Nightshade Ch. 04bybella_de_los_muertos©
My many thanks to hex_nalun and Rosemund_deBurg for corroborating with me on this. You guys rock!!!
Ciro felt as though he could hardly breathe. The lush curves that pressed up against him, her strong arm as she leaned into him supporting him in his weakness, the long soft crimson hair that spilled down over his arm. It was almost too much. Years and years of painful training, the long trip here, all of the aches and stiffness seemed to fade as she held him. Ciro had for so long locked himself away in darkness and shadow that the desire he now felt frightened him a bit.
Her touch kindled the gentle warmth of twilight within him. It billowed up within him, easing fatigue and pain. From within him, it flowed and ebbed through his arm and down into Bella. Ciro could feel his darkness begin to invade her, seeking to comfort her. Ciro turned to look at her, unable to warn her of the magic that was being woven between them.
His lips parted slightly as he took deep, labored breaths. Ciro was shocked that he had to keep himself from leaning in, to keep from letting desires he had never known take him. He could only imagine how her lips would burn against his. His storm cloud silver eyes gazed deeply into her eyes of green. Bella could feel the dangerous magic that lurked deep within them. It was the power to shape and forge living shadow, the power to make nightmares real. But even more was hidden past the deepening silver and those were powers she could barely feel. Something colder and sharper than the darkness she saw lay hidden, something that could not be seen.
~...Bella... be careful, ma Bella...~ The shadow figure whispered to her softly as it kneeled down, picking up the swords and jacket. It looked up at her with the same silver eyes Ciro had before it wisped away in a swirl of darkness, taking the jacket and parcel with it. The words soaked through with a deep bayou accent lingered softly around her, warning her and teasing her. They would not reveal what she should be weary of, but she knew that it spoke of what was hidden deep within Ciro's eyes of silver.
"Thank you... Ms. Reece... I would partake of your hospitality, but I have not eaten yet today. Is there someplace we could go first to get something to eat?" Ciro asked softly, letting her help him to his feet again. As Ciro leaned against Bella for support, she could feel the taunt, woven muscles press against her side as they remained hidden beneath his shirt.
"And please, call me Ciro..." He smiled to her softly as she supported him. He knew that he would have to face her as an enemy... but right now, he didn't care. The Righteous Sword would not contact him for a few more days at least as they watched for an opening. Perhaps by then he could find a way to keep her from the coming nightmare.... The nightmare that he was to bring.
Bella stiffened a little, feeling the power eminating from within him. It was subtle, like a telepath's "push" on a person's mind to test their mental blocks. There was something dark and mysterious about him, and something he was hiding. Suddenly feeling foolish for acting like a girl, and not the hard hearted woman she had been trained to be, she induced formality back into her tone.
"There are various resteraunts to enjoy on Main Street." Her eyes glanced up at him as they began the slow walk out of the park and back into the more populated portion of town. Suddenly she stopped, sliding her collapsed staff back into her pack and led him to the nearest tree, a little ways off the path. Cursing under her breath at the nightly group of Black Guardian patrol, she pulled a long black scarf out of her pack and swiftly wrapped up her flame hued hair, knowing it would be like a beacon in the darkness. She pulled him close, wrapping her arms around him and up over his back as if they were lovers embracing and glanced over his shoulder, her stomach doing a little flip as she was lined up against him from head to toe, the latter of which she had to stand on to see over his shoulder.
"Don't say a word." She whispered. "I know you're a Shadow Warrior, or rather thats what we call your type here. Just play along and maybe they won't notice us. If they do, don't say anything..... or let your shade talk for you, with his accent they'd think you're local. Otherwise they'll know you're an outsider. It's a toss up as to which is worse."
Her hope of not being discovered dropped a notch when she saw the man leading the patrol. Holden Knox. She should have known. Only he would have the skill to take over her nightly patrol while she was on med leave. Unaware her thoughts were projecting themselves again, she planned out and rejected possible scenarios and outcomes should they be discovered, her brain seeking and processing and storing the information at a highly rapid rate. In the end she came to two conclusions. Holden would get jealous that she had been near another man when she constantly turned down any male's affections, especially Holden's. Which meant acting her ass of like she hadn't done since college. Or . . . Holden would recognize him as a shadow warrior and have him carted off to NSPD and arrested then executed as a terrorist against the De Los Muertos.
"Ciro . . ." She whispered, her voice softening slightly on his name. "Pray they don't see us. 'Cause either way we're screwed."
"You've heard of us... and you still worry that patrol will see us?" Ciro rested against her shoulder as she held him tightly. Placing his arms around her in turn, he wisped something softly. Pressing up against Bella, the aching pain faded enough for him to command the shadows around them.
"I have strength enough... don't move... don't speak... don't think..." Ciro warned softly as the shadows around them wove up, pulling them both warmly against the tree. Bella could feel Ciro's warmth as the shadows pressed him up against her. The length of his body gently pinning hers back against the tree. The shadow wove around them as they vanished into the tree's shadow. She could feel his cheek press lightly against her neck as he pulled closer. Ciro didn't have much energy to waste, and the smaller the shadow, the easier it would be to hide them.
Knowing that Bella's thoughts would betray their hiding place, Ciro let his lips gently caress the base of her neck, along her shoulder. He kissed her softly, hoping that it would be enough of a distraction that her thoughts of Holden would fade. Now if Holden had the ability to find them, they would at least be convincing enough lovers. Ciro could taste the sweat that beaded on Bella's soft skin as he held her, but he couldn't let himself be distracted... not yet.
Pulling at the moonlight and shadows, like a puppeteer pulls at a marionette's strings, Ciro reached with his shadows. Bella could feel the darkness stirring within Ciro as she was trapped between him and the tree. For being tired and weary, Ciro was still able to hold her against the tree. Bella could feel his tired muscles respond to his command as her hands draped over his back.
Suddenly a man appeared on the path a few yards away from them. His dark skin and bright clothes seemed to shine in the moonlight, instantly catching Holden's attention. With broken Cajun, the man shouted and swore at them, drawing a gun, and running off into the park. Ciro pressed lightly against Bella, his lips curled into a soft smile a he continued his light kiss. He knew that Holden would give chase and he knew that he would never be able to catch the conjured shadow before it got far enough into the park to vanish.
Pressing her forehead against Ciro's shoulder, she pressed her right hand directly over his heart and let her energy flow into him. It was an old talent, one she had seen her father and mother had often shared at times through out her lifetime. Though no matter how many times her parents had shared theirs with another, to heal, to calm, to save, Bella had never been able to tap into another like her parent's could. Just merely give and never receive. So she assumed it was a fluke talent her parents shared. Now, now she could use her parent's gift and help when it was most needed. Feeding him energy, hoping he didn't sense it, she closed her eyes as his body pressed into hers, as his lips caressed her neck, she smirked inwardly at his verbal command. If he ever got to know her, he would know that asking her not to think would literally be like asking her not to breathe.
"Holden's abilities are pyrokinesis and mild telekinesis." She whispered, her brain clouding and drifting the further down her neck his lips went. Never one to give herself away meaninglessly, Bella wondered whether she'd have the strength to slap him when it was all over. She smirked, probably not. She knew her thoughts were telegraphing themselves to him, but knew they wouldn't with Holden's group. In her entire lifetime of living in Nightshade, she never knew any outside of blood relatives that could read her thoughts.
She didn't notice when Holden's party took up the chase. Her right hand was too busy sending Ciro energy, while the other wrapped around his back. Her body seemed to throb and pulse as he leaned against her, a faint tingling starting in her toes and humming along her skin till she wondered if the earth was quaking. Her body shifted slightly, just once. Twice. Three times. Where was her training? had it abandoned her? She could feel the hard trunk of the tree behind her, and the muscled hardness of Ciro's legs as he pressed against her. His pulse beat against the palm of her hand and as they were finally alone, shrouded in shadows, Bella sensed she had given enough of her energy. Her hand flexed as the power feed was cut off, her healing touch removed, and her hand of its own accord trailed down his chest and stomach to rest on his waist, her free hand on his other side.
His face was still against her neck, hers was still on his shoulder, His arms still around her. But oh, every other second her head would tilt at each touch of his lips. ~God help me if he bites me. My knees would go out.~ She unknowingly thought as her body shifted against the hard planes of his. When his mouth stopped at the point where her throat met her shoulder, she shuddered and froze, wondering what would happen next.
Ciro's lips stopped moving as he watched the park rush past him. For a moment, he was looking through the eyes of his shadow puppet. Turning, he could see Holden giving chase. He could feel the marionette stumble, trip. It was getting to far from him and his grasp on it was slipping. If Holden were to catch the marionette, he would know what he was up against. Suddenly, Ciro felt the marionette spring to revived life as it sprinted through the park. The puppeteer could feel soft fingers interlacing with his as he guided the marionette's strings. Ciro could feel the energy wash through him. It was strong, determined....
Bella... Her name suddenly raced through his mind as he realized whose hands were interlaced with his. He leaned closer, feeling her hand gently press against his chest over his heart. He kissed her again, a bit warmer this time, thankful for the much needed boost she was giving him.
Good, the fool had no idea that he was chasing shadows. Diving low, the marionette lunged into tall bushes at the far end of the park and vanished.
Ciro gasped for breath, as he pulled his lips away from Bella. The shroud of darkness that Ciro had pulled and woven around them began to fade as he focused on ending the spell.
"Thank you..." Ciro spoke softly as he pushed back away from the tree and Bella. He could feel his chest tingling almost painfully. On his lips, he tasted energy that was not his. It was lighter, stronger, not the dark pull of shadows that he knew. He licked his lips slightly, still looking deeply into her green eyes. Yes, he could taste her vibrant energy. Somehow he could feel it inside of himself. Somehow, she had given him enough strength to hold the marionette together long enough to get the patrol to chase it deep into the park. He could taste it on his lips, across his chest, along his body where he had pressed up against her in the shadows.
"They're gone, chasing shadows. And we should be moving as well." Ciro told her as he stumbled back a bit, still weary. His moonstone amulet pulsed almost painfully as it let its stored energy seep slowly back int Ciro. Oh... how his body ached now that Bella's warmth was no longer with him. He longed to feel her again, to taste her and consume her...
No! What was he thinking? How could he possibly think of her like that at a time like this? She knew a bit of what he was capable of. She may know why he was here. She had to die, now... Ciro's eyes lightened and shimmered in the moonlight, they glistened with silver.
But still... His shadow led him to her for a reason. If it were to kill, then he would have known by now. He knew her duties were the same as well. She knew he was weak, she knew he was dangerous. She had several chances to kill him already, why didn't she? Ciro's eyes softened again as the thoughts unspoken raced through his mind. He stumbled again, it had been a very long time since he had gone for so long with so little energy. His hands shot forwards, pushing against the tree on either side of Bella as he stumbled a bit.
Bella cursed, catching him as he fell, her arms wrapping around his waist to help lift him against the tree again. She felt his warmth creep into her body with a pleasurable tingle, and reluctantly unwound her arms as she steadied him. Lifting a hand, she leaned in close and checked his pupils, managing just barely to ignore the beauty of his irises and instead check the pupils for poisoning and dilation.
"You need bed. Now. If we got attacked again I donut think you'd make it." Silently she stuck her shoulder under his arm, wrapping hers around his waist and helping him walk slowly down the park path. Her curves brushed against his hard body with every step and she couldn't help picturing them entwined in a sweat slicked embrace over and over again. Absently she adjusted her arms as they walked, her arms shifting and flexing against his hard stomach with every breath, every step she took.
She worked hard at keeping her mind away from the truth. He was a Shadow Warrior. True he didn't know who she was before the fight, and she wondered if had he known, what he would have done. Would he have fought and slain her like countless others have tried to do? None she knew personally save Dante and Sage could best her in battle. That was why she was a Black Guardian. Only the most hardened, ruthless, intelligent warriors,soldiers, and all around worst bad asses in nightshade became a Black Guardian.
Bella glanced up at him, her heart instantly throbbing to the pattern of his beneath her arm. She hadn't seen anyone as handsome since meeting Dante. Her brothers were constantly called eye candy, but those were her brothers. Sighing slightly, she ignored the chill coursing through her as she walked the last block near the park to Dante's house. Leaning him against the wall by the door she reached into her bag and pulled out her keys, pausing and shooting him a wary look.
"I sooooo hope you don't have anything against vampires. Or once again . . . we're screwed."
Rosemund breathed a soft sigh. Her breath a faint thing as Bella withdrew from her touch and hand. Her glamor rippled, faintly casting a dull glow about her. Vane's warm bulk steadied her as he moved to wrap an arm about her waist. Her shimmering eyes focused on Bella, understanding laced beneath the arrogance of the Sidhe. No words were needed, for the mortal knew the debt given by the healing, knew the honor and cost of Sidhe magic.
"Should I fetch her Highness?" The rumbling voice of her guard brushed along her delicate shell shaped ear. A warm breeze in the quickly cooling night to tease her flesh and elicit a faint shiver. Her tongue peeked from her lips, teasing along them as she sought her words. Rosemund knew the pain and fright the woman ran from; did she not currently do the same?
"No, let her run... let her flee the death she sees if she can..." Rosemund spoke softly, allowing the night to hold their voices in its embrace. Her glowing eyes lifted to touch the starry sky. It soothed her, this quiet darkness. The embrace of a lover that wrapped and teased around her glowing flesh; a night that once she would have danced in the nude to for the simple joy of living. Things changed and times pressed onwards.
Rosemund sighed softly as she turned her cheek into Vane's chest. His warmth and solid bulk soothed her. For all his youth, five centuries being a paltry sum to one who could not remember her birth year, he was steady and a comfortable fixture in her life. "Let us go fine something to eat..." She spoke at last, allowing humor and warmth to creep into her voice. "No doubt they can hear the rumbling of your empty stomach leagues away..." Her voice was enchanting, a delicate melody to play over the ear, when so open and friendly.
Behind her eyes danced visions of shadows, demons bearing death, and fire rippling over a silver current. Some nights playing the oracle was harder than others, this was one such eve. Her visions would remain her own. The compact could be sealed without her blood and without her magic. The compact was written word and oath, a law binding the Sidhe to their conduct. Rosemund snorted, for many of the 'others' were not bound by the same laws and codes of her people. Faerie, for all its barbaric ways, was civilized.
Together they walked a melding of rippling shadows and golden flesh. Rustling silk and soft cotton, they moved through the evening air with the casual ease of lovers. Things the sight could construe and yet be completely wronged in the first assumption. Lithe limbs moved in perfect accord, yet brought to the mind images of tangled bodies, sweat sleeked flesh, and rumpled bedding. Together they were fantasy brought to life, a promise of carnal bliss, and yet there was an innocence lingering between the touch of hands and the tender vulnerability in the woman's posturing.
It was like this that they entered the diner. Rose's hands moving to shift the loose and heavy strands of her hair away from the delicate profile of her features while she settled herself at the simple table. The vinyl bench whooshed and sank under her slight weight, and the scuffed wooden table almost glowed as her soft flesh glided over the careworn surface. Ratted and fraying menus were eyed. Their pictures fading and the print smudged from age, still keen gazes could tell what was supposed to be featured. Quietly they ordered their meals, not caring about saturated fats, cholesterol, or nutritional content; sometimes it was good to be immortal...
As Ciro stumbled into Bella's arms, the world around him went gray and cold. He had overestimated how much energy he still had... he had gravely overestimated. As she gazed into his eyes to check them, they darkened to the hue of tarnished steel. He could feel the darkness within himself reaching out to claim him.
"No... not again... not the silence..." he whispered to himself almost deliriously as his vision faded. Ciro blinked. The pain was gone, but why? Spinning around, he saw it... the spirit bound to him. The spirit that gave its life so that he may fight on, this was its world. Every Shadow Warrior had one. A spirit bound to them in death in a world of darkness, hidden away. But not like this.... His silver eyes shimmered in the gray world as he turned, coming face to face with himself. Silver eyes shimmered in return as the shadow watched him. They were two sides of a looking glass.
The gray world crumbled around him as he felt something press up under his arm and snake around his waist. It was warm, comforting, as it pulled him from the land of shadows. He could feel her... Bella. She was touching him, holding him, helping him to walk.