Chapter 8

Cool, clean sheets and the familiar scent of cinnamon surrounded him, and for a moment Doug thought he was dreaming, but when he opened his eyes, it all came roaring back in full color. He sat up as nausea swamped him, and the room started spinning before he flopped back into the soft mountain of pillows.

Two cool hands covered his bare shoulders, and Olivia’s tantalizing, spicy aroma filled his head, instantly quelling the knots in his stomach. There was no way he was in a hospital. The place smelled clean and fresh, but not like a hospital. Maybe it was heaven?

He let out a moan of confusion and grabbed his head with both hands as he fought to get his bearings. He was in a bed. That much he’d figured out. He was naked as the day he was born and had gotten his ass kicked, probably by the same guy who killed those kids.

He remembered being bitten and feeling like he was dying. He could swear Olivia shot the crazy bastard and turned him to dust. I must be dead. Dead or crazy. Shit.

You’re not dead. He could swear he heard Olivia’s voice floating through his mind. Or crazy.

“Olivia?”

Doug cracked his eyes open and was greeted by her smiling face and brilliant green eyes. Her red curls fell over her shoulders and tickled his bare chest as she leaned closer inspecting what he figured was a gash on his head. Doug grabbed her wrists and tugged her closer, holding her against him. Panic and fear slammed into him as the memories flickered into his mind bit by bit.

Doug licked his dry lips and managed to croak out, “Where am I?”

“You’re in my apartment.” She extricated herself from his grip and picked up a mug from the nightstand. She held it to his lips. “Drink this. It will help.”

It smelled like Christmas morning and a great steak rolled into one. He sucked it back greedily and groaned as the warm, thick liquid coated his throat. Within seconds, energizing warmth spread across his chest and radiated through his body. He tipped the cup all the way back, trying to get the last drop, and had to force himself to keep from licking the inside of the now empty mug.

“Whatever that is, it tastes great,” he rasped.

He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and he wasn’t exaggerating either. The throbbing in his head instantly went away, and the nausea had been replaced by a cool, tingling sensation that washed down his arm and through his head. It was like bathing in a peppermint patty.

“What was that? Some kind of organic remedy? I’ve never tasted anything like that.”

“I guess you could say that,” she said humorlessly.

Olivia let go, rose from the bed, and went to a white dresser on the opposite side of the room. He watched as she tossed a bloodstained washcloth in a basin and cleaned up her makeshift nurse’s station. She was wearing a black catsuit that looked like it was painted on and hugged every womanly curve. Ass-kicked or not, he had the ridiculous urge to jump her bones, but given his current state, that wasn’t likely.

“Not to sound like an ingrate, but why did you bring me here and not call an ambulance?” His brow furrowed as he looked around the bedroom. “How did you get me here by yourself anyway?”

She ignored his question. “What were you doing in the alley?” Olivia asked in a voice edged with frustration. She turned, folded her arms over her chest, and studied him but kept her distance. “Why on earth were you there?”

“Tom and I came to ask you—” He stopped mid-sentence as more memories came charging back and looked frantically around the room. “Where’s Tom?”

Olivia didn’t answer, but sadness flickered over her face. “I couldn’t help him,” she whispered. “It was too late. I’m sorry.”

“What?” he seethed as he pushed himself to a sitting position. “You just left him there?” His throat tightened as he choked on anger and sorrow, glaring with accusing eyes. “You left him in that alley to die?”

“He was already dead by the time I got there.” She squared her shoulders and leveled a cold gaze at him. “I’m sorry. I was, however, able to get there in time to help you.”

Doug swore loudly, pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes, and slammed his head into the brass headboard. His partner. His friend and the closest thing he had to a family was gone—and it was entirely his fault. Tom hadn’t wanted to go back there last night, but Doug insisted, and now Tom was dead.

“He’s dead because of me,” he ground out.

“You couldn’t have known what was going to happen.” Her gentle voice soothed him, but it couldn’t stop the tidal wave of grief and guilt. “It’s not your fault, Doug.”

“Where is he?” Doug asked tightly.

“We have his remains. I thought you’d want to have a say in how he’s taken care of.” The bed dipped as Olivia sat next to him and rested her delicate hand on his forearm. “I know it’s difficult, but can you tell me what else you remember?”

“Nothing that won’t sound crazy,” he said as he rubbed his hands vigorously over his face. He dropped them in his lap, and Olivia linked her graceful fingers with his in a surprisingly intimate gesture. He brushed his thumb across the ivory skin of her hand and marveled at the smoothness; she was fire and ice all rolled into one. “We came back to talk to you. I heard something in the alley. Tom and I went to see what it was, and that’s when they jumped us. And then…” he trailed off, unable to finish his thought.

He looked away and around the room. What was he supposed to tell her when he didn’t trust his own memories? He fleetingly noticed that there were no windows in the room, and he didn’t know how he knew, but he could tell they were underground.

“What else?” she asked quietly as she rubbed her thumb over his palm. Smooth strokes seemed to ripple through his whole body, like a pebble in a pond; that simple touch affected his body from head to toe.

“I’m not really sure,” he said absently. “Tom fired at least two shots, but something or someone tackled him.”

He bit back the grief and focused on his anger. Anger he could manage, but not grief, not the stabbing pain of loss. When his mother died he promised himself that he wouldn’t get close to anyone else again, so he wouldn’t feel that heart-wrenching emptiness. Grief, loss, and a broken heart were harder to face than anger and vengeance. Those emotions could feed the fire in his belly—the one that wanted to kill whoever did this to Tom.

“I got tossed against a dumpster, and after that it’s all jumbled.” Doug instinctively touched the spot on his neck where the guy had bitten him but found nothing. “And really fucking weird.”

“Something wrong?”

Olivia watched him intently, and his eyes met hers as his fingers brushed the unmarred flesh on his neck. It should have been a hacked-up mess, bandaged or stitched, but it was smooth and free of injury. It was as though he had never been attacked at all.

He tightened his grip on her hand.

“Doug?”

“He bit me, Olivia,” he said just above a whisper. He looked her straight in the eye, worried that she would tell him he was crazy or hallucinating, but to his surprise she remained calm and resolute. “He had fangs, and the guy fucking bit me. I thought he was coked up or drugged out of his eyeballs, but I’ve seen a lot of addicts in my day, and none had that kind of strength. He picked me up like I weighed nothing. At first, I thought the fangs were fake and part of a costume.”

“What else?” Her voice, edged with tenderness, dipped low as her eyes searched his. “What else did you see?”

“You.” Doug adjusted his position in the bed and looked at her intently. “I saw you shoot him.”

“Yes.”

Her voice was barely audible and her expression unreadable. Was it regret? Fear? Apathy? He didn’t know, but since she didn’t roll her eyes or call him crazy, he held his breath and waited for her to continue.

“It’s okay.” A smile cracked her face, and she squeezed his hand. “You’re not crazy.”

“You said something about this being his last meal, and you shot him.”

“Unfortunately, I didn’t get the one that killed your partner. Which means we’ve still got a rogue out there, and it could cause quite a bit more damage if we don’t put it down. I’m just glad it didn’t turn your partner. When rogues create other rogues, the turn never goes well, and the situation gets exponentially worse.”

“Rogues? What do you mean create rogues?” Doug cocked his head, and that sick feeling in the pit of his stomach came rumbling back. He squeezed her hand tighter, and his jaw clenched. “How about we cut the crap, and you cut to the chase.”

“I thought you were a good detective?” She arched one amber eyebrow as the corner of her mouth lifted. “Detective.”

She slipped her hand out of his as she rose from the bed and paced back and forth across the room. He watched her carefully and tried not to think about the facts. They all added up to a big pile of crazy, like a sack full of cats kind of crazy.

“Let’s look at the evidence, shall we?” She ticked the evidence off one finger at a time. “A man with herculean strength, who was far smaller than you, tossed you around like a doll. He had a set of fangs, bit you, and drank your blood. When I shot him, he exploded and turned into a cloud of ash. I live in an apartment with no windows beneath my nightclub, which is, by the way, called The Coven.” She slowly moved toward the side of the bed as she spoke, but didn’t take her eyes off his. “You’re not dreaming now, Detective Paxton. So why don’t you tell me what’s going on.”

Vampires.

The word ran through his head again and again like a broken record at a million miles a minute, but he couldn’t bring himself to say it. Doug smirked at the ridiculousness of the idea as he ran his hand over his chest, shaking his head in disbelief. But the smile ran from his face when he realized something quite important was notably absent.

“Something wrong?” Olivia asked evenly. “I guess you could say that I stole your heart, but that seems rather dramatic.”

“This has got to be another freaky fucking dream,” he said with sheer disbelief. He looked at her for reassurance that he still had a heartbeat, that this was just a dream, but no such luck.

“We’ll talk about the dreams another time,” she said casually. Doug’s startled gaze flew to hers when she acknowledged the dreams, but she didn’t miss a beat and kept talking. “I think the fact that I’ve turned you into a vampire is more than enough for today’s convo.”

“Vampire?” Doug asked incredulously. “A vampire killed Tom, and then you turned me into a vampire?” He let out a short laugh and crossed his arms over his broad chest. “Bullshit. Tom was attacked by a dog or something.”

“Sadly, it was not a dog, and this isn’t bullshit. We have at least one more rogue vampire out there, and we have to find it and put it down before it does more damage.” Olivia tore her gaze from his and went back to the dresser. She picked up a large black pitcher and poured more of that stuff into his mug. “Drink more of this,” she said, crossing to him and holding it out. “It will make you feel better.”

“What the hell is that stuff?” His eyes flicked to the mug in her hand. He wiped his mouth again, and his stomach dropped when he saw faint red streaks on the back of his hand. “Holy shit,” he said accusingly. “You fed me blood?”

“Please stay calm,” Olivia said quietly. Her green eyes softened as she moved closer. “Your transition was remarkably fast—fastest that I’ve ever seen actually. It’s something I’m going to ask Xavier about, but in the meantime, you can’t run off half-cocked. You have a lot to learn and significant adjustments to your new life.”

“Fuck you, lady.” Doug shoved the covers aside, not caring that he was completely naked. “You’re nuts, and I’m getting the hell out of here, so I can find the sicko that killed my partner.”

Before he could go anywhere, Olivia was on top of him. One second she was standing next to the bed with a mug full of blood, and the next she straddled him on the bed. She was strong. Strong enough to hold him there, and she moved like a ghost. She pinned his wrists against the brass headboard in what was supposed to be intimidating, but all it managed to do was turn him on.

“It’s the truth,” she said, her face inches from his. “And it will make everyone’s lives a lot easier if you just accept it. If I hadn’t turned you then, you would’ve died too,” she said in a low, husky voice. Her green eyes edged with tears remained locked with his. “I—I couldn’t let that happen.”

“Why not?” Doug asked gruffly. His gaze wandered over her face. She reminded him of a porcelain doll. “Why not just let me die?”

Olivia opened her mouth as if to respond, but she shook her head and said nothing. Whether she was unable or unwilling, he didn’t know. She shifted her weight as she pressed his wrists harder against the headboard, and Doug’s body reacted instantaneously. He was, after all, completely naked with the woman of his dreams straddling him in such a way that all he could do was think about being inside of her.

Her heavily lidded eyes met his, and her nostrils flared as his growing erection pressed against her feminine core insistently. Olivia’s exotic scent intoxicated him. She loosened the grip on his wrists as she tangled her fingers in his, holding him prisoner with her body.

“I couldn’t let you go,” she whispered, rocking her hips against him wickedly as she held his gaze. “Not when I just found you.”

Doug groaned as waves of pure pleasure rocked him, giving him more satisfaction with that tiny move than any other woman had with full-on sex. Olivia leaned in, achingly slow, and ran her sweet tongue along the seam of his lips, teasing him and tempting him. She told him more with her actions than she could put into words, and that was when his restraint and last shred of sanity snapped.

Desperate for more, for connection, to feel something other than grief and pain, he devoured her mouth with his and dove deep. He sat up in the bed, tore his hands from hers, and buried them in her silky red curls, kissing her deeply as she remained wrapped around his naked body.

He groaned as Olivia ground herself against him and ran her fingernails across the broad expanse of his back, while she kissed him eagerly, wrapping him in her leather-clad embrace.

His tongue slid along hers as she tightened her legs around his waist, as if she was anchoring him to reality. He needed to get closer, to taste her and convince himself that this was all real, that he had not gone completely off the deep end.

He explored the dark cave of her mouth wanting to taste every bit of her, but it wasn’t enough. He needed more—all of her. He cradled her face in one hand as his thumb brushed her jaw, tilting her head back, allowing him better access to her graceful neck. Doug trailed kisses along her alabaster skin, down to that sweet lovely spot below the ear, and she moaned as she laced her fingers through his short hair and held him to her.

He breathed her in, reveling in that sweet, spicy scent that was so distinctly hers. The one he had been chasing his whole life—the one flirting along the edges of his mind in fantasy and reality. Were they even separate anymore, or had the two collided into an alternate reality?

Doug growled her name as her skin brushed his lips, and her fingers fluttered along the nape of his neck. As Olivia’s long limbs tangled around him, all he could think about was getting closer. Need clawed at him. Greedy and desperate, he clamored for something elusive, something slipping out of his reach, hiding from him, or perhaps, he just couldn’t see what it was.

Doug growled as he licked the gentle curve of her neck and curled his fingers around locks of hair. All he could think was that he had to taste every part of her. It went beyond the need to be inside of her, to bury himself deep in the most intimate place a man can touch a woman. It was the instinctive need to become one.

Lost in pleasure, Olivia arched back as he tugged the zipper of the catsuit down, panting to feel her flesh against his. He pushed the offending fabric aside to feast on her gorgeous breasts. Impatient and eager, he took one rosy nipple in his mouth, suckling as she rocked against his cock and held him.

“Yes,” Olivia breathed. “Taste all of me.”

Please. Electricity shot through him in orgasmic waves as her mind touched his.

Olivia’s voice whispered through his head erotically, and she ground her hips against him, writhing in his lap, begging him to take her.

To taste her.

A growl bubbled up from his chest; an animalistic noise erupted as the orgasm flared in hot, bright flashes, and fangs exploded in his mouth ready to grant her wish.

“Do it,” she rasped.

Olivia guided his head to her throat, offering herself, but through the blind fog of lust came the tiny voice of reason. She wanted him to bite her and drink her blood? Revulsion battled with desire as his teeth hovered above her snow-white skin.

No,” Doug shouted.

Horrified, he shoved her away with all his strength. Doug watched in shock as Olivia went flying twenty feet across the room and landed surely on her feet in a crouching position in front of the bedroom door. His body hummed with lust, and if he still had a working heart, it probably would have beat out of his chest.

“Like I told you,” she said breathlessly. Her green eyes flashed, and a smile curved her lips as she rose to her feet. “You have a lot to learn.”

He swiped at his mouth but winced as his fangs made a long, thin cut on his index finger. He looked at the wound, which was dripping blood onto the white sheets, and watched in fascination as it healed closed in a matter of seconds, as though it had never been there at all. While the bloodstains on the sheets proved that he wasn’t crazy—apparently, he was a vampire.

“Just toying with me, aren’t you?” he said tightly. Anger, resentment, and frustration fired in his gut, although it did nothing to quell his lust. “This is all a game to you.”

Doug flicked his angry eyes back to Olivia and revealed his fangs. Something dark and dangerous stirred inside of him as it dawned on him that she probably didn’t care about him or want him. He was merely a pawn for her to use and control. All of this had been a ploy to get him to be just like her—the dreams, the kiss in the alley, and her office, every minute was part of her seduction to lure him into this insanity.

“What? Did you figure that if enough blood rushed to my dick, I’d forget my humanity and drink your blood? Why? Does that seal the deal?” he asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm. His eyes darkened, and his voice lowered. “I should kill you for doing this to me.”

“I understand how you feel.” Olivia smoothed her long red hair back and kept a blank expression on her face. An emotionless expression, he thought. Cold and calculated. “I wanted to kill my maker as well, but it would be ill-advised.”

She zipped the catsuit back up, covering the milky white curves of her gorgeous breasts that he had been feasting on a moment ago.

He had his head up his ass.

“You want to know the truth?” he asked as he appraised her beautiful form and wrestled with his battling emotions. “I’m not sure if I want to kill you or fuck you.”

“You could try to kill me, but since I’m older and more experienced, it would not end well for you. Secondly, I’m your maker, and killing me is against Presidium law, so it would also earn you a death sentence. And it would hurt my feelings,” she said with a dramatic gesture.

She turned to leave but thought better of it and turned to face him again.

“By the way, I haven’t fucked anyone in almost three hundred years,” she said haughtily. “What makes you think that I’d break that streak for you?”

Doug blinked. Three hundred years? He had no retort for that. Man, he thought it was rough going three months without sex. His eyes wandered over the gentle curve of her leather-clad hip and the swell of her breasts, which made his cock stir to life again in spite of the fact that he was furious with her for turning him into a sideshow freak.

“Now stop bitching, and get dressed. There are fresh clothes laid out over there.” She waved toward the small blue and white love seat on the other side of the room. “You have to be brought up to speed and register with the Presidium.”

“What the fuck is the Presidium?” He got out of bed and grabbed the black leather pants from the small sofa, hoping to shift his focus to something other than jumping her bones. “Leather?” He held them up and looked at her as though she’d lost her mind. “So, not only do I have to feel like a freak, but apparently, I have to look like one too. I guess I should be happy that there’s no cape.”

“You’re not Superman,” she said with a roll of her eyes. “You’re a vampire.”

“Oh, excuse me for getting my fictional stories mixed up.”

“The Presidium is the vampire government, and the leather isn’t a fashion statement,” she said while ignoring his last statement. “That is to help protect you. If you’re going to hunt with us, then you’ll be using silver weaponry, among other weapons. The leather will protect you to a point.”

“Silver? Garlic? Crosses?” Doug snorted and shook his head. “So the movies have it right?”

“Not all of it.” Olivia said as she tied her hair into a tight ponytail. “Sterling silver will kill us if it gets in the bloodstream and just touching it burns like hell. Garlic doesn’t do shit, except stink up the joint and give a human bad breath. There’s more, but seeing that today is the first day of the rest of your undead life, you have plenty of time to learn.”

Doug grumbled something under his breath as he turned his back on her and dragged the pants on. He had a million questions, but at this point, wasn’t even sure where to begin. He could feel her watching him and tried not to think about how much she turned him on. It contradicted every other emotion he was having right now.

“You turned me into a sideshow attraction.” He shoved his arms into the tight shirt, a Lycra and leather thing that fit him like a second skin, and pulled it over his head. “Like the fucking monster that killed my partner.”

When he turned to her, she was standing inches from him. Face to face, her body hovered dangerously close. Her exotic scent filled his head, and without warning, his fangs burst free of their own accord. His gaze flicked to the smooth, silky skin of her throat, and his body hummed with desire—the gut-wrenching need to pierce that flawless flesh and drink.

“When did you get that tattoo?” she asked in a shaky voice.

Olivia placed her hands on his shoulders and urged him to turn around. Doug was only too happy to comply because he was afraid he would lose his senses and kiss her again. Although his body was willing, his mind was all kinds of confused, and he was not in the habit of hooking up with women who didn’t really want him.

She lifted his shirt, and as her fingertips rasped up his back, he shut his eyes trying to keep his raging hormones under control. He had gotten the tattoo because of the dreams, because of her, but the last thing he wanted to do right now was to admit that little tidbit.

“Just a stupid thing I did when I was in college.” He tugged the shirt down and spun around to face her. “It doesn’t mean anything.”

Hurt, or something like it, flickered briefly over her features. “I see,” she said quietly as she tore her gaze from his and walked to the door. “I’ll be in the living room when you’re ready.”

“Two things.” Doug grabbed a pair of combat boots off the floor and put them on as he spoke. “Number one. I’m going to stick with you until we find that sack of shit that slaughtered my partner, and then I’m going to kill it.”

“Agreed.” Her jaw set determinedly. “And number two?”

“Sunlight kills vampires, right?” He watched her nod curtly. “After we kill it, I’m taking a walk in the sun because I’d rather be dead than be like this.”

“Part of what you will learn, Detective Paxton,” she said as her voice hardened, and her eyes glittered like emeralds, “is not all vampires slaughter humans like the rogue that killed your partner or the one that almost killed you. Now, finish getting dressed, and drink the rest of the blood in the pitcher before you come out. Van and Oreo are out there, and if you’re hungry, they might smell like lunch.”

“Van? Your dog?” He cocked his head. “Is your dog’s name Van Helsing?”

“Yes.” She fought the urge to smile and join in the humor. “Don’t change the subject. Drink all the blood in the pitcher. You were just turned, and for some reason, you woke up a day and a half earlier than expected. I don’t want to take any chances, especially since your transition is showing unusual side effects.”

Doug said nothing but glanced at the pitcher as a stabbing pain tugged at his gut. As much as he hated to admit it, he was starving. He could smell the blood from here, but oddly enough, it didn’t smell like blood. He had smelled plenty of blood over the past ten years as a homicide detective, and the pungent, mineral smell was something he had gotten used to. However, that stuff in the pitcher did not smell anything like blood—it smelled delicious.

He also wanted to know what other side effects she was referring to, but hunger took over, and all he could think about was eating. It clawed at him, like an animal trying to get out of a cage, and before he realized what he was doing, Doug found himself standing on the other side of the room with the pitcher in hand.

“What the fuck?” he said in awe as he looked back to where he’d been standing a second before. Somehow, he’d managed to move twenty feet without even feeling it—like he willed himself across the room in the blink of an eye.

“You have a lot to learn, like I said,” Olivia murmured. “I can’t have you running around the streets of New York City starving.” She stood in the open door with her hand lingering on the doorknob. “Otherwise, you will turn into the very monster you fear.”

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