Darkness Dawns

Page 15

“Sorry about your car,” Roland muttered, heading for the Prism.

Marcus followed and opened the passenger door for him. “Don’t worry about it. I already called Reordon. He and his cleaning crew will take care of it.”

Roland said nothing, just eased inside the cramped vehicle.

Marcus watched his friend curiously. Roland wasn’t behaving in his usual irascible, distance-himself-from-everything-and-everyone manner. In fact, he didn’t seem to want to distance himself from Sarah at all, curtly refusing Marcus’s offer to take her until Roland was settled, instead tightening his hold on her and keeping her with him.

Roland’s touch was downright possessive as he cradled Sarah on his lap and arranged her just so, ensuring she would be comfortable. Under Marcus’s bemused gaze, he then gently cupped a hand protectively over her head and motioned for Marcus to close the door.

Marcus closed it, fascinated, and circled the rear of the car.

Who the hell was this woman and how had she managed to snare Roland’s interest so quickly?

Because she had definitely snared it.

Squeezing his long frame behind the wheel, he closed the door and turned the key. The engine sputtered to reluctant life. “Where to?”

“My place,” Roland said, not looking up as he carefully began to pick pieces of glass out of Sarah’s hair and drop them to the floorboard.

Marcus pulled onto the road and followed Roland’s directions. “Did the vamp do that to her?”

“In part. He jumped onto the hood of your car and brought it to a crashing halt.”

Marcus frowned. Judging by the way the tires had squealed and smoked as Sarah had sped away from the house, she had been going damned fast. “How did he catch her?”

From the corner of his eye, he saw Roland shake his head. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen a vampire move so swiftly. Fortunately, I got there before he could lay a hand on her and she ran away while we fought.”

“Did you kill the fucker?”

“No, Bastien chose to retreat.”

And Roland hadn’t gone after him? Very telling. “His name is Bastien?”

“That’s what one of his men called him. By the time I found Sarah, she had tumbled down a wooded hill and was racing across a field.”

Glancing away from the road momentarily, Marcus saw Roland tenderly smooth his big hand over her hair after the last particle of glass was tossed away. “Was she running from

Bastien? Or from you?”

Roland’s lips tightened. “Both, I think.”

“What did she say when you caught up with her?”

Roland’s eyes were grim when they met his. “She begged me not to kill her.”

Silently, Marcus swore and returned his attention to the road.

That did not bode well.

Twenty minutes later, Roland gently deposited Sarah on the dark brown sofa in his living room and placed a pillow beneath her head. That she was still unconscious worried him.

As he knelt beside her, he noticed the blood that coated his hands and forearms and turned to Marcus. “Get me a towel, will you?”

Marcus disappeared into the kitchen, then returned to the entrance and tossed Roland a towel. “What are you doing?”

Roland began wiping the blood from his hands. “She has a nasty head wound and some bad bruises and scrapes. I’m going to heal her.”

“Oh, no, you’re not. Not until you feed. You’ve lost a lot of blood and have much more severe wounds of your own. You know what will happen if you heal her without feeding first.”

“I’m not going to put my needs before hers, Marcus. She saved my life.”

“And you saved hers, so the two of you are even.”

“Hers would not have been in danger if she hadn’t found and helped me.”

“Oh, please. Do you really think that after babysitting you and watching the sun roast your hairy ass, Ren and Stimpy would have walked past her with a smile and a wave and continued on their merry way? She’s a lovely woman living alone in the middle of nowhere with no one nearby to hear her screams. They were stabbing you because they wanted to know what it felt like. What makes you think they wouldn’t have raped and tortured her just to see what that felt like? If you ask me, she’s damned lucky she did find and help you. So you can stop playing the martyr and feed.”

Ignoring him, Roland tossed the towel aside and settled his palm on the ribs he had seen Sarah clutching as she ran. Just as he had suspected, three of them were cracked.

His hand heated as he focused his flagging energy. His own ribs began to ache as hers healed beneath his touch.

Releasing her, he shifted uncomfortably.


A bag of blood appeared a few inches in front of his face. Roland’s gaze followed the arm offering it to its owner.

Marcus now stood behind the sofa. “I brought it to you in case you were simply too tired or lazy to get it yourself.”

Roland brushed it aside impatiently. “Get that out of here.”

“Stop being stubborn,” Marcus demanded. “You need it and she’s unconscious.”

“But she could wake at any moment.”

Actually, she already had.

Chapter 6

Sarah had been flirting with consciousness ever since Roland had settled her on what felt like a very comfortable sofa.

Roland was a vampire. Marcus was, too. And she was now alone with them and terrified of what they meant to do to her. She needed to escape but had no hope of outrunning them. So she had enacted the only plan she could think of with her head pounding and sharp pains darting through her chest every time she drew in a breath: feign sleep, eavesdrop, gather information, then sneak away at the first opportunity.

The hardest part so far had been keeping her heartbeat steady and slow despite her fear and not flinching when Roland had touched her sore ribs.

Well, no. The absolute hardest part had been not freaking out when Marcus had told Roland to feed, assuming she would be the main course.

The more she listened, though, the more uncertainty crowded her. Roland didn’t sound like the soulless predator she had seen suck the blood of that goth kid in her front yard. He sounded like the nice guy she had spent the day with. The one who had let her sleep on him without copping a feel, disinclined to complain about her weight resting on his many wounds.

He sounded protective of her.

“And Seth thinks I’m unreasonable,” Marcus muttered. “She knows what we are.”

“And she’s already seen me feed once, Marcus. I don’t want her to see me do it again. She’ll be scared enough when she wakes.”

“Not necessarily.”

“Clearly you didn’t see her face when she dove for the car and screeched away.”

Inwardly, she winced. Jeeze, that sounded cowardly.

“I was preoccupied, if you’ll recall,” Marcus responded dryly. “Besides, she was only afraid because she thought you were a vampire like the others. Once you explain that you’re not, that you’re an immortal, she’ll come around.”

He wasn’t a vampire? What was an immortal?

“The way Mary did?” Roland asked dryly.

Who was Mary?

Marcus snorted. “Mary was a twit, infected by the superstitions of her time and easily influenced by others.”

“She was not a twit. She was well-educated.”

“She was a bluestocking, a student of the classics with her head in the clouds. Despite her love of books, she knew little more of the world than her female peers and, as I said, was easily influenced by others. Perhaps if she had been capable of thinking for herself, she wouldn’t have betrayed you the way she did.”

Roland grunted.

“None of that matters, anyway, because Mary and Sarah are two different people. Mary would never have hit a man in the head with a shovel to save you. Sarah did.”

Well, that made her feel better.

“Plus, I happened to see a number of paranormal romance novels on her bookshelves when we were at her place, so she may not freak out at all.”

“What do you know about romance novels?” Roland asked skeptically.

“Bethany liked them. I recognized several she had read.”

“Well, liking the fiction doesn’t mean Sarah will like the reality.”

The pain in her head increased minutely when Roland carefully prodded the left side of her forehead, then brushed her hair back.

“I don’t really care whether she likes it or not as long as she accepts it and doesn’t rat us out.”

“I’m not worried about that.”

“Really? You, the king of paranoia, aren’t worried she’ll blab our secret?”

“If she did, who would believe her? She’d be locked away in a looney bin faster than she could say Nosferatu.”

“Not if she led the police here.”

“I’d make sure she couldn’t. She didn’t see the way here. A blindfold or a sedative will prevent her from seeing the way back. Or, better yet, I could have Seth pop in and transport her.”

Sarah sensed movement above her face before Roland’s hand withdrew.

“What are you doing?” He sounded surprised.

“Stopping you from doing something stupid.”

“Let go of my arm, Marcus.”

Fear surged to the surface again at that ominous warning.

“Feed first, then heal her.”

What did that mean—heal her? Heal her as in render first aid? Why was it so imperative that he feed first?

She recalled the soothing heat that had suffused her chest when he had touched her ribs moments ago. The sharp pains had vanished, as had the ache. She was once more able to take deep breaths.

What had Roland done to her?

“When she wakes, I don’t want the first thing she sees to be me holding a bag of blood to my lips,” Roland bit out.

Oh crap. He is a vampire.

“Then hurry up and feed before she wakes.”

“She’s already close. Her breathing is changing.”

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