Sunday, 18 September 2011

Hearts of Warriors Ch 08 teaser

Okay here is the teaser to chapter 8. It's quite long as it's a longish chapter. I'm sure it will stop at the most inconvenient moment for everyone and bring about much gnashing of teeth hahaha! Yes, I am laughing in advance :)

Not sure when this will post in its entirety to Lit so hope this tides you over until it does.


Chapter Eight

Mac felt a surge of emotion wash through him as Karn hung up on him. He stood in the middle of the airport trying to work out what the emotion was. He was astonished to realise it was a combination of fear and need. He was afraid for Lily and he had a pressing need to return to her. It was so sharp it felt as if his gut was twisting inside.

He swore under his breath, cursing the rise of emotions he couldn’t afford to deal with, cursing the stunning brunette who was wreaking havoc on his life in a way no other could. Damn Liliana Romanov to hell! She had no right to do this to him. But even as he cursed her, his feet were moving of their own volition heading out of the busy airport.

He called Rhianna when he got outside and started heading to the long stay car park where he’d left the Jeep. “I can’t get to Europe,” he said with little preamble. “Pietro should have backup though just in case. Can you send someone?”

Rhianna didn’t bother asking what was wrong. She knew it had to be something relating to Lily to have Mac turning back from his course of action. “No one as inconspicuous as you,” she answered her tone thoughtful. “I’ll ask Demetri to go. It’s not ideal, but if your gut instincts are right, then Pietro needs someone at your level if not higher to watch his back.”

Mac felt some of the weight of responsibility seep from him. Demetri was an excellent choice if he couldn’t go himself. Sure he wasn’t invisible, some of the older vampires may recognise him, but he was deadly in a fight if it came down to it.

“Thanks Annie. I need to find out what new trouble Lily’s unleashed at the compound. Apparently Karn’s not sure that even Kallum’s presence there is enough to temper her. For some reason he thinks I’m the only one up for the job.”

She had to laugh at the disgruntled tone in Mac’s voice even as she heard the sound of a car door slamming and keys jingling as he tried to fit them into the lock to start the engine. He may not be happy to be returning to the compound but he appeared to be in a rush to get there.

“You’re her mate, Mac. You may not want to admit it, you may be mad as hell about it, but it’s inevitable, my friend. You should stop fighting it.”

An audible silence stretched and then his breath blew out in a loud sigh. “Has anyone ever told you you’re as annoying as hell sometimes, Annie?”

She laughed harder. “I’ve heard that a time or two. Just as I’ve heard a time or two that I’m always right. You should think on that, Mac. Now go sort out your problems and let me call Demetri. Caleb and I have set up a meeting with Rafe for later on tonight. We’ll keep you informed of the outcome.”

Mac didn’t say goodbye, he simply hung up and started the engine. He pushed Rhianna’s words from his mind, refusing to listen to them. The redhead’s confidence should have sootheed his concerns but it didn’t. He knew Andrei Romanov. If he lost control the way Lily was losing control, then there would be no stopping him.

He didn’t know if Loretta had the power to control Andrei when he hit the killing edge, so the only option was to make sure the vampire didn’t get to that point. If that meant denying Lily, then he would, no matter the personal consequences of his actions.

There were far too many lives at stake, not just the Praetorians but also the Vârcolac. This could rip them all apart and leave them vulnerable right at the time when they needed protection the most.

Mac uttered another loud curse and headed towards the Praetorian compound. When he got his hands on Lily he was going to shake the living daylights out of her. She would obey him or so help him God, he…he….well he didn’t quite know what he’d do but he’d think something dire up if he had to.


Lily had barricaded herself in her room refusing to speak to anyone. Kallum had tried to talk to her but she’d been unable to meet his gaze, ashamed at her loss of control. He sent her love down their bond and it had hurt to feel it, so she’d masked the bond tightly until nothing and no one could get in.

Her brother had finally hugged her silently, kissing the top of her head and leaving with Karn when he’d realised she needed space. She knew he was keeping a light touch with her mind just in case she let him in. It made her feel worse because she was aware he was hurting because she was shutting him out.

And Karn had summoned Mac home. She shivered at the thought of seeing him again. He’d be angry with her, disappointed with her weakness. He had important work to do and he’d had to give that up to come back and babysit her like a child.

How would he ever accept her as his mate when he had to take care of her like a two year old all the time? Why couldn’t she be mature enough to be the woman he needed? She’d spent over a decade shaping herself into the kind of woman Mac could be proud of and it had all been for nothing. She was weak and pathetic and he could never love a submissive woman.

Lily let the tears fall as she buried her head in the pillow to muffle the sound. She was so confused she didn’t know which way to turn, what to do to make things right. She reached out mentally; searched for that one rock she knew would always be there no matter what she did wrong or how angry he was with her.


Instantly she was assaulted with conflicting emotions, relief, anger, concern and layering them all was a deep rooted pain that threatened to take her breath away. Her tears flowed harder and she bit her bottom lip to muffle her sobs.

The emotions suddenly vanished, cut off in an instant to be replaced with a strong sense of love and acceptance. “Shhhh, baby, don’t cry. There’s nothing so bad we can’t fix it. You know that.”

“I keep doing everything wrong,” she wailed. “I try to be good and I fail all the time. I’m frightened, Dad. I’m so fucking scared of what I’ll do, who I’ll hurt. I keep losing control and I’ve already hurt one friend.”

Andrei took a deep breath, his heart clenching painfully at the plea for understanding in his daughter’s voice, at the sheer terror trembling through his bond with her that he could suddenly sense. He knew that feeling well, that moment when the sane part of him realised the madness was about to take hold and sweep away the last piece of goodness within his soul.

Of all the things he could have given to Lily, this was the one he’d prayed neither of his children would ever inherit.

“Language, Liliana,” he answered gruffly fighting to keep his growing fear from his tone. “I know you’re upset but I’m still your father and don’t want to hear foulness from my little girl’s mouth.”

Surprisingly, his stern words actually helped to calm her down a little. It was such a normal parent thing to hear that she sighed softly and rubbed at her cheeks to try and dry the endless tears.

“I think I was into my third decade as a vampire when I first noticed the faint whiff of what I’ve always termed my insanity,” Andrei continued in an even tone. “It terrified me how hard it was to maintain control of the feral part of my nature. I was lucky I had a close bond with your Uncle Alexei. He was able to help me when I danced too close to the killing edge. Later, I learned to control it myself but I was always aware it was there, always knew that one small lapse on my part and a monster would be born.”

He let his words sink in, feeling her startled emotions as he opened up to her and let her know that she wasn’t alone, that he truly did understand what she was currently going through.

“I managed to control it for centuries with just a few slip-ups along the way. And then I met your mother. Lord, that woman was enough to shatter any man’s self control no matter how hard I fought against her. You know what happened, Lily. We never hid from you the choice your mother had to make back then. We glossed over my part in the whole affair though.”

Lily was fascinated and repelled at the same time. She knew her father wasn’t perfect, that his dark side was something most sane people feared. But he was still her father, still the rock she clung to when she was frightened. She didn’t want anything to come between them and yet she knew she needed to know what it was about him that made her the way she was. She couldn’t hide from the beast within.

“Tell me,” she whispered even though she was afraid of what was to come. Another rush of love and reassurance invaded her mind along with a strong sense of pride.

“When my Rose was hurt by my people, when I thought we had lost you before we’d ever had the chance to know you, I crossed over, Liliana. I stopped dancing the killing edge and embraced it. Blood flowed that day, but more than that, I took a vampire apart piece by piece. I felt no remorse, no constraints, only mindless satisfaction as I listened to Roberto’s screams as I ripped him apart.”

He paused again, taking another deep breath as he relived that day as if it was only yesterday. “Your mother brought me back,” he finally said when his daughter remained silent and waiting for his next words.

“For some reason, watching her walk barefoot through Roberto’s blood was just so wrong on every level. I was tainted, beyond redemption, but she was beauty and light, the other half of my soul. I couldn’t bear to see my taint on her skin, couldn’t bear the thought that if I left her forever, someone else would hurt her as she’d just been hurt.

She didn’t give up on me. My Rose refused to let me lose myself and clung on with her love and acceptance, seeing past my horrendous act and finding something worth saving in me. She gave me back my sanity and she gave me back my little Lilac. When I felt you still alive and growing in her womb, I knew I was being given a second chance and I was greedy enough to reach out and grab it with both hands.”

Lily felt more tears falling, heard the pain and suffering her father had carefully kept hidden from his children. So much guilt and self-loathing, so much self doubt over whether he deserved the redemption he finally found with his family. She loved him so much she was sending that love down their bond in an instant, no hesitation at all.

“I don’t know if I’m as strong as you, Daddy,” she admitted brokenly. “I thought Kal could help but I lost control today again even in his presence. There’s only one person who seems able to calm my wolf when she goes feral but he has so many lives he needs to protect. He needs to be able to concentrate on them and I know he feels he can’t do that and be my saviour too.”

Andrei’s mental tone was gruff when he answered her as if he was trying hard to hide his emotions. “Your mate. I think only a true mate can soothe the beast within our souls, Lily. Can you tell me why he can’t do both?”

She couldn’t answer that question. To do so would give away everything and though she knew it was about to happen anyway, she wanted a few more hours of pretending, of dreaming that everything would somehow work itself out.

“It’s because of me isn’t it?” Andrei suddenly asked and there was so much pain in his words that she thought it would crush her. “Am I so terrible, Lily? Have I failed you so badly that you believe I would take the one thing in your life that would grant you the peace your soul needs?”

A choked sob ripped out and she buried her face into the pillow again trying to muffle the sound. She didn’t want to hurt him any more, didn’t want him to know she had thought that, that just about everyone who knew him expected something so terrible from him.

“I love you, Liliana. I will always love you no matter what. When you’re ready, come home so we can talk more. Get in touch with your mother too because she’s worried about you and it’s unfair to punish her because I’ve been a complete ass. I would never hurt your mate, daughter mine, no matter how angry I became. When I’ve earned your trust back, I hope you can believe that.”

He cut off their contact and she felt guilty that she was glad of it. Her emotions were so raw, his revelations staggering. And yet just knowing that she wasn’t alone, that her father truly understood the sheer terror she felt deep inside, did help ease her pain a little.

Forcing herself from the bed, Lily headed into the bathroom and took a shower. She dressed without paying any attention to her clothes, her thoughts chaotic as she tried to work out what to do for the best. She had almost come to her decision when she heard the sound of a car pulling up outside and knew her time had run out. Mac was home.

The sound of raised voices startled her when she opened the bedroom door. She’d had no idea the sleeping quarters were soundproofed in the house but it was the only explanation for not being aware an argument was in full swing. Squaring her shoulders she peeked over the banister down into the entranceway.

Her breath caught as her eager gaze took in every nuance of Mac’s expression. His eyes were molten black, his features hard and uncompromising as he stared down Kallum as if it was an every day occurrence for him.

Her brother was equally impressive and more astounding because she’d never seen him this way before. Kal was usually so easy going, so understanding but the man facing off with her mate was rigid, so furious his eyes were actually glowing with flecks of pale amber. Power wafted off him in waves.

When had her brother become so strong? How much of himself did he hide from everyone the way she had hidden her own weakness all these years? For the first time she thought she could truly understand the pack’s obsessive need to protect them. They were an unknown entity; with powers so strong they could be dangerous. Watching Kallum cemented the decision she’d come to.

Mac’s gaze shifted an instant later and his head snapped up to her. God he was so beautiful, so intoxicating, she felt as if she’d melt from the heat in his eyes even at a distance. Her heart twisted painfully in her chest though she kept her expression carefully neutral. Seeing Mac made it so much more painful to do what she had to do but she wouldn’t be swayed from her decision.

Lily hitched her pack over her shoulder and walked serenely downstairs conscious that every eye was on her quiet descent. The Praetorians had been watching Mac and Kallum argue, now they watched her, the cause of the argument.

Karn’s expression was unreadable but then she didn’t expect any less from him. He would never openly show what he could keep hidden. Brandon raised an eyebrow at her and she couldn’t stop her lips quirking. There were just some things her friend would never get the hang of; denying his friendship with her was one of them.

She swept past them all and came to stop at Kallum’s side. She thought she detected a slight tic in Mac’s jaw but she could have imagined it. He was the master at shielding his emotions, so much so she would have doubted he had any if he hadn’t let slip his mask the night before.

“I’m ready to go home now, Kal,” Lily announced in an even tone, her gaze never leaving Mac’s. She felt confusion run through their bond as she opened herself back up to her brother.

“You’ve just turned the pack upside down for your right to be here, Lila. Now you want to go home? Did I miss something?” Kallum couldn’t keep the anger from his voice even though he wasn’t angry with his sister as such. He’d just spent the last five minutes arguing with Mac to allow her to stay at the compound now she was doing a three hundred sixty degree turn on him?

“I’ve talked to Dad and it’s apparent that I need to go home.” Her gaze shifted to her brother, her body language irresolute. “We’re endangering the pack by being here, splitting both the Praetorians and our families. Mac needs to be in Europe to track down the threat against us and he can’t do that if he has to keep babysitting me. I’m safe at home so it makes sense to be there until all this has been cleared up.”

She was agreeing to go home for the moment but she wasn’t giving up on claiming her mate. She needed Mac on more than one level; her talk with her father had made that abundantly clear. It had suddenly struck her that Mac couldn’t be who he was meant to be when she was around. She was hurting him by dividing his focus and that was something she couldn’t live with.

She wouldn’t be a burden to her mate. She had waited twelve years she could wait a few more if that’s what it took for Mac to be able to come to her with a clear conscience and no regrets.

An irritated snort filled the air and she had to smile as she turned back to look at Brandon. “You need to work on your impassiveness, Bran. You’re pretty hopeless at it. Don’t worry I’m not vanishing completely. You can come visit me at the compound, if Mac has no objections to it.”

She turned back to look at her mate. His eyes bored into her soul and for a moment it was almost as if they were the only two people standing there. She couldn’t tell what he was thinking or feeling.

It was an effort to tear her eyes from his to smile up at Karn. She would miss him almost as much as she would miss Mac. “No sigh of relief, Karn? I’m just about to make your life so much simpler.” Her tone was teasing even as she felt as if her heart was about to break under the strain of keeping up her calm façade.

He grunted and looked away not bothering to answer. He was watching Mac carefully instead, waiting to see what he would do now that Lily had decided to leave.

Mac stared at Lily, his body so tense he felt as if the slightest breeze would break him in two. Her face was pale, the telltale signs of weeping in the slight redness around her eyes. She was stunning, her hair loose for once, still damp from her shower.

The smile she gave Brandon and Karn didn’t meet her eyes, the serenity in her face a cold mask she wasn’t quite adept enough to carry off to perfection. When she spoke there was just the slightest hint of a quiver as if she was holding onto her self-control by the faintest of margins. She looked so fucking fragile it was enough to break his heart.

His earlier rage had dissipated only to be replaced by a new anger. Lily was leaving him. The decision was clear in her eyes, her pack on her shoulder the physical announcement of her intent. He should have been glad about it. He’d be able to go to Europe and track down the threat to her. He’d be able to do his job as he’d promised he would all those years ago. But he didn’t feel glad. He felt a cold, chilling anger which threatened to turn the blood in his veins to ice.

She was fucking leaving him!

He reached out gripping her upper arm firmly and marching across the entranceway towards his study. He ignored her startled gasp and held up a hand in warning when Kallum moved to intercede.

“Mind your own fucking business,” he ground out, piercing him with a hard glare. “You know I won’t hurt her.”

A silent moment passed between the two men and then Kallum backed off. He wasn’t looking at the head of the Praetorians but instead the furious gaze of a mate who was being driven to distraction. One thing he knew well was never to come between mates. Mac wouldn’t hurt Lily so he let them go to work out their issues.

“Mac!” Lily couldn’t believe he’d just frogmarched her into the study in front of everyone. The door slammed shut behind them with a loud bang and she would have jumped if the scent of fresh paint hadn’t distracted her. It was so strong it made her nose wrinkle in distaste.

There was a new desk too, slightly smaller than the last one but in a soft cedar wood rather than the dark mahogany of its predecessor. The walls were devoid of wood panelling; now smooth plasterwork with a soft cream finish. It was so completely changed she was momentarily stunned into silence. 

“The last time we were in here I wrecked the place afterwards so I suggest you keep your mouth shut unless I ask a question. Karn will be pissed if he has to redecorate again.”

Her mouth dropped open and she gaped up at Mac in astonishment. The last time they’d been in here he’d made her control her wolf. It had been painful in the extreme, cutting so deep she didn’t think she’d be able to survive it. Had his actions hurt him just as badly? Was that why he’d wrecked the room afterwards?

Mac yanked the pack from her shoulder, dropping it to the floor impatiently before he picked her up and strode across the room to perch her on the side of the desk. His intent gaze searched her face for a moment and then he bit out a harsh curse.

“Why were you crying?”

It was the last question she expected him to ask, so for a moment she could only stare at him mutely.

“You’re allowed to speak. I did ask a question.”

The sheer audacity of his words and actions sparked her temper and she scowled blackly. “Oh thank you so much for giving me permission to speak, Master. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have you here to instruct me.”

A loud sigh escaped him and he reached back to tug out his plait and release his hair so he could run his fingers through it in frustration. “I don’t know why you seem to think I have unlimited self-control, Liliana, because I can assure you I don’t. So stop playing with fire and answer the fucking question.”

He roared the last words at her, his icy façade vanishing in an instant to be replaced with anger.

“Don’t you yell at me, Mackenzie,” she shouted back. “I’m not the one who’s pissing around pretending we’re not mates. I’m not the one who doesn’t give a fuck that denying me is ripping me to shreds. I’m not the one who isn’t brave enough to say to hell with everyone else and take what belongs to me. I’m not the fucking coward here, Mac, you are!”

The force of raw fury and pain in her voice rocked him back on his heels. She was aware of all the reasons why they couldn’t be together. She wasn’t stupid. She knew there were lives at stake. And yet, the pain in her eyes was enough to bring him to his knees.

“So you were crying because I won’t mate with you?” he asked, his voice devoid of all emotions. “Is that what all this ‘I’m leaving’ little scene is all about? Are you trying reverse psychology here?”

Lily’s mouth dropped open again. She couldn’t believe the sheer gall of the man to accuse her of playing silly games when there was so much at stake. Was that what he really thought of her? Suddenly it was all too much for her. She didn’t have the energy any more to argue with him, to convince him of the truth.

“You know something, Mackenzie, you were right all along and I was the one in the wrong,” she finally answered swinging her legs over the desk so she could slide to the floor away from him.

“It’s more than obvious we are not mates because I sure as hell don’t think I could ever pick a man so odious that he could think something like that about me. So I’ll answer your question about why I was crying. It’s none of your fucking business. Just like anything I do on a personal level is none of your business. I might not have any say in how you guard me as a Praetorian but that’s the sum total of our relationship from now on.”

She marched over to her pack and picked it up. She could tell he was momentarily stunned by her words and she needed that fraction of time to get away before she collapsed into a flood of tears. She had to keep it together until she could get to Kal. He would help boost her defences until she was safely home.

The pack was ripped from her once more startling her as she reached the door. She was whirled around and pressed against the wood so quickly she didn’t have time to react. Mac’s hand was fisted in her hair, tilting her head up to meet his gaze. She saw fury etched on his face and denial. And then there was a raw hunger that took her breath away as she opened her mouth to protest.

His lips crushed hers hard. She whimpered in response, her hands coming up to push at his chest as he ravished her lips beneath his in a kiss which was pure, unadulterated hunger.

Karn’s word came back to her about just how dangerous Mac was. He’d cautioned her not to push him and now it appeared she had and she was paying the price with a kiss so hot and hard she felt as if she was about to spontaneously combust.

“Mac.” Her whimper breathed into his mouth, a plea for respite and also for more. She didn’t know whether she wanted him to stop or keep going. She only knew her senses were being overloaded and she didn’t know how to cope with what she was experiencing.

The sound of Lily’s whimper cut through the haze in Mac’s brain, the red hot fury and crippling pain he felt as she walked away calmly telling him that they weren’t mates. He’d been fighting against her pull for so long he’d convinced himself he was in the right, was certain of it right up until the moment she’d tried to leave him.

Then he’d simply lost all control and now found coming to his senses brought a new wave of agony to his soul as he stared into her uncertain face, saw her bruised lips, and heard the echoes of her whimpers in his mind.

“Lily,” he groaned tracing a shaky finger against her mouth. His breath was ragged; his heart thumping hard as he fought to contain his emotions, tried to find the right words to make her understand how he felt.

“I’m the one who’s wrong, Liliana,” he ground out hoarsely. “I’ve known it from the very first moment I laid eyes on you and I’ve tried to fight it, tried to do what was right but I can’t. Every time I try to walk away I ache for you. I never dreamed you’d be the one to walk away from me. Don’t leave me, Lily. Stay with me, please.”

For a moment, Lily thought she was dreaming. The heat in Mac’s eyes, the impassioned plea on his lips was all she’d ever wanted, her mate claiming her. She was afraid to speak, terrified that anything she said would break the spell and he’d retract his words, change his mind as he’d done before.

Were his walls completely down this time or would he build them up again when the haze of passion passed and he once more looked at the bigger picture? She didn’t think she’d be able to stand it if he finally accepted her and then rejected her again. She was afraid of the insanity that curled up deep within her, ever present, always alert for the opportunity to come forth and destroy her completely.

“Talk to me, Lily. Tell me what frightens you so much. Whatever it is I’ll take care of it. I won’t let anything hurt you ever.” The need to protect her was overwhelming. He wanted to take the fear from her eyes, needed to convince her that she could rely on him to be strong enough for both of them.

Mac knew he hadn’t been the most reliable person so far, that he’d blown hot and cold and had confused the hell out of her. But he was done with that now. He was no longer fighting the mating pull, no longer denying she belonged to him. She was his and always had been right from the very day she’d taken her first breath. They’d find a way to convince her father they were meant to be together.

Lily wanted to believe him. He sounded so sincere, his expression anxious as he waited for her response. So much had happened to her emotionally, she felt fragile and uncertain. She knew she needed to go home. She had to be there in case her father reacted negatively to the news of the Praetorians no longer being secret.

She swallowed hard and closed her eyes taking a deep breath. She let it out slowly, her lashes fluttering open to meet his gaze again. “I was crying because I almost lost control of my wolf today,” she admitted, feeling her cheeks burn hot with shame. She waited for his anger, some sign that she’d disappointed him but he remained silent, waiting for her to continue.

“I was afraid about my father learning where I was. I convinced myself there would be a bloodbath if he tried to take me home and my wolf reacted negatively. Usually Kal can calm me, but he couldn’t today. I was panicking and so close to the edge I was terrified I would hurt my brother. Only remembering your order in this room calmed my beast.”

Mac could feel her distress; hear the self-loathing in her voice. It ripped through him so hard he wanted to weep for her. He knew there was still more to come so he held his peace brushing his hand gently through her hair as she took another deep breath.

“I talked to my father. I told him what was wrong and he told me about himself, about his own challenges with his inner demon. He said only my mother was capable of holding his insanity at bay. It appears I share the same personality flaw which is why my wolf is so feral at times.”

“So I’m the only one who can help you?” he asked in a soft voice, his fingers never ceasing their movements through her silky hair. He didn’t wait for her confirmation. “Were you crying because of your father’s revelations or because you thought there was no hope for you because I was rejecting you?”

“Maybe a bit of both,” she admitted on a hoarse whisper. “Dad’s emotions were so strong, so bitter and introverted. He hates that part of himself so much. He’s probably only ever admitted that to Mom because he keeps it locked up so tightly.

I didn’t know what the future held for me if you wouldn’t accept me as yours. I need you as a mate, Mac, as a woman who loves you so much it’s almost a physical thing. But I need you as my anchor too, to hold the insanity at bay, to keep me safe and stop me from ever hurting anyone.”

The vulnerability on her face, the unspoken plea in her voice was another blow to his already battered heart. She’d needed him and he’d walked away from her, left her floundering on her own, afraid.

“Lily.” He whispered her name against her lips, his mouth soft and gentle as she offered him her soul, handing him her heart with such trust despite his actions. He didn’t deserve her. She was too good for him. But she’d stolen his heart long before he’d realised he was missing it. He didn’t know when it had happened he just knew it had. He’d never be able to walk away from her now.

“You’re mine, sugar, just as I am yours. We’re mates and no matter what happens in the future, we’ll stand together always. I’m sorry I wasn’t here for you. I’m sorry I tried to run from us and I swear I’ll never do it again. I can’t lose you, Lily. I can’t be without you.”

He pressed her against the door, took her mouth in a kiss so sweet and tender a sootheing heat flowed through her. Lily’s arms wrapped around his neck, as she pressed closer to him needing to feel his body touching every inch of hers.

Mac kissed her over and over, the same sweet loving kisses that spoke of emotion rather than passion. She felt protected, safe from everything including herself. She felt loved, even though he’d never said the words to her. Her wolf rumbled its approval in a long breathy sound making her laugh softly into Mac’s mouth.

He raised his eyes, his dark gaze warm and sensual as a smile tugged at his lips. “Kissing me is amusing?” There was a teasing note in his voice, a playful side she hadn’t seen in him before.

“My wolf is so damned submissive where you’re concerned it’s quite nauseating,” she answered truthfully.

“I can’t wait to meet her…in a controlled manner,” Mac smiled running his knuckles gently against her cheek. The joy in Lily’s eyes made his heart kick up a beat and pride swell up within him. He’d put that expression on her face. He’d made his woman happy.

The rush of love he felt for her was like nothing he could remember experiencing. It was different from the love he’d felt for his human family. He’d loved Maria and little Sophia deeply, but it had been so long ago now he couldn’t really remember the intensity of those feelings. If it had been anything close to what he felt looking into Lily’s eyes, then he’d been blessed twice in his lifetime.

“How can I love you so much in so short a time, Liliana? How could you come to mean everything to me so quickly?” There was genuine curiosity in his question, an almost dazed expression on his face.

Her eyes glowed with happiness as she smiled beatifically at him. “Isn’t that what mates do, Mac? Don’t they just know instantly that they love their partners and no one else will ever do? I’ve loved you since I was eighteen years old. I didn’t need to speak to you; I didn’t need to know what kind a man you were. I just knew I loved you.”

Such trust and honesty it was almost too much to bear. What had he done in his life to deserve someone as vibrant and beautiful as the woman in his arms? He didn’t know and he wasn’t going to question it. He might have a thick skull sometimes and take a while to reach the right decision but when he did he never wavered from it.

“So no more talk of leaving me?”

Lily frowned and looked down before tilting her head back up. “I do need to go home, Mac. I need to talk to my father so I can understand a bit more about who I am as a person. My mom is worrying about me too, as is the rest of the pack.

With everything coming out in the open, it’s best if I’m home when it does. It will soothe my father and hopefully mean he’ll be more accepting of things. He understands the importance of my mate to me now, so his reaction should be a lot more restrained.”

Mac could understand her logic but he wasn’t happy about letting her go. He knew the pack would be informed tonight about everything but he wanted one night with Lily before they had to face her parents and the pack.

“Tomorrow,” he finally said brushing her lips tenderly with his finger, halting any objections she might have. “Give me tonight, Lily, and then I’ll take you home myself and we’ll face the music together.”

She smiled shyly at him, a faint tremor running through her at the heat in his eyes and the silken promise in his voice. She wanted this night with him too even if the thought scared her witless. “Tomorrow,” she promised accepting his kiss eagerly.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Hearts of Warriors Ch 07 teaser

In celebration of my crazy work month being over here is a little unedited teaser for Ch 7. Don't know when I will have time to get the full chapter up live on Lit but hopefully this will ease some of your cravings hahaha! Thanks so much for your patience with me :)

Chapter Seven

Mac turned his black gaze on the man sitting beside him pinning him with a cold stare. His entire body was rigid with tension, his muscles taut with the strain of remaining still. Kallum’s words rang around the silent room, his expression fixed and determined. It was all Mac could do not to explode as he glared at the other man.

“Let’s get one thing straight between us, Kallum,” he said in a voice so cold it could freeze water. “I decide who becomes a Praetorian. I select them; have my people train them and only the best come anywhere near our compound. When I’m confident the candidates are worthy I call the triumvirate for the final confirmation of their loyalty. There’s only one person who leads the Praetorians and that’s me.”

The quiet coldness suddenly vanished and red hot fury filled the room. “So don’t you fucking dare tell me what’s happening in my own backyard. I don’t give a fuck who you are. No one tells me how to run the Praetorians. I’ve been doing it for twenty-five years and the only people who can tell me what to do is the triumvirate. Until they decide I’m no longer needed the Vârcolac are mine to protect and I decide whether or not they’re allowed anywhere near the Praetorian compound.”

Caleb tensed immediately, his head turning to Rhianna as she placed a hand soothingly on his chest and gave a minute shake of her head. She was clearly indicating that he keep out of the discussion between Mac and Kallum. It was hard to do so when his protective instincts were kicking into gear but she had to have a reason for holding him back. He turned his gaze back to the two men.

Kallum was watching Mac with a guarded expression on his face. He didn’t appear tense but there was a slight tightening of his lips which was one of the few signs he gave when he was displeased about something. He wasn’t backing down from Mac but he wasn’t deliberately inflaming the situation either.

He’d known his announcement wasn’t going to be popular. He hadn’t intended on forcing their way into the Praetorians but it was clear they all needed to be there. He had to find a balance which Mac found acceptable and would allow the others to get the training they needed. In the event of an attack they had to be able to defend themselves. And he also had no intention of leaving Lily alone while Mac was out of the country.

He considered his options carefully. He could probably take the head Praetorian in a fight. He could sense the age of the vampire and knew it would probably be a hard fight but he was confident he could win it. But that would piss Lily off if he started beating up her mate and a pissed off Lily was not an easy thing to live with.

He didn’t particularly want to fight Mac anyway. In just the short time he’d been in the other man’s presence he’d found himself coming to respect him quite quickly. There was no doubt in his mind that Mac would be the perfect mate for his sister. He was strong enough to cope with her wildness and yet he instinctively knew that he wouldn’t cage her spirit either.

The fact that he’d been angry that Kallum was threatening to kick Lily’s ass was a clear indicator that he was well on the way to mating with her. He might not be too happy about the prospect but Lily was never one to be thwarted when she really wanted something. And she wanted Mac.

Taking a deep breath Kallum let it out slowly while he dialled down his Alpha tendencies and thought of what was best for his people. He gave Mac a wide grin feeling a bit of the tension leave the room. “Damn,” he laughed softly. “You’re so much like Dad it’s spooky.”

He watched annoyance flare across the other man’s face and knew he didn’t want to discuss Lily’s declaration of mating with him. It made his smile widen and he had to fight the urge to really annoy Mac. There was times when even Kallum was just a little too much like his father and this was one of them.

“You say the Vârcolac are yours to protect, Mac,” he continued, his expression turning serious. “So protect us. I’ve already listed the reasons why we need the Praetorians, some of us more than others. It makes sense that now everything is out in the open that you use everything that’s available to you to ensure we’re able to protect ourselves. You know what I’m saying makes sense. If you didn’t then Lily wouldn’t still be at your compound.”

Mac couldn’t argue with him. He had no doubts that he was hard enough to send Lily packing if he really thought her presence would damage the Praetorians beyond repair. The fact that he hadn’t meant he was well aware of just how much she needed to learn control. If the others needed that training too…?

He turned to the Ancients to try and judge their thoughts on it. Caleb appeared thoughtful and Rhianna was smiling at Kallum with fondness on her face. She appeared impressed with his stance, almost like a proud parent. Caleb rolled his eyes and shrugged his big shoulders.

“The Praetorians are yours to run how you deem fit, Mac,” he said quietly. “We have every confidence in you. You’ve never let us down.”

“You’d better do as Karn tells you,” Mac rumbled irritably turning back to Kallum. “There’s only one person in charge while I’m away and he’s it. If Karn feels we need to bring any of the others to the compound then it’s his decision. If you try any of your Alpha shit then you and your sister will be sent back to the pack. Am I making myself perfectly clear?”

“I know how to follow the chain of command, Mac,” Kallum smiled, satisfaction spreading across his face. “There can only be one Alpha in any pack. I would never dream of challenging Rafe or his Betas and I wouldn’t do so in the Praetorians either.”

He leaned forward, his gaze intense. “We need you,” he said quietly. “Lily needs you. I’ll do just about anything to ensure my sister’s happiness, Mac. If you want to kick my ass a hundred times over to prove you’re the Alpha and that’s what it takes to ensure she’s happy then start kicking.”

The sincerity in his voice and his expression was undeniable. His quiet words were loaded with hidden meaning and Mac heard what he was saying. Kallum believed that he was Lily’s mate. His closeness with his sister meant that he accepted her choice and he’d move heaven and earth to ensure that she was happy; even if it meant having to accede to the man she’d chosen.

Kallum’s relationship with Lily was the deciding factor for Mac. The younger man had impressed him already with his keen intelligence and his fierce loyalty towards his pack and fellow Vârcolac. But it was his deep abiding love for Lily that really penetrated Mac’s objections to having him at the compound.

He knew his people would die to protect her in an instant. But he knew that Kallum was probably one of the best people who could truly protect her. Lily had been lethal when sparring with him. If she’d been holding back…if Kallum was as strong as and possibly stronger than she was no one would be able to hurt her as long as he was around.

“Just so we’re perfectly clear about things,” he finally said allowing acceptance to creep into his voice. “I’ll call Karn and let him know you’re coming.”

“What about the pack?” he asked as he stood up, pulling his cell phone from his pocket.

“We’ll talk to Rafe about it,” Caleb answered. “He’ll keep the Romanovs away from the compound and make sure they behave themselves. Andrei could be a problem but hopefully when he finds out Lily is surrounded by the Praetorians it’ll calm him down enough. We won’t let him disrupt the compound while you’re away.”

Mac nodded and moved into the outer hall to make his call to Karn. Part of him wished he wasn’t leaving so he could orchestrate the changes about to take place but it would leave Pietro without any backup and he couldn’t bring himself to do that. He had to trust Karn was up to the job of keeping things in hand until he returned.

Kallum smiled sheepishly at Caleb and Rhianna. He knew he’d thrown them a massive curveball and was relieved they were taking it so well. They were so closely tied to the pack that everyone considered them pack mates even though they weren’t under their Alpha’s command. They were like a second set of parents to all the Vârcolac as well as the Alphas’ children.

“Oh come here,” Rhianna laughed softly holding out her arms. She hugged him tightly so proud of the man he’d grown into. Caleb squeezed his shoulder in reassurance too.

“We’ve learned to roll with the punches, Kal,” he smiled. “You use what tactics work for however long they do and then you adapt as required. Rafe might be a bit put out that you’ve been concealing things and I dare say your parents will have a few things to say on the topic, but you have our backing if you need it.”

“That’s good to know but I’m sure we’ll be able to handle things,” Kallum answered with a grin. “Our parents don’t usually stay angry too long, except for Dad and Rafe is pretty cool once he gets over his initial annoyance.”

Mac returned, glancing at his watch as he slipped his phone back into his pocket. “Karn knows you’ll be around at some point today,” he told Kallum. “You do what he tells you at all times. The only exception to that rule is if it comes to Lily’s safety. I can’t argue with the fact that there may be instances when you’ll know better than we do how to protect her. Karn knows to accede to you in that event but don’t push your luck with it. Only in a dire emergency, Kallum.”

The warning was implicit in his voice, his expression hard as he pinned the younger man with his steely gaze. Kallum Romanov screamed Alpha to everyone around him. How he managed to submit to all the other Alpha personalities around him was a clear indication of just how strong a male he was. Somehow Kallum could keep his need to be king of the castle in check, something most other Alphas failed miserably at.

Kallum nodded his agreement, fighting to keep a smile from his face as his respect for Mac went up a notch and laughter bubbled up inside him.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve let yourself in for, Lila?” he whispered to his sister privately. “How the hell could you choose a mate so like Dad? That’s bordering on being slightly creepy.”

He felt his sister utter a startled gasp, shock rippling through his mind before pleasure flowed down their bond.

“You approve,” she smiled softly, her mental tone overjoyed. “He is impressive isn’t he, Kal? Where are you? How did you meet him? Is he angry that you know about him?”

“I’ll answer all your questions later, sister mine. I need to go now. I just wanted to check in and make sure you were okay and let you know that I’d met Mac. Behave with Karn!”

He cut off their mind link before she could ask any more questions. He wanted to surprise her later on when he made it to the compound. Their conversation had taken scant seconds but he’d already missed Mac’s next words to Annie and Caleb.

He was telling them he had to leave to make his flight to Europe and Kallum concentrated on the others as they said quick goodbyes. He smiled at Mac and silently nodded his head. The fierce protectiveness in the vampire’s eyes was unmistakable. Though no words were said he knew Mac was silently commanding him to keep Lily safe.

As Mac left the house Kallum was suddenly anxious to go find his sister.

“Oh, go on,” Annie laughed seeing his expression. “Lily will not suddenly go to pieces because Mac’s left country but you’re not going to believe that until you see her with your own eyes. You know that was a really pretty speech you gave about everyone else underestimated the Vârcolac. I think part of you underestimates your sister too, Kal.”

He blushed slightly at the mild rebuke, reluctantly conceding her point. But he’d been protecting Lily all his life and it was a hard habit to break even though he now knew she’d been slipping out of the compound for years and living a second, clandestine life none of them knew about.

Caleb hugged Kallum goodbye and then turned to his mate with a raised eyebrow as the younger man closed the front door behind him on the way out.


“Don’t you ‘Caleb’ me, Annie,” he growled softly his tone a mix of irritation and amusement at the uncertain expression on her exquisite face. “Haven’t you learned by now that keeping secrets from your mate is not the done thing?”

She bit the inside of her mouth and tried to look innocent. It was so clearly an attempt to divert him that he burst out laughing at her transparency. His hand snaked out and he pulled her hard against his body, dipping his head so he could inhale the sweet fragrance of her skin and slide his tongue against the side of her neck.

“You know I have to punish you,” he growled softly, feeling a shiver run through her body as she melted against him. Husky laughter greeted his words as she rubbed against his aching body which was alive with need for her in an instant.

The problem with punishing his errant mate was it usually drove him insane too, but it was a heady kind of insanity. He wasn’t angry with her. He had learned the hard way that his mate acted impulsively but always for the greater good. Sometimes it took him longer to reach the same conclusions she did instinctively but he always ended up agreeing with her decisions in the long run.

She still should have told him about Lily though, not waited until she’d been put into a position that made it impossible for her to keep silent any longer. “I’m going to enjoy teaching you the error of your ways, sweet one,” he breathed against her skin, his voice laden with husky promise combined with a thick, pulsing need.

“I’m ready for my lesson,” Rhianna laughed rubbing her breasts against his chest, her laughter turning into a low moan as his arms tightened around her and his lips brushed slowly up to her chin and then across her cheek.

She knew she was in for a world of teasing, a slow erotic torture as Caleb stamped his dominance all over her in a way which left her under no illusions that she belonged to him. She shivered in anticipation of each slow, languid stroke of his fingers, every whispered breath that would tease her skin until she begged for more.

He would deny her pleas, push her to orgasm after orgasm without giving her what she really craved, his body sliding deep within her, claiming her completely until the world melted away and there was only Caleb.

Only when she was mindless with need would he sate her craving and they’d come together in fiery passion, both of them driven beyond their limits. It was a glorious way to be punished and she was anxious for her lesson to begin. The thudding of Caleb’s heart against her told her he was just as eager to begin their erotic dance.

Caleb’s lips found hers an instant later and he was picking her up as his tongue plunged deep into her mouth branding her his as he strode determinedly from the room and upstairs, the object of his lesson willingly allowing him to do as he pleased. 

His Annie was always willing, always eager to dance with him, to allow him those moments when he needed her to be just a woman, just his mate who surrendered herself to his every whim with no complaint.

He wondered which one of them would break first. He always set a time limit on how long he would pleasure her to insanity. He never told her about the time limit because if he did she would know that she won every time. No matter how he tried to resist, how he tried to keep control, his luscious mate always caused him to roll over in defeat and give her what she wanted long before he ever reached the time constraints he’d set himself.

She had enough power over him as it was. He wasn’t insane enough to give her any more and allow her to play with him shamelessly as he knew she would. But even as he kicked the bedroom door shut and headed to their bed, he had a sneaking suspicion that his Annie already knew all that. The damned woman appeared to know everything anyway. And he was hopeless at hiding his clawing need, his deep abiding love for her.

He tossed his woman to bed, his gut tightening as her fiery curls flowed over his pillows. She was his greatest weakness and yet she was his greatest strength. They steered a nation between them, they changed the paths of every life they touched. She was his air and his heartbeat, his conscience and his sanity. She was his.

He watched her through heated eyes, his nostrils flaring as he took in the scent of her arousal as she pulled of her top to bare her breasts to him. The strength of his feelings for her overwhelmed him and his loomed over her, forcing her to lie back against the sheets.

“Punishment time,” he breathed softly, his voice low and thick, his body hard and aching. Without giving her time to respond he fastened his mouth to her breast and bit deep to savour the sweet flavour of her blood. He began to suckle strongly drinking down the essence of his woman, the intoxicating flavour of the one woman he could never survive without.

He feasted at her breast, used his magic to keep her pinned to bed as he greedily took his fill. As his bloodlust began to ease he slid a hand between her thighs, rubbing hard twice against the coarse material of her denims and growling loudly as he sent her soaring for the first of many times yet to come.