Another snippet of Immortal Need, rising in the ranks on and #2 on Amira Press!

“Save my life, from whom, you? There’s no one else here. You’re the only one standing in front of me with enough weaponry to kill me where I stand. So, what do you think, in my mind, at this point, poses the most danger to me?”

This was not working. If she didn’t understand the gravity of her situation, she would only make his job harder. If he was to protect her, then she would have to trust him. Damn, her single-mindedness meant he had to find some other way to get through to her. He stepped back from her and leaned on the wall, crossing his arms across his chest. If Valerie were here, he knew she would find this entire situation entertaining. She would take Ayah off somewhere and have a girl talk. Lei would find some way to make her feel at ease with his easy laughter and dazzling smile. Alexander would’ve stayed in the shadows and simply watched her. He was one for deep thinking before he spoke. By the time he revealed himself to her, he would’ve known exactly what to do to bring her over to his side. But Freya hadn’t chosen any of them for this mission. She had chosen Sevani. He would have to find his own way.

“Don’t you know me? Know the touch of my hands, as if by some memory? Do my arms around you provide some comfort? Are you one to give yourself so freely to anyone, or was there something about me that made it all right?”

He saw a dizzying array of emotions cross her face. Awe, confusion, thoughtfulness, fear, and shock, they all filtered through her features before her gaze met his. She had known him. She had sensed him. Nila’s soul deep within her knew him. The woman she was today did not know him, but her soul recognized him. The thought nearly brought him to his knees. They had truly been as one. Their love, it seemed, transcended even death.

“How did you know that?” she asked breathlessly.

“Because, you do know me. You know that you can trust me. Once…” he said as he walked toward her. When she didn’t move away, he framed her face with his hands. “You were worth more than my life to me. But I made a mistake, and we were torn apart. So many years ago, and yet just yesterday, you would have been at home waiting for me to return and would have taken me into your arms when I got there.”

“But I would remember that. There’s no way I would’ve forgotten you.” She blushed again, but he ignored it, thinking she wouldn’t like attention brought to it. The compliment warmed him enough.

“There is so much to explain, but not enough time,” he said as he caressed her cheek. Those eyes that had at one time been so full of love stared at him with both knowledge and ignorance. She lifted her hands and gripped his wrists.

“Make time,” she urged.

He sighed and lifted his face to the heavens, his eyes sliding closed. They did not have time. He had only seven days before he would kill her again. Only seven days before he would kill her! He could not live in a fantasy world and believe it would not happen. He could not fight a goddess. Never before had he wanted to give himself to someone so completely. Never before had he wanted to lay his weapon down and never again pick it up. He wished he could give anything, do anything, to save her. But he could not. He just couldn’t.

“Please,” he heard her say, and he could deny her nothing. He had never been able to deny her. All she had to do was ask, and he would give it to her. Dare he hope? Was there a way to save her from a goddess that was all-seeing? Had the strength of his very existence, the skills that he had learned over thousands of years, all of his pain in their deaths, had it only happened to bring him to this point? Make time, she had asked him. He had often said if he had been given the chance, he would do anything to make it right. Was this the chance now?

Gods, let it be, he prayed.

“When we met, you were a shepherd’s daughter. But your beauty was renowned. I was the main warrior for the leader of our tribe, and many believed he would take you for himself. But he was not an unkind man, and he saw the way that I looked at you. He gave you to me. It was the way things were done, long before the children of the one God walked the earth. It took time, but we learned each other and fell in love. But several years later, I did not do as I should have, and you paid the price. With your death, my very existence changed. I was no longer a simple soldier out to claim more prizes and treasures. I was the plaything of a cruel goddess. It became my job to watch over women whose lives would be taken by men who were supposed to protect them. I swore that if I ever had the chance to be near you again, that I would protect you with everything that I was. That I would have my chance to have happily-ever-after with you, the way I was supposed to the first time. I have waited a very long time. And then you came to me, looking at me with eyes that don’t recognize me, but holding me against a body that doesn’t want to escape my touch. That is what’s real, Ayah. That is the truth. Now, will you help me help you?”

“But you’re white.”

“And that matters because…?” he asked, confused.

“I’m black. There is no way they let you marry me in the past.”

He laughed once he got her meaning.

“Have you ever heard of the Queen of Sheba?”

“I think most people have. Why?” she asked, frowning.

“She was of Africa, of Ethiopia, as it’s called today. She was a lover of King Solomon, who was, for all intents and purposes, not black. In my time, and now, color was not of importance.”

He watched her as she took it all in. Her face was so expressive. He could have sworn he could hear her arguing with herself, sorting through the facts and the emotions right in front of him. He waited for her as if they had all of the time in the world instead of just days. Make time, she’d asked, and he was doing so for her. He needed to know what was going on in her life, about her siblings and those closest to her. He also needed to prepare this house for battle, to teach her what to do. He wouldn’t think about the end right now. He couldn’t. If he did, he would try his best to whisk her away and force Freya to show herself. He had no idea if he could save her or if he could even try to. He’d have to think, plan, and try something. Because he wasn’t sure that he could kill this woman. Freya’s torture would be cruel and swift, but he’d suffered worse with the loss of the love of his life.

The more he watched her pace the room as she thought, he realized that she wasn’t a replica of his former wife. Her stroll was more determined, her stance much more secure. She had an assurance about her that Nila had never possessed. It was then he realized that he had still, despite knowing she housed Nila’s soul, been thinking of them as two distinct people. She may house Nila’s soul, but she was her own person, spiced with the memories, experiences, and mannerisms of this life. He looked at her with new eyes. Her nose was just a bit more upturned, her eyes wider. Her face was slightly narrower, so that her eyes seemed almost too big for her face. Her lips were a perfect pout, and softer, fuller, like the taste of her. Gods be damned, but he craved her still, even more than he had before, if that were even possible. She wasn’t Nila. She was Ayah, and he was going to save her life.

Once he acknowledged the thought, it blossomed through him. He would save her. This woman didn’t deserve to die for his past mistakes. He did not deserve to go through the pain of her death at his hands again, when he hadn’t even had a chance to know her again. He rubbed his suddenly aching chest. He wanted to know this woman. The realization of that nearly brought him to his knees. He wanted to taste her again. He wanted to have her. He wanted her for his own. An immortal destined to be alone for the rest of his life, and he wanted her. He would have to contact the other Watchers. Surely Valerie, Lei, and Alexander would help him. They would help him find a way. Valerie, in particular, would find this chore pleasing. She had no love for the goddess, and it seemed the feeling was mutual. Of them all, she was the only one Freya had never seen punished. Perhaps she was the key to stopping the goddess from interfering. As soon as he got the answers he needed from Ayah and got her to bed, he’d contact the immortals.

Determined, he stalked over to her and stopped her pacing.

“I am going to save you, Ayah, I promise you. Trust in me. We will find a way.”

“But I’m supposed to die at some point. Freya wants that. So if the person who is supposed to kill me can’t because of you, then how am I supposed to die?” And that was the question. It was a question that he didn’t want to answer, one that he wouldn’t answer.

“She meant for you to die the natural way, the way you were supposed to. I have no knowledge of how that was supposed to be.” The lie flowed off his tongue with an ease he should have been worried about, but for Ayah, it was worth it. She needn’t ever find out that it was his blade that was meant to cut her down, and that, at one time, he’d intended to do just that. That secret he would hold until he took his last breath, and that was a long way away.

“Then, yes, I will trust you. I don’t know what is going on, really, or how it’s all even possible, but I believe you.”

“That is all I ask of you, Ayah. If I must bring the others here to protect you, I will. We will find a way.”

Her gaze swung to his, and she watched him for a few moments. He felt as if she could see into his soul, see into the blackness that had become his heart, that she read more than he was telling her. He was beyond saving. He knew that. He was also selfish enough to still want the light of the world. It was not fair to her, he knew, but he would not let her go. She didn’t say anything, simply nodded her head.

“So we just have to figure out who’s gunning for me. Would the fact that I just became a millionaire help with all this?”


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