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Authors: Cindy Paterson

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BOOK: JUMP (The Senses)
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The front door slammed and footsteps approached. “She’s outside right now,” Jedrik announced, leaning his frame against the living room door. “Up in a tree. Can’t be too comfortable, and it’s damn frosty tonight.”

“Shit,” Keir s
aid, shaking his head.

Anstice
raised her brows. “You see. She won’t give up. You don’t know Danielle like I do. She’s resilient. Guaranteed, now that she knows about Violet, she will watch our every move. And that is the last thing you guys want.”

“Girl has guts,” Jedrik said. “She could handle a little truth right about now.”

Keir slugged back his rye, then proceeded to refill the glass. “I’ll speak to Waleron. Will that satisfy the two of you?”

Jedrik shrugged. “Yeah. But we have a bigger problem. Balen is following her. He was at the bar the other night. Looks like crap if you ask me. Thinner, but only caught a glimpse. What was odd—I didn’t smell any tainted blood.”

Anstice sat in the high-backed suede chair. She’d joined the Senses two years ago when Keir landed in her veterinary clinic, bleeding to death after a run-in with a group of Long Necks. She soon found herself immersed in their world after discovering her mother was an ancient Senses Healer and she had her abilities. “Is that possible? I mean I’m still new to all this, but I thought once a male drank vampire blood, he became one of them?” She knew that women who drank vampires blood became a slave to the one they consumed from.

“Normally, yes.” Keir leaned against the bar
, swirling the amber liquid in his glass. “But Balen also managed to avoid Waleron for two years.”

The front door slammed again.

“Hey, shit-for-brains. Told ya I’d beat you back,” Jedrik called out to Damien, who wore a permanent scowl.

Actually, Anstice didn’t think she’d ever seen the guy smile. Damien was
hard core. Hated women. Hated talking. Hated pretty much everything. However, he was a damn fierce warrior who had the capabilities of a Visionary and a Tracker.

“Fuck off, pisser,” Damien shot back.

Anstice put her hand on Jedrik’s shoulder. “Mind if we don’t do this now. I have enough anger surrounding me at the moment.”

“Oh
, come on, Anstice,” Jedrik said. “You’re ruining all the fun. Shit-for-brains needs a little lesson every now and again.”

“Cool it,” Keir warned. “Damien, what’s the status?”

“Quiet night for T.O. Down three Maggots. Vamps quiet, along with Long Necks. Saw one Long Neck, but he saw me first and hightailed it. No human casualties in my sector.” He waited by the door. Rarely did Damien come in and just shoot the shit. He was a loner and—as Jedrik would say—a women hater.

“Get laid tonight? Oh
, sorry, I forgot, you’re a virgin.” Jedrik laughed. “Scared of the women species.”

Damien raised his left hand to do Jedrik some damage when Keir’s voice erupted
, stopping both men. “Enough! Jedrik get your ass down to Queen West. Damien, get Galen out on the streets. You’ll find him in the attic. Start in Yorkville and work your way to the Distillery District.”

Jedrik saluted. “Going hunting. Later
, gators.” He brushed past Damien, but not without a final remark. “Hey, Virgin King, be sure to keep that ugly face hidden. Wouldn’t want the humans thinking there’s a monster on the loose.”

Jedrik managed to slam the door behind him before Damien’s fist cracked his face. Instead, his fist splintered the wood like a cockroach’s spine.

Damien growled and then spun on his heel and headed for the attic.

“They will have it out one of these days,” Keir said.

Anstice walked over to him and took the drink from his hand and set the glass on the bar behind them. God, this man made her insides turn to mush. “You’ll talk to Waleron? About Danielle?”

Keir grabbed her around the waist and yanked her up against his chest. Hard as rock
, and he was all hers. “Yes.” He brushed a curl of red hair back over her shoulder. “But first I intend to show you how a warrior treats his woman.”

She screamed and then laughed as he picked her up and threw her over his shoulder. “Hun, I should contact Trinity and the witches to let them know what’s happening.”

“It can wait. This can’t.” Keir ran up the stairs two at a time.

Grim looked
up at the flight of stairs, snorted, then put his head back down.

 

****

 

Goddamn it, where the devil was she at one in the morning? He paced the alley like a caged tiger, every so often stopping to smell for her scent. Nothing. Three miserable hours he waited with nothing to do but worry.

Christ
, he needed a drink. Bombay on the rocks. A double.

Coldness seeped into his veins and it wasn’t from the near
-freezing temperature. The possessive feeling was mounting by the second. Uncontainable protectiveness that he had no right to feel. He had screwed over too many lives already.

He
struggled with the notion of seeing her again, like a ping-pong ball, back and forth in his head. It wasn’t really a decision. He knew that once he drove the vampire blood from his body, there would be nothing in this world to keep him from seeing her one last time before he turned himself in to Waleron and the Wraiths.

He deserved whatever judgment they decided. Shit, he
’d had guilt eating away at his insides like acid for the past two bloody years. Loyalty. Honesty. Allegiance. All had been drilled into his head since he was a child three centuries ago. Then in a matter of moments he’d thrown all aside and betrayed his own blood. Some allegiance.

Giving the lowlife
Vamp Ryszard his sister’s location at the witches’ coven had been a choice he lived with every second of every day. And he hadn’t only given the Vamp the location; he’d actually taken him there, then assisted him in getting through the witches’ protective spell around the house. The look he’d seen in Anstice’s eyes the moment she discovered that her own brother had betrayed her… Devastation.

Fuck, he deserved Rest for eternity.

But the crock of it was, he’d do it again in a heartbeat.

The infected blood
he drank from Ryszard had nearly changed him into one of them, a blood-sucking monster who thought of nothing except power and killing humans for feeding. There were days when he’d almost given in to that constant urge to drink blood from the innocent. To drain them dry and ease the continuous thirst. He’d seen the result before, a Senses becoming driven to feed off anything in their path in order to quench their thirst. It was a horrible fate for a warrior.

Running away after he led Ryszard to Anstice had been instinct. The guilt at what he’d done, the knowledge that he’d tra
ded Danielle’s life for his sister’s. Even after hearing through the Senses website that Ryszard had been killed and his sister lived, he still felt the shame. He should have found another way, fought harder, done more. Except the conclusion was always the same—Danielle would have become Ryszard’s slave or died if he hadn’t given in to the bargain.

Now he’d stand before
the council to face judgment for what he’d done and the Senses and Wraiths kept to their draconian laws.

Even so,
that law was about to be taken over the coals because he was proof that Senses could fight the effects of vampire blood. It took a hell of a long time, enormous willpower and strength, but it was achievable. Senses who drank from a vampire had to be given the chance to fight off the blood before being killed as the law stated.

Since there was no longer
any risk of him turning into a vampire, they’d most likely send him to Rest or exile. Either one he deserved for making that deal with Ryszard. His only concern was what would happen to Danielle?

 

****

 

Danielle shifted on the tree branch that overlooked Keir’s property. Her position was high enough to see over the massive stone wall and still hidden by the few oak leaves that refused to give way despite the winter winds. They reminded her of herself, just barely hanging on, waiting for that one gust of wind that would break her hold on sanity and send her crashing to the ground to be buried beneath the snow. Okay, maybe a tad too dramatic. She might fall, but she’d still fight for the surface.

It
was close to three hours and the only car she’d seen so far was Jedrik’s BMW. What was he doing going out at one in the morning? She could only guess—a woman.

She squinted
, trying to get a glimpse of the figure that walked out the front door. He was taller than Keir and had jet-black hair, although with little moonlight, she was uncertain. He hesitated on the second step and she saw his head tilt to the side as if listening or smelling something. Suddenly, she saw his eyes flash a bright golden color as he stared in her direction.

Holy crap, he could see her hidden up in the tree. And those eyes—weird.

Her foot slipped on the tree branch in her haste to climb down. No way was she going to hang around and see if he’d come after her. She screamed as her equilibrium faltere
d
 
and her abdomen hit a lower branch. She hooked her arms over the limb as her feet dangled.

“Bloody hell, woman.”

Her grip weakened at the sound of the familiar voice and she found herself falling through the air. She made a loud
oof
when her back hit a branch as she tumbled towards the ground.

He caught her in his embrace
, and her arms instinctively reached up to wrap around his neck.

“What the hell are you doing?” Balen asked.

The tension in his neck was fierce, every corded muscle contracting as he held her close to his body. The heat in his arms intensified, his breath wafting over her skin, his scent drifting into her, causing a ripple of shivers to explode. Without thinking of the consequences her fingers curled into his hair, the texture of each strand like silk.

Okay, this guy made her vulnerable, an emotion she’d tried all her life to avoid. Her father had been vulnerable and look where that led him—his grave.

Crap, did he have to look so damn delicious? Could she keep her armor up with this guy? Could she bask in the pleasure her body wanted from him and still walk away before she became a defenseless wuss?

What the devil was he doing here anyway? A warning bell went off. How did he know she was at Keir’s spying? How did he find her?

“Put me down,” Danielle said, struggling in his arms as suspicion rose. She kicked her legs and pushed at him until he slowly let her feet slip to the ground, but he didn’t let her go. His hands held her own with a possessive grip. She read anger in his eyes and in his pursed lips. Well, he had no right to be mad considering she was the one who had just lost her best friend. She tore her hands away and he reluctantly let her escape.

“How did you find me?” Danielle asked
, taking a step back from his overpowering magnetism. She had to get her heart back to a regular rhythm. Damn, this guy made her lose all susceptibility. He remained silent, eyes glaring with a fierce intensity like he could read every single thought of desire that continued to drive her body insane. “Answer me, damn it.”

“I saw your car,” Balen said.

She narrowed her eyes at the half-assed explanation. “And what were you doing in this neighborhood in order to see my car? That’s a bullshit answer and you know it.” She flung her scarf around her neck, needing something to keep her hands busy as all they wanted to do was grab him and slam his hard chest up against her own. God, what the devil was her problem? Terrified for two years of a guy touching her and now suddenly she couldn’t think of anything, except this man taking her in his arms.

“I thought I made
myself clear. It is dangerous at night. Come, I’ll take you home,” he said, reaching for her hand.

She stepped
back, her spine straightening and the heat in her cheeks heightening. “Yeah, as if. I don’t need a babysitter and I sure as hell don’t need some guy following me around like some stalker. I gave you a chance to explain what happened. You walked away . . . sorry, I mean ran away. therefore . . . stay the hell away from me.”

“No
.”

Danielle’s mouth dropped open at his refusal. What a controlling
, arrogant dick. “You’re a bastard, you know that? I don’t need you or anyone else butting into my life.” She turned to leave when his arm hooked around her wrist, drawing her back to slam up against his chest. Her heart did a somersault and her knees weakened. Common sense told her to fight him, but when he cupped her chin and his finger did that familiar caress on the cleft, all her resolve went shooting out the top of her head.

“Understand that I wish only to protect you. There are uncertainties that can do you harm.” Balen nodded towards the house. “Why are you here?”

How was she supposed to act nonchalant when all her mind could do was think about pushing him to the ground and jumping him? She’d never felt so out of control for a man in her life, as if every time she was within a few feet of him, her body went wild for his touch. Was this how her father felt about her mother? Out of control. Insane with need.

BOOK: JUMP (The Senses)
8.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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