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royal storage, and the Guardians would be here any moment. Treasures from all
over Europe had been covered, hidden from view, while others lay exposed,
collecting layers of dust. A gold, jewel-encrusted urn half the size of a man
glinted in the dim light seeping from beneath the door. A golden yellow chaise
in Greek styling was half hidden beneath a sheet, the craftsmanship elaborate.
Yes, Savard grew nervous when Guardians were scheduled to enter this room, but
theft was not his fear, nor was the handling of such priceless artifacts.
his life to protect what was beyond the row of five large French curio cabinets
in the corner of the attic. Savard slipped into Spirit long enough to move
through a curio, and once inside the makeshift seclusion, returned to his true
form. Here, easily hidden behind the towering cabinets, was the most priceless
treasure in Balinese.
the true lord of Balinese, lay motionless on a small bed, trapped in a deep
healing sleep. Not waking, not dying.
fallen in the demon attack nearly seven years ago. A demon’s blade had pierced
his chest, and from what they could tell, nicked his heart. Navarre had slipped
into a healing sleep, his body shutting down to repair from the inside out.
After that point, nothing could be done to help him. Their lord would have to
heal on his own, or not at all.
Savard expected his lord’s death, even planned for the loss. It never happened.
Months had passed. Years. Seven years of total stillness.
outside the door rattled, the heavy hinge laid back against the door. Then the
large wooden slide latch was moved, wood scraping wood, until the handle hit
the end of its range with a solid thud.
beside the bed and took his lord’s lifeless hand in both of his, ready to
weather the brief intrusion, prepared to Spirit Navarre away should it become
the thick door creaked as it opened. The Guardians stepped inside, flipped on
the lights. Boots scuffed the uneven floorboards beneath their feet, and long,
purposeful strides quickly carried them deeper inside the room.
Dyre said, his young, smooth voice trapped in the low ceiling of the attic. “It
doesn’t appear heavy, only awkward.”
putting an empty birdcage outside the dining hall?” Cat said, suspicion
bleeding through her tone.
these two was unexpected. As arena Guardians, Titus and Graydon often drew the
short straw, being sent on random missions that sometimes involved moving
furniture. Not today. Somehow Dyre and Cat had taken their place.
do,” Dyre said.
exaggerated the guttural sound. “I hate your motto. It’s stupid.”
motto,” Dyre said, the effort of sliding wooden furniture across the floor
temporarily halting his speech. “And you seem to like it just fine when you’re
the one barking orders.”
she said, relenting.
slightly, shaking his head. In public those two barely spoke a word to each
other, and after the parade of Guardian partners Cat had gone through, he never
would have thought Dyre would be the one she’d accept. But then, Dyre was one
of the few able to bring her unpredictable temper down to at least a simmer.
end,” Dyre directed. “I’ll go down the stairs backward.”
can’t go backward?” Cat snapped at him, instantly geared up for a fight,
offended her partner might find her lacking.
calmly, his tone hinting at simple honesty. “I think you’re short.”
a response, Savard didn’t hear it. Boots scuffled across the floor, the lights
went out and the door closed, the bolt slid home, and the padlock clunked into
place. The room was left in silence once again. Savard peeked through a crack
between the dressers to make certain they’d left.
Navarre’s hand over, Savard pressed his fingertips to his lord’s exposed inner
wrist. As he did with each visit, Savard searched for a pulse, craved
confirmation that Navarre still lived. Beneath his fingers, the normally slow,
lurching rhythm of Navarre’s pulse seemed to have sped up. Not rapid or racing,
but simply stronger. This could be his body’s last surge of energy before
death. Savard looked at Navarre’s face, fearing it might be the last time.
deep in a healing sleep, turned his face slightly toward the door. He wasn’t
dying. He was waking.
her.” Jaw slack, Savard sank back onto his heels.
hair off his face. How had he not seen this connection? When Cat had first
arrived on the night of the attack, he hadn’t known what to do with her. He’d
put her in one of Navarre’s extra homes. That home was on the floor beneath
this attic, not terribly far from where Navarre lay sleeping.
could recognize the beckoning call of their fated mate. Supposedly, though he’d
never seen it happen, the presence of your mate could even negate the deadly
call of the sun. Her proximity was most likely the only reason Navarre still
clung to life. Cat must be his mate. If so, then she was the key to Navarre’s
awakening. Ironically, her continued presence in the city was contingent upon
Navarre allowing her to stay once he woke.
took form now that Savard at long last had a clear solution. If Navarre’s
condition was going to change, it would happen tonight. He would make it happen
development should bring elation, Savard’s skin crawled with a morbid
anticipation. Something unstoppable was happening in the world around him, a
life-altering force headed his way. He’d felt this same unease the night he’d
become lord, an awareness that he balanced at the top of a mountain and would
soon fall. He just didn’t know in which direction.