Shadows and Light

Read Online Shadows and Light by Cari Z. - Free Book Online Page A

Book: Shadows and Light by Cari Z. Read Free Book Online
Authors: Cari Z.
Tags: Erotic Romance Fiction
pointed heels of her shoes echoing resoundingly off the polished marble. She was tall for a woman, her head shaved bare and left uncovered by velvet or silk. Her robes were loose on her frame, and surprisingly plain. Her only decorations were two heavy ruby teardrops clinging to her ears and a third set in a brooch that decorated a dark velvet choker around her neck. Her heavy-lidded eyes were utterly expressionless as she looked at him, but there was something about her gaze that made Rafael shudder.
    “He is a perceptive creature, isn’t he?” She reached out and trailed cold, dry fingertips across his cheek and down his neck. “He must be a delightful puzzle.”
    “Myrtea,” Xian said warningly as he stepped up beside her. “He’s not yours to punish.”
    “Punish no, but educate…” She lowered her hand and shrugged. “You and I are teachers, beloved, and it behooves us to constantly improve our craft. I could teach your wayward apprentice a great deal in the three days left to him.”
    “A pleasure you’ll be forced to forego, and I was given to understand that I would have him for a week.”
    “The council is confident in your ability to break him down faster,” she replied, unperturbed. “The creature is completely at your mercy, after all. Surely you, the master of all assassins, can torture any important information out of him in three days and nights.”
    “As a general rule, assassins don’t torture their marks,” Xian said evenly. “We leave that sort of thing to the spies.”
    “If you feel insecure in your skills, then by all means feel free to relinquish your burden to me,” Myrtea suggested with a genuine smile. “I would be more than happy to offer my services in extracting the truth from him.”
    “Your methods produce notoriously unreliable results.”
    “On the contrary, I find excruciating pain to be remarkably effective in sorting through the lies.” She gestured toward Rafael. “And clearly you do as well, or you wouldn’t have put him in that position. You like to pretend that we are different, Xian, but you’re deluding yourself. You and I enjoy the same things in life, and in death.” She shivered slightly, still smiling. “To take a life, or better yet, watch someone else take a life at your word, on your orders… It is the ultimate experience, isn’t it? A perfect expression of our power over mortality.”
    “Our waning power.”
    “Stop!” The venom in her voice seared through even Rafael’s pained distraction, although he kept himself from showing his sudden interest. “Do not speak of it. Do not even think of it! Our wizards will find a way to secure our future, but you won’t have one if you continue to speak so blasphemously!” Myrtea’s sudden, vicious fury evaporated as quickly as it had built up, and she relaxed into cool indifference once again. “A few centuries left to your own devices and you’ve become quite irreverent, beloved. I wonder that the council has let you go on like this for so long.”
    “Perhaps it’s because I’m exceptionally good at my profession. After all, if they stepped in every time an apprentice failed to ascend, you would be as vulnerable to chastisement as I,” Xian replied. “How is Daeva, by the way?”
    “Thriving in the rank pestilence of the Lower City, as I knew he would,” she answered airily. “He serves his purpose, even if he doesn’t know it. We all serve our purposes. Three days, beloved,” she said, abruptly changing the topic. “Then your creature pays for his insults to the Upper Half. Make sure he’s still whole enough to feel it.” She turned and swept out of the great room, the black and red of her robes swimming dizzyingly across the marble floor behind her. The door boomed shut and Xian turned back to Rafael with a cryptic smile on his face.
    “This new injunction will make my work much more challenging,” he commented.
    “What do you think I can tell you?” Rafael asked, his voice

Similar Books

The Girl Is Murder

Kathryn Miller Haines

A Man After Midnight

Beth D. Carter

Happy Valley

Patrick White

A God Who Hates

Wafa Sultan

A Beautiful Melody

Lilliana Anderson