Authors: Laurann Dohner
Tags: #Romance, #Erotica, #Paranormal, #Vampires
“You’ll need to feed and you’ll crave blood once you’re turned. I promise it’s enjoyable.”
Her mind ran over the possibilities and her jaw clenched. “You have to feed too.”
Anger surged. “I see. This is your way of having an open relationship with me, isn’t it?” Confusion clouded his gaze. It pissed her off. “You want to date me but you know I’ll have a problem with you touching other women. One human donor wouldn’t be enough, would it? Even if I allowed you to take my blood, you’d need more. You’ll turn me into a bloodsucker so I can’t complain about your feeding habits. No thanks. I told you this couldn’t work. I’m into monogamy. Get off me. Your clothes are in the other room. Get dressed and leave now. Thanks for not killing me. We’re even.”
His mouth pressed into a tight line. “Date?” He scoffed. “I am offering a lifetime commitment—you will be mine and I will be yours. I would never toss up a lass’ skirts…unless you were in them.”
“I don’t wear skirts.”
“You know what I mean. You’re all I want.” He looked sincere but it had to be some kind of trick.
“Whose blood will we drink then? Can two vampires sustain each other?”
“No. We’d have to drink it from bags as well.”
“You said it tastes nasty.”
“I said cow blood does and it was cold. I buy warm, fresh blood from my sources. We’ll drink from those and from each other.” He paused. “Taking blood from donors isn’t always about sex, my naïve lass.”
“Aha!” Suspicion narrowed her eyes. “Here it comes. You are paving the way to excuse you sucking on the necks of other women. See? It can’t work between us.”
Irritation crinkled his eyes and mouth. “You’re being sassy.”
“I’m being honest.”
He sighed loudly, shaking his head. “I won’t cheat. Is that clear enough?”
“Define your version of cheating. You are pretty old. Nowadays women don’t accept a double standard.”
The soft growl surprised her before he leaned in closer until their lips brushed. “It’s the same as yours, lass. I won’t be touching another woman. You won’t be touching another man. Now go to sleep.”
“I’m not tired.”
He backed up a little to study her face. “You should be.”
It wasn’t late. “I’m not.”
“You should feel exhausted.”
“You mean because of the sex? It was amazing but I told you, I’m not going to snooze afterward. That’s a male trait.”
“I gave you my blood. It should have hit your system. You’ll pass out for a few hours.”
“You had no right to do that.” It made Lacey angry all over again that he’d tricked her.
He suddenly rolled away, getting to his feet in one swift motion that left her gawking at the display of his speed as he paced naked at the end of the bed. “You can’t be normal. No, not my bonny lass.”
She sat up, drawing her knees to her chest to shield some of her nudity. “You’re mumbling.”
He paused, flashing his glowing eyes. “I had plans.”
“What kind?” She didn’t like the sound of that.
“You’re mucking them up.”
She wasn’t sorry but it did make her nervous enough to slide off the side of the bed and inch toward her clothes. “I think we should get you to a doctor, Lethal. You’re acting crazy again. I think it’s some kind of allergic reaction to something in the blood I brought you.”
He growled again, his gaze turning electric blue as his eyes shone even brighter. “Sleep,” he demanded in a deep voice.
“That hypnosis shit doesn’t wor—” Her knees gave way and she would have crashed to the floor except strong arms caught her.
“You’ve got my blood in you now.” He chuckled. “You are highly susceptible to my suggestions.”
She didn’t even have enough time to be afraid before everything turned black.
Lethal carefully laid Lacey back on the bed. He took the time to cover her with a sheet and gently brushed back the strands of hair from her cheek. “Ah, I’m gonna enjoy this rare moment, lass.” He straightened and located her cell phone. The call he placed was answered on the third ring.
“Any luck yet, Chase?”
“I have some leads. I heard about what my pack did. I’m sorry. They didn’t get within twenty feet of the female.”
Chase hesitated. “She’s important to you?”
“Understood. What do you need?”
“A pick-up would be great. I’m bringing her in.”
“Is there a problem?” Lethal strode into the next room and found a neat pile of folded clothes.
“I just thought you liked this woman since you gave her your name to use. Blaron figured the same. We were hopeful.”
“What does that mean?” He bent, using his shoulder to hold the phone while he put on the faded jeans. They were comfortable and freshly laundered.
“You’ve kind of grown cold in the past few decades.” Chase sighed. “This is a revenge thing then? You didn’t want anyone else to make her pay for taking you?”
“It sounds as if you and Blaron were doing a lot of speculating.”
“We care,” Chase admitted. “We worry about you. It’s what friends do. We also had some time on our hands since you disappeared. It’s been a long day.”
“I’m grateful you are my friends. She is special but the lass is a little stubborn. I knew she’d put up a fight. My blood is going to keep her down for a few hours so I’d like to get her somewhere safe. She works with a team of human hunters but she doesn’t trust them. It’s implied they can’t find us but I want her where I know for sure they can’t get to her.”
“You with a stubborn woman?” Chase laughed. “Imagine that. I knew she’d have to be something to pry your given name from your lips. Want to share how she did that?”
“Shut up and come get me. I assume you’ve been tracing the call to find my location?”
“We were prepared after the first time you made contact. We’ll be there soon. They located the closest cell towers and we have triangulated the area of the address. Leave the line open and we’ll signal when we’re there. I persuaded the police to be helpful to our cause. They won’t remember doing it tomorrow.”
“Thanks.” He set the phone face up on the table and dressed.
He lifted it again, his keen hearing picking up the sound from the phone. “What?”
“Do we need fresh blood on hand? Did you turn her?”
“No.” Disgust rose. “She’s not ready for that yet.”
“Yet?” Chase sounded surprised.
“I was half joking and fishing for information. Shit. Okay.” Chase suddenly laughed. “Blaron will want to come with. You know that, right? We’re both curious to meet the woman who finally snagged you.” He paused. “We also want to know the details of how you were taken.”
“I told you she works with a team of humans.” He wouldn’t admit Lacey was the one who took him down. They’d never cease teasing him. It was better to allow his friends to assume he’d faced off against a group of humans. “Just get here.”
“We’re preparing to roll.”
Lethal placed the phone down again and returned to the bedroom. It only took moments to retrieve a washcloth and clean away any traces of blood from Lacey’s face and neck. He returned to the stack of clothes, chose a couple of items, and dressed her carefully before gently hoisting her over his shoulder. A sense of urgency filled him to get her out of the apartment. A tinge of danger lurked and he hadn’t survived as long as he had without listening to his instincts.
He paused outside her bedroom door after flipping off the lights and took the loaded gun she’d left there. He checked the safety, half listening for any sound from outside. The high windows were closed and covered by curtains. He grinned. She’d bluffed about having him sealed below ground, just as he’d suspected.
An engine passed close before all sound died. He cocked his head.
“This is it,” an unfamiliar voice stated after a van door slid open. “She put it in her mother’s maiden name.”
“Fuck,” Lethal growled, quickly locating the stairs out of the apartment. They weren’t his men. The humans Lacey worked with had found them.
He held Lacey firmly over his shoulder by gripping her behind her thighs. He kept his other hand free to use the gun. He left the phone where it lay—he would go to them.
Lethal heard more voices and counted four approaching human males. They weren’t very stealthy as they surrounded the building. He glanced around the abandoned auto store—signs on the wall told him what it had once been. He spotted the attic access high up on the right corner and ran toward it. He bent, braced, and leapt. Having Lacey’s added weight wasn’t a concern but he worried when he landed on the rickety metal of the stairs. The sound was loud and he knew the humans heard it as they became silent.
He didn’t have time to waste. He kicked the door hard, snapping the lock, and rushed up the ten steps. There was one more door he broke through before he breathed fresh air as he glanced around again. More buildings were nearby. He only hesitated for a second while he shoved the gun into the waistband of his pants and adjusted Lacey in the cradle of his arms to cushion her. He ran full speed toward the edge.
The twenty feet he sailed over wasn’t a great distance but the woman in his arms was frail. Regret was strong that he hadn’t turned her already. He didn’t pause after landing, just kept going, jumping across a few more buildings.
Gunfire erupted from the street but it only assured him that he’d made a clean getaway. He didn’t want to fight while Lacey was helpless. The humans must have resorted to shooting out the locks to gain entry to the building. He paused a block down, knowing the direction his men would come from. It was only a matter of minutes before he saw the windowless cargo van with the familiar catering logo.
He glanced around to make certain no humans were in the immediate vicinity before he tucked Lacey’s head against his chest and jumped. Soft grass cushioned his landing and he stepped out into the street so they couldn’t be missed. The driver hit the brakes and Chase’s eyes widened.
“We had company,” Lethal called out.
The back door slid open and a tall blond wearing a kilt climbed out. “I’m glad to see you.”
“It’s good to see you too but couldn’t you have worn pants to my rescue? Were you gonna flash your hairy thighs to distract them while Chase got me out?”
Blaron laughed. “I would have if it worked to save your arse.” He peered at Lacey. “This is her? That wee lass captured you?”
“Shut up. Let’s go. Her team found us and I’m sure they’ve realized by now that we’re gone. They’ll be leaving there soon and I don’t want to make it easy for them to locate us.”
He crawled into the van on his knees, ducking his head, and glanced at a few of the werewolves sitting on the floor in the back. “Any of you touch her and you’re dog biscuits.”
Blaron climbed in and closed the door. “Let’s go, Chase.”
Lethal hesitated. “The club. We have to take care of these hunters and they will be coming for us anyway. We don’t want to disappoint them.”
Chase eased off the brake and the vehicle rolled forward. “Isn’t she going to be upset if we kill them?”
Lethal settled more comfortably with Lacey on his lap. “They weren’t coming after us to just say hello. I heard them talking while they were surrounding the building. They are pretty angry that she attempted to fool them into believing she’d dusted me. The one called Jeff had a surveillance camera hidden where I was kept.” He inwardly winced, determined to find all video the bastard might have of his Lacey, naked, astride him. Nobody but he would see her beautiful breasts bounce while she rode him. “The humans need their memories wiped or they need to die.”
“Wake up, my bonny lass,” a sexy, masculine voice crooned next to her ear. Hot breath tickled her skin before a gentle kiss brushed along her neck.
Lacey opened her eyes to stare at a white ceiling. She flattened her palms against Lethal’s solid chest. She fisted a handful of his tank top as she focused on his blue eyes.
He grinned. “Aw, that’s my sweet lass. Tell me how you really feel.”
“You blood drugged me.” There wasn’t a thing wrong with her memory. “Where are we?” She looked past his face again, studying the ceiling. It wasn’t her apartment. She was almost afraid to turn her head.
“We’re at my club.”
Her heart lurched. “Why?” Had he lied to her? Was he going to toss her to his other vampires to drain dry? It was the worst scenario she could come up with on short notice.
“I told you, I’m fond of the place. I wanted you to see it.”
She didn’t believe him. “Lethal?” Her grip on him tightened even more. He was bent half over her and she was lying on something soft that kept her slightly upright. “What are you planning?”
Irritation narrowed his eyes. “I don’t know how many times I’ve got to say it. You’re safe.”
“Not quite,” a deep male voice stated. “Her friends could show up at any time.”
Lacey jerked her head to the side and gawked at the tall blond man wearing a red kilt. He wore a belt with a sheathed sword and a black tank top. A long braid trailed over one broad shoulder, down his chest, to almost the hilt of the weapon. His accent was a little thicker than Lethal’s but she guessed they were from the same place. It meant he must be the one she’d heard about from Lethal. Not only was she in a room with one vampire, but two.
“That’s Blaron,” Lethal rasped, still watching her intently. “How do you feel?”
She had to force herself to look at him. “Angry.”
“Besides that? Do you feel stronger?”
“I feel betrayed. You lied to me.”
He flinched. “I’m sorry. I told you why I had to do it.”
“You tricked me into taking your blood and I told you the club wasn’t safe.”
“Your friends showed up at your apartment.”
That news sank in. “How?”
“You used your mother’s maiden name. Ring any bells? At least that’s what I overheard before I got us out of there.”
“They aren’t my friends.” She had hoped Jeff wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to track her. “They are my team members. I take it they didn’t buy the scene I left behind to fool them?”
“There was a hidden camera in the warehouse.”
The blood drained from her face as she realized what that meant. “Oh shit.”
“I’ll find the footage if they kept it,” he swore.
“What is on it?” Blaron inched closer.
“None of your business, Mr. Sword,” she snapped, silently pleading with her gaze that Lethal not answer his friend. “What if they upload it to the internet? Your teeth…” She glanced at his mouth, remembering how his fangs had shown while they were having sex. “We can’t let them do that. They might think it’s the proof they need to show the world you exist.”
He had the nerve to grin. “I’m more worried about how much of you is shown. Humans will just think it’s some kind of vampire fetish video. They are very popular with humans. It seems we’re romantic in some movies.”
“It’s not funny.”
“It kind of is.” He winked. “It was hot. I bet it would get a lot of hits.”
“Damn,” Blaron chuckled. “Don’t tell me you and the lass were filmed with your pants down.”
Lacey blushed. “You’ve got to find it and destroy it.”
“I will.” Lethal eased back onto his knees. “Are you hungry? I ordered food for you.”
She had to release his shirt to sit up, thankfully noticing that he’d dressed her in an oversize T-shirt and sweatpants. They didn’t match but she wouldn’t complain. She’d been naked when she’d passed out. Her gaze wandered around the room. It was a large office with a few desks and she was on a black chaise lounge.
“You keep food in a vampire club? What? Cookies? Maybe a glass of orange juice if women pass out after you take blood from them? That’s sweet.” She knew her sarcasm sounded.
Lethal laughed, rising to his feet. “No. Real food. Our security team enjoys a hearty steak now and then so I had them prepare one for you with all the fixings.” He waved to one of the desks. “Eat. You need to keep up your strength.” He extended his hand to her. “We’re waiting to see if your vampire hunters come here.”
She accepted his offered hand, feeling slightly weak. It was probably a side effect from the blood he’d given her, she surmised. He pulled her to her feet and a wave of dizziness hit. She swayed but Lethal was there, holding her close with one arm wrapped around her waist. He shifted his hold and just swept her into his arms.
“You need food.” He sounded angry. “You’ve got to take better care of yourself.”
“Easy,” Blaron rasped. “She’s taking all this better than I expected. She didn’t wake screaming from being here. No need to snarl at her.”
“She’s too fragile.” Disgust was clear in Lethal’s voice.
“She’s human, not an invalid.”
Lethal gently set her in the chair and pushed the plate closer. She was stunned by the massive platter-size meal and her stomach did rumble as she inhaled the appealing aroma of a perfectly cooked T-bone steak. He stepped back.
“Eat it all, love.”
Lacey opened her mouth to tell him how much she hated being given orders but changed her mind. She was starving. She reached for the silverware, almost surprised that they’d given her a sharp knife. Lethal stayed at her side but focused on his friend.
“Don’t you have something else to do, Blaron?”
“Not really.” The vampire rested his hand on the hilt of his sword. “The club is closed while we play bait for the hunters. Chase took a few of the pack with him to hunt the rogue. It’s just a waiting game now to see if they’ll come after us at night or during the day.”
She cut the steak into bite-size pieces. “They’ll hit after dawn if they come.” She peered up at Lethal. “You’re going to kill them? They aren’t bad people. They had loved ones taken from them. They don’t know there’s good and evil in bloodsucker land.”
“Two of them lost their mothers. My boss lost his brother. They were murdered by vamps.”
“Did she just say ‘bloodsucker land’?” Blaron looked appalled.
“You get used to her slang.” Lethal sighed. “We won’t kill them if we don’t have to. Blaron and I will try to get into their minds and wipe them. Chase might be successful if we fail. He’s pretty powerful. His father was almost a thousand years old when he sired him.”
She almost choked on the steak she was chewing. She swallowed. “There are vamps that old?”
“Aye,” Blaron answered. “To be sure. Of course that one ain’t gonna be around much longer.” He grinned at Lethal.
She glanced between them. “What is going to happen to him? Do you eventually die of old age?”
“No.” Lethal took a seat on the corner of the desk. “He abused Chase as a boy by taking his blood as if he were a convenient snack whenever the mood struck. The bastard thinks he can use his son as an assassin when he wills it. He’s in for a surprise the next time he comes after him.”
Blaron’s sword scraped as he pulled it from the scabbard and waved it in the air with a slashing motion. “We look after our friends.” He pointed it at the floor.
Lethal nodded in agreement. “We three stand together.”
“So Chase is another vampire?”
Someone knocked on the door and a pretty woman entered. “Is there anything else you need?”
“No thank you, Mora. You can leave for the night. We don’t wish you to remain here if there is a fight.” Lethal’s tone had softened. “Be safe.”
The other woman smiled at him. The green-eyed monster roared inside Lacey. She glared at Lethal until the door closed and he happened to glance her way. His smile disappeared.
“Is Mora one of your donors?”
Blaron whistled. “I’m going to take a stroll around the club. I’ll leave you to explain what Mora is to us.” He fled the room.
“You’ve never taken her blood or anything else? Lifted her skirts?”
“She’s got a mate.”
“Mate?” She pushed her plate away. “What does that mean?”
“She’s a half-breed werewolf. Being mated means she’s committed to a wolf. He’s the same with her. I don’t take blood or sex from the pack that works for us.”
Lacey set down the knife and clenched her hands in her lap under the desk. “Werewolf?” She must have heard him wrong.
“Don’t do that cute accent thing. Werewolves exist?” She was glad she was sitting down as she quickly reassessed the situation. “You have a pack of werewolves protecting you while the sun is up?”
“Yes. We pay them well and they keep us safe.”
“She looked so normal.”
His black eyebrow arched. “What did you expect? A lot of facial hair while they are in human form? Perhaps they wear collars or bark instead of using words?”
“No. I’m just…we suspected they might be real but you just confirmed it. Your voice changed when you spoke to her. I thought maybe…you know.”
“She was once a lover?” He smiled. “She’s just timid. We keep it in mind not to move too fast or startle her when she’s around. Chase is soft on her.”
“He likes her but she has a mate? That sucks.”
“He isn’t attracted to her. She’s weak in the pack and he’s very protective of the half-breeds. Wolves are naturally aggressive so he makes it known that anyone who causes them harm will answer to him. We tend to agree. Mora is gentle of heart and fiercely loyal to Chase.”
“But not to you?”
“I’m not her alpha but she respects us.”
“Alpha? You mean Chase is a werewolf? You said his father was a vampire.”
“Wow.” She picked up her fork. “Okay. There’s a lot I have to learn. I didn’t even know vampires could have children.”
“It’s complicated. I’ll explain it sometime.”
“Do you have any kids?” She silently hoped not. That would mean there was a woman out there with a previous claim on him. She also was suddenly fearful of getting knocked up. “What about me? We didn’t use protection.”
“I have no children and I can’t get you pregnant.”
She blew out a relieved breath and took another bite. “So what is next?”
The door was thrown open, striking the wall. Blaron stormed inside, gripping his sword. “We have uninvited guests. They are sneaking down the alley.”
Lethal slid off the edge of the desk. “Shit. They are attacking before dawn. That’s brave.”
Lacey rose to her feet. “My team?”
Blaron held her gaze. “At least twelve humans and they are armed with assault rifles and crossbows.”
She gripped the edge of the desk. “Jeff must have called in a few of the other teams.”
Lethal growled, glaring at her. “What other teams?”
“We usually work in small groups of four or five people but there are a few teams spread throughout the area. Sometimes we’ll join forces if it’s a big nest.”
“You could have warned me.”
“I told you not to come back to the club.”
“Argue later,” Blaron demanded. “We didn’t expect so many. We need to go to battle.”
“Don’t leave this room,” Lethal snarled at her. He bent near another desk and came up brandishing a sword of his own.
“Are you both crazy? You need guns.” They wouldn’t stand a chance against a hail of bullets.
The vampires left her in the office, slamming the door behind them without comment. The loud sound of scraping metal alerted her. She crossed the room and tested the door. The handle turned but it wouldn’t open. It was solid and no amount of tugging worked. She was locked in.
She slapped her palm on the hard surface. “Damn it!”
Lethal didn’t like the sound of the odds. “Teams. Plural.”
Blaron glanced at him as they climbed the stairs. “Your human said we weren’t safe. She didn’t lie.”
“I thought maybe a handful of them would come.”
Mora waited at the top of the stairs as they entered the main floor of the club. Lethal was furious when he saw her there, holding a gun, ready to defend them. She hadn’t gotten out in time. Chase would be bad tempered as hell if she got hurt. He paused long enough to give her orders.
“Go guard the office. Don’t unlock it or enter. My lass has a temper.” The basement would be the safest place for them both.
She nodded and fled, ducking under his arm as he held the door open.
Blaron grinned as he secured the door and locked it. “What position do you want to take?”
“Up.” He pointed at the rafters. “They always assume we lurk in the dark. Let’s not disappoint them.”
“You really want them alive or were you just attempting to spare yourself a fight with your human?”