Jess is possessed of an unwavering love for Zendara, and for her husband, Gedeaddon. But these are the times that try men’s souls, and Jess finds herself locked into a life of unimaginable hell. What has she done to deserve such a fate? She believes herself at fault, and she sadly endures the unendurable.
Caught in a world where she can no longer distinguish friend from foe, Jess finds herself in the midst of a battle from which none can emerge unscathed. The balance of life as she knows it is about to tip, as she finds herself on the edge of an abyss where not simply her life, but the existence of the world as she knows it is at stake.
Arravis brushed his lips across her shoulder. “Do you really want to throw away all those years, or just the bad?”
“Just the bad.”
He held her close. “If you toss out the bad, the good goes with it. Do you want me to stop brushing your hair?”
“No, it’s one of those pleasures I enjoy too much.”
“Then sit forward and I’ll continue.”
As she did, he finished drying the tresses. He watched the sun glint off the platinum, nearly concealing her tiger stripes. He gently ran his fingers through the luxurious spiraling waves.
Arravis didn’t love her. Couldn’t. Not yet. Perhaps in time, when things settled, when life ended... no, when life began. Perhaps... Until then she needed another, a warrior who could protect her, perhaps even win her heart, his almost next best. He whispered the telepathic thought to the wind. She’s too close to the line... she needs a light to bring her back. He heard her sighs as his fingers trailed delightful patterns down her back, the sounds telling him she’d let herself go. His touch was deliberately gentle as he worked to soothe her.
Shaking her head, Jess frowned. “You have to stop.”
“Why?” He never ceased his ministrations.
She pulled away from him. “Because I can’t handle it.” Getting up, she walked out on the balcony. She hugged herself as she glanced over her shoulder at him.
Rising and strolling to the doorway, he folded his arms over his chest and studied her. “Why?”
“A widow. One who was abandoned for more than a year before she became that.”
“He came home,” she retorted.
“Only because you made him promise to do so.”
Jess stared. “How do you know that?”
“It was one of the things that was revealed after he died,” Arravis answered.
“I don’t want to talk about this.”
“He left more than a year ago.”
“I know,” she snapped, her voice strained.
“He was never your life mate.”
“He was my husband.”
“Yes, he was your husband, but he was never your life mate,” Arravis stated quietly, turning away.
“How dare you.” Jess growled. “I married him, and we were husband and wife.”
“As I said, yes, you were husband and wife, but never life mates.” He headed for the door. “You never completed that part of the bond.”
“Don’t you dare walk away from me.”
He spun toward her. “Did you ever notice how little of me you saw after you married Gedeaddon?” He could see her thinking back. He knew it was shortly after they married that he was always absent.
Realization dawned in her eyes. “Yes, but I thought it was because you were always busy.”
“No, he ordered me to stay away, said he needed the space between you and me to close the gap between you and him.” Arravis closed the distance between them until he was directly in front of her. “Did you really think I wanted him as first-in-command?”
“You put him there.”
“I needed a commanding force.”
Jess shook her head. “Gedeaddon was—”
“A feral fighter. You, sweet Jess, are the commanding force behind him. I’d have never named him first-in-command if you hadn’t been able to control him.”
She flung her hands in the air. “I guess you picked incorrectly—I certainly didn’t have that control, since Verona was able to charm him away from me.”
“You controlled him for over five years.”
“Right. And look at where the two of us are right now.”
“He’s where no one can hurt him.”
“I can’t answer that. Yet. However, maybe you’re almost where you’re supposed to be. I’ll see you when you come home.” Arravis vanished.