Authors: Trina M. Lee
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban
“You crazy bitch.” Falon shoved against me. He flung me off with a few choice curse words. “Maybe I was wrong. Maybe some time in lockup would do you good.”
“No,” Kale broke in, reaching to hold me back. “That place would break her. She’d never be sane again.”
“She isn’t sane now. Might have to put a leash on your Hound there, Kale.” Falon smirked, but I saw the glint in his eyes. He would have played my game if we’d been alone. Try as he might to deny it, Falon was affected by me, perhaps even more so now.
“She’ll be fine,” Kale snarled, his hand tight on my forearm. “There’s a bit of a learning curve. She’ll master it.”
I laughed. Not because they amused me in any way but because I was about to turn the tables on them. They thought they could control me with a denial and physical restraint. They didn’t know what they were dealing with.
Werewolf strength was vastly greater than that of humans. The vampire’s strength was even greater still. Coupled with my twin flame power, it took very little effort to pull free of Kale.
“I’m right here, you assholes. Don’t talk about me like I’m not.” Raising a hand, I flung Kale across the yard. Then I turned on Falon with the same hand, letting my power wash over him.
He liked it. I knew from experience, and I also knew that he hated that he liked it, with a deep rooted passion. I liked that part.
“Don’t pretend you don’t want it just a little.” I sauntered closer to Falon, my gait as teasing as my tone.
He regarded me with contempt though it lacked depth. Already he was influenced by my darkness. It made me a little giddy to see how my power had grown upon the turn. I might never be on an even playing field with people like Falon or Shya, but I might actually stand a chance now.
“You’re completely fucked up, you know that? I think you’re closer to being a demon than I am. You need help.” Falon wasn’t one to go down without a fight. Even as he leaned in to me, he cussed me out.
I nodded, beckoning him closer with a finger. “You’re right. I’m a twisted bitch. But you kind of like it, don’t you?”
“Not a chance in hell,” he muttered. Betrayed by his actions, Falon shoved a hand into my hair before burying his face in it. The scent of him almost brought me to my knees. This was an experiment in self-control like none other.
When he offered me his neck, the test really began. Caught up in the pull, I wanted desperately to taste him. My lips grazed his flesh. I ached to sink fangs. A flick of my tongue over his jugular made him tense. The weight of Kale’s gaze was heavy upon us.
Falon wanted it. Despite the aggressive way he clutched my long locks and the murmur of expletives, he desired my bite. I was certain then that it had been a mistake to ever take his blood in the first place. By merely knowing that I could have it now, should I want it, I was able to resist.
I pulled back, studying Falon at a dangerously close proximity. His pupils were slightly dilated, but he was aware, unlike a human victim. Then I realized, he was a willing party here. Falon had the power to resist me if he really wanted to. He simply didn’t want to.
“And you said I need to be put on a leash,” I snarled, giving him a shove that made him stumble backwards. “How’s that for control? I didn’t take what you were offering.”
I felt pretty damn proud of myself. It was the first time I’d battled the urge and won. I knew it had only been because he’d wanted it, but I considered it a victory anyway. It was a strange flip in circumstances to have someone long for my bite rather than my blood. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. It brought Shaz to mind. Would my bite mean more to him than any other part of me now?
“You,” Falon hissed, pointing a finger at me, “are a bitch.”
I nodded with a small smile. “A bitch who just managed to resist your blood. Give me some credit.”
Falon didn’t glare or rant or bitch slap me with power like he could have, though his expression was absolutely vicious. “I am not a game for you to play. Never try that again. Or you and I are finally going to face off.”
He vanished, leaving me to ponder such a promise. It was intriguing. I didn’t doubt that Falon could kick my ass, but I was certainly curious about how that would play out.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” Kale said though the amusement in his lovely eyes didn’t match his scolding tone.
I shrugged, turning away from the body in the grass. Falon’s warning about the FPA had shattered the illusive glow, and now I just felt irritated.
“Why not? It was fun. You would have done it.”
“Yes, but I’m not the one he’s so torn up about.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I shot Kale a warning look to tread carefully.
He held up both hands in surrender, fighting a laugh. “Not a damn thing.”
Kale caught me up in his arms and kissed me. His embrace felt familiar. Comforting. His kiss conveyed so many unspoken words. I wanted to linger there, to discover them all.
We broke apart before the heat of the moment could rise. My head felt muddled, like my thoughts were battling for dominance. It was confusing. My calm moments often were.
“I want to leave.” My gaze fell upon the crumbling angel statue. It was watching me. At least, it felt that way.
Following my gaze, Kale stared at the aged stone. He couldn’t see it the way I did. Or if he did, he gave no indication. With a hand on my back, he gently ushered me from the yard.
Falon had brought news that forced me to remember that I had family and friends out there. In the real world. It made me face the fact that I couldn’t hide from them forever.
Silently, I cursed the fallen angel. He had no right to interfere, no right to remind me of who I was supposed to be. Who the hell was he to talk? He had turned his back on his calling.
I wasn’t really mad at Falon. He was just a convenient outlet for my own self-loathing. I’d already hit my high for the evening. The low had come crashing in, ripping the rug from beneath me.
Losing myself in the thrill of the kill was more than typical newbie behavior. It was my way of escaping the things and the people that I had to face. It was safe inside insanity. I wanted to stay there. Yet, I knew that wasn’t an option.
I still had a purpose. It hadn’t ended with my death. I had a sinking feeling that it had only just begun.
We ended up back at Kale’s house before long. Staying on the streets wasn’t safe, not if the FPA was tracking me. Fear hadn’t registered much for me recently. It did now. The memory of the FPA lockup remained sharp.
They could find me if they tracked my phone, which I had no intention of ditching for a burner, but I didn’t think they would come after me at Kale’s house. It was a residential area, and as clueless as the government op could be, I didn’t think they were that stupid.
There was nothing wrong with Kale’s house. It was a decent size without being big, just one floor and the basement. It wasn’t home though, and when we were both trapped beneath its roof during daylight, the tension quickly grew unbearable.
I’d been sleeping in the basement bedroom while Kale took the master bedroom on the main floor. I often lay awake most of the day, wishing I could go home, aching for my other half. But I just wasn’t ready.
“You can have the shower first.” Kale stuck the key in the lock and shoved the door open. I followed him in, painfully aware of the sudden shift in the atmosphere. With an awkward shrug he relocked the door and added, “If you want.”
“Thanks.” The taste of blood had grown sour in my mouth. I was eager to cleanse myself of the remnants of the kill. If only I could scrub as deep as it penetrated.
The basement door was in the kitchen, where it joined with the living room. I fled downstairs, making a conscious effort to move at a normal pace. A super vampire speedy exit would make it far too obvious that I was fleeing him.
A bag of my things sat open on the floor, clothing bursting out of it. The room itself smelled faintly of my vanilla perfume. It was small with pale-grey walls. Windowless. Safe. But not home.
I dug through the bag for some clean clothes. My mind raced, slamming me with thought after anxious thought. The barrage of noise in my head grew fast and loud. Stifling a frustrated shriek, I clapped my hands over my ears and pleaded with my mind for mercy.
The mental shifts were bad, worse than any I’d ever witnessed from a vampire in my life. After the bloodlust had its way with me, when I came back to myself, it wasn’t without a price. I suffered horrible thoughts, feelings I didn’t understand, and dreams that tormented until I awoke screaming.
After several minutes of rocking back and forth on the floor with my head in my hands, the voices of confusion and mayhem faded, and I was able to move again. I was still waiting for the guilt to surface, to break me down. It was in there too, somewhere.
Kale was in the living room when I came back upstairs. He regarded me with understanding, as if he knew the battle I’d just had. Lounging on the cream-colored couch, he gave off a casual air. He’d changed into sweat pants and a t-shirt. I still wasn’t used to seeing him so relaxed and dressed down.
I mustered a fake smile before disappearing into the bathroom where the sound of the shower drowned out my sobs. The hot water ran over me, diluting the blood tears as they fell.
There were no words for what I was feeling. Depressed. Melancholy. Madness. No words came close, except for perhaps lost. I was lost.
One perk of vampirism was the lack of puffy eyes after a cryfest in the shower. Once the tears had washed away, there was no evidence that they’d been there at all.
I towel dried my long, blond hair, staring at my reflection. There was a warmth to my skin, a pink hue bought with the blood of my victims. It would be alabaster fair again soon enough.
My eyes were brown. A relief. More often than not these days, they were Arys’s deep blue. Much like the echo of his voice in my memories, it was just another way that he haunted me. Staring at my nakedness in the mirror, I felt detached, like it wasn’t me that I was seeing.
Grabbing a handful of hair, I scrutinized the ash-blonde locks. It would be just too easy to grab the scissors from beneath the sink and hack it all off. It was tempting. Before I could give in to the neurotic urge to change the appearance of the person staring back at me, I turned away from the mirror and got dressed.
In black leggings and a
Sons of Anarchy
top, I exited the bathroom with my head up. Burying my emotions, I put on a stony mask and thought,
Fake it til you make it
I scanned the living room for a place to sit. In less than a second, I decided that sitting on the other couch would be too obvious but sitting right beside Kale would be too uncomfortable. So I sat on the opposite end of the couch he sat on, leaving a space between us. Now that the rush of the hunt had worn off, the walls had been resurrected between us once again.
“Alexa, you don’t have to hide the hell you’re going through. I wish you’d stop trying to. I’ve been there. I know. You’re not alone in this.” Kale held the remote in one hand. The TV was on, but his full attention was on me.
It was somewhat refreshing to have him be so forward. Those first few nights he’d treated me like a piece of cracked glass about to shatter. Of course, that might not be so far from accurate.
“I appreciate your concern, but we both know that I am very much alone in this.” I met his gaze, finding those brown and blue eyes as enchanting as ever. “You’re still alone in it even now, aren’t you? After all this time.”
Our connection was bittersweet. We shared so much. It was only fitting that we shared this solitary suffering too.
“It’s not always like this,” Kale lied. “You know that. Plenty of vampires are just fine after they adjust. Like Arys.”
I jumped when he said that name. It was like a physical slap that left my ears ringing. “Arys is not well adjusted. He’s a killer. He just enjoys it. It makes him look well adjusted, but it’s an illusion.”
“You enjoy it too. We all do. It’s what we are. Killers. But you’re the one in control of the circumstances. It doesn’t have to consume you. Arys knows this. He’s in control all the time, even when he’s not.” He cocked his head to one side, studying me. “Don’t you think he should be helping you right now?”
I froze, unblinking. How could he suggest such a thing? Of all things for Kale to say, that name should not be one of them.
“Are you kidding me? How can Arys help me when I can’t even stand to look at him? Are you trying to get rid of me, Kale? If I’ve overstayed my welcome—”
“There is nowhere else I want you to be right now than here with me,” he cut in, his words coming hard and fast. “I promise you that. But I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t at least try to be an honorable man. And you’ve got to admit that I may not be the best person to be with right now.”
The validity of his claim was sound. I couldn’t argue, nor did I want to. Kale wasn’t the bad guy here. Neither was Arys really. It was merely my own inability to function in reality, sober of any dark desires.
“If I wasn’t here with you, I’d be out there. Alone.” It was a statement of fact. I wasn’t going to argue. Kale was right. He wasn’t in a good place mentally. Perhaps he never had been.
“You and me don’t exactly bring out the best in each other, huh?” A wry grin brightened up Kale’s face.
It was hard to share his amusement. A grim nod and some sarcasm was the best I could do. “We always did make a good team.”
My hands shook, and I tried to hide them by putting my knees up and huddling in the corner of the couch. It was hard to stay grounded with so much power thrumming through me. I felt it all the time now, even when I wasn’t tapping it.
Kale watched me hide the evidence of my lack of control. “I thought you were powerful before. But now?” He shook his head. “Shit, it’s impressive. How does it feel?”
We’d discussed this before, lightly. He was always careful not to pry too much. It wasn’t easy for me to talk about when I was in a mood like this.
“It feels like I’ve been drinking espresso non-stop. Only the jitters will never stop. And I won’t ever drink coffee again.” I frowned. That was one thing I would miss very much, but vampires were beyond mortal function. There would be no coffee in my future. “How does it feel to you?”