down to check Justine's pulse. She was fine, just dizzy. He whispered to her, a soothing chant, planting the idea to go back to her room with no memory of her visit to Paul. Justine obeyed like a sleepwalker, falling under his hypnotic spell and going out, even quietly closing the door behind her.
If is no wonder, Antonietta. I am certain you will be unsettled for some time to come, and rightly so. Byron once more bent over Paul. Her cousin. A betrayer who might be plotting to take Antonietta's life. For a moment the urge to crash him beneath the strength of his hands rose up and nearly overwhelmed him. He bent closer, his incisors lengthening as he neared the pulse beating strongly in the neck. If he took Paul's blood, it would be easy enough to read his mind.
Byron! Antonietta's voice was sharp and frightened. I have a terrible feeling you are going to hurt my cousin. Promise me you aren't.
Byron closed his eyes, took a deep, calming breath to settle the demons roaring for release. There was too close of a connection. She would know. She would feel him. Your imagination is running away with you, Antonietta.
Why is it you always call me Antonietta? Everyone else calls me Toni.
Byron concentrated on the sound of relief in her voice. Antonietta, his lifeline to sanity and control, when his emotions were as powerful as the raging sea. Your family calls you Toni. Everyone else calls you Signorina Scarletti, a title of great respect.
That does not tell me why you won't call me Toni.
Antonietta is your name, and it is beautiful. He said it simply, with no embellishment.
Antonietta allowed her lashes to drift down. She was tired, and the steady rhythm of the rain was making her sleepy. Byron didn't say anything particularly romantic or brilliant, not even poetic, but she thought of it that way. Your voice is hypnotic. I could listen to you forever.
That is a good thing. It is nice to know we are making progress.
Well, I don't know why I'm suddenly telling you. I knew it the first time I heard your voice. I could just sit and listen to you forever. And after you leave, I hear the music playing in my head and through my body, and I know it's your music. It belongs to you more than it belongs to me.
That is the nicest compliment anyone has ever given me. Byron left Paul's room and made his way to the third floor where Franco Scarletti resided with his wife and two children. I have decided you need a dog, Antonietta.
Antonietta burst out laughing. Only you would think I need a dog. I'm blind. How would I care for a dog? And don't suggest a Seeing Eye dog. I don't know the first thing about animals. They've always shied away from me.
He could hear the interest in her voice in spite of herself, and he smiled. You have not met the right dog. The animal world is unique and astonishing. The right dog is an invaluable companion. They can be devoted and loyal. The right dog picks you, bonds with you, and works with you.
What kind of dog do you suggest is right for me?
Byron bent over the little girl sleeping so innocently and peacefully in her bed. The thought of an intruder banning the child had a snarl rising in his throat. The scent of the wild cat was strong in the room. Once Byron determined mere were no drugs or poison in her system, he examined the windows for points of entry. Someone could have rappelled from the battlements above. Or a cat might have leapt from the battlements to an open window. He could find nothing to indicate entry in either child's room. He moved to the parents' room, taking the precaution of becoming unseen to the human eye.
The borzoi, of course. They are renowned hunters, and the breed has stayed true throughout centuries. They have been owned by royalty and certainly would be at home here in the palazzo. The borzois hunted wolf packs. Once, as a young Carpathian, not quite yet in full power, practicing his shape-shifting with Jacques, his best friend, two borzois