Six wide eyes stared at me. It made me feel like I was back in college, presenting my nursing project on my own, this time without a classmate for support. Everyone’s eyes were shielded by a dark blue mask and a glassy expression. It made me feel like I was the one in the operation room. Bare. Helpless.
Nikolai was the first out of his stupor. He took a step closer to me, but not before flicking his sputtering cigarette into the wastebin behind him. “W-What did you say?” He stammered.
“Yeah, I think my ears had some earwax in them,” Omen sighed, rubbing at his pointed skin. “You were saying?”
“Don’t tease her, Omen,” Amara chided, but even she looked like she didn’t believe me. Her wolfish ears were tense on her head, her dark eyes scanning the room with caution, as if she thought someone was manipulating my words.
“I want to stay,” I repeated, my voice no longer the meek whisper it was. Nikolai’s eyes gave me confidence. His firm, crimson gaze kept me grounded. “I don’t want to forget any of this. You guys are my friends. I want to help you. I want to know more. To understand, and to feel...”
I looked at Nikolai as I spoke, and I knew he understood what I meant by ‘feel’. Our night at the carnival was still on both of our minds, and I didn’t know if he was thinking about the fight or the kiss, but I sure was.
Amara and Omen glanced warily at each other, and Nikolai stayed rooted to his spot. He didn’t utter a single word, not even as Amara and Omen mumbled to themselves. He wasn’t looking at me either. His gaze was fixed on an invisible drop of blood on the already bright red ground, bright lights flashing like a disco around us.
I wonder what he’s thinking, I thought. Is he angry? Did he not want me to know anything? Why the hell am I speaking to myself?
“Well, you’ve made your decision, Varsha,” Amara said. “But now it’s time for us to make ours.”
I frowned. “What do you mean?”
“We need to decide what we have to do with you,” Omen filled in. “Obviously, we’re thrilled that you want to know all of us, but being part of our world isn’t a walk in the park.”
“Just like we said before,” Amara said. “We get attacked and hunted. We, nor our families, are ever safe. It’s a battle every day for us. Are you really sure you want to open this door?”
“She already agreed,” Nikolai cut in, his voice deadly quiet, but having a silencing effect on the entire room, myself included. “Why do we need to keep playing this game? Just leave her.”
If it hadn’t already, tension rose to Nikolai’s shoulders, making his tall stature more prominent in the room. His crimson eyes were glowing, his talons bared and fangs out. He looked angry, cold—
I gulped, and Amara reached for Nikolai’s shoulder, squeezing him.
“I know what you’re trying to say, Niko, but we really need to think this through.” Her eyes darted to mine. “Don’t you care about Varsha’s safety?”
“Are you even asking me that question?” Nikolai snapped. “You should know the answer.”
Omen rolled his eyes. “That’s Nikolai language for ‘yes’,” he grumbled, leaning closer to me. I giggled, and Nikolai’s eyes locked onto me.
Amara let out a tired exhale. “Look, Varsha’s a human. She isn’t a vampire, or werewolf, or demon. She’s not one of the top three. That makes her a liability.”
“She is not a liability,” Nikolai interjected. Now he sounded angry. “She is a human being who gave her choice. We have to respect that and do everything we can to make this transition easy.”
Omen scoffed. “She’s not turned if that’s the type of transition that you’re talking about. All we have to do is protect her.”
“Her, and her family,” Amara added, her words slicing through the tense air. Her golden eyes softened when they landed on me. “Varsha has siblings, remember? If they get caught up in this, it will be our fault.”
“No, it will be my fault,” I said, finding my voice in the depths of Nikolai’s controlling eyes. “I’m their older sister. They’re my responsibility. And if this does backfire and affect them, then it will be my fault.”
Amara paused in her lengthy speech, assessing me with her hard eyes. “You’re sure?”
I nodded. “Positive.”
A sensitive, tense silence filled the room afterward, one that was quickly broken by Omen’s scoff.
“Well, now that we have that down,” he looked at Amara, who was scowling. “Oh, come on, Alpha! She has all of us, and Nikolai especially will make sure nothing happens to her! Be happy! We finally have her on our side.”
“I’m thinking,” Amara answered. She looked at Nikolai, her eyes hazing over.
“I know that already, Amara,” Nikolai answered irritably. “I’ll be with her if anything happens. Don’t ask how. I’ll know everything.”
“Um...what?” I looked between the two of them. “What is it?”
“They’re mind linking,” Omen filled languidly. “Demons can’t do that, unlike werewolves and vampires, who have more in common than you think.”
“Oh,” I hummed. “Uh, Omen?”
“How’s Amara an Alpha if she’s a girl?” I asked. “Aren’t Alpha’s male?”
Omen grimaced immediately, and I regretted opening my mouth. “That’s a question you should ask Amara, kid. Cause honestly, it’s something she should tell you than me.”
“Is it that bad?” I asked, wishing I could keep my mouth shut. God, how uncomfortable was I making him?
Instead, Omen nodded, looking rather grim. “Yeah, yeah it was that bad.” Then, he ruffled my hair. “But don’t worry, kid. Nikolai’s not like that.”
“Yup. I’m three-hundred years older than you are,” Omen said cheerily.
“Man. The Alpha King’s ten times your age,” Amara mumbled, joining our conversation. I was going to ask where Nikolai was when I felt a cool shadow pass behind me, hard plains pressing against my back. I bit my lip.
“And yet you both still look twenty,” Nikolai teased, a tentative smile crossing his lips. He gazed down at me, and I couldn’t help but look up at him, wanting to get lost in his dark eyes again.
“Do you have any more questions for us, Varsha?” Amara asked.
“Uh...do werewolves and vampires get along?” I asked.
“Yes. Contrary to human belief, we get along quite well and are allied with most vampire covens,” Amara answered.
“However, most vampires like to go rogue,” Nikolai added.
“Nah. If you’re a rogue wolf that means you were banished,” Omen said. “Rogue vampires are just vampires who prefer to be alone.”
“Oh,” I chewed on my lip. “So, like you, Nikolai?”
Nikolai’s breath hitched, but then he smiled, nodding. “Yeah, like me. I suppose you could say I prefer to be alone.”
“No wonder he’s such a recluse,” Omen grumbled.
I giggled, and I could feel Nikolai stiffen above me. “He’s not that bad,” I defended. “But...what about you, Omen?”
“What about me?”
“What’s your...thing?” I asked, unsure how to phrase my question without sounding racist or stereotypical.
“My thing?” Omen repeated, laughing. “Well, I rule over a part of hell. I’m one of the many rulers of different kingdoms. Yes, I do have a husband. He was a butler in the Demon King, Ishtar’s palace. Uh...I don’t carry a pitchfork, cause that gets heavy at times. No, I don’t kill people...well, not without reason.” I smiled and Omen winked at me. “I guess that’s it, really. I don’t really do much apart from rule a tiny kingdom.”
“Be it a kingdom than a pack,” Amara grumbled. “You might have probably guessed by now, Varsha, but I’m the Alpha of Bloodhill. Before you ask, no, I do not shift with the moon. I can shift whenever I want to. I am not a cannibal or a cold, stone-hearted Alpha who mistreats her pack and mate.”
Amara paused for a second, a flash of pain skimming her face before she masked it, smiling toothily. In her eyes, I could see that she hoped that I didn’t notice.
Even though I did.
“Okay...” I drawled. “Do you have a Beta?”
Amara nodded. “Yeah. He’s the wolf you saw earlier. He’s my best friend. Most Beta’s are.”
“Some become mates over time, but we all know that won’t be happening to Amara,” Omen joked, seeming to try and lighten the mood.
I joined him, letting out what felt like a forced giggle. “Yeah. How’s that going, Amara? Find anyone cute?”
A low growl rumbled from Nikolai’s chest, vibrating on my back, and Amara blushed. “No, not yet. I’m still trying to understand this entire online dating thing? It’s confusing, really.”
I smirked. “You’ll get used to it, um...” I turned, facing Nikolai now. I was too short to meet his eyes, but I could feel them holding me against him, just as he had on the Ferris wheel.
Just like when he kissed me.
Butterflies erupted in my stomach, but I stomped on them, tilting my head up to meet his crimson eyes. “So...what about you?”
Nikolai smirked languidly, reaching into his pocket to light another cigarette. He arched his back against a chair, his pose reminding me of the erotic models I had found in magazines in Martin’s room.
Sooo sexy, I thought in my mind.
“What about me?” He asked, handing both Amara and Omen a cigarette to share. Amara took one, some of the color returning to her tan cheeks, but Omen shook his head, reaching for the shots of liquor instead.
I wrinkled my nose. “What’s your gig? Omen’s a King and Amara’s an Alpha. What about you?”
Nikolai dragged his pink tongue along his lips, biting on the cigarette ever so slightly. “Well, I’ve been here and there,” he responded vaguely.
“Here and there?” I repeated, cocking my hip to the side. Nikolai’s eyes traced my movements. “I’m going to need a little more than that, Nikolai.”
“Well...” Nikolai trailed off, his eyes peering past my frame to Amara and Omen, both of who watched us with wide eyes. Neither of them moved for a few seconds, until Amara’s eyes glazed over. Giving a huffing chuckle, she steered Omen out of the room, telling us that they’d be at the bar before the door shut with a click.
Now, it was just Nikolai and me.
In a room.
Meant for fucking.
My stomach clenched, anticipation crawling around my stomach and pooling between my legs hotly, but I stood my ground, indifferent to whether or not Nikolai could sense my arousal.
Based on his widened smirk and the pull of his pants, however, I deduced that he, in fact, could tell that I was getting aroused.
“You still haven’t answered me,” I said, tapping my foot on the ground. I clenched my jaw, hoping my eyes were just as hard as Nikolai’s when he was in the hospital. “What do you do, Nikolai? As a vampire?”
Nikolai was silent for a few moments, pulling on his burning cigarette. Smoke and stench filled the air around me, but I wasn’t backing down. Not right now. And especially not with the guy who made me feel so many emotions at once, arousal especially.
“I haven’t always lived in America,” he spoke, dragging onto his words. He pulled himself up from his tempting position, getting onto his feet. “I used to live in Russia, then in France, Italy, Spain. Portugal, Britain, Ireland, you name it. I suppose you could say I was a nomad, a traveler. I never really wanted to be part of a coven, despite the fact that I was asked to join many.”
“To this day, I’m not certain,” he said, shrugging. “I have been told by Amara that I fight better than the warriors in her pack, so perhaps that’s why they wanted me? It doesn’t matter. I wasn’t interested in settling down with them. I was young, and naive. I...” he broke off. “I made many mistakes that had costed many lives. I did not want anymore to suffer, so I disappeared.”
Nikolai chuckled at the sheer confusion on my face, taking slow steps towards me. “Not literally, Varsha. I had lived my entire life in Europe and Asia. I wanted a change. A chance to make a new name. So, I left. I boarded the next ship to America and attempted to start fresh, however...” he scratched the back of his neck. “You can see how that is faring as of right now.”
I giggled. “It seems to be going pretty smoothly for you,” I teased, walking closer to him. His lips pulled, and he flicked the cigarette perfectly into the wastebasket, his dark eyes narrowing predatorily. Maybe even more than Amara.
“You wish,” he scoffed, bending his head down against my neck. His hair brushed against the tingling skin there, his face smooth and void of any beard or stubble. I could hear his breathing deepen, and my own chest heaved with our proximity, and the things it was doing to me.
“Nikolai...we should talk...” I mumbled, already feeling my body loose consciousness when his lips touched my neck.
“What do we have to talk about?” He questioned, his voice rugged and sultry, his fangs dragging up my neck, pressing against the veins that I couldn’t see. My breath hitched in my throat.
“You know what...” I gasped, arching my back when he sunk his fangs slightly into my neck. “Nikolai!”
He smirked against my skin, his knee pressing against my mound, rubbing tantalizingly on my slit. “What? I’m not doing anything,” he said innocently.
I wanted to think of a good comeback like I always had, but with Nikolai, everything was different. His touch, his voice, his smell. He wasn’t even human!
I hated how submissive I was to him, but I couldn’t help it. Around him, it was like my body was on autopilot, controlling my actions for me (well, my daydreams, I should say.)
Being with a man like Nikolai was only a dream teenage girls had. There were no vampires. No hot doctors who romanced you during breaks. There were no regular men with six-packs. No men who took you to the carnival and kissed you at the top of the Ferris wheel.
Until there was.
Nikolai was everything I ever wanted in a man, but what was I to him? Didn’t he just say he didn’t want to settle? Was he only using me as a relief for a short period of time? Did he want anything more than just midnight kisses?
As if sensing my confusion, Nikolai pulled away from me, cupping my cheek and tilting my head up to meet his eyes. He leaned closer, pressing his lips gently to mine.
“I’m yours, Varsha, my rainstorm,” he murmured, his lips so close to my ear I wished they were kissing me instead. “You asked me to be yours, and I agreed. I’m never going to change my mind on that.”
“Every man says that at the beginning of a relationship,” I mumbled, trying to look away. I fisted his shirt, my fingers burning to feel the dips of his icy skin on mine.
He chuckled huskily, pecking me again. “But I am not any ordinary man, no?” When I giggled, he smiled. “I am yours, my rainstorm. Only yours. I have no desire to be any other woman’s possession. Only yours.”
“I thought it was the other way around?” I teased, feeling as though a burden had been lifted from my shoulders.
Nikolai’s eyes darkened, his fingers digging into my hips, pulling me closer so our sex pressed against each other. “Do you want me to make you mine?” He asked. “I believe it is too early to say so, my rainstorm, but you will be mine one day. I will make you mine, only if you want me to.”
I felt my eyes becoming hazy, unsure if it was from the blinding lights of Nikolai’s sharp gaze. “Like...turn me? You can do that?”
He nodded. “Yes. But right now is a bit too early, no? We need to get you accustomed to our way of life, should we not?”
“Yes, I think we should,” I agreed. “I’d also like for my family to get to know you more. I—” I blushed. “I’d like to get to know you more.”
Nikolai smirked smugly, his thumb brushing over my ribcage but just underneath my breasts. I gasped. “I would like to get to know you very well, my rainstorm.”
I bit my lip. “What about Paris and Martin?”
“What about them?”
“Are you...okay with them?”
“Yes,” Nikolai replied immediately. “They are your family. Therefore, they will be mine one day as well. I should get to know them, should I not?”
He’s too sweet. I complained to myself. How can he be sweet and sexy at the same time?
“I’d like that,” I said. I pressed my cheek against his neck, his freezing skin a huge relief to the pounding between my thighs, something I knew Nikolai could feel very well. “I think they’d like to get to know you more too.”
“When?” He whispered.
I hummed, the sound of the EDM music echoing in my ears, the sultry environment getting to my head. “How does next month sound? Like, the first Saturday?”
“I should be free on that day,” Nikolai said. His hand traveled down my back, towards my bottom, and I could feel myself drawing blood from my lip. “I will see your family then, but as for now...”
He ran his fingers through my hair, then yanked my head back, roughly pushing his lips onto mine. I wasn’t expecting that of him, so it took me a few moments to respond to his harried kiss, but once I did, I felt like I was back on the Ferris wheel again.
Lust and Love.
I kissed him back with as much vigor as I could, raking my fingers through his hair, gripping fistfuls of his shirt. I moaned into his mouth, and he smiled on my lips, his fangs shooting from his gums.
"Nikolai...” I gasped between breaths.
"My rainstorm,” He growled lowly, pushing me back until my knees buckled and I fell back on the bed I didn’t even know existed.
My surprise was short-lived, however, because Nikolai went back at it again. He wasn’t gentle, not like at the carnival. Maybe it was because we were alone now, but he kissed me as though I were oxygen and he was a dying man. His hands tugged my hair whenever I pressed for some power, a small punishment. His knee rubbed between my legs, pleasuring me without even touching me with his hands.
Speaking of hands...
As his lips roamed my neck, sucking on the blood I had let escape from my lips, his hands roamed by my waistband. He didn’t go immediately for my shirt, and even as he tugged at my jeans, that’s all he did, tug. He didn’t rip them away from me. He didn’t tug at my bra. He only kissed me, easing the tension that had unknowingly built up between my legs and on my lips.
I was glad he didn’t have sex with me, though. I wasn’t ready for it, and while kissing like this was fine with me, I think having sex after the first date felt too cliche for me. Besides, I wanted to get to know him more, and I think Nikolai knew and understood that too. I wanted to go on dates. To have a night stargazing. To eat at a fancy restaurant and have a moonlit dance. I wanted to have all of those experiences before we actually got hot and heavy.
And maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t be able to do all of that before sex. Nikolai was a vampire. He had instincts. He had needs. I knew that much from Twilight. Maybe we would only be able to meet Paris and martin before he snapped, I wasn’t sure. Whatever happened, though, I knew Nikolai would wait for me. He was respectful, knowing his boundaries without me even asking him.
“Mind-reading,” Nikolai murmured between kisses, breaking me from my inner monologue.
“What?” I asked, leaning up-on the bed. He pulled away from me, the ache in my thighs now gone, a relaxing feeling spreading through me. He pulled me into his lap, burying his face into my neck.
“Mind-reading, my rainstorm. I can read your mind,” he admitted with a chuckle. “Do not fret, my love. I will not push you that far until you are ready. I apologize if I went too far just now. You are right. My vampire instincts make me...sexually attracted to you. Very much so. I will control it as much as I can if that was uncomfortable for you.”
I smiled shakily, trying to pull myself together. “No, I really liked it. You made me feel...really good. I want to feel like that again. I’m...um...I’m not ready for sex right now, but maybe after a few months?”
He sighed, smiling, his eyes dark but hazy. “Of course, my rainstorm. Whatever you wish, you shall have.”
I laughed. “You aren’t a genie or djinn, Nikolai. You can’t give me everything I want.”
“Oh, but I can,” he said, kissing my shoulder where a purple mark now rested. “I can give you everything and anything you ever want. All you have to do is name it, Varsha.”
I grinned. “And if I say I just want you?”
He chuckled darkly, his arms tightening around my waist. “Then you shall have me, mate.”
“Mate.” Nikolai turned me around in his lap, his eyes fixated on mine. “I’ve finally found you after so long, my rainstorm. My—”
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