I was still in Leo’s arms when I awoke later that morning. We were on top of the covers and he was still asleep. I shifted my body, waking him up. He kissed the top of my head and said, “Good morning.”
Feeling embarrassed about my outburst, I sheepishly returned the gesture. “Morning. What time is it?”
He checked his watch. “About ten thirty.”
I stumbled into the bathroom without another word and took a long shower, letting the hot water soak into my sore muscles. God, I was so damn tired. When was this going to end? I came out wearing a bathrobe and collapsed face down on the bed.
Leo tucked a stray hair behind my ear. “Are you feeling any better?”
I turned my head just enough so my voice wasn’t muffled. “Not really. I’m really tired again. But thank you for last night, Leo. It was nice having you here with me.”
“Anytime, my dear. I just wish I could have done more.”
“Trust me, Leo. You did a lot. More than you could ever know.”
“I don’t understand,” he said.
“I know, and I’m sorry I have to be so secretive all the time. There are just certain things that are better left unsaid.”
“But not from Vance. You trusted him with your secret.” It wasn’t a question, but I felt the need to explain anyway.
Sitting up on my knees, I grabbed his hands. “No, Leo, you don’t understand. I didn’t tell him anything. He figured it out. And it turns out that was a good thing because he’s actually been able to help me through a very difficult part of my life. And it’s something that only he could help me with. I’m sorry that I can’t explain it any further. I just can’t. It’s too dangerous.”
Recoiling from me, he said, “Too dangerous how? Do you think that I am a danger to you?”
“What?” I asked, startled. “Yes…I mean, no…ugh, I don’t know. Look, can we please just talk about something else?”
He pouted. “Like what?”
“What’s the story between you and Vance?” I asked.
“Next question,” he replied.
“Because it’s not my story to tell.”
“But he told me to ask you! Please, Leo, I need to know what the deal is between you two. Is this about a woman?”
He shrugged. “Not entirely.”
I was going to get to the bottom of this if it killed me. “Is it Maria?” I asked.
He looked surprised. “What did you say?”
“Does it have something to do with his ex-wife?” I clarified.
“Karli, I’m sorry but that is one topic I am not discussing with you. If Vance chooses to do so, just remember that there are two sides to every story. You can then come to me and I will fill in the blanks.”
“What does that even mean? Please, Leo,” I pleaded.
“I’m sorry, I can’t.”
“I need to go home,” I said as I headed for the closet to get dressed. “I can’t do this right now.”
“My love, please don’t go. We can talk about other things. Or you can rest. Whichever you want.”
“No, Leo. Not right now,” I said as I returned from the closet with my bag over my shoulder. “I need to be by myself so I can get my head together before work. I’ll see you tonight, okay?” I bent down to kiss him on the cheek before I walked out the door.
I got to work that night feeling like a zombie out of a bad horror flick. Thinking back, I don’t even really remember how I got there. I must have looked as bad as I felt because everyone was staring at me as I walked in. I saw Leo start to eye me, so I took a detour to the employee break room. I thought Vance’s terminology was the understatement of the year. It didn’t feel like “extreme exhaustion.” It felt like I should be limping around with my arms stretched out, trying to eat someone’s flesh. Erica spotted me heading towards the back and followed. “Hey, K, don’t take this the wrong way, but you look like shit. What’s going on?”
“I’m just really tired,” I replied. “I’m still not feeling very well.”
“Why don’t you go home?” she asked.
“Because I’ve been gone for the past two nights. I can’t call in a third night in a row.”
“I’m sure the boss wouldn’t mind.” She winked. “I hear he has a soft spot for you.”
“Ugh! That’s exactly why I can’t go home. I don’t want people to think that I’m getting special treatment!”
“Who cares what they think? Seriously, I think you’re going to scare people away. Have you seen a doctor?”
“No. I don’t need a doctor,” I said. “This is related to…other things. Other non-witch things.” God, I hoped she’d get the hint. I love Erica but she wasn’t always the brightest crayon in the box. The last thing I needed was to talk about fairy stuff when there were vampire ears in the building.
“Oh, I get it. Non-witch things,” she said as the light bulb went off above her head. “As in coming soon to a theater near you, non-witch related things?”
“Yes, Erica. Real subtle. Thanks.”
“What? I didn’t say anything! How long is this thing supposed to last?”
“I have no idea. Hopefully not too much longer.”
“Would Vance know?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I’m not exactly his favorite person right now, so I really can’t ask.”
“What? Since when?”
“Since last night. He’s really mad at me and I don’t know how to fix it.”
“Oh honey, that’s what you two do. You fight, and you make up. I’m sure it’s nothing another blow job wouldn’t fix.”
“Excuse me, ladies,” said a deep voice from the back of the room. Fuck! “Erica, I think a few of your tables are looking for refills. They’re starting to get a little restless.” Leo walked into the center of the room, keeping his eyes on me the entire time. “Will you please excuse us, so Karli and I can talk?”
“Oops! Yep, I’ll get right on that, boss!” she said. She mouthed sorry as she skittered out of the room like a cockroach.
Fuck, he looked pissed. I moved from his advance until I felt my back against the wall. A mixture of anger and hurt was rolling off him in waves. Damn Erica and her big mouth!
“Why are you moving away from me, Karli?” he asked as soon as she was gone.
“I’m not,” I lied. “How long have you been standing there?” He charged me, making me jump. I could feel him deliberately dampening his powers. He was being very careful with me, trying to control his rage. Heat was radiating from his body, so much so, that I was actually starting to perspire. His fists clenched and unclenched while his nostrils flared, and his fangs were fully elongated.
He caged me in with arms of steel and leaned into me, pressing his body against mine. He bent down to whisper into my ear. “Long enough to know that Vance isn’t the only person you’ve entrusted with your secrets.” His lips traveled down my neck, then back up to nip my earlobe.
My whole body shivered. He had me simultaneously terrified and turned on. I didn’t know if I was supposed to jump his bones or run away screaming. “What are you doing, Leo?” I panted.
He pressed his huge erection against my stomach as he lightly pressed his fangs into my neck. They didn’t penetrate, they were merely threatening to. My knees went weak. He grabbed my hips with his strong hands and held me up against the wall. “You know, Karli, I should have taken you that night you asked me to. Then you wouldn’t be wasting your energy on someone so unworthy.” He pushed into me harder. “One night with me between your legs would make you forget the detective even existed.”
I so did not have the strength to do this right then! My adrenaline was pumping hard but I knew I was about to come crashing down at any second. “Leo, please don’t do this,” I begged. “Not now. I can’t---” My head started spinning as I slid down the wall.
He caught me. “You do not look well,” he said as he pulled back. “You should not be here.”
“I’m fine,” I argued. “I’m just a little tired but I’ll get over it.” The tears escaping my lids belied my words.
His angry, lustful expression instantly softened into one of concern. His fangs retracted as he took my hand, kissing the inside of my wrist. Ah, I loved it when he did that and he knew it. His lips lingered for a moment before he withdrew, giving me goose pimples. Okay, that helped ease my anxiety a little bit.
“I insist,” he said. “You should go upstairs and rest a while. If you feel better later, you can come back down.”
“Leo, I appreciate the offer, but---”
“Karli, please do not force my hand,” he said. “I could just use my influence on you but I’m trying to respect your wishes.”
“If anything, I’ll just go back home.” It was my feeble attempt at negotiating.
“No, you won’t. You almost passed out less than a minute ago. I’m not going to let you behind the wheel of a car. If you try, I will stop you. Do not doubt that for a second.”
“Do I have a say in the matter?” I asked.
“Of course you do,” he replied. “You can choose to go up to the room alone, or you can choose to allow me to accompany you. Which one do you prefer?”
I sighed in acquiescence. “Come on, let’s go.”