Out for Blood Page 53

I sat up. Quinn’s shirt was wet. “Sorry,” I said hoarsely.

“Don’t be.” He touched my face, lightly skimming over my bruises so that I barely felt his fingertips. I wiped my nose on my sleeve, feeling well enough not to want to look like a disgusting mess.

“Thanks,” I murmured.

He leaned in, closing the distance between us. His eyes stayed on mine. I didn’t think, I just leaned in too. I kissed him first and his hands closed around my shoulders, pulling me closer. I slid my tongue along his, feeling warmth tingle throughout my body, melting the ice that had been creeping inside of me. He kissed me so thoroughly I felt naked, even though not a single button was undone. We were fully clothed and I had blades in the soles of my shoes and a stake in a harness in the small of my back but I’d never felt more exposed, or vulnerable. Still, I wasn’t scared. I wanted more.

It became a kind of duel fought with lips and tongues to see who could make the other feel more, need more. I made small noises in the back of my throat. His arms were lean and strong under my hands and his hair fell to curtain our faces, smelling like mint shampoo. We tried to get closer to each other but it wasn’t physically possible. We didn’t care. We were so determined, nothing else mattered.

Until we tumbled right off the bed and landed in a lump on the floor.

“Ow,” Quinn muttered. He rubbed his elbow. My shoulder shook. “Hunter. It’s okay. Are you hurt? Hunter?” He sounded horrified.

I was laughing too hard to answer. He tipped my face up, saw the soundless chortle, heard the wheeze as I tried to haul in a breath. His answering grin was quick, followed a chuckle of his own. And another.

And then we were laughing so hard we had to hold on to each other. I wheezed. It felt nearly as good as Quinn’s very wicked kisses. I’d been afraid it would feel like a betrayal of my friend who was lying in a hospital bed or my friend who was about to lie under the earth, but instead it felt like breathing again after being underwater for too long. Keeping the ability to laugh might be the only thing that would get my balance back. I couldn’t fight for them, couldn’t find out what was really going on, if I was crushed under sorrow and guilt and misery, which I could easily give in to if I let myself. But I couldn’t risk that. I had to kick ass. All sorts of ass.

Starting now.

I eased back, holding my aching stomach. I tasted copper in my mouth. “Ouch, I think I bit my tongue,” I said, wiping the tip of my tongue on my hand and seeing blood. “Yup. Gross.”

Quinn went very still.

I was an idiot.

I’d let myself forget what Quinn really was.

I think, maybe, he’d forgotten a little too.

And now I was kneeling on the floor with blood in my mouth and there was no forgetting for either of us.

“Quinn?” I said softly. I didn’t move.

It was just my luck that I finally got what I thought might be a real boyfriend, and now I might have to stake him.

Quinn was even paler than usual, crouched in front of me, his lips lifting off his fangs, which protruded as far as they could. I barely breathed. There were so many conflicting emotions chasing across his features, I hardly knew how to read them all. Most prominently I saw fear, violent restraint, desire, hunger. He swallowed and the movement rippled his throat. He looked like he was in pain.

And then he smiled.

And I knew real fear for the first time.

There was nothing more unpredictable than a young vampire. Nothing stronger or faster either. Or more hypnotizing. Speaking of hypnotizing, my vial of Hypnos was sitting on top of my pack at the other end of the room, where it did me no good at all.

I looked away from Quinn’s burning eyes, from the flash of fang.

“Quinn,” I repeated, sternly this time, like a cross librarian.

He flinched. Agony sharpened his smile into a humorless smirk.

“Hunter, run,” he begged.

I lifted my chin. “No,” I said, even though adrenaline was pumping through me like a sudden monsoon in the jungle of my insides. I was flooded with biological chemicals that made me want to bare my teeth back at Quinn like some caged panther.

“Please run,” he pleaded again, but even as I shifted my weight, barely moving, he was on me.

His hand clamped around my wrist and he jerked me up as he surged to his feet. I was practically plastered to his chest, even as I leaned back as far as I could. Only my head and neck and shoulders had any freedom of movement, and I felt like one of those half-swooning pale girls in a Victorian novel.

Not a particularly nice feeling, as it turns out.

Quinn struggled but the animal inside him was at the surface, scenting blood and prey. No one knew what beast slept inside the vampire; all we knew was that it had sharp teeth and an insatiable appetite.

And I had no intention of being someone’s supper, no matter how well they kissed.

Quinn lifted my hand to his mouth, closing his lips over the side of my thumb. His tongue moved over my skin, licking at the smear of blood. I would never admit this to anyone at any time, but it made my knees weak. It should have grossed me out. I was sure my heart was pounding because I was afraid. Not because of the way he was looking up at me, his eyes the blue of the hottest part of a flame, the part that burns the most.

“You taste like … raspberries.”

I swallowed. “No, I don’t.”

“You do.” He was staring at my mouth now. I clamped my lips together. The tiny cut on my tongue throbbed. It felt like a beacon, only it was calling the ship toward the rocky shoreline instead of safely away. I ran my tongue over my teeth, trying to get rid of the blood.

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