Carpathian 04 - Dark Magic
His breath escaped in a long hiss. "You will pay for that disrespect." He lunged toward her.
A dark shadow moved out of the night, muscles rippling like steel beneath an elegant silk shirt. The shadow glided in front of Savannah like a shield, forcing her behind him. One large hand brushed her face where her assailant had struck her. The touch was brief yet incredibly tender, and the momentary contact seemed to take the pain with it as the newcomer's fingers slipped away from her skin. His pale, silvery eyes then slashed at the skeletal creature.
"Good evening, Roberto. I see you have dined well." The voice was pleasant, cultured, soothing, even hypnotic.
Savannah choked back a sob. Instantly she felt a stirring in her mind, a flood of warmth, the feeling of arms drawing her into their strong shelter.
" Gregori ," Roberto growled, his eyes glowing with bloodlust. "I have heard whispers of the dangerous Gregori—the Dark One, the bogey man of the Carpathians. But I do not fear you." It was bravado, and they all knew it; his mind was racing frantically for an escape.
Gregori smiled, a small, humorless quirk of his lips that brought a distinctively cruel gleam to his eyes.
"You obviously have never learned table manners. In all your long years, Roberto, what else have you failed to learn?"
Roberto's breath escaped in a long, slow hiss. His head began to undulate slowly from side to side. His fingernails lengthened, becoming razor-sharp claws.
When he attacks, Savannah, you will leave this place . It was an imperious command in her head.
It was my friend he killed , me that he threatened . It was against her principles to allow anyone else to fight her battles and perhaps be injured or killed in her place. She did not stop to think why it was so easy and natural to speak with Gregori, the most feared of the Carpathian ancients, on a mental path that was not the standard path of communication for their kind.
You will do as I tell you , ma petite. The order was spoken in her mind in the same calm tone that carried undeniable authority. Savannah caught her breath, afraid of defying him. Roberto might think he was up to taking on a Carpathian as powerful as Gregori, but she knew she wasn't. She was young, a novice at her people's arts.
"You have no right to interfere, Gregori," Roberto snapped, sounding like a spoiled, petulant boy. "She is unclaimed."
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Gregori's pale eyes narrowed to a slash of cold silver. "She is mine, Roberto. I claimed her many years ago. She is my lifemate."
Roberto took a cautious step to the left. "There has been no official acceptance of your union. I will kill you, and she will belong to me."
"What you have done here is a crime against humanity. What you would do to my woman is crime against our people, our treasured women, and against me personally. Justice has followed you to San Francisco, and the sentence our Prince Mikhail pronounced over you will be carried out. The blow you struck to my lifemate alone would earn you your fate." Gregori never raised his voice, never lost his faint, taunting smile. Go, Savannah .
I won't allow him to harm you when it is me he seeks.
Gregori's soft laughter echoed in her head. There is no chance of that , ma petite. Now do as I say, and go . He wanted her gone before she witnessed his casual destruction of the abomination who dared to strike a woman. His woman. Savannah already feared him enough.
"I am going to kill you," Roberto said loudly, blustering to pump up his courage.
"Then I can do no other than oblige you by letting you try," Gregori replied pleasantly. His voice dropped an octave lower, became hypnotic. "You are slow, Roberto, slow and clumsy and far too incompetent to take on someone of my skill." His smile was cruel and slightly mocking.
It was impossible to avoid listening to the cadence of Gregori's voice. It worked its way into the brain and clouded the mind. Still, high and powerful from a fresh kill, filled with lust and the need to conquer, Roberto launched himself at Gregori.
Gregori simply was no longer there. He had thrust Savannah as far from them as possible, and with blurring speed he contemptuously marked Roberto's face with four deep furrows, marked it in exactly the spot that was bruised on Savannah's face.
Gregori's soft, taunting laughter sent chills down Savannah's spine. She could hear the sounds of the battle, the whimpers of
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