Ezra would never cry.
The man probably didn’t possess that delicate emotion. It was becoming more apparent that he shared no remorse whatsoever for his actions. But, Victoria understood what Perri was getting at, to avenge her. It obviously meant a great deal to Perri; her hatred for Ezra could only spawn from some deep emotional scar. The powers of the heart could be as lethal as a pointed blade. Even these people, who were considered heartless demons, still felt something. The half-breeds did possessed emotional ties.
Victoria squeezed her eyes shut. It angered her that Perri had been imitate with Ezra. Perri was a beautiful woman who was tossed aside once he had gotten what he wanted. Tapping her anger down she knew the same thing would eventually happen to her. She looked up at Perri’s plum eyes and nodded. “I promise.”
Perri nodded in return, her eyes assessing. “I hope I’m right about Ezra’s infatuation with you,” she paused as she looked out the window. “But you must be careful, Cateria is not blind either. She knows something is different about you and is on edge, cursing at everyone she sees. Never eat or drink anything she gives you, understand? Especially after you’re restored.”
Victoria frowned. “She’d poison me?”
She laughed and glanced at her. “She would kill you in a heart beat, and love it.”
A shiver raced down her spine, feeling like a wind chime on a stormy day. “So, I assume she is also infatuated with Ezra,” she muttered dryly. Was there anyone who wasn’t?! It didn’t appear that there was, depressing her even more than it should have. Dear God, what if Perri was wrong about his obsession with her? Victoria was having a hard time believing it when Ezra could have anyone he wanted. Why me? Well, if Perri turned out to be wrong it wouldn’t hurt anything but her blasted pride.
“You assume Cateria is infatuated with Ezra?” Perri inquired sarcastically and raised a brow, like she was rethinking her opinion of Victoria. “That is the understatement of the decade. The woman has killed others for just smiling at him. Even I was almost one her victims… but thankfully Ezra was only interested in me for one drunken night, ” she lamented wistfully, her fist clenching. “Cateria was the reason Ezra stopped coming here for visits; it caused too much chaos. The woman is insane, acting like she runs this place. Drake can barely control her temper tantrums, knowing she is on the verge of losing it all.”
Victoria shot up, completely shocked. “Actually… killed? And she got away with it? Is that sort of thing okay here?”
“Sydonia is not much different to what you’re used to, so don’t be so shocked. In England you have aristocrats who can most likely get away with anything if the price is right. The same thing works here, we have our nobles as well, Cateria being one of them.”
Victoria thought on that, realizing its truth.
“The amount of power a Liorian possesses generally will be where one ranks. How you can tell if someone has great power is by their youth,” Perri said, sitting down on the bed, motioning Victoria to do the same.
“Yes, for if one has enough power they can replenish themselves, immortal. So, someone who gradually ages reflects on their poor power level. Liorians live much longer than humans, a Liorian’s life span without replenishing can be three hundred years.”
“So, I will live for three hundred years?” she asked in awe.
Perri shrugged. “Depends on your power level. And from what you told me, I would assume you might be Liorian royalty. Who are your parents?” Perri asked, her brows knitting together.
“All I know is that my mother’s name is Assiel,” she admitted softly, wishing she had met her.
Perri’s eyes widened, but didn’t say anything. Victoria looked up and met her shocked expression and murmured, “You know of her?”
Perri nodded, swallowing visibly. “I did not know you were the daughter of a Liorian Master. I was thinking possibly a Guardian, but a Master… That explains why you are still looking youthful even though you have not ingested the right substance on Earth.”
Victoria had to give her head a mental shake. This was so much information to be thrown at her all at once, forheaven’s sake! Feeling perplexed she asked, “What food do you eat in… er, where do Liorians live exactly?”
Perri took a breath and shook her head too, the silver plaits of her hair flashing. “You really know nothing at all. Pay close attention, I will only do this once.” She continued, “Liorians with a soul live in Lior, under the rule of the Council. Our kind, the Fallen, live in the under realm. The Underworld is a broad term; there are six Kingdoms and half are ruled by Ezra’s father. The other half is ruled by Lord Zion, the two bastards hate each other deeply. The Underworld is always under constant attack by both combating forces.” Perri eyed Victoria, seeing if it sank in.
“But you’re banished from there right? What Kingdom did you live in and why did you get evict you?” she asked carefully, hoping she wasn’t overstepping boundaries.
Perri looked away, pain crossed over her petite features. “I was under the rule of Lord Moray, Ezra’s father. I’m from Tirasea, the largest empire under Moray. Lord Zion rules over Doloriath, both equally dangerous places. And as you know I am a half-breed. Half-breeds are detested there, treated like infected rats. That’s all you need to know.”
“But, Ezra is a half-breed.”
Perri stood and started to pace, her lavender gown shimmering as she walked. “Ezra is the son of Moray, with extreme amounts of power. Him being a half-breed was not an issue until… recently I hear. Half-breeds are a liability, they are not trusted in the under realm for good reason. ”
Victoria nodded. “I see.” She gave a small laugh. “I can’t believe all of this is actually real. Humans have no idea—I had no idea.” Her tummy suddenly grumbled making her cheek heat.
She glanced at Victoria. “Yes, and it has to stay that way. Enough talk about this, you’re starving.” Perri walked over to the vanity and plucked an apple from the marble bowl. “This is an apple.”
Victoria raised a brow, a grin pulling at her mouth. “Yes… we have them on Earth.”
Perri rolled her eyes, leaning on one trim hip. “Yes, I know. In Lior we have most of everything you do on Earth, but… it’s not made from the same substance. This is made from light, yours from dirt.”
Perri tossed her the apple, making her almost drop it. Victoria held the apple high and studied the ruby colored apple with narrowed eyes. It looked so vibrant, the color vivid. “May I take a bite?” she asked looking up at Perri.
She sank her teeth into it and instantly her taste buds were dancing with such fevered pleasure. The juices were running down her cheek as she took another immense bite, her hunger consuming any rational thought. Each swirl of her tongue produced such bliss, that she couldn’t help the groan that escaped out of her throat. And before she knew it the apple was gone, the sweetest taste lingering in her tongue. “That was delicious,” she uttered in amazement, licking her lips, wanting more.
Perri eyed her coolly. “Of course it was. You’re used to human food. And if you eat like that in front of Ezra or any other male here you might warrant unwanted attention. This is the first time your body has actually ingested nutrients, I’m sure that apple was like pure rapture to you.”
“It was,” she agreed breathlessly, closing her eyes. She felt a bolt of energy rush through her body; her heart was hammering with the new found force. Her skin tingled straight down to the tips of her toes and back up to her flushed cheeks. This was something she has never felt before; it was so stimulating. “Please, may I have more?” she asked and opened her eyes.
A rapid knock came at the door.
Perri jerked her head to the sound and cursed. “Who the hell,” she muttered and walked to the golden door, opening it. “Yes?”
A familiar voice came through the door. “You have spent plenty of time with Victoria, and I need a word with her.”
Elm. A tinge of hurt coursed through her, wishing it were Ezra.
“She is not ready,” she hissed. “Please, I need a little more time. I had to clue Victoria in. The girl had no idea what the pissing hell was going on here, she is not even dressed yet,” she said dangerously, lowering her voice. “What does Cateria care anyway? That bitch is with Ezra, so can you tell her to go f—”
“Perri! Stop!” he harshly whispered. “You may have thirty minutes and I will be back. This has nothing to do Cateria.”
“Thirty minutes then.” She whipped round, slamming the door, eyes intense. “We have to do this quickly.” Perri ran a nervous hand down her face. “Ezra would kill me if he knew what I was doing,” she breathed as she ran over to the vanity. She was franticly opening up every compartment. She ran both hands down her face again and hissed, “Son of a bitch!” Perri continued looking around the room like a mad woman, cursing and muttering.
Victoria tensed and went over to her, feeling helpless and baffled. Perri was acting very strange, panicky. “What are you looking for?! Can I help?” Victoria followed her around the room. “Perri?”
Perri straightened, seeming out of breath, lost in her own thoughts. She peered out the window then turned around, face screwed up. “He took it,” she whispered. “That bastard took it.”
“Took what?” she asked, eyes wide, pulse jumping.
Perri stared at her. “He took the powder from the vanity.”
Victoria gave her a blank look, wondering if she’d lost her mind.
“I need to think…” she tailed of, and started to pace. “Unicorn dust, if placed in water, the mixture will replenish your outer body. It’s gone! It’s also the best natural healing agent, very rare and it’s gone!”
“Wait, unicorns are real?” she asked, shaking her head in total disbelief.
“Yes. I don’t have time to talk about this to you…” she trailed off again and something particular crossed over her features. She looked like a cat that just trapped a mouse under her paw. She tilted her head at Victoria. “You need to eat at least, so your body functions.”
“Alright, but what about the powder?” Victoria asked warily.
“I will go and retrieve some,” she said levelly. Suddenly Perri was holding large maroon grapes in her hands. Victoria’s eyes brightened, the grapes looked so appetizing she nearly starting drooling. “Eat these and the rest of the fruit in the basket, I will be back shortly.” Perri gave her the grapes and sprinted from the room.
Victoria couldn’t eat them fast enough. She popped the ripe grapes in her mouth and the taste was incredible, like small pieces of heaven. She finished them savoring the taste, licking her lips in silent pleasure. Her smile turned into a sudden frown when something unknown washed over her senses. A wave of dizziness maybe? She had to grab onto the bedpost as an anchor.
Her stomach clenched violently making her expel a harsh breath. What was this?!Maybe she needed more fruit?! Yes, her body wasn’t used to having this type of food, wanting more. “Uh…” she gasped and reached for more fruit, eating like a starved man. The taste was blissful and before she knew it she had eaten everything. The pain subsided in her stomach letting her slowly relax, unclenching her hand from the bedpost. Sagging to the ground in silent relief she smiled, loving the feeling of being sated.
But, this was short lived.
Her insides suddenly twisted making her cry out. Her face contorted, trying to fight past the agony that overtook her mind and body. She screamed again as another piercing pain ripped through her leaving her gasping for air. Her muscles contracted, making her rigid with an anguish she’d never known.
She was panting on the ground and felt sweat trickling down her forehead. Her gut retched again producing a loud shriek to erupt out of her throat. Victoria tried to grasp for something, anything, but nothing was near. Searing agony tore through her body yet again creating her to whimper, moaning with mindless hurt.
“Victoria!” Perri’s terrified voice was above her. “Hang on! Just breathe through it.”
She felt her body being rolled over onto her back. Perri’s horrified face appeared above hers.
“Oh God!” Victoria bellowed again, seizing, lungs constricting.
Perri got up and ran somewhere leaving her alone… with this pain. Flames seared her insides once more, almost like a pool of lava lay in her stomach, eating through her body from the inside out. Her vision started to blur slightly as another wave of torture move over her flushed body. She was burning in a sea of combustion without a way out.
“Oh my… What’s happening?!”
Suddenly large arms engulfed her and jerked her upwards.
“Victoria!” shouted a distant male voice. “Dammit open your eyes!”
Victoria forced her burning eyes open to stare into intense silver ones. His expression was one of fear, his skin pale and his hair tousled. Through all the pain, she was so relieved to see him. God, the man possessed the most alluring set of eyes… It was like everything would be better now; everything was going to be alright. She faintly noticed that Ezra’s loose black shirt was unbuttoned to his chest and his sleeves were rolled up exposing his inked forearms. His chest… she had never seen a man’s naked chest before. If she could lift her arm she would give anything to touch him.
Victoria gasped as her body violently contracted, forcing her to moan in misery.
“Victoria. Focus for me love, you need to keep your eyes open and the pain will lessen.” Ezra ordered softly, his gaze severe. He looked up at Perri and hissed, “What the fuck did you give her?!”
Perri’s voice dropped right away in a pathetic attempt to display innocence. “Oh, dear, she must have eaten bad bloodberries! I thought they were fine!”
“You gave her bloodberries?!” Ezra yelled as his breathing escalated.
“I’m sorry! I thought they would help her organs heal faster!” she cried back, guilt and fear now controlling her voice.
Ezra looked like he wanted to strike her, his silver gaze flashing dangerously. “The fuck you did,” he spat darkly.
Perri didn’t say anything for a second. “The only way… I think… to cure her of this poison is to bath her in the powder,” she whispered carefully. “The fruit has already started to attack her skin cells; you have only but minutes.”
His pale eyes widened as he stared at Perri.
After registering her words Ezra’s gaze narrowed cruelly, like he knew what she was about. “Leave… before I break your worthless neck,” he breathed, barely audible. “Do not let anyone in here. I will deal with you later,” Ezra threatened.
She heard Perri run from the room, slamming the heavy door behind her.
Victoria, in her fevered mind, knew what had happened. Perri had planned this for this could be no coincidence. She felt Ezra pick her up and he made direct eye contact with her. “Listen to me, we have very little time. I am going to hold you under the water until you drown,” he said hurriedly as he ripped her dress in two, splitting it down the middle.
Victoria gasped, unable to talk. Dear God her tongue wouldn’t move! Her burning throat wouldn’t produce sound!
Ezra set her limp body on the cushioned chair by the vanity and he sprinted over to the sapphire water. She sat in her lace corset, shivering, almost convulsing with numbing pain. Her heavy-lidded eyes barely took in Ezra’s rapid movements. His tattoo flickered and she vaguely saw him pouring a sparkling substance into the water, mixing it around with his hand. He closed his eyes and muttered something before coming to retrieve her.
Dear God he was going to drown her...
She tried to get up and run but couldn’t move! Victoria desperately wanted to ask him if he was going to kill her… but she couldn’t! She was now incapable of expressing any emotion, like she was paralyzed. Her heart hammering was the only indication that she was still alive. No, this could not be happening…
He grabbed her with one swift movement, throwing her lifeless body into his strong arms. Ezra gave her one fleeting look and cursed loudly, her condition seeming to reflect in his worried expression.
Ezra turned and ran towards the oval pool, jumping into the cool water, both their bodies instantly submerged. Victoria felt weightless, the twinkling water surrounding her flushed body. Holding her breath, she opened her irritated eyes under the water; fully aware that Ezra’s arm was still wrapped around her waist. The water glittered around them, distorting her vision into lovely sparkles. Time seemed to stand still while she held her breath, feeling her skin start to tingle intensely.
As if possessed, her body jerked from left to right under the water, lightning bolts seeming to course through her blood stream. Her body didn’t seem to burn anymore, her eyes instantly cooling as the clear water quenched them.
She kicked her legs, able to move again! Victoria kicked against Ezra, wanting to reach the surface before she ran out of air.
Ezra pulled her up, breaking the surface of the water. A rush of air filled her lungs when she broke to the top, her whole body prickling with immense sensation. Coughing she opened her eyes, sputtering in the water. After her vision cleared she realized that Ezra had her pinned up against the pool wall, the water sloshing around them.
“Victoria? Can you see?” he inquired, sounding out of breath.
Her gaze locked onto Ezra’s, who was mere inches from her, his body heat engulfing her. As seconds ticked by her mind returned. She looked around, her feet kicking in the water. The pool was deeper than it appeared for Ezra didn’t seem to be touching the ground either. “W-what happened?”
Ezra’s expression was guarded as he stared at her, the water sloshing around his broad shoulders. He was gazing at her like she’d grown another head, his eyes moving over her face. He swore and looked away, taking a moment to respond. “You were poisoned with a very lethal fruit. Bloodberries can only be eaten when at the peak of their ripeness; otherwise they are poison to Liorians. The only cure is to… re-energize your body,” he spoke softly, his voice sounding breathless.
Victoria tried her best to comprehend, but she wanted to groan in irritation instead. Being in the water with Ezra was a heady combination. His black shirt was sucked to his muscled body like a second skin. Dear heaven above, his thick hair was smoothed back with the wetness, and his complexion was pure ivory against the vibrant water. His pale gaze reflected the vivid color of the water making her senses tingle when he looked at her. Water droplets stuck to his long dark eyelashes, the effect made her heart throb.
“I’m sorry to say that you’re not finished,” he clipped out.
She took a shaky breath, feeling his arm still clinging to her waist, holding her up. “So, am I am not replenished?”
“Not even close. Your insides are still damaged, you have to ingest the water into your lungs,” he whispered. “We roughly have a ten minute window that we have to do this in.”
Victoria heart started to pound. “My lungs? I will drown.”
Ezra’s gaze bore into hers. “Yes.”
Panic seized her as she started to push on his chest. “No. Let go!” She couldn’t drown; the thought horrified her. The thought of water filling her lungs and the panic she would feel made her want to jump out of her skin! Her whole body was trembling in terror. Victoria punched his chest, but instead of hurting him, pain erupting through her hand. His chest was like a brick wall! “Ezra no! You can’t do this!”
“You will not die! I will bring you back to life,” he hissed and pressed her harder against the pool wall, preventing her upper body from moving. She kicked her legs trying to score a hit to his groin. She needed time to think, and she couldn’t when he was this close! He instantly grabbed both of her thighs, holding himself up in the water somehow. Before she knew it her legs were straddling his hips scandalously, his strong hands clamped right under her bottom on both sides. Victoria stilled, this moment of panic instantly morphing into something dangerous.
Ezra was breathing hard, his hands still locked tightly to her. “You will have to trust me,” he breathed.
“I don’t want to die… even for a second,” she pleaded, scared to move her body another inch.
He exhaled and locked eyes with her. “I will not let you die, you will have to give me more credit than that.” He loosened his grip on her upper thighs, but did not let go, his fingers gracing her skin.
He needed to stop touching her.
Victoria blushed, unable to help it. Him being in between her legs was absolutely dizzying, his groin being pressed firmly into hers made her heart pummel. She couldn’t believe this was happening, never being this close to a man before. Especially when he was now peering down at her like he wanted to devour her, his gaze seeming to burn her skin where he looked. Ezra’s hands started to move, lightly squeezing her backside. His thumbs were caressing the sides of her bottom in a rhythmic pattern that almost had her panting. Excitement coursed through her body, electrifying her senses. She couldn’t focus with the pit of her tummy in turmoil, this delicious feeling flushing her limbs with heat…
She heard him curse, lowering his head to her neck, his hands becoming more bold in their grasping. “Do you…” he breathed, his mouth grazing her flushed skin, “know how much I am restraining myself?” he said harshly into her ear.
Taking a shaky breath she let her head fall back, throwing caution to the wind. His body moving against hers was overwhelming. What woman had defenses against someone like him? He was too much.
“Witch…” she heard him murmur. Instantly his lips were on her throat, kissing with an intensity that made her moan loudly. “Tell me you want me to touch you,” he ordered.
Victoria felt his lips lower to the surface of the water where the swell of her breasts were. Dear goodness… what did he ask?! She felt hot, wanting him to touch her, anywhere! His hips were moving against hers; almost turning her into a wild animal. This carnal need she didn’t comprehend, not recognizing this urgency. What was he doing to her?!
“Tell me…” he persisted into her skin. Ezra suddenly lifted her out of the water and his lips were moving over the tops of her breasts feverishly, his hands sculpting, caressing her thighs. She was on fire, her mind burning, her senses heightened. What he was doing with his hands was driving her insane.
“Tell y-you what?” she asked hoarsely and moaned; his hands were making it too hard to think.
He jerked her body making Victoria lift her head. “Tell me that you want me to touch you,” he rasped, his breathing harsh. “Tell me Victoria.”
Her skin tingled and her body felt like an eternal firestorm from his bold request. This isn’t fair… he knows exactly what he’s doing to her. The man was fully aware that she is putty in his hands! Victoria tried to think rationally. “Where? Touch me… where?”
He laughed at her question, tilting his head at her. “Let me show you,” he whispered. He pressed her hard against the wall; his right hand rounded her bottom ending at her inner thigh. His thumb moved higher making her tense and his hand still. “Relax.”
“Ezra,” she breathed, knowing she should stop this. Victoria tried to squirm but he held her firmly in place, eyes darkening, pupils dilating. Oh, the look he was giving her was so seductive it made her shiver, the quakes licking over her sensitive skin.
He leaned his head into her neck as his thumb moved higher, and higher until he reached her womanhood through her lacy undergarment. She gasped at the imitate contact, his hand forcefully taking over. Ezra was murmuring something in a different language, breathing into her skin as his hand moved. Suddenly he ripped the fabric there, exposing her! His hand was instantly on her again moving over her bare flesh, her mind blown in fragments.
Ezra exhaled and groaned into her ear, “here, is where I want to touch you.” His skilled fingers moved over her sensitive spot making her body buck against him, “and I will, another time, touch you here again.” His hand was suddenly gone from her and his lips took hers with force, his tongue plunging into her mouth.
And then something happened...
They were both under the water, submerged. Ezra sucked the air from out of her lungs with his mouth making her instantly realize what was happening. He was going to drown her, for all of her air was gone. He held her down as she thrashed and kicked, desperate not to drown. His kiss was the kiss of death, and his bold touch would be forgotten. There wasn’t a single word to describe her absolute panic as she kicked for one last time before she took the water into lungs. Her mind suddenly blurred and she wondered wildly if Ezra would stand true to his word… or maybe this would be her end.
Death suddenly became very real.