Most women can walk up to the man they desire and ask them on a date, Elle killed hers instead. To make matters worse she ripped him from death and cursed him with a fate of living in the shadows. Would he ever forgive her for, or would he spend the rest of his eternity making certain she got what she deserved?
Blake wanted to hate Elle for the life he had to live, but when the fabric of her life was shredded by those around her, he knew he had to protect her even if it meant protecting her from herself. When a war brews, he has to save the woman he loves, the Goddesses who threaten his way of life, and the world as he knows it..
He could hear Viktor's baritone voice in his head and at that moment his father couldn't be more correct. In his rage Cade trashed his sister’s home and all of her belongings. He just couldn't help but feel angry at the weak mortals who left her unprotected and defenseless. What kind of parents, even surrogate ones, would do that to their child? The very image of their smiling faces in pictures that aligned her walls angered him. Elle deserved so much better than second rate humans with an inability to remain living.
Didn't they know that Viktor would kill her at any given moment? Fools! He stomped through her yard and tried to squash the volcanic eruption of animosity that threatened to overload his senses once more. Since everyone else failed her, he would protect her, just as he had that morning. He only hit the sides of her truck that would do the least damage to her delicate body.
Viktor had asked if he thought she was beautiful. Of course she's beautiful, she's the image of the Goddess Tatiana, as is their sister Ember. The Shadow King thought he had everything figured out but he had no idea the forces working against him. What he took as a lack of intelligence was a speech problem far more than anything that dealt with his mind.
As he crept through the vent on Elle's greenhouse, the warmth embraced him and he took a moment to enjoy the sensation. He knew she preferred to be in that room more than any other. He had spent many days watching her tend to her vegetation and floral arrangements. When he repeated the words she said to her plants, he didn't stutter. He didn't forget what words should come next in the sentence. In the shadows of Elle's greenhouse, he could speak, and be the man he'd been born to be.
Viktor, for reasons only known to the Shadow King, kept him as an infant. He'd grown up within the ranks of the shadow creatures and saw Viktor as his father. Through him, he learned how to be a man, and how not to live.
He used the key he'd swiped from her half-assed parents years ago and let himself in. He almost thought he entered the wrong place because the chaos he'd created earlier had been replaced by order. As he walked from room to room, he could see where she'd put the house as it had been before he destroyed it. His sister amazed him.
He'd watched her grow from a child to an adult, she never complained when things happened, she accepted them and marched on. Her inner light changed him. One day he vowed he would have the courage to meet her without hiding in the shadows. He couldn't bear to be rejected by the one person who he held in the highest esteem.
She'd taught him everything. He learned to read by being in the shadows as she learned. He learned how to speak when she did. Without knowing it, she had become the center of his world. The day he helped the Goddess and the children escape had been the most glorious day of his retched existence.
He ran his fingers on the wooden banister and made his way up the stairs. He would deliver his gift so she could find it and then he'd follow her from a distance again. He'd never dared do something as bold as leave something in her bedroom while she slept. He had to make it up to her. She had to know that he didn't mean to destroy her things. That sometimes he just lost his temper.
He checked once more to ensure the plant he carried had the instructions. The Oleander plant held a simplistic beauty that he knew would appeal to her, but he didn't want it where any animals could consume the fatal plant.
As he passed the guest room, something caught his eye. He made his way to the door without making a sound. Cade peered around the slight opening and dropped the plant.
The blanket couldn't cover the large male body that lay in the bed. He had no business in that bed, in that house! Cade's hand turned to fists as he tried to grip the all-consuming rage that threatened to erupt. The man didn't belong here. Cade sniffed the air and listened for the soul bag’s heartbeat. A human! What was his beautiful precious sister doing with a lesser creature? This would not do. The weak male in the guest bedroom could not protect her.
The man had to leave, he had to go. Cade morphed into the shadow creature and slide up to the food of the bed. He pulled upon the energy of the darkness around him and ripped the man from the bed like a ragdoll. He focused his energy around the human's neck and shoved him up against the wall. The man woke up swinging, not that it did any good. Much like a fly swatting a gorilla.
"Sh...Shouldn’t b...b...be here!" he said.
The man struggled hard. The strength of the human surprised him. Cade pulled more energy from the dark room and began to drag the man down the wall. He would get rid of him because if Viktor found him there, he'd be tortured until he died.
A gasp startled him; he turned to see Elle standing in the doorway with a look of terror. He hated scaring her but she would never understand that everything he did, he did to protect her.
"Run," the male croaked through the limited air supply he had.
Despite his obvious disadvantage, the human's concern had been Elle. That gave Cade pause. Even the weakest of species can rise to the status of protector if motivated by certain emotions. He knew that he had to let the human go, or his sister would never forgive him.
The words took him by surprise. When she raised her hands, palms up and fingers extended, he watched as a huge orb of light burst forth and came straight at him. The light forced him to an immediate human form, stripped away his shadow powers and flung him back toward the connecting wall. His head hit the weaker drywall and put a hole in it.
The sound of glass shattering filled him with dread. He watched in horror as the human managed to catch himself just before he fell out the window with both arms out and grasping the window frame with the top half of his body leaning out over the second story. Cade tried to jump toward the man to pull
him back just as a giant shard of glass fell from the top of the large window and crashed straight through the human's chest.
"Blake!" Elle screamed.
She ran to him and Cade jerked as far away from her as he could. In his human form she would see his face. He covered it as best he could in his exposed state. It would kill him to see revulsion on her face when she looked at him.
She pulled the glass from the man's wound and helped him down from the window. Cade could smell the soul dying, he only had moments left before his inner light extinguished. Elle's hand trembled on Blake's wrist as she checked for a pulse.
"Oh Blake, what have I done? Please don't die, please don't leave me," she whispered as tears streaked down her face.
She seemed to have forgotten that Cade remained in the room with her. She begged and pleaded with the man not to die, and then she turned her attention toward the Heavens and prayed through her tears.
You can save him.
The voice whispered in his mind and he knew that he could, but that if he did, it would be a fate worse than death.
"I... I...c...c...can save him," he whispered thought it went against his better judgment.
She turned to him with wild wide eyes, the green shined bright from the shimmer of tears. She stared at him for a moment before she responded, "Do it."
He would have given her the world in the palm of her hand if it meant that her tears would stop. He knew he should warn her that if he saved him that her Blake would be changed forever. He would become a monster, a shadow creature. Someone no longer living nor dead but somewhere in between.
He couldn't think about that, his sister's pain ate at him and he couldn't handle the thought of her heart breaking because of his actions. He would never kill a mortal, he took the souls from those terminally ill, who had no chance of survival, and even then, only those who wish for their life to be over.
Before he could talk himself out of it, he walked over and plunged his hand in the seeping wound and paused until he felt the last heartbeat. Taking a soul could only happen when the host body died, he'd had years of practice to get it right and grabbed hold of the black shimmering mass before it ascended to the heavens. He pulled it free from the body and brought it toward his mouth. He glanced at Elle once more and cringed at the look of horror on her face. He couldn't think about that, as he blew a life giving breath into the soul before he plunged it back into the man's body.
It took one long, excruciating minute before the human's heart began to beat anew.
"Cade! No!" A new, but familiar voice rang out from the doorway.
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