Destiny's Fire

Chapter One

I WAS LOSING CONSCIOUSNESS, becoming lightheaded and dizzy. If I could just wedge my fingers beneath his arm, maybe I’d loosen his hold from around my neck.

“Don’t fight it,” he breathed into my ear. “Just fall to the floor, Dez.”

I attempted shaking my head defiantly, but the movement only helped his arm squeeze tighter. Panic—squirming in my stomach like electric eels—enveloped me. The walls around me blurred. Get a grip, Dez. And then I did—right on the sleeve of his leather jerkin. I pulled it over his head and blinded him.

“I just knew you wanted to rip my clothes off,” he mocked, struggling to right his jacket.

I rolled my eyes. Finding a hold on his arm, I hauled him over my shoulder, and he landed on his back with a hard whack.

I ran for my weapon, but he grabbed my ankle, tumbling me on top of him. I straddled either side of him and used my knees to anchor his arms to the floor. “Looks like you lose this time, Jace.”

I kept him pinned while reaching for my Charge Dagger. My fingertips grazed the bronze hilt, but Jace clutched my thighs, refusing to let me stretch far enough to grasp my weapon fully. With a grunt, he rolled on top of me and secured my arms to the cement floor.

“Why didn’t you go for it when you had me?” he asked, catching me off guard for a moment. I held my breath, staring into his blue eyes. Not blue like the color of water or sky, but electric blue—glowing. “You could have just snapped my neck, you know?” Jace let out an exasperated groan. “Tilt your head back. This time I’m teaching you a lesson about losing focus.”

His condescending tone pissed me off, and I squirmed beneath him. It was no use. I was trapped and not getting away. He clasped my hands above my head and nudged his face between my cheek and shoulder.

“No!” I screamed.

His hot breath fanned my neck as his lips parted against my skin. A tremor rocked my body, and I fought to free my hands. His teeth grazed my skin. I froze. I felt pressure, heat, and the slide of his tongue. I shivered and reminded myself this was Jace…

His hold on my wrists weakened for a second, and I took advantage, wiggling my wrist free and nailing him across the head with the back of my hand. He grunted and rolled to the side.

I got to my feet. “I can’t believe you guys let him mark me!” I cupped my neck, glancing around the room at the guilty faces.

My best friend Lana held back a laugh, audibly shaking with a scrunched up face. “Sorry,” she choked out. “It won’t be there for long.”

I rolled my eyes at her, then widened them at Nick. “And you? You couldn’t do anything about your brother?”

Nick held up his hands in defense. “Hey, you have to learn to take him. Maybe this will light a fire under you to kick his ass next time.”

I scowled and he averted his eyes, adjusting his faded brown double-lapel jacket and smoothing back his dark hair, ignoring my glare.

Whipping back around toward Jace, I flashed him a sardonic smile and then swept his legs out from underneath him. “Next time,” I warned, staring down at him.

Jace’s eyebrows furrowed. After quickly picking himself off the floor, he grabbed my arm and led me across the room. “Look, I got carried away, but…” His face reddened. Was he embarrassed now? Marking was a training method, a humiliation method rather, used to remind Kythan