Lux Catena Complete Series Box Set by Amy Pennza
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Memories rushed up—days and nights spent on her own in a deserted house, her only companions the television and the sound of waves pounding against the beach. She dragged a chair in front of the microwave once, intent on making a box of macaroni and cheese for dinner. Without instructions from an adult in the house, she put a metal pot inside. Her parents never noticed the scorched interior—or the melted pot she’d buried in the garbage.
Tears burned her throat. She looked at Max. “I’d rather never have children than make one feel unwanted.”
His voice was low and insistent. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you, bébé. Lizette, look at me.” He lifted from his seat, leaned over the table, and pulled her hand from her lap. “Having a special Gift doesn’t make someone a good person—or a good parent. People who knew Noémie either loved her or hated her. She was a strong personality. Passionate, yes, but that passion had a price. When she met your father, it tipped to obsession. I never met Edgar, but I know he was an extremely handsome man, with dark hair and deep blue eyes.”
Like me. Lizette had known that. Of course she remembered what her parents looked like. But somehow she’d never given their appearances much thought. Perhaps, like all children, she’d always thought of her parents as idealized versions of themselves rather than flawed beings with their own desires and shortcomings.
Max went on. “Your mother loved him, and she couldn’t bear to share him.”
Lizette looked at their joined hands, confusion swirling in her mind. “I don’t understand. They were bonded. Why would she need to share him?”
“Healing is personal. Intimate, even. You know that. Healers use their own blood to close wounds, not unlike the blood-binding of the lux catena. You’ve never done it consciously, but Turning a latent is like healing on steroids. At least that’s how my father described it.”
She couldn’t argue with him there. The headaches and fatigue that hounded her were no joke. “So they never used their Bloodsinger abilities?”
Max shook his head. “From what I know, Edgar was happy to use his Gift. Noémie was not. More than that, she wouldn’t stand by and watch him use his. She picked fights when he tried. Sooner or later, she would have lost.”
A strange protective instinct rose in Lizette. “Maybe she had a good reason. Based on everything you’ve told me, being a Bloodsinger is horrible.” A memory sprang into her mind. “You called it a curse. Maybe my mother just didn’t like the idea of being imprisoned and forced to Turn latents for the rest of her life.”
Max looked thoughtful for a second, then he said, “I won’t lie and say your Gift isn’t a burden. But in your parents’ case, as in yours, a strong Alpha could have protected them. An honorable Alpha would have revered them. My father was both of those things. It broke his heart when Noémie chose to run away rather than help her people.”
“Why didn’t he try to track her down?”
“He did. Noémie and Edgar managed to stay one step ahead of him.”
Pieces fell into place. “We moved all the time. They never let me go to school…”
“They were hiding.” He traced a lazy circle on the back of her hand. “They hid so well it took me years to find you. I had a feeling you’d inherited their Gifts, but I kept it from you because I wanted to give you a chance to adjust to being part of the pack. I wanted you to trust me to protect you. And when I violated your trust…” Pain flashed across his face. “It nearly killed me to let you go. I’ve been a dead man these past five years. Each day without you by my side and in my bed has been a penance.”
His eyes lightened a shade. “Your parents were fools to let you believe you were human. You should have been raised in the Lodge, surrounded by your own kind. Protected and trained. Cherished and loved.” He brushed a strand of hair from her face, his fingers lingering on her cheek.
“And you are loved, petite.”
It would be so easy to accept what he was telling her—so easy to lean into his hand and believe she was more to him than a way to increase his power. “You don’t love me, Max. Maybe you think you do, but you—”
“I’ve loved you since the moment I met you.”
“I was fifteen when you met me.” She tried to pull her hand away, but he tightened his grip.
“You think like a human. The wolf doesn’t care about such things.” His voice dropped into a lower register. “Mine knew its mate the second I touched you.”
“Max…” She glanced at the kitchen area. His fangs were showing. She tugged at her hand again.
He seized her wrist. She resisted, but his low warning growl made her stop. “Just so we’re clear, I also knew you were mine the second I touched you. I knew I’d be the only man to touch you. The first and last, do you understand me?”
Heat shot to her sex. She clamped her thighs together. The possessive words shouldn’t have provoked such a response. She should have reached across the table and slapped him. Instead, her nipples tightened to hard points.
“Let me be clear about something else,” he said. “I had a revelation tonight. You won’t believe me, but I don’t care. The only thing I care about is us.”
“I don’t give a fuck about your Gift.” His fingers bit into the soft skin of her wrist. “You want proof that I love you? I thought you were dead tonight. I thought you’d jumped off that balcony to escape me, and I wanted to die too. Because I realized my life is meaningless unless you’re in it.” He dropped his voice into an octave only a wolf could hear. “We’re not even properly bound, and I know without a shred of doubt that I’d die if anything happened to you.”
She knew her mouth was hanging open, but she didn’t seem to have the ability to close it.
His eyes singed hers. “You’re the first thing I think about when I wake. When I close my eyes, yours is the face I see. Cut me open, and you’ll find your name written across my heart. You are a fever in my blood, Lizette.”
Moisture dampened her panties. Her sex throbbed.
His wolf stared her down. “And you know what else?”
“What?” she whispered, unable to resist the command in his voice.
“I want to burn.”