Vampire Interrupted (Wicked Good Witches Book 8), page 1
Wicked Good Witches, Book 8
TABLE of CONTENTS
The moon hovered high in the night sky; bright, crisp, and full.
The sand underneath Melinda Howard’s bare feet cooled after the day’s sun. The beach deserted other than a bonfire surrounded by a small party who were laughing, drinking, and having fun.
Her brother Charlie sat on the ground with his back against a rock drinking a beer, with Lizzy and Lucas Deane sitting and talking nearby. Not far away, Michael was dancing with his girlfriend, Emily Morgan. They’d had a little too much to drink and toppled over onto the sand, giggling. Smooching. Happy.
This was where the normality of Melinda’s dream ended.
Not that this setting was normal either. She could not recall the last time her family had spent the day together doing something fun. Something non-witch and non-work, related.
Melinda’s gaze shifted right, where Grace, the owner of the Wicked Muddy Café, stood behind her coffee counter, which for whatever reason was sitting out in the open on the beach. She picked up a serving tray balancing steaming mugs, approached Melinda, and handed her one.
“I just know I got it perfect,” Grace promised, tossing her a wink.
Melinda lifted the mug to take a sip and caught her breath. A thick red liquid sloshed inside.
Her stomach rolled at the sight. The rusty stench of it stuck in her nostrils.
Grace moved on to serve the others. Everyone clinked their mugs together in a toast before downing the contents. Bile threatened to surface in Melinda’s throat.
What a bizarre dream. She was certain, not prophetic, just bizarre.
It was such an odd thing to be so present and aware inside her dreams while sleeping soundly in real life. And to wake rested no matter how fitful her dreams became.
Mackenzie Briggs, the Demon Isle’s sheriff, called Mack by her friends, emerged from the darkness and thrust out her hand. A roll of yellow police tape snaked out of her palm, streaking across the shadowed beach. She pivoted a few feet and threw out another long strand, and then another, and another, until there was so much tape weaved around them, nothing could get in, or out.
“Gotta keep those dang reporters from gettin’ their picture.” She laughed raucously, proud of her handiwork.
“Could I sell ya on a Mug of blood?” Grace called out to Mack.
“Why don’t mind if I do.”
In another blink Grace and her coffee counter shuttered into black and white, like a scene from some old TV show. She swiped a bloody hand down her frilly apron, the red of it harsh against the white of the cloth. She poured Mack a mug of blood and the sheriff proceeded to spoon three heaping mounds of sugar, mixing it in.
“Damn my sweet tooth,” she joked, taking a sip. “Mmm, mm. Sure is delicious, Grace. Like a rusty nail. Really hits the spot.”
The bile in Melinda’s gut rose a little higher.
Grace had a ridiculous frozen grin on her face, a shine in her eyes and a gleam on her teeth. She winked at Mack, her black and white scene shuttering into and out of the dream.
Melinda’s family along with Lucas and Lizzy joined in Grace’s and Mack’s revelry. They stepped into the black and white of the beach café, the only color, red of the blood. They smashed mug against mug in a toast to each other. Red globs sloshing up over the sides, splattering all over their clothes, and faces, and down onto the sand.
There was a sizzle when it hit the flames of the bonfire. Which was still in color. In another blink, the black and white went away and they’d all somehow come to stand in a line about ten feet in front of Melinda. Side by side, flat gazes aimed her direction. Bodies streaked with blood. Laughter intensifying, with mouths hung open, the sound escaping taking on a canned antique quality as they gaped in a freaky statuesque pose.
Melinda wrapped her arms around her middle, forcing off a shudder and holding herself together. “I’d like to wake up now.” This dream was going from good, to strange, to creepy, and she suspected scary was coming next. It had been like this for days.
No more bonfire.
In its place, a pile of wood. A pyre, unlit. A stake rising from the center.
Melinda staggered backwards only to fall into something both hard and soft. Strong hands unpeeled her arms from around her waist and new arms slid around, possessively pulling her in.
Lips nuzzled her neck. A voice whispered in her ear.
“You have to choose, Melinda. It can’t go on like this, forever.”
It was Riley Deane.
He withdrew his arms and twirled her around his eyes drunkenly taking her in, admiring her with a gaze and a smile that reminded her of the first time she’d seen him in town. Straddling his motorcycle, shooting her a grin that buzzed electricity from her head down to her toes.
Eyes locked on each other, baby blue seeping into molasses. She breathed him in, a hint of brown sugar at the back of her throat.
His gaze ordered her answer.
“I cannot choose,” she replied forlornly.
“I can convince you to choose me.” Riley sank into her lips with a greedy kiss, pulling her body against his in a move that would have melted her legs to jelly… if she could still move them.
Her eyes flew open. Body no longer moving under her control.
Riley’s warmth gone.
To the stake jutting out of the unlit pyre.
Helpless. Unable to stop what was about to happen.
The only thing she could move was her head, and only as far as her shoulders allowed. She planted the back of her head against the stake; it was as far from Riley as she could get.
The dazzle in his eyes darkened, replaced with a wild abandon and intoxicated simper. He backed away, but it was more like his body floated.
Riley landed on the ground soundlessly.
A group of seats appeared behind him. Theater style. Her friends and family fought eagerly over who would get to sit in the front row.
A slithering voice crawled out of the darkness.
“Come one, come all! The show is about to begin.”
Sir Tinkham Sickereaux, the Feyk otherwise known as Stricker, rolled out of the shadows in a summersault to the clanging of symbols. He bound to his feet, slapping on his top hat with one hand, swirling a cane in the other. His vile smirk fixed on Melinda like she was the star of the show, and he, the announcer.
In this case, more like the executioner.
With the flick of his hands, the cane tip burst into flame. He lunged forward, faking an attempt to light the pyre, teasing the wood, threatening to ignite it.
“It’s almost time to burn,” his wretched voice warned.
This dream sucked ass! Melinda’s heart pounded she swore it
“You should have chosen me,” Riley called out from the beach below. His untamed grin stared up at her, and he did nothing to stop Stricker from teasing the wood with his lit cane. She closed her eyes, firmly, wishing she’d wake up. Perhaps if she focused really hard on her good memories of Riley, she could change the dream. Get out of this hellish nightmare.
A warm hand caressed her cheek and her eyes fluttered open, Riley in front of her again.
But same dream. Same nightmare. Still bound to the stake.
Still helpless, powerless, and unable to stop the inevitable.
Even in her dreams.
Blink. Blink. Blink.
Riley was back, his face just inches in front of her. Hand stroking down the side of her face. Trailing down her neck, trickling across her chest.
“We could have so much fun with you all tied up.”
“Riley, no. My family is watching. Yours too.” Even in a dream, Melinda had no desire to play voyeur in front of anyone, least of all her family! Her plea fell on deaf ears, as so did his lips, nibbling, caressing, tasting.
“I wish I’d undressed you before tying you up. It would be so much more fun.”
Melinda had no control over the disgusted gasp that came out of her, that idea reviling on so many levels.
She squirmed against the bonds but they refused to loosen. If anything, the harder she tried to escape the tighter they squeezed. Sucking out the limited breathing room she had.
Riley growled in displeasure at her attempt to get away.
Her need to escape him.
“Please let me go,” she begged. “This isn’t you, Riley. It wasn’t you. And this is only a dream.”
Stricker danced around the back of the pyre, snickering, and Melinda heard the crackle of flames. Smoke reached her nostrils, and soon, so would the heat and flames.
Instead of letting go, Riley grasped her hair yanking her head back until it hit the stake, and thrust his mouth at her. Each crush of his lips branding a terrible memory into her brain. Reminding her of all the vile things he’d said and done when she’d been imprisoned on the pyre in real life.
There was nothing romantic or loving about this kiss.
Only claiming. Owning. And saying a spite-filled goodbye.
Melinda exhaled breathlessly, cool air against her face.
No more lips attacking her.
No more heat licking at her toes.
No way to wash the defilement of his kiss off her.
Riley, shoved off the pyre, landing on the sandy ground with a hard thud.
A shiver at her neck… hair swinging behind her shoulder.
Riley groaned but bounded to his feet, jaw hardened, gait determined.
He strode forward only to stop when a presumptuous voice snarled out, “You will not touch her.”
Right behind her.
So close but not quite touching her.
Riley scowled. “Always the bloodsucker to the rescue.”
Icy fingers groped Melinda’s neck. She exhaled sharply.
“She’s mine,” snarled William. The dominating nature of his tone did nothing to calm Melinda into thinking she was about to be saved.
In a swift movement that stole her breath bonds tore away, the stake yanked out of the pyre. William moved so fast it all happened in a blur.
What remained: his own body now the stake, his arms her new binding.
A forceful hand pulled her neck to the side, icy lips slammed against her skin, fangs sinking into her pulsing vein. Melinda screamed, unable to stop him from drinking her, or his thoughts from invading her mind.
“I am a vampire. Never a man, but a monster. Do not ever forget this.”
Their captive audience clapped, enraptured by the show’s change in climax. A twist that had them on their feet hooting and hollering.
Only it wasn’t the end of the show. Melinda wished it was; this dream was sucking her dry. Literally. Blood gushed out of her body into the crazed vampire’s mouth. And she was helpless to defend herself, again. This was her lot in life, she supposed. To be powerless. To depend on others. Not to trust in her own strengths.
She had no power against curses. Or vampires. Or those tricky bastards, the Feyk. She was a witch who had never properly trained for the job.
God, would this dream ever end?
The sucking continued, Melinda growing weaker.
But it wasn’t over yet.
Overhead, the sky swirled, sinking in on itself forming an inky vortex. Her family and friends screamed as dark arm-like veils shot downward out of it, wrapping around each of them, stealing them up into the sky.
The Soul Hunter. Come to claim them all.
Melinda’s eyes fluttered closed to the sight of everyone she loved screaming silently, imprisoned inside the Hunter. Her body went limp. Death was close. A minute away, or less.
William wasn’t stopping, sucking every last drop…
A swish of air across her skin.
Followed by a flash of movement and sudden alertness.
Her heart pumped strong again. Had the dream ended? Had she finally awakened from this nightmare? Had she died? If she opened her eyes, would it start all over again?
Melinda lifted her eyelids apprehensively. Her breath coming out in cautious relief. She was still on the beach however all that remained was sand, the moon, a clear sky, and the waves crashing gently against the shore.
No more bonfire, or pyre, or storm, or Stricker, or the Hunter.
Or her friends or family. Or Riley. Only… “William…” His name slipped off her tongue like she’d tasted him.
What a strange, strange, dream. At least he wasn’t sucking the life out of her now. This dream version of the vampire had her securely wrapped up in his arms. He stared down intently, his faultless pale features focused entirely on her.
This William was not the wild one who’d just sucked her dry. This was the version of him she trusted, and loved. This was her vampire to the rescue.
At least her addled brain had gotten something right.
“You’re having bad dreams,” the vampire stated flatly.
She nodded dropping her head against his chest. “The worst.”
The vampire tensed under her relaxed demeanor, but she figured her dream, her rules; if she had any control before the nightmares inevitably returned.
William’s tension slacked off, his body sighing over the fact she was having nightmares. “I’m sorry I cannot stop them, Melinda. I’m sorry I seem to be the cause of them.”
“Stop.” She placed her fingers over his lips. Unconsciously he kissed her hand. “You saved me like you always do in the end.” Her head lifted to see his emerald eyes, her hand leaving his lips to slide down his chest. His mouth didn’t stay deserted for long, hers reaching up, lips tangling with his daringly.
Her dream. Her rules. If only for a few minutes until she either woke up or the nightmare restarted again.
She tugged at his lips, determined to stay locked within this moment as long as possible. William expelled a tempted groan. His response tentative at first, then giving in and matching her intensity, to a few seconds later in charge as if kissing her had been his idea all along.
It ignited heat into places Melinda tried not think about, seeing as she’d nearly died in this dream a few minutes before. What a bizarre dream. But if she lucked out and got stuck in this part of it…
The kiss cut short, Melinda suddenly on her feet struggling to find balance with William out of arm’s reach.
“Um,” she blinked rapidly, heart strumming both in the pleasure of his kiss and the dread that the nightmare was about to reset. William’s fangs punched out against his lips, eyes black and hungry.
But then his fangs shortened, retracting. Eyelids shut, a tense breath release
“I’m sorry, Melinda.”
He took a few seconds to regain his composure.
When his eyes opened they were the emerald green she loved so much.
“I should not have allowed that to happen. I fear you think I am a dream.”
“Um…” Huh? And, damn it… was um, suddenly the limit of her vocabulary?
This conversation was different. Her eyes fixed on him in realization.
“Oh my God. You’re not a dream.” She’d kissed him thinking it was all still an illusion. Her cheeks got hot, now out of embarrassment rather than ignition being lit. Her skin got tight. Lips tugged at by her teeth, nervously. The beach way too big with nowhere to run and hide.
“I’m sorry, Melinda. I did not mean to startle you. It was not my intention to intrude into your dreams unannounced, however, in this case perhaps my timing was perfect.” And the fact she still desired to kiss him had nothing to do with that, he insisted in silent sarcasm.
“God, I… I’m sorry, William.” Her heart stuttered across a few beats, both from being in his arms as well as humiliated he’d witnessed her chaotic nightmare. Never mind she’d acted like a crazy woman with no self-control and kissed him, after they’d promised never to do that again.
William’s jaw ground together in response to that all too familiar heart flutter that was so distinctly his. She tore her gaze away. Digging deep for control of her hormones. Dreamworld or not, they were ruling her every instinct right now.
“It’s not your fault, Melinda. I should have made you aware the moment I tore you off that pyre.” And out of my fangs…
Popping into her mind to see himself sucking her dry is not what he’d expected. And it disgusted him to his core, even if only a dream.
“It’s all good, William. And the nightmare, it’s not your fault. None of this is.”
“Are you okay?” he questioned, his feet unconsciously shuffling through the sand inching closer to her.
She nodded, but it didn’t look convincing at all. “I’m okay. Really I am. The nightmare is my mind trying to… I don’t know what. Work through everything I guess. In it’s very messed up, human way.”
He smiled kindly. But there was a weariness behind it. “It’s been a long time since I’ve dreamed. I recall little about the process. I’m sorry for slipping into your mind unannounced like this, but I needed to speak with you. You are sleeping at the moment and I did not wish to wake you.”
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