Page 27

Yes, she was Darkyn. No, she had no choice but to live on human blood. Yes, she could make a little more effort in the assimilation department. But what was hammering inside her skull, what was really going to dig in and do a lot of damage, were the residual echoes of Abby’s thoughts. She could still feel the girl’s pleasure, still hear everything that had flashed through her head. Whether it would fade like the physical afterglow of feeding or remain imprinted was yet to be seen, but whatever happened she’d have to live with what she’d done to that girl. She’d taken her blood and in the process had brainwashed her.

Maybe the same way Lucan had done to her the first time he’d fed on her blood.

Her phone rang in her pocket. Lucan had a habit of reprogramming her ringtone without telling her; tonight it played the theme to the movie Twilight. She considered chucking the device down the sewer, but that would only make him come looking for her.

She flipped open the phone. “Leave me alone.”

“I’d love to, sweetie,” Alexandra Keller said, “but the pain currently drilling a hole in my skull won’t go away, and morphine no longer works on me.”

“You’re the doctor,” Sam snapped. “I can’t do anything about it. I’m just a cop.”

“You’re also the only Kyn who was changed by my blood,” Alex reminded her. “That means whenever you’re in trouble, I feel it. As for what that feels like, ever stick an ice pick in your ear?”

“Please don’t give me ideas.” Sam stopped and looked around. She was standing at the back of the Armstrong building. She’d come back to him like some sort of goddamn homing pigeon. “Everything is fine, Alex. I’m just not having a great night.”

“Same here. If everything is fine, why do you sound so pissed off?”

Sam looked up at the lights on the fourth floor. “Lucan took me out to hunt. My first time. I did it, but I had no idea … I’ve been using him or bagged blood since I changed. You know what it’s like when you use a human.”

“Can’t say I do,” Alex admitted. “I have yet to sink fangs into anyone other than Michael. Was it that bad?”

“Before, when I was human, I thought I felt all those things because I loved him.” She walked slowly down toward the loading platform. “It happened again with the girl I used for blood tonight. You feel the exact same thing. When you bite them, it’s like an aphrodisiac on ricochet. They go crazy for you, and you feel that, and then you want them just as much. I can’t explain it better than that.”

“I’ve done something similar.” Her tone remained neutral. “What’s your problem with this, Sam? Would you rather have the girl feel pain and horror, like in the movies?”

“Jesus, no, of course not.” Sam stopped at the front entrance to the building and sat down on the bottom steps. “It just makes me wonder, you know? I never fell in love until I met Lucan, and then it happened so fast … but I didn’t fall in love until after he used me for blood.”

“Honey, I got to spend a little time with Luc after he grabbed me in Fort Lauderdale, and he would never—”

“No, Alex.” She didn’t want to hear about Lucan and what he’d never do. “It was bad enough finding out I look just like the chick he had a crush on in the seventeen hundreds or whatever. Maybe that’s the whole deal for him: that I look like her.”

“I know you’re upset, Sam, but honest to God—”

“And what if I do that to someone else?” she demanded. “What if I bite them and make them think they love me and then somehow infect them?”

“You can’t do that—”

“You infected me when Lucan gave me your blood, and you weren’t even in the room—”

“Will you shut up and let me finish one fucking sentence, please?” Alex waited until she heard silence, and then added, “Thank you. Okay. Let’s get a few things straight. You can’t infect anyone unless they’re already carrying Darkyn DNA, they’re dying, and you give them your blood. That’s the only way it happens without killing them. Got it?”

“Yeah,” Sam muttered.

“I don’t know what the deal is between you and Lucan right now,” Alex continued, “but you are not now nor have you ever been a stand-in for Frances. He loves you, kiddo. He told me, and I saw his face and his eyes when he said it. He wasn’t lying.”

“He told you that when I was human,” she reminded her, “and he was feeding on me. Not a lot, but enough to influence his feelings. You should have heard how he talked about humans. He called us …” She trailed off as she tried to remember the exact phrase. “He called us a movable feast.”

“If all you were to Lucan was a Happy Meal, then why did he give you my blood after Dwyer shot you? Why was he so desperate to save your life?” When Sam didn’t reply, she said, “You’re a beautiful girl, and I’m sure you’re great in the sack, but really, sweetie. Look at the guy.”

Samantha felt the hair on the back of her neck prickle, and turned around to see Lucan standing a few steps above her. She didn’t know how long he had been listening, but his face had no expression and he didn’t move.

“He’s big, he’s blond, and he’s a badass,” Alex was saying on the phone. “He can have—correction, probably has had—any woman he wants.”

She stood up slowly. “They’re all like that. Maybe that’s all there is.”

“I can’t tell you why I fell in love with Michael, but I know it’s not just the bond of blood,” she said, all the humor vanishing from her tone. “You remember the high lord. Richard Tremayne. Richard’s seneschal, Korvel, bonded me to him when I was separated from Michael. We spent a lot of time together, and then Richard hurt me and Korvel took care of me. That was all it took. Even after I left Ireland, Korvel came to me in my dreams. Worse, when I was asleep I called him to me. That’s how powerful these bonds are.”

Sam began walking up the steps. “So it took you over, too.”

“Not all of me,” Alex said. “I wanted to have sex with Korvel, sure, but I didn’t. I couldn’t, not even when I was dreaming. The love I felt for Michael kept pulling me back. When I finally realized what was happening, I knew what I had to do.”

She stopped one step below Lucan. “What?”

“I told Michael everything.” She sighed. “And do you know what that stupid bastard did? He offered to let me go back to Ireland. He said if I wanted Korvel more than him, he’d just have to accept it.”

“Kyn males usually go insane when they’re separated from their life companions.” Sam saw her lover’s eyes turn from misty gray to glittering chrome.

“Yeah, well, I don’t think Mike would have waited around for the straitjacket,” Alex said. “Sam, you know this works both ways. If you two split up, whatever happens to him probably will happen to you, too.”

She reached up and skimmed her fingertips across the grim lines of his mouth. “I can’t ever leave him, can I?”

“Do you want to?”

“The truth?” She could face it as well as him. “I wake up and I want him. I go to work and I think about him. I come home and I can’t wait to touch him.” She dropped her hand to his shoulder and took the last step so that she stood only an inch from him. “I don’t think I can live without him anymore, Alex. Even if there were a way to get over this thing between us, I don’t want to.”

“Then there’s only one more question I have for you,” Alex said.

She closed her eyes as Lucan curled his hand around the back of her neck. “Okay.”

“Why are you still on the phone with me?”

Sam laughed helplessly as Lucan took the phone from her and spoke into it. “Good evening, Alexandra. My sygkenis bids you good-night and farewell.” He listened for a moment. “Yes. I will tell her.” He switched off the phone and tossed it over his shoulder before he scooped Sam up in his arms.

“How much trouble am I in?” Sam asked as he carried her inside, mainly so she wouldn’t break down and cry all over him.

“None, unless you were lying to Alexandra.”

Lucan carried her into the elevator and from it to their suite. Only when they were inside and he had kicked the door shut did he set her down on her feet.

“I thought you weren’t pissed off at me,” she said carefully.

“Oh, I am that.” He tilted her face up to his. “You should know that if you ever try to leave me, I will hunt you down and drag you back to my stronghold.”

She shook her head. “You won’t have to.”

“So you say now. But understand what that means, my sygkenis.” His fingers tightened on her jaw. “Alex’s blood may run in your veins, but you belong to me, and I am not Michael Cyprien. I will not play the noble lover and sacrifice my love for you. You cannot bring someone like me out of the darkness and then change your mind about it. I am yours, Samantha. You have all of me. The beautiful mask and the monster beneath it. And make no mistake: I am a monster. One who will happily, joyfully tear apart anything that comes between us. As you yourself have already witnessed.”

“Nothing like threatening the one you love to keep a relationship together.” She rested her forehead against his chest. “I’m in love with a monster, and tonight when I fed on that girl, I felt like a monster, so that kind of works out.” She looked up at him. “I’m afraid of what happened at the club. What happened between us when I was human. Alex said I need to talk to you about it. Can we do that without you reducing this place to a pile of smoking rubble?”

The phone rang.

“The building is safe,” Lucan said, “but I cannot guarantee the telephone will survive the night.” He strode over, snatched up the receiver, and said, “What now?”

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