Ezra glowered as Zion spoke.
“Look at you, so close to turning,” Zion’s crimson gaze moved over Ezra’s pale face in delight. “I bet your father would be so proud, wouldn’t you say? That dying bastard,” Zion spat then smiled wickedly, walking closer to them. “He should be here to witness this. Your body looks like it wants to mimic mine. That’s… touching.”
Ezra was trying to keep it together for Victoria’s sake, he knew she would be badly affected to know that he was in the process of turning. Yes, unfortunately his soul was mimicking Zion’s, wanting badly to give in. When a half-breed is close to transforming, being in the presence of someone who is as evil as Zion will push the process on faster. His body was screaming in pain, his energy was depleting fast. He had not took this into consideration that being in Zion’s presence would affect him so profoundly.
Victoria was looking up at him, her concern evident in her sultry eyes. He closed his lids and slapped her hard on the ass, making her gasp in response. Ezra leaned down, wrapping his arm around her small waist, holding her still so he could raise her skirt. He boldly palmed her bare ass and whispered loud enough so Zion could hear, “I hope that didn’t hurt too bad you evil wretch, I’ll call upon you later and give you a sound beating.” He lowered his voice even more and whispered, “Go find Elm.” She flushed as he palmed one of her breasts and gave her another harsh slap on the bottom. He wanted Zion to think she was just a demon plaything, nothing more.
Her gaze held panic in their wide, questioning stare. She could obviously see the affects on his face. Ezra felt sick and pale. A thin sheen of sweat dotted his forehead from the rising pain and his breathing was becoming very harsh. “Leave,” he pleaded with his eyes.
She took a sharp intake of breath and fled from the room, slamming the door in her wake. All he wanted to do was to hold her and tell her he was sorry for losing himself. What the fuck was he thinking?! He wasn’t, that was the problem. One look at her in that damned lace gown had nearly driven him mad with uncontrollable lust. For a second he actually thought he had lost his mind when he took her into this room, throwing her on the couch. Her legs were so smooth and long, he desperately wanted them wrapped around his waist, now. God’s breath, she looked so mouthwatering, even more so now that her cheeks were flushed and lips were swollen from his kisses. The addicting taste of her still lingered on his lips and tongue, reminding him what he could never have again.
Ezra took a shaky breath as his vision swam, his body feeling incredibly weak. He knew what was happening – he had been dreading this day all his life. His soul was leaving and he didn’t know how to hold on to it. His blood was blackening; the vibrant red was morphing into something ugly and dull. When a Liorian’s soul rots, their body shuts down, almost like death. Actually, death to some would be preferred. The heart still beats regularly, with the difference being that the mind and soul die. Compassion and morality become foreign feelings. The only emotions he will be capable of feeling will be pain, anger, greed and lust.
Zion’s pale muscles rippled as he walked closer. “Don’t look so miserable. You will soon see how powerful you will feel. Look at me!” He held out his massive arms and grinned, revealing his sharpened teeth. Zion appeared more and more like a monster as time passed, his evil ways transforming him drastically.
“You’ll understand if I disagree,” Ezra whispered as pain seared his insides like scorching metal. He wasn’t aware that he was this close to turning until Zion walked into the room. How could he have not thought of that? He felt blind-sided. He was so damn close… but so far away from getting what he always wanted. Ezra grabbed onto the chair next to him for balance, his breathing hitched for a second. When he found his breath he said quietly, “Why don’t you go and enjoy the party. I find that I would much rather eat shit than be with you.” He forced a smile and sat down, expelling a long breath in the process.
Zion growled low in his throat, sounding like a beast rather than a man. “I will leave once you tell which one is her,” he demanded coldly. “I have the power to speed up your… situation,” he threatened, coming to stand before him. Zion’s giant body flexed with power, reminding Ezra that he was not getting out of this without a world of hurt.
“Her?” Ezra grinned up at him. “Back to girls are we? Got tired of making boys bend over?” He knew it was a mistake taunting Zion, but at the moment he really didn’t care about himself anymore.
Zion laughed harshly and kneeled down in front of him. His contorted expression lead Ezra to believe that his laugh was a far cry from amused. “If you tell me, then I will spare your pathetic soul. I know how Ezra. I also know how badly you do not want to lose it. Tell me which one is her you little prick! Now!” Spit was dripping from his snarled lips, clearly losing his even temper.
Ezra gazed up at Zion’s hideous face and forced a smirk, undeterred by his anger. “God, how in the hell did you get to be so damn ugly, that’s what I want to know. You answer me then I will answer you. I always wondered this. I’ve even lost sleep over—”
The blow to his face didn’t register at first. He just realized he was thrown across the room, smashing into glass that cut deep into his skin. His vision dangerously twisted as he pulled himself off the ground, the sound of glass falling to the marble floor. He stumbled a little to his left before he violently spat up blood. Ezra’s body was ridding itself of the only purity he had left. Something barren tore inside of him, the feeling of loss was overwhelming.
God, he didn’t want to die. Not yet.
“You always were a smart ass,” Zion hissed as he walked over to him and grabbed Ezra by his bloodied shirt, smashing him to the ground again. Agony ripped through him like he was being gutted alive. “This time stay down until you turn. Once your soul becomes black then you’ll tell me who, and what she is. Your lover girl will be nothing to you then,” he paused and thought, his eyes brightening. “Wait, the whore who was in here earlier… it’s her isn’t it?” He started laughing at his revelation. “Oh yes, I saw that body, I noticed how you looked at her Ezra. After tonight she will be mine, I want to break her will… I will hang her upside down naked while I whip her until she passes out from being ruthlessly beaten. Then once she awakens I will have my way with her until she begs for mercy…” he trailed off, licking his lips with his snake-like tongue.
Horror ripped through Ezra. He had to think fast through the pain consuming his body. Zion could be bluffing, trying to get him to lash out and reveal information. “Her? That’s Cateria, you fucking idiot.” He laughed as more blood seeped out of his mouth making his muscles contract agonizingly. “I-I would never touch a full-blood, not my t-taste.” Biggest lie ever told. Zion knew of Cateria but didn’t know what she looked like; she was from Moray’s rule, not Zion’s. He hoped anyway.
Zion kicked him hard in the guts, almost making him blackout. He could not take much more of this and hang on to consciousness. A sudden force entered the room making the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end, the ground vibrated and the room seemed to violently slant.
“Zion.” The powerful voice bellowed behind them. “I will have no trouble deporting you,” came the low threat.
Zion’s massive body tensed and turned around, hands up. “Michael, it’s been awhile…”
Ezra’s vision and hearing went then, his body was swimming in a combustion of fire that seemed to last and last. The screaming in his head wouldn’t stop, and dark thoughts crept into his mind’s eye. Evil was now taking residence, infecting him like a lethal virus. His eyes suddenly shot open as freezing water hit him like a hard punch to the face. The water felt shockingly cold, painfully so. It wasn’t just freezing; it was something else that he couldn’t explain… Ezra suddenly screamed in agony as more water was dumped over his burning body, the pain being unreal. Then it occurred to him as his mind shockingly returned.
Michael was pouring holy water over him.
Ezra! A voice echoed in the haze of his mind. Ezra! There it went again… He sputtered and coughed as more water was poured over him cooling his burning fever. He felt someone push him to a sitting position and he forced his eyes open, finally able to see again.
“Ezra, take big, deep breaths,” Michael’s strong voice soothed.
His instincts took over and he tried to swing at Michael but his arms wouldn’t move properly, missing him completely.
Ezra tried to catch his breath as he gazed up into Michael’s concerned pale blue eyes, confusing him. Why in the hell did it look like Michael cared?! His white blond hair was pulled back into a tie and he was dressed in English finery. Michael must have been patrolling in Dublin after he left. What he was seeing didn’t make sense. “Did you really just pour your damned water over me?!” he asked breathlessly, noticing the pain in his body had halted.
Michael exhaled. “I was almost too late. If you would have invited me sooner to this,” he gaze around, “this demon fest, then I could of saved you some pain.”
Ezra closed his burning eyes, thinking that he was hearing things. Michael and the other Masters had been trying to kill him for years upon years. “Are you trying to tell me… that you meant to save me? Or am I fucking delusional? Or maybe you should bash my head in, Zion must have knocked it loose.”
Ezra would have told him where to go… but he did hate looking up at people. He stood with the help of Michael, bewildering him even more. “What are you doing?”
Michael sat him on the couch then leaned up against the wall across from it. “Yes, Ezra, I am saving you.”
Ezra scowled at him, wondering what game he was playing. It would have been so easy for Michael to kill him, being in such a weak state that he was. “Why have you not killed me yet? What are you trying to pull Michael“ You must think me naïve?”
“Why would I kill you?” Michael tilted his head at him making the dim light hit his golden skin. “I saved you once before, and I did it again today. Though, I’d say this time I almost failed,” he said gravely. “I had my men escort Zion out before he made off with Assiel’s child, he won’t stay calm for long. And, I am sensing your father close by, concerning me.”
Ezra ran a hand down his face, trying to rationalize what was happening. “Back up. You just stopped my transformation… why?” Ezra looked up at him. “And when did you save me before, no one has ever helped me! Bullshit, I’m not buying it!” he yelled at Michael, wondering what sort of hell he was in for. He wanted these games, lies to stop!
Sighing, Michael looked at him intently. “I remember long ago a green-eyed little boy with long, golden curly hair,” he said quietly.
Ezra forgot how to breathe for a second. “What the hell did you just say?” he whispered, feeling his throat dry.
“I was great friends with your mother, Nora,” he continued when Ezra’s eyes widened. “I remember you as a child. An innocent child, not a murder…” he trailed off.
Ezra slowly stood, his memories coming back in traumatizing flashes. He had to look away; emotions that were buried deep were now being dug up. God’s breath, he remembered being a small child, stricken with horror as he stared at his mother’s battered body on the floor. Blood was everywhere, in black pools smearing their kitchen floor. At first he didn’t register what actually happened, his mind refusing to believe what his eyes were seeing. He walked up to his mother and called her name, and when no answer came he knelt down and shook her lifeless body.
Ezra remembered how utterly alone he felt, the absolute calamity. He recalled the horrible sound of child’s heartbreak, his heartbreak. The sound was the deafening silence around him when the mind screamed for mercy. It was something he’d never forget. Never again would he see his mother’s shining emerald eyes, or her warm smile. Ezra squeezed his eyes shut, not welcoming the flood of emotions that were rushing in. He had not thought about his mother in ages… Long ago, his world had been torn apart in one forlorn night.
He recalled sitting on the floor, staring into bleakness. A dark man appeared. Ezra clenched his fist when he remembered seeing Moray. He came to him for the first time and claimed to be his father. Ezra remembered calling him a liar, screaming and yelling at the top of his lungs. There was no way he was a half-breed… his mother would have told him so. To this day he had always wondered why she never told him. She said his father had died in battle, a war hero. Not this, not this evil creature. Ezra was a full-blood Liorian, not a demon. Moray continued to taunt him, proving to him that he was in fact his child. They shared the same birthmark; Liorians will always share their father’s mark. A mark that could never be removed or covered, for his was the mark of the raven. The same raven that marred Moray’s skin.
Being in the presence of his father made him transform, his dark soul coming out for the first time. His hair instantly changed along with his eye color, appearing just like Moray rather than his mother. Ezra was left alone then, in the mists of transforming, withering on the ground in pain. Liorian authorities arrived soon after Moray fled, leaving Ezra with his mother’s corpse. When they found him by his Nora’s body, they knew. They saw Ezra’s glowing red eyes as he transformed and the look on their faces he’d never forget, for it was branded into his memory. He was accused of murder, sentenced to a brutal death.
His soul died that day.
They beat him so ruthlessly that he could see his own bones. God he wanted to die, praying for mercy, for someone to end this torture they were putting him through. Then, in the middle of his suffering, a hand was outstretched to him. Ezra remembered looking up into a kind face bathed in white light… the face of Michael’s.God’s teeth Michael did save him, all those years ago and he didn’t even realize it.
Ezra opened his eyes to gaze at him, wracked with unwanted emotions. “Why the fuck did you save me? I was a worthless demon who killed my mother,” he hissed, the torment of his past overwhelming him.
“No, you were an innocent boy,” Michael disagreed, is expression was calm.
“It matters not if I did or didn’t, it still does not explain why you’re helping me.” Ezra peered at him, wanting answers now. “Your men have been trying to kill me since that day you saved me, almost succeeding a few times.”
“But, you’re alive, are you not?”
Ezra frowned, his fist clenching. “I escaped with my life! I was imprisoned for ten years with no food or water, tortured by Liorian guards. I was hung upside down, naked for three fucking years!” Ezra bellowed, not wanting to think about the horrors of his miserable life.
Michael walked up to him and eyed him intently. “My job is to keep everything going to plan. Everything that has happened in your past needed to happen or you would not be here now. If I do not do my job correctly then humanity will perish, and we will feel the wrath of God. I go to drastic measures to make sure things are where they should be,” he said in a low voice.
Ezra walked closer to him, his leg strength slowly returning. “Wait, are you trying to say you know the future? What plan?” Ezra asked carefully, trying to keep his temper in check. Michael had always been mysterious, too secretive. No one really knew what he was capable of.
Michael’s smile didn’t reach his eyes. “If I told you it would ruin everything, believe me when I said this. The down side is just knowing that everything doesn’t always go the way it should; that’s why I’m here. To make sure it does. From the moment I touched your hand as a little boy, I absolutely knew that you could not die.” He continued, “What I say now will not make sense to you. But, you will find out later and understand my meaning.”
Ezra didn’t know what to say to that. “If you know so much, then you should know what I want. You should already recognize why I took Assiel’s child. ”
He eyed him and tilted his head. “I knew what you wanted from the day I touched your hand as a child Ezra. And it is my want for you as well; I need you to attain a complete soul. Though I can not just give it, it has to be earned according to the Council because only they have the power to give it.” He paused and his expression became intense. “We have to prevent you from turning at all costs. It would ruin everything if you did.”
“Well then, what are we waiting for? Will the Council except the trade of Assiel’s daughter then?” Ezra asked, still feeling like something wasn’t right.
“Yes, when you reveal which one is her and only when you take her to the temple in Lior may you receive your purity. Just remember Ezra, if I wanted you dead I would have done it long ago.” Michael’s blue gaze was steady, like he sensed his apprehension. “You can trust me.”
“I want it in writing.”
“Already done. Like I said, I already knew what you wanted,” He made a move to the door. “We are running out of time. Zion grows anxious.”
“You’re not telling me something Michael,” Ezra hissed, having a gut feeling.
Michael turned and took a moment. “I did not foresee Zion interfering tonight, which alarms me greatly. We need to hurry, and retrieve Assiel’s child.”
Ezra walked up to him, his heart starting to pound. “What the hell did you see? Tell me!”
Michael rolled up his white sleeve and touched his forearm, his tattoo flickering to life. “We’re going to need some reinforcements.”
* * *
“Where are you taking me?!” Victoria asked breathlessly, trying to keep up.
Elm and Perri pulled Victoria along a torch lit hallway that led from the great hall. Elm looked back at her, the strain etched into his pale face. “Did Zion recognize you? What did he say?! The Masters are having trouble with keeping Zion out of Sydonia.”
“He d-didn’t say anything to me… he just stared with those red eyes.” A cold shiver slithered its way down her spine when she thought of Zion’s demonic gaze. “He’s absolutely horrifying. Is he Liorian? He can’t possibly be Liorian.”
“Liorian, but he is corrupted by evil,” Elm said then cursed as they turned a corner. He turned to Perri, “How quickly can you change her dress and hair? I want a different hair color… make it black. If Zion picked up on her, we need to change her appearance at least. It might buy us some time. Turn her eyes black as well, I want her to appear as a full demon.” He turned back to Victoria. “Keep drinking that drink!”
Victoria flinched then took a big gulp of the tonic.
Perri spoke, “Yes, I can do it,” she breathed as the pushed into a lush room of all black and plum silk. She turned towards Elm and gave him a worried look, “How much time do I have?”
“Ten minutes. If she is gone longer than that it will raise too much suspicion.” He walked towards the door and then turned back. “Hurry, I will be waiting.”
Victoria’s heart was beating out of her chest. “Will Ezra be alright? He looked very sick when I left him,” she asked for the hundredth time. This fear for him was consuming her thoughts and they wouldn’t answer her! Ezra looked like he was about to die when she left, like he would expire at any moment.
“I… don’t know. Zion has an ill effect on us all.” Perri walked over to her and bit her lip. “Just hurry and take off your dress, we need to do this quickly.”
Victoria hesitated for a second then began undressing with Perri’s help. Her dread was escalating with each passing second. God, she had never seen anything so terrifying than Zion, sensing so much evil that lingered around him. And she remembered why he looked so familiar; he was the monster from her nightmare. Yes, he was the one chasing her through the dark grasslands, taunting her with his threats. Victoria swallowed, “Perri, I’ve seen Zion in a nightmare I had. It was after I was restored.”
“What?!” Perri straightened; her eyes bulged with dismay. “What do you mean you saw him in your nightmare? And you’re just now saying this?!”
Victoria winced; not thinking it was a big deal. Perri handed her a black dressing gown to cover her nakedness. But before she put on the gown she gazed at herself in the mirror across from her, never really getting a good look since she had been restored. Her bare body was so different than she had remembered. Her breasts seemed fuller, and her hips and bottom were altered. Her trim stomach was pleasingly long, smoothing gracefully into the perfect line and contours of her hips. Her bottom was more rounded than it used to be, making her waist appear much smaller. Her long legs were trim and slightly muscular, like she spent her life running through the wilderness. Looking back at Perri she said meekly, “I didn’t think anything of it until I saw what Zion looked like in person. He was chasing me in my dream… telling me he would find me.”
Perri shook her head and exhaled, a look of exasperation marred her lovely face. ”He knows then.”
Victoria’s pulse jumped. “Knows what?” she asked quietly. “It was just a dream, a nightmare, nothing more.”
Running a hand down her face she looked up. “He knows who you are Victoria! That’s bad! How else would you dream of the exact image of him when you had never met him! Zion will not let you leave here unless it’s with him! Do you understand?!”
She shook her head in denial. “No. No!” Her body was trembling uncontrollably and she was coming close to tears. “Ezra will stop him! Or Michael will, the Liorians.”
Perri laughed coldly, her violet eyes flickering as she regarded her. “You do not know Zion like I do. He hates Ezra and Moray more than life itself; he knows what Ezra is trying to do. He will stop it, I’m sure of it Victoria,” she whispered and looked away. “Zion will do something horrid. He doesn’t look like a monster from picking flowers!”
Victoria sniffed and wiped her eyes, trying her best to stay calm. She wanted to believe that everything would be just fine. Everything will be just fine. Victoria put on the long gown, the thin fabric suctioning tightly to her body. She glanced in the mirror again, thankful that this was just a dressing gown. It seemed just as scandalous as her lace dress for the sparkling fabric molded securely to her breasts, hips, and stomach. It was long sleeved and had a giant V-opening gracing the neckline, the slit ending low in the middle of her stomach making the inner sides of her breasts visible.
Elm walked into the room making her jump and cover herself. He frowned when he saw Victoria in her dressing gown. “Perri! For God’s sake why is she not ready?!”
Perri turned her eyes on Elm. “Zion knows, Elm. He knows which one is her, bloody hell! No matter what she looks like he will know!”
Taking a minute to process what she just said, Elm sat down on a plush sofa. “What are you talking about?”
Perri glanced at Victoria then back to Elm. “He was in her nightmare, literally.”
Elm closed his eyes at this news and took a deep breath. “Since when does Zion dream jump? How long has he known?!”
“I don’t know. He is planning something, I can sense it.”
Victoria was weakening from terror, looking back and forth between the two, not understanding. “There has to be a way. Ezra will find a way to get by Zion,” she said frantically as tears welled up in her eyes. She felt her composure slipping; the stress was breaking her down.
Elm got up and walked to the door, pausing before going out. “I have to find Michael and Ezra. This changes everything, we have to prepare for battle.”
“You can’t leave us here!” Perri shrieked. “Zion could have his men scouting in Sydonia! We have to be in a place with lots of people. We are too vulnerable here.”
Elm closed his eyes then nodded. “Come to the great hall, now.”
Victoria widened her eyes. “Wait, I’m not dressed!”
Elm he grabbed her hand and pulled. “Oh yes you are, you will fit in perfectly.”
“I don’t even have shoes! And my hair is not done!” Victoria pleaded, as she was dragged out of the room.
“It doesn’t matter, walk!” Elm said forcefully as they neared the main hall again, the muffled music becoming louder. He grabbed Perri with his other hand and brought her in close. “Don’t leave her side, stay in the midst of the crowd.” And then he opened the heavy golden door and pushed them inside.
Victoria felt so vulnerable as they weaved their way into the throng. She gazed up to the entrance to see Elm sprinting up the long marble staircase. She turned to Perri who was walking behind her. “What do we do?”
Perri pointed. “Over to that fountain, we can sit on the edge until they come for us.”
They made their way over to the giant water fountain made of pale marble where multiple women bathed in thin fabrics. Their wet gowns stuck firmly to their bodies as they laughed, splashing each other with water. It was clear that they were putting on a show for their movements were slow and calculated, seductive. Men watched, eyes alight with lust, their intent being very clear. The woman laughed, kissing one another, as the men seemed to enjoy this immensely. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” Victoria whispered uneasily as they arrived to the fountain’s edge.
“Yes, men are not allowed in the fountain, they can only watch,” she nudged her to step in the pool. “Just sit on the side and pretend to play in the water.”
They sat on the side with their legs knee deep in the sapphire water. The bottoms of both their gowns were soaked, floating up. The floor of the pool seemed to be lit with some sort of light, making the water glow and shimmer beautifully. The cool water actually felt calming on her legs, almost easing her nerves a little. This was not so bad.
A woman suddenly swam up to Victoria’s bare feet, making her instantly nervous. The girl’s black stare frightened Victoria, not trusting her dark playful grin. Her hair was soaked like she just dunked moments before. She touched Victoria’s ankle, pulling it. “Wanna play?” her low voice was seductive, raising caution.
Perri bent forward and hissed, “She’s mine, get back.” Then leaned into Victoria and slowly licked her neck making her tense and her eyes widened in panic.
The woman bared her fangs and hissed back, swimming away clearly livid. Perri exhaled and glanced around. “Sorry, but I had to do that. Shit. The men are staring at you with open interest, concerning me. I think you will have to play along or they will wonder why you’re so prudish. Demons are not prudish.”
Victoria scowled at that and looked behind her and almost gasped.
Her heart was pounding madly now. He was peering at her so intently she wanted to faint from it. Pleasure tore through her by the sight of his muscular body standing with such confidence. His raven colored hair was tousled, curling around chin and neck. Ezra looked so darkly seductive she wanted to moan from the sheer torment. His arms were crossed over his sculpted chest and his silver gaze slowly moved up and down her body like a secret caress. Just remembering what he had done to her on the couch made her cheeks instantly heat and sent her skin tingling. A shiver moved over her body making her visibly quiver, unable to stop it. His pale eyes darkened, like he knew exactly what she was thinking and liked it.
Victoria fleetingly looked around at all the women enticing the men with their scandalous movements. Taking a deep breath, she decided, why not play along? Before she changed her mind she jumped into the pool and dunked, the pure water soaking her every inch.
She emerged, water pouring off her body like a shimmering waterfall. Victoria deliberately smoothed her hair back and leisurely opened her eyes. Victoria immediately saw Ezra gaping at her. He snapped his mouth shut, the muscles in his jaw working. She lowered her lids seductively at him, like he was the prey and she was the hunter. Ezra coughed a couple times and looked around, like he was seeing if anyone was witnessing this. He locked eyes with her again, his mouth dropping open like he couldn’t help it. She opened her mouth in response, sticking her tongue out briefly and licked her lips.
His severe gaze was fastened upon her tongue there, following every slow lick she made. Looking back up to her, he ran a hand over his sensuous mouth, as if he were about to drool. She grinned at that and took her hand and trailed it down the side of her neck, loving the power she seemed to have over him. Ezra helplessly watched, his hand over his mouth like he was actually biting it. Her hand continued down to the valley between her breasts and stopped. Victoria took a breath and boldly moved to one breast and grazed over her nipple making his eyes widen.
Ezra dropped his hand, seeming out of breath, and gave her a smoldering look. His eyes were hooded and darkly seductive, like he was daring her to come near him. She almost lost her nerve, but continued the path of her hand as it descended lower. Before she could reach her private part Perri jabbed her in the side making her turn back around. “Ouch,” she whispered, sounding out of breath. “Should we get out? I think we should get out.”
Before she looses her mind!
“Victoria, you’re going to make him jump in here! No, Elm and Drake are in front of us over there. They are surrounding us for protection,” she whispered strictly.
That didn’t stop her skin from being overly sensitive, knowing that Ezra was still watching her with his scorching look. Feeling over heated, Victoria took a breath and disappeared under the water. She came up out of the pool, the water rushing down her body again and opened her eyes to see Ezra standing at the edge of the pool holding her drink.
She took a deep breath and walked over to him, trying not to show how he affected her to her core. His heated gaze was moving over her wet body, making her knees want to buckle.
He spoke huskily, “You look like you could use a drink, love.”
She grinned daringly at him and took the tonic from out of his hands, bringing the glass to her lips. His fiery gaze followed her actions and watched when she sipped the substance.
Ezra tilted his head at her, his tongue licking his own lips. “Witch,” he barely said. His gaze flickered around the men watching, and then rested on her again. He leaned in a barely said, “Would you care for a dance? Unless you enjoy tormenting me for a distance where I can’t do anything to you. I think you could use a little punishing from that naughty performance.”
His threat moved over her like fine silk, feathering her flushed skin. She whispered, “I thought I was supposed to stay in the pool where it’s safe?”
Laughing he said, “No man will dare touch you when you’re with me. And, a pool will not hold back Zion when he is ready to take you. Michael will come for you soon to take you to Lior, but first I would like one last dance.”
One last dance… the barren thought tore through her.
“Won’t that raise suspicion?!” Victoria nervously glanced around to see everyone staring at them with interest. Perri stood up and walked over to them, frowning at Ezra.
Ezra glared at Perri then looked back to Victoria and held out his hand. “They know who you are, it doesn’t matter.”
Perri asked quietly and smiled. “Ezra, what are you doing?”
Victoria swallowed as she looked around again, seeing dark eyes fastened upon her. “I-I will be putting you in danger Ezra,” she whispered. “I don’t think a dance is wise.”
Ezra flexed his jaw, grabbing her hand. “You’ll understand if I don’t give a fuck.” And after those harsh words he yanked her to him and whispered into her dripping hair. “I want to touch you one last time and I don’t care who I upset, understand? It doesn’t matter that I dance with you because they already know which one is you from what Elm tells me. As matter of fact, you probably do not even need to drink the tonic anymore. I reckon you will be safer with me than with those demon women in the pool.” His strong arm was firmly holding her wet body to him.
Safer?! Victoria didn’t want to say that being in his presence terrified her even more. Her breathing hitched. God, it was too hard to think properly when his hard body was bearing down on hers. It was so enthralling, the smell of him made her head spin. Ezra made her feel so small and helpless, his dominance would make anyone tremble. She couldn’t help but nod in agreement. He immediately pulled her out and onto the populated dance floor, spinning her in the process. Ezra’s hands were low on her hips as he brought her in close, their bodies pressing together. Her hands grazed his wide chest, resting on his broad shoulders. He was so perfect. Everything she learned in the English ballroom was tossed out the door, completely forgotten.
“I remember telling you that I would show you how I dance with a woman that I find irresistible,” he softly taunted and smoothed his hands up her soaking back like he couldn’t get enough of touching her. Victoria closed her eyes and expelled a breath, letting him lead her this way and that way. She didn’t care that she was dripping with water for she felt extremely hot all over.
He dipped her body back and he took his hand and moved it leisurely down the valley between her breasts, her skin instantly igniting into flames. His mouth hungrily leaned into her neck, licking up the small droplets of water there. Ezra breathed into her flushed skin, “What are you wearing?”
She tried to think through her fevered thoughts but only felt what his hands were doing. They were touching her so possessively; the need in his movements was evident. Ezra’s palms were suddenly pressing her backside into his muscular thigh, creating sensations of turmoil in the pit of her stomach. This delicious pressure her was inflicting on her made her only want more! What he was doing with his knee against her core was staggering, climbing heights rapidly. Victoria found that she couldn’t hold her head upright, letting it fall to the side in delirium. She didn’t know where she began and he ended. A soft moan escaped her mouth as his hand urgently lifted her dressing gown. She was mindless to the fact that they were in public, the low lighting hiding Ezra’s bold movements from curious onlookers.
“God’s teeth, you’re not wearing under garments,” he rasped into her ear, his tongue licking and biting her earlobe.
His hand was instantly there, and his fingers were expertly moving over and inside her with shameless need. The heat of his breath on her neck made her want to do mindless, brazen things. Victoria didn’t understand her own carnal desire; it was like she didn’t even recognize herself. She was moving against him now, wanting something unfamiliar. Ezra’s movements were frantic, like a deprived man finally drinking a glass of water. He whispered, “This is how I dance with a woman I need.” Ezra plunged his fingers inside of her, moving with rapid movements. Ezra’s thumb moved over her sensitive spot making her gasped, throwing her head back from an overload of sensations. His hot mouth was instantly on hers, muffling her strained moans. Her vision exploded into tiny fragments of light, waves of extreme sensations washed over her repeatedly. Her body heat raised and she felt sweat trickle down her neck. Victoria’s mind and body seemed to be singing the same song of rapture, one intense pulse at a time.
She finally went limp in his embrace, breathing hard, not realizing what happened. Victoria wanted to ask what he just did to her, not experiencing anything like it before but couldn’t find her voice, let alone open her eyes.
He held her up with one arm, smoothing out her dressing gown with the other. “Love, Michael is here to take you.” He kissed her lips and then her forehead. “Can you stand?”
Reality was rushing back to her as she opened her eyes and surveyed the dance floor. “I have to leave?” she whispered back, not ever wanting to leave him. “I don’t want to leave...” She looked up into his silver eyes, pleading with her own.
He stared down at her for a long moment and then looked away. It could have been the low lighting, but she saw pain reflected in the depths of the pale eyes. He pulled her off the dance floor, heading straight for the entrance. “You will be fine,” he said without emotion, “You will live a long and meaningful life. Michael awaits for you at the top of the stairs.”
“Will I see you again?” she asked, her vision turning glassy.
He gave her a fleeting look and didn’t say anything. It felt like he put up a wall, his features being heavily guarded. A tear streaked down her cheek as she was introduced to Michael. Victoria barely saw him… the knowledge that she would never see Ezra again consumed her thoughts.
A weird sensation suddenly washed over her making her knees give out.
* * *
Ezra slowly raised his hands, his heart in his throat.
Ezra, Michael, Elm and Drake were locked eyes with Moray’s red ones. Moray stood about eight feet tall wearing a giant black cloak, only revealing his glowing eyes. He looked like a walking corpse, close to mortality.
God’s breath Victoria was suspended in mid-air, being ripped out of his hands. It was his fault, him being blinded by his emotions, emotions he wasn’t used to having! He didn’t know how to deal them. When he had seen her tears it almost undid him; no one had ever cared for him like that. He wasn’t expecting that reaction from her, and he also didn’t predict his reaction to her either. He let his guard down and now he was paying for his foolishness yet again.
Michael spoke calmly as he stepped forward, “Moray, you try anything and I will come down on you with full force.” As he said that the Liorian Masters emerged from the entrance in all of their glory.
They were ready for battle, ready for Michael to give the word. Ezra could not sense Zion, wondering when he’d show up and make this day a complete nightmare. Ezra walked forward passed Michael and held out his hands. “Father, let her go and you can have me.”
A couple of gasps were heard.
“Ezra,” Michael warned.
Moray laughed, barely audible. He spoke in a raspy whisper, “You all think me a fool?”
Ezra frowned at that, not liking his confident tone.
“I know that I am not strong enough to make it out of here with her! Zion is waiting outside with his army, waiting for me to try an escape with her,” he lowly said, his glowing eyes locking with Ezra’s. “My son, I was deeply wounded by your betrayal. So now it’s time you were punished greatly for what you put me through!” he screeched.
“Fine! Take me and leave her,” he spat, holding out his hands. “You can do it right here if you want.”
Moray studied him. “My dear boy, I want you to suffer like I have. What happens when you push someone through a time portal?”
Ezra’s heart stopped beating.
Michael said forcefully, “Moray, don’t!” he pulled out a long sword, ready to use it. The entire Liorian army followed suit.
Ezra slowly sank to his knees in defeat, understanding now what his father was about to do. He was going to drop her through a time portal, which could cast her a hundred years or more into the future. Time jumping is forbidden, the consequence being the worst punishment of all, memory loss. Anyone who attempts it will lose all memory, being thrown into a foreign place and time, being completely mindless.
He would have to wait a hundred years to see her again, and he didn’t think he’d last for one.
Everything that happened seemed like a blur from this point on. A black window opened out of thin air and Ezra yelled, running at Victoria with all of his might.
He was too late.