Author: Honoria Ravena
ISBN: 978-1498970396more from this user
When vampire victims are left for the human authorities to find, their secret is out, and the King assigns Vahe the mission of tracking down an old enemy of his. However, Vahe will need help, or more accurately, bait. When he locates the killer’s next victim he doesn’t expect to find a brave, beautiful woman willing to assist him in taking out a rogue vampire.
Natalya Woods just wants to avoid her abusive husband and live a normal life, but lately the small town of Haven has been anything but safe. When she’s attacked on the street by the man of her dreams, she finds herself kidnapped and putting her weapon skills to use—only on a creature much more dangerous than her ex. But she’ll have to be careful, her husband is also on the loose, and he’ll do anything to make Nat pay for leaving him.
Will Natalya learn to get over her distrust of men? And when her life is in danger Vahe will choose the laws he’s chosen to enforce or woman whose courage and passion he’s come to crave?
*Warning: Explicit sex*
Robby handed me my paycheck. "There you go, sweetie."
I smiled at him. It felt strained and must have looked it, because Robby’s smile w"You okay? You’ve looked tense all night."
"It’s nothing. I just have that creepy feeling like I’m being watched. It’s been that way all evening." I glanced over my shoulder again, looking at the patrons in the bar, but found no one staring at me. At least, no one was being obvious enough to notice. Then why was I still getting that prickling sensation at the back of my neck? I couldn’t explain it, and I sure as hell didn’t like it.
Robby’s smile was back. "Well, honey, I’m not surprised. You’re a rare beauty. I think every guy in here is starin’ at you."
He tucked a stray hair behind my ear, and his eyes turned sad. "You remind me of my Rissa. I think you would have gotten along well if she were still around."
I patted his hand where it rested on the bar. We’d become fast friends when I’d come in looking for work six months ago. He’d done everything possible to make my life easier. He seemed to sense I was in trouble, like his Marissa had been. Robby’s daughter had been into the drug scene and had run away from home. She’d been gunned down in D.C. on her way back to her apartment three years ago. He still couldn’t bring himself to say she was dead, just that she wasn’t around.
After that, Robby’s life fell apart. His wife left him. He closed the bar and started to drink his way to an early grave. Somehow he pulled himself out of it. He had just opened the bar back up when I’d come to town. It had taken him that long to get his life back together.
"I could walk you home, if you’d like? Not many people would dare to attack me. Not even the big bad murderer who’s running around these parts."
He had a point. He was in his fifties, a huge guy and an ex-Marine. If he didn’t like me, I would have been terrified. Hell, occasionally I was still nervous around him. "No, I’m fine. If I had you walk me home I’d just feel like an idiot. Have a good night."
He nodded and started wiping off the bar. I stepped around the bar and headed for the back office to get my things. I stared down at my paycheck. It was nice to make some money on my own. I’d married Richard straight out of high school, and he insisted I wasn’t allowed to work. That always pissed me off.
I finally had some independence and my own money, even though it wasn’t much. Hell, my tips for the night were larger than the check but it wasn’t enough to pay the bills yet. Luckily, I had saved up the allowance I got from Richard for years so I could afford to live until I got more money.
After untying my apron and shoving it in my locker, I pulled out my purse. I yawned. It was two in the morning, and I was exhausted. I had just gotten used to my new night owl schedule, but three in the morning was my limit. Hurrying out of the back room, I almost collided with Dylan, the new bartender.
Startled, I backed up. "Excuse me."
He grinned and it reminded me of something reptilian. "You can run into me anytime, hon. Would you like me to drive you home?" He leaned against the doorframe, blocking my path. I backed farther into the room. Dylan reminded me of my husband so strongly that I often had to fight the instinct to cower around him.
I attempted to keep my face open and smiling, but I doubt it reached my eyes. "No, thanks. I’m going to walk. I like to walk, so don’t worry about it." One of my many handguns was concealed in my small purse. Its presence comforted me.
"We should go out some time. At least let me drive you home tonight."
"No, thanks. Can I get by you?" I’d sworn off men for the rest of eternity. An abusive husband makes a woman skittish.
He kept the flirty smile on his face but something vicious slithered through his eyes. He shifted so he was blocking the whole entrance now. Bracing his hands on the doorframe, he loomed over me.
His gaze skimmed my body from bottom to top, finally settling on my breasts. If I needed any further proof I was just a piece of ass to him, I’d just gotten it. "Come on, babe. It’s one little date."
I tried not to gag. He clearly thought he was a god. "Please move."
He leaned forward. "Kiss me first."
I gave him my most evil glare. "Don’t make me hurt you. I said move."
He chuckled but slid to the side. I had just enough room to pass him. "It’s not like you could actually hurt me."
I brushed him as I walked past. I had to duck under the arm still braced on the doorframe. A chill went down my spine.
You’re imagining things. None of the other waitresses feel what you do. They’d all kill to have him flirt with them.
I could still feel his eyes on me as I left the bar. A drop of sweat rolled down my neck. I headed for home. I didn’t live that far away, but a thirty-minute walk on blistered, tired feet seemed like hours.
I’d inherited the house when my aunt had died about seven months ago. It had been a sad occasion, because she was the only family I had left. It shamed me that I’d been happy, in a way, after her death. If she hadn’t died, I would never have had a safe place to go to when I left Richard. I could never repay her for giving me the house, but I’d spend the rest of my days thanking her.
My path home took me through the bad part of town. Fortunately, the "bad part" of Haven, Maine was nothing like the "bad part" of town in Los Angeles.
I peeked behind me, looking for Dylan. If that abrasive bastard followed me, I was going to shoot him.
No one was there. The streets were deserted, like they always were when I got off work. Everyone went to bed early in the little town of Haven. Except the murderer that was running around slitting people’s throats.
There was a crash in the alley to my left, and I jumped. Anyone could be hiding in the deep shadows the streetlights cast. A mangy cat streaked between my legs with a yowl and took off across the road.
Sighing, I rolled my shoulders to try and ease some of my tension. It didn’t do any good.
Going home was always stressful. My heart was racing and I jumped at every little sound. Crazy husband aside, there was still a murderer on the loose. The only thing that kept me walking home at night was the fact that the murderer had been killing people during home invasions. He wasn’t kidnapping them and pulling them off the street. I was more worried about being followed home, but I had an alarm system, a room full of weaponry…and mild insomnia.
When I finally stepped into my driveway, my feet were killing me. I kicked a large rock and it skittered away.
Leaves crunched to my right. I spun around and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Someone watched me from the darkness. I glanced around, but saw nothing.
"Paranoid," I muttered to myself. The underbrush rustled, and I averted my eyes.
"Nothing’s there." I took a deep breath. "Nothing’s there."
The branches of a tree next to me moved, and I took off at a dead run. Taking the steps two at a time, I dug the keys out of my back pocket. After unlocking the four locks, I turned the doorknob, stepped inside then slammed the door behind me and locked myself in.
I ran to the alarm system and punched in my code with shaking fingers. It hadn’t been tripped. I flipped on the porch light so I could see the front yard from my bedroom. After going through my routine of checking all the doors and windows, I went upstairs and stopped in front of a painting. My hand reached out to touch the man named Vahe. Dated 1652, I was amazed the masterpiece had survived so long. I’d found it in the hall closet when I’d cleaned it out. I hadn’t planned to hang it up, but for some reason I felt safe around the painting. Some of my coworkers found his forbidding scowl frightening and his deep, green eyes too intense. It was like he guarded the house and made me feel less alone in the world. He wasn’t bad to look at either.
His dark hair highlighted his green eyes. His hard, angular face was clean-shaven and the epitome of masculinity. If his body were anything like his face, I’d be in heaven. I liked to imagine that all his intensity would be directed at anything he did, from business and sports to love making. He’d be protective of a woman. Not the type of man to beat one.
However, I knew it was more likely that he was a lecher, who ran through women like toilet paper. The painting had to have been done in his early to mid-twenties, so he’d probably become a fat, domineering nobleman. But, it was nice to pretend that he’d been more. The loyal kind of man a woman could depend on.
Today, the fantasy of his painting didn’t help my paranoia as it normally did. No one had been in the house, but I couldn’t get my heart to stop racing. The feeling that the house had been violated wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t explain it. Nothing was out of place. Nothing was missing. But I still felt something was wrong.
I shook it off. I was a paranoid woman running from an abusive husband, and now I had a slithery, slimy snake of a bartender to contend with at work. A shudder ran through me at the memory of being followed home earlier.
Tearing myself from my thoughts, I left the painting reluctantly and walked into my room. I pulled the gun from my holster hanging on the bedpost and moved to the bathroom. I laid it on the back of the toilet, close to the shower so I could grab it.
I turned on the water and shucked my clothes before stepping into the shower. I washed all the smells off me that accumulated when you worked in a bar. The cigarette smoke and occasional spilled drinks seemed to form a film on your body that only a shower cured.
After I was done, I dried off, collected my gun and slid it back into the holster hanging on the bed before I put on pajamas. Once settled under the sheets, I closed my eyes, but they popped back open. The stairs had creaked. Flinging the blankets off, I knelt, grabbed the shotgun under the bed and walked to the bedroom door. I yanked it open and rushed to the head of the stairs. There was nothing.
"This house is old, Natalya. It creaks and sighs and has a life of its own," I muttered to myself.
Back in my room, I returned the shotgun under the bed then went to sit on the shelf of the bay windows. I pulled the edge of a curtain aside and peeked out. The trees swayed and the porch light cast shadows everywhere.
"Smart move, dumbass." I rubbed my forehead.
And then I saw it. The silhouette of a person sliding back into the trees. I hadn’t noticed it until it moved. So much for sleeping. I’d known it was a long shot anyway. It was going to be a long night.
A tongue thrust between my lips and wicked hands roamed my body. I slid my hands slowly down his spine. I gripped his ass. Oh, nice butt. His firm muscles bunched before he pulled back.
"Vahe?" I lay there shocked.
He frowned down at me. "How do you know my name?"
I pushed him back so I could sit up. "Your painting."
He smiled faintly. "I knew I left that piece of crap somewhere."
"Why are you here?"
He shrugged. "This is a dream." As he leaned in for another kiss, I turned my face to the side.
"Dreams don’t often say they’re dreams. Get out of my head."
"Why would I be in your head? And are you that eager to go back to having nightmares about Richard?"
I gaped at him. He took that opportunity to lean forward and caress my neck with his warm mouth. I tipped my head and allowed him access. I barely got my question out. "How…how do you know about that?"
"I’m in your head, remember?"
I frowned. His fingers pinched my nipple, and I gasped. "I thought you said you weren’t in my head."
I rolled my eyes. "Are you going to explain or do you just go out of your way to be frustrating?"
He groaned against my throat, nipped the straining tendon and pulled back to look me in the eyes. I trembled. The look was so intense…almost terrifying.
"If I even try to explain you'll just have more questions."
I crossed my arms over my chest. "Try."
"Fine. Communicating through dreams is something all my people can do. Tell me to go, and I’ll go, but I really can't tell you more. I just thought you’d actually like to not dream about him. I know you’re not getting much sleep. Besides, do you really want to say no to me?" He wiggled his eyebrows.
I glowered at him, but he had a point. But 'his people'? What was he talking about? I was dying to ask more, but he would leave if I tried. He wasn’t some pretty boy, but purely masculine. I ran my palm over the few days' worth of facial hair that accentuated his rugged features. His bright green eyes stood out from his tanned skin. He was even more handsome than his portrait.
My gaze slid down his thick muscular arms and washboard abs, finally settling on his erection. My pussy clenched. His beautiful cock was hard. The rosy head had a drop of precum I wanted to lick away. I’d never liked oral sex, but I wanted to go down on him. He was gorgeous.
I stared into his eyes. My questions weren't worth the risk of him leaving, he couldn't hurt me here. "Just a dream, right?"
Content with this reasoning, I reached over to stroke his shaft. "Okay. You can stay a while."
He let out a slow, shuddering breath. "Good, because I think I was going to lose my mind if you said no. I’ve been hot for you from the second I saw you."
I wanted to ask when he had seen me, but he was busy suckling my nipple. Arching my back, I threaded my fingers through his hair, pulling him closer.
He pushed me gently down on the bed and turned his attention to the other breast. I wrapped my legs around his waist and felt the tip of him rub against my outer lips. I needed this. A few nice dreams, just a few. Not to mention that it had been months since I’d had sex, and even longer since I’d actually enjoyed it.
One of his long fingers brushed my clit, and I forgot what I was thinking. He kissed his way down my belly, and his finger slid inside me.
"God, you’re so wet already. And tight."
I moaned and arched under him but he took his time making his way down my body until his head and chest lay cradled between my thighs. He gave one long lick over my clit. I whimpered and arched my body against his mouth as he suckled me. His tongue and fingers were skilled and wicked. A sweet pressure built in my lower abdomen. I tossed my head back and panted his name, so close to orgasm when he stopped.
I gasped for air as he spread my legs farther apart and moved back up my body. He pressed in, stretching my vagina to accommodate his cock one mind-blowing inch at a time.
"God, you’re huge!"
He started to slide slowly out of my slick heat. He shook uncontrollably, as he tried to keep himself steady.
"Please," I moaned, "please, faster."
"Thank God!" He rammed into me with all he had, and I screamed.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes! Yes, God, please don’t stop."
My hands gripped the sheets as he pounded into me, tearing short whimpers from my throat. I thrust myself up to meet him, each stroke building a white-hot fire inside me.
"Oh, Vahe, yes…"
He felt so good. His thick cock scraped deliciously against my inner muscles. He rotated his hips and sent me over the edge. He shouted my name, gave one more thrust and joined me.
I jolted awake in bed, my heart pounding. I hadn’t fallen asleep there.
I stumbled down the alley until I came to the opening. Surely, someone would pass by to sate my burning thirst. I clutched my side. I needed to stop the bleeding. Pulling my T-shirt over my head, I bit my lip to stop from screaming. Luckily, blood hadn’t soaked the entire shirt. There were still some salvageable pieces.
When I had seen Dylan put his hands on Natalya in the bar, I’d almost attacked him then. When he asked her to go home with him, I prayed she would say no. I knew he would kill her if she left the bar with him. I’d been thrilled when she turned him down; the pungent smell of fear came off her in waves. I’d followed him into an alley when he got off work and jumped him. It hadn’t been tactful, or part of my plan, but I’d expected to win, and I hadn’t expected to be attracted to one of Dylan’s targets. I’d blown my cover over a woman. I was never going to live this one down.
I ripped my shirt. The sound of tearing fabric was loud in the dark, quiet alley. I had to stop the bleeding. I couldn’t bleed to death, but I could lose control and kill the first human I came across in the middle of the street.
I braced myself for pain. I packed the gaping tear in my side with cloth. After I wrapped another piece of shirt around my waist, I took a small breath and yanked the cloth as tight as I could. My scream of agony cut the air.
No one heard, or rather, no one came to my rescue. Trembling, I sank to the ground, trying desperately not to pass out before I knotted the bandage.
My fangs ached with the bloodlust, and I couldn’t calm my shaking. I could hear the hearts of the people in the apartment building I leaned against. My breathing stuttered as I pressed my ear against the wall to listen.
Hearts beating…blood rushing…I needed it. My stomach clenched. My short nails dug into my palms, and I could almost feel the salty copper taste pumping over my tongue. I could smell it. I had to find a way in.
I stalked toward the fire escape and was halfway up when I heard another heartbeat. Then I smelled her. Her scent rolled over me like a tidal wave. My cock hardened, like it always did when she was near, but this had more to do with bloodlust than her body at the moment. I knew she would be sweeter than any I’d ever tasted, but then, I’d known that when I’d seen her in the bar a week ago.
I jumped from the fire escape and grunted when I hit the ground. The pain of the impact was dulled, drowned out by the bloodlust. I stood in the shadows of the alley and waited for her. I had to get some semblance of control back. I didn’t want to hurt her. She was frightened and skittish enough.
I banged my head on the alley wall and closed my eyes as I felt her pass by. I. Wouldn’t. Hurt. Her.
I hurried down the street as I shoved my tips into my back pocket and thanked the Lord I was going home. Dylan had been particularly aggressive today. He flirted non-stop. He’d even put his hands on me a couple of times. Nothing that would be considered sexual harassment, but I still didn’t want him touching me period. Because he’d rattled me, I’d spilled a few drinks and dropped a glass. The clientele hadn’t been impressed and my tips sucked.
I had a blister the size of Mt. Everest on my heel and I wished, not for the first time, that I had a car. However, even if I could afford one, I still didn’t know how to drive. My husband refused to let me learn. Robby had offered to walk me home again, but I’d declined.
Out in the dark street, I wished I’d taken him up on the offer. Someone was watching me. I spun around and scanned the darkness for about the fourth time. Carefully reaching into my purse, I found the butt of my tiny handgun. Taking a deep breath, I turned back around. I was near home, no need to freak out now.
When I glanced over my shoulder for the tenth time, I smacked into someone’s bare chest and would have fallen on my butt if he hadn’t grabbed me. I shrieked and jerked away, landing on my ass.
He extended a hand to help me up. "Sorry, miss, I didn’t see you there."
I knocked it away and pushed myself up. I was the only person on this street. He couldn’t possibly have missed me. But how had I missed him?
My gaze focused on his face, and I froze in shock. Vahe… The object of my most recent fantasies had almost run me down. How was that possible? I took a step away from him. Was I hallucinating? No, my night hadn’t been that rough. But what explanation did that leave me with? Ghosts? I almost snorted at the thought. Besides, I’d collided with him. That wouldn’t be very ghost-like.
His eyes were an even deeper green outside the dream. Then I noticed the look in them. They were wild and slightly dazed. Was he on drugs?
I took another step back from his towering stance over me. His mouth curled into an easy smile. It was a sexy, confident tilt of lips, but forced around the edges. I blushed and wondered if he had been having the same dreams I’d had lately.
I continued to move away from him, wanting space to draw my gun if I had to. He might be the man of my dreams, quite literally, but he appeared very dangerous at the moment. And there was one thing I was certain of: unless he was a descendent of Vahe, then this man couldn’t be human. His painting was dated 1652.
What was he?
"That’s all right. I wasn’t watching myself."
I moved to go around him when he grabbed my arm. "Wait a minute, Natalya. Where are you going in such a hurry?"
Tensing, I tried to keep my fear from showing and pulled my elbow out of his grasp. How had he known my name? "I’m heading home." I pointed in the opposite direction of my house, even though he would know I was lying. My hand trembled. I put it down and prayed he hadn’t noticed.
"Come home with me then." He flashed his charming, predatory smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes.
"That’s got to be the worst pick up line I’ve ever heard. Besides, I’m a married woman." I wiggled my hand in his face. I only wore the ring to attempt to keep the men away at the bar, but he didn’t need to know that.
"Bullshit. You left your husband. I’d really like you to come with me."
My eyes widened. How had he known I’d run off on my husband unless he’d really been in my head?
His grip shifted. I glanced down at my arm. Blood coated it. My gaze fell to his waist. I’d been so panicked, I hadn’t noticed it. He had a makeshift tourniquet covering a wound on his side.
I frowned and reached forward to touch it. He grabbed my other arm and pushed me back. "Don’t touch!"
Yanking my arm from his hold, I moved away, drawing my gun. "Well, I really don’t want to go with you. Back off. I don’t want to shoot you just because you think I’m a slut. Find tail somewhere else, pal."
The gun flew out of my hands and landed in the street. I rubbed my stinging palm and stared in shock at the weapon that I had held. It was like he’d slapped it out of my grip, but I hadn’t seen him move. When I looked back up, he was gone. My heart pounded in my chest, and I gazed around my surroundings. I was alone, but I could still feel his eyes on me. A shiver raced down my spine.
I ran the rest of the way home. I glanced around when I reached my driveway at the edge of the forest, but I didn’t stop running. He still wasn’t in sight, but I could feel him. He was tracking me and he was close. Where was he? Why couldn’t I see him? He couldn’t possibly be that fast. Then again, I hadn’t seen him disappear after he’d knocked the gun out of my hand, either.
I turned a bend in the driveway and my house came into view between the trees, and I pushed my legs faster. Air wheezed out of my lungs as I sprinted up the gravel road. If I managed to get away from him, I was going to start exercising again. I needed to be in shape for the next psycho that came after me. Not a happy thought.
I reached the porch and dashed up the stairs when something wrapped around my ankle and I smacked face down on the deck. I flipped over. The creep had a hold of my foot.
"Let me go!" I screamed and kicked him in the face with as much force as I could put behind it. He let go of me and tumbled off the porch. With any luck, he was unconscious. With less luck, I’d be explaining his body to the police.
Standing, I dug my keys out of my back pocket. Money floated to the ground. I could get it later if it was still around, and if Vahe was gone. I was just glad I had put my keys in my pocket and not my purse, which was still lying on the street next to the gun. My hands shook as I tried to unbolt my multiple locks as quickly as possible.
The air rushed out of me as he slammed me into the door. He wrapped his arms around my waist, trapping my hands at the same time.
"I don’t want to hurt you. I’m trying desperately not to, but when you run"—his grip tightened—"it makes it difficult to resist."
I sucked in enough air to scream and tried to squirm away from him, but his grasp was too tight. He released me and hauled me around to face him before he shoved me back against the door.
I panicked, flashing back to all the times my husband had done that same thing before he smacked me around. This guy was much bigger than my husband. A tear ran down my cheek. Fuck. I couldn’t get myself to stop crying, to move, to do anything.
He brought his hand up and I flinched, closing my eyes. When I felt his gentle touch brush the hair off my neck, I opened my eyes. He was watching me, looking concerned and curious.
He pressed himself against me, and I gasped. "I’m not going to kill you," he whispered against my throat. I stiffened as something sharp sank into my neck. Like two pinpricks. Fangs. There was only the briefest sting of pain.
Warmth and contentment washed through me. I was floating.
Relax. His voice whispered through my head. I sighed, and threaded my fingers through his hair and pulled him closer. Little waves of pleasure radiated from the bite. My legs gave out and he wrapped his arms around my waist to support me.
Vampire? The doubter in me found that hard to believe, but the proof had me enfolded in his embrace. Would he kill me? In my dream, he’d been so gentle.
Then my concern just faded away. His mind lulled me, forcing me to let go. He wasn’t going to hurt me. I couldn’t help but surrender. My vision tunneled and then faded to black.
I lowered her gently to the ground when she passed out. I didn’t want to take too much. As it was, she’d be nauseous tomorrow. I’d taken just enough to heal myself and sate the bloodlust. I could already feel my side re-knitting. I quickly pulled off my make shift tourniquet. My wound would heal around it if I didn’t take the cloth out.
My body tingled from the energy of her blood. It was much more powerful than normal. I frowned down at her.
"Why is your blood so powerful, little girl?"
I pressed my palm to my crotch. The blood hadn’t fixed that problem. Actually, it made it worse, but I would just have to live with it. I didn't rape women. It didn’t help that she was gorgeous and looked so fragile lying on the deck. The natural predator in me almost couldn’t resist. Damned vampire instincts.
Usually, I didn’t go for stick thin women. She was almost anorexic. Despite that, she was beautiful. Her long chestnut hair fanned across the porch. I wondered what it would feel like brushing against my chest as she rode me. I just wanted to kiss her full lips and then have them glide around my swollen cock.
Pulling my gaze from her, I gritted my teeth. No touching the unconscious chick.
I searched for the keys I’d knocked out of her hands. I couldn’t leave her out here. She would be easy prey for other predators, particularly vampires. I knew she worked with one. That vampire had touched her, trying to mark his territory. I smiled to myself. I doubt she had liked that very much. She’d probably tell him off or slap him.
My slight smile turned into a giant grin. Dylan was going to be pissed that I had dared to touch her. If he knew I was seducing her in dreams he’d go through the roof. That I could definitely live with.
Dylan wanted me dead, probably more so after tonight. Hell, he’d almost succeeded. I’d killed his bitch of a mate. She had made both of us and tortured me. I was just glad I wasn't the one she’d chosen to fuck. Her taste in sex had been disturbing, to say the least. I’d gained my independence and hacked off her head, before she could bind me to her forever.
Dylan shouldn’t be so powerful. He was younger than me, and untrained when I’d left him. He shouldn’t be able to best me in a fight. The whole brawl had me worried. He might not be as easy to kill as the Council and I thought.
I spotted the keys and picked them up. I unbolted all the locks. When I opened the door, I immediately pushed in the alarm code I had plucked from her brain. Her mind wasn’t usually vulnerable when she was conscious, but I guess I had access because I was taking her blood.
Gently, I picked her up and brought her into the house, closing the door with my foot. I’d lock it on my way out. I carried her up the stairs to the master bedroom. It was nice to be back in this house. I’d had it built in the 1920’s. It had held up surprisingly well. Not much had changed since I’d been here about six years ago. Evelyn had been a sweet old woman with no family worth mentioning except for one niece she rarely saw.
I tossed Natalya over my shoulder and opened the door to the master bedroom. The décor, or lack of, had changed since Evelyn's death. There was a punching bag across from the bed. Weapons lined the wall behind it. A gun in a holster was attached to the headboard, and a Taser and pepper spray sat on the bedside table.
This girl was more paranoid than I was, which I hadn’t thought possible. As a vampire who hunted rouge vampires, I took paranoid to the extreme. Other vampires really don’t like you when you have a reputation for killing them. It was just too bad for them that the job paid so well, and that I was good at it.
I laid the girl on the bed and went to examine the weapons I'd ignored last night. Some of the swords and knives were practice weapons, but most were of high quality.
Natalya moaned in her sleep and I spun around. She might actually be able to kill me with a few good shots from her gun. I doubted it, but I didn’t want to find out. She moaned again and rolled over. Covering her head, she released a pitiful cry. I walked back over to her bed and watched her.
She mumbled in her sleep. I leaned closer to listen.
"Please. Don’t hit me. I’ll never do it again. Leave me alone!"
She screamed, and I flinched. I reached out and touched her temple, willing her mind to quiet. Lifting her upper body, I slid in behind her on the bed. I touched her temple again and closed my eyes. When she was awake it was impossible to break into her thoughts, but when she was asleep, it was easy to slip into her dreams unnoticed. I might not be able to read her mind but her dreams gave me a lot of insight into who she was.
A man stood over her with a belt wrapped around his fist, the buckle exposed. The man, Richard, had a manic gleam in his eyes when he hit her. He got off on hurting women. That much I could tell, without ever having met the man. Anger curled through me. That bastard… She was so defenseless…
I grinned. I’d just have to steer her dreams in a different direction.
Well, you horny bastard. You shouldn’t make sweet, innocent girls dream dirty things, Vahe. Dylan’s voice intruded in my head.
Dammit. I slid out of bed and laid Natalya back down. Hello, Dylan.
How dare you touch someone I’ve marked, you piece of shit.
Same old Dylan.
I’m not the untrained man you used to spar with, Dylan. You know that, right?
Oh, I know. I also know you’ve come to kill me.
You’re leaving bodies everywhere. You can’t do that and you fucking know it. I paced to the balcony, unlocked the multiple locks with my mind, and threw open the French doors. I scanned the darkness and made out his shape standing just inside the clearing.
You can’t kill me, bastard.
I laughed aloud and then quickly turned to make sure I hadn’t woken Natalya. You’re very wrong about that.
Well, the one thing I know for certain is I’m going to kill your new little toy before you take me out.
I don’t care. She means nothing to me. It was partially true. However, I had found out more about this girl than I ever should have allowed. Something about her made me want to protect her, even though she was perfectly capable of protecting herself. At any rate, I couldn’t let Dylan kill any more people in this town if I could help it.
Too many bodies had been found in this area. His killings would have been permitted—hell, they wouldn’t even have been frowned upon, if he’d kept them hidden, but Dylan always had to go that extra step. I rolled my eyes. He had been perfect for Chastity.
Dylan's laugh floated through the darkness before he disappeared into the cover of the trees. After one longing look at Natalya, I vaulted over the railing of the balcony and took off after the bastard.