As he drew her up, she asked urgently, “My sisters?”

“They’re fine. The battle was more than half over by the time I arrived, and I left the wolves to help them before coming after you.” He looked down at her with a frown. “And you? Are you hurt anywhere, ma lisse?” The wraiths had infinite means to inflict harm, and sometimes such wounds weren’t the type to immediately manifest.

“I’m fine. Thank you for your concern.” The words were automatic, falling gracefully from her lips, but the way she yanked her hand from his hold was not. His presence alone made her feel all tingly, but his touch was worse, making her feel the need to—-

She would not think about that, Soleil decided prudishly. Looking up, she told the marquis severely, “I have told you before, have I not? I am not your lily.” As far as Soleil was concerned, being any man’s lily was a ludicrous idea, considering how she killed for a living.

But all the marquis said was, “Mm.” He was frowning, his gaze running over her form. “You are certain you’re unhurt?”

When he started checking her for injuries, Soleil opened and closed her mouth, eventually deciding against telling him off. She knew, from experience, that alpha otherworlders – who weren’t too demonic, that was – were all the same, with the way they considered themselves personally responsible of their heartkeepers’ safety.

But then the marquis’ hands brushed her breasts—-

Face flaming even as her nipples pouted into life, she slapped Ilie’s hands away. “W-what do you think you’re doing?” She wished she could’ve sounded angrier, but even to her ears her voice sounded anything but, with its breathless and husky tone. Curse him and his wandering hands, and curse her body for being so blasted sensitive!

“I told you, milady. I’m merely checking for injuries.” But the wicked gleam in the marquis’ silver eyes belied his words, and when his gaze trailed down suggestively, focusing on her swelling and aching breasts, Soleil could feel her body stirring even more, shamelessly begging for his touch.

She quickly turned her back on him, hissing, “Will you please behave?”

“I will, if you tell me you are truly fine.” Stepping in front of her once again, he tipped her chin up, his gaze gently probing as he murmured, “I did not think it was possible you would fall for such a trap. You must have known that illusions are one of the common ways for these woods to kill its prey.”

“I guess I’m just human.” Soleil shrugged uncomfortably, thinking that the marquis was too insightful for his own good. Changing the subject, she asked, “Have you seen the man I was pursuing?”

The marquis grimaced. “I wish you wouldn’t put it quite that way. It makes me wish I could kill him the second time.”

The second time?

A moment later, the marquis was cupping her elbow and gently turning her around, and that was when Soleil saw him.

Wilbur’s corpse was swinging lifelessly mid-air, a rope of vines wound around his throat. Either he had hung himself in guilt, or the wraiths had done it for him.

She closed her eyes and prayed for his soul, even though she knew it was pointless.

“You’re too gentle for this kind of job,” the marquis murmured when she finished praying.

“Gentle,” she reminded him with a deliberately gentle tone, “doesn’t mean weak.”

They started to walk, her hand on his arm, and her stupid sense of humor struck, making her want to laugh at the most inappropriate moment. There was a dead body behind them, and here they were, strolling like they were taking a walk at the park.

Ilie noticed the way her slim shoulders shook a little. “What’s so funny?”

She froze, wondering if he found her demeanor too cold and insensitive.

Correctly interpreting the dismay on her lovely face, Ilie shook his head with a faint smile. “Be at ease, milady. I’m more amazed than anything that you’ve willingly chosen this type of life, and more so that you’ve been able to maintain any kind of humor despite what you have to face daily.”

“I s-see.” Soleil didn’t like to think of how relieved she felt at the marquis’ explanations. If she did, then it would mean acknowledging she cared greatly about his opinion – when she did not.

She could not, or at least not just yet.

“I hear your sisters calling to you.”

She blinked. “What for?” That he was telling the truth was not to be doubted. All otherworlders had naturally heightened senses, and more so when they were as old as Ilie, who had roamed the earth for almost a millennium.

Ilie cocked his head. “She says she received a call from Crystal.” He glanced at her. “If you believe it’s urgent, I can take you to them in a second.”

“I suppose it—-” The marquis picked her up in his arms.

Tags: Marian Tee Fantasy
Articles you may like