34. How to Prevent STDs (and Pregnancy)
What the hell am I doing?
I took a few steps away from the door, hesitating, knowing that if I knocked, things may very well change.
Whether or not they would change for the better was yet to be determined.
I’d stayed in my room for another ten minutes, not moving from the chair I’d been sitting in for hours, staring blankly at the wall as my mind ran a freaking marathon.
It can’t be true. It’s not true. It’s all just some massive coincidence. It can’t be true. It’s not true. It’s all just some massive coincidence. It can’t be true...
Anyways, those same three sentences had circled through my head for a good chunk of time, before my denial had run out. The evidence added up. It made logical sense. Besides, it definitely explained why I was still alive. He hadn’t threatened to kill me - or even hurt me - since that first phone call when I was still under the impression that I would be able to get out of the city and keep Opal and Kyle safe. I’d failed miserably at both of those tasks, in case it was still unclear.
No, he continuously used Opal as a way to keep me in check. Though he hadn’t outright threatened to hurt her since he had Kyle killed, the fact that she was still here and she could die if I made a wrong move hung over my head like a guillotine blade. If I stepped out of line, my head would be chopped off. Well, metaphorically. I assume Opal’s head would be chopped off quite literally.
A tug in my chest halted my thoughts.
It’s been growing more and more insistent over the past several minutes, forcing me to stand from the chair and venture out into the hallway, where it led me to a bedroom a few doors down from mine.
That’s when I stopped.
The tugging didn’t.
If anything, it grew stronger, urging me to just open the door and finish what I started a few days ago. And while I hadn’t seen Elijah since that... event, I seriously doubted my ability to control myself around him, especially with my recent discovery.
Besides, didn’t he want to see me? Didn’t he send Luca to summon me to his side like the doting dog he pretends I am? Seriously, do I look like a dog?
Actually, don’t answer that.
And while I may be an absolute bitch, it was not in the canine sense. I left him that day for my own amusement. I might very well do the same thing tonight if I open that door, though I strongly doubt that he’ll still have patience left over for my torturous shenanigans.
What am I even still doing out here?
I waited for what seemed like a long, agonizing hour, when in reality it was probably only another minute or so, waiting for my dependable inner Hunter voice - though not-so-dependable as of late - to interject. To tell me that this was definitely the biggest mistake of my life. To warn me of my real mission - kill all supernatural beings. It doesn’t matter if you have a supernatural bond to one. The job is the job. There should be no exceptions.
But all was silent in my mind.
Why is it that the one time I want to hear voices in my head, I don’t?
The tugging grew stronger. I winced against its persistency as it practically begged me to open the door. It was just one simple door, one simple turn of the knob, and then...
What? No! Don’t think that!
Honestly, I would rather be in the safehouse. The safehouse! The place where I lost everything!
Wait, no, that was a lie. The last time I was there, I was packing up my meager belongings, rifling through Cedric and Thomas’ things with every intention of getting rid of them. My eyes had been aching and red-rimmed - not from crying, but from holding tears back. I’d felt sick. Every time I caught a glimpse of my hands, dried blood stuck to my fingers and caught under my nails, a fresh bought of nausea had washed over me.
I hadn’t been to that section of Toronto since.
I shook out my head, banishing the depressing memories before they could take me over completely. I had to make a decision before my body decided to act on its own accord.
Actually, my body would probably make a choice regardless of what my brain wanted. It was probably better for them not to be at war with one another. I’d learned from experience that fighting instinct was never a smart thing to do.
So, I did the only rational thing one could do in that situation.
I raised my hand and knocked.
There was a brief pause. I heard the sound of footsteps approach the door, quiet despite the person they belonged to. I don’t know, I had always found it cool - and slightly unnerving - when a person’s footsteps don’t match their height and build.
Not that I was one to talk. I was five foot eight and near-silent on my feet, which was, of course, something I’d learned was quite effective for a Hunter. Pre-Takeover Reese had sounded like a stampede of jump roping elephants when she walked.
There was a slight hesitation once the footsteps reached the door. My breath caught in my throat as the knob began to turn, a strange anticipation churning in my stomach.
Knock it off! You’re here to confront him! Yes, that’s it. Confrontation. Nothing else. No mistakes will be made here tonight.
My resolve hardened. I’d decided that I would not be finishing what I started. My life was already complicated enough as it was. I wasn’t going to make it worse by blurring the lines in my relationship with Elijah - my non-existent relationship, might I add. He was strictly my enemy. Somebody I had to take down. I would speak with him in a professional manner about the issue I’d just uncovered, and then retreat back to my own room.
When did I start thinking of the glorified cell as my room?
Shut up. That didn’t matter right now. The door was opening, slowly revealing Elijah standing behind the door, a signature frown sporting his face.
And he was wearing pajamas.
An amused smile cracked across my face. So much for professionalism.
But seriously, it was impossible not to. Sure, they weren’t adorably covered with ducklings or kittens or anything cute and childish like that, but still, pajamas.
“I did not peg you for a pajama type of person,” I leaned against the doorframe, crossing my ankles as I raised an eyebrow and tried my best to look like my heart was not about to burst through my chest. Pull it together, Reese! “Though to be fair, I didn’t know what I was imagining you slept in. Not that I imagined you sleeping. At all.” I barely managed to refrain from wincing. “I suppose I just pictured less clothing.”
Real smooth, Reese. Nailed it.
Guess I was back to being the awkward, fumbling person I was when I first met him. Well, isn’t that just great?
“Can I help you?” He sounded annoyed, his green eyes flashing with irritation. I took in his appearance again. A navy blue T-shirt that hung off his frame like it was a size or two too big. A pair of checkered baggy pants that were similar to a pair I got Dad for Christmas when I was eleven. His dark hair was ruffled and out of its usual pristine condition.
“Sorry, did I wake you up?” My grin widened. “You summoned me, remember?”
“That was five hours ago." He drew a hand over his face. It was not not attractive.
“Well, you should have at least waited up for me.”
He sighed. “What do you want, Reese?”
“What did you want?” I countered. “You’re the one who wanted to see me. My slight delay was only meant to prove a point.” That wasn’t necessarily true. Until a few minutes ago, I didn’t have any intentions of seeing him at all.
“You’re a bit late,” he said, his tone flat.
“A queen is never late.” I quoted a line from one of my favorite childhood movies.
“You,” he hissed. “Are not a queen.”
A knowing smirk replaced my grin. “Well,” I said, leaning in conspiratorially. “That’s not exactly true, now is it?”
His expression seemed to freeze, and he straightened his posture, moving out of the way to allow me into the room. I stepped past him, taking extra care to accidentally bump his shoulder as I passed by. As he shut the door behind me, I spun around, folding my arms across my chair and jutting out a hip. Power pose. Sort of.
“Have you come,” he said, his voice a deadly whisper. “To finish what you started?”
I twisted the hairband I had around my wrist, glancing up at him from beneath my lashes. Or at least tried to. I probably looked more like a psychopath played by a bad actor. “Ah, so that’s why you wanted me here. I figured. No, that’s not why I’m here. Sorry, not sorry.” As his eyes narrowed, I forged ahead. “Come on, Elijah. I think you know exactly why I’m here.”
My humorous tone dropped with my last words. My brows furrowed together, and my hands tightened into fists.
“Do I?” His tone sounded disinterested, but his body shifted in my direction as he spoke. “Are you here to kill more vampires for me? Maybe even go after Christian Roy himself?”
“Let’s skip the part where we pretend I don’t know what’s going on here,” I stepped toward him. “Tell, me, Elijah; how long have you known I’m your mate?”
He paused, blinking. His mouth opened. Then closed. Opened. Closed.
“Stop that,” I said. “You look like a fish.”
Though my exterior was oozing calm and control, my interior was running at five kilometers a minute. He’s taken aback. He really didn’t know I knew. He really thinks my intelligence and observational skills are laughable.
Well, I guess I proved him wrong.
At my comment, he quickly rearranged his features into one of ease. The corner of his lips curled upward into a smirk that seemed almost... cruel. His shoulders rolled back like he was exercising a kink out of his shoulder blades. Any surprise in his eyes vanished, replaced with a cool, distant look that instantly told me to be wary. In the span of a few seconds, he’d transformed from the baffled man in the adorable pajamas to the cold-hearted Alpha I’d met two months ago.
Seriously. The resemblance between the person standing before me and the one who had Kyle killed was uncanny.
I knew the move he was making, though. It was one I had done countless times - mostly when I was bored of killing unsuspecting supernatural beings and wanted to shake things up a bit. I wanted them to know who I was. I wanted my dead, emotionless face to be the last thing they say. It was a security blanket, almost, concealing my true emotions from the world.
Though, when it had almost gotten me killed once, I adopted the sarcasm-and-deflective-humor method instead.
“Honestly, Reese, I never expected you to take this long to figure it out,” he purred. “Aren’t you supposed to have educated yourself on these types of things? You’re the Hunter, after all. I should assume you’d be an expert in supernatural occurrences.”
“Funnily enough, I never considered the werewolf mate bond to be of much importance.” I glared at him, instantly abandoning my almost-teasing attitude. Funny how my mood changes to match his in a way to be as difficult as I possibly could be. “Answer the question. How long have you known?”
I knew how long he knew, but I wanted him to say it. I needed to hear him say it.
He raised an eyebrow. Cool, I can do that too. “I had every intention of killing you, you know,” he began. “I had imagined over and over again how it would feel to finally destroy the Hunter who took so much from me. Who’s family took so much from me.”
I blinked. My family? “What are you talking about?” My mom was a witch, but if he knew that, then he would also know that I was a witch. And since he had shown no signs of knowing that, he couldn’t have been talking about my mom.
Which left my dad. Who, until recently, I believed to be strictly human. Until my manifesting magic unlocked the memory lock Cedric had put on me after the Takeover. My dad had been a Hunter, like me.
Or, at least, he carried a silver dagger and knew about the supernatural world.
“Never mind that,” he waved my words away, seemingly annoyed that I’d interrupted his monologue. “I was fixated on hunting you down. Nobody else could trace your scent; it was like you didn’t exist. It didn’t occur to me until I smelled it myself. It was faint, but there.”
“You figured it out because I smell nice?” I didn’t know why I was so surprised. I had just read the textbook. I knew that scent was a way for werewolves to identify their mates. But I still felt like being a pain in the ass, albeit a minor one. “Did you never stop to consider that maybe I just used nice shampoo?”
He crinkled his nose. “Do humans really think that lathering themselves in chemicals makes them smell any better?”
“I knew then what you were, but your scent was too faint for me to track. So I had my pack search for you the old-fashioned way. It didn’t take long to find your apartment, your number, the small coffee shop you worked at part-time when you weren’t gallivanting around the city murdering my friends.” Honestly, he sounded like a classic storybook villain, during the part where they revealed their evil plan for world domination. Amateur move. “By that point, I still wanted you dead. I was going to send Keith and Oliver to do it, my two best fighters, when I decided to call you. And when I heard your voice, I had a better idea. Why not just take away your freedom? That would be more than enough of a lesson for you.”
During this time, he’d stepped closer and closer. I didn’t back away.
“I don’t think it worked,” I said, my voice - ugh - coming out slightly breathy. “I’m a terrible student, you know.”
Well, post-Takeover Reese Hearne was a terrible student. Pre-Takeover Reese Hearne was top of her class, but emotionally unstable Reese Hearne doesn’t really like listening to others.
His gaze softened - kind of - as he lifted his hand and placed it on my cheek. I didn’t move it; though my mind was screaming at me to leave, now, my body had no interest in obeying. Traitor.
“Yes,” he murmured. “You are.”
Gee, nothing turns a girl on like being told they’re terrible at something.
“Tell me,” he continued. “How did you figure it out?”
“I’m not an idiot, contrary to your belief,” I said, my voice soft but my words barbed. “I connected the pieces. I knew there was a supernatural reason to explain why I hate you but still wanted to rip your clothes off and have hot werewolf sex.”
Yeah. I’m not known for beating around the bush.
He frowned. “You feel the bond? How? Humans don’t usually feel it until...” he shook out his head.
I kept my mouth shut. There was no way I was about to tell him that I wasn’t entirely human. Besides, I could fill in his unsaid words for myself. Humans don’t usually feel it until they’re Marked.
“Keep your dog-teeth away from my neck,” I growled, finally removing his hand from my face. “So... what happens now? I vote for me going back to my room and living in denial for the rest of my existence. Sound good?”
I made to move to the door, but one look from him froze me in my tracks. I could feel the tension growing between us, making me actually desire to stay, maybe finish what I started...
No, Reese, no! Remember that he’s the enemy! You want him dead, remember?
The protests echoing through my head were quiet and muffled like I was hearing them from underwater.
“I think we both know that’s not going to happen,” he said, then promptly brought his hand to my chin, lifted my head, and brought my lips to his.
Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit.
Surprise rushed over me as desire smacked into my bones with a force worthy of breaking the sound barrier. Immediately, any thoughts of resistance fled my body, evaporating into the air as though it was never there to begin with.
So much for leaving.
This kiss was different from the first. While the first one started off hesitant, almost as if neither of us really wanted it, this one spoke of a begrudging passion; while neither of us particularly liked that we wanted one another, we gave in to the urge regardless and are now just acting upon instinct.
Honestly, it was nice to turn off the rational part of my brain. Even for just a small bit of time.
He bit down on my lip, softly with a hint of the animalistic instinct I was certain resided in all werewolves. After all, they are half-dog. Unable to stop myself, I let out a gasp, trying to refrain from making any embarrassing noises. Of course, my attempts were in vain. I was no longer in control of my own body, a fact that slightly irked me as I curved my body against his, leaning further into him as my hands slipped up under his shirt.
Screw it. I took it off entirely.
My finger skimmed across his chest, grazing over his pectorals as I pulled away from him briefly to admire what I’d just uncovered. Another flash of desire rushed through me at the sight of his bare chest - though he was technically my enemy, that didn’t mean I couldn’t find him absolutely hot.
It brought me no shame to admit it to myself. I was a Hunter hellbent on destroying him, not blind.
He smirked down at me, arrogance radiating from his every pore. I cut him off before he could speak, my hands moving from his chest to tangle into his hair. It was soft, like he’d washed it not long ago. “Before you say anything,” I whispered. “Just know that my upper chest is more impressive than yours.”
He snorted, but his eyes darted down to confirm my words. Obviously, I was telling the truth.
I rolled my eyes, then leaned back in and kissed him again.
He groaned against my sudden assault, his own hands skimming down my shoulders and onto my arms, sending a flurry of tingles and heat washing through me. All at once, my sudden, urge to seize control of the situation rose up, and I slipped my tongue into his mouth, repeating the actions he’d done last time.
But, you know. I was obviously better at it.
Slowly, I brushed my tongue against his lips, savoring the feelings. As if he was realizing what I was trying to do, his hands slipped beneath my own shirt, traveling up to wear my breasts were hiding beneath my bra.
That didn’t matter. My senses were still operating on overdrive, even as he tugged at the hem of my shirt.
Images began racing through my head. A dark night. Grief was still fresh in my mind as I left the safe house, my feet stumbling blindly over the cracked concrete of the sidewalk. Nearing a minor vampire den as I entered Ossington, content with the knowledge that I had five stakes in my bag and my silver dagger sitting snug in my pocket. Being ambushed. My bag skidding away from me. The cold eyes, the flashing teeth. Myself, struggling to get away, even as the vampire pulled at my clothes, amusement echoing in their every cruel laugh...
He felt my hesitation and stopped, pulling away, eyeing me with curiosity.
The thought of being vulnerable in front of anybody was one of my worst nightmares. Why my brain decided now to bring up memories I’d locked away into the darkest corner of my mind was beyond me. This didn’t happen last time. Why would it happen now?
The answer came to me. Last time, he didn’t try to remove any of my clothing, which he was all-to-clearly trying to do now. He was watching me, unsure, wondering if I was going to up and leave again, or if I was going to stay.
The decision was mine. And while I hated him, hated him with every single one of my currently-searing nerves, I felt momentarily grateful that he wasn’t going to force me into anything. Lines have been drawn, and even he wouldn’t cross them.
So, looking dead into his green eyes, I grabbed the bottom of the shirt and tugged it over my head, casting the clothing away into some unknown corner of his room.
Lust and desire immediately darkened his gaze.
He all but lunged toward me, capturing my lips again with one fell swoop. I stumbled backward, my legs bumping against the side of what could only be his bed. I don’t think tables have mattresses on them.
His mouth dragged down the side of my face, sucking at my jaw, my neck, that juncture between my neck and shoulder that sent another spark of desire racing through me. My hands traveled down to his pants - his pajama pants.
I tugged them down.
I don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t been wearing boxers. I don’t know if I would have really cared all that much.
He kicked them off, then, all at once, and pushed me back. I landed on the mattress with a slight bounce, gathering my senses just as he crawled on top of me. With another harsh kiss, his hands caressed across my bare stomach before traveling down to the buttons on my jeans.
He hesitated, taking a moment to glance up at me, a question in his eyes. In response, my hands traveled down and undid the button, shucking off my pants with as much grace as I could muster, even as they momentarily got tangled around my ankles. With a momentary pause to consider my next actions, I tossed my bra after the pants.
He growled with satisfaction. I briefly wondered if I was about to commit bestiality.
“Reese,” he said softly, a tone that made my toes curl and lust darken my thoughts. “Are you - ”
I think we’re skipping the foreplay.
I cut him off, pulling his head down toward mine as I kissed him. Hard. I was briefly aware of him removing his boxers. My mouth dried at the action. I’m pretty sure I was completely stripped by this point, but my thoughts were too muddled and single-tracked that I wasn’t entirely certain.
What I do know is that I halted him at the last possible moment.
“Oh no, you don’t,” I said. “Go get a condom.”
He paused, frowning. “What?”
I rolled my eyes. “Con-dom. The latex thingy that we used to put on bananas and blow up like balloons in health class? Decently effective at preventing pregnancy and diseases?”
He looked utterly baffled. Seriously, it’s like he got all of his sex advice from badly written online fanfiction. “Do you know the chances of a werewolf getting human pregnant?”
“Congratulations, our species are nearly incompatible.” I wasn’t backing down on this. “I’m more worried about the STDs. I don’t know where that thing’s been.” I gestured vaguely, then smirked. “I don’t think you want me to leave again, am I right?”
He sighed, but saw no argument in my words. Honestly, I was surprised he had any condoms on hand when he finally rolled one on, muttering no protests.
Then he glanced back down at me and raised an eyebrow.
“I just want you to know,” I said before he could move. “That I absolutely hate you more than I’ve ever despised a living thing on this planet.”
He grinned wickedly. “The feeling’s mutual, mate.”
Then he moved, and my senses shattered.