Bound By Magick: CHAOS BURNING by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2012, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
Releasing in mass market paper and digital formats, June 5
“You’re going to pay for this,” she muttered as he continued carrying her. She wouldn’t make a bigger scene by punching him in the face. Not until they were in private.
“Looking forward to it. Right now you’re not strong enough to take me on so be quiet.”
He bundled her into the car and she didn’t look at him. Not that he cared.
Her father wouldn’t be taking a break. Or her sister. “I slept this morning.”
“You slept yesterday morning. You’ve been working straight through since you woke up. You look like hell.”
“I’m aware of your feelings about my clothing. Anyway, Shelley came to see me and fixed my shoulder. I’m taking anti-inflammatories and I need to stop the end of the world. The last thing I need is to be managed like I’m five.”
“I’m not talking about your questionable taste in clothing. You haven’t had a real meal in days. You haven’t slept in a bed for days. Just fucking admit you need it. God, why do you have to make everything so hard? It’s still the apocalypse looming over you when you’re not so tired you’re stumbling.”
“I’m not your ward. I’m supposed to be your girlfriend. Last time I checked that didn’t include letting you make all my choices for my job. A job I’m very capable of doing, thank you very much.”
He drove, perfectly controlled, but the look on his face wasn’t so very controlled.
“And I notice you’re not sleeping. How is it that I’m supposed to do this or that but you’re just fine to be operating machinery and carrying girls around?”
“I’m six hundred fucking years old.” He said this through clenched teeth. “I’m Lycian, I’m built, bred to be up for days while fighting. That’s what we’ve done for millennia. I’m made to carry people around and be on the move for days at a time. You are not. You’ve done your job. It doesn’t mean you failed that you need to consume food and sleep, for heaven’s sake.”
Boy, he said the F-word a lot more when he was pissy. But she was pissy too, so she might have to pull out a few F-words of her own.
“Do you think my father is sleeping right now? Or Helena?” She didn’t mean to yell and suddenly she fought tears and then mortification that she’d yelled and wanted to cry.
“I think I don’t care. And fuck that ward comment. It’s beneath you to say that.”
“Fuck you right back, Simon. It’s beneath you to carry me around and undermine me to my boss simply because you’re besties and all.”
He growled and she felt better that his controlled mask slipped a little. So she was petty.
But he continued as if she hadn’t said anything. “I don’t care what your father is doing because he’s not here. Helena didn’t save her friend. You did. Neither of them has taken on these mages multiple times, overhauled an entire hunter crew and clan and also been injured over and over. But you have. So what these random people would or wouldn’t do doesn’t matter to me. What you do matters to me. And the rest of the damned world too, Lark. Because that’s who you’ve been working to save pretty much nonstop since you arrived. And I’d wager since you could walk.”
He heard the tears in her voice and it sliced through him. She was so tired she shuffled, and yet she kept going. Dominic had come to him to complain about Meriel going without a break and he’d realized they both had women who needed some sleep.
He knew he was pushing it. Could see her anger with him was genuine and in another time with another set of circumstances she’d be right to be angry with him. But she was exhausted and if the battle with the Magister were to happen right then she may lose because of the way she’d been going without a break.
So he’d let her be mad and he’d be mad too, but she’d get some rest and be better able to deal with whatever came along. There was no way he’d do anything that made her less able to deal with the monumental task before them.
“I love you, Lark. You’re not my ward, you’re my everything. I’ve got to deal with the fact that you’re walking into the face of something so strong even the Fae are freaked. I can’t stand by and watch you work yourself to the verge of passing out. You have to be ready for the Magister. I’m not going to lose you. So if you want to be mad at me, go on, but I’m not sorry.”
They pulled into his garage and she was alert again, looking, he knew, with her othersight to be sure they were safe and no wards had been tripped.
“Clear.” She got out and headed toward the house. That she didn’t sock him or kick him in the junk was probably a good indicator she was less mad than she was at first. But he was on guard because she was sneaky.
“Bed.” He followed her and steered her away from the table where she kept her laptop. “Plenty of work to do in the morning.”
“I’m totally not having sex with you. You carried me out of the office.”
She moved into his bedroom—well, their bedroom—and peeled her clothes off. This was going in a nice direction.
“Of course you will. But not right now. No one saw. I wouldn’t have done it if there had been people around. They’re all sleeping or out on patrol.” He handed her a T-shirt and she snatched it from his hand and glared. “Put that on and let’s go to sleep. I’ll set the alarm for seven.” He did as she watched, suspicious. As if he’d set it for nine just for fun.
“I should sleep in my room.”
“This is your room.” He pulled his shirt off and knew he had her attention. He’d use whatever he had to to make sure she got rest so he unzipped his pants ever so slowly and held back a smile of satisfaction when she got in bed while never taking her gaze from him.
He shimmied from the pants and tossed them in the laundry, following up with his shorts. He came to bed totally naked and his woman seemed very fine with that.
“Don’t need to cheat. You’re easy for my body. That’s not my fault.”
He pulled her to him and she squirmed for a moment and then sighed, going lax and letting him hold her. “See. This is nice, isn’t it? Close your eyes and let yourself sleep. If anything happens, they’ll call. People are working right now. You can let go. For just a little while.”
She turned and buried her face in his neck with a little snuffle and they both let go and fell into sleep.
I’ve got one last ARC of CHAOS BURNING to give away to one commenter to this post. Winner will be announced on the next Monday Winners Annoucement