growled. "I said I would help get a child, not be your lover until the end of time."

"We'll see," he said silkily behind steepled fingers.

I felt the jolt of magic and nearly jumped to my feet but Malachai's magic forced me down. Next to me on the floor Diego growled.

Standing in the room was Kenneth, wearing one of his usual light grey suits, short blonde hair styled slicked back on the sides like he was living in a 1980's soap opera. Alessandra stood behind him, wearing a business suit in dark purple with a short skirt, and teetering heels that brought her one inch over her son's height of six-two.

"Welcome," I said reading the emotions they were trying to hide behind imperious expressions.

"Are you here to concede the throne to me, witch queen? I had thought perhaps you had agreed at last to let me rule by your side, but not if he is here."

Maybe he didn't hate me, but he hated Malachai. Oh, yes, that was centuries of hatred, and I knew why.

"Please have a seat. This concerns you both. Malachai, let me speak and tell them all that has happened."

He gestured to go ahead but his eyes marked the favor down on some tab. What was the single-minded purpose I kept seeing? I could only file that mystery away for another day as I began the tale back at the beginning. My beginning. I didn't know what else to do.

Malachai summoned food and drinks, tea and wine, but only he and I partook in the wine. Our guests were more than cautious. When I finally finished I looked to Malachai to see if there was anything I left out. He merely explained his book of prophecy in more detail.

When we both had finished you could have heard a pin drop to the carpeting it was so quiet. And then I took in their expressions. Alessandra stared at me like I was a horrible bug on a pin she couldn't stand, but desperately needed for a new paper. And Kenneth...

There was no hatred there now in his eyes. What I saw was desire so raw it was almost embarrassing to look upon. It was how the devout looked upon their gods, how outcastes looked upon gold. It was an ancient instinct too terrifying to exist that had long ago mellowed into desire, and yet Kenneth wore it naked on his face.

Alessandra turned to her son. "No. No! You can't!"

"Mother, I am a grown man. This is my decision."

"It is a trick, I know it is! Malachai is the king of deceit, and Anna is brutal, vicious, and single minded."

I looked to Malachai and he merely raised one eyebrow and gave a early imperceptible shrug. I guess he'd been king long enough to see it all.

"Mother, shut up." Kenneth rose and though he addressed Malachai and I both, his eyes remained on me. "I will do this under one condition. You and I alone. Not with him at the same time."

The words were affected light, he could have been requesting no cheese on his dinner, but his eyes burned. I could only swallow and look to Malachai. "Is that possible?"

He gave that chuckle men have been giving women since time memorable: the "you're so sexually innocent I can't wait to corrupt you chuckle" and it pissed me off. Speed it up and you got the "aren't you cute when you're angry?" laugh guaranteed to start a fight.

"Knock it off, Mal, and give me a simple answer."

"But of course, provided we have our interlude first."

That he fairly purred and I had to wonder if somehow I had beer flavored nipples and didn't know. Ah, damn, this was what it meant to be wanted for what you were, not who. The only men who wanted me for myself were off trying to placate everyone else into letting me traipse off and screw these two idiots.

There. Anger made me feel better. Anger made me feel in control. Lie or not, I needed it. "All right, so when do we do this?"

"Soon. There are things we must do first. Things only we sovereigns can discuss," Malacahi said.

Kenneth's eyes darkened. "Do not trick me, Anna. I, unlike every other witch, can be more than a consort. I was born to rule, I know that now. I can be a true King, take some of the weight from your shoulders. And I would care not if you kept your wolves, all I ask is you give me a chance to see if we can love one another."

In his voice I heard a scared child desperate for warm shelter. I knew that tone because it had filled my own voice so often in my youth. I would never love him like he wanted, and in that moment it broke my heart. Knowing all he had gone through I could give him friendship, a familial kind of love, the gift of lust freely given, and acceptance, but no more.

"I swear upon my line there is no trickery here, Kenneth." We all felt the weight of magic underscoring my vow.

"We will take rooms here and be available when needed." Kenneth held out his hand. "Come, mother."

"No, Ken, this is all wrong!"

I knew what her fear was. "Alessandra, it does not have to be what was. We have the power to change the past." I would not say the word, rape, not unless I knew I could. Rape was a horrible thing, a tragedy no two people alike suffered the same way through. For some they could not even bear the word, for others it was a sword to use.

I still could not tell which it was for her when her eyes narrowed and she motioned to Kenneth. With an apologetic sigh I felt his magic rise and they disappeared, leaving me alone with Mal. I suddenly wanted to punch him.

He was older, had ruled so much longer. He was old enough he had written prophecy, something I wouldn't do for another century, if I ruled that long. He had to have known all this was coming, or had he worked events simply to paint me into a corner where I had to fuck him, had to have his child to unite magic?

"I know what you're thinking-"

"If you did you'd be crossing your legs," I growled and used magic to summon up a drink.

He actually smiled. "Forgive me if my manner offends, but Alessandra was right. I am the king of sorcerers, and sorcery is the magic of night, of darkness, of temptation, of sin. I am old enough to know there is no joy in what is freely given, but I am just wired to delight in cajoling."

"And manipulation."

He grinned wider. "Good. Angry sex is some of the best."

I thought it spoke volumes about my growing maturity that I didn't throw the glass at him. "All right. So it's in place. Dark magic, light magic, and a grey magic bridge. The gods be with us and the first time I get knocked up, nine months later the new sovereign is born, and we just have to worry about raising him or her to adulthood."

At that I saw a flicker of a real, human emotion in his eyes. He wanted retirement. What he had confessed at the pool was real. Perhaps more than a desire to make his enemy queen his sex slave for a night was the urge to live life on his terms.

"Before that we must make sure all is in place."

"We have to weaken magic," I said with a sigh and sat back down. "We're the ones that have to do it."

"Which means we must kill good men and women, fools and wise men alike. We must kill those of great magic."

I felt queasy. Murder. One dozen queens, one dozen high ranking sorcerers. Twenty four men and women. I had once sworn never to do violence of any kind against another. I had fought and scrapped in my late adolescence after a childhood of beat downs. How, just how, could I do this?

"We will figure out the way. We can use magic, persuade them to give up their lives."

That was terrifying, knowing what it truly meant to be queen. My magic was enough to make even those of great magic and age do my bidding. The power of life and death, truly. Reeling, I looked at Malachai's calm acceptance and felt dizzy.

Magic whisked me away but only to a hallway. I needed to go somewhere I could feel safe, but where? These days, with whom?

I was alone. It sank in. Alone. Not in my bedroom, but standing alone. Not even Diego with me. How long had it been since I had this luxury? Suddenly I wanted to laugh madly. I had forgotten in so many ways this part of myself. The introvert that recharged alone. The simple enjoyment of me and me alone. I loved my boys and in many ways I was a pack person who couldn't handle endless loneliness, but every now and again I needed this.

I threw my hands out and spun, feeling like a child. Freedom. If I was quick I had maybe twenty minutes before someone came. What to do? I stopped and noticed a small poster advertising services and with a snap of my fingers, I arrived.

***



"You could have simply sought me out, Anna," Julian purred.

I didn't open my eyes, enjoying the Swedish massage from Inga, a self-professed real Swede. She was a true Viking maiden with sure hands, and the way she pummeled my muscles made me feel relaxed, at least on the outside.

Julian spoke again and it was only with magic I realized he was speaking Swedish with the masseuse. Seconds later the door opened and closed and when hands returned they were familiar ones with long fingers, light callus, and inhuman talent.

"Malachai let us know you'd gone off on your own. I was the first freed up so I came to find you. Don't do that again."

I wanted to argue, remind him I was an adult, a powerful sovereign, but those hands were a magic of their own. I could barely stop myself from drooling. Damn him, damn all their sensual hides. Was there anyone in magic who wasn't drop-dead gorgeous?

"Anna," he breathed into my ear making me shiver, "are you going to answer me?"

"Ungh," was all I could manage as he brushed my towel aside and began to massage my inner thighs. He knew full well what he was doing, and confirmed it when he nipped my ear.

Abruptly I rolled over. Oh, my body wanted him, no questions asked, but my mind wasn't even close to relaxed. "Do I really act before I think constantly?"

I opened my eyes to see him smiling down at me, sloppy ponytail shaking as he smiled. "I'm older than half the countries on the atlas and yet I will never understand women."

I rose up on my elbows. "It's simple. Sex is awesome, sex is great, but for a woman sex is beyond difficult to enjoy if she's tense. Hence all the talking."

He stared at me for a minute then nearly barked in laughter. "Fine then. Yes, you are a woman of action. It is one of the things I love most about you and dislike most. Yet this seems to be the case with love, yes?"

"Maybe to you nutso French. How can you love something that annoys you?"

His expression was truly innocent, pure perplexed man. "I abhor simplicity?"

He was just too precious. I reached for him and drew him down to kiss him deeply. Those hands returned to my body and pulled the towel completely off me. I used magic to remove his and smiled against his growl.

"Foreplay is overrated," I said when he broke our kiss and his hands rose to cup my breasts.

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