The blood pumped in his veins as he ran through the eerily familiar streets of Budapest. The scent of sandalwood trailed after the fleeing Grigori, and he followed it, turning down dirty alleys in dark corners of the city where the smell of humanity stained the air.
The soldiers had been attacking four nameless girls. Leo and Phillip had dragged the women away, allowing them to escape, while Malachi subdued the four Grigori. By the time the first was dust, no human was there to witness it.
It was the fifth that Malachi was chasing.
The brown-haired soldier had slashed at the sensitive skin near the small of Malachi’s back and then made his escape, and the blade had almost found its mark. But Malachi dodged at the last minute and his talesm—including the new ones he’d inked the night before—pulsed as the adrenaline flooded his system. The scent of his own blood mingled with the stale odor of beer, cigarettes, and urine. He ran, his legs eating up the ground, his feet pounding over the cobblestones.
He ran, and he felt alive.
A flash of his dream the night before.
Now that he knew her name in his dreams, he couldn’t seem to stop saying it.
She said nothing, gasping when his mouth left a trail of kisses down the center of her body.
Hands gripping his hair, twisting the roots as he feasted on her. He felt the pain dimly, so focused was he on the pleasurable task in front of him.
Her pleasure, for as long as she could stand it. He felt it build in the tension of her hands, the quiver of her belly, the soft cries that escaped her lips. He was relentless, pulling away to watch her fall over the edge, only to return and chase her back up the hill, pushing her toward another climax.[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
“Come back to me,” she panted. And he came, sliding up her body, taking her mouth with his as he surged inside her, following her ecstasy.
The grip of her flesh on his. Her hands still twisted in his hair. Her thighs held his hips captive as they moved together.
Her grip didn’t loosen. She arched back, baring her neck as a breath tore from her throat.
“Ava,” he groaned, hiding his face in her neck.
“You…” The grip of her fingers loosened in his hair, and he pulled back, bracing himself over her as her fingers stroked his forehead, curling around his ear, tender in their exploration as he slowed the relentless pace of their lovemaking.
“You,” she whispered again. Their eyes met, gold and grey. The tips of her fingers traced his lip.
It was a dream. But not a dream. A dream had never felt so real.
“Blast!” The pipe caught Malachi in the face as he turned the corner. His cheek sliced open, and he saw stars as the Grigori swung again. Malachi ducked and decided he was tired of running. The Grigori danced in front of him, his clothes still rumpled from the human women’s hands and his quick flight. His hair hung over his eyes and a deep cut was already healing on his unearthly face. He had the thin, ethereal beauty of so many of his kind, ironically so like the angels the humans depicted in art. Delicate, almost boyish.
Malachi was not fooled.
The soldier danced in front of him, quicksilver over grit. Malachi felt like a slow brute with his heavy fists and thick muscles. The Grigori was faster than him. He’d have to be to get the jab in that he had, even now, when Malachi wasn’t at full strength.
They said nothing, both taking the measure of each other. The Grigori’s glance flicked over Malachi’s shoulder, then he feinted right. Malachi caught the look and slammed into the man’s body as he tried to slip to his left.
The Grigori might have been faster, but brute strength still won when it found its target.
Slamming the soldier into the cobblestone street, Malachi tried to flip him to his belly so he could pierce his spine, but the man proved as stubborn as he was fast.
“No,” he hissed, finally starting to panic. “Not like this!”
Malachi could not turn him, not while he had to hold his dagger with one hand and straddle the man to keep him from running. Irritating little bastard.
“Why don’t you just cooperate and die like a good monster?” he grunted, holding the man by his hair.
“That’s not nice.” He grinned as an idea came to him. “Maybe you’re too much trouble after all.”
Malachi slid to his right knee, letting the man lunge up, desperate for escape, but the scribe’s heavy leg still lay over the Grigori’s waist. With a quick twist, Malachi slammed his opponent’s face into his braced knee and felt the nose crunch. The back of the Grigori’s neck suddenly bared, Malachi brought the silver blade home, piercing the man’s spine. The only sound was the sucking gasp as the soldier began to dissolve.
For a moment, Malachi saw her face. Felt the cold water at his waist. He was in the cistern again, and he heard Ava’s scream.
Then the memory was gone.