Marked by the Vampire Page 19

He remembered a battle on sand that burned, and blood that formed the only river around them.

Before Eric had joined the FBI, he’d been an Army Ranger, working in the Middle East. “I met him on my second tour,” he said, voice soft. He didn’t usually talk about his Ranger days, not with anyone, even Holly. “Detonations were going off all around me. Screams were filling the air. And I thought I was going to die.”

Holly didn’t speak.

“There was a school up ahead. So small, right in the middle of that freaking desert. I could hear the children crying out from inside.”

She flinched.

And he kept remembering. “Shane went to help the children.” He could still hear the explosion. “I don’t even know how the hell he got there, or why he was there, but when the detonation went off, a detonation that should have killed those kids, that f**king insane vamp was right on top of it.” Absorbing the blast.

Nearly getting torn apart.

“Fire can kill a vamp.” And Shane had been willing to run into fire for Olivia. Don’t give her that much of yourself, man. “I helped him.” An exchange of blood in a place where he could feel the cold touch of death. “We both made it out of there.” And Eric …he was mostly alive now because of that change.


“You’re his friend.”

He was. “Yes.”

She walked toward him. Tipped back her head. The smile that crossed her face was sad. “What do you think your friend will do to you if Olivia Maddox dies?”

He already knew. Shane was protective of his allies, but his enemies…he showed them no mercy. “He’ll kill me.”

Chapter Ten

“This isn’t what I expected,” Olivia said as she walked into the lush apartment that overlooked the lights of Seattle. Night had just fallen, but the buildings all around them glowed with illumination.

Shane shut the door behind them. “Let me guess…were you picturing some kind of medieval castle, maybe a dungeon, some restraints?”

Her cheeks flushed.

“Been there, done that.” He stalked toward her. Brushed his hand over her cheek. “Would be willing to do it again in a heartbeat for you.”

She caught his hand. “I don’t understand you.”

His smile flashed, and it was a predatory grin. “That drives you crazy, doesn’t it? Your whole deal is that you have to understand the monsters. But maybe you can’t figure out what makes us all tick. Maybe there are some things you’ll never know.”

His body was so close to hers, and the sensual awareness that he sparked within her just wouldn’t lessen no matter how many times she tried to calm herself down.

Riding with him in the car had been close to torture. He’d filled that small space. Dominated it. Every time he’d shifted even a tiny bit, she’d been hyper aware of him.

“I want to know about you.” And she did. This man had left the FBI behind, and he’d come with her. He kept protecting her, looking out for her. No one had done that before. After she’d lost her mother at eighteen, Olivia had been on her own.

I don’t feel like I’m alone anymore.

He rolled his shoulders, but didn’t pull away from her. “What if you don’t like what you learn?”

“You’re the white knight, the guy who keeps rushing to the rescue.” Not the monster she’d thought. “What’s not to like there?”

He shook his head. “I’ve been feared, rightfully so, for centuries.”

She tightened her hold on him. “You were born a vampire.”

“Do you understand what that means? The bloodlust, the hunger—they were with me, always. I grew up thinking it was normal to track and hunt prey…prey that was human.”

She didn’t let go.

“My father thought it was great sport to hunt humans. Of course, it was more challenging to go after the werewolves. And they tasted better.”


“That’s what my life was. Death and pain. I was a monster. I am a monster. There are sins on my soul that can never be erased, no matter what I do.”

Atonement. “That’s why you work for the FBI. You’re trying to make up for what you’ve done.”

Now he did pull away. He strode toward the window. Stared out at the night. “A part of me always knew…what I was doing, what I was…it was all wrong. But when someone calls you a f**king god, hell, the power rush you get is too strong to deny.”

He put his hands on the glass window pane.

“We ruled the world then, until I looked around and saw it was a world full of death and pain. The children begged for mercy, the women fled, and the men were in agony.”

She shook her head, trying to shove away the images that his words pushed into her mind.

“My father was the leader. The most powerful vampire in existence, and he didn’t expect an attack to come from the one he trusted above all others.” His laughter held a cold, bitter edge. “Maybe that’s why I was able to take his head. He trusted me too much to expect a betrayal.”

He’d killed his own father? She hurried forward.

He turned to her. “You’re supposed to back away when a man makes a confession like that. When he tells you of the bloodlust and the death, you should be afraid.”

She was. Her breath felt cold in her lungs. “You haven’t hurt me.” Not once.

“Not yet,” he said, his jaw tightening. “My father wanted me to be just like him. There was a village that was trying to resist him, trying to fight back against us. They called us devils, and my father wanted to show them what hell was truly like.” His eyes were cloudy with memories. “I saw the children there. Terrified. And I saw my bloody past…it had to stop.” His lips thinned. “So I stopped it.”

There was pain there, filling the air all around him.

Then he smiled, and it was a chilling sight as his fangs flashed. “I could tell you good things, you know. About how I’ve saved lives. Stopped killers. But the scales never really balance, and I’ve always known, deep inside, that my father was right.”


“I am just like him. I have the same darkness. It pushes me. It calls to me. It tempts me.” He paused. His eyes narrowed. “Or it did, until something else tempted me more.”

He tempted her. Danger, darkness, a vampire with a past so bloody and tortured. But he tempted her.

“My earliest memory,” she heard herself whisper, “is of being trapped by blood and fire. The fire was closing in on me and the blood…it was on my hands. My feet. I was screaming, but there was no escape for me.”

He didn’t speak. It was his turn to listen.

“I always knew something bad had happened to me, but I never could break through and figure out just what it had been. When I asked my mother, when I’d tell her about the nightmares that would never stop, she’d just whisper—”

Olivia broke off because now her mother’s whispers made a strange sense to her. And they left her chilled.

“She’d wish that I would have peace,” she finished, voice breaking. “And that the darkness would leave me alone.”

Only it never had. The darkness had been a living, breathing thing inside of her. Whispering sometimes, twisting insidiously within her. And she’d sought out killers, others who must feel that same darkness because she’d wanted to control herself.

Wanted to stop whatever it was that seemed to live in her heart.



Her gaze fell to his throat. “I can’t believe Pate just let me go. Isn’t he worried about what I might do?” A few wrong words had sent Holly to the floor.

“I’m not worried,” Shane said softly. “Because you’re strong. Far stronger than you seem to realize.”

His words brought her eyes right back up to his.

“I want you,” he told her, the words stark and hard. “And I will always want you. I look at you, and I f**king feel complete. Like I found something I didn’t even know I was missing.”

She wanted his words to be true. Wanted the strange connection she felt with him to be real.

Because she hadn’t felt that connection with anyone else.

“I won’t let anyone hurt you. Any who comes after you—human, vamp, werewolf—they’ll have to go through me first.”

He sounded so fierce. Her vampire.

She leaned into him. Put her hands on his shoulders. Made her choice. “And anyone who comes after you will have to deal with me.” Because she wanted to see where this would go. Their connection, their desire…where would it take them?

She didn’t care about some fated nonsense. She cared about the way he made her feel.

For so long, she’d felt as if she were the secret freak in the room, even when she was with killers.

But with Shane, Olivia felt as if she were desired, wanted, more than anything else.

As if she mattered more than anything else.

“Don’t bite me this time,” Olivia told him. “I want to see what it’s like, when it’s just us.”

He gave a jerky nod.

She pushed onto her tip-toes and rose against him. Her lips pressed to his mouth, and her tongue slid over the crevice between his lips. Slowly, she licked the line there, savoring him for a moment even as the blood heated within her veins.

His lips parted and her tongue slid inside. His hands settled along her hips, his long, strong fingers curved around her ass, and he pulled her against the aroused length of his cock.

“Just us,” she whispered against his mouth.

Would it be as good this time? Without that strange blood link?

He kept kissing her, and the kiss became even deeper, so sensual that she trembled.

He lifted her into his arms. Carried her away from the window and down a narrow hallway. He took her into his bedroom. Stripped her. Lowered her onto the bed.

“Your clothes,” Olivia gasped. “You’re still dressed!”

He caught her legs and, gently, carefully, pulled her to the edge of the mattress. “I won’t bite,” he promised her, “but I will taste.”

He leaned over her. His mouth pressed a kiss to her throat, right above her racing heartbeat. He licked her, sucked the skin, had her moaning, and then he moved down.

Down her neck. Down her collarbone. Kissing. Caressing.

His fingers slid over her br**sts. Strummed her ni**les. Had the desire coiling so tightly within her. Then his mouth replaced his fingers. He took her nipple into his mouth and sucked, he laved her flesh, he had her h*ps arching up against him and her breath panting out.

Desire rolled through her on a red-hot wave. She wanted his clothes gone. Wanted to feel every inch of him against her. In her.

But he was kissing her stomach now. Being so careful not to hurt her. Being too careful when she needed, wanted, him to be wild right then.


He parted her legs. “I told you, I get to taste.”

He bent at the edge of the bed and put his mouth on her. His lips feathered over her sensitive core, and his tongue stroked against her clit.

She cried out his name and squeezed her eyes shut as a powerful flood of sensation overwhelmed her. Yes!

She arched toward him.

His tongue thrust into her. His fingers stoked her. His lips savored and he was driving her insane.

Her hands grabbed for the covers. She fisted them. Her body was bow tight as the release waited just beyond her reach.

He licked her clit.

She erupted. No other word for it. The pleasure exploded through her and she shrieked his name. The waves of release racked her again and again, and her sex contracted, shuddering with the pleasure that was so intense it was on the verge of pain.

It wasn’t fleeting. Wasn’t some quick pop of release. The cl**ax left her weak, gasping…and wanting more. Her eyes opened, and Olivia stared at Shane. He’d stood, and, as she watched, he jerked off his shirt. Tossed it across the room. He shoved down his pants and his heavily aroused c**k sprang toward her.

The blood link hadn’t been some kind of aphrodisiac this time. She simply wanted him.

Olivia could see the edge of his fangs when he came down toward her, and his mouth went right to her throat. He kissed her. “You taste f**king delicious.”

He drove into her, thrusting his c**k fully inside of her. She was slick and sensitive from her release, and a gasp escaped her at his complete penetration.


She wrapped her legs around him. Raked her nails down his back. “When do I…get to see…how you taste?”

He withdrew, plunged again.

The tension coiled within her once more. The pleasure mounted.

They rolled across the bed. Wrecked those covers. He pinned her beneath him, opened her wide, and thrust down at an angle that sent the heavy length of his c**k sliding right over her clit.

He knew what she liked. What made her go wild.

What made her come, screaming his name.

His hands closed around her fists. She’d grabbed the covers in a death grip again. “Look at me,” he said, his voice a guttural demand.

She couldn’t look anywhere else. His gaze trapped hers.

She saw the pleasure take him. Watched as his release turned his eyes an even darker shade. His cheeks flushed, his teeth snapped as he ground them together, and he came, pumping deep inside of her.

It took a few moments before her breath stopped escaping in wild heaves. Her heart raced frantically against her chest. He still held her hands, and his eyes were on hers.

She hadn’t needed the bite to go wild. She’d just needed…him.

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