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"I am not throwing his skills into question, Meghan," said Michael, "but we did not know to look for a mage shadow before. And it doesn't have to be in the brain, just have access to the pathway. This mage is skilled but not as skilled as our High Mage friends. He works with stolen spells. I learned much in the time it took to destroy his shadow in me. We need to check between bones, not just on top of them or in the brain alone. If I had to guess, it was in her scars as they healed and that is how he got me. We were worried about the prince and this mage could have gotten the shadow into her while the battle took place."

She was quiet for a moment then gently squeezed his hand “alright but first , feed and it’s better if she is awake for this, it will help find it , it their is anything, after all Scarlett knows Scarlett “

Michael nodded and drank plenty. He waited for Erik to return before waking Scarlett and saying, "If it is what I expect and we missed it, it will look like all the other scars on her, nearly healed. But it will feel dark." He looked at Scarlett. "Do you know of any place on your body that feel like that? Almost inky but not quite as dark as a vampire?"

She was struggling to stay awake “I used magic... to try and heal Xavier when he was attacking me, to push his darkness at bay..” she said in a tired tone and turned her head, exposing the still healing deep bite mark xavier had done “it still aches...” she said in a low tone

Michael and Erik went in and looked at all the tissue. Michael knew he had healed this spot during their lovemaking on the mountain. It should have disappeared, yet it remained. He called Erik over. I will go out and have to reopen the mark. It is tangled in the healed muscle. If I separate it from one half, you can destroy it without harming her. She will have a scar, but it will forever have my feel to it. Then, you will have to go into my body and hunt for the new shadow. It will make its way to my spin first to get a clear map to my brain. This mage thinks himself clever but has no idea how to play this game of chess.

“Micheal....you don’t need to take such risks” Scarlett said “be my eyes and I can burn it, my fire can hurt magic” she said in a low tone “if I fail then we will do it your way, but let me try...please” she said in a sincere tone. She needed to do this, he felt that, this thing was hurting their son and she had been to weak to know. She felt guilty.

He was back in his body and said, "The guilt does not lay with you, Scarlett. It is no one's fault but this rank amateur who fancies himself to be a High Mage. We will try. If you can do this, all the better. Then you will be able to rest without worry or fear. You and our child will heal as you should and no one will be hurt again."

He could see in her eyes she did not agree “I will heal, and I will get better, but until I kill him...I will not rest until it’s done I will not bring our child in the world with him in it, this is a different battle then my uncle and I will not lose it” she said as her eyes turned gold “now show me”

He showed her even as he said, "We have months until our child is born. We will hunt this bastard down together, Scarlett. We are stronger together."

She took her time, first making it sure it was trapped by making a circle of fire around it before filling the circle with her flames. Her hands went to her ears as a scream echoed in them. Micheal could smell her blood and when she removed her hands he saw her ears were bleeding "is...it gone?" She asked in a pain filled tone

He examined her and said, Yes, it is gone, but it ruptured your ear drum. Erik is healing it now. But did you hear what was in the scream? He has challenged me, Scarlett. Not you, me. He called me by name.

"I don't care, it's my fight not yours" she said forcing herself in a seating position " I need to do this" she said in a serious tone

"Not this time," he said. "You're fighting because of guilt, and he will use that. If I were to go alone, it would be revenge for harming you and our child. He could use that as well. We go together. We fight together." He looked her in the eye, his dominant side showing there, one that made her want to fight him and make love to him all at once. "You agree to my request or I put us both to sleep and send another. Your choice."

She growled and ignoring the pain she stood up, holding her head high, when erik went to protest she grabbed michaels wrist " erik thank you for your hospitality I need to speak to my lifemate, maybe I use your guest room" he sighed and nodded and pointed to the room, without another word she dragged Micheal in there and shut the door "want to repeat what you just said" she said in a challenging dominant tone

He crowded her until her back was to the wall as he said, "Either we go together or I send someone else while we rest in the ground. There are no more battles that you or I take on our own. Those are your options. As you are still injured and recovering, it is I who will win this argument, Scarlett. You are currently in no shape to meet with him, amateur or not. So I say again, together or not at all. Choose."

She poked his chest "one, injured or not I carried a full car here, two I know him better then he knows himself anyone you send it will be a death sentence for them and three" she said with a growl "shut up" she said and grabbed his shirt and pulled him down and crashed her lips to his

He pinned her arms to the wall above her and kissed down her neck. As I recall, you reopened a number of wounds that Erik had to heal again because of that little stunt. You pushed yourself beyond what you should have in your condition. As for knowing him, you know I also know him, so I could go alone just as easily as you believe you can. Scarlett, your health comes first. You are the one with child so stop taking so many risks and let me carry some of the burden. I have claimed you numerous times, so there is no reason to keep me from these battles. I will not fall, so stop trying to protect me. He knelt in front of her. She saw his hands on her hip, yet she still felt one hand holding her arms up. He put one leg over his shoulder to open her up and began feasting on her.

She moaned and bite her lip "I'm selfish Micheal....I'm trying to protect you for many reasons one being I don't know what I would do it you had to go through what I have" she said as it was getting hard to think "Micheal I need to feed from you now" she said in a demanding yet moaning tone

He stood in front of her, his hand going back to her wrists while the other cupped her neck, as he said, "Who said I would do what you do? I might there with you, but by no means would I allow them to put chains on me. I'd be the noob who doesn't get to do the torture stuff. I'd be the one getting coffee and being ignored to the point of learning information I shouldn't. I play incompetent very well when I need to. I also look spindly, like a runner. The society has always underestimated my strength and abilities. Do you understand what I am saying, Scarlett?"

She frown "Micheal..." She said slowly looking him up and down making him growl "you look like the warrior you are" she said in a hungry tone "one that I want to eat up"

He chuckled and said, "Only the society underestimates me, little dragon, and they are the ones you always spy on. But the real issue right now is this: if you are so determined to feast upon me as I have feasted upon you, why have you not broken my hold on you?"

She growled and he saw what seemed like shame in her eyes "because....I can't" she said looking away from him. It told him how weak and hurt she really was, and the look on her face told him how hard it was for her to admit that, not just as a hunter but as her

He made her look at him and said, "Do not feel shame, not with me. I will not judge you and I will not hold it against you." He released her and carried her to the floor, where he blanketed her body. "I know the strength you carry and the power you wield, Scarlett. It humbles me to know I have someone like you as my lifemate. Trust me to care for you in times like this, and I promise you will know the love I hold for you will not falter."

"I need time, I've been alone so long" she said in a honest tone. But before he could answer she leaned up and bit deeply into his neck

He entered her hard. He had thought hearing her say that would have upset him, but he found that it didn't. In fact, he found it reasonable, despite her trusting him enough to make love to her in this vulnerable state and her carrying their child. He needed time to sort out his emotions. Both had obstacles to overcome, but both knew they would do so together slowly. But his hips moving so that he surged strongly in and out of here's were anything but slow. He wanted her screaming his name, begging for release even as she never wanted their pleasure to end.

She released his neck, she had too. She closed the bite but left her mark, his blood helped her feel even better and more alert. She numbered herself to the pian so neither of them would have to feel it, trusting him not to injure her. She wrapped herself tightly around him. He saw the bite mark on her neck heal and look much better, it still scared but it was a healthy scar.

He took her stiff nipple into his mouth, lavishing it until she wrapped her arms around his head. Then, he bit deep. He then filled her, thrusting hard yet tenderly so that each jet sent her over the edge endlessly. He closed the bite and let her hold him even as he kept his weight off of her. He regretfully separated their bodies, loving how bereft she sounded as he did so. He clothed them both and picked her up.

"Time to go to ground and heal, Scarlett," he said. "This is not an option. You and I will hunt this mage together once you are fully healed and not a day sooner. Your wellbeing comes first, as does that of our unborn son."

She glared at him "if you leave the safety of this house with out me, I don't care what for or how long, I will never lay with you again" she said in a serious tone

"So much for talking to Dom then," Michael said with a chuckle. "But I hear and obey, lifemate. I will not leave you behind for even the smallest thing. Not even if the devil himself possessed me."

"Even when sleeping I feel you....so I will force myself awake if need be, and just so we are clear yes I used magic, if your emotions run to high it forces me awake, that's how I keep waking up" she said "and no I won't break the spell, so just know, if your in pain, angry sad, or in need I will know"

"I said I would not leave you, Scarlett," he said. "Does my word means so little to you that you feel you have to say 'or else'?"

"No, but knowing you is what makes me say more" she said "I say this so you remeber it, so when the time comes that something happens it's not just your word but mine as well that helps you keep your promise" she said

"You do not need to tell your lifemate these things," he said. "After the way I hurt you before, by telling you an untruth, I would never risk breaking your heart like that again. You do not need to say 'or else' to me. I've seen the damage caused when one tries to lie to one's lifemate, and will never betray you again."

She looked at him with unsure eyes and after a moment she nodded "ok" she said "I'll rest now, can you watch other gidget and the baby for me while I rest, gidget doesn't like being around our kind"

He put her to sleep and then walked through the house, a mischievous smile on his face. Once in the ground floor bedroom, he leaned against the open doorframe and said, "Good evening, midget. Scarlett says I have to watch over you and Azalea. I never had to look after someone so tiny before, or a child like Azalea."

He saw her shoulders tense "fuck off Micheal I'm not in the mood" she said in a low tone keeper her back to him

His joking mood disappeared instantly and he said, "Scarlett told me that you are not fond of our people. Don't think of me as a Carpathian or someone who feeds off of blood." He leaned against the wall next to her. "I'm just a person, same as those you work with. If you must know, I do enjoy some normal things. Teasing you, watching movies, and even a nice cup of Earl Gray at the end of the day. I haven't been able to do that for some time, to be honest. I'll make us a proper pot and you can join me for some biscuits, then you can talk. Before you ask, it is not a fucking tea party and I hate when people say it is. It is a proper tea time as dictated in England and one of the few things I can still do as a Guardian. I used to be a park ranger before I was made a Guardian and I worked in the Yorkshire Dales. It's beautiful. You would like it"

She sighed "eighteen years..." She said "he is forcing me to do it for eighteen years" she said turning around and facing him with a look of pain and anger written on her face "do you know what eighteen years means to a human like me? That's more then half my lifemate already, I agree to do a favor for scarlett and your prince..." She ran her fingers threw her hair "get out and leave me alone, I don't even want to look at your kind" she said with a hate filled tone

"I'm sorry," he said. "Are you saying Xavier compelled you to work for eighteen years as a nanny? He's really going that far? I'm surprised." He looked up at the ceiling. "He's taken it easy on you. Normally, you would have been brought into the fold along with that. Meaning you would no longer be part of the militia but a full ally to the Carpathian people. You still have your other job as well."

She took put her gun and pointed it straight at his head "unlike others around here when I say leave I mean it" she said in a threatening tone "and fuck you " she said spitting at him "I wouldn't let one of you freaks touch me let alone mind fuck me" she said in a nasty tone "also I hold grudges and I hold one fore scarlett now too, so make sure you let her know to keep out of my way others wise you might fall there Micheal"

"Just trying to help," said Michael. "By rights, I should kill you but I will not." He walked to the door and stopped. "Just so you know, Scarlett and I won't hold you to that. We have such plans to trap you in any way. But Azalea already loves you, Auntie Gidget. He was ensuring her happiness only." With that, he left.

Just as he left the room and shut the door Xavier maddox and serenity showed up

Michael smiled and said, "Evening, Xavier, Maddox, Serenity. Gidget needs some time away from the adults but is still performing her duties. Azalea is quite fond of her."

"As she should be" was all xavier said as he went towards the kitchen wall the other two went into their private bedroom

Michael went to the kitchen and made some tea. He took a couple of English biscuits and put them on the saucer. He put it on the table next to the door, knocked and sat down in the chair nearby. Gidget came out, angry as hell. He pointed to the tea and biscuits.

"It's peppermint," he said. "Thought it would help you relax. Take it back to the room and drink it before it gets cold. I'm going to sit here a bit longer and then join Scarlett."

There was no answer, infact it wasn't until Micheal listened for her that he realized he don't hear any heartbeats or movement behind the door

He sighed and said, Gidget, I took your blood. If you left, I'll wake up Scarlett and we will find you to bring our child home.

There was no answer yet he could feel she was close. He opened the door and found gidget sleeping next to a wrapped azalea. They were both under a blanket that seemed to mask and absorb the sound of their heartbeats

He shook his head and then went to Scarlett to sleep next to her until her next feeding.

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