Marked by the Vampire Page 23

Shane glanced away from him. “So what the hell are you suggesting we do with Olivia? Keep her locked up? Forever?”

“That’s an option.”

Shane grabbed his friend and pinned him to the wall. “The hell it is. No one cages her.”

Pate swallowed.

“What’s the second option?”

Pate didn’t speak.

Shane leaned in close. “You better not be f**king thinking death.”

“I-I didn’t realize how powerful she’d be—we have to stop the djinn inside of her…” Pate shook his head. “There’s a reason the djinn were killed off. Because if they’re not taken out, they’ll destroy the rest of us!”

He nearly destroyed Pate in that moment. “No one will hurt her. I won’t let that happen.”

Pate’s laugh was strangled. “She…doesn’t need you for protection. She’s got all her powers now. The woman could kill us all right at this moment, and we’d never have the chance to fight.”

“Not now,” Shane snarled. “Because you have her in a cell, caged with your damn blood marks!”

“It’s the only thing keeping her in check!”

Shane bared his fangs.

“Man…” Now fear entered Pate’s voice. “It’s me. Me. I’m your friend.”

“And she’s everything. Everything to me.” He was far too close to attacking Pate. Shane forced himself to step back. To think.

There had to be a way out of this mess. A way that didn’t involve losing Olivia. A way that would let them stay together, forever.


He smiled.

“You’re going to kill me,” Pate said, sounding utterly certain.

“Not yet,” Shane told him. “But you’d better stop tempting me.” He whirled away. Headed for the door.

“Where are you going?” Pate yelled.

“To offer Olivia forever, if she’ll have me.”


Shane slammed the door shut behind him.


Her cell door flew open. Olivia jumped to her feet, and when she saw Shane rushing toward her, happiness seemed to explode within her. She grabbed him, wrapped her arms around him, and held tight.

She wouldn’t have long with him. She knew that. Olivia had figured out the fate that waited for her already. So she’d hold him and enjoy him while she could.

He kissed her. His mouth was desperate and hungry on hers. She couldn’t get close enough to him. His taste, his touch. She needed him so much.

“It’s all right,” Shane whispered against her mouth. “Everything is going to be all right.”

Her vampire was such a liar. There was no way things could be all right.

Olivia knew exactly what she’d done.

She’d raised the dead.

She’d forced a daughter to kill her own father. Just with a thought.

I just wished he’d die. That he’d feel the same betrayal I felt.

And then Chloe had acted.

I’m sorry, Chloe.

Shane pulled back a bit. Stared into her eyes. “You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

“And the most dangerous?” Olivia asked, voice breaking a bit. It was almost funny. She’d once interviewed monsters, never realizing that she was the biggest threat out there.

Shane caught her hands in his. Stared down at her. Emotions swirled in his gaze.

She dared to ask, “Pate plans to keep me locked up, doesn’t he?”

Shane didn’t answer.

“It…it’s probably the safest idea. Until I can learn to control myself.” If she could. Olivia wasn’t sure it was possible. No…no, be honest. “I won’t ever control myself. I can feel it…the power inside. Like a black hole that’s stretching and trying to take me over.”

Shane shouldn’t be there with her. She wanted him close because—he’d gotten to her. Broken through her armor and reached the woman inside. Love shouldn’t happen so quickly.

But then, wishes shouldn’t go dark, either.

Life wasn’t fair. It was twisted—as twisted as her wishes—hard and cold. And beautiful. Sometimes, so beautiful and good.

She wanted to remember the good times. When she spent years caged up, the good memories would be all that she had.

“It won’t take you over.” He sounded so confident.

He didn’t understand that it already had. She’d killed, with just a thought.

But then Shane lowered before her, bowing down on his knees.

Olivia shook her head and blinked in confusion. “What are you doing?”

“I know you don’t believe in mates, but do you think you could believe in me? In us?” His hands held hers. “Because I do. And I pledge myself to you. Right here. Right now. I pledge that I will always be by your side. I will stay with you through any danger that comes. I will celebrate with you, and I will mourn with you.”

His words seemed to wrap around her.

“I will tie my life with yours.”

Those words…it almost seemed like some kind of ceremony that he was performing. “What are you doing?”

“Being with you, if you’ll have me.”

She wanted no one else.

He stared up at her. “I love you.”

Olivia shook her head.

“I wasn’t manipulating you. Wasn’t trying to seduce you into giving me your delectable body and, apparently, your all-powerful heart. I just wanted you. I needed you. And I would have done anything to have you.”

She would have done anything to have him. But it wasn’t just about what she wanted. It wasn’t safe for him to be with her. It wasn’t safe for anyone to be with her. “You should go.” She had to blink away tears. I have to keep him safe. He’s only safe when he’s away from me. Everyone is safe…away from me.

He stayed on his knees, and he shook his head.

“Pate won’t let me out.” He had to see that.

His lips thinned, and then Shane said, “We have two options.”

Her heart slammed into her chest.

“If you stay locked up, then I stay with you.”

No, that couldn’t happen.

“It won’t be Purgatory. It will be paradise, because I’ll be with you.”

“Bullshit,” Olivia instantly called.

His lips twitched.

“It will be prison,” Olivia said, “and I won’t have that for you.”

His hold tightened on her hands. “Then that gives us option two.”

She wasn’t so sure she wanted to hear this one.

“The djinn dies.”

Olivia tried to pull away, but he wouldn’t let her go. “You’re…going to kill me?”

“I want you alive forever, Olivia. I don’t want to think of any world without you in it.” His gaze fell to her neck. “I can make you something other than djinn.”

And she understood. “Vampire.”

He nodded. “I’ve taken your blood. You know the pleasure to be found there.”

It was rather hard to forget that particular pleasure.

“If you drink from me, I can change you. Your human side will die, and your djinn side…it will either die, too, and you’ll become a full vampire…”

He trailed off. She waited. And waited a bit more. “Shane?”

“Or something else could happen.” His words were gruff. “When Holly gave her blood to Duncan, he became a blend of vampire and werewolf. You could change like that, too. Then you would—”

“I’d have the immortality of a vampire and the power of a djinn! Isn’t that rather like unleashing hell on earth?”

He surged to his feet. “Maybe you will be both, but maybe you’ll have control then! Maybe your djinn powers will be muted and the wishes won’t twist!”

“Or maybe they’ll be even darker.” Vamps weren’t exactly known for being all sweetness and light. More like known for being bloodthirsty and brutal.

“If that happens, then we keep you locked up.” His voice was soft. “And I stay with you.”

“Both of these options suck!” She glanced toward the video camera that had been mounted on the right wall. “Are these Pate’s options?” They sure sounded like him.

“He wants to keep you caged. Or he just wants to kill you. No transformation. Just death.”

Her heart stuttered in her chest. “Blood and fire.”

“That’s not happening.” He grabbed her. Pulled Olivia against him and kissed her. Deep and hard and long. “We are going to have forever. Say yes, Olivia, just say yes to my bite, to the exchange, and give us a chance.”

She wanted to, but Olivia was terrified.

“If something goes wrong,” he rasped, “you’re still here, locked up. You won’t hurt anyone.”

Unless her power strengthened too much for the markings on the floor to hold her in check. Don’t call them markings anymore. You know it’s a spell. Some magic that Pate is working.

Which meant Pate was way past human.

So am I.

“Unless you don’t…want to be with me.” He cleared his throat. “I can still change you, then you can walk away from me. You don’t have to—”

“I’d like to spend all of my days and nights with you.” The truth. Her deepest wi—

She cut that thought off.

“Then you want my bite? My blood?”

Olivia took a deep breath. There was no going back to a normal life. And there might be no going to a vampire life either. But she wanted to try because she wanted Shane. “I want you,” she said simply.

Then she tilted her head to the side and offered him her neck. His head bent. His breath brushed over her skin. Olivia closed her eyes. When his teeth pierced her, the pleasure rose within her, hot and strong. So overwhelming. Pushing the fear back. Pushing the memory of death from her mind.

He lifted her into his arms. Carried her toward the wall, the one just beneath that video camera. Pate won’t see us here.

Her body shuddered against his. His mouth…his tongue…

His teeth left her. “I have to take a lot more blood this time.” His words vibrated against her. “Just trust me, love. I’ll keep you safe.”

She did trust him. With every bit of her soul.

His teeth pierced her again and he drank. Pleasure came, rising and quaking through her body. Pleasure that came again and again, cl**axes that left her shaken because one just tumbled into another.

The pleasure was so good that soon all she could do was sag in his hold. Her hands slid to her sides, not touching him any longer. She was weak with pleasure…weak.

Then his head lifted and he stared down at her once more. He had her pinned to the wall, and she felt his arousal shoving against her. As she stared into his eyes, Olivia saw so many emotions.

Desire. Fear. Need.

But most of all, love.

Staring at her, he lifted his wrist toward his mouth. The dragon tattoo circled that wrist. If hell breaks loose, look for a dragon. Pate’s words whispered through her mind.

He used his teeth to rake over the flesh. Then he offered the drops of blood to her.

“Take all that I am,” he told her.

He put his wrist to her mouth. His blood flowed onto her tongue. Powerful. Rich. So strong.

And the weakness that she’d felt vanished. Lust pumped through her, a dark and wild desire that seemed to claw through her body. Her hands locked on his shoulders. Her nails dug into his skin as she fought to get ever closer to him and she kept drinking from his wrist. She—

“What the hell are you doing?” Pate yelled. He was in the doorway, glaring at them. “You can’t change her! She’ll be unstoppable then!”

Shane snarled and turned away from her, putting his body in front of Olivia’s. Without his blood, without his touch, she felt bereft.

“Stay back,” Shane ordered Pate. “Or I’ll put you into the ground…and you won’t rise this time.”

This time?

Her stomach knotted. A convulsive shudder shook her. Olivia looked down and saw that her fingers were trembling. “Sh-Shane…?” She swayed, slipping to the side.

Connor pushed his way into the room, knocking Pate out of his way. His fierce glance took in the scene, including Shane’s bleeding wrist. He gave a low whistle. “Trying to turn her? Good plan, man—”

“It’s not a good plan!” Pate shouted. “She’s not you! She’s not Duncan! She’s not a werewolf! Look at the power boost you two got. What the hell do you think will happen to her?”

She couldn’t feel her legs. “Shane…”

His head snapped toward her.

“Am I s-supposed to be so cold?”

He scooped her into his arms. “Love?”

Pain racketed her. The pleasure was gone. Something was wrong. But Olivia found that she could somehow smile. For him. “I do…love you…”

Another shudder rocked her. No, I’m not shuddering—I’m seizing.

Her heart didn’t seem to beat. Her blood…everything within her felt so still.

Olivia realized she wasn’t breathing any longer. She wasn’t blinking. She could hear. She could see. But she was frozen.


“Olivia!” Shane put his wrist to her mouth. “You just need more blood. That’s all. You’ll be fine.”

She didn’t taste his blood. She didn’t taste anything. And even though her eyes were open, it was becoming harder to see.

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