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  • Home > Samantha Young > Warriors of Ankh > Blood Will Tell (Page 12)     
  • Blood Will Tell(Warriors of Ankh #1)(12) by Samantha Young
  • “It was a stupid question.”

    “It’s not a stupid question!”

    His face twisted and suddenly Eden felt as if he knew what she was asking, knew and despised her for it. She flinched back, feeling ill with panic. “If you’re asking me if I think it’s OK to protect yourself from someone hurting you by hurting them, then yeah, it’s an act of survival, self-defense. But if you’re asking me-”

    “Asking you what?” she snarled, her eyes narrowed in suspicion. Why did she feel like he knew? Did he know? No he can’t.

    The color leached from his cheeks as he caught her look. Noah smoothed out his expression and leaned back against the chair. “I know this Teagan thing is bothering you, and I know you’re frustrated, but you can’t start having morbid thoughts, Eden. That’s not you. And you can find a way out of whatever your sick parents have planned without hurting the guy.”

    Eden’s racing heart slowed as realization dawned. He thought she was talking about the Teagan situation. She flopped back against the passenger seat and cast him a wan smile. “How did you know I wasn’t just asking a philosophical question?”

    Noah smirked. “Because, you never ask questions unless they mean something. So you should know if you ask me something twisted and violent, I’ll pretty much know you’re talking from intent or experience.”

    Eden laughed and let the silence fall between them.

    But as she thought over Noah’s adamant reaction, the hush grew uncomfortable rather than soothing. He had been so vehement, so disgusted by the idea of hurting someone. In fact his reaction had been a little out there but then… Noah was a little out there. That’s what she liked about him.

    But that look he’d given her. The disdain. The disappointment. She hadn’t imagined that.

    Who was she kidding? If Noah ever found out the truth about her, she’d be dead to him. And that was the one thing she didn’t think she could make it through.

    Slanting him a glare from the corner of her eye, Eden tried to concentrate on her breathing exercises. Damn this human who had come into her life and made himself so important to her, had made coming to terms with her inner monster that much more difficult to bear.

    “Let’s go back.” She sighed, not daring to look at him.

    He watched as Romany slowly stirred, sliding her hand along the sheets, searching for him. Noah knew she was awake as soon her hand came away empty. She grunted and brushed her hair off her face, her eyes sweeping the room until they found him sitting on the sofa across from the bed. Romany groaned and shuffled up into a sitting position, holding the sheet over her.

    “What’s wrong?” she murmured, her sleepy eyes adjusting to the light, as dim as it was.

    “Couldn’t sleep.”

    “Tell me,” she prompted quietly and Noah sighed, relaxing back into the sofa.

    He hadn’t been happy when she’d turned up at his door again last night. It had been a long week, and Eden and his relationship had grown quickly estranged again. He had been waiting for his moment to tell her the truth, but he’d messed up that day in the car and now he couldn’t get her alone at school and she refused to meet him outside school again.

    Romany helped him relax for a while. She was good at that.

    Like Alain, Noah had always taken himself a little too seriously. It was hard to see unless you knew him really well because he was the youngest of the Ankh and was determined to remain so. He kept up with pop culture better than any of them and he enjoyed the freedom of his youthful looks. But when it came to assignments… Noah was tough and unwavering and often hard on himself.

    He’d met Romany three years ago when she was eighteen. There was a particularly brutal soul eater terrorizing downtown Chicago and Noah had been sent after it when a group of Neith had failed to destroy it. Romany, a member of that group, refused to be thrown off the hunt. This soul eater had killed her father and she wanted its blood. So Noah had let her tag along and had discovered she was tough, funny and… hot for him. As soon as the soul eater was taken out, they had started their relationship. It was casual and they’d agreed it wouldn’t be monogamous because Noah had never really wanted anything else but their casual relationship was the longest one Noah had ever had. Romany was straightforward and easy to talk to. However, he had the feeling this assignment with Eden was bothering her. She’d never turned up when he was on assignment before. Let alone twice.

    “Eden’s pulling away again,” he told her quietly. “I haven’t had time to explain to her… well about everything. I need to explain so Cyrus can make his move. But I’m worried that we’re going to be too late.”

    Romany leaned forward, her dark eyes pinning him to his seat with intent. “You need to remember who you are, Noah. What your duty is. If you are too late, and there is a possibility you’ll be too late, you have to do what you were born to do. You have to take her out, and with her the repulsive son-of –a-bitch who sired her. Remember who you are. And remember what she is.”

    Noah glowered and looked down at his feet, searching for the answer.

    Boston, Massachusetts 1947

    “Mother, why am I so different?” Noah Valois asked softly, as she tucked him into bed. With a child’s uncanny intuition, even at seven years old Noah felt something within himself - within his parents - that was unlike everyone else. Not to mention the strange friends mother and papa received at the house at least once a week. Or the odd manner his parents would hurriedly arrange a sitter for him before disappearing for entire days at a time. Yes, indeed, the Valois’ were not like other people.

    Emmaline Stewart Valois gazed somberly at her son. His huge violet eyes stared back, clear and expressive, and brimming with more intelligence and awareness than a seven year olds should.

    It was time.

    She nodded at him, and then motioned for him to budge over. Lithely, she settled beside him on his bed and tucked him into the side of her body.

    “Shall I tell you a story, Noah?”

    “Will it answer my question?” he insisted, and Emma fought hard to keep from smiling. Her Noah was such a precocious little thing. She just knew the older he got the more of a handful he was going to be.

    “It will,” she promised gravely.

    Seeming satisfied with her answer he flicked his wrist regally, indicating she should go ahead with her tale. A throaty chuckle sounded from the doorway and Emma glanced up to see her husband leaning against the doorframe of their son’s room, his large, intimidating figure a reassuring presence. Alain Valois. Her beloved. A force to be reckoned with. Her dark eyes questioned him. Should I tell him? they asked. Alain nodded.

    “Papa.” Noah straightened up. “Have you come to listen to mother’s story?”

    “Non.” Alain shook his head ruefully. “I came to bid my son goodnight.” Like a cat, he sleekly crossed the room and placed a gentle kiss on Noah’s forehead, all the while brushing a loving hand down Emma’s arm.

    “Bonne nuit, Papa,” Noah replied softly, a contentedness entering his voice that was solely for his father.

    Once Alain left, Emma settled Noah back into the crook of her arm. “Alright, where were we?”

    “We hadn’t started yet.”

    “Ah, I see. Well let’s begin, shall we. This story begins many years ago, thousands of years ago in the sun-drenched, dry lands of the Egyptian Pharaohs-”

    “I like this story.”

    Emma shook a little with suppressed laughter. “Good. Now, in the ancient world of Egypt, during the first dynasty of the Pharaoh’s, Pharaoh Djer had a son, Djet, and a beautiful daughter, Merneith. Merneith loved her brother with a jealous intensity and was happy when their father told them they were to be married. N-”

    “Married!” Noah gasped, pulling away to stare at her in horror. “Isn’t that illegal?”

    She rolled her eyes at him. “Noah, I really must insist you stop interrupting.”

    “But married-”

    “Yes, it is illegal today, but back then it was the done thing. May I continue?”

    He frowned, seeming unsure, and then he nodded firmly. “You may.”

    Scoffing at him Emma tweaked his nose teasingly and picked up where she had left off. “Merneith was blissfully happy with her husband until one terrible day she discovered that Djet had been meeting in secret with the beautiful Seshemetka, and even worse that he loved her. Merneith was heartbroken. Worse still, after his father’s death and his own ascendance to Pharaoh, Djet publicly made Seshemetka his beloved. For years Merneith harbored hatred against them both, all the while proving herself a devout worshipper of the gods. When Merneith gave birth to their son, Den, however, the hatred became a paranoia and an obsession. Determined Den would be pharaoh, she watched vigilantly, waiting for the announcement of Seshemetka’s inevitable pregnancy. When it became apparent that Seshemetka was going to have a child, Merneith began to plot. Seshemetka had spent so little time worshipping, Merneith was sure the gods would favor her over Seshemetka. She began scrawling hidden symbols of the evil serpent of Apophis – serpent of the underworld and god of darkness – in Seshemetka’s chamber. Finally, on the night of her plan, she painted the serpent onto Seshemetka’s skin while she slept. Merneith then went to the goddess Bat, the goddess of the cosmos and most importantly, the goddess of the soul. She showed Bat Seshemetka’s painted body and informed the goddess that Seshemetka was trying to destroy Egypt through Djet; Djet who was so obsessed with Seshemetka that he could love no other and would listen to no other opinion than his beloved’s. Bat watched the trio over the coming weeks and soon grew convinced that Merneith spoke the truth, and that Seshemetka’s hold over the Pharaoh was a danger to Egypt and its people. Bat took it upon herself to protect Egypt – who loved Djet blindly and completely, believing him a living god - from the darkness he had been touched by, by granting her deserving servant, Merneith, with the power to take and control souls, so she could suck the soul from Seshemetka that so addicted Djet and have him love Merneith as devoutly in her stead. But that taste of power was not enough for Merneith. She wanted more. A hunger for souls grew within her until it could only be satisfied by more souls. She broke her sacred promise to Bat and began to steal souls. Their essence made her stronger, made her immortal. Worse… the children she bore may have been mortal but they were born with her affliction, with her hunger for souls. When the gods became aware of her crime, of the new race of monster she had borne, Merneith fled Egypt, sending her children to the opposite ends of the earth. The race of soul eaters began to grow at an alarming rate.

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