Being a vampire was a real bitch. Kynan shoved the tomb door open and basked in the bright moonlight. He raked his fingers through his hair. The bloodlust reared its head. He needed to feed, but the idea of snacking on a random human disgusted him. Animal blood didn’t do much either. He’d fucked himself over. Ten years of watching over Alexa Mercury damned near wore him out. The sources favored him, but his time was running out. Only a fool would believe he could win the heart of his true partner, even after such a long time apart.
Silvery mist rolled over the Erie View Municipal Cemetery, blurring the headlights of the traffic on the main drag. Only a town like Erie View would put the final resting place of its residents in the center of town.
Christ. The musty smell of death wafted around him. He missed the luxury of his home and the warmth in his bed. Until his pasha opened her heart to him again, he accepted his fate and the shitty living conditions.
Kynan jumped on top of his tomb and crouched as a handful of teenagers sprinted past him. They couldn’t see him and didn’t know he watched them run wild among the headstones. One of them pulled out a can of spray paint.
“Not again,” he muttered. Kynan closed his eyes and made himself visible. He stood at his full height of six feet three inches and folded his arms. “You don’t want to do that.” His voice rang out over the cemetery.
The teens froze and then turned around. The tallest one, a boy who couldn’t be more than seventeen, stuck up his middle finger. “Sure we do.” He chuckled and shook his head.
His cohorts all laughed with him.
Ah, the stupidity of children. Kynan flew off the tomb roof and landed face-to-face with the lippy kid. “Want to rethink your choice?” He sneered, flashing his fangs. “I’m your worst nightmare.”
In the last ten years since he’d lost Alexa to the rest of the world, his mood had soured.
Kynan regarded the rest of the world as one gigantic annoyance.
The kid stepped toe-to-toe with Kynan. “I want you to make me.” He rolled his eyes.
“That costume sucks ass.”
Kynan suppressed a laugh. The little shit went there. Fine. He forked his fingers into the kid’s hair, dragging his head backward and exposing his neck. He hissed. “If the costume is so bad, then why are you shaking?”
“His eyes are glowing,” one of the other kids said. “Dude, you fucked with a vampire. Run.”
The little band of misfits scattered, leaving the ringleader alone with Kynan. “Not so tough when your friends abandon you.” Kynan waved his hand, glamouring the kid. “You won’t be desecrating any tombs now or ever.”
“I won’t,” the kid repeated. When Kynan let him go, the teen sprinted out of the cemetery.
Kynan smoothed his shirt and checked the buttons on his cuffs. Another night of removing the troublemakers… His thoughts turned to Alexa. She never really left his mind, but lately he worried about her more. His skin crawled. Since she’d come back from college, she lived in a tiny apartment on the rougher side of town. Her friend, Vanessa, lived in the other half of the two-bedroom suite. The hunters weren’t nipping at her heels—yet—but they were sniffing.
He tipped his head, listening to Alexa’s thoughts. Her boyfriend was coming over. He growled. The jackass she dated deserved a fate worse than death. He treated Lexa like garbage, but until she called Kynan, he had no right to step in. Christ, he wanted to free her from the asshole’s grip. No woman deserved to be hit.
Still, she hadn’t called for him to save her.
Kynan sniffed the air. Her perfume twisted on the wind. Screw it. He’d waited ten years for the woman he loved. No more standing by. He assumed invisibility once more and made his way across town to her apartment. Light glowed in her bedroom window, and her voice drifted to where he hid in the tree.
Each day he spent away from her, he died a tiny death. Sure, he was one of the undead, but he still craved her. If he didn’t fulfill the will of the sources, he’d meet his final death.
Alexa crossed her bedroom once more, a huge dildo in hand. Kynan bit back a curse. He knew her so well and wished it were he using the toys on her. She waved the dong at her roommate.
“Have you ever realized you’re in a bad situation, but you don’t know how to get out?”
Lexa plopped on her bed and held the toy in both hands. “V, I don’t love him.”
Vanessa leaned on the door frame. “I think he’s dirt. What about your high school sweetheart? Isn’t he still around? In a band or something?”
Kynan gripped the branch of the tree. Her high school sweetheart? He knew whom she dated in school, and none of them were what he considered to be good enough for her.
“I can’t.” Lexa shook her head. “I’m ashamed. He’d see what I’ve become, and…it wouldn’t work.”
“Why?” Vanessa strode into the bedroom. She picked up the dildo. “You do what you want with this, but this sucker is freaking huge.” She giggled and then sobered when Lexa didn’t laugh with her. “Hey, I’ve got a kinky side too. I know how you feel about the bondage. It’s freeing, even if you’re all tied up. But this jerk parades you around. He doesn’t respect you. Dump him already. Being alone has got to be better than being treated like dirt.”
“Or call my name,” Kynan whispered. He knew what she did with her boyfriend, Dante. Nothing turned him on more than seeing Lexa’s naked body on display, but the moment the boyfriend walked into the frame, Kynan’s desire turned to rage. He recognized the man she’d taken up with. Dante, otherwise known as Brad Bowman, vampire hunter.
“Fuck,” Kynan grunted. Brad, or Dante as she knew him, didn’t date anyone. The bastard picked his partners based on what they could give him.
Did Lexa know the truth about the socialite-slash-hunter? Probably not. Despite his better judgment, he peered into her mind. The more Brad touched her, the more she visualized…Kynan?
Kynan gripped the tree branch tighter. He shouldn’t play the role of a voyeur, but he’d been charged with protecting her. His heart—his emotional one, not the true one he’d lost years before—ached for her. He wanted to be the one holding and caressing her, the one who tied her up and made her scream his name. He’d bide his time for now. Once Alexa called to him, he’d step out of the shadows and take what he wanted.
* * * *
Alexa glanced out the window once more. She felt him out there. Again. Kynan, her protector and constant shadow. She held on to the dildo and shivered. Shoving him away when she was eighteen hadn’t been her brightest move, but she wanted to know what else the world had in store for her. No way she’d find the love of her life right away. Wasn’t possible and certainly not with a vampire. Except Kynan invaded her thoughts and dreams. He’d been the perfect friend and taught her about love—well, if perfect meant dying at daybreak and coming to life once the sun set. Silly…falling for a supernatural creature of the night.
She forced her attention back to Dante. The longer she knew him, the more she realized she didn’t love him. He’d been fun to play with while she explored the BDSM lifestyle, but not a forever kind of guy. Somewhere in the pit of her stomach, she knew he’d screw her over. But her friends insisted he’d treat her well.
Not a chance.
Dante Bowman straddled two personalities. In public he embodied suave sophistication, with all the right moves and the words to make her knees wobble. He’d seduced her the first night she saw him at the BDSM club, Clutch.
Dante understood her sexual needs, and his brooding nature reminded her of Kynan.
She suppressed a smile. All roads seemed to lead to Kynan.
Dante cleared his throat, drawing her out of her thoughts. “I came over when you called.” He folded his thick arms. “Are you going to stare into space, or are we going to play?”
Lexa pressed her lips together. Ah, his other personality finally showed. The forceful side of him that treaded the edge of control. Every time she searched him on the Internet, she came up with nothing. Like the guy never existed.
“What are you thinking about?” He narrowed his eyes. “Someone else you want to play with? Someone from your past?” He bit out his words. “Someone you’d rather be with?”
“Dante, I’ve made a decision.” She stood and placed the dildo in the top drawer of the dresser. “I’m out. Done.”
“Done?” He rolled his eyes. “How many times have we had this argument? You claim not to want me. Then three days later, you call me. Skip the dramatics, and let’s play.”
“No.” She slammed the drawer shut and stood her ground.
“Oh?” He stood, his head tipped forward and his body seeming to grow before her eyes. “You love my crop on your ass and the way I make your body burn.”
Crap. She did like the fire from a well-wielded crop or flogger on her butt. Still, she refused to capitulate to him. “You like to hurt me. I say stop, and you push. I want you to leave. Forget my address and number. Never call me.”
“Sweetheart, you’re in too deep.” Dante caged her between the wall and his arms. His lip curled in a sneer.
Something outside her window flashed. Kynan? All she needed to do was call his name. She’d seen him so many times before when he thought she couldn’t feel him. He claimed he’d never leave her. She wanted him there, so much, but she needed to get rid of Dante first. Get rid of the biggest problem before adding another one to her life.
“Lexa, stop thinking and tell me what’s bothering you. Or who is bothering you?”
What did he mean by that? “Get out.” She brought her knee up, connecting with his groin. When he crumpled, she shoved him from her bedroom. With her roommate’s help, she booted him out of the apartment. She allowed herself to breathe. Dante left without much of a fight, which unnerved her.
Vanessa engaged the deadbolt and chain. “You did it.”
“Why do I feel like shit for it?” Lexa collapsed on the floor. She closed her eyes, and a vision of Kynan formed in her mind. She’d told herself a hundred times she didn’t need him.
He’d be her downfall.
“Kynan.” His name came out in a whisper. She opened her eyes. It was time for a reunion.
“Kynan?” Vanessa snorted. “What are you talking about?”
“You called me.” Kynan stood in the doorway to her bedroom. His button-down shirt molded to his chiseled chest. His blue eyes glittered, and a smile curled on his lips. He crossed the room to where she sat and dropped to his knees. “Hello, beautiful.”
“Holy shit,” Vanessa shouted. She slapped Lexa’s shoulder. “Please tell me this is the guy you had on the side.” She offered her trembling hand. “My name is Vanessa and I’m her roommate. I can lock my door, I’m discreet, and I sure hope you’ve got a brother.”
Kynan appeared just as he’d said. It was such a relief. She rose to her feet and balled her hands.
Don’t reach for him. Don’t let him know I still love him.
“I’ve got…something to do.” Vanessa jumped up and slipped past Lexa to her room. “I’ll have my music on. Good night, Kynan.”
Kynan watched Vanessa leave the room. His smile widened. “I take it you haven’t told her about me?”
“You didn’t exactly come up in conversation.” Not often and never by name. She hadn’t expected Vanessa to be able to see
him. She shivered, and her nipples beaded beneath her bra. The man embodied sex and sin. From his ebony hair drooped over his forehead, to his toned legs and all the sexy muscled male in between…he oozed power. Would he be interested in the sexual games she played? Would he be willing to dominate her? He’d been hidden for so long, she wondered if he even cared about her.
“You’re thinking too hard.” He took both her balled hands in his. “Breathe, Lex. The monster is gone.” He kissed her knuckles and led her back to the bedroom. “I’ve missed you.”
The monster was gone? Wasn’t he a monster too? She shook her head. At least the vampire before her cared about her. Caring was better than nothing.