I decided to take a shower after Leo left. Afterwards, I realized that I didn’t have any clothes because mine were ruined. I went into his closet and grabbed one of his black t-shirts. Of course it was a tent on me but it was better than nothing. I didn’t think he would be able to focus on conversation if he were too distracted by my nipples again.
I crawled into bed thinking about the experience I’d just had. Well, now I knew for sure that Leo could drink from me without spiraling into bloodlust. I know it’s twisted, but I actually felt comforted by that knowledge. I felt warmed by his blood that was now flowing through my veins. I felt power vibrating through my body; I felt stronger than I ever had before.
Leo was unequivocally a part of me now. Surprisingly, I felt too good about what had happened to have regrets. Well, almost no regrets. I definitely felt a little guilty about being intimate with him. I could try blaming my behavior on his bite, but I’d be a fool. I’d been incredibly attracted to him since the first second I’d seen him. I wanted him, plain and simple. The bite’s effects only lowered my inhibitions.
Leo returned from downstairs, interrupting my inner monologue. “How are you feeling?” he asked.
“I’m a little tired, but I actually feel pretty amazing.”
He sat down next to me and tugged at the collar of my borrowed shirt. “You know, my love, I like seeing you in my shirt,” he said and paused to pull the collar open so he could peer down it. “Although, I’d much prefer you not wearing anything at all.”
He lunged for me, but I moved away from him…freakishly fast. “Leo, you said we could talk when you got back,” I reminded him.
“Ah, indeed I did. But that will have to wait. Vance should be here any moment; I told the front desk to let him up.”
“What? Why?” Okay, I was panicking a little. I was not ready to confront him after Leo and I had just been together. Especially not while I was in his bed, wearing his shirt!
He must have sensed my anxiety. “Relax, my sweet. It will be okay. I tried putting him off until morning but he refused. He threatened charging me with interfering in a police investigation.”
“How did he even know what happened?” I shrieked. Okay, I was in full blown panic mode now.
“Apparently, he stopped in the bar to see you tonight,” he explained. “I spoke with Amanda while you were still unconscious and told her what happened. I only did so to explain your absence, and so my men could keep an eye on things. It appears as if she relayed that information to him. She’s the one who called earlier to tell me he was downstairs. That’s when I left.”
Someone started banging on the door really hard. “Leo, open this goddamn door!” Vance shouted.
Leo smirked, “Ah, there is the detective now.”
Leo let him in and I could hear Vance charging into the room on a mission. “Where is she?” he asked.
“In the bedroom,” Leo answered.
Vance came rushing in with panic in his eyes. He sat on the bed, holding my face in his hands. “God, Karli. Are you okay? I almost had a stroke when I heard you were attacked.”
“I’m fine, Vance. I’ll be fine.” Besides the fact that my cheeks are stained red and I can’t look you in the eye.
He started inspecting me for wounds. He pulled down the blankets and the sides of Leo’s shirt, revealing nothing but smooth skin. I would be embarrassed by the exposure but his motives were completely non-sexual. As his brows knit together in confusion, he asked, “What happened? They said you were in pretty bad shape. Where did it get you?”
“Right here,” I said as I pointed to my upper left arm.
He pulled the shirt down again to survey the damage. “I don’t understand…”
“Leo healed me,” I explained, blushing even more at the memory of how good my medical treatment had felt. At the sound of his name, Leo walked into the room and leaned up against the door frame.
Vance looked back and his entire body visibly tensed. “Where are the rest of her clothes?” he ground out. I followed his gaze and saw my bra hanging from the lampshade. Fuck!
“I had to remove them to seal her wounds,” Leo replied, with a little too much satisfaction in his voice. “They were covered in blood. She couldn’t exactly put them back on afterwards.”
Vance winced at the reminder of my attack. He looked at me again and said, “How bad were your injuries?”
Leo didn’t give me a chance to respond. Walking over to the edge of the bed, he replied, “She was poisoned, and all the muscles and tendons in her upper arm were destroyed.”
Gritting his teeth, Vance asked, “What do you mean she was poisoned?”
“The demon bit her,” he replied. “Its venom infected her bloodstream since she is not yet immortal. I needed to remove the poison from her system and replace her missing blood with my own.”
He whipped his head around at me and said, “You let him take your blood? Jesus, Karli, what were you thinking?”
“I didn’t have a choice, Vance. I was dying,” I said. “Would you rather he let me die?”
Vance opened his mouth to reply but Leo interrupted while crossing his arms over his chest. “Really, Vance, I don’t see what the big deal is. You should be thanking me.”
Vance’s fists clenched tightly. “Leo, will you please excuse us? I need to talk to Karli alone.”
“I got a better look at the thing than she did,” he replied. “You should be taking a statement from me.”
“I will.” Vance turned his head to flash him a murderous glare. “After I talk to Karli alone. This has nothing to do with you.”
Okay, I’d had enough of their pissing match. “Christ, you two!” I said. “Can’t you take a break for even one minute? Leo, thank you for everything you’ve done for me tonight. If you don’t mind, I’d like to speak with Vance alone for a while.”
“Of course, my love,” he said smugly. “I’ll be downstairs in the bar if you need me.” He walked over to me and bent down to kiss my cheek, pausing a little for effect. As he was heading out the door he said, “Be nice to her, detective, or I will come looking for you.”
As soon as the front door closed, Vance turned towards me. His face was beet red. He took my face in his hands again and leaned his forehead against mine. “God, Karli, I would have died if I’d lost you. I promise you, I will find this thing and put an end to it. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. I actually feel really good. Strong even,” I replied.
He pulled back and looked away. “Drinking vampire blood will do that to you,” he whispered.
Okay, the guilt was really getting to me now. “Vance, I really am sorry but I had no other choice. I couldn’t even move while the poison was in me. I was completely paralyzed. Trust me, I thought about the risks, but I was facing death anyway. I did what I had to do.”
“How much of your blood did he have to take?” he asked. “Did he seem out of control at any point?”
“He didn’t take much at all.” Just enough to rock my world. “The poison didn’t have enough time to spread very far. He was in complete control the whole time.” I was the one who made it get a little out of hand.
He reached out and pulled me into a tight embrace. “Please don’t ever scare me like that again, Karli. I wouldn’t be able to go on if I didn’t have you in my life.”
“I thought you were wrong about me,” I snapped. “Wrong about us. Which one is it? You either want me or you don’t, Vance. You can’t have it both ways.”
He held me even tighter. “I’ll always want you, Karli. I was hurt, and I reacted poorly.” He pulled back to look me in the eyes. “I know we haven’t known each other for very long. I never thought I’d feel this way again but I have no doubts. I want you…and I…love you. I’m in this for the long haul if you’ll have me.” He kissed me lightly on the lips and pulled back, anxiously awaiting a response.
Surprised by his admission, I just sat there for a moment taking everything in. “Vance, I honestly don’t know what to do with that. You and I have this connection that I have no way of articulating. I feel like part of me is missing when you’re not around. But I can’t keep riding this emotional roller coaster with you. I just can’t. It’s too exhausting, and it’s not fair to either one of us.”
“I know, Karli,” he agreed. “I don’t know how, but we’ll make this work. I promise.”
“Even if Leo is in my life?” I asked.
A muscle worked in his jaw. “What’s the story between you two anyway?”
“I could ask you the same question. In fact, I have…yet neither one of you will answer me.”
He sighed. “Karli, if the alternative is not having you at all, then I will deal with the Leo situation.”
“Deal, how?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Can we at least try to make this work?”
Now it was my turn to sigh. “I don’t know, Vance. I’m going to have to think about this. Look, it’s been a really long night and I want to get some rest. Leo can give you more details than I can about my attack. I’ll call you when I get home tomorrow, okay?”
Taking my cue, he stood up to leave. As he was walking out the door he paused. “Goodnight, Karli,” he said. “Please don’t give up on me. Please give this some serious thought. I need you.”
Leo returned a half hour later after giving Vance his statement. He stepped into the closet for a moment, and came out wearing a pair of Nike warm up pants. “Look, I’m behaving,” he teased. He sat on the bed and put his arm around my shoulders, kissing my forehead. “How did everything go with Vance?”
“It was exhausting,” I sighed. “But I’ll be fine.”
“How are you doing?” he asked. “Do you feel stronger?”
“Yeah, I feel really good actually. Kinda like I want to leap across tall buildings or start bench pressing cars.”
He chuckled. “Well, don’t take it too far, my sweet. The high will wear off soon enough.”
Blushing, I said, “So…I guess this means you won’t need to make a trip to the blood bank anytime soon, huh?”
He pulled me closer, lightly nipping the tip of my ear. “No, I won’t and I can’t say I’m disappointed in the least.” He moved lower, grazing his fangs against the curve of my neck, sending little tremors down to my toes.
Mustering up all the will power I could manage, I pulled away to look at him. “Leo, I think we should talk about what happened between us earlier.”
He turned off the lamp and tucked me into the crook of his arm. “There will be plenty of time for that later, darling. You’ve been through a lot tonight. You should rest now.” I snuggled up to him and breathed in his manly soap smell. He started lightly petting my back which caused me to doze off within minutes.
The beast was on top of me again, looking down at me with those terrifying, alien eyes. The air started buzzing around us as it started shifting back into its human form. I was lying in a supine position staring into a pair of huge breasts. I looked up into its red, scaly face, waiting for that part to change too. Instead, it bit down on my arm again, torturing me with mind numbing pain. I woke up in the dark, screaming and gasping for air. I was drenched in sweat and my heart was beating erratically.
Leo jumped up in bed and wrapped his body tightly around mine. “Shh, my love. It was just a dream,” he assured me. “I’ve got you. You’re okay.”
After a few minutes and several deep breaths later, I managed to calm down enough to form words. “Omigod, Leo, the demon. I remembered something!”
He reached over and turned on the light. “What is it?” he asked. “What do you remember?”
“Before you came…it started shifting into its human form. It was only for a second, but I saw something. Leo, the demon…the killer…is a woman!