Book 5 of Cora’s Bond
Engaged to the vampire Dorian, Cora’s world is shattered when the key to the victory of their allies is snatched from them by those who wish to enslave humanity.
When Dorian breaks her trust to set things right, will she be able to forgive him? Or will events greater than she could have ever imagined overtake them both?
Be still my heart! Ms. Black has turned up the heat, again, in Time After Time. I did not think it possible, but this series just gets hotter and even more exciting! This book delves even deeper into danger, death, dark plot twists and the perilous world of vampires! Murder, suspense and intrigue-check! Romance, love and steamy sex-check, check and check! This is hands down, one of the best serials I’ve ever read.
If you are reading reviews (as I do) to get an idea of the series and if it is even worth starting, then I will say yes… one click these now. V.M. Black’s writing is intelligent, vibrant, and compellingly addictive.
Beyond my expectations, V.M Black outdid herself! I loved it and couldn’t put it down until I finished it. Lots of action, murder- who done it, and hot steamy romance! I can’t wait to read the final book in the series.
Dorian broke away from the conversation he was in, and I excused myself from the other cognates and crossed to intercept him before he could engage anyone else. He saw me coming and paused, his eyes wary.
Aware of how well those around us could hear what I had to say, I murmured, “Have you finished paying your respects?” But I let my eyes carry a much greater message.
He handed his cocktail off to the nearest server. “I believe we’ve been here long enough,” he agreed. “We’ll go to the cemetery chapel for the funeral and burial tomorrow, of course.”
“Of course,” I agreed, crossing calmly with him to the coat stand beside the elevator, where a footman that I recognized from Dorian’s Georgetown house helped us to our coats and my purse.
Dorian hit the down button, and the doors opened to reveal an empty cabin. I stepped inside, turned to face the living room, and waited for the doors to shut.
They did, and as the elevator slid into motion, I turned calmly toward Dorian and slugged him in the jaw with all my strength.
Or at least I tried to hit him, because his hand came out lightning fast and wrapped around my fist. He caught my other wrist before I could strike him with my purse, and the clutch fell to the ground between us.
“How dare you!” I cried, yanking futilely against his grasp. “How dare you take off without even telling me what you were doing or where you were going and nearly get yourself killed!”
Dorian switched both my wrists into the grip of one of his hands, then reached past me as I kicked at his legs to pull the emergency stop on the elevator. The elevator jolted into stillness with a brief, loud buzz.
“Enough,” he said, and the word roiled with contained power.
But he kept his promise and didn’t use his power to force me, and so its effect boiled off in my white-hot fury. I kept fighting, yanking against his hold, calling him every vile name I could think of until my throat hurt. My high-heeled toes crunched against his hard shin, and I yelped at the shock of pain.
Dorian shifted his grip then, and suddenly I was spun away from him and pushed up against the smooth wall of the elevator. My head was forced to the side, the cold metal panel biting into my cheek, and I tried to kick backwards, but Dorian twisted my arm until I had to rise up on my toes to keep the angle from sending jabs of pain into my shoulder.
“Enough,” he repeated.
But it wasn’t enough. It would never be enough after what he’d done. I still cursed him, and I cried as I did, all the pent-up emotions from the two days of pain and fear spilling over at once. Eventually, I ran out of breath, and I sobbed through my raw throat against the wall of the elevator.
The pressure on my arm eased, and the confusing messages of pain—because pain with Dorian was never simply pain—abated. He kept a firm hold on my wrist as he stepped up close behind me, leaning so near that I could feel his breath against the back of my neck even though I couldn’t see him.
He kissed me then, tracing the line of my spine from the base of my skull down to where it disappeared under the back of my dress. And I cried harder at what I’d so nearly lost—what he’d almost taken away.
“You’re right,” he said softly then. “I didn’t tell you.”
“How long did you know what you were going to do before you did it, Dorian?” I demanded. “When did you know there was going to be a fight and that you might die?”
His hands slid around my body as he released my wrist, but his weight still kept me immobile against the elevator wall. “When I knew how Jean and Hattie had died.”
That tore another sob from my throat, but this time, I fought against it, swallowing it down. “You should have at least told me.”
“And what would you have done then? Begged me not to?”
That was exactly what I would have done, so I said nothing.
He kissed my cheek softly. “I was too afraid that I couldn’t have denied you, and I wouldn’t have done what needed to be done.”
“But why you? Why did you have to do it?”
“Should I ask others to fight and perhaps die in my place?” he asked. “If I hadn’t done this—declared a blood feud based on jus ad bellum—it would have only gotten worse. For me, for you, for all of us. No Adelphoi would be safe if we didn’t respond to this with swiftness and savagery once we established a casus belli.”
I squirmed against him, and he moved away just far enough that I could turn to face him, my tailbone up against the handrail. I scrubbed my face free of my tears, still angry, still not ready to forgive.
“And I did tell you,” he added. “Yesterday afternoon.”
“With words that you chose so I wouldn’t understand,” I protested. “And Clarissa—she knew more, too, didn’t she?”
“She knew about the assassinations on Wednesday night, and she participated in Thursday’s raid.”
“That’s what happened to her hair,” I said. “And what happened to you? My God, Dorian. I thought you were dying. I would have thought that I was dying, if I could have thought clearly at all.”
Wordlessly, Dorian stepped back and shed his coat and tuxedo jacket in a single motion. He dropped them to the floor next to him and jerked his black bowtie loose before working down the studs of the shirt, his gaze never wavering from my face.
He said, “The night began as a raid on The Plant, to show the Kyrioi that not even Mortensen’s stronghold was safe from us. In the confusion, someone began a blaze—their side, our side, I don’t know. Many were killed. Few agnates, of course, and none of ours, and not the djinn who are impervious to fire. But some of the elves, the other fae. The shifters.”
I gasped as his shirt began to gape, revealing a pattern of faint, silvery marks, like those that he left on me when he drank from me. Except that I’d never seen as much as a line on his skin before, and the silver marks on him weren’t merely lines but formed thick bands that waved across the flesh of his torso.
“Clarissa, Tiberius, and I were farthest from the exits when the blaze began,” Dorian said. “Clarissa believes that one of Mortensen’s own men torched the place in hopes of killing me. My death would be worth the cost of finding a place for a new aether club to him. We almost didn’t get out.”
I reached out, tugging his cummerbund around so that I could unhook it and jerk his shirt open all the way to reveal the full pattern.
“Oh, Dorian,” I said, blinking away the tears again.
The scars began at his right shoulder, wrapping down across his torso, marring the perfection of his rippled abs. I pushed his shirt down his arms and off, and the wavy scarring continued down his right arm almost to his wrist.
I put the flats of my hands over those marks, sliding across the contours of his muscles as if my touch could heal them. When I reached his planes of his flat belly, he put his hands on top of my own, stilling them.
He said, “We escaped, Cora. We lived. Let’s focus on actuality rather than what might have been. It doesn’t even hurt anymore. Even the marks will be gone in a few more days.”
I looked up at him. “But it did hurt. It started only an hour after sundown yesterday, and it continued all through the night, hour after hour.”
That was why he looked so drawn. Even for an agnate, healing from so much damage must have come at a terrible cost. No human body could have survived. The merest echoes of his agony had almost been too much for me to bear, and I wasn’t even human anymore. Not really.
I pulled my hands out from under his and unbuttoned my coat, then tossed it on the floor next to his.
“What are you doing, Cora?”
I held out my wrist. “The marks will be gone faster if you drink.”
He looked at me, and I could tell in his gaze that he understood everything that I was offering—healing, if not forgiveness; love, if not absolution.