Home > Lies in Blood (Dark Secrets, #4)

Lies in Blood (Dark Secrets, #4)
Author: A.M. Hudson

Waves crashed loudly in the darkness a few steps away and, somewhere in the distance, an echo rang out, repeating itself in one tone—one word: “True.”

As I walked forward, feeling the sand between my toes, the violent wind rushed past my ankles, lifting the long cotton dress away, revealing things I didn’t want him to know—things I couldn't let him see; all the damage that had been done, all the promises made and broken, showed in every Mark on my skin.

I squatted down beside him, letting the waves roll up and soak my toes, the cool, fizzy tingle reminding me how it felt to be human.

“David?” I whispered, reaching to touch his shoulder, but stopped. “What are you doing?”

“I have to make it right,” he said, his whole body shaking with the force he used against his hand—his arm straight, disappearing at the wrist beneath the water.

“How can you make this right, after everything that’s been done?”

“Death.” He frowned, his eyes fixed on nothing. “If her heart stops beating, the pain will go away.”

I looked past the whitewash to the hazy figure beneath. Her lips sat parted, her eyes rolled to the back of her head. There was no sorrow or regret there. Not anymore. She opted out—ran away and left him to deal with this pain alone. “I’ll help you,” I said, dropping to my knees, my dress flaring like a parachute in the waves around me as I placed my hand to her skull.

David turned his head, his green eyes meeting mine. “You’re going to help me?”

I nodded, knowing this was wrong, but knowing also that if I didn't ease his pain, he’d leave with that creature under the waves, and he’d return as something darker than he was now. “David?”

“Yes?”

“What will you do without her?”

He looked up sadly at the ocean, somewhere past the edge of the horizon, but his gaze returned with a smile. “Die.”

“No!” I shot bolt upright in my bed, a mess of sweat cooling my face as the sea breeze whispered past my curtains and touched my brow.

“You okay, Ara?” David pushed up on his elbow, his hand appearing on my shoulder. “God, you’re soaking.” He sat up more. “What happened?”

“I—” I touched my lips. “I had another dream.”

“The one where I kill you?”

I nodded.

He shifted closer and hugged me, rolling us both back onto the pillows.

Through the dome window above us, the pale light of a moon in its first quarter shone down with the coming dawn, leaving dull, coloured patterns across the white sheets. I was safe here—comfortable in David’s arms, the world I woke to now no longer startling me in the first few seconds I opened my eyes. My mind and body had finally adjusted to my giant new bed, airy new room, and crowded, busy new life. But the nightmares I suffered the past week were stirring things up, making me uneasy, afraid to go to sleep.

The song of crickets outside carried along the breeze through the open balcony door and filled the silence with familiarity as the edginess in my limbs fizzled away. I listened carefully to David, though, for any thoughts I might catch. His breathing was shallow, while his fingertip made one line over my shoulder blade repeatedly. He was worried. But I wasn’t sure if my dream or something else had stolen his mind to thought.

“Nothing could ever bring me to harm you, Ara. You know that, right?”

“I know,” I said, but the nod I attempted failed. My eyes sat wide, staring into the dream. “It just felt so real.”

He kissed my brow, snuggling down a little lower in the bed. “Bad dreams usually reflect inner-turmoil. Maybe you’re feeling guilty for something.”

“Guilty for what?” I grinned.

“Perhaps . . . for my brother. For being forced to deny his friendship.”

“It doesn't affect me that much, David.”

He kissed my head again, wiping his hand down the sweat between my shoulder blades. “Liar. I know it does, Ara. It would affect anyone, but you—you’re so careful of other’s feelings. I know it eats you up.”

“Then why ask it of me? If you know how much it hurts me, why keep us from being friends?”

“Because he’s in love with you.”

“So what?”

“So, you’re young. Impressionable. Spirit bound to him—”

“David, I’m a vampire. That bind is so broken now it’s not even worth mentioning.”

“Still,” he said softly. “Best keep you both away from temptation. Not to mention—” He huffed a breath out through his nose, “—I still haven’t forgiven him for binding you in the first place.”

“Fair enough, I suppose.” I nodded against his chest, biting the tip of my thumb. “And, so, you think that’s it—that I'm having these dreams because I feel guilty about hurting Jason?”

“I hope so,” he said, brushing my hair back. “Because the only other conclusion I can come up with is that you think I might hurt you.”

“For what reason would you ever do that?”

He exhaled, his chest sinking under my cheek. “None . . . hopefully.”

Chapter One

The hum of voices down the table melted into the soft sound of the piano being played in the corner. I watched the pianist’s deft fingers move across the keys, wishing I could trade places with him. I’d much rather be playing piano—not a care in the world—than sitting at breakfast addressing things I spent all day either discussing or thinking about. There really was no escape from being queen.

David caught my gaze and glanced over his shoulder to follow it, smiling back at me gently after. And for that split second, nothing really seemed that bad in the world. He was here, right across the table from me, just as I’d wanted for so long. And after dinner tonight, I could sit by that piano until dawn if I wanted, maybe even beside my king, playing a duet. Nothing in the world would grant me better reason to smile than to hear him play again.

“And how is our new king faring after his coronation?” Margret asked, breaking David and I from our locked gazes.

“Very well, thank you, Margret.” He bowed his head.

“Any new developments with your powers?” Walt asked. “Our queen’s powers flourished remarkably after her own coronation.”

David looked at me, holding back a smile. “None yet, but it’s only been a week.”

I sighed into my plate. So we’re not telling them you can read my mind?

Or that you can read mine, he thought back.

“What’s wrong, Ar?” Mike asked quietly, leaning across the corner of the table toward me.

“I'm just tired.” I dropped my spoon into my porridge, slumping my elbow down by my napkin.

“Why’d you come down for breakfast then?”

“Yeah, you never eat breakfast with the people,” Morg added.

I looked down the table to watch David talking with Arthur, his eyes bright, his hands moving like he was speaking in Sign. “He said I had to—that it was my “queenly duty” to eat with my people.”

“He’s right,” Morgaine said, sitting back to sip her juice.

“I know. But I just feel so . . . I don't know.” I leaned on my other hand. “Ever since his coronation last week, I just feel so under the weather.”

“Are you sick?” Mike asked, pressing a hand to my brow.

I shrugged, sitting back in my chair, looking up quickly when I heard my name.

“Are you okay?” David asked aloud, but his voice came through with a strong warning—holding the weight of everything we’d discussed this past week about my duties as queen.

I smiled, laying the napkin gently across my lap. “I feel very well, thank you. Amazing what Chef’s porridge can do for a little fatigue.”

“Very well.” David nodded once in that kingly manner of his, and went back to his chat with Arthur.

Beside me, Mike’s eyes shrunk from the roundness of confusion to tiny slits under a frown. He leaned in and whispered, “Since when do you perk up for the sake of appearances?”

“Since David’s been giving me a few lessons in royal etiquette.”

Mike and Morg exchanged glances, and Emily, so bright and fresh at this hour of the morning, offered a gentle smile. I looked away. Her special immortal “connection” with David that allowed her to sense his feelings didn’t give her right to think she knew what was going on with me. But from the corner of my eye then, I noticed her and David looking at each other; David's gaze was quick, and Emily’s response—looking into her plate—made my spine straighten.

David? I thought.

What?

Are you holding a private conversation with her?

Who?

Emily!

“Yes, Uncle. Now that the castle is vacant, I was hoping to head out there this week,” he said, ignoring me.

“We have over two hundred prisoners in those cells, Your Majesty,” Walter said. “You will need more than the five men you’ve got to go through their files and determine their right for parole.”

“I’ve been through most of the cases myself already,” he said. “In fact, I sentenced at least a quarter of them, and my uncle the rest. It should take five men only three days to complete the task.”

David?

He kept his eyes on Walter, giving vague details about the members in his ‘clean-out-the-prison’ team.

David, I huffed, slamming my palm onto the table.

Yes.

Yes, what? I shot the thought at him with enough force to almost burst a blood vessel.

Yes. She asked me a question. I answered, he thought.

What question? I asked, cursing the day I ever found out that David could still read Emily’s mind, despite her being a vampire.

It’s not relevant.

My breakfast suddenly hit my gut like an iron hammer. Why?

Because.

David, you can’t have private conversations with Emily and expect me not to wonder what it’s about. What if I did that with Mike—or Jason? I waited, getting madder by the second.

She just asked if everything between you and I was okay, he finally responded.

And . . . why would she ask that?

She thinks I’m being cruel. He smiled across at me. That I forced you to come to breakfast.

What makes her think that?

He laughed to himself—his secret smile stealing my heart. Because she knows you. Knows you’d never get out of bed this early without a fight.

I shrugged. Can she read your thoughts now, too?

No.

Are you going to tell her I can?

He turned his head and replied to Arthur’s question. I half expected to have to wait for his answer, but it came through while he was talking, a skill I had not yet mastered.

I sighed, picking up my spoon to eat the porridge again. He was right. It could be dangerous for anyone to be aware that he and I had any more power than they already knew about. In this society, I was starting to understand why everyone kept their secrets. It seemed less lonely, though, knowing I wasn’t the only one who didn't know who to trust. And I was glad David didn’t even trust Emily with the secret of his new powers. She was already two steps too deep into David’s circle of trust. Arm’s-length was the best place to keep her.

   
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