Addison watched him go with a frown. His touch had made her insides quiver. Even now, she could still feel the heat of his hand, still smell his musky scent. Was it lust? Was it his vampire magnetism? Her gaze wandered down his wide back, trim waist, and firm ass. His black hair hung halfway down his back, the long strands reflecting the soft light of the room. She sighed, pursing her lips in thought. It was definitely magnetism, but more of the lustful kind.
Her mother had kept her sequestered, sheltered, and she knew very little about her father’s race. It was only during the months before her death that her mother had admitted her father was a vampire. She’d fluctuated between terror and anger ever since. Meeting Julian hadn’t really helped much. Now she was not only terrified of turning, but of what her body felt when he was near -- of the control he obviously had over her, and it took nothing more than a stare.
As Julian disappeared down the hall, her gaze shifted to Andre. What exactly was he to Julian? A friend? Lover? In her mind, she tried to imagine the two of them kissing. Would Julian be the dominant one? More than likely so. Andre seemed more charming and almost boyish than dominant. That didn’t mean he didn’t exude his own unusual sex appeal. Quite the contrary.
Although not as muscular, Andre had the body of a runner -- tall and lean. His gaze was sharp as a tack, never missing anything as he scanned the area around him, or when he looked at her, which he did now. Leaning against the stone wall, he crossed his arms over his chest and smiled knowingly. Her stomach flipped at how that smile transformed his face. How strange was it to be attracted to two men so totally opposite?
Shaking off her very inappropriate thoughts, she moved to the massive stone fireplace. With a wave of her hand, she had a fire blazing, warming her chilled flesh. With a sigh, she stepped back and dropped onto the sofa, her gaze glued to the red and gold flames licking at the air.
Andre grabbed the off-white cashmere throw from the corner of the couch and covered her legs. “I’m going to go prowl the grounds. I’ll be back shortly. Why don’t you try to get some sleep as well? Julian will be up in a few hours, and I’m sure he’ll want to talk with you.”
Addison nodded and stretched out along the soft leather. Now that things were quiet and she felt relatively safe, she could admit to the fatigue draining her. This sluggish feeling during the day happened more and more as she got closer to her birthday. When the sun went down was when she felt more rejuvenated, more alive.
With a soft smile, Andre adjusted the blanket, then gently brushed the hair from her brow. His touch singed her skin, made her tingle, and she tugged at the blanket, pulling it closer to her chin.
“Tonya and Marcus will be here until I return, so if you need anything, call out for them.”
Addison nodded. With a tap to her nose, Andre turned and leaned forward. As he did, his body began to morph into the form of the white wolf. His front paws hit the ground and he leaped out the open French doors and onto the grounds. To see him do that was amazing, and she kept her gaze on his sleek, furry form as he roamed the gardens beyond until he disappeared from view.
Tonya stood next to the fireplace, watching her with concern. “Are you okay?”
“I’ve been better,” she murmured. “I’m just so tired.”
“You’ve been up almost all night. It’s understandable.”
“Lately, I’m always tired during the day no matter how much sleep I get the night before. Do you think that means anything?”
“I don’t know. Julian will, though.”
Addison’s gaze moved to the flames as she thought about the gorgeous vampire. Was he sleeping? Rejuvenating? Had he been experiencing the same dreams she had?
Slowly, her eyes grew heavy and the flames blurred as she fell off to sleep, her thoughts on Julian and Andre.
Mist surrounded her, called to her as she strolled through the darkened gardens. Moonlight cut a streak of light through the mist, highlighting the path in front of her. The scent of jasmine filled the cool air and she breathed deeply of its heady fragrance.
Ahead of her a form appeared. It was a wolf, its white fur ruffling in the night breeze, its eyes aglow with hunger and passion. Behind the wolf stood Julian, his dark hair framing his face, his shirt open and showing off his smooth, hard chest. He too looked at her with desire. Dark and sultry, his stare made her body tremble.
The wolf stepped forward, morphing into Andre as he got closer. He grasped her fingers, bringing them to his lips and placing a soft kiss against her knuckles that sent tingles up her arm. With a devilish smile, he moved behind her and placed a teasing kiss just below her ear. The butterflies in her stomach went wild.
Her stare moved to Julian as he strolled forward, his hot, searing gaze boring into hers. Her heart began to race wildly as he stepped closer, dwarfing her with his massive frame. Reaching out, he cupped the side of her face, his touch gentle and warm. Her reaction to both men scared her, confused her. She didn’t understand it, but knew she wanted them both beyond reason -- knew she needed them.
Without warning, their warmth was gone and she was left alone in the dark. Danger swarmed around her; she could feel its icy presence getting closer, threatening her, suffocating her.
She took a step back, away from the swirling mist and the unknown lurking within its depths. A form appeared within the mist, sending a tremor of apprehension up her spine. Tall and broad, he moved toward her from the fog, the wind blowing the cloak around his shoulders. In his hand was a cane; the red eyes of the serpent covering the tip glistened in the moonlight as though to send a warning. Evil surrounded him like a shroud, threatening to overwhelm her.
Tightening her spine, she stood her ground, refusing to be afraid.
“My child,” he murmured as he came forward, the dark form taking shape.
Long white hair surrounded his shoulders, his eyes glistening with evil.
“I’m not your child,” she snapped. “I’m not helping you.”
He hissed, baring his vampire fangs. “You don’t have any choice in the matter. This is why I impregnated your mother. This is why you exist, Addison. As my link to life.”
“Screw you,” she snarled, backing away.
He laughed, low, deep, sadistically. She covered her ears, trying to drown out the sound, to make it go away, but it grew louder, surrounding her, trying to penetrate her. Scrunching her eyes tightly closed, she tried to imagine home, tried to bring herself out of the dream.
“Julian,” she whispered. “Andre.”
His laughter turned to an angry roar, shaking the very ground beneath her feet, and she screamed.
Addison awoke with a start, her eyes darting around the room checking all the darkened corners, the hall just beyond the open doors. She was alone except for the white wolf lounging on the other end of the long sofa, his head resting on her calf. The red embers from the fire cast an orange glow against his fur. With a sigh, she realized it had all been a dream.
Andre’s ear jerked and he lifted his head, staring at her. Opening his mouth, he yawned, making her smile.
“Sleep well, Andre?” she asked.
She would swear he made a face before morphing back to his human form. His head rested just at her hip, his white hair perfect, his smile devilish.
“Nice spot to find myself,” he said with a grin as he leaned down to place a kiss on her hip through the blanket.
Ignoring the heat traveling up her thigh, she asked, “I initially thought you were a werewolf, but you’re not, are you?”
“Can you change into anything else?”
“No. Just the wolf.”
“How long have you known Julian?”
He rested his chin on her hip, studying her, a slight grin tugging at his lips. “Are we playing twenty questions? If so, when is it my turn?”
She snickered, rising to her elbow, then shrugged one shoulder. “I just wanted to know about the men assigned to protect me. I’ve spent most of my life on a farm in a small Midwestern town, Andre. I don’t know a lot about the world or the various species that occupy it. I didn’t even know until a few months ago that my father was a vampire.”
He gave her thigh a soft pat and sat up, leaning his back against the opposite armrest. Outside the sky was still light, though tinges of red and gold lined the horizon. Sunset would be on them soon and Julian would be awake. Sitting up as well, she turned to face Andre.
“Ask me anything, Addy. I’m an open book.”
“Addy?” she asked. No one had ever shortened her name before, and she found she actually liked it.
“Don’t like it?” he asked. “Would you prefer Add?”
She scrunched her nose. “Addy’s good.”
With a chuckle, Andre adjusted his white shirt, allowing her a glimpse of the white hair covering his chest. When she raised her eyes back to his face, she noticed with embarrassment he’d seen where she’d been staring. Heat flooded her face and she glanced down, fiddling with the blanket still covering her legs.
“Are you and Julian lovers?”
“Depends on your interpretation of lovers.”
She glanced up at him. “Do you have sex with each other?”
She nodded, nervously licking her lips.
“We share women, and we have been known to touch and kiss each other while making love to a woman, but I have never fucked him.” He grinned. “Nor has he me, just in case you were thinking of asking.”
Addison shrugged, her embarrassment growing. “Marcus made that comment about Julian killing his lovers and…”
“Julian has had male lovers. So have I. But that’s not what our relationship is. We’re very good friends. I suppose you could say I’m his servant.”
“Servant?” she asked, frowning.
“Yes. I’ve been with Julian many years. He saved me as a child, so I felt indebted to him. We grew to be very close. He’s a good man…deep down.” He grinned. “Way
Addison smiled, but it quickly faded. “Has he killed his past lovers?”
Andre’s lips twitched in amusement. “You’ll have to learn to take what Marcus says about Julian with a grain of salt. He loves to goad his father. Julian has only killed one lover. He was trying to kill Julian’s son. He didn’t have a choice.”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed how the two of them” -- Addison raised her hands and arched the first two fingers on each hand, emphasizing her next words -- “pick at each other.”
“Those two have a very strange relationship, but they’re trying. Julian loved Marcus’s mother very much, and she broke his heart. I’m not sure he’s ever been the same.”
“Andre,” Julian growled from the far side of the room.
He stood in the shadows, careful to keep his feet on the outside of the last rays of light streaking across the hardwood floors. Addison couldn’t take her eyes off him. He wore all black -- black trousers, black turtleneck, black shoes. His eyes, though, shone the most intense shade of blue, standing out in stark contrast to the black of his hair and lashes.
“She asked a question, I answered it. Get over it.”
Julian rolled his eyes. “Did you sleep well, Addison?”
“I suppose.” She frowned, watching him as he followed the shadow across the room. Was he always so gruff? So cold? “What did my father look like?” she asked as her thoughts traveled back to the dream and the man in it.
“He was tall, white hair like Andre, broad like me. Why?”
“I dreamed of him,” she whispered. “He said I was his link to life.”
Julian and Andre shared a look that made her nervous.
Andre turned back to her. Reaching out, he rubbed at her calf. “It was probably just a bad dream brought on by what we talked about yesterday. Nothing more.”
“Then how did I know what he looked like?”
“Maybe you have a little psychic ability. It’s not unheard of among witches,” Julian offered as he moved farther into the room, following the fading sunlight.
“Maybe,” she mumbled, but doubted it.
She’d never had that ability before. Only the most powerful of witches were able to catch glimpses of the future. Powerful was certainly not how she would describe herself. Shy, quiet, reserved was more her style. Her mother had been so protective of her growing up. Was it because she knew what would happen? Had she known what her father had in mind for her?
“Are you hungry, Addison?”
She glanced up at Andre and frowned. Hungry? No, she wasn’t hungry. Matter of fact, she couldn’t remember the last time she ate and her frown deepened. “I, ah…I haven’t been hungry in a while, actually.”
“How long has it been since you’ve eaten?” Julian asked as he leaned casually against the edge of the fireplace.
“I’m not sure. Day before yesterday, maybe.”
Andre raised one eyebrow. “And you’re still not hungry?”
She shook her head, her stomach knotting in apprehension.
“Her body is starting the process,” Julian explained. “She’ll eat very little over the next couple of weeks, if anything at all.”
“Won’t that make me sick?”
“No. Your body’s dying, Addison.”
She scowled at his cold attitude. “You have one hell of a bedside manner, do you know that?”
He shrugged. “Would you prefer changing then, as opposed to dying?”
Pushing away from the fireplace, he walked toward her. With one hand on the armrest behind her and the other on the back of the sofa, he leaned down, putting his nose close to hers. His gaze held hers captive as she pressed back against the armrest to get as much distance between them as possible. This close, she could see tiny flecks of lighter blue around his pupils. The smell of musk and mint invaded her nose, making her inhale deeper, both to capture more of the scent as well as calm her nerves.
“You are dying, Addison, and you will become another member of the undead. Face it. It’s how you choose to use your new abilities that I’m curious to see. Will you be your own person or will you turn out like your father?”
“I don’t even know my father,” she snarled.
“It’s probably best you don’t. That will make your killing him so much easier for you.”
She stopped breathing. “What?”
“If you’re to survive, that’s what you’ll have to do. If they get you and take you to him on the night of your ascension, it’s you or him. If he survives, it will be a war unlike any mortals have ever seen.”
“And if I survive?” she demanded.
“That remains to be seen.”
Trista Ann Michaels