Dark Hunger


Page 28


Beau heard her locking herself in and went to the door. “Calm down, love. It isn’t what you think.”


“It is exactly what I think.” She sobbed the words. “We have the same tattoo, the same eyes, the same hand. What else could it be?”


He rested his brow against the door. “This was done to me a very long time ago. You cannot be the child of my parents. I am sure of it.”


“I have to take a bath,” she said dully over the sound of water splashing.


At the same time, someone knocked on the door to the suite. “We’ll talk more after you’ve bathed.” Beau went to answer the door, and found a waiter with a large service cart. “What the bloody hell do you want?”


“Mr. Taylor sends this with his compliments,” the waiter said, lifting the linen covering the cart to reveal plates of food, glasses, and a bottle of wine.


Beau shed enough scent to make the mortal’s eyes darken. “Leave it here. Do not disturb us again. Forget me.”


“Leave. Do not disturb. Forget.” The man bobbed his head and walked back to the elevators.


Beau pushed the cart inside, securing the door and then pacing the length of the room as he waited for Alys to emerge from the bath. A short time later she did, the white robe once more shrouding her slender body.


“They sent food for us.” The paleness of her face made his heart ache. “Come and eat something.”


“I’m not hungry.” Alys went to the phone. “I’ll call downstairs and get another room.”


Beau grabbed the receiver from her hand and slammed it down. “You are not my sister.”


“Don’t. Please.” She turned away from him, hugging herself with her arms as she fled to the opposite side of the suite. “It’s horrible that this happened between us, but we didn’t know. Now that we do, you can’t—you and I can never—”


He seized her with his ability, turning her around and lifting her off her feet as he pulled her through the air to him.


“I was born in the thirteenth century, and when I became a man, I took vows as a Poor Fellow-Soldier of Christ and the Temple of Solomon.” When she reached him, he held her suspended in the air before him. “After the Crusades, I came home to England, where I died of plague. Three days later I rose from my grave to live again as a blood-drinker. I have walked the night for seven centuries, love.” Gently he lowered her to the floor. “I am all these things, but I am not your brother.”


“I want to believe you.” Her expression clouded. “I know you have an extraordinary power; you’ve demonstrated it twice now.”


“Three times,” he corrected. “I used it to keep you from falling down the steps in the cloister. Why won’t you believe the rest of what I’ve told you?”


“I can’t.” She clutched at the front of her robe. “You have to understand—I’m a scientist, Beauregard—”


“Beaumaris. My true name is Beaumaris.”


“All right.” She looked miserable. “Beaumaris, you are an amazing man. You’ve also been lying to me since we met. As I said, I’m a scientist. I deal in facts, not fantasies. Human beings can’t live for centuries. Having the plague doesn’t make you rise from the grave or drink blood or give you eternal life. You have a tremendous gift, and I can’t explain how you have it, but it doesn’t make you an immortal.”


She didn’t believe him at all. Beau was speechless.


“We can be tested and find out if we’re siblings.” The wrenching sadness in her voice made it clear that she still thought they were. “Perhaps we’re related more distantly; I know cousins sometimes share physical characteristics. The rest of it, well, you don’t have to lie to me anymore. I’ve read about the dark kyn, but they’re just stories made up by a mentally ill priest.”


She thinks I am lying. Or mad. “You will want proof.”


“You can’t prove…I mean, that’s not necessary.” She reached out and touched his arm. “I’m sorry. Honestly, I’m not making fun of you. You saved my life tonight. I’ll always be grateful.”


Grateful. She was bloody grateful. Not for long. “Come with me.”


Alys didn’t resist as he dragged her over to the room service cart. When he picked up the serrated knife from the tray, she reached for it. “Please don’t—”


He held out his forearm. “My kind are very hard to hurt, and nearly impossible to kill. Behold.” He thrust the knife against his arm. The blade snapped off and fell to the floor. He held up the broken handle. “When we are strong, as I am, steel cannot cut through our flesh.”


Doubt flickered for a moment over her face. “Did you use your power to snap the blade?”


He bent down and drew the dagger from the sheath in his boot and handed it to her. “Examine it. Assure yourself it is not a fake.”


Alys heaved a sigh before she inspected the blade. “It’s a real knife, and the metal looks like copper.”


“It is copper, the only metal that can hurt us.” Beau took the dagger from her and used it to slash his wrist.


“Oh, my God.” Alys grabbed his arm. “What have you done? Are you crazy?”


Beau stopped her from using her robe to stanch the wound. “Watch.” After a few moments the blood stopped flowing, and then disappeared as the edges of the slash sealed together. “A mortal cannot heal so fast. Examine it for yourself.”


She touched his arm just as the last mark of the wound vanished, and gazed up at him. “I can’t explain this, any more than I can substantiate your kinetic power. I wish I could. But it’s not proof that you’re some kind of immortal vampire who’s been alive since the Dark Ages.” She touched her shoulder. “Maybe you believe you are, and you behave as if you are, but there are no such things as vampires.”


There was nothing left for Beau to do but demonstrate in the most basic way what he was.


He handed her his dagger again. “Prick your finger on the tip. Not deeply, only to draw a drop of blood.” When she hesitated, he added, “You said you were grateful to me. I did save your life, Alys. This is what I want in return.”


Alys looked sadly at the blade before she pressed her finger to the point. She showed him the drop of blood that welled from the tiny wound. “Anyone can drink blood, Beaumaris. Even me.”


He took hold of her wrist, bringing her fingers up to his face and breathing her in. He opened his mouth, tilting his head back so she could see his dents acérées stretch out into his mouth.


He lowered his chin. “Can you do that?”


Alys stared at him blankly. “You grew fangs.”


“Aye.” Now that he had told her all, he saw no reason to mask his natural speech. “The scent of mortal blood sends us into our predatory state. My eyes change as well.”


“Your pupils are constricting.” She moved closer, her hands cradling his face as she watched. “Like a cat’s.” She pressed her fingers to his mouth. “May I?”


“Have a care. They’re sharper than my blade.” Beau parted his lips for her, and stood silent as she traced the shape of his dents acérées. The touch sent a new surge of lust through him, and when he groaned, she snatched her hand away. “It does not hurt me.” He brought her fingers back to his mouth. “It is a different kind of torment.”


She glanced down and up again. “It arouses you.”


“Not always. The taste of blood is a pleasure, as is feeding on it, but you arouse me.” He took her in his arms. “So, then. Have I convinced you at last?”


Slowly Alys nodded. “I don’t know what to say to you. You are a vampire. A real, living vampire.” She uttered a short laugh. “With food allergies.”


“We cannot eat food. Any food,” he admitted. “But, Alys, we are vrykolakas, not vampires. Sunlight does not turn us to ashes, nor must we sleep in coffins or fear the cross. Like the vampires of folklore we do not age, and we heal instantly from almost any wound, but we are not evil.”


She smiled. “You couldn’t be evil if you tried.”


“There is something more you should know about me.” Beau had never told a living soul about his origins; he’d spent seven lifetimes pretending they didn’t exist. But no one had ever loved him before Alys, and she deserved nothing but the truth. “I was born in Jerusalem. The man who sired me came there on Crusade. I never knew him or his name, but I was told he was an Englishman.” He had to say this now, this thing that he had never spoken aloud. “He met my mother in a brothel. She was a harlot. A Saracen harlot.”


“We call them Muslims now.” Her smile faltered. “How did you get to England from Jerusalem?”


“My mother gave me to a Templar. I was only a boy; I didn’t understand that she was dying of consumption. He brought me to England and found a family to foster me.”


“He didn’t tell anyone about your mother,” Alys guessed. “And neither did you.”


“I didn’t speak enough English to say more than ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ By the time I did, they believed what the Templar had told them: that my mother was Italian.” He held up their hands, her flesh so pale against his. “That explained the color of my skin.” He kissed the back of her hand. “I have never told anyone of this…but you.”


“We all have secrets.” Her eyes shimmered with tears. “When my guardian sent me away to school, I realized I wasn’t like the other little girls. Their parents came to see them on weekends and holidays, but Robert never visited me. I was so lonely, but I was only seven years old. I didn’t understand how busy he was, or even where he was. One Christmas I ran away from school and took a train to Paris. I walked to the address on Robert’s checks from there, but it was a church, not a house or a business. The caretaker said he didn’t know my guardian. A man drove past me while I was walking back to the station, and offered me a ride. It was raining, and I was wet and cold, so I got into his car. But he didn’t take me to the train. He drove off the road into the woods.”



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