Pretty When She Dies

Page 28

With a sigh, he realized he had to stop thinking like this and looked over at the picture of Samantha. She had such a cute turned up nose and glorious smile. She was everything good and light in his life. He had to remember that.

“Are you going to tell her?” Amaliya asked after a long beat.

“No. No. She wouldn't understand. She doesn't see this side of me,” Cian admitted.

“But she knows you're a vampire.”

“Yes, she does. She found out unexpectedly one night, but it didn't phase her.” He smiled and laughed a little. “She said, 'Oh, wow. So sunscreen doesn't help, huh?' That's Sam for you.”

Amaliya smiled at that and looked at her hand. “If only sunscreen did work...”

“Sam has a tendency to try to see everything in a positive light. I think that is why I love her. She didn't run screaming from the room. She just stood there, staring at me, and then told me she knew I was a good man.”

“Are you?” Amaliya asked.

He frowned slightly, then shrugged. “When I'm with Sam I believe I am.”

“But tonight I fucked that up,” she said with a sigh.

“I fucked it up,” Cian answered.

“You're trying to live a normal life with Sam. You don't me need screwing it up for you.”

“When I was turned no one helped me,” Cian said in a soft voice. “I floundered. I struggled. I destroyed people I loved. I was mad with the hunger and I barely survived. You're doing much better than I did, but I want to make sure you truly understand what is going on, what you are, before you do something that will get you killed by The Summoner or-” He cut off his sentence and pondered what he was going to say.



“I want to live. I don't want to die. I did it once and it sucked. My whole life I've been trying to find out who I was, what I was about, what I wanted to do. And now, I know who I am. I understand what I am.”

Cian turned his attention back to the young woman sitting on his floor and took in her sincere expression. “And what is that.”

“I want to live. I want to be what I am. What happened between us...that was amazing! Beyond anything in my life. I never felt so alive! That was like...” She shook her head. “I can't even define it. But I felt alive. And honestly, these last few days, though my brain has felt kinda off and weird, I actually feel motivated to do something other than coast through life.”

Sliding from his chair, he walked over to her and squatted down. “Then you're going to live, Amaliya. You're not a self-loathing, hateful fledgling or an insane one. You're already accepting what is going on and that puts you far ahead of most.”

“Why do you hate it?” She tilted her head up to look at him curiously.

He reached out and ran his fingers over her soft cheek, then across her jawline. The desire to kiss her and push her down on the floor rose. His teeth grew sharp at the thought of driving them into her throat or more erotic places.

“You should take a bath. Freshen up. I have work to do.”

Her very still body showed that she was feeling the heat growing again. Before she could act on it and doom them both, he stood up and returned to his computer.

“There is a master bedroom upstairs with a large bathroom.”

Awkwardly, she crawled to her bag and pulled it close to her. “Is that where you sleep?”

“No.” He shook his head and pointed to a nearby wall that looked like burnished brass. “I sleep there. I told the contractor it was a panic room, but its actually my sleeping chamber. Roberto takes good care of me, but once you have been nearly turned to ashes by the sun, you do not take any chances.”

Amaliya walked over and pressed her hand against the wall. He watched her slowly walk along its length, feeling the cool metal under her fingers. He fancied the thought of those fingers on him and quickly pushed it away. He had not felt this way in a long time and it disturbed him deeply.

“So its a big box,” she said, and disappeared around the far corner.

“Essentially. To anyone else, it looks like a walled in elevator shaft or something of the sort. That was the idea at least.”

She walked around it and came out the other end. Her hand was still resting on the cool metal. “So how does it open?”

“The walls retract up into the ceiling. I can open them one by one if I want.”

“Will I sleep here, too?”

Cian felt a pulse of arousal, but he knew he could not deny her safety. “Yes.”

Nodding, she walked toward the second staircase that led to the upstairs. “Thanks, Cian. Again, I'm sorry.” Her expression was wistful, but thoughtful.

“No worries,” he said with a smile.

She ascended the steps and he could not help but watch her skirt sway over her hips.

“I'm so fucked,” he whispered to himself.


The Summoner strode down 6th Street, hands tucked behind his back. The club scene was not as wild tonight as it would be on the weekend, but there were plenty of college students and young professionals out and about.

Now that he was no longer Professor Sumner, he had let his hair grow to its normal length and it hung around his shoulders. It was almost white and glowed slightly in the glare of the neon signs. He could not remember the original color of his hair anymore. It had slowly turned this color the more magic he had performed and the darker the magic was.

He was clad in a simple black shirt and black trousers. It was a boring outfit. He had yet to change over his wardrobe, but his intense good looks were drawing plenty of attention. The goatee was gone now as was the glamor he had thrown up that made him look older and like a version of his long deceased father.

“He looks like Sting,” a girl whispered as she hurried past with her girlfriend.

He smiled at that and swept his hair back from his face and gave her a rakish smile.

“Sting is old and doesn't look like that,” the friend responded with a snort.

The Summoner found that amusing. Humans were ridiculous when it came to their concept of age. Continuing on, he strolled slowly away from the elegance of the Driscoll Hotel.

Once more he was a new man. He wasn't sure what accent to go with. The British one was rather boring to his ears now and he pondered a German one or maybe Russian. The American accent was terrible in his opinion. The Texan one even worse. But he rather liked Texas. It was huge and truly a land unto itself. He marveled at its difference from the rest of the United States and how it changed from one border to the next. He liked its diversity and he loved its people. They were stubborn and rebellious and he thrived on that energy.

His phone buzzed in his pocket and he pulled it out quickly. “Rachoń ?”

“Got it done. I left the package outside of Shreveport just like you said,” a deep, husky, but very feminine voice said.

“Excellent. ”

“They should find it within a few days. I hid it just good enough, but not that good.”

“Well done, as always. I may swing by and see you soon.”

There was bemused laughter on the other end. “You should. You owe me.” And she hung up.

Rachoń was the only progeny he had actually established a relationship with. She was from the bayou outside of New Orleans. He had found her as a runaway slave, making her way to freedom. He had, of course, given her the ultimate freedom. Unlike his other fledglings, he had made her to keep with him.

At the time he was bored and in need of a companion. He had adored her dark skin and luminous maroon eyes. They had remained lovers for years until he had grown bored and freed her to her own existence. She had a cruel streak to match his. Perhaps he had twisted her into what she was, but he remembered how she had driven her stolen dagger into his gut to eviscerate him when he had found her in the swamp and knew it had been within her all along.

He walked on, his white-blond hair floating around his shoulders, past the street musicians trying to make a buck, and the myriad of people rushing about to the various clubs before the fateful two o'clock last call.

Now that Rachoń had planted the real Professor Sumner's body in Shreveport, he would be able to put that time behind him. He had only spent four months as the professor, but they had been enjoyable. Twisting the minds of those wonderful adult students as they looked at him anxiously for morsels of knowledge and truth had been delightful.

Of course, Amaliya had been the most wonderful one of all. Hopelessly lost and drifting, unaware of her strength and her unusual beauty. At first he thought her unremarkable, but she was one of those people who slowly emerged from the shadows the more you learned about them. The dimmest of all the lights had grown to blind him and he had to take her.

It was ironic that she had fled to Austin and found Cian so easily. The girl had glorious luck. So far she had been in surprising control of her faculties and had evaded several disastrous scenarios. When she had gone for the security tape in the motel office in Dallas, he had actually been quite impressed. What she had not realized was that she did not even show up on the tape. It was part of their cursed existence. But it had impressed him nonetheless.

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