Enslaved as one of Cewrick's feared black dragons, for centuries Taylith had been forced to do the evil sorcerer’s bidding. Finally free of the shackles of slavery, Taylith is enlisted by King Biryn as a member of his elite team.
Plagued with visions of an impending war and the return of the black dragon he once was, Taylith must find a way to tell his lifemate, Laura, that he was the creature that had captured her and delivered her into the hands of the enemy.
To keep Laura safe and save her sister from Zohmes’ clutches, he must allow the god to change him back into the feared creature he once was.
Taylith just managed to catch Laura as her legs buckled. He realized that what she had overheard had shocked her to the core. She had not fainted but was unsteady on her feet and trembled from head to toe. He led her to a chair, then turned to get her a goblet of wine, but she groped for his hand. “Don’t leave me, Taylith. Please.”
Cewrick filled a goblet and handed it to him. “Here, drink some of this to settle your nerves.” Taylith held it to her lips and waited while she took a few sips.
She pushed his hand away. “I was with Julia earlier. How and when did this happen? How can she be pregnant with Zohmes’ baby? She was very upset when John died, which showed me she had more than friendship feelings for him. And it’s obvious, since he got her pregnant. I don’t see how any of what you’re saying is possible.”
Ciara approached her. “Laura, when John died, Icaras and I erased the memory of his death in those that witnessed it. I will return that memory for you and you will understand.” Placing her hand on Laura’s forehead, she chanted softly.
Laura’s eyes widened. “Oh my God! Zohmes possessed John. He was using his body to get information and get closer to the king. Now I understand the change in him.”
Ciara nodded. “Brenn and I need to leave to go to Xynnar to investigate Niqine’s abduction. Icaras has gone to the compound to bring back Barry, who was also possessed by Zohmes. Both Julia and Niqine were abducted in the same manner as Cylena.”
“How could the bastard be in two places at once?” Laura asked, her voice unsteady.
“He can get from one place to another in a nano second. With us out of the way to rescue Hirsuta, he saw a clear path to abduct Niqine and Julia,” Cewrick answered.
“How can she be carrying his baby? It was still John’s body Julia was involved with.”
Astiana set her goblet on the table. “Zohmes’ essence entered John, then took over his body, soul, and mind completely. Their DNA would have mixed.”
“Julia needs to have an abortion. She can’t have this baby. One devil to fight is enough.” She clamped her lips together determinedly.
Taylith was horrified. Jewel dragons lived for centuries before the gods would grant a couple the gift of a child, and now there were no children on the Tideless Abyss. The curse had taken the lives of many, and the children that had survived the forced change were now adults. “If abortion means termination, we do not do that on Ierilia. It might be considered if the mother’s life is in peril, but it rarely happens.”
“She can’t have this baby, Taylith. It’s a little Satan. A Zohmes miniature.”
Astiana interrupted. “The gods and goddesses will decide what is best. First, we must find out exactly what happened, and where Zohmes took them both, so we can form a plan of action.”
He was thankful for Astiana’s interruption. Laura’s tattered emotions were a constant burn within him, the pain of it staggering. The abduction of Julia and the knowledge that the evil being who had nearly killed her had also fathered the child her sister carried had fractured a part of her soul. His body stiff, he raked his fingers through his hair, his own demons rushing through to the surface, threatening to break free. Gods, he needed to find a way to alleviate her torment before his own anguish overpowered him. He took a deep breath and grabbed a glass from the table, filling it with eldalas spirit.
“Here, this will calm you better than the wine.” Taylith handed her a small glass filled with the strong liquor.
After he saw that Laura had calmed down and she continued to fire questions at the others, he excused himself and walked toward the balcony doors. “I need to get some air.”
He wiped snow off a bench, sat on it, and gazed at the gray sky. The snow kept on falling steadily, transforming the palace gardens into a pristine, white wonderland untouched by the sorrow that had enslaved his soul. The whole situation was such a tangled web. Julia’s kidnapping had broken open Laura’s wounds of her own abduction. How could he tell her that it was his dragon that had seized her and had placed her in Cewrick’s clutches? That it was because of him she had to endure captivity and torture? The realization that Laura was his lifemate had come to him at the king and queen’s joining celebration. He knew he had fallen in love with her, and not just a little bit.
Laura had come to terms with her traumatic experience, or so it seemed, but if she knew the truth? Lifemate or not, would it alienate her? Yet, he had to tell her. He could not pursue a relationship with her based on lies. Although it was not really a lie. She had never asked him if he knew which dragon had abducted her and Mark. It was a truth he kept hidden deep inside his heart.
“Taylith, what is troubling you?”
Ciara’s voice startled him out of his thoughts. He and his cousin had always been close. They were only weeks apart in age. Their fathers had been twins and were inseparable before the curse. “Ciara, I need to talk to someone about what plagues my heart and soul. Maybe you can advise me what to do.”
Ciara drew her cloak around her and sat beside him. “I have seen the turmoil in your eyes, Taylith. You know you can always come to me to unload your problems.”