With Teeth

For your listening pleasure: tinysong.com/gHne

 

“We’re not going to be your test subjects for whatever sadistic purpose you have in mind,” Trent said.

Roberts turned away from Trent. “We’ll see about that.” Then he turned his head to the side, nodded once, and resumed his pacing between our cages as guards walked Danny and Oscar out from behind the crates. Danny sneered and struggled while Oscar just trembled all over. Damn newbie.

Fuck.

Roberts stopped right between Trent and me. “I’m sure you know these gentlemen. I believe they arrived with you.” He slowly untied his coat and opened it. Then he reached inside and withdrew a katana. “I also believe there were more than these two, but they refuse to talk,” Roberts said as he made his way toward the two vamps. “So, gentlemen, how many did you bring with you? If you answer, neither of them will lose an appendage.”

“You can’t be serious,” Trent said.

“Hold on,” I said quickly. “We had eight with us.”

What are you doing? Trent asked me through the link.

Trust me, he’s not playing around, I replied. This isn’t a fucking video game, Trent.

I understand that, but

I’m trying to buy us some time. Look at my hand.

Trent’s eyes shifted briefly to my hand and caught a faint flash of purple between my fingers before he averted his eyes again. Holy shit, it still works.

Yes. Get ready.

He gave a subtle nod and waited for my sign. I’m sure he’s expecting an explosion, and I may just give that to him.

“Eight, aside from yourselves?” Roberts asked.

“Correct,” I said. “Good luck finding them now. I wouldn’t bring a vamp into this compound that couldn’t port out of it.”

Roberts raised his katana in front of Danny. I nodded to Trent before sending a burst of magic at Roberts. Trent did the same thing, only his wrapped around the two vamps, shielding them, while I held Roberts’ sword.

“Sorry, man, I can’t let you harm them,” I said. “Especially that one. His sister would kill me, and she’s a better slayer than you’ll ever be.”

Roberts struggled with the blade, attempting to free it from my magical grasp. “Kill them!”

About that time, Trent and I shielded ourselves, each in a ball of purple energy just like the ones Trent had around Danny and Oscar. I tilted my head up at Trent, who then raised Danny and Oscar into the rafters while shots ricocheted off our shields. I watched as several of Roberts’ men dropped from their own bullets. Even Roberts fell to one knee with a howl of pain.

“You didn’t know we could do this, did you, Roberts?” I said. “Your fucking Rhenium may block our vampyric powers, but not our magic.”

Trent laughed. “How’s that knee feel, Roberts? Here, let me help you out with that.” Trent swung his other hand around, and from inside his cage it looked as though he grasped at nothing, but outside was a different story. The way our magic worked is that it’s like an extension of our limbs, so really, Trent decided to wrap a hand around Roberts’ knee, digging his thumb into the bullet hole.

Roberts screamed.

“Oi!” I shouted at my twin and jerked my head up to the ceiling.

“Shit,” he said and let go of Danny and Oscar. Danny could shield himself. “Sorry,” he shouted up to them.

Danny gave a nod as he wrapped himself and Oscar in a green shield. Then he pulled his own damn katana out of thin air and jumped over to where the controls were for our cages. We couldn’t mist out, port out, or touch the metal, so Danny would have to free us. It was the only way.

He sliced and diced the guy at the controls, then started punching buttons. The cages began their slow ascent, and Trent and I stood ready, continuing to shield ourselves.

Trent knocked Roberts other leg out from under him in the meantime. It was kinda funny to watch.

I let go of Roberts’ blade and it fell to the floor next to him. Then I pushed out with my hands, sending a shockwave of magic toward his men. They fell, ran in all directions before crates toppled over them, and soon, Roberts was the only one left.

I kept my shield up, not trusting that we were alone just yet, and I looked over to Trent, who’d released his grip on Roberts.

“Yo, that was too fucking easy,” I said.

He nodded. “But they didn’t know we could do that.”

I shrugged. “Maybe they did.”

He raised a brow. “Let’s find out.” Trent stepped forward and picked Roberts up by his coat lapels. He still had his shield around him, but it was more form-fitting now rather than a bubble.

Danny landed at my side with Oscar. “How’s he do that?” He’s asking about the shield.

I shrugged. “I don’t know. We just think it and it happens.”

Trent shook Roberts. “Did you know about the magic?”

Roberts mumbled and his head lolled to the side.

“I call bullshit on the way he’s acting,” I said as I stepped up to them. I grabbed his leg and lifted the pant leg up to look at his wound. “Yeah, just a fucking graze, mother fucker. Talk.” I pressed my thumb against the wound and he screamed. Okay, so it was a bit more than a graze, but he shouldn’t be all non-communicative like that.

“Didn’t . . . know,” he said through clenched teeth.

“Riiiight,” I replied. “Trent, hang him.”

Trent grinned. “With pleasure.” His magic extended his hands in smoky versions of the limbs, carrying Roberts up toward the rafters. Then a chain fell from the ceiling and wrapped around his neck. He gasped and clutched at the chain. Guess that woke him up.

Atem dropped from the walkway above, landing next to Oscar and scaring the shit out of the poor excuse for a vamp. “What is he doing?” His voice was thick with a Sudanese accent.

“Fucking around, apparently,” I said, and I slapped Trent’s shoulder. “You gonna kill him or what?”

“What the fuck do you think the chain is for?” he replied in a snarl. He let go and Roberts’ full weight hit the chain.

I tipped my head up at Atem. “The others make it out okay?”

“Yes.”

“Who screamed?” I asked.

“That was Oscar,” Danny replied.

“Where the hell is Xander?” I asked Danny.

“He vanished quick,” he said, and pointed to Oscar. “That’s when Oscar screamed because he’d turned around and there were guys with guns everywhere.”

“I’m gonna kick his ass,” I said, and looked around. “What about Vinnie and them?”

He shrugged.

Atem cleared his throat. “Scott, he is hiding in that first building. I do not think they found him.”

I nodded and looked up at Roberts, who was still moving around, kicking at the air. “Fucker takes a long time to die, don’t he?” I pulled my Kimber, aimed, and fired a shot at him. “That should do it. Atem, go find Scott and the others. Meet us at the rendezvous point.”

He nodded and quick as a flash, he was gone.

I then slapped Danny upside the head. “What the fuck? You didn’t think about using your magic before all that shit Trent and I did?”

He shrugged. “I guess not.”

I pointed a finger at him, pressing the tip against his chest. “I’m tellin’ your sister if you die it’ll be your own damn fault.”

“Go ahead,” he replied. “She’ll probably agree with you.”

Trent snorted and I fought to keep the anger, but I quickly lost the battle. “Fucking asshole.”

Danny gave me a big toothy grin and pushed up his glasses. Fucker didn’t really need to wear them anymore. I guess it’s like a security blanket for him.

“Let’s get the fuck out of here already,” I said.

“Still wanna torch the place?” Trent asked as we head toward the side door. Apparently, they’d coated the damn building with Rhenium because none of us could port. That shit wasn’t cheap, either. Guess it didn’t matter if the government was paying for it.

“What, and draw more attention to the place?” I said and stepped outside. “Fuck that. There’s gonna be enough to deal with once that ivy moves past the fence.”

“Not our problem,” Trent said, and vanished from my side.

“Good point,” I mumbled. I took one last look around, conjured up a fireball the size of a softball, and tossed it behind me, through the open door.

So long, Roberts. Do me a favor and don’t rest in peace.

I disappeared to meet up with the others, and look at that, they were all there.

No casualties in my group. I count that as a major win. Score one for the vamps.

 

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Chop Suey

For your listening pleasure: tinysong.com/EjTt

Fuck! Can you—

Shawn tried to port, but nothing happened. Fucking Rhenium could not only burn us, but the shit could trap us as well. Lovely.

I think we’re fucked, he said. But I’m shooting the first fucker that shows himself.

Danny, get out! I screamed through the mind link.

In the distance, outside, a vampyre screamed. It better not have been Danny, or his twin Dana would kill us both. I’d rather fight off a gaggle of harpies than deal with that slayer.

The after-effects of grabbing the Rhenium-coated bars lingered on my burning hands; I hissed and rubbed my palms down my pant legs. Not that it did any good. I needed Nico to heal me from this shit, and that wouldn’t happen anytime soon.

Shawn’s brow knit together. Huh, can’t even turn to mist. Interesting.

What the fuck do we do now? I asked.

He paced around his cage, Kimber in his right hand, finger on the trigger, looking a bit like Brandon Lee as The Crow in his long black duster.

Let me think, he replied while walking in a circle. He jerked to a stop, facing me, and we stared at one another for a brief moment. Then his arm shot up and he pulled the trigger without looking at his intended target. It was the perfect headshot, right between the eyes. The guy fell back with a thud and a clang as his gun hit the metal floor.

“Nice!” I said with a laugh. Then I heard several guns rise, lock and load. Shit.

“Unless you’d like both of your bodies filled with Rhenium-coated bullets, I’d suggest you don’t do that again.” The voice came from behind the crates.

“Show yourself, Roberts, you fuck,” Shawn shouted.

“Chicken shit mother fucker,” I mumbled.

“Will you stand down?” Roberts asked.

Shawn looked at me and I nodded. See what the hell he wants. He’d have killed us outright if he didn’t want something.

Good point, Shawn replied. “I won’t shoot anyone else. Biting, I can’t promise. You’ve got me pretty pissed.”

Roberts laughed and stepped out slowly from behind the crates. “Which is why you’re in a cage.” He stopped at the body and looked down, and then his eyes lifted to meet Shawn’s. “Nice shot. His vest was worthless.”

“Which is why I never aim for the body. What the fuck do you want?” Shawn said with a sneer. “You haven’t killed us and we still have our weapons.”

Roberts cracked a smile, a crooked, chipped tooth catching a gleam from the lights above Shawn and me.

“You’re quite observant, Shawn,” he said and stepped over the dead man. “And yes, I know that you are Shawn, and he” —he nodded my direction— “is Trent. I happen to know Shawn is the trigger happy one between the two of you, though you both were trained as assassins.” His eyes were the color of stone from this distance, his hair slicked back, and he stood before us wearing a black leather trench coat, but looked all business attire underneath.

“That doesn’t answer the fucking question,” Shawn said.

“Nice test,” I said and crossed my arms over my chest. “I can see you value your men’s lives.” He looks like a fucking movie villain, I said to Shawn.

Shawn snorted, and Roberts’ tilted his head.

“Something amusing?” he asked while removing his gloves. His eyes flicked back and forth between us. Excitement hit his face and he pointed first to Shawn and then to me. “You’re doing it, aren’t you? Communicating?”

Shawn and I looked at one another. How in the fuck . . . ?

He stepped closer, between our cages. “Gentlemen, why do you think you’re not yet dead?”

Shawn cocked his head and laughed. “We are not going to be guinea pigs for you. We did that long enough for the government.”

Roberts turned to him with a quick snap of leather. “And who do you think funds this project?”

“Goddamn it.” I kicked the bars and pointed a finger at my twin. “I told you, Shawn. They’ll never fucking let us go.”

He glared at me. “Calm the fuck down, Trent.”

Roberts looked back at me before returning his attention to Shawn. “I see your brother doesn’t share in your attitude for killing.”

“Then you don’t know him very well,” Shawn replied. “Or did you forget that scene in front of the house?”

“Oh, I haven’t forgotten anything about that night,” Roberts said. He paced between our cages, stopping a few feet past the edges of our prison before snapping around to walk back. “Where is Nicolette? And the one with the red and black hair.”

I quirked a brow. They don’t know Thalia’s name.

That’s a good thing, Shawn replied. “They’re safe.”

Roberts nodded and leaned toward Shawn. “At your place? We’ll find out soon enough.”

My throat closed with fear.

“Like you know where my place is, jackass,” Shawn replied. Try to link with Thalia.

I tried, but my mind remained blank, which had me on the brink of panic.

Stay calm. The Rhenium’s probably preventing it, which would explain the scream we heard outside.

Doesn’t explain why we can still talk to each other.

Sure it does. We’re twins. There isn’t a substance that can prevent our communication.

I nodded slowly.

“Fascinating,” Roberts said with a wide grin. “Simply fascinating.”

Shawn rolled his eyes. “Okay, so you want to study us. What the hell for?”

“The way you two move, everything you do, it’s like one person in two bodies,” he said. “Your movements are so fluid.”

“And you wanna build more like us, right?” I said with a snort. “‘Fraid that can’t happen unless you’ve got hyper connected twins in your ranks. Shawn and I have been like this since birth.”

Roberts shook his head. “Oh no, I don’t want vampyres. I kill your kind, remember?” He started pacing again, locking his hands behind his back. “No, we do intend to rid the world of you two, but we thought it would be a waste to pass up the opportunity to study you first. Of all the vampyres we’ve encountered, the two of you are quite different from the rest. The black sheep, as it were. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Shawn quirked a brow at me. “He’s not as stupid as he looks.”

I snorted. “I don’t know, he looks pretty damn stupid to me. Where’d you get that outfit, Roberts, the villain outlet store?”

He smirked. “Coming from the man who dresses just like his brother.”

“Hey, we don’t do that shit on purpose,” I said. “It just happens.”

“My point exactly, Trent,” he said, and stepped a lot closer to my cage. “You two are one.”

“We’re not going to be your test subjects for whatever sadistic purpose you have in mind,” I said.

He turned away from me. “We’ll see about that.” He turned his head to the side, nodded once, and resumed his pacing between our cages as guards walked Danny and Oscar out from behind the crates. Danny sneered and struggled while Oscar just trembled all over.

Fuck.

Roberts stopped right between Shawn and me. “I’m sure you know these gentlemen. I believe they arrived with you.” He slowly untied his coat and opened it. Then he reached inside and withdrew a katana.

I swallowed hard.

“I also believe there were more than these two, but they refuse to talk,” Roberts said as he made his way toward the two vamps. “So, gentlemen, how many did you bring with you? If you answer, neither of them will lose an appendage.”

“You can’t be serious,” I said.

“Hold on,” Shawn said quickly. “We had eight with us.”

What are you doing? I screamed at him.

Trust me, he’s not playing around, he replied. This isn’t a fucking video game, Trent.

I understand that, but

I’m trying to buy us some time. Look at my hand.

I shifted my eyes briefly to his hand and caught a faint flash of purple between his fingers before I averted my eyes again. Holy shit, it still works.

Yes. Get ready.

I gave a subtle nod and waited for my brother’s sign. Knowing him, it’d be huge.

I don’t know about you, but I’m expecting an explosion.

The Wretched

For your listening pleasure: http://t.co/vcGxDWZ

Both Trent and I vanished from my front step and appeared in the desert, near the compound.

Trent looked around the dark barren landscape, his eyes settling on the seven vamps in front of us. “It appears Oscar’s lost again.”

Danny shook his head. “I swear, that boy really needs to learn this shit.”

“Well, somebody go find the dumbass,” I snapped before whirling on Trent. “I’ve got it. What about a virus none of us can carry and that kills so quickly, there’s no chance anyone could escape?”

“Does that even exist?” Trent asked.

“Of course it exists,” I replied. “Don’t be ridiculous. We’re talking about our government.”

“Why are we talking about viruses?” Danny asked as he stepped up to us.

“Shawn wants to drop one into the compound,” Trent replied.

“Hey, you had the same fucking idea,” I said. “Don’t put it all on me.”

“Yeah, I know and I’m not, but you have Nico to think about,” Trent said, and he grabbed my left arm. “Thalia is a vamp like us and whatever we did wouldn’t hurt her, unless it had Rhenium in it, but Nico’s half human.”

“Fuck,” I grumbled and spun around to pace, pulling out of his grasp. “Okay, fine, we’ll just go shoot the goddamn place up.”

“Now, now, we need to consider that too,” he said and took a step forward. “They have the Rhenium coating their blades so it’s likely on the ammo too. We can’t just barrel in there like we would any other place.”

“It is on the ammo. I’ve already had a bullet in me.” I scratched my chin, and wondered how the Cabale would have known where I was for that job. Interesting. I’d have to look into that later. An idea hit me and I grinned widely. “Not to worry, twin. I’ve got a plan.”

Trent really didn’t like the smile on my face, judging from the expression on his. He thought it meant pain. I could see the worry in his eyes, but he should know me. I wouldn’t do anything that’d get him killed.

Usually.

Besides, if they killed my twin, I’d be hell-bent on revenge, and that’s sort of my trade. It wouldn’t be the best idea to place me in that position.

Danny appeared with Oscar at his side. I could see the boy was embarrassed as all hell, since he wouldn’t look at me, so I decided to embarrass him some more.

I pointed at Oscar. “Your new nickname is Nemo.”

“Like Captain Nemo?” he asked with a creased brow.

“No, like the fucking clownfish,” I said, “because we’re always looking for your lost ass.” I stepped closer to him, towered over him and leaned forward. “You need to learn coordinates—longitude and latitude. They’re really not all that difficult.”

“Hey, I was taught in the public school system here,” he said.

“That’s no goddamn excuse,” I said. “So were Trent and I.”

“Yeah, but you guys were in the military.”

I looked at Trent. “I’m tellin’ ya, it should be a fucking requirement.”

He nodded with a chuckle. “What’s the plan?”

“All new vamps need to go through some sort of boot camp, but as far as tonight goes—” I growled at Nemo and stepped into the center of their circle “—here’s what we’re going to do . . . .”

* * * * *

I crouched just outside the electrified chain link fence and studied the compound from a distance. I’d already described the area I’d been in previously to the others. So why’d the fucking place look deserted?

“Shit, I think they’ve vacated,” I said. The lights were still on, but I couldn’t see any guards in the towers or elsewhere.

Trent frowned. “Did anyone see you last time you were here?”

I slapped a hand to my face. “Mother fucker.”

“I’ll take that as a yes,” he said.

“I left the son of a bitch alive, and a few others saw me.” I stood up. “I just wanted to find Nico. Let me go scout real quick.” I vanished from the perimeter.

I appeared right in front of the last door I saw before porting to Ireland. Fucking thing was wide open. The vines were still there too. I stepped through the doorway and took a quick look around, listening for any sign of life. All I could hear was the hum of computers and the ventilation system . . . and the vines still crawling along the floor. At the rate they grew, the whole place would be covered in a few days. A large ivy plant growing in the middle of the desert? Yeah, try to hide that shit from the public.

Once I knew the place was clear, I linked with my brother. I need you or Danny in here.

His voice popped into my head. You need to be clearer than that. What do you need exactly? We have different skills.

I need someone who can hack into the Cabale’s shit. Which one of you can do that?

Danny’s on his way.

Fucking liar. I knew he could do it too. Then again, maybe he just wanted to make Danny feel useful. Poor little geek boy.

A second later, Danny appeared just outside the door. He ran a hand through his straight black hair, adjusted his wire frame glasses. He looked like a Japanese Harry Potter.

He whistled low. “What’s with the vines?” he asked and took a step inside, taking care to not touch the moving plant.

“Trystan was here,” I replied, and then pointed to one of the desks. “See if they’ve wiped the system.”

“No shit?” Danny walked behind the console and sat at the computer. “What was she doing here?” His fingers flew over the keys as he worked his way into the system. I took a look around again.

“Fuck if I know. They probably captured her. I’m gonna check some other areas,” I said. “I’ll have the others come over here first.”

I stepped outside and crept around the corner. When I could see them, I signaled Trent. Yo, it’s clear in this building.

The seven of them ported over to me and looked around, hands on weapons, just in case.

“Danny’s in this building, hacking in,” I said. “I’m gonna check the other buildings. Trent, you come with me. Oscar and Xander, go in with Danny and keep your eyes open. He needs to work without interruption, so that’s your job.” They nodded and walked inside. “Vinnie, Miguel, and Paul—you go check that small building. Don’t engage if you don’t have to. Just scout it out and report back to Danny.” The three vanished, and I had only two left—Atem and Scott. “I need you two to look at the building near the front of the compound, okay?”

Atem gave a quick nod and vanished before Scott could twitch.

“Well, don’t just stand there, Scott,” I said. “Go cover the man.”

“Sorry, he’s like a fucking phantom,” he said and vanished.

I shook my head and started walking toward the biggest building in the compound. “I swear, these newbies. Where’d he find them?”

Trent walked at my side. “Hell if I know, but the new ones are practically all we have left. I think you’re right about the training shit. If the Cabale are still here, those guys won’t make it out alive . . . except maybe Atem.”

I nodded. “Xander’s not too bad, though.” He agreed and we both ported closer to the building, materializing next to one of its walls. I signaled to Trent to go high and I’d go in at ground level. He gave a short nod and disappeared.

I held my Kimber up as I walked along the wall until I found a door. It was unlocked, so I pulled it open and peered inside. The place looked pretty dark, but my eyes could pick up even the minutest of details right down to the dust-covered shelves.

Looks like a warehouse, I said through the mind link as I entered quietly. Crates stacked high along the walls. I carefully made my way through the maze to the opening in the center.

Perhaps their weapons supply, Trent replied.

I grinned. We should blow it up.

Laughter filled my mind. I don’t think so, pyro. I thought you preferred the stealth shit.

I did until they kidnapped my girl. My eyes scanned the center, picking up its details—steel floor, which made me think there might be something below. You see this?

Trent appeared at my side. All clear up there, as far as I can tell. He looked at the floor. Looks like there’s a lower level.

We walked out carefully, scanning the area with our eyes and guns as we covered each other. Our movements perfectly opposite of one another—I’d step forward and he’d cover my back, the direction we came from; he’d move ahead and I’d take his place. That way we got a nice three-sixty view.

It fucking stinks in here, he said.

Burnt vamp flesh. Now we know what they did with Seth.

Trent growled low, barely audible to normal human ears, but loud enough in my ears to make me turn around. His glowing purple eyes met mine, signifying his anger and that the magic was ready to come out and play.

Anger isn’t going to help, big brother, I said calmly. Let’s see if we can find a door that leads below.

He nodded, spun around, and took a few steps away from me. It looks like a trap, he said in my mind.

It is, I replied right as the metal cages dropped on us and locked into place. I briefly closed my eyes, until I heard Trent stepped forward in his cage.

He grabbed the bars and yanked his hands back, but not before I heard the sizzle. Fucking Rhenium-coated iron. Shit.

Fuck! Can you—

I tried, but nothing happened. Apparently, Rhenium could not only burn us, but the fucking shit could trap us as well.

I think we’re fucked, I said. But I’m shooting the first fucker that shows himself.

Danny, GET OUT! Trent screamed through the mind link.

In the distance, outside, I heard the scream of a vamp. I hoped it wasn’t Danny. His twin, Dana—a vamp slayer—would kill Trent and me, if we survived this mess.

Mother. Fucker. Roberts was a dead man.

Valentine (NSFW)

For your listening pleasure, a little love song: tinysong.com/q9hP

This is likely NSFW ‘cause I say shit like ‘fuck’, ‘cock’, and all manner of swearing . . . you know, the norm for me, only better. *grins* Hey, if you haven’t figured out by now that my posts aren’t safe for work, it’s your own damn fault.

A grin split my lips and I flashed fang at the woman I loved. “There you are. Fuck, woman, you had me scared for a minute there.”

She cocked a thin brow. “You, scared? That’s laughable.”

Just hearing the sarcasm drip from those lips had my cock twitching in my jeans. Her voice always sent a current of the shivers through me—the good kind.

“I know, right?” My arms slipped around her and I pulled her closer to me, eyebrows jumping. “Wanna play predator and prey?”

She trailed a finger down the side of my face as her head tilted. “Is that what you were talking about with the running?”

“Yes and no,” I said. “If you ran scared, it wouldn’t have been a game.” A flash of fear hit her eyes. “You should know that shit anyway.”

She smiled. “Yeah, I do, but that dude kind of fucked me up.” She rubbed her neck where Cianán bit her. “It’s like I can still feel his fangs in me, Shawn.” Her voice quivered a bit, the fear still lingering. A nice healthy dose of it hit my nose.

“Really?” My brow dipped. Okay, this was not cool and shouldn’t be happening. “So where do dhampyr go when they need fixin’?”

She snorted. “Well, cowboy, they get themselves all fixed up on their own.”

“How?” I’d been curious about this for some time now. I’d had an idea she was dhampyr, but didn’t know if she needed blood or not—at least, not until a recent visit—because she never took it from me. During that visit, I’d smelled and tasted the blood on her lips. It pretty much connected the dots.

She traced a line down my neck, over the large vein pulsing with immortal undead life and likely her blood. “You’ve already given me some.”

“Do you need more?” My cock pressed against the fly of my jeans, begging to come out and play.

She grinned and nodded.

Oh, it was so on . . . I let go of her and she slid off my lap. “Then I suggest you run.”

With a sly grin, Nico got to her feet and bolted around the corner. I counted one . . . two . . . three’s a good number . . . and jumped up. I ran down the hall, following her giggles around corners, through passageways and rooms. My loft wasn’t small by any means. It’s the one good investment I’d made recently.

It’s her fault. She’s got me thinkin’ all responsibly and shit now. Fuck.

Halfway down the hall, I removed my Roy Rogers and socks. I needed the stealth with this woman. She had vamp hearing. Yeah, I could just port, but where was the fun in that? I came around the last corner and drew in her scent, which mixed with the damn air freshener, throwing me off a bit. I crept into the room, ears perked and listening to any sound not associated with the settling of the foundation or the heat that just kicked on. Very faint breathing, in the corner, behind the door . . .

I jumped back and swung the door shut.

Nico screamed and ran to her right, across the room, but she didn’t get halfway before I snatched her up.

“Gotcha,” I said and threw her over my shoulder. I slapped her ass as she struggled and laughed. “You’re terrible at this game, ya know. We’ll need to practice.”

“Sorry, I’m not used to running from vampyres,” she said.

“Yeah, I know,” I replied as I carried her down the hall. “You’re used to running them through with your sword. That doesn’t kill them, you know.”

“I know,” she said and pinched my ass. “It makes them think before fucking with me, though.”

I jumped a little. “Hey, watch that.” A grin split my lips and my hand slid up her thigh, running around the back to the inner thigh.

She jerked. “Shawn!”

“What?”I said all innocent-like. I stopped in the hallway and looked around. It was like a fork in the road, essentially. “Where should I go? The bedroom?” I turned so Nico could look down the hall. “The rec room? Nah, we just came from that direction.” I turned again. “Or the patio on the roof?”

“Not the roof, unless you want the whole neighborhood to hear me,” she said.

“Patio, it is,” I replied and turned around to head in that direction.

“Shawn, no, it’s too cold outside right now.”

“I’ll warm you up,” I said and reached for the doorknob.

She kicked the door shut right as I opened it. “No!”

“C’mon, Nico, stop fuckin’ around,” I said and went for the knob again.

She pushed herself upright and slid through my arm, dropping to the floor. “I am not going outside!” A low growl came from her and she pushed me back.

My right brow cocked a second before I pinned her against the frosted glass door, grabbing her wrists and holding them above her head against the door. “How ‘bout right here, then?” She hissed and I pulled back to look at her. “You got fangs? Let me see.”

Her upper lip pulled back to expose little fangs.

“Aw, ain’t those cute?” I said.

Nico wriggled a hand free and slapped me. “Shut up. At least I can control mine.”

That, she could because I didn’t even know she had them until now. I chuckled. “Just teasin’ ya, babe, but hey, if you wanna get rough, I’m game.” I grinned. “Go on, hit me again.”

“You’re such a freak,” she said.

“Tell you what, I’ll let you go and you can run again . . . and hopefully do a better damn job of it this time.” I winked.

“Why would you need to let me go?” She pushed herself away from the door and slammed into me with her right shoulder. Then she pulled her other wrist free as I went down, and she jumped over me and ran down the hall.

I lay on the floor, laughing. “Well, shit.” Sly little minx, that one was. “Ready or not, here I come!”

I vaporized and appeared in front of her. She ran right into me, and I wrapped my arms around her and picked her up. “Ha! Gotcha again.”

“That’s cheating,” she said and slapped my chest.

I vanished with her to the bedroom. “We’ll start in here.”

Nico broke away from me, but when she backed up, her legs hit the edge of the bed and she went tumbling back onto the mattress.

I pulled my T-shirt up over my head as I laughed. “Well, that’s one way of climbing into bed.”

She licked her lips as she stared at my chest.

I leaned forward and grabbed her pant leg, tugging twice lightly before her fingers went to the button and zipper on her jeans. Once undone, I yanked her pants off as she slid back further on the bed. I climbed forward, over and between her legs. My head dropped low at her navel, and I took the hem of her T-shirt into my mouth and tugged with a growl.

She giggled and fell back.

Bitch was going to make me do all the work. Ah, fuck it, it was Valentine’s Day, right?

I slid my hands up her sides, catching her shirt between thumbs and fingers, and pulled the cotton tee off. I braced myself above her with one arm, and my other hand slipped behind her head and I pulled her up for a kiss. Her left leg slid up and anchored on my hip, and I pressed my groin against her. A soft moan filtered into my mouth. I nipped at her lower lip and made a trail of kisses and licks and nips down her neck. My hand slipped beneath her and unclasped the black lace bra, and I pulled it off and tossed it behind me.

Nico’s nipples were perfect. Dark pink, not too big or small, but I could seriously hang her bra on one of them. I loved that. My tongue flitted around one, drawing a gasp from her when I bit down and sucked.

Her back arched and my hand grabbed her side before gliding to her hip and working her lacey boy shorts off. I slid off the bed, pulling her with me until my knees hit the floor. My lips graced her inner thigh as I propped her legs right where I wanted them before my tongue flicked her clit.

She gasped and shuddered.

I grinned and slid my tongue along her pussy, savoring the way she tasted. Even that had sweetness to it, just like her blood, and man did I have a sweet tooth.

Nico writhed on the bed as I worked to bring her pleasure, my thumb placing just the right amount of pressure on her clit while my tongue plunged into her. My cock was so fucking hard by then that I damn near stopped what I was doing and dropped my pants. But I needed to do this for her, and I’d fucked up enough lately.

She moaned and clutched the bedspread. Then she looked me right in the fucking eye, which would be a huge turn-on for me if she was blowing me, so I had to wonder if it was the same for her.

Her back arched hardcore and I grabbed her hips tightly, burying my face in her so I could finish, until she screamed my name so loud I wished we’d been on the damn patio. Guess that answered my question.

I slowly climbed up, lifted her and carried her further back on the bed, and had to unlock her legs from around me so I could get my pants off.

“Just give me a minute, babe.” I hopped off the bed and dropped them, then crawled across the bed to my beautiful naked Nico. “Where do you want to bite me?” I grinned.

She held a finger to her lips while trying to decide. It was so damn cute. “I think the neck. I love your neck.”

I lay back and turned my head to the side. “I’m all yours, beautiful.”

“And when I’m finished drinking from you?”

I grinned. “If you leave me some energy, I’m gonna fuck you all night.”

She giggled. “Tell me what I want to hear, Shawn.”

I looked her in the eye. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Nico. I fucking love you.”

“I love you too, Shawn.” Nico leaned over me, and when I turned my head again, she bit into my neck.

Holy. Fuck. That felt fucking awesome!

Angel’s Wings

For your listening pleasure this post: tinysong.com/gqDx or http://blip.fm/~11t226

*ahem* This might not be safe for work, if you’re reading from there. Just warning you. *grins* Also, that’s a damn good song.

Thalia turned to me once we returned to our house. “I really don’t like leaving her there when she’s so scared . . .”

I knew why she didn’t want to finish the sentence. It would imply that my twin would harm the woman he loved. I figured if Shawn could say those words to Nico—words he hadn’t said in years—it was pretty much a done deal that he’d never harm a hair on the girl’s head.

“She’ll be fine,” I replied. “She’s had a rough go of it the past twenty-four hours. He won’t hurt her.”

Thalia stared at me, her lips pinching at one corner of her mouth just like they always did when she wasn’t sure about something.

“Trust me,” I said, trying to reassure her that Nico was safer with him than anywhere else in the world now. And damn, how true that was. I was still reeling from the dhampyr revelation.

She sighed. “If you’re sure.”

“I am.” I felt the tension between Shawn and Nico, and decided to help just a little, since my brother had a damn temper from hell. Once the calm washed over me, I opened my eyes to find Thalia staring at me. “What?”

“What did you just do?” She stepped closer to me, her fingers sliding along the hem of my T-shirt, sending chills over my body when her skin touched mine.

“They’re fine now,” I said with a wink. My hand slipped behind her neck and I pulled her to me. Her lips grazed mine and I grinned. “I believe we have something to finish.”

She linked her arms around my neck and hopped up, locking her legs around my waist as she kissed me, one of her fangs piercing my lower lip. I grabbed her ass and slammed her against the wall. She moaned in my mouth and I pressed against her. My lips trailed down her long neck as hands slipped under her short skirt and ripped her panties off. She gasped, digging her nails into my back.

“Shirt,” I said in a low growl.

She unlocked her legs and dropped her feet to the floor before yanking my shirt up over my head. Then she slid down the wall and took my belt buckle in hand.  Seconds later, she had my erection in her hand, delicately stroking as she flicked her tongue against the tip before taking me into her mouth.

I hissed. “Watch the fangs.” I moaned as the piercing on her tongue rolled along the underside of my cock, and I braced myself against the wall.

Social Distortion started playing from my back pocket, but I did my best to ignore it. I figured if it was important, they could fucking call back.

Thalia didn’t hesitate a second and had the muscles in my back bunching in preparation for my release. My cock twitched as she moved her soft lips up and down, her tongue moving in ways I didn’t think were possible. Another moan escaped me as she explored me with her hands; one stroked my shaft in time with her lips and tongue, the other hand fondled my balls—a place not enough women paid enough attention to, in my opinion.

The phone rang again. “Fuck.”

Thalia pulled back. “Do you want me to stop so you can answer that?”

I looked down at her, the devilish grin on her face and the sparkle in her eye telling me she didn’t want to stop. “Fuck no!”

She giggled, and then she took me into her mouth again. I pressed my forehead against the wall, groaning with pleasure. The pressure of my release built as my hips moved forward and back, Thalia’s soft full lips wrapping around my cock, her tongue massaging me. I shuddered and opened my eyes to look down. I found her staring up at me. It got me every goddamn time and I came hard, muscles tightening all over.

Once I caught my breath, I licked my lips in anticipation of tasting my beauty.

And my fucking phone went off again. “Jesus fuck.”

I felt her hand slip into my back pocket and she slid back up the wall and handed it to me.

“Answer the goddamn thing so we can fuck in peace and quiet.” She smirked as she ducked under my arm before sauntering down the hallway to our bedroom.

I chuckled and shook my head as I watched that ass sway. “I love you,” I said and hit ‘send’ on my phone as she waved a hand at me before vanishing through the doorway. “What?”

It was Danny. “Dude, what the fuck? You don’t answer your phone anymore?”

I cleared my throat. “I was busy. What do you want?”

“Cabale just took out Daniella,” he said.

“Whoa, really?” I replied. “When did that happen?” Daniella was of Cearbhall’s line, so I wouldn’t have seen it in my mind. Of course, Cearbhall’s master was Cianán, so I was kind of surprised I didn’t even catch a glimpse of it. I mean, some of us saw Kenneth’s death.

“About two hours ago,” he said. “Kylie saw it. Still trying to figure out how she sees anything, but whatever. We wouldn’t have known otherwise.”

“Shit, Daniella was the last of Cearbhall’s line,” I said.

“I know.” The sound of fingers tapping away at a keyboard came over the line. “You do realize that they’re working their way through Cianán’s line, right?”

“Kenneth and Daniella weren’t directly from Cianán, though.”

“No, but Cearbhall was and he was part of the first coven of nine,” Danny said.

“So what’s that mean? Is Grant next?” I chuckled. “Shit, I’d like to see them try to take him out. Have you seen him lately? Fucker’s huge now.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said. “Must be the Dasul coming out in him. I’m trying to narrow it all down and figure out who they’ll go after next. I know you and Shawn aren’t part of the original coven, but you’re damn close, so watch your backs.”

“Will do,” I said.

“I think Lorelei was the only one left of the original nine, and now that she’s gone, they’re coming after the second coven.”

“That’s Grant’s era, I believe,” I said. “Shawn and I weren’t until the nineties.”

“No matter, they’re getting closer to you guys,” he said.

“Already had a run-in with Roberts tonight,” I said. “He tried to take Thalia.” I looked down the hall. “Hey, see how many you can get together for a raid on their little compound. Shawn knows where it’s located and wants to attack soon.”

“How soon?”

“Like later tonight, I believe,” I said. “Hell, I’d even opt for morning or afternoon just to throw them off, ya know?”

“I’ll see who I can get for a day shift,” Danny replied. “You know some of them still freak about the sun.”

“That’s because they’re ignorant.” I heard Thalia softly call my name from the bedroom, a low seductive voice that had me erect instantly. “Look, I gotta go. Text me when you get a crew together.”

“No prob,” he said. “Say hi to Thalia for me. Later.”

I hung up, tossed my phone on the sofa, and jogged down the hall. I found Thalia lying across the bed on her stomach all pin-up girl style in the skimpiest damn red lingerie I’d ever seen. My brow arched and I quickly closed my gaping mouth.

“That’s new,” I said with a grin and walked into the room.

Her ruby lips parted into a smile, the red streaks in her hair now matching once again. They were purple just a bit ago. I still hadn’t figured out how she was able to change like that, but guessed it had something to do with the molecular shit Shawn and I experienced on certain levels . . . and maybe Kylie transferred some of her power to Thalia when she helped me changed her. I mean, she could change her clothes in an instant too. Even Shawn and I couldn’t do that.

“I picked it just for tonight,” she said softly. “I also picked up something else.” Thalia lifted her hand and dangled a pair of handcuffs from her fingers.

“Oh shit,” I said as I stepped up to the edge of the bed. “Are those for you or me?”

Eyelashes batted. “Why not both?”

I leaned over, snatched them from her hand, and then slapped a cuff around one of her wrists. “You, me, dinner tomorrow night. Wherever you want to go.”

She grinned. “I thought I was dinner.”

God, I love this woman. Happy fucking Valentine’s Day to me!

Entwined

For your listening pleasure: tinysong.com/nOra

When the back of the chair broke, I’d left the breakfast nook to go hit my heavy bag once or twice in one of the back rooms so I wouldn’t do anymore damage to furnishings. Seeing someone else feed from Nico proved a bit more than I could take, which pissed me the hell off too. She was a fucking healer. What was I going to do when she did her damn job with other vamps that weren’tfemale? What if that’d been my brother instead?

Fuck. This just had bad idea written all over it.

Trent and Thalia took off not long after I returned. I heard my twin trying to convince Nico I wouldn’t hurt her. But the fear was still in her eyes as she stood in the kitchen, unmoving or unwilling to move because she had to get around me if she wanted to lock herself in the bathroom again.

I stared at the broken pieces of chair on the floor. If I couldn’t fix this, those pieces would symbolize our relationship. “Nico, look . . .” I said as I stepped forward, over a piece of wooden chair.

She took a step back, shaking her head. “Don’t come near me.”

I stopped and cocked my head to the side. “Do you really think I’m going to hurt you?”

“I don’t know you anymore,” she said, the words nearly catching in her throat.

“Don’t know . . . ?” I took another step toward her. “Are you fucking kidding me? You find out one new little thing about me and it throws your whole world off?”

“I wouldn’t call being a goddamn assassin little.” She’s trying to hide behind anger. It usually worked for her, but I could still smell the fear.

I held my hands out before me. “Okay, wait. You’re fine with me being a vamp—who kills people to feed, by the fucking way—but you’re not cool with me doing that for a living? Kinda fucked up moral system you got there.”

“Fuck you,” she shouted and bolted to get past me.

I stepped in her way and caught her around the waist. “You forget I’m faster than you.” My lips peeled back, exposing my fangs. Running on her part was a really bad idea.

“Put me down, Shawn.” She struggled against me.

“I can’t do that,” I said. “You’ll run.”

The fear returned to her eyes briefly as she looked up at me. “What would you do to me if I ran?”

I pulled in her scent as I closed my eyes, savoring it to the point I’d licked my lips before answering. “I don’t think you want to find out.”

She struggled even harder to get away, and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy holding on to her. Nico was stronger than most. She knew at a young age she was quite different from the other kids. But fear was never really a factor for her before. It weakened her. Normally, she could put up a pretty good fight against any vamp. I’d seen evidence of it.

“Let go of me.” Fear irrationalizes everything. Nico’s a smart girl, but when terror was the overriding factor, all those smarts flew right out the goddamn window.

If she wasn’t dhampyr . . . “Nico, really, I’d suggest you calm the fuck down because this is doing one of two things to me right now.” I knew the scared dhampyr shit was because of her recent experience with Cianán—the fucker. I should kill him outright. She’d never put up with my shit before and she certainly wasn’t afraid of me then.

But to top off being a snack for the Druid master, she’d just become what dhampyr feared most—hunted by both humans and vamps. I saw the look in Cianán’s eye. It wouldn’t be long. And then it wouldn’t be long before others figured it out.

Which was the other reason I couldn’t let her go.

She froze, but trembled all over.

My gut twisted. Who the hell was this girl? Not my Nico, that’s for damn sure. I pushed her up against the wall and she let out a whimper. I grabbed her face.

“Open your eyes and look at me,” I said, a low growl rumbling in my throat.

She kept her eyes shut tight.

My hand flattened hard against the wall next to her. “Damn it, Nico, look at me!”

A tear ran down her cheek. My finger swept it up and I stared at the droplet.

Warmth flooded my mind and it dawned on me that perhaps I should be the one to calm down. I drew in a deep breath and relaxed my shoulders, letting my hand fall away from her face and dropping to one knee.

“Please, Nico . . . .”

I knelt before her with my head down.

“There’s a part of me, of my soul, that is so dark, it’s like a black hole; a void in space.”

She didn’t move, but I could tell she was watching me, listening to me.

“You’re the only light I have—” I swallowed hard, trying to choke down the words. It felt like Trent was the one talking instead of me. “—and I would die protecting you, keeping you safe.”

I knelt, still as a statue. She had to make the first move. Any movement on my part would send her careening around the corner and through the house . . . and it would kick start the predator in me.

Her fingers drifted through my hair, but I still didn’t stir. She needed to set aside her fears. They were new to her, so likely difficult to comprehend in her half-vampyre mind. Human fears she’d had yet to uncover in her twenty-five years.

I had to be a rock—her rock if she’d allow me. I realized that I wanted nothing more in this world than the beauty that stood before me. I wanted to tell her I’d stop . . . stop killing people for money, but the words hung in my throat.

“You won’t . . . hurt me?”

I grinned. “Not unless you want me to.” I tipped my head up to look into her chocolate brown eyes, and her hand fell, brushing the side of my face. I reached up and pressed her hand against my cheek.

The corner of her mouth twitched.

I stared resolutely into her eyes. “I love you, Nico.” I turned my head a little and kissed her hand. My nostrils flared at the scent of fear still lingering on her skin. Beneath that . . . chocolate. Nico was mine, and after watching two other vamps feed from her, I needed to mark her. I should have the last time I was with her. Cianán would have known then.

But that probably wouldn’t have stopped him.

She dropped to her knees and took my face in her hands. “Jesus, that must have been a real bitch to say.”

A grin split my lips, flashing fang. “There you are. Fuck, woman, you had me scared for a minute there.”

She cocked a thin brow. “You, scared? That’s laughable.”

“I know, right?” My arms slipped around her and pulled her closer to me, and my eyebrows jumped. “Wanna play predator and prey?”

“Is that what you were talking about with the running?”

“Yes and no,” I said. “If you ran scared, it wouldn’t have been a game.” A flash of fear hit her eyes. “Just remember not to run when you’re scared and all will be well with the world. You should know that shit anyway.”

She grinned. “Yeah, I do, but that dude kind of fucked me up.” She rubbed her neck where Cianán bit her. “It’s like I can still feel his fangs in me.”

“Really?” My brow dipped. Okay, this was not cool and shouldn’t be happening. “So where do dhampyr go when they need fixin’?”

She snorted. “Well, cowboy, they get themselves all fixed up on their own.”

“How?” I’d been curious about this for some time now. I’d had an idea she was dhampyr, but didn’t know if she needed blood or not—at least, not until a recent visit—because she never took it from me. During that visit, I’d smelled and tasted the blood on her lips. It pretty much connected the dots.

“Blood.” She traced a line down my neck, over the large vein pulsing with immortal undead life and likely her blood. “You’ve already given me some.”

“Do you need more?”

She grinned and nodded.

I let go of her and she slid off my lap. “Then I suggest you run.”

Cherry Bomb

For your listening pleasure this post: http://blip.fm/~104ukz

Shawn vanished from my left in an instant as I glared at the bastard holding a tainted knife to Thalia’s throat. Her skin turned red wherever the blade touched and Thalia hissed in response. My vision would be red in a moment.

“Let. Her.  Go.” My fists clenched as my body trembled with rage and the urge to rip Roberts’ head off.

He smiled again, one that twisted up only one side of his mouth and made him look more evil than any vamp I’d ever met, including the monster I’d just left.

“I think not.” His eyes darted to the right and he took a step in that direction, taking Thalia with him. “I could just take this one until he gives me the witch.”

Something snapped inside my mind and a ruby shade slid over my eyes. Movements around me slowed to a hum, becoming sharp and crisp images, allowing me to capture every detail.

Thalia’s fingers drifted to the arm over her chest. Then, faster than human eyes could have fathomed, her left hand grabbed the blade and she pushed it forward with the aid of her right hand. She bent over, lengthening her body, pushing that cute ass into Roberts and stretching her arms out in front of her.

My breath caught in my throat at the surprise. I remembered the night I showed her that move. A smile teased the corner of my mouth as the ruby tint faded. I’d spent so much time worrying about Shawn lately I’d forgotten that I’d taught my girl a few tricks … likely because those training sessions usually ended with sex. Damn good sex.

Thalia wrenched the blade away and threw her right elbow into Roberts’ side twice before slamming his face. Bone cracked and he stumbled backwards and fell to the ground. She flipped the knife into the air and caught the handle with her reddened hand. Then she cocked her head to the side and smiled at me, her purple lips splitting into a wide, breathtaking grin. Her eyes darted to her left before she looked at me again. I nodded. We both vanished a few streets over before Roberts could stand.

Thalia’s fine now, I told my twin through our mind link. Nico okay?

Yeah, she’s fine. I’m taking her to my place. I’ll talk to you later.

Okay, FYI, I’ve got the knife with that shit on it. Maybe Nico can study it later.

No prob. Oh wait, Nico wants to see Thalia for her wounds. Meet me at the place in Ahwatukee.

I looked at my girl. “Nico wants to see your neck and hand.”

She nodded silently and shoved the knife in her belt.  Then she looked at her hand as she held it open, palm up between us. “It hurts like a bitch.” She wasn’t talking about the already healing cuts from the blade.

“Yeah, Rhenium. Nasty stuff.” I looked closer. “Wait, it’s not healing as fast as it should.”

“It burns,” she said.

“And without going to see Nico, it’ll continue to burn. C’mon, let’s go.” I grabbed her other hand and we ported over to Shawn’s condo. We had to land in front of the door because he had protections up. We all used them, if we’re smart and had the ability. The protection was like a shield. Kind of sucked for those vamps without the magic. I’m not even sure what they did to protect themselves without their masters around. The masters all had the magic and protected the covens.

I raised a hand to the solid black door and knocked, getting only one hit in before Shawn opened it. He ushered us inside.

“She’ll be out in a minute,” he said. “She wanted to dress first and clean up a bit.”

“No problem,” I replied and walked Thalia over to the kitchen table. “Like what you’ve done with the place.” Shawn had very precise taste when it came to furnishings. Everything was simplified, clean and crisp. Straight edges, shining chrome, silver on black all sitting on teak hardwood floors. Looked like he purchased all of it at Ikea or something.

“Thanks.” He moved into the kitchen and pulled a glass from the cabinet, then filled it with water from the filtered tap. “Here, she might need this.”

I took the glass from him and placed it in front of Thalia.

“Nico’s okay, right?” I raised a brow and stared at him, throwing the other question without words or thought.

He grimaced and snapped his head side to side in a motion too quick and short for Thalia to catch.

Nico wasn’t okay; she was afraid of him. I wondered what happened after they disappeared.

“I’m seriously sorry, brother,” I said softly. “I thought she knew. I mean, how could she not with all your damn wounds?”

He shrugged. “Fuck if I know, but it doesn’t matter now.”

“Want me to talk to her?” Thalia’s voice rose up behind me. The girl’s smarter than anyone realized half the time.

Shawn peered around me to see her. “Don’t think it’d help, sweetie. She knows me well enough. If that won’t help, nothing will.”

I stepped out of his line of vision to Thalia so we could all see one another. “You two will figure it out. She loves you. Always has.”

He nodded slowly and looked at the floor. Then he spun to his right. “I’ll see what’s keeping her.”

When he disappeared around the corner and down the hall, I turned to Thalia and smiled. “I’d forgotten I’d shown you those moves.”

“Yeah, me too for a minute there,” she replied with a small giggle.

The giggle mixed with the images of watching her get herself out of that situation and I realized I’d never been more turned on by this woman. She could fucking protect herself. It wouldn’t stop me from trying to keep her safe, but maybe I could relax a little. Ever since her death, I’d been way over-protective. We’d even gotten in a few arguments about it, especially recently.

I blinked and Thalia stood in front of me, her right hand sliding down my chest, running over my belt and—

“Whoa, not here, babe!” I grabbed her hand, pulling it away from me.

Her half-closed eyes looked up at me with a seduction that melted me to the core as the corners of her mouth turned up. “Soon?”

I swallowed hard. “Oh yeah.” My breath became heavy, my mouth moist at the thought of tasting her. “Especially after watching what you did to that asshole.”

She giggled again.

Footsteps headed toward the kitchen—two sets: one soft, one heavy. Thalia moved to my side as they came around the corner.

Shawn waved his hand in front of him. “Oh for fuck’s sake. Do you two ever stop fucking?”

I had to laugh. “Well, not really.”

“Figures,” he grumbled and spun a chair around to sit down on it backwards. “Can we keep it over the sink, please, if she needs your blood?”

Nico nodded and moved to the sink after inspecting Thalia’s hand. She withdrew a knife from the butcher’s block along the way and beckoned my girl with a nod of her head. Thalia stepped around me and followed her.

Why was she being so damn quiet? I looked at Shawn. What the hell happened when you vanished?

Nothing.

Bullshit. Tell me.

I don’t have to tell you shit.

Maybe I can help, asshole.

He growled low. She’s fucking afraid of me, okay? As soon as I got her here, she ran into the goddamn bathroom and locked herself in. I had to practically beg her to see Thalia. I knew your girl wouldn’t be able to heal herself from that shit. I’ve had it inside me. Shit fucking burns.

Jesus, Shawn. I stared at him in disbelief of the culmination of what he’d just said. Then I came back to the present and left the past behind. I can talk to her.

No. He shook his head once in each direction. She needs to work through it on her own.

But Shawn . . .

His head moved swiftly back and forth again. It ended the conversation because even I knew not to press it with my brother.

Fine.

The sweet aroma of blood filled the air in the tight space of the kitchen, and it nearly knocked me over. “Holy shit, that scent—”

“Like fucking chocolate, huh?” Shawn said softly.

I nodded and turned toward the girls. Nico had slit her arm and let the blood drip onto Thalia’s hand. Then she told Thalia to rub it around the entire hand as she smeared her own fingers with her blood and covered the wound on Thalia’s neck. Once my girl finished with that, Nico raised her arm to Thalia’s lips.

“Drink,” she said. “It’ll heal from the inside as well.”

Shawn stared hard as Thalia drank from Nico, his hands gripping the back of the chair in a white-knuckled death grip. I waited for the wood to give under the pressure, but it didn’t.

“Can you close this for me, please?” Nico asked Thalia.

As Thalia leaned forward again, her tongue dipping out to lick the wound closed, the chair snapped and curses flew through the breakfast nook. I arched a brow at my twin and he stormed off, leaving the back of the chair in pieces.

I cleared my throat. “We should probably go.”

Nico’s eyes pleaded with me to stay or take her with us. Fuck.

“Look, Nico,” I whispered. “He’s not going to hurt you. He’d never do that.”

Her lower lip quivered. “You’re sure?”

I nodded and ceased speaking because I could hear Shawn’s footsteps nearing us once again. “Thank you so much for helping Thalia. We really appreciate it.” I paused, remembering that she charges for this kind of shit. “So, uh, what do we owe you?”

Thalia’s brow dipped in confusion.

“She’s a healer,” I said. “And she gets paid to do that.”

“Oh,” she replied. “I didn’t realize that was you.” She smiled. “Thank you.”

Nico shook her head. “No charge.  You were injured helping me.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, taking a step forward. “Because I can pay—”

“I’m positive,” she said, waving a hand at me as I reached for my wallet. “Please.”

I looked at Thalia, who looked like she didn’t want to leave Nico alone with Shawn. “We need to go.” Finally, she nodded, knowing I was right about what needed to transpire between them.

All I’m going to say is I’ll be damned if I wanted to be in that house when it happened.