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Midnight bite, p.3

Midnight Bite, page 3

 

Midnight Bite
 


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  They were moving. Leaving the werewolves.

  Lark was in his arms. She’d kissed him at midnight. She’d chosen him.

  Her scent surrounded him. She tempted and beckoned. So Devereaux decided it was time to take. He pulled her even closer, and his mouth went for her throat as—

  A stake poked into his chest.

  “I don’t think so,” Lark told him flatly.

  He’d forgotten that she had a stake hidden up her sleeve. Literally.

  “The kiss was payment for our little deal. You don’t get blood from me, vamp.”

  Eventually, yes, he would.

  A little shiver skated over her. “Tell me what in the hell is going on. Tell me why I’ve got monsters coming out of the freaking woodwork. Why is everyone after me?”

  “Put down the stake.”

  “Tell me!”

  He rolled one shoulder in a shrug. “I just saved you. Are you really going to stake the vamp who protected you?”

  “Maybe.”

  His eyes narrowed on her. He could see her racing pulse. Pounding fast at the base of her throat. It would be so easy to lean forward and sink his teeth—

  The stake jabbed harder at him. “Why is everyone after me?”

  Devereaux sighed. “Because, love, the new year has started.”

  “Uh, yeah, so?”

  “And every beast out there has one resolution…”

  She waited.

  “That resolution is…to get you.”

  CHAPTER THREE

  New Year’s Resolution Number Three: Pick a new exercise regime. Get your heart pumping!

  She was being hunted? By all of the paranormals? She was supposed to spend the start of the new year running? “That new year’s resolution sucks,” Lark snapped at him as a shiver slid over her body. Fear was heavy in her heart. A pack of werewolves had just come after her. Of course, she was afraid. On her own, she wouldn’t have been able to defeat them. The vamp had saved her ass, literally.

  Then he’d tried to drink her blood.

  You just couldn’t trust vamps.

  Devereaux exhaled…and finally moved away.

  She kept her fingers clenched around the stake. Just in case. Vamps could move amazingly fast, and she wasn’t about to take any chances.

  “It’s an unfortunate resolution. But I got to you. So they’ll just all have to back the hell off.”

  Her heartbeat thundered in her chest. She knew he’d hear the telling sound. With their enhanced hearing, vamps could hear almost everything. “Why are they after me? I’m not exactly in the family business. I walked away from it when I buried my mom. The beasts are supposed to stick to their world, and I’m sticking to mine.”

  “Oh, love, it’s not that easy.”

  Love. The guy had an accent. A slight British rumble that was ever so sexy. That was the thing about vamps—they usually were sexy. Even asshat Charles had been sexy. It was the whole undead allure gift thing. Vamps were able to charm and seduce their prey. They were the elegant ones. The werewolves were the wild and fierce predators. Wolves were savage while the vamps were all about seduction.

  “Your protection is at an end. It ended with your birthday.” He paused. “Happy birthday, by the way. Twenty-six today, I believe?”

  Yes, she was. She’d been born on New Year’s, shortly after the stroke of midnight. Another reason she’d decided to go out on the blind date from hell. It was bad enough to ring in the new year alone, but to celebrate another birthday by herself?

  I totally should have just stayed home.

  Voice not very regretful, he explained, “The bargain ended with this birthday. I’m afraid you’re fair game now.”

  The stake was smooth and cold in her grasp. “What bargain?”

  “Your mother killed an awful lot of paranormal creatures. She made it her mission to abolish them. She didn’t even care if they were guilty of crimes. Didn’t matter to her whether or not they’d broken the covenants in place—”

  “Stop.” Memories swirled up. Memories she didn’t want to face.

  He didn’t stop. “Rage drove her, I suspect. Rage and hate. She’d been tricked, so she wanted to exact punishment.” A pause. “Vengeance. That’s what she wanted.” Devereaux sprawled back against the leather seat and watched her. His gaze dipped over her body. “It’s what they want now, too. The protection ended for you, the old promise not to harm a hair on your head—it vanished with the dawn of the new year. You had years of freedom. So many years when the beasts wouldn’t touch you. But now, my love—”

  Again, with the love thing. He needed to stop that.

  “You’re fair game. Every beast out there—every paranormal monster who ever lost a loved one because of your mother—will be at your door. Wolves, witches, demons, dragons—they’ll all want their pound of flesh from you.”

  Her breath came faster. She looked at the stake, and it seemed so incredibly small to her. He had to be making up a story to scare her. “I don’t…I don’t have a hunter’s skills.” Her shame. A shame her mother had never let her forget. Her mother had come from a very, very long line of monster hunters. The power had been passed from mother to daughter over and over again for centuries. Hunters were faster, stronger, and far more agile than normal humans.

  But Lark didn’t have those skills. Not any of them.

  She’d also never been able to stare into a monster’s eyes and kill. Though her mother had tried to get her to attack. Again and again.

  The scars on her side—scars she always kept hidden—seemed to burn Lark.

  She swallowed and glanced toward the front of the limo. A privacy screen was up, blocking her from seeing the driver. “I need to give him directions to my house.”

  “Totally unnecessary,” Devereaux dismissed with a wave of his long, elegant fingers.

  “You know my address?”

  “I know every secret you possess.”

  No. “Don’t be so sure of that, Dev.”

  “Dev?” Surprise rumbled in his voice.

  “Yeah, well, if you keep calling me ‘love’ like I’m your sweetheart, then I can sure give you a nickname, too.” Devereaux felt far too formal to her. But then again, he was a prince. So…

  “What do you know about me?” Devereaux asked her. “I’m sure your mother told you all sorts of things.”

  “You mean before she was brutally killed by a band of coyote shifters on my sixteenth birthday?”

  Silence.

  She had a flash of her mother’s body. All of the blood…No. Don’t go back there.

  “Yes,” he responded softly. “Before that moment.”

  Lark rolled the stake between her fingers. “She mentioned your name. Told me to always stay the hell away from you and any royal vamp. Royal vamps are stronger and more dangerous than the others.”

  “We are.” He stared at her. Waited.

  Only she didn’t have anything else to say.

  “She didn’t tell you…more?” Devereaux finally prompted.

  Lark shrugged. “Sorry. You weren’t a big topic of conversation at our house.”

  He leaned forward.

  She tensed.

  “You need an ally.”

  She needed to get the hell out of the limo. “I’m not looking to hurt the monsters out there. I’m just minding my own business. They need to leave me alone.”

  “They won’t. They won’t stop until you’re dead. Your mother took too much from them. Some deserved what she did. Some didn’t.” He eased even closer to her. She had to strain to see his features clearly in the dark interior of the vehicle. “On your own, you’ll be dead.”

  She wasn’t in the mood to die. “What are you offering?” And why?

  “I’ve waited a very long time for you.” His fingers rose and slid down her cheek.

  “Uh, okay.”

  “You are not meant to die at the hands of wolves or coyotes or anything else.”

  “Great to know.” His scent was nice. And when
he got that close, her body felt a little shaky. A lot out of control. She thought of the kiss. A kiss that had absolutely incinerated her. She’d never felt a surge of desire that consuming.

  Had to be a vamp trick.

  “You are meant to rule.” He cupped her cheek. “At my side.”

  “Wait—what?” She’d gotten a little distracted and had missed a bit of what he’d said. “Did you just say—”

  “I will keep you safe from every threat out there. But there is a price. You have to rule with me. Become my bride. No paranormal creature would dare to touch you once we are bound together.”

  Breathing was a little hard. “You just asked me to marry you.”

  “Yes.”

  “Are you crazy?” He must be. Delusional vamp. Figured. “I’m the daughter of a monster hunter. Monster hunters don’t marry vamps. They kill each other! There is no freaking way I’m meant to rule over the vamps my mom told me I was always supposed to kill!” Was her voice getting too high? A wee bit hysterical? Well, it was that kind of night.

  And Lark realized that she wasn’t cold any longer. Not cold at all. In fact, she was starting to feel a bit too warm. Her breath came faster, heaving in and out, as her heart raced. “I don’t feel so good.”

  His fingers trailed down her throat. “He should never have tasted you. I was the one who planned to introduce you to our world.”

  “I-I want you to stop the car.” So what if they weren’t close to her place? She needed out. Like, right the hell then. Something was wrong. Her skin had started to burn. “Now.”

  He didn’t stop the car. A fire coursed in her veins as Lark lunged forward. She shoved open the car door, letting cool air rush inside and bathe her overheated skin.

  “Don’t! You’ll hurt yourself!” His arms wrapped around her, pulling her back against him.

  His touch made the fire so much worse. Her whole body shuddered. She couldn’t draw in a deep enough breath, and her heart felt as if it was about to gallop right out of her chest. Heart attack? Was she actually having a heart attack?

  “You have to trust me,” Devereaux told her.

  Trust a vamp? Um, never!

  “I need to bite you. Charles triggered your body, and that’s why you’re hurting right now.”

  Triggered? What in the heck did that mean?

  “Let me bite you, and I can make the pain stop.”

  “Like…I’m going to fall…for that line.”

  “Dammit, Lark! I’m not here to hurt you! I’m here to help you.” Then he banged on the privacy screen that separated them from the driver. “Stop the freaking limo, Helsing! Lark is hurting!”

  Hurting. Burning from the inside out, same thing, wasn’t it?

  The limo screeched to a stop. She tore herself from Devereaux’s arms and jumped out of the vehicle. She stumbled to the side of the road even as snow drifted down on her. The snowbank was thick near the road’s shoulder, and the snow falling on her felt like heaven against her hot skin. Lark tilted her head back, spread her arms, and let the cold sweep over her.

  She just had to get cool. Had to slow her racing heart. Had to get her shit together.

  “Lark.” His voice was low and deep and her eyes opened. She really wasn’t sure when she’d closed them.

  “It’s only going to get worse. The heat that you feel. The burn. You need my bite to soothe you.”

  Bullshit. His bite wouldn’t do anything but make her worse. “Bites aren’t s-supposed to do this.” Something was wrong. Very, very wrong.

  He glanced down the long, dark road. A road that did not lead to her tiny apartment, by the way. She had no freaking clue where they were.

  Then he focused on her again, squaring his shoulders. “It’s not safe out here. Shifters will track you. They have your scent, and they won’t let you go.”

  She jerked at the top of her collar. “Hot.”

  Devereaux stepped closer. “One bite, and I can take that burn away. My bite won’t cure you, not permanently, but it will help you for now.”

  Vamp bites didn’t usually cause this reaction. She knew that. Her hand slid down her body to press against her heart. It raced far too fast. So fast her knees were shaking.

  He closed in on her, ignoring the snow that fell onto his broad shoulders.

  Her breath panted out. “Why am I…so hot?”

  “A reaction to Charles. Because the fucking idiot didn’t understand what you are. I do. I won’t make the same mistake. I will help you, not hurt you. I give you my word.”

  She expected to see steam rising from her skin. A bitter laugh pulled from her lips. “The word of a vamp…”

  He was right in front of her. All tall, dark, and dangerous. And she could see his features perfectly. It was dark, but she could see him too easily. She’d strained to see him back in the car, but now, even though it was still dark, everything about him was crystal clear to her, as if a veil had been lifted from her eyes. She could see his handsome features. His sexy lips. The fangs slipping from behind his lips…

  The bite on her neck throbbed.

  “I’m your only chance right now, Lark. If you don’t take my bite, you’ll pass out in the next five minutes.”

  What?

  “Your heart is racing. I hear it. It’s going too fast. Your body can’t sustain what’s happening. You feel like your lungs are closing on you. You’re getting dizzy, and the heat is consuming you.”

  Yes.

  “I’ll make all of that stop. One bite. Just a few sips of your blood…You said yourself, royal vamps were more powerful than others. I can fix what the other’s bite hurt.”

  She shouldn’t believe him. Absolutely not. But she didn’t exactly have a ton of options. Lark felt like stripping and dropping her overheated body right into the snow. “Another deal?”

  “Consider this just one friend helping another.”

  Lark shook her head. “We aren’t friends.”

  His arms curled around her shoulders. “Fine. Then consider it a favor that your future lover is doing for you.”

  What? Future lover, her ass. But…The heat was too intense. She couldn’t stand it a moment longer. “Bite me!’

  He smiled at her. “Sweetheart, I thought you’d never ask.”

  His head lowered.

  Her hands pressed to his chest. “It means nothing.” She had to force out each ragged word. Her racing heart shook her whole body.

  “That’s where you’re wrong.” His fingers trailed over her throat. “It means everything.”

  His mouth pressed to her neck. Lark expected to feel the hard, sharp pierce of his teeth. Instead, his lips feathered over her skin as he kissed her. Such a tender caress.

  Uncertainty surged inside of her. “Dev?”

  Then his teeth sank into her skin.

  Pleasure exploded inside of her. A wild, hard rush of pleasure that was stronger than her best orgasm. She cried out, her whole body trembling because this insane release was the last thing she’d expected. Lark would have fallen right then and there—it was hard to stand when your whole body was clenching and churning with pleasure—but Devereaux just locked his arms around her and lifted her toward his mouth.

  She’d staked Charles when he bit her. Lark still had her back-up stake, but she wasn’t shoving it into Devereaux’s chest. She was shoving her body closer to his. Tipping her head back more because every lick and suck of his mouth had her pleasure increasing. The wave of ecstasy went on and on and on, and her hips rocked against him.

  Lust tore through her. Dark and wild and hot, and she wanted him right there. Right then. Sanity vanished. There was just need. A savage, consuming need. She’d never felt that way about a man. Never expected to want someone so completely.

  Her skin didn’t feel as if it was burning any longer. An entirely different fire had flared to life. A dangerous desire. A lust that left her quivering. A lust that—

  His mouth lifted.

  No! She wanted Devereaux’s bite. Wanted him to
keep drinking and drinking.

  Something is wrong. None of this is right. “Let me go!” And she did finally bring up her stake.

  But he’d already let her go. He’d backed away. Devereaux stared at her with a fierce lust blazing in his eyes. The same savage lust she felt.

  “What did you do?” Lark demanded as her breath panted out.

  “A bite—”

  “No, a bite shouldn’t make me feel this way.”

  His gaze never left her. “How do you feel? How is your heart? Your lungs?”

  They were fine. What wasn’t fine, what wasn’t normal… “I shouldn’t want you this way.”

  Devereaux seemed to tense. “What way?”

  “So badly that nothing else matters.” So badly that she wanted to rip off all her clothes and fuck him. A vampire. Her enemy. A stranger. No. Lark shook her head and took a step back from him, sliding in the snow.

  And Devereaux—vamp bastard that he was—smiled. “That’s a good start.”

  Her hand clenched around the stake. The limo waited up ahead. Smoke drifted from the exhaust as the rear door hung open.

  Devereaux offered his hand to her. “Shall we get back in the car?”

  “Stay away from me.” She took another step back.

  His features tightened. “It’s not safe for you to stay in the open. I told you that. It’s not safe—”

  “It’s not safe for me to stay with you. A vamp bite isn’t supposed to make me want to tear off all my clothes and screw you.”

  His brows climbed. “Is that what happened? Good to know.”

  “It’s not good. Nothing about this is good.” And forget it, she wasn’t trying logic with him any longer. She couldn’t get into the limo. He wasn’t taking her home. She had no idea where he was taking her. If she got into the limo—it was game over. He’d put his mouth on her again, and she might just give the guy anything he wanted.

  Hadn’t her mother warned her to never trust vamps?

  Since she wasn’t getting into the limo, there was only one other option. Run.

  “Lark…” Devereaux’s voice held a warning edge.

  He could take his warning and shove it. She whirled and she ran and—holy hell, she ran fast. Far faster than she’d ever been able to run in her whole life. The scenery passed her in a blur. A swirling, sickening blur, and it should have been impossible.

 
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