Cypher was quiet for a moment too long and Lilly tilted his head until he was looking at her.
“What is it?” she asked.
“I just thought about something that could either work in our favor or be a liability.”
“Oh?” Lilly’s brow rose.
“Magic is finicky, Lilly. It lives and breathes on its own. We, my people, the Fae, the wolves, and so on, are simply the wielders of it. We do not own it, nor do we always control it.”
“What are you trying to say, Cypher?”
“I know the magic it requires to open the Veil; I know the sacrifice. But that was before you.”
“What do I have to do with it?”
“You have changed me and that is no small thing. I’m very old, little one – ancient. And to change something in me at this point... I don’t know how that change will affect what the magic requires of me,” Cypher explained.
“So, you're telling me that you don’t really know what it will take to open the Veil?”
Cypher’s lips tensed. “Not yet.”
“Then you won’t have to convince Mona, or lie at all. You can truly tell her you aren’t sure what it’s going to take.”
Cypher nodded in agreement. “That should buy us time. But now that I’ve realized that I do not know what the sacrifice will entail, I need to figure it out. I don’t want any surprises.”
“When do you meet with her?” Lilly asked as she stood from his lap. He let her go reluctantly and watched as she stretched her arms above her head, stretching out her back.
Cypher glanced out the window and noted the lightning in the night sky. “In a few hours.”
Lilly grabbed his hand and pulled him from the couch. He stood and looked down at her curiously.
“Good, then we have a few hours to get some rest.” She began pulling him in the direction of the staircase.
“You’re going to lay with me?” he asked her slowly.
Lilly choked down her laughter. “You make it sound so biblical. We’re going to sleep in the same bed. I’m tired, but I would like to hear some more about you and your people, so I’m going to let you talk to me until I fall asleep,” she informed him with a grin.
“You’re going to 'let me'?”
Cypher chuckled as he let her pull him up the stairs and down the hall.
Lilly kicked her shoes off and climbed into the large bed. She tried to get her breathing under control as Cypher’s large body lay down next to hers. It had been a very long time since she had been in bed with a man – to sleep or otherwise.
“Are you alright, Lilly?” Cypher asked as he rolled onto his side. He propped himself up on an elbow and looked down at her.
“Mm-hmm,” she murmured nervously.
“Lilly.” Cypher scooted closer and wrapped a large arm around her waist and pulled her next to him.
“It’s just been a long time since a man has held me,” she whispered into the dark room.
“I am not a man,” he told her, and she felt the whisper of his lips against her neck as he leaned down and nuzzled her.
“You know what I mean.”
“If it makes you feel better I have never lain with a woman in my arms.”
Lilly looked over her shoulder at him, her eyes wide in shock. “Never?”
“No. I’ve been waiting for my mate.”
“But surely you’ve been with a woman.” Lilly’s words stumbled out.
Cypher chuckled. “Yes, although that is not really a conversation I want to have while I hold you in my arms.”
Lilly smiled. “Agreed.” She let out a breath. “Now, tell me of your people. Keep my mind from worrying about my daughter and worrying about you helping that stupid witch take our world to hell in a hand basket.”
Cypher smirked at her choice of words and proceeded to do as she asked. He had only made it as far as his adolescent years before Lilly was breathing slowly and deeply, eyes closed, and a calm expression on her face. Sleep had taken her.
Mona stood stiffly, staring at the tall, stoic warlock King. She was trying to keep her cool, but knowing that her plan was being delayed yet again was not sitting well.
“So you're telling me that you don’t know exactly what you are going to need to do to open the Veil?” she hissed
Cypher’s eyes narrowed.
“I am not backing out of my end of the deal, Desdemona. You know how magic works. There is always a price. I knew the price before I had a mate – now Lilly is my mate. This changes everything.”
“Ah, your mate? How sweet. I’ll be sure and get you an appropriate wedding gift – maybe a nice wolf rug for your living room.”
Cypher ignored the remark.
“If you want this done right you are going to have to trust me,” he told her firmly.
Mona let out a harsh laugh.
“Great King, you should know better than most that there is no one you can trust in this world. Even your precious Lilly has secrets. But since you are my only option I suppose I have no choice. Hear this now, however.” The room grew chilly. “If you are not true to your word I will kill her. I will gut her like a fish before your very eyes.”
Cypher let out a roar and a sword appeared in his hand. He was in front of her in an instant, the sword poised at her throat.
“Hear me, witch. Threaten the woman I love again and I will carve you into pieces and send them in packages as gifts to the wolves. They will feed on your flesh and dance in victory over your downfall. Do not ever threaten what is mine.”
Mona pushed the blade away with her finger, slicing it open in the process. The sword seemed to absorb her blood – then it began to glow. She stared in horror at the blade.
Cypher smiled wickedly.
“The blade has your scent now, witch. There is no place in this realm or any other in which you can hide. Remember that.” He lowered the sword. “I will see you in a few days. It would not be wise to know how to open the Veil, but not how to close it, lest more demons than you can handle get loose.”
In great discomfort, Mona watched the warlock King close the door behind him.
She had been overconfident and it had cost her dearly. She had shed blood for another. Not just another but for one of great power. She needed to watch the King closely – needed to think of a special spell for Lilly, one that would keep him in line when the time came. She hadn’t been lying when she told him to trust no one. Mona had learned many times over that there was only one being in this world whom she could trust: herself.