Soulbound Page 2

The brunette ignored her entirely but focused on her friend. “We could…”

“We could,” the pretty blonde agreed.

Saint’s preserve her, Eliza had had enough. Perhaps if she simply tried to get back into her body… The brunette’s words halted her. “You’d be a slave. For however long He deems.”

A new chill went through Eliza. As if she’d had this conversation before. As if she were on the cusp of… something. “Who is ‘He’?”

“The man who can give you back your life,” the blonde said without preamble.

Well… She supposed… That strange, almost anticipatory discomfort within her soul grew. “Will it involve…” She couldn’t finish, but being women, they understood readily.

“No,” said the brunette emphatically. “You merely have to find other willing spirits for him.”

Other spirits? “For what reason?”

“Well, there is the rub,” said the blonde a bit sadly. “Only he knows. Some, he allows to return to their bodies and live life out as we are now. Others, he takes with him. Though he promises no harm will come to them, no one here knows what happens to those souls.” Her blue eyes grew solemn. “You will not know until it is your turn.”

Eliza’s body lay before her, its once-pink skin now bone white and going an ugly grey at the edges. Her life’s blood had begun to congeal and blacken. She looked pitiful, lying there in the muck. Abused and abandoned. She glanced back at the two women staring at her with quiet expectation. They did not appear to be evil. Had they not just tried to save her?

But perhaps they were witches who laid in wait for such opportunity. After all, if Eliza were not mistaken, these properly dressed and uncommonly pretty women appeared to be some sort of soul harvesters. A gruesome job. Eliza would be a fool to trust them. But she’d come all this way, risked death to escape. The only thing left for her was to remain dead or take fate by the hand and see what it would bring her.

Oddly, she wasn’t afraid, but excited. Eliza took a deep breath, uncomfortably aware that she didn’t actually breathe anymore. “Fine. I accept.”

She wasn’t certain what she expected to happen but the two women dickered about for a moment, discussing how to accomplish this supposed miracle. “Ought we not hurry?” she asked them, if only to expedite the process. The moans from the shadows were growing impatient.

“Your body is safe for now,” the blonde assured, even though her gaze stayed resolutely away from it. With a sigh, she then pressed her hand against her heart and murmured words too low for Eliza to hear. But the effect was instantaneous. The cold alleyway grew hot and thick with the smoky scent of myrrh and something dark and delicious. She’d never smelled the like and yet it felt right, this scent, a comfort. Lord but she could draw the fragrance into her lungs all day and never tire of it.

The women seemed less enamored of the scent, for they frowned and fidgeted as though agitated. Eliza might have made a further study but her eye was drawn to the spot just next to the women. There, a shadow formed, completely black, with a density that gave it a tangible depth. Its hazy edges grew sharp and distinct, taking on the shape of a large doorway.

Foreboding raced through Eliza as her attention stayed riveted on that spot. “What is it?”

“Hush.”

Someone was coming; she was sure of it. Footsteps echoed, the sound hollow and far off. The fragrance in the alley grew thicker, richer, until Eliza thought her mouth might water. If she had a mouth, that was. Then he appeared, larger than life and handsome as dark sin.

Good gravy, it figured she would have to die in order to rest eyes upon a man so stunning. Tall, with the lithe grace of a warrior, he walked towards them without care. His coal-black hair fell over his brow as if he’d just risen from bed. On a boyish face, this might look slovenly, but this man… His features were carved by a master, a big and bold aquiline nose, strong, slanting cheekbones, and a stubborn chin, shadowed with an evening beard. He was the most overwhelmingly masculine male she’d ever seen.

His deep, dark voice poured over them like hot milk. “My delicious daughters.” Daughters? “My most lovely creations. How may I be of service?” He smiled at the two women, bringing Eliza’s attention to his mouth. A bitable mouth.

A flush of unwanted heat went through her.

The blonde, now blushing spoke. “My Lord, we have one who desires to join.”

And then he looked at Eliza. Beneath thick, dark brows that slashed over eyes of stunning gold, he hit her with the force of his gaze, and Eliza’s world turned on its end. Him. It was him. She blinked, not understanding why he felt so very familiar, so very right. It didn’t matter, for his expression grew covetous and calculating, and she feared she’d need all her wits with this one. Fate, it seemed, had just played a very nasty trick on her.

Aodh, son of Niall, former knight and one-time terror of Ireland and Great Britain, now known as Adam, king and creator of the GIM, took one look at the little spirit wavering before him, and his entire existence ground to a halt. Had he not lived centuries devoid of a single, pleasurable feeling, he would not have been able to hide his surprise. As it was, he barely remained standing. A rush of pure, exquisite emotion punched through him, battering him about like a cork on a monster wave.

Holy God. It almost hurt, this feeling. He allowed himself a small breath. He was feeling. After all these years. Heat and throbbing below his waist had him biting back a laugh. His cock was rising. He’d actually forgotten that particular sensation.

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