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  • Home > Jacquelyn Frank > Nightwalkers > Noah (Page 51)     
  • Noah(Nightwalkers #5)(51) by Jacquelyn Frank
  • "Bathe," he commanded her, trying not to sound short but failing.

    She merely laughed at his back as he walked sharply away from her.

    "We'll continue this discussion when I'm through," she called before he could shut the door.

    "No, we will not," he called back, slamming the door shut.

    Noah paced three brisk circuits down the length of his room before stopping to tunnel his fingers through his hair once again.

    When exactly had he been delegated to a defensive position in these matters? Every time he turned around, she was wreaking havoc with his equilibrium. As long as he could remember, he'd been a very assertive personality when it came to dealing with women.

    But she wasn't like any other woman in the world. He cared little for any of those in his history. Kestra held his heart. Because of this, he wanted to treat her like the treasure she was. He couldn't bear the idea of hurting her or being thoughtless with her. Perhaps he was being overcautious, but he would rather that than callous. No. He was in the right here and he was certain of it. She never seemed to recognize her own limitations. He didn't care if it was Samhain and Beltane all wrapped into one. None of that mattered when he knew she was hurting and exhausted.

    But damn him to hell if she wasn't the most enticing creature on the planet. If she was determined, he knew she would push his buttons, just as she knew she could. She was already a proficient. Hell, she had been an adept before they'd even met. He supposed he could hope for the best, that Jacob's herb oil would do the trick and straighten out her priorities a little. Sometimes it was as if she had no sense of self-preservation.

    "Noah!"

    Noah's head jerked up when he heard the cry, his heart instantly leaping into overdrive. He hurried to the door, and then hesitated. He was instantly suspicious. He had avoided mind contact with her to afford her privacy, but he couldn't withstand any more of her tricky teasing, so he sought to touch her thoughts for the reason to her call.

    Noah!

    That level of horrified fear screaming through his mind was no trick. Noah crashed into the bathroom, fire instantly bursting from his fingers, immolating them to the ready. The only thing he saw, however, was Kestra seated and submerged in the bath. Then, after a beat, he saw she was shaking.

    And that the water was glowing a phosphorescent green.

    He hurried over to her, hearing her panicked breathing and his name in a succession of cries that pitched higher with every iteration. His hands plunged into the water, dragging her slick body against his own.

    The glow came with her. It clung to her skin like an aura. Noah could see auras just as she could, but he had never seen one with this uniformity of color. Nor this level of brightness. The glow was also increasing in field and ferocity.

    "Easy, baby," he soothed her quickly, reaching to jerk a towel around her body.

    He swung her up into his arms and carried her into the bedroom. He carefully set her onto the floor just beyond the foot of the bed, right in the center of a rug. He kneeled behind her, his knees bracketing her hips as he tucked her head under his chin and wrapped secure arms around her. He wasn't afraid. He could feel the energy emanating from her, growing stronger and stronger, seemingly with every second he spent notched up against her.

    "Listen, Kes," he said in a softly modulated tone meant to bring her calm. "This is energy, and it is originating from within you, not an outside source. Do you understand?" She nodded and he heard her swallow hard. "You can control this. Do not let it control you. This is your power, whatever it becomes. It is no different than any other ability we are born with. It is innate, but it is also up to us to truly find the way to master it. Understand?"

    "Yes," she said on a gasp, but he could hear her getting her breathing under control. He didn't blame her for her fear. The first time fire had blossomed from his body he'd been terrified. Especially because the incident had been triggered by anger and had been uncontrollable.

    "Good," he praised her gently as she controlled herself to a more reasonable level. "Hold out your hands, sweetheart. Look. See how the power is strongest there?" Her wet hair brushed his chin when she nodded. "This usually means that your hands will be the best point of focus. You can channel this through your hands."

    "Is it…is it an expulsion or an absorption?" she asked tremulously.

    Clever girl, he thought, his delight in her mind making him hug her tightly in spite of the fact that she could present a danger to him so long as her power was unknown and uncontrolled.

    "This I do not know," he told her. "But if I were to judge by the amount of energy you are burning, I would say expulsion."

    "But I don't feel tired. I should feel tired."

    Logic did dictate that had she been burning her own energy, she would be exhausting herself. And she was nothing if not logical. He sighed softly against the shell of her ear.

    "Because it is my energy you are burning, Kikilia," he told her gently.

    She gasped, instantly trying to pull away from him. He felt her trepidation. She was afraid of draining him. Of hurting him.

    "No," he said, holding her firmly. "You cannot hurt me. You are a novice and I am an Elder Demon. The drain on my resources, even with my lack of sleep and the battles of the night, is negligible. Trust me, baby."

    "Okay," she breathed, nodding readily. It pleased him that she did trust him and that she didn't even search his eyes or his thoughts before agreeing with him.

    "We are symbiotic," he said. "We are one, inasmuch as we are two. I am the left hand. You are the right. What you take in, you must expel, or you will burn yourself out like a lightbulb faced with a power surge. First, feel the place within that draws power from me. Feel out and familiarize yourself with that connection."

    "I can't. I don't know what you mean!"

    "Shh."

    Noah took her chin in hand and tilted her face up to him. He looked down into her wide eyes and smiled gently, every movement and every thought slow and easy so he wouldn't lead her to panic.

    "I think I know what triggered this," he said, his lips twitching with amusement. "Your hormones were in an uproar."

    She laughed incredulously at him, her mouth opened in shock.

    He couldn't help but take advantage of the opportunity to prove himself. He caught her mouth up with his and kissed her with an intensity and fervor that left her winded by the time he came away for breath. Sure enough, she glowed like a lightning bug, the entire room now lighted from it.

    "Extreme emotion is often a trigger for new power. Ask Bella to tell you about it sometime. She is a classic example." Noah omitted mentioning the fact that Isabella had almost killed him and Legna during that incident. "That place inside you, where you feel the center of your feelings when we kiss. Spiritual, not physical," he corrected dryly when she giggled. He didn't mind her humor. It told him she was becoming calmer and more rational. "This is the same place from which your power will branch to me. Think of it as a kiss, but in energy form."

    "I understand. I feel it now," she said with no little awe. "It's just like touching minds, only from my heart rather than my head."

    "Good. You have it." He knew she did because he felt the draw centralized around his heart, though it was only a physical manifestation of the connection. "Now, I cannot explain this as well for you, only because it is different for each of us. But to expel energy-in fireballs, for example-I draw from the 'well' of energy inside me. In your case, the glow indicates an overspill through all of your tissues. Your 'well' is your entire body. Be careful only to tap into the glow, and not your personal energy. This will keep you from being drained. Now"-Noah moved his hands in front of her, touching his fingertips together until the joined fingers formed a spherical shape-"to begin with, use two hands. Single-hand spheres are a skill left to later. Shape your hands in a ball, then simply channel the energy into the shape. I am not certain you can form cohesive shapes with whatever type of energy you are generating, but it is worth a shot. Hopefully it will be controlled this way."

    "As opposed to…?"

    "Blowing up the bedroom."

    "I had to ask," she muttered. She inhaled, exhaled hard, then matched the shape of his hands with her own. She imagined the green energy skimming off her skin and limbs to fill the space formed between her fingertips. At the same time, Noah drew together a fireball, showing her at a slow pace what it should look like.

    Almost immediately a ball of green swirling energy began to form in the cage of her hands. She was breathing quick and soft, but it was controlled as she concentrated. Noah murmured soft encouragements and guidance against her ear until they each had a sphere of energy slightly larger than a softball within their grasp.

    "Okay," he said easily. "Now be brave, baby. We are going to see what tricks this thing can do." She nodded trustingly and he took a deep breath. "It feels like a ball to you, with mass and form, so now you can wield it with one hand. It remains connected to your energy source until you throw it, so it cannot be dropped. Transfer it to a single hand…there. Good. Any good at pitching?"

    "I throw like a girl," she said regretfully.

    "That does not matter," he chuckled. "Just aim for the wall across from us. If you blow it up, at least it will only open to the hallway."

    "Did I mention your teaching methods kind of suck?" she asked.

    "No." He laughed. "Do it. No one is around but us. It is safe."

    "Famous last words."

    Instead of pitching the ball forward, underhand or overhand, she sidearmed it, flinging it free of her hand as if she were releasing a Frisbee. It was ingenious, a choice she felt gave her the best control and comfort, and she hit the mark on the money.

    The ball struck the wall dead center.

    And bounced off it in an arcing return toward them. Instantly they were both in motion, springing away from the unknown threat. Kes rolled over the bed and dropped off the far side, and Noah landed like a cat behind her. They both leaned around to see what the ominous little green ball would do next.

    "Odds are, you are immune to your own power," he whispered, automatically lowering his voice in the face of a threat. "And since this is a form of energy, I am likely able to absorb it."

    "Best to be safe than sorry," she finished for him. "I know."

    Noah narrowed his gaze on the ball. It had changed. It still was aglow, but it seemed to have distinct mass at its core. It had also begun to pulse, a slow, steady strobe that seemed to have rhythm.

    "Odd," he mused, moving to stand.

    But Kestra grabbed his sleeve and jerked him back down beside her, probably not even realizing the impressive strength she'd used to do so.

    "Stay," she commanded him, eliminating any impression of request so he would obey her. She felt him bristle, knowing it rubbed him the wrong way to be on the receiving end of a command. He wasn't used to it. She would've smiled if she weren't dedicating all of her attention to the sphere sitting in the center of the rug strobing out its strange green light. She was glad that he settled back, though, heeding her demand.

    Noah waited while Kes's eyes narrowed on the orb.

    Kestra watched, counting the beat of the swelling and receding light. Noting the speed. Sensing more than seeing that it was picking up in tempo, the time between the bursts of light shortening.

    "Oh, shit!"

    Kestra hurled herself out of Noah's reach with lightning speed, twisting into a roll that avoided his grasp and brought her right on top of the ball of energy.

    "Kes!"

    She reacquired the ball, the green energy instantly blending in with the lighter glow that still clung to her skin. Kestra gained her full height and ran to the nearest window. Noah had barely made it halfway into her wake before she punched her fist and forearm into the thick glass, sending it shattering down around her. Then, this time in a full overhand arc, she hurled the ball out over the crenellations and into the air above the gardens. It was just about to reach tree level when it exploded with violent fury.

    By then Noah had hold of Kestra, and he whirled her into the shield of his body as he turned his back to the force of the blast. The energy of it struck them, and he automatically absorbed it. But while he was able to prevent them from being thrown across the room, he wasn't able to keep the windows in their casements. Glass burst around them, the colored fragments showering them from all sides. He protected Kestra completely, unconcerned about anything else.

    When everything had passed over them, they straightened, and now that the danger was passed, both were eager as they hurried to lean out of the empty window frames to see the damage she had wrought.

    "Jeepers."

    The softly spoken word of awe was the last thing Noah had expected, and he suddenly found himself laughing.

    "I should think so," he chuckled as he surveyed the small brown crater that had once been a wisteria and willow grove. Now all that was left of the arbors and trees were the burnt stumps of wood and a still-falling shower of debris. "Remind me that all further practice and lessons of your power are to take place out of doors."

    "Mmm," she agreed with a nod. "Sorry about the windows."

    "Windows can be replaced," he pointed out with a shrug. Then he pulled back into the room to look at her. "How did you know?"

    She laughed and cast him a sidelong look. "Honey, if there is one thing I know, it's bombs."

    "Of course." He crossed to her, his boots crunching over metal and glass. Then he scooped her up to protect her bare feet and marched them away from the debris field. His bedroom, and likely every room on that side of the castle, was a disaster. Yet he was grinning like an idiot for some reason. He was ridiculously proud of her, on so many levels. He had known she would be powerful, but he had never suspected anything like this. A manifestation of her best skills, magnified. It would make her training go fast and easy, and he could feel her excitement over all the possibilities. "You realize, of course, that you are officially out of business as a mercenary?"

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