Authors: Jackie Ivie
Tags: #paranormal romance, #vampire assassin league, #short story, #vampire romance, #anthology
Was he real? Was any of this real? Was she, even now, entering an unconscious stage that portended the end? Jeez. She was only twenty-four. She hadn’t started living yet. She hadn’t even composed her bucket list.
The rumble of words teased her ear. She opened her eyes and only thought about asking him to put her down before discarding it. Time enough for that later. Having this guy rescue and then carry her was going to imbue her dreams for the next several months if she was lucky.
“Your door. It’s locked.”
Lenna swiveled her head to look across at the peephole of her door with the apartment number on a plate right beneath it. This guy must be enormous. They’d drilled that hole at the five foot ten level. She needed a stool to use it.
“Where is your key?”
“You want me to break it down?”
His eyes flared a bit when he said it, and there was a reaction through his arms as they trembled, but that was ridiculous, too. It was fantasy-driven, though. Pure and heavenly.
He shifted her to one shoulder, holding her while one hand slid up the back of her leg. Lenna moved to stop him. Getting rescued and then carried by drop-dead gorgeous paramedics were one thing. Copping a feel was completely off limits. She really needed her insulin. And water. Fast. She was worse than weak and defenseless. Her efforts didn’t do much more than hold him as he checked each buttock in turn, sending more unwarranted sexual tingling. And that meant she had to do more tightening right where he was touching.
That was deflating. She’d worked hard on her glutes. Sweating and running and squatting to get perfect shape and definition. She looked great. And he called it nothing with his palm right atop one side.
“There is nothing in your pocket.”
“That’s because…it’s it my gym bag.” Her voice sounded breathless. Anticipatory. Excited.
Man. She was really pathetic.
He grunted, and moved his hand away. She very nearly argued the loss, and that was just more idiocy in a night of it. She couldn’t see what he did, but the next moment, he went right through her door, without expending any effort, although she heard wood splinter in protest. He’d torn her deadbolt out? No. That was wrong. The deadbolt was still securely in its slot. He’d ripped that chunk of door frame off. Lenna had a second to verify that before he marched right past her combination kitchen/living area and into the closet-sized bedroom beyond. The superintendent was going to freak. She should be freaking.
“Wait! I need my medicine! You can’t—”
She bounced atop her full sized bed, got wrapped in his arms with the upward motion, before dropping with the entire length of him atop her. And then she dealt with heavy, massive male, holding her down. Forcing her. Worse than Chet. This guy didn’t leave her much room to breathe, either. But she was using it. Panting. Pulling enough air to scream. And then he stopped everything with a finger to her lips. Just one.
The instant touch halted every notion to struggle, or do anything other than vibrate with a series of shivers that emanated from her mouth and just kept intensifying. The flare was back in his eyes again, too. Damn, but he was handsome. Even if he was a rapist, he was pure masculine beauty. The police sketch artist wasn’t going to believe her description.
Why did she have such asinine thoughts now? She should be struggling. Straining. Hitting his nose with the ball of her hand. Drilling her nails into his eyes. Using her elbow on his esophagus. Hitting his groin. Everything she’d been taught. Anything other than staring mesmerized into his eyes like a deer caught in the proverbial headlights.
His brows came down slightly as he locked gazes with her, unblinking, unmoving, holding her hypnotized with nothing more than a look. But what a look! He might have eyes so dark they looked black, but they weren’t a hard, unyielding shade. They were deep, mysterious, and turning the rivulet of shivers she suffered into a blizzard of them.
And then his lips opened, revealing nasty-looking spikes. Time stilled. Her ears rang with the rush of blood. Her eyes went huge. Fangs? Her mind fought the proof right before her eyes. It wasn’t possible. Vampires didn’t exist. She didn’t believe it. She’d never believe it. She was seeing things. She hadn’t just been rescued by a vampire who was now going to drain her blood for his efforts. Such a thing just wasn’t possible.
He used his thumb to tip her head up. Higher. The move strained the cords on her neck until her view was the headboard. And she just let him. She couldn’t seem to stop it. Everything about her reaction was alien. Her body tightened. Prepared. Grew ready. Taut. And desperately needy. As if she coiled atop a precipice, eager to spring over it.
He stabbed into her neck, sending liquid fire into her. Lenna jolted closer to him, and then clung in place as the pain altered to incendiary flickers, and then morphed into such a sensation of warmth and joy and bliss, she writhed against him in a pantomime of perfect orgasmic ecstasy. He took and she gave. Willingly. Wonderingly. Rapture filled her. Pleasure coursed over her. Satiation came for her and claimed her. All of it beyond anything she’d ever dreamt or imagined.
And if this was death, it wasn’t such a bad way to go.
The moment he tasted her, Rafaele knew.
Every dead and dormant cell felt like it sparked to life, infusing him with a sensation of absolute and complete amazement. Her fluid wasn’t just sweet, it was perfect. Nectar of the gods. Elixir of heaven. Font of all he craved. His entire frame vibrated in reaction until her little bedstead moved with it.
He’d waited eons for just such a thing…and it was better than imagined! More complete than any dream.
By all he held sacred, he’d found his mate!
Rafaele pulled from her with great reluctance, licking the wounds closed while he worked at controlling a rapacious hunger for more. Much more. An eternity of more; so much more, it would fill the void of nothingness that was his world and make it whole. Complete. Perfect.
Madres de Dios!
It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Not now. Not here! This was supposed to be a quick feeding. Payback for the loss of his rum-soaked dinner. A celebration of his assignment earlier. A tasty treat without complications. Sustenance. That’s what this was supposed to be. It wasn’t to be a melding of such wonder it took his senses and scattered them.
And look at what he’d done and how he’d done it!
There wasn’t anything romantic or caring or lover-like about this…and he’d had centuries to prepare!
He’d been as bestial as those Scandinavian swine aboard the ship. But how could he have known? Nothing about her had warned him.
She wasn’t moving. Rafaele crawled onto the mattress again, awaiting her next breath with every awakened nerve primed for it. There! She breathed. Slight and barely lifting her chest, but she still lived. If he concentrated he could hear her heartbeat. Weak. Faint.
He had to do something! But what? How? What had she been telling him? Medicine? That was it. She needed insulin. What the devil did that look like? Where would she keep it? And how much was he to give her? And what would happen if it was too much? Or too little?
He leaned down to whisper it at her ear and got a slight shift of her shoulder at his voice.
“You must help me. I do not comprehend this insulin. You must tell me where it is and how to use it! Where? How much do I use? How do I deliver it?
This was terrible. He was forever getting into a mess, but this was the worst. He reached for his cell to call for help, but got nothing. A check of the screen showed the reason. They’d already cancelled it.
“Damn and blast everything! And everyone! Bastard!”
Rafaele pitched the phone, pushed up from the bed, stepped the one pace back to the wall, putting both hands to his ears. What had he done? And how could he fix it? Imbecile! Cretin! He was the lowest of the low! A cur among creatures. No. A worm! And there was nothing he could think of—
Wait! He could use her cell phone…but then he remembered. He’d made her leave it in the elevator, too. It had been so stupid. But…how could he have known? Back then he’d been fixated on one thing – what he could take from her. He hadn’t known she was his mate! The most important individual in his afterlife. The woman to make him completely whole. There should’ve been some warning! Something!
She whimpered slightly, parting her lips and giving him an idea. Drastic, but it might work. Quickly. Rafaele stabbed a tooth into his wrist, opening a cut. He rejoined her on the bed, denting the mattress as he lifted her mouth to the wound, whispering all the time of his love and adoration and need for her. Only her. He trembled as she finally took a taste, shuddered, and then sucked at him, taking the only thing he could think to save her.
She was breathing easier when she’d finished, a smile gracing lips he longed to latch onto and plunder. Rafaele had to force himself back from her again. He went to his feet. Backed to the wall. Watched her. Felt his heart actually assume a beat to match hers. Stronger now. Rhythmic.
Giving her the infusion looked to have worked, but he couldn’t stay and find out. He didn’t dare. Time was wasting. He had to be back in his berth before daybreak. He could take her with him. He should. Years of plundering and pillaging should dictate that. Everyone would expect it…but right then, he knew he couldn’t. He’d been enough of the barbarian. She deserved so much more! When he pursued his one true mate it would be with sweet words and honeyed kisses, not force.
And why did he have to get so noble all of a sudden?
She turned onto her side, facing him, and sighed. Rafaele knelt to watch. Yes. She was breathing deeply and easily now, the undead platelets overcoming whatever mortal issue she suffered. He should go…but how could he leave the most precious thing in his world now? Unprotected? And unguarded?
The busted door silently chastised him as he approached, fit it back into position, and then watched it sway back open every time he moved his hand away.
“Hello there! Miss Hendershott? You okay?”
Rafaele slammed the door back into place with more violence than he intended. A rain of dust and wood slivers gave the move away. He grabbed the refrigerator beside the door and pulled it down onto its side, securing the door with another loud boom of noise.
Look at this. He was worse than a barbarian. He was a clumsy one.
“Miss Hendershott? You okay? It’s me. Your neighbor, Missus Gibbons. From 1210. Should I call the police? Lenna?”
Rafaele cleared his throat and tried for a soprano range. “I’m fine. Just tired.”
“I heard some loud noises, and I thought—.”
“Oh…that. I stumbled.”
“All right then, dear. If you need anything, you know where I am.”
Rafaele glared at the door. It didn’t match the sweet falsetto of his answer. “Thank you.”
“You do too much. And you shouldn’t be out so late. It’s not safe on these streets at night, regardless of your defense training. But I’ll check in the morning.”
Rafaele was through the back window and onto the little ledge containing a flower box before the woman finished speaking. One quick stop at the elevator and he’d be gone. But he’d be back. Miss Lenna Hendershott could count on that.
“Tell us again what happened.”
Lenna would’ve looked up at the policewoman, Missus Gibbons sitting beside her, and the officer standing just inside her broken door, but the weak winter daylight was giving her trouble. She’d already asked them to shut off all the electric lights because she couldn’t seem to see clearly through what felt like searing sunshine. That was odd. She loved sunlight. It wasn’t the only odd thing. The weirdness started the moment her neighbor had knocked on her door this morning. Lenna’s eyes had popped open, she’d lifted her head, looked over her rumpled street clothes, a still-made bed, both shoes still firmly attached to her feet, and tried to focus around the shaft of light coming through her bedroom door. Why hadn’t she undressed? And how had she gotten here? And why was her neighbor pounding at her door?
Nothing was clear. Only snippets of time. She’d needed insulin. She’d taken the elevator. It was faster. But it stuck. She’d forced herself to relax. She’d read an e-book on her phone. She’d checked other things. She’d called for help. She’d panicked and gone crazy. The vaguest image came to her. She’d been rescued by a shadow man who’d lifted the elevator with one hand, brought her here…and then what? Just left her atop her bed?
No. That wasn’t right. Something more had happened…something at the edge of her consciousness. If she just had a moment, she’d remember. She opened her mouth to answer, but only a whisper of sound came out, and it had hurt her throat.
“Miss Hendershott? Lenna!”
Missus Gibbons had called out again while Lenna arched her back and stretched. Wow. She’d never felt so wonderful in her entire life. The knocking had gotten louder, along with her neighbor’s voice.
“Lenna? You awake? Lenna!”
Oh, my…yes. She was definitely awake. That was improbable. She should be dead, or, at the very least, in a hospital. She shouldn’t be able to leap to her feet and stand there working every muscle group without one bit of effort. Right then, she’d felt awesome! Healthy. Energetic. Ready for whatever life handed her. Like she could do sit-ups without end, laps without losing speed, and forget riding a Metro Transit bus. She was ready to race it.
What a shame it hadn’t lasted.
In fact, by the time she’d reached her door, she was feeling almost normal. Or what had been normal back before she’d been diagnosed. The right side of her neck ached, and she’d rubbed at it absently. She must have screamed herself hoarse. No…that wasn’t right. A quick slash of memory came to her. A pinprick of pain. Ecstasy. Rapture. Had that shadow guy…bitten her?