Home > The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(23)

The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(23)
Author: Sylvain Reynard

Raven rolled her eyes. “I’m talking about you.”

William’s hands splayed across her bottom as she lay atop him. “Yes, I am naked.”


“Why should I wear clothes when sleeping next to the woman I love?”

Raven’s heart stuttered.

Of course, he could hear it. “What is making you anxious? Nakedness or love?” His fingers sifted through a lock of hair that spilled over his chest.


“For what reason?”

“This is all very new.”

William’s hand slipped from her hair to her lower back, lifting the hem of her T-shirt. “I like the way you feel. I like discovering new things about your body—how you react to my touch, to my kiss, to my body when it’s inside yours. You are a book that deserves to be read over and over again.”

She smiled and pressed her breasts to his naked chest, reveling in the cool smoothness of his muscular form.

“We’ll talk about your sister later. Go back to sleep.”

“I’m not sure I can. At least, not like this.” Raven moved her injured leg, wincing.

“Sweetheart,” he murmured. In a flash, he switched positions, placing her gently on her back and hovering above her, kneeling between her legs.

Raven felt herself flush.

She looked up into intense gray eyes. “Are you really afraid of losing me?”

“Without qualification.” He put his weight on his forearms, at her sides.

“Then we’re the same.”

William bent his head so he could kiss the swell of her breasts through her T-shirt. “We are not the same. You are a soft, warm, desirable woman whose body is a wonder of divine artistry.”

She drew him down so she could hide her face in his neck. “Go easy on the compliments, William. I’m not ready to hear them.”

“That is a tragedy.”

She clutched him more tightly.

“I am sorry about your sister.” He spoke next to her ear.

“She doesn’t believe me.”

“That I have your stepfather?”

“No, she doesn’t believe my stepfather attacked me. She thinks I fell down the stairs.”

William’s grip on her tightened. “She doesn’t remember?”

“You read the files. She was traumatized. Over the years, I’ve tried to talk to her about it, but my mother always inserted her version of events. Last night it became clear Cara’s memories are completely suppressed.”

“I take it, then, your sister isn’t interested in justice.”

“You could say that.”

The lovers were silent for a long time. Eventually, Raven began nuzzling his stubbled throat with her nose. “You have whiskers.”

“I am male, in case you hadn’t noticed.” He flexed his hips as if to prove his point.

“I’ve noticed.” She lifted her head and brushed her lips across his. “But I thought vampyres stayed the same.”

“We change in slight ways. Our hair grows, as do our nails, but very, very slowly.”

“Good to know.” She kissed him once again, before dropping her head back on the pillow.

“What will you do about your sister?”

“I’m hoping I can repair my relationship with her. Someday.”

William frowned. “Is there a chance it’s beyond repair?”

“She was really upset. Her boyfriend told me to stay out of their lives.”

The barest rumble escaped William’s chest. “Do you want me to deal with him?”

“God, no.” Raven cringed. “Dan is a good person. He’s upset because Cara is upset.”

“I can arrange to have the files sent to them. They’ll have to admit you’re telling the truth.”

“No. Some grief is so great, it can’t be felt; it can only be observed. Or denied. Let Cara have her denial.”

“You’re protecting her again.” William squeezed Raven gently. “Perhaps this is a case when you shouldn’t protect her.”

“She has enough to deal with. I’m not going to put all of this on her. Not until she’s ready.”

William shook his head. “So you’ll continue to bear the burden for your family, and the brunt of their anger?”

Her green eyes slanted to the side. “There’s nothing else I can do. You said you wanted to take away my burden. But it’s a burden I’ll always carry, whether my sister believes me or not.”

“Justice will release you.”

“Will it?”

William opened his mouth as if to reassure her and closed it. He changed the subject. “I saw the sketch on your desk. I’m sure Saint Michael is insulted by being drawn with my likeness, but I appreciate the compliment.”

“Saint Michael can’t be insulted, because he isn’t real.”

“He is, actually.”

“You’ve seen him?” Her tone was slightly mocking.

“Not Michael himself, but an angel, yes.”

Raven squinted at him, searching for any sign of duplicity. She found none. “I don’t believe you.”

His hand slid down to rest on her hip. “I know.”

“I wasted a lot of time praying for help when I discovered what my stepfather was. No one helped me. If there are such things as angels, why didn’t they help?”

“Believe me, I’ve asked myself the same question over the centuries. Forget about them. Let me be the one to give you justice.”

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