Amy sighed and glanced at the clock just above the spectrometer. It read almost eight. Everyone else had gone home, but she’d remained behind in her lab at work, anxious to check her Carbonite account to see if the blood files had been backed up.
If they had, she could redownload them and restart her research. That blood, if she could figure it out, held all kinds of medical possibilities. She signed in to her Carbonite account and almost jumped with excitement when she saw her folder safely backed up.
“Yes,” she said as she moved the files to her computer. “Now I can get started dissecting this vampire blood and finally figuring it out.”
“Now why doesn’t this surprise me?”
Amy froze at the sound of Kaelen’s voice. Son of a...
She would recognize that deep Romanian timbre anywhere, and a little shiver of awareness snaked down her spine. What was he doing here?
Turning, she faced the vampire and raised her chin in defiance. He stood just inside the shadows where the light was the dimmest. Amy always expected vampires to be dressed like in the old movies--capes, Victorian clothing, wicked-looking decorative canes. Not Kaelen. He looked like just your average guy, if Kaelen’s looks could be called average, which they couldn’t.
He looked absolutely mouthwatering in his black slacks. His black turtleneck hugged wide shoulders and left little to the imagination of what lay beneath. She let her nervous gaze wander lower to his trim waist and thick thighs. He came from a time when muscle was important, so of course he was big. But he wasn’t overly large. To her he was just right.
Jerking her gaze back to his face, she tried to keep her mind off the way his body excited her and on protecting her research.
“I thought I told you to give me all of it,” he growled.
Amy swallowed as his eyes flashed anger and sent a warning she knew deep inside she should heed but didn’t. “I did,” she argued.
His eyes narrowed. “Then what’s that you’re so excited about? Hmm? I know it’s not the latest edition of Victoria’s Secret.” His heated gaze raked over her body. “Something tells me you’re not the lace type.”
Her spine stiffened as she met his hatred head-on. Vincent had told her about Kaelen’s hatred of humans, but he didn’t kill her last time. Would he this time?
“Kaelen,” she began, changing tactics and trying to reason with him. “This is important.”
“Yes, it is. That’s proof of our existence. You cannot keep it.”
“Do you have any idea what the medical profession could do with this?”
“Could do with it?” he snapped. “What the hell do I care what they could do with it?”
“Your blood has a fifth hemoglobin. Humans only have four. In your blood, the fifth one attacks everything. Every disease, every abnormality, everything. I believe it’s partly why you live as long as you do. We could break it down, map it out. We could cure cancer. We could cure everything.”
“And where would you get the blood?” he asked.
Amy remained silent for a second. She knew where he was going with this. He assumed vampires would be hunted down for the healing blood. “That wouldn’t happen,” she argued. “We could synthetically duplicate it. I’m sure of it.”
“Amy,” Kaelen growled. “I can’t allow you to keep that research. I’m not arguing with you over this. You either give it to me, or I take it, and you won’t like what I do with you after.”
Thinking quickly, Amy tried to come up with something that would persuade him, but she had a feeling that it would be pointless. The determined look in his amethyst eyes made it clear he wasn’t backing down.
The door to the lab opened suddenly, and Amy jumped clear out of her skin. Putting her hand over her beating heart, she turned quickly to see who had intruded. One of the police officers stood inside the door, studying her and the dim surroundings.
“Who are you arguing with?” he asked.
“I was just...” She turned to where Kaelen had been standing and sighed as she realized he’d already gone. “No one.”
“You sure about that?” he asked skeptically.
“Yeah, I’m sorry. I was just frustrated with what I was working on and talking to myself out loud, I guess. It won’t happen again, I promise.”
He shrugged. “I don’t care if you argue with yourself. I just wanted to make sure you were all right.”
“Thanks. I’m fine,” she said with a tired sigh.
Where had Kaelen gone, and would he be back? she wondered as the officer left the lab, closing the door behind him.
“I need to get out of here.”
She closed down the computer and shut the lid. She thought about taking it with her, then decided against it. It was bad enough Kaelen showed up at her lab; the last thing she wanted was for him to show up at her home.
* * * *
Kaelen remained in the shadows, following close behind Amy as she made her way through the brightly lit downtown streets to her car. She kept glancing over her shoulder as though she could sense him, or at the least expected him to be there.
He wasn’t sure what to make of her or his reluctance to harm her. There was something about her dark-angel appearance that had him straying from his normal behavior. Humans meant nothing to him. He saw them as food and little more, which was why his fascination with her was so unnerving. He’d never had an interest such as this for a mortal. He hated mortals. Which meant he should hate her.
In truth, he’d rather cut his own heart out than feel anything for the lowly race. Unfortunately, there was something about her that made him pause. Ever since meeting her that first night when he’d taken the evidence from her, he felt as though she tugged at him, as though he could hear her calling his name.
Vincent’s warning to stay away from her sounded in his head, but he shrugged it off. Vincent may be a very powerful witch, but Kaelen refused to allow him to tell him what to do. They hated each other. Well, hated was probably a harsh word for what he felt for Vincent. Tolerated was probably more appropriate. And that was barely.
They respected each other’s powers but stayed away from each other as much as possible. The fact that Vincent had taken such a strong protective stance toward Amy hadn’t surprised him. She was Stacy’s best friend, and Stacy was Vincent’s soul mate. His protection would, of course, extend to Amy. But at the moment, Kaelen could care less about Vincent’s protection or his warning.
He needed that research destroyed, and secondly, he needed to get her out of his head--the sooner the better. She was a distraction that played havoc with his mind, and he didn’t like it one bit. The fact that she was human only intensified the need to get her out of his life.
Kaelen did not develop feelings for mortals other than intense dislike. They were beneath him and therefore not worth his time. He frowned as Amy came to a stop by her car and glanced around nervously. Except for her. This little slip of a mortal was taking up way too much of his time, and he needed it to end.
* * * *
Amy stepped into her small house and immediately checked all the rooms. Paranoia had set in, and she scowled at herself in the bedroom mirror for being so stupid. He’s a vampire
. If he was going to kill her, there wasn’t anything she could do about it, so why fret over it? Right?
With a sigh, she pulled the clip from her hair and shook it out, letting it fall around her shoulders. As if dealing with men in general wasn’t bad enough, she had to deal with a vampire to boot. This just sucked.Kaelen now knew she still had the research, so what was he going to do about it?
The wind knocked something against the house, causing a loud thump, and she jumped, placing her hand over her heart.
“It’s just the wind,” she told herself, trying to calm down. “The weatherman said there would be weather moving through, so get a grip.”
“Talk to yourself often?”
She screamed at the sound of the deep male voice and spun toward the bedroom door. Kaelen stood, his arms crossed over his chest, his shoulder on the door frame, one leg bent. His stance portrayed relaxation Amy doubted he felt as well as he appeared to. She had a feeling the beating of her heart had more to do with his sexy body and intense eyes than fear.
“What the hell are you doing in my house?” she snapped, taking a couple of steps back in defense.
“For someone that will likely be dead by dawn, you are certainly brave,” he drawled, his deep voice sending a little thrill of awareness down her spine.
“Screw you, Kaelen!” she snapped. “If you’re going to kill me, then get it the hell over with, and stop playing with me like a cat with a mouse.”
“First things first,” he said as he pushed away from the door and stalked toward her.
She backed all the way against the wall, then sighed as she realized she couldn’t go any farther. “I’m not giving you the research,” she said. “If you’re going to kill me anyway, why not go out with a bang?”
“With a bang, huh?” he replied, his lips twitching slightly as though he found her amusing.
Amy frowned. What was he doing?
He put one hand on the wall to the left of her head and leaned in. “I could torture you and get what I want.”
Amy clamped her lips together, determined not to tell him anything if for no other reason than spite alone.
“What’s your password for Carbonite?” he asked as he leaned down even closer, bringing his lips dangerously close to her neck. Amy stiffened but said nothing. “I want that password so I can destroy those files.”
His mouth opened, and he scraped his teeth along her skin. She shivered, but not as much from fear as desire. She’d had no idea fear for her life would make her this hot. Did she have some sort of fear fetish she wasn’t aware of? He sucked softly at her neck, and she gasped, waiting for the pain of his bite, but it never came.
He lifted his head and stared at her with narrowed eyes--eyes full of loathing, distrust, but to her surprise, also lust. She could feel it in the tenseness of his body, in the way he watched her warily as though she might be the one to bite him as opposed to the other way around.
“Humans,” he snarled, and her spine stiffened for what must’ve been the thousandth time since the first time she set eyes on him. “I should just kill you and be done with it.”
Taking a chance, she goaded him. “Then why don’t you?”
“Good question,” he growled in return.
His accent made her whole body quiver. She swallowed as she remained pinned against the wall, little more than inches separating them. His hot breath fanned against her face, and she inhaled the scent of musk and feral vampire, if there was such a thing. Whatever the scent was, that was what it made her think of.
“The password,” he snapped, and she jumped.
“No,” she stubbornly replied.
She had a death wish...apparently. She was taking a chance, and she knew it, but for some insane reason, she wasn’t going to give in.
He reached behind her neck and grasped a handful of hair and tugged it, forcing her head back. “You stubborn, pigheaded pain in my ass.” His fingers tightened in the tresses as he bent his head and covered her lips with his.
The kiss caught her off guard. It was truly the last thing she’d expected, despite the lust in his gaze. It wasn’t gentle. It was demanding, punishing, almost brutal, and also one of the most erotic, incredible kisses she’d ever experienced. Amy could hardly hold herself upright as his tongue slid past her parted lips and into her mouth to plunder. And plunder he did, making every inch of her body burn with a need she knew instinctively she’d have a hard time controlling.
Good Lord, the man was going to drive her insane.
His other hand left the wall and lowered to circle around her waist, pulling her close against his hard body. His thick cock pressed into her stomach, and she wiggled, trying to get closer as her arms wrapped around his neck.
“Son of a bitch,” he growled, then shoved her away.
She landed against the wall with a force that took her breath. She looked up at him and drew in a sharp gasp of air at the anger on his face. Did he blame her for that kiss? For his own lack of control? Lifting her chin, she refused to be frightened.
“You’re a human,” he snapped.
“Well, excuse the hell out of me for not being one of your precious undead!”
Kaelen’s eyebrow lifted, but he remained silent, watching her with trepidation. It was as though the tables had suddenly turned, and she now had the power over him.
“Either carry through on your threat or get out,” she growled.
“Which threat, I wonder, are you referring to?” he snarled. His fangs had dropped, and his eyes had taken on a sinister glow. “The threat to drain you or to fuck you?”
Amy stiffened. He’d said it to shock her, she was sure, but as she stared into his eyes, she wasn’t so confident.
“Or perhaps I should do both. You’ve been in my damn head since the moment I first saw you. I think it’s time I did something to get you out.”
She swallowed. “I’m human, remember? I didn’t think you wanted humans.”
“Shut up,” he snarled.
With a move so fast she never saw it coming, he picked her up and slung her the ten feet to the bed, where she landed with a shocked squeal in the middle of the mattress. Before she even stopped bouncing,Kaelen landed on top of her, right between her splayed thighs. She lifted her hands to his chest, preparing to shove him away, but he caught them, pinning them over her head.
She gaped up at him with a mixture of fear and shock. He held her imprisoned between himself and the bed, his body weight holding her down. She bucked slightly, trying to get out from under him, but all that did was bring her pussy into firmer contact with his thickening shaft. Was this it? Was he going to make good on his words?
“If you’re going to kill me after, at least make it worth it,” she whispered.
Kaelen’s eyes widened; then his lips twitched as though he was fighting a smile. “Never in my four hundred years have I heard a request quite like that. But then I don’t normally play with my food,” he murmured just before his lips brushed softly across hers. “You’ve been the exception so far; why would that change now?”
It wasn’t the brutal kiss she expected but a soft touch that made her shiver. She tried to draw in a deep breath to settle her skipping heart, parting her lips in the process. Kaelen swiped his lips over hers, forcing them wider still with his own. She held her breath, waiting for him to deepen the kiss, but he continued to tease, to play, as he’d put it. When he finally did settle his lips over hers and sweep his tongue slowly into her mouth, she actually moaned.
She would’ve been shocked with herself, if she could half think straight. Was he doing something to her with his mind? Was he controlling her reactions, or did she truly feel this desire, this need that coursed through her body like hot lava? And what was with the sudden change? From harsh to gentle? What kind of game was he playing? And did she care?
She tried to free her hands, but his grip tightened, making sure he kept them where he wanted them. The position he had her in made her back arch, and with every breath she took, her nipples rubbed against his chest. His wide, hard, thick chest.
She swallowed as she realized just how much bigger he was than her. How much more powerful. She should’ve known better than to goad him. What had she been thinking? His free hand lowered along her side, and she moaned into his kiss, arching toward his touch as his palm slid lower. He brushed his hand over her hip, then lower to her thigh, which was now mostly exposed due to her position.
He lingered briefly at the back of her thigh, just below her hip. His fingers kneaded her flesh there before moving lower and lifting her leg so that he could settle even more fully against her mound. Amy sighed as he slowly ground himself against her, teasing her with his movements.
His hand glided up the back of her thigh and slid beneath her ass, lifting her to meet his thrusts. Breaking the kiss, he whispered against her lips. “Is this what you had in mind when you said to make it worth it?”
“I--” She swallowed and opened her eyes. “You don’t really expect me to answer that, do you?” she whispered.
Kaelen snorted. “A fighter till the end, I see. Perhaps you should just give in, my little dark angel,” he sighed against her mouth. “It’s much easier if you just accept it.”
Amy trembled, thinking deep inside that Kaelen would be the last thing she felt or smelled or experienced before she died. There was no way in hell she could fight against him and get away. He was too strong, too heavy. Was she giving up too soon? She stared into his eyes and saw the slight flicker of mischief. A glimmer of hope spurred in her heart. Was he only teasing about killing her? Was he just trying to scare the hell out of her? Was this a game to him?
She scowled and pursed her lips together. “Are you playing with me, Kaelen?”
Kaelen grinned wickedly. “I thought we’d already established that I’m playing with my food.”
She shook her head. “This isn’t funny. This is my life...or my death, as it were. I deserve to know.”
He stopped his movements and lifted up slightly to better see her. “Would you really want to know if you were going to die?”
“Yes.” Kaelen opened his mouth to say something else, and she quickly corrected, “No.”
Kaelen tilted his head and studied her seriously. Without saying anything, he released her hands and sat back on his knees. She rose tensely to her elbows but froze when Kaelen began to wag his finger back and forth.
“I didn’t tell you to get up. Lie back down.”
He pushed at her chest, sending her to her back. “I said lie back down. You wait there until I decide what to do with you.”
“Are you kidding me?” She gaped. “I’m supposed to just lie here and wait for you to determine if you want to kill me or not?”
“It would certainly be easier if you did,” he snarled, and his eyes took on that predatory glow again, making her shrink back down into the mattress. “I can’t think when you’re asking me questions and looking at me like a deer stuck in someone’s headlights.”
She quickly lifted her foot and kicked at his chest. The move caught him off guard, and he fell backward, allowing her to slip out from under him, all the while yelling at him. “You arrogant, dominating, sadistic bastard!”
He gripped her ankle just as she was about to climb off the mattress and jerked her backward. Obviously, she hadn’t caught him as off guard as she’d thought. He’d let her get that far just so he could prove his strength against her. She landed beneath him again, this time on her stomach. Kaelen moved to settle over her hips, using his body weight to hold her down.
“Damn you,” she snarled as she tried to buck him off. “Let me go!”
He lifted up and grabbed the edge of her skirt, exposing her bottom. He slapped his hand against it hard, and she squealed at the harsh sting. “Be still and stop this nonsense! You’re going to be the death of me, you little minx,” he growled close to her ear. “What is it about you that keeps me awake? What is it that makes me want to fuck you as opposed to kill you?”
Amy stilled at the heat traveling up her back from the sting on her hip. She was sick; that was all there was to it. Closing her eyes, she silently prayed she could make it through this without crying.
Kaelen turned her over abruptly so she was on her back. She stared up into his face, expecting to see death. Instead, she saw compassion and something else. The firm line of his lips softened and tilted up just a little. He was amused. He found her funny, and though the fact should’ve relieved her, instead it pissed her off.
His hair fell forward, covering his eyes and the wrinkles surrounding them. He looked to be in his thirties, but Amy understood him to be well over four hundred years old.
“I’m not going to kill you, Amy,” he said, then added, “yet.”
She was sure her surprise showed on her face as she gaped at him but quickly sobered. “Fuck you,” she snarled.
“Oh, trust me. You will,” he purred, and her heart practically jumped from her chest.
Trista Ann Michaels