Redemption (The Penton Vampire Legacy) (10 page)

BOOK: Redemption (The Penton Vampire Legacy)
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Not happening.

Jessie sagged against the sofa back, relaxing into a feeder’s high. Aidan swallowed a groan of frustration even as the energy of new blood coursed through him, warming his body and speeding up his sluggish heart. Jessie wasn’t the one he wanted.

A half hour later, Aidan climbed into his car and headed toward the clinic. Next order of tonight’s business: talking to Mark.

After that, damage control with Krys, and God help him with that.

Finally, he needed to have that chat with Lucy about being more careful. If his own lieutenants didn’t follow the rules and keep their spaces safe, how could he expect anyone else to?

He slammed the car door harder than he’d intended.

He entered the hospital room and saw Mark sitting up in bed, propped against a pile of pillows. Melissa had gotten him into a pair of old-fashioned plaid pj’s that Aidan would give him hell about once this mess was behind him. She’d made some attempt at combing his hair, and he looked a lot better than he had twelve hours ago. Only the clenched jaw and lowered brows gave away how far from OK everything was.

Melissa lay curled on the small sofa against the wall, sleeping. Aidan glanced at her and quietly pulled a chair close to Mark’s bed. “How you doing?”

“OK for a damn-fool idiot.” His voice sounded stronger.

Aidan studied his coloring and frowned. He looked flushed. “Make sure Mel gives you the antibiotics the doctor prescribed.”

“You seen the doctor yet tonight? Mel told me you had to keep her against her will because of me.” Mark struggled to slide farther up in his bed and winced as Aidan leaned over to pull him upright. “I’m sorry, A.”

Melissa stirred but didn’t wake, and they lowered their voices.

“She’s in one of the sub rooms,” Aidan said, shaking his head. “Seriously freaked out and scared, I’m guessing.” Especially if she remembered their time together, but he wasn’t volunteering
that info. “What the hell happened? Give me one good reason for you to be out alone at night.”

Mark settled back on the pillows. “I was stupid. I was late coming back from that business meeting in Birmingham, and just pulled off at the Quikmart to clean fast-food crap out of the car and throw it in the Dumpster. Owen was there before I heard anything.”

Aidan thumped him on the uninjured side of his head. “We’re vampires. The whole idea is for our prey not to hear us coming.”

“I know, damn it. I’ve been with you long enough to know better. Mel says there’s a word cut into me here.” He touched the bandages plastered across his stomach. “What’s it mean?”

Aidan shook his head. “It’s Gaelic for ‘food.’”

Mark stared at him a moment, burst into laughter, then collapsed in pain. “God, that’s just...funny. Sorry.”

Aidan raised his eyebrows. Mark would wear that label for the rest of his life. Nothing funny about it. “Tell me what Owen said.”

Mark wiped his eyes, still on the verge of losing it. “He knew I was bonded to you. Called me your little pet—probably thought I was your fam.”

He coughed and sipped from the cup of water that Aidan handed to him. “Said if he couldn’t feed off your people, he could at least bleed us out. That if he got enough of us, you’d feel so guilty you’d either let him join you or kill you, and he didn’t care which.”

As strategies went, it wasn’t bad. Owen was immoral, not stupid. “Mel said he wanted a meeting?”

“Three a.m., behind the mill,” Mark said. “He didn’t say anything except come alone. You know it’s a setup.”

Aidan looked at his watch. “Knowing my brother, no doubt about it. Don’t worry. I have plenty of time to get ready.” He could be better prepared if he knew whether anyone was backing Owen. He’d have to call Mirren and be ready for a double cross. Maybe Lucy, as well.

He stood and glanced back at Melissa. “She doing OK?”

“Can’t get her to go home. But you know Mel—she’s worried about you.”

Aidan smiled at her sleeping form. “I’m good. But I think I’ll bring the doctor back up here and make sure you don’t have a fever. I’m on my way to see her anyway.”

A prospect that both excited and terrified him.

W
hen the dead bolt clicked, Krys wasn’t sure she’d really heard it. The TV had been an endless drone in the background but its noise made her feel less alone. When a late-night talkfest followed a morning game show and some programs ran without commercials, she realized it was taped programming—probably some closed-circuit local system. She’d watched the minutes pass on her watch, counting the time until dusk. The onset of night. When Aidan said he’d come back.

She needed answers.

Finally, she’d curled up on the floor in front of the door. If they fed her once, they’d do it again. Next time, she’d make them hear her—whoever
they
were.

She’d dozed off by the time the dead bolt released with a solid click, and she sat up, groggy, wondering if she’d dreamed it. Then the door swung in and she scrambled out of its way, her eyes following the long line of black-clad legs and blue sweater up to Aidan Murphy’s face. He stared down at her, wearing a
look of concern that made her want to scratch those pretty eyes out of their sockets.

No hysterics, though. She’d wait and see what he wanted.

Like hell
. Her internal alarm screamed,
Run.

She scrambled toward the door on all fours and got past his legs, glimpsing a carpeted hallway before he reached down, hooked one arm around her waist, and hauled her to her feet as if she weighed nothing.

She went for his eyes, as she’d been taught in self-defense classes. Eyes and throats were the quickest way to disable an attacker.

He caught a wrist in each hand and held her flexing fingers away from his face. “Krys—”

“You son of a bitch, you let me out of here
now
.” Her voice came out in strained whisper.

His hands were like steel manacles on her wrists. Strong SOB.

“Krys, stop it. Let me explain.” His deep voice was smooth, calm, while her breath came in gasps from the exertion. She might as well have been chained to a wall.

Krys relaxed her arms, and as soon as his grip loosened, she kicked his kneecap, hoping to knock it out of place or at least throw him off balance. Her anger burned red and hot inside her head, and the adrenaline gave her enough strength to dislodge him a few inches. She wasn’t a scared teenager anymore, trying to be small and invisible. She might not be strong enough to get away from Aidan Murphy, but by God, she could at least
hurt
him.

Her back hit the wall with a thud that knocked the breath out of her. She hadn’t even registered his movement before he’d pinned her against the drywall next to the door, his hard body
holding her in place. Strong hands clamped her wrists to the wall on either side of her head.

She fought for breath, and closed her eyes as her expanding lungs brought her body tighter against his, her skin heating as if remembering his touch. She became aware of his scent, of every point at which their bodies met, of her chin pressed into his broad shoulder, his big hands—calloused, strong hands that looked as if they’d done manual labor—circling her wrists. All the images of last night ran through her mind like a silent movie. What he’d done with that body, those hands. What she’d wanted him to do. Maybe she
had
gone crazy.

“Why have you done this to me?” Even to Krys, her voice sounded breathy and high-pitched, like a child’s.

“Let’s sit down and talk.” Aidan spoke softly, his mouth near her ear, the light scent of sandalwood bringing back more sensory memories. He brushed his lips across her neck where he’d left his mark, the lightest of touches, and an involuntary moan escaped her before she could clamp down on it. She gritted her teeth, anger pushing away fear or embarrassment at the way he affected her.

“What did you do to me last night?” She pushed the words out through clenched teeth “Why am I here? You drugged me. What else?”

“Will you sit down? Let me talk to you—just talk?” His voice was low and calming, and her shoulders relaxed a little, her fists unclenching even as her wrists remained imprisoned by his hands. Damned traitorous body shouldn’t be responding to him.

“Stop touching me and I’ll talk.” She quit struggling and managed to get some measure of control back in her voice.

He took a step backward, and only then did she realize how shallow her breathing had been. Her right hand shook as he took it in his and tried to lead her to the sofa.

She jerked it away. Somehow, his touch made her feel better. That was wrong. He should frighten her, not soothe her. She eyed the door, wondering if there was any way to outrun him if she managed to slip past. Doubtful. He was seriously strong, and he’d just moved so fast she hadn’t been able to track him.

She walked stiffly to the far end of the sofa and wedged herself into the corner, hugging a wine-colored throw pillow to her midsection with both arms.

Aidan returned to the door, closed and locked it, and slid the key into his pocket before sitting in the chair adjacent to the far end of the sofa. Not getting too close. That was good.

Krys ventured a quick look at him before staring back at the coffee table. His posture was casual, hands dangling off the front of the chair arms, muscular thighs relaxed. But his expression was piercing.

“I can’t tell you everything, but I’ll answer some of your questions,” he finally said. “And, for what it’s worth, I apologize for last night. I mean, I don’t regret, uh...I realized too late that you...weren’t yourself.” He stumbled over his words, and she risked another quick look at him. OK, she’d give him credit for having perfected a contrite expression. “I had no right to take advantage of you. You were just so beautiful, and...” He shrugged.

Her voice was ragged. “I know I’m no great beauty, so just forget the pretty words.”
Built like a board, or a boy.
That’s what her dad always said.
You’ll never catch a man when you look like that.
“What drug did you give me?”

“No drugs.” He paused and studied her, frowning. “And whoever made you believe you aren’t beautiful was a liar.”

Right, because Aidan Murphy didn’t lie. And she wasn’t buying the no-drugs bit—she’d acted too out of character.
He gave you exactly what you wanted.

She shook off the thought. Half of her brain had obviously been abducted by aliens. She sneaked a glance at him. Nah, he probably wasn’t an alien. “I remember you having a syringe.”

He raised his eyebrows, and for a second she thought he was going to laugh. And if he did, she was going to gouge out his eyes with her fingernails even if he killed her for it.

“I didn’t give you any drugs. I used”—he fumbled for words again—“a kind of mesmerism to get you down here, and I swear to God I thought you were over it or I wouldn’t have...we wouldn’t...” He finally ran out of words and shrugged.

She put the pillow down and stared at him. “Mesmerism?”
What bullshit.
“You’re saying you
hypnotized
me? That’s ridiculous. I can’t be hypnotized.” They’d tried it in psych classes, and she never went under. Never.

He gave her a tight smile. “Whether you believe it or not, it’s the truth.”

Fine. Nothing she could do about it now. If she’d been the type of person to dwell on the past, she’d still be sitting in a rundown house outside Birmingham, uneducated and waiting hand and foot on her father until she’d succumbed to either alcohol or his fists, or both. Last night was done. She was a fighter, and needed to fight smart.

“What do you want with me? Why are you keeping me locked up?”

Aidan shifted, leaning forward in his chair and propping his elbows on his knees. His mouth was set tightly, and she
could see the muscles in his jaw working. Screw him. He should try walking in her shoes if he wanted to know stress. Nobody had
him
locked up in a windowless room.

“I need you to stay here a while. At the end of your time here, if you still want to leave, I’ll take you home myself. We won’t hurt you.”

Effing amazing. Krys’s skin flushed as anger filled her body again, which at least wiped out any lingering attraction. “At the end of my time here? What the hell does that mean? And who is
we
?”

BOOK: Redemption (The Penton Vampire Legacy)
4.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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