Read The Blood Bargain Online

Authors: Macaela Reeves

The Blood Bargain (11 page)

Dimitri wasn

t as aggressive as he was last time. He turned my wrist over slowly, running a thumb over my veins.

I turned my head as he lowered his, studying the refinished cabinetry the homeowners had abandoned. No harm. No harm. No harm.

It stung less than I had remembered, although no worse than a tetanus shot. As he fed, my gaze landed on his thick dark locks. I resisted the urge to run my fingers through his hair, not out of attraction just out of curiosity.

It looked so soft, like he had a leave in conditioner made out of baby butts. Who knows, maybe he did. I honestly didn.t know anything about them in that regard. Did they sweat? Did they even need to shower? Hell, did they even have to step foot in a bathroom?

His head lifted, but his hand stayed intertwined with mine. While his coloring improved, I took the opportunity to ask him the million dollar question. “Why did you pick me?”

“I saved you. In old laws you would owe me a debt.”

“So I

m paying a bill here?” Basic enough.

Those pale eyes studied my own. “And you remind me of someone.”

“Whom would that be?” Last week's buffet? A long lost love? Some sibling?

“Pallas
Athene
.” I smiled slightly, history had always been my favorite subject. Especially when it came to the various ancient gods/goddesses. Roman, Greek, Norse. I knew them all. His reference was a favorite. Athena, the Greek goddess of military strategy, city protector of Athens. Athens which has stood for over 3,400 years. Was he?

“How old are you?” I mumbled.

Dimitri smirked. “Your inquiry contains its own response.”

“I suppose that's right.” I fidgeted a little bit, my captain obvious questio
n made me feel foolish. He didn’
t seem to notice, or if he noticed he didn.t seem to care. “So why Athena?”

“You have her bravery in here.” He put his free hand over his heart; he was still holding my other hand that he had fed from. I tried not to focus on the fact that his amazingly soft skin was caressing mine. “I

ve watched you fight. You excel although you carry it with disdain of the act.” I had to change the topic quickly; the blood was rushing to
my cheeks. Another minute and I’
d be a

tomato. When I opened my mouth the first thing in my brain flew out.

“Thought you couldn.t be out in the sun?”

“So your mythos says.” He spat out mythos like a curse word. “Your kind assumes much and truly knows nothing.”

“Wait. You can be out in the daylight.” Then why did we patrol at all?

“It is.
.
.not a good idea.”

I persisted. “Burst into flames?” He frowned, like he was deciding whether or not to answer me. Even a frown looked good on his face, like an old magazine add where the man was trying to choose between a Porsche and a Ferrari. He looked like a Ferrari kind of guy to me.

“I...weaken. Exposure increases my need to feed. It is dangerous to be mortal. This is why we go to ground when the sun rises.” Yeah no shit it was dangerous being mortal. I kept my mouth shut before I uttered that little piece however, instead I simply let out an
mmhmm
.

“Can I ask you something else?” He nodded.

“Why haven.t you cleared the city? Deadheads were everywhere.” He opened his mouth but I talked right on over him. “and don

t even think of giving me some migrati
on BS. Those things aren’
t a flock of birds for
cryin
out loud.” His eyes widened at my tone, fearing I had pushed too hard I lowered my eyes. Rather than answer me, he dropped my hand and went back to eating

his apple.

So I waited. Through every bite. When he was finished he stood and sauntered over to the wastebasket.

Then took his sweet time returning to the table.

Where he sat, staring at me in silence.

“Well?”

“Do you wish me to speak? It seemed like you did not wish for me to elaborate.” A vampire with manner issues. Wonderful.

“Look.” I let out a huff and tucked my brown hair behind my ears. I stood and talked with my hands. “I

m sorry I cut you off. I

m just...stressed.”

“Our agreement was to protect this colony.” I raised an eyebrow.

“I thought part of that was to wipe out the threat?”

“Have your walls been threatened?” Technically not since we had „walls..

“So you just do the bare minimum? Wow.” I couldn.t help it, I laughed. “I never thought vampires could be lazy.” At that he bared his fangs and hissed. Okay he was scary as hell when he did that. I immediately lost my levity.

“I am not lazy.” He crossed his arms. “I am simply putting forth the level of effort agreed upon.” That
tone, he couldn’
t possibly be pouting because vampires didn

t pout. I had so many other questions, fear gave way to curiosity. It helped immensely that he was
amicable. Still, telling me even a little about his kind made me wonder if I had a fate in store for me like another friendly girl I had met. Running my fingers through my hair I tried to find a non-combative way to say what I was thinking.

“I saw Anna after the last time I came here, she didn.t know me though. Will I remember you again after tonight?”

In a blur he was at my side, looming over me. His strong scent of pine surrounding me in an invisible fog. Man, he smelled amazing.

Dimitri tilted my chin up with his index finger. “Do you want to?” Okay that look in his eye was a lot more than just a friendly question. There was something primal about that look. He was tensed like a cat ready to pounce, but at the same time was as gentle in his touch like a butterfly.

I thought about it for a fraction of a second. I had learned more in the hour at his home than I had in the last decade about his kind. The old scholar in me craved knowledge. I wanted to lose it about as much as I had wanted to lose my bow. Ripped of my defenses, the only thing I had left was my mind. To have that taken as well was not on the agenda.

“I think...yes I would like to.” He smiled wide, apparently that was the right answer.

In the corne
r
of my eye I saw the front door open and shut quickly. I turned my head in the direction of the sound, while Dimitri took a step back. There was this feeling that started in my gut, it was that deep foreboding aura that crept up when someone was about to be confronted with a flight or fight situation. The air seemed colder, the hairs on my neck stood up. Something was definitely off.

“It is time for you to go
Liv
.” His voice, once soulful was flat as a golf announcer.

“Is everything okay?” I asked him as he corralled me toward the door. Practically shoving me out of the house without touching me.

“Just...family matters to address.” He mumbled as he shut the door tightly behind me. The lights inside dimmed, no footfalls faded. Just silence beyond the wooden portal.

I sighed taking the steps two at a time down to the curb. The evening winds had picked up, I wrapped my arms around myself for warmth. I usually loved the breeze, but tonight it cut me to the bone. Maybe it was the blood loss. Further I walked the more I admitted to myself I was feeling a little woozy.

When I crossed the main street junction toward fourth someone fell in step beside me. The heavy soles of steel toed boots made a far different noise than my flip flops.

My eyes shifted to the familiar thin silhouette of an old friend. He spoke first.

“Tomorrow afternoon,
Smittys
. Three o

clock okay?” The words were barely an audible whisper.

“Adam what the?”

“You didn

t see me.” Without another word he pivoted down the closest driveway, then disappeared into the dark night.

             
The next morning the house was quiet, eerily so. It put me on edge as I
came down the stairs. Zoe wasn’
t
in the kitchen, neither was Candice. Mark and the boys unaccounted for. Dad was there however, sitting at the dining table, nursing a coffee and surrounded in paper

work.

“Dad.”

“Evelyn.” He addressed me the same way he used to
talk to his coworkers when they’
d call the house. Professional; one hundred and ten percent. Subconsciously
I grasped Mom’
s little angel that hung around my neck. I don

t know why, perhaps channeling her would make him
snap out of jerk mode.

“Where is everyone?” I tried to keep the same professional tone that he held, but my voice cracked a bit.

“Mark is at work, the girls took the twins for a walk.” Which meant us being alone was either coincidence or planned for a talk. Fine. I can go first.

“How much longer are you going to give me the cold shoulder?” I murmured while I took a seat at the far end of the table.

“I

m not. I

m just busy.” He didn.t even look up from what he was writing.

“I meant it when I said I was sorry.”

Dad huffed, his wide shoulders sagging just slightly. “What in the devil were you up there for anyway?” He asked me, continuing to scrawl numbers on his little notepad.

“I picked up a distress signal on my radio
, from a convoy
.
  At least I think it was a convoy.
” His pen stopped moving.

“That's impossible.”

“No Dad...Listen to me. I…I saw a
scav
too.”

“That is enough of that!” He slammed his fist on the table, causing his coffee to slosh out the edges of its mug. “I will no longer tolerate your insane babbling and nonsense! There are no scavengers left. There are no convoys that are not scheduled, there is nothing but the colonies and the wilds!” He took a deep breath, then lowered his voice. “Go change, we have lunch with the

Grahams. It’
s about time you get your head out of that
nonsense and focus on important matters.”

“Like popping out babies and cooking?”

“Complain all you want. It

s safe and it is your future. I lost your mother. I
a
m not losing you.” He frowned again. “Go borrow something of Zoe

s, you should look presentable for this.”

I stormed up the stairs, stomping so loudly the neig
hbors probably heard me. I didn’
t care. I punched my pillow on my bed until my arm was tired. Presentable. Like I gave two thirds of a shit what that air headed moron thought about me.

There was no such thing as a legal age anymore. No more adult rights, or off to college. It was just survival, which put me at my
father.s
mercy. Mercy...poor
choice of words. He hadn

t asked word one about this blood service he happily agreed to. He didn

t care that Zack made me want to hurl. No, it was just what was best in his mind. I. was. a. commodity.

With no other options, I screamed until my voice gave out.

P
hysically and emotionally drained, I went to find a flowery dress in Zoe

s closet.

 

 

Chapter
7

 

             
“I think we should be able to secure enough wildflowers to make an ample display.” Mrs.
Dowsetter
blathered on, while I did my best not to listen.

There are those that just go on and on about other
people’s
business, then there are those that somehow find a way to make a living out of it. Mrs.
Dowsetter
was the latter. Correction, she had been until the world went to hell. After that there had been very little need for event planners, deadheads didn.t need streamers and decorated cakes. Although I could see her running around placing doilies under decapitated heads and shoving fresh floral arrangements into chest cavities. You know, to lighten the mood.

From her blabbering it sounded like poor Mrs.
Dowsetter
had been canning vegetables for the last decade. That was, until Councilman Graham reached out to her to help with this impending wedding. What do you know? She remembered her skills
;
o
verly eager to help. Lucky

me.

From the moment she had walked into our little luncheon, her mouth flapped on. And on. And on. I just stared at her in wonder. From her puffy blond hair to her neon pink rose patterned cardigan set, she reminded me of a living breathing
p
uppet.

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