Chapter 14

The round, glass room smelled faintly of mildew, and was sparsely furnished with two wooden chairs and a matching table.

Alexander set Sara down on one of the chairs, then stalked over to the window, spread his hands wide against the pane, and gazed out into the moon-brilliant night.

As Sara watched his muscles bunch and flex through his black sweater, she willed her legs to stop shaking. The mind-flying thing was going to take a while to get used to.

"Are you all right?"

Alexander said nothing.

She tried again to engage him. "How long has it been since you've been back there, since you've seen them?"

Again, he remained silent.

Sara's heart ached for him. She'd never seen anyone treated so despicably in all her life and she knew he must be feeling humiliated and angry and embarrassed that she'd seen it all. And so she waited, gave him time to seethe, to think.

Finally, after many moments, he released a breath and said, "I escaped my credenti over a hundred years ago."

Escaped. A hundred years. Jesus.

"An older female," he continued, still facing the window and sea and the moon, "a teacher of mine who ran with me, told me about this lighthouse. We came here and hid.

This is where I waited for my brothers to arrive. They'd escaped too and I watched their ships come in, the light from this tower guiding them to me, to our new life, free from the ones that birthed us and the ones who wanted to control us." He gave a bitter laugh.

"Fuck the Order for forcing me to come back here." He pushed away from the glass, walked over to the empty chair across from her and dropped into it.

Sara watched him, the downcast expression, the silent, seething anger clinging to every muscle in his body. Within the six-foot-three, heavily muscled, branded badass, was a deeply hurt child and she wanted to run or fly or cut her wrist or whatever it took to get back into that credenti so she could kick his parents in their respective asses--

vampires or not.

"Alexander," she said softly. "Hey."

His head came up, eyes too. They were large and scarlet and wounded. "Yes."

"Listen. The truth is ..." She paused. What was the truth? Really? We can't choose our parents? He deserved better? What was the point? She shrugged and offered her best.

"They're assholes."

He cocked his head to the side, no doubt wondering if he'd heard her correctly.

"They're assholes," she said again. "Plain and simple. It doesn't matter who or what you are--every species has them, right?"

It took a moment, but a hint of humor lit his eyes, his mouth too. "Yes. I suppose so."

She held his gaze, hoping the connection offered some molecule of strength. "And for whatever it's worth, I know how it feels to be haunted by the past."

"Do you?"

She nodded. "You know the man, the male, I was talking about before?"

The gentle smile on Alexander's lips disappeared.

"He's my brother."

Alexander's expression shifted in an instant. Shock now, interest too.

"When we were kids ..." Sara paused, took a breath. God. Did she really want to go here? There were very few people in her life who knew the truth about her past and she liked it that way. But it was Alexander. He was ... different. Unexpectedly, impossibly, surprisingly different. He needed something, and she had something to offer.

She raised her eyes to his and prayed her tone would remain calm and even. "I caused a terrible accident, a fire that destroyed my home, took my father's life, and ruined my brother's physical and mental health." Her throat tightened and she swallowed. "My mother wasn't hurt, but she was destroyed too, in a whole different way."

"Oh, Sara ..."

She didn't want to look up at him, afraid she'd see the same look of disgust that she saw every time she looked in the mirror. And so she hurried forward. "My father and brother were her world, you know? So when I did this to her--"

"Stop," Alexander interrupted fiercely. "Stop it right there. You did nothing to her. It was an accident."

"It was," she said, "but that didn't matter, you know? Something I did took away two people she loved. She may say it was an accident, that's there's nothing to forgive, that the past is the past, but I know it holds both of us hostage. I know in her heart I won't be forgiven until my brother's well." Tears pulsed at the back of her throat, but she wasn't going there. This wasn't her party. This was about helping him, getting him to understand that he wasn't alone. "My point is, my face isn't a welcome sight to my parent either. So I get it."

Alexander stared at her for a long moment, his eyes softening before he closed them and pulled in a breath. Sara wondered what was happening with him, if they were about to take off, fly somewhere that again wasn't SoHo, but then her chair began to tremble and jerk beneath her. She tried to jump up, but there wasn't time, the chair shot forward, pulled toward Alexander by an unseen force. Sara gripped the sides of the thick wood, then gasped as she stopped just an inch from his chair.

He opened his eyes, inclined his head. "Thank you for that, for telling me that."

She tried to catch her breath, slow her heart, but in this man's--this vampire's--

presence it was nearly impossible. "It was just the truth."

His gaze moved over her. "You do something to me. You affect me in a way that's quite extraordinary."

"That doesn't sound like a good thing."

"It's a complicated thing. I should take you back to my home and yet ..."

"You can't?" she finished for him.

"I won't."

He needed her. "Good." And she needed him. "I don't want you to."

A slow smile spread across his features, Sara's too. Then suddenly, he reached for her and pulled her onto his lap. Sara gasped at the sudden nearness, of the abrupt sexuality of his erection, granite-hard, pressing unapologetically against the back of her thigh. Instinctively, she pushed her hips forward, grazing the head of his cock with her backside.

Alexander's jaw went rigid and his eyes flashed with predatory fire. "I must have you near," he uttered. "I must know that you are well, that you breathe, that you smile."

His words, the low growl from deep in his throat sent shivers up Sara's spine, made her skin tingle, her nipples harden. She could tell herself over and over that this wasn't real, that he wasn't real, that her feelings for him were nothing more than a delusion. But she would be lying. She wanted him, desired him.

His hands found hers, threading his fingers through hers and easing her arms behind her back, making her breasts jut forward. His gaze dropped to her mouth and his lips trembled, the tips of his fangs just visible.

She wanted to kiss him. She wanted to know what his mouth felt like, the warm wetness of his tongue and the thin, sharp jab of his fangs.

"What they said is true," Alexander said, his gaze, his voice, fierce with emotion and need.

"Who?" she asked, breathless. "Your mother and that jerk?"

He closed his eyes, dropped his head against her breast. "There is an animal in me and it is loose and hungry."

Heat pooled in Sara's belly, threatening to sink lower. "What is it hungry for?


"You," he uttered, turning his head, nuzzling her nipple through her thick sweater.

"I wish to mark you."

She shivered at his words, his desire.

He lifted his head, stared at her with eyes cherry black with desire. "I wish to make claim to you--let any male who comes sniffing around you know that you belong to me." He leaned forward, trailed the thin band of muscle in her neck with his nose, inhaling greedily. "You scent of blood and sex."

Her hips jerked against his cock. "How would you mark me?"

"It is like a tattoo, but the needle that is used is . . . well, in-house ..."

She gasped as she felt two sharp canines dragging gently across her throat. Her thighs shook now and the little heartbeat hidden within her cunt throbbed.

"Would it hurt?" she asked.

He froze, then lifted his head and held her gaze. He looked deadly serious. "I don't know, but you're never going to find out."

"Why?" The fog in her brain, the raging desire in her body hummed too loudly.

She hadn't heard him right.

"I must protect you," he said through clenched teeth. "From that little prick of a human, and from myself."

She eased back then, took his face in her hands--took in the fierce glare, the hard angles, the key-shaped brands, the full lips. "I don't need protection from you." She leaned in and brushed her mouth against his. It was the softest of kisses, and yet Alexander exploded with a wicked growl.

"Oh, fuck! No, Sara." He stood and set her on her feet, then walked to the door that led to the lighthouse balcony and opened it. Frozen sea air wafted into the room, making her shiver.

Bewildered, Sara stared at him, her body raging with both sudden cold and manic desire.

"The Order," he said, his voice as strained as the hard cock in his pants.

"I know," she said. She didn't argue or question. Whatever it was he had--that she'd felt on his lap, in his arms--whatever it was he resisted giving her, she wanted it.

For now, she wanted it. "Let's go."

He opened his arms and she went to him, curled into his chest, and together they walked outside onto the balcony. With the waves crashing against the exterior of the lighthouse, Alexander closed his eyes, dipped into his mind, and once again, they flew.

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