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  • C.A. Lightfoot

Excerpt from (Faithless) Guardian

Enjoy:


As Dover woke on the couch, she noted that Embry hadn’t left the armchair beside her all night, though he had a perfectly good king size bed just down the hall. Dover smiled as her rustling woke him from the attentive doze he’d lapsed into while acting as her sentinel. Books were scattered at his feet, pulled from the floor to ceiling shelves built into the wall of his guest room, where Jon currently slept.


Dover needed to get to the Arbor as the sun rose. Her body needed a hard, sudden infusion of light to complete the healing process, to reset her power base for whatever came next. Embry’s home, since it faced the south, wouldn’t be the best place to absorb what she needed. Since the Arbor rested only a few miles from the little town Embry called home, she could get there without any issue.


They did not speak as Dover stood. Embry unbuttoned the shirt he’d given her to sleep in, then unwound the bandages with quick, efficient motions. He inspected the bruising clinically, broad fingers moving delicately over her injured flesh. Already, Dover felt a great deal better, but the process would complete faster if she channeled the dawn light through her body. The very best place for that would be the Arbor.


Once his examination completed, Embry handed Dover an old pair of jeans and a t-shirt she’d left over once. He helped her into the clean clothing, tucking her ammunition belts back into place once she dressed and laced up her boots.


“I’ll look after your boy.” Embry whispered as she readied to depart. “Go get your power up so I don’t have to tear out any more carpet.”


She rolled her eyes heavenward, knowing that his teasing hid the deeper, darker fear that one day even his skill wouldn’t be enough to revive her. Guardianship came with a specific set of dangers. Most of them did not last through all of the promised years, their second lives ending at the hands of a demon.


Her ribs gave another angry little twinge, far less than it might have been had she still been human. Dawn approached swiftly, so Dover took the keys to Embry’s old Dodge and headed for the door.


“You scared me,” Embry whispered, grasping at her hand to keep her in place. “You’re going too far, too fast, Little D. You need to ease up, recharge.”


“I know.” Dover responded, nodding solemnly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”


“Scared my evening’s entertainment, too.” He offered a slight jab at humor. “Don’t worry, I made something up, sent him off.”


“Good.” Dover said with relief. “That’s the last thing I need is another ‘you told a human!’ sanction.”


Their hands slid together, fingers interweaving so they could hold on to one another a minute. Since they met over a decade ago, nothing had ever been easy for them. Lucky for her, Dover had the druid master as a firm ally. Other Guardians were not so lucky.


“I did some research when you were sleeping.”


“I noticed.”


“You said you noticed two smells, alongside the Hounds, right?”


Dover nodded once. “Yeah. Death and shit, clear as I can recall, with a little sulfur thrown in for flavor.”


“That’s what I thought.” Embry continued, shaking his head. “Those are Summoner smells, Dover. Two different Legions.”


The Guardian’s mouth dropped open in surprise, closing and reopening several times as she tried to locate the ability to speak that had, for some reason, escaped.


“They don’t do that, Em.” She said softly. “They’re jealous and petty and damn stupid.”


“I know.” Embry squeezed the hand captured in his. “I just know that’s what I read, D. Summoners and Hounds, two Legions. They were using Demon Dark and you battled a Succubus. None of that fits the usual pattern. You need to be careful. Someone wants him. Bad.”


Dover frowned, glancing past Embry’s shoulder toward the closed door Jon slept behind.


“Who the hell is he, Em?”


“I don’t know.” Embry replied, reaching up to grasp her shoulder. “But, this one time, you might want to find out.”


Meeting her old friend’s eyes, Dover nodded. She might have luck with her superiors at the Arbor, or they might take offense to even being asked. Still…it might be worth the time. Something evil had come after Jon once before, she wasn’t naïve enough to think it wouldn’t happen again.


Hanael.


His face rose up in her mind from memory, giving her the relief and comfort that came from knowing someone else might have pertinent information.


Yes. Hanael would know what to do.


~~~~****~~~~


Thank you for reading!


-C.A.

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