Unraveled, p.47

Unraveled, page 47

 part  #2 of  Intertwined Series

 

Unraveled
 



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Page 47

 

  This might be the best day of my life, Caleb announced.

  “My pleasure. ” Aden tuned Caleb out and pressed his lips to Victoria’s; her head tilted, and she immediately opened up, his tongue sliding into her mouth. Tasting. Exploring. The heat, the electricity, they made him feel like he’d stuck his finger inside a light-socket, every cell he possessed sparking to life.

  “More,” she whispered.

  They strained against each other. She was so soft. All the while she made little purrs in the back of her throat, urging him on. His blood quickened in his veins, burning him up, rendering his organs to ash and remaking him into a new being.

  A being that could fly, he mused, his feet losing their solid anchor. Victoria’s hands were in his hair, though, her nails scraping his scalp—which he loved, needed more of—so he didn’t care.

  “I want to bite you,” she said, and she sounded intoxicated, her words slurred.

  “Yes. ” He didn’t hesitate. He loved when she bit him. Could even be considered a blood-slave, he was sure, but again, he didn’t care. He loved this girl. Would be anything she needed him to be.

  “I shouldn’t. ”

  “Please do. ”

  She trailed little kisses along his cheek, his jaw, then his neck, her tongue flicking against his skin. Yes. This is what he’d dreamed of, before he’d even met her. Just being with her, giving and taking like this. Kissing on and on, forever. “Sure?”

  “Do it. Please. ”

  Her teeth sank into his vein, sharp and insistent. There was no pain. Her mouth, tongue, teeth, something produced a drug, a chemical, and it numbed his skin before slithering through his body, caressing him from the inside out. Yes, yes.

  His eyes opened to half-mast, and he realized he was no longer outside. Four walls surrounded him. They were painted white. Everything in the room was white. There was a large, canopied bed with white fur draped over the top. A vase of white roses that scented the air rested on a vanity. There was no dresser, but there was a computer and game system, though neither looked as if they’d ever been used. Too much dust.

  “So good,” she whispered. “So…” She jerked away from him, panting. “Dangerous. ”

  A bead of blood trickled down his neck, he felt the heated glide of it, but he didn’t wipe it away. “I like it,” he reminded her, and he, too, sounded intoxicated.

  She cleaned her mouth with the back of her hand. “I like it far too much. Next time, you have to tell me no. ”

  “I never want to tell you no. ” As he spoke, lethargy swept through him. Blood loss, combined with all those sleepless nights, all the tension, the worry, the battles, that drugging kiss, suddenly caught up with him and his knees buckled.

  Victoria rushed to him, arm wrapping around him and holding him up. She helped him walk to the bed. He fell on the mattress, his eyes already closing.

  “Sleep,” she said. “I’ll take care of you. ”

  He believed her, and so he obeyed. He slept.

  TWENTY-ONE

  I’M IN BED WITH RILEY. And he’s not in wolf form, Mary Ann thought. Giddily. He was human, and they were back together. For the moment. And in less than two days, they could die. Right now, things were innocent. They were dressed, they weren’t kissing. They were simply snuggled together, her head resting on his chest, his heart beating against her ear, his hand caressing her back. They were talking. Or had been.

  They were silent now. His bedroom was next door to Victoria’s and they’d heard the vampire return. With Aden. There’d been a short, muffled conversation, then a telling silence. A silence that had drifted into this room, bringing tension with it.

  Sexual tension. Awareness.

  Mary Ann tried to distract herself from thoughts about what was happening next door—and what could happen in here. She studied Riley’s inner sanctum, a place of absolute relaxation and comfort. Game stations, a computer, pillowed chairs, a mat for lounging. Only thing that kept her from thinking this place belonged to a bored human billionaire intent on distracting himself was the wall of weapons. Knives of every shape and size covered every inch. Cleary, he took his duties of protector seriously.

  “How long have you been Victoria’s guard?” she asked.

  “Since her birth. ”

  “That’s a long time. ”

  “Not in this world. ”

  True. “What’d you do before that?”

  “Trained, mostly. When a wolf is assigned a charge, he dies with that charge. Therefore, a wolf is only ever given one charge. She was mine. ”

  “So you’re connected?”

  His breath ruffled several strands of her hair. “Nothing like that. If she dies, then that means I failed in my duties. That means I deserve to die, too. ”

  They would murder him? “No!”

  “Yes. ” His fingers moved to her arm, stroking up and down. “No one would trust me again, and I would be shamed. Believe me, death is preferable to that. ” His caress almost managed to distract her. “But you’re stronger than the vampires. You can kill them with that liquid stuff in your claws. I heard you tell Aden. ”

  “That doesn’t make honor any less important. ”

  She fisted his shirt, wrinkling the material, afraid to let go. “Have you ever thought about leaving the vampires?”

  “No. We aren’t slaves. We aren’t even servants. But Vlad brought us into this world, and his people were once our guardians. How can we not return the favor?”

  Loyal to a fault. Exactly as Victoria had said. “But it’s the vampires you protect, and Aden isn’t a vampire, yet still you follow him. Would you do so if the vampires turned against him?”

  Several beats of quiet followed her question. Then, “I have watched people live and die for centuries, and I’ve seen the chaos that springs from lack of leadership and rules. Vlad created our rules himself. If anyone was stronger than he was, they were to take his place. Dmitri did that. Then Aden proved himself stronger than Dmitri. That means Aden, no matter his origins, is fit to lead vampires and wolves alike. I will defend him as I have always defended Victoria. ”

  With his dying breath, she thought. Had he given that same loyalty to his past girlfriends? And why did she suddenly want to beat those exes into a bloody pulp? Violence wasn’t usually her first choice. Or her second. Or her third.

  “How many girls have you dated?” she asked.

  He handled the switch in topics with ease. “Lots. ”

  “Countless?”

  He sighed, weary, as if she’d just asked him how fat her butt looked in her jeans.

  “You do know I’ve lived a long time, right?”

  “Yes. ” But she still had to know how many girls had won his heart. Otherwise, she might always wonder, might always feel like she was standing on a stage, a beauty pageant in full swing, his exes all around her, pointing and laughing. Silly, but true. Especially since she and Riley wouldn’t last past the witches’ curse. “Just ballpark it for me. ”

  The gentle stroking stopped. “I thought we weren’t going to fight. ”

  “We aren’t. ”

  “If I answer you, we’ll fight. ”

  He couldn’t even ballpark it, then. Ouch. “Have you ever been in love?”

  “No. ”

  What about with me? she wanted to ask, but didn’t. “How long do your relationships usually last?”

  “Some longer than others,” he answered cautiously.

  Which meant some hadn’t even been relationships? Just quick, easy conquests? “Did you break up with them or did they break up with you?”

  He groaned. “You’re killing me here, you know that?”

  She was killing herself. But maybe, just maybe, she was doing this, insisting on answers, so that leaving him—when the time came—would be easier. She’d be able to tell herself she’d been one in a group of thousands, meaningless, temporary. That would h
urt her, destroy her, but eventually, she would heal. Right? She wouldn’t try to track him down and start something all over again. He would stay safe.

  “Please answer. ” His T-shirt ripped where she still fisted it. One by one, she forced her fingers to release the material.

  He uttered another sigh. “Mostly…I did the breaking up. ”

  “I see. Why?”

  “Different reasons. ”

  Like…he’d gotten tired of them? Bored? “I know you dated Lauren, and you told me before, when we first met, that you’d once dated a witch and she was the one who cursed you and your brothers, but that you died soon after and when you were revived, you were freed from that curse. You told me why things ended with Lauren, and I can guess why they ended with the witch. ”

  “Wait. I didn’t die soon after the curse. More like a few years. I was stabbed in the side and bled out. Victoria gave me some of her blood, and that helped bring me back. But anyway, I’d gotten a taste of the non-dating life in those years since no one wanted to date me. So I guess you could say I went a little crazy afterward, when girls started noticing me again. ”

  “Are you trying to tell me you became a slut, Riley?”

  He choked out a laugh. “Maybe. Does that disappoint you?”

  “No. ” He was who he was, but she was worried. His answers weren’t convincing her of anything. She wasn’t distancing herself. “You’ve slept with a lot of girls, then?”

  Every muscle in his body stiffened. Underneath her cheek, his heart sped out of control. “With some. ”

  “With Lauren?”

  His hand left her completely and scrubbed down his face. “I won’t talk about that. Just like I would never talk with other people about what you and I do. ”

  So that was a yes. She was jealous, of course, and suddenly so self-conscious she wanted to scream. Lauren was gorgeous, perfect, strong. What was Mary Ann? Imperfect in every way, dangerous to his health, his well-being. “I’m your first human? To date, I mean. ”

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