Home > The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(13)

The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(13)
Author: Sylvain Reynard

“I wanted to see you.”

She smiled half-heartedly and gestured to his drink. “Vampyre blood doesn’t seem to affect you.”

“That isn’t true.” William relaxed in his chair. “Vampyres aren’t human, so blood doesn’t affect us in the same way. But ingesting blood from a powerful vampyre increases my strength.” And my libido, he added, but only to himself.

“Is that why you’re resistant to relics? Because you drink vampyre blood?”

William started, but swiftly tried to cover his reaction. “No.”

“You told me you don’t know why you’re different from the others—why you can walk in sunlight and on holy ground. But you know why you’re resistant to relics?”

William forced himself to adopt a neutral expression. “I have a hypothesis, but not a demonstrated proof.”

“I’m eager to hear it.” She made herself more comfortable in her chair.

His gaze drifted to her neck. “Not tonight. We have more important things to talk about.”

She shrugged and sipped her drink, hiding behind her glass. William was seized with the impression he’d been tested and failed.

“I’ve not shared my secrets with anyone.” He looked down at his hands, turning them over in the firelight.

“Is that why you tampered with my memory? Because I uncovered one of your secrets?”

“No.” William’s response was sharp.

He lifted his goblet. “The story about relics involves the night I was changed. It was a dark time. I’ve never spoken of it.

“As for the blood, yes, it makes me stronger. But I am an old one and so its effects are lesser than they would be if a youngling ingested it.” He drained his glass in two swallows before making eye contact with her and licking his lips.

Raven stared at his mouth, appearing both repulsed and mesmerized. “Why do I get the impression you’re trying to seduce me?”

“Because there’s nothing I want more than to take you now. I could beckon you to my lap and have you take your pleasure or we could couple on the floor, next to the fire.”

Raven hesitated, the words of her beautiful, talented lover more than an enticement. “I asked you to let me in. You said you would.”

“Some knowledge is dangerous.”

“Fine.” She sounded frustrated. “I’m not going to argue over every piece of information you refuse to share. Let’s talk about amnesia. The last time I had memory problems was when you gave me vampyre blood.”

“You had a head injury. It’s possible the memory loss was caused by that.”

“So vampyre blood doesn’t always cause memory loss?”

“It can cause memory loss, yes, but euphoria is its most common side effect.”

She crossed her arms over her chest. “I don’t feel particularly euphoric at the moment. What happened last night?”

He turned his attention to the fire, as if its flames would give him the courage and wisdom he required. “Before I begin I need to know how you’re feeling.”

“I feel fine. Why do you keep asking me that?”

He scanned her face. “You don’t feel . . . upset?”

“I’m annoyed you keep evading my questions.”

He sighed. “Then let’s begin. Do you remember bargaining with me for Emerson’s life?”

Raven clutched at her heart and William’s nostrils were filled with the scent of her sudden panic. “You didn’t kill Professor Emerson, did you? Not after you promised you wouldn’t.”

William’s gray eyes pinned her to her chair. “I keep my promises, as I shall shortly explain. I paid a visit to him in Umbria. He and his family are alive, but Mrs. Emerson is in need of a doctor.”

Raven gave him a horrified look.

He shook his head. “You misunderstand. She has some kind of illness. I sensed it by smell and informed her husband. As I said, I keep my promises. You agreed to tell me about the ‘accident.’” At this, he glanced at her right leg. “I agreed to spare the Emersons. The day after our conversation, I sent Luka to America to make inquiries.”

“Inquiries about the Emersons?”

“No, about you.”

“You thought I made everything up?” She slid her leg out from under her, placing both feet on the floor.

“Not at all. In fact, I believed you told me only part of what happened.”

She grimaced. “I told you enough.”

“For reasons I’ll disclose in a moment, I ordered Luka to conduct a thorough investigation. He provided me with court records, witness statements, transcripts, and medical files.”

The color faded from Raven’s cheeks. “But they’re confidential.”

“Money can be a powerful motivator. When it failed, Luka used more creative means.”

Raven screwed her eyes shut and turned away from him in her chair.

His voice grew soft. “I saw the reports and the photographs. What I saw more than angered me, Cassita. It grieved me. More than I can adequately express. You sustained much more than just a fall down the stairs while protecting your sister. There were bruises on top of bruises and injuries to your arms.”

Unconsciously, Raven touched her left arm below the elbow. William followed her movement with watchful eyes.

“The file on your sister outstripped what you’d told me. I wanted to go to America to deal with the situation directly, but for various reasons, I had to remain here.

   
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