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Last Updated: March 06, 2015 11:14:48

Dark Symphony by Christine FeehanThe wind whipped the waves into a wild frenzy so that the water crashed in walls of white froth against the cliffs. The sea boomed and roared, raging in time with the storm as the dark clouds whirled and spun black threads and cast them like a net over the land. Hidden in the dark spinning clouds, Byron Justicano looked down to the ribbon of a road winding along the coastal cliffs. A car careened and skidded as it bounced off the mountain in an effort to slow the vehicle.

Byron tried not to see the man's frantic expression, the horror building in the old eyes. He tried not to know the inevitable outcome. Humans were not his concern. He had suffered great pain at their hands, knew if they found him again they would attempt to destroy him for his differences. Byron was Carpathian, a species as old as time, capable of commanding the wind and the sea, the very storms that blew over the land. He could soar in the form of an owl, or run with the wolf pack in the forest.

The car clipped a guardrail and slid on the rain slick road to bounce over several rocks. A hairpin turn was coming up. Byron swore softly under his breath. He was going to interfere when he knew he shouldn't. Something about the old man's gallant fight to save himself appealed to Byron. It was insanity to swoop down from the safety of the skies and risk being seen, but Byron couldn't seem to stop himself.

The car didn't have a prayer of negotiating the sharp turn. It was hurtling along, picking up speed. Although the older man fought valiantly, the car slid perilously close to the cliff. Byron put on a burst of speed, shifting to his true form as the car plummeted over the edge toward the rocks and sea below. Byron ripped the top of the car away, peeling it open as if he had a giant can opener. He dragged the old man into his arms as the car fell away from them into the roaring waves below. The man struggled wildly, yelling in fear, his heart pounding with the ferocious rhythm of the sea as Byron fought to keep them aloft in the air, out of reach of the pounding waves.

Byron heard the blood running through the old man's veins, the call of life, of sustenance. The insidious whisper of power, of emotion. The man was elderly and somewhat fragile, his strength going quickly in a useless struggle. Byron's strength was enormous and the shocked man seemed feeble in comparison. Byron whispered a soft command, afraid the man would have a heart attack. At once the elderly man slumped against his shoulder, going slack so that it was only Byron's arms that prevented him from slipping down into the greedy waters of the sea.

Byron took the man into the shelter of the bushes, out of the wind and rain and laid him gently on the ground. Don Giovanni Scarletti, the patriarch of the Scarletti family lay pale and shivering, staring up at him with shocked eyes. "You saved me," he whispered. "I had no brakes. No brakes at all. I put my foot to the floor and nothing happened. There was no emergency and when I tried to use a low gear, the wheel locked up. The car went over the cliff. How did you get me out?"

Byron spoke softly, uncaring what he said, relying on his voice alone to mesmerize the elderly man. He was too close to shock for Byron's liking. "I'll take you home, Don Scarletti. You have nothing to fear." Even as he uttered the words, Byron turned and looked at the raging sea. The foaming water had swallowed the Scarletti vehicle. There was no chance to see why the brakes and everything else had failed so completely. Don Giovanni Scarletti was a very wealthy man and Byron knew the greed and avarice of some humans. Scarletti had much to mark him for death.

"You need a bodyguard, sir," Byron said softly, but his voice held a hypnotic 'push' so that the old man nodded. "I am an old friend, come to visit, you feel safe with me and know I will look out for you and your family." As he pushed memories into Don Scarletti's head, he encountered something different, something animal and strong. Don Scarletti had strong protections, barriers against anyone reading or even manipulating his thoughts. It could be done, but the old man would know. Byron waved his hand to calm Don Scarletti's heart and blank his mind before lifting him gently, cradling him like a child in his arms.

He took to the air, making his way through the dark clouds toward the Scarletti palazzo. The building rose up through the mists, gargoyles guarding every eave and turret, staring with blank eyes out to sea and over land. And then he heard the music. It rose up out of the palazzo, notes calling to him, drawing him ever closer. He had heard the notes so long ago, music soothing his soul, keeping the insidious whispers of evil at bay, and he had followed that dark symphony to this land. For a moment his heart stopped and his breath caught in his lungs. Always the dark call of evil whispered to him, beckoned him just for one small moment to feel emotion, to feel power running through his veins in a rush of heat. Byron had thought his life would always be barren, always alone, yet the music had soothed him, opened him up in some way. Now, hearing it pouring from the palazzo, rising in the air to meet him, he knew she was there. Just inside where he couldn't see her. His lifemate. His heart and soul. The bearer of emotions and the color of life. There was no other explanation. He had found her.

Byron dropped to earth, needing the solid feel of ground beneath his feet. The music swelled and burst from the eaves of the house, up into the swirling mass of clouds, notes of color and light, notes of hope and redemption, notes of driving passion, so sensual they played over his skin like the touch of fingers. Byron's heart beat in time to the music, a pounding he felt through his very veins.

He whispered a command to Don Giovanni Scarletti as he dropped the knocker on the enormous carved door. The old man stirred as his feet touched the ground, leaned heavily into Byron. The door swung open and the maid cried out, her hand going to her throat in a protective gesture. At once Byron toned down his predatory appearance, waiting, watching, ignoring the maid as the music stopped abruptly.

The doorway filled with people but he heard only the footsteps on the marble the floor, saw her as the others opened a path for her. "What is it?" She asked the question calmly, her voice like music.

His world changed in that moment, with those three words. Colors burst over him like fireworks. Vivid images so bright they hurt his eyes, seared his soul. He knew not to trust his sight, he had been fooled once before to his everlasting shame. He looked around carefully at everyone, at Don Giovanni, at the palazzo itself, even up to the highest clouds. The colors remained, like a gift, a treasure. Greens and blues and reds, brilliant when there had only been shadows of gray and white and black.

Byron had to reach for stillness, for calm when, with the colors of life, emotion poured into his body like a dam had burst. Filling him completely. He looked at her again. This woman who was the best half of his soul. "I have brought Don Scarletti home after a terrible accident. He needs immediate care." He said the words softly when he wanted to wrap his arms around her, drag her to him, take flight into the night and hold her forever. Instead, he walked into the palazzo, deliberately walked into her world instead of forcing her into his.


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