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The Blood of the Everlasting

By Shannon Billings All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

Chapter 18

I had underestimated the appeal Andreas would have to me while I was locked in a private jet flying miles high in the air under the influence of a vampire for an hour.

I had seriously underestimated it.

Andreas and Lucas had finally finished whatever discussion they were having and both rejoined me on the jet. Andreas sat next to me, the ever-present guardian angel, eyeing Lucas warily. It was a rather tense situation to say the least, at first. At first, I was fine, too. I thanked Lucas very nicely for fetching us. I asked him how his day was. He reminded me that he slept during the day. I asked him how his night was. He winked and told me it was looking up so far. Andreas glowered at him, and warned him to mind his manners.

For the first five minutes or so, things were fine, albeit awkward and tense. Then the plane took off, and things started to spiral out of control, rapidly, straight downhill. It hit me as soon as the plane lifted off the runway, that aching hunger, that need, the unquenchable thirst. I clenched my jaws and my fists, trying to maintain my focus. Andreas sensed it, too. Thirst isn’t an emotion, but yearning need is.

“You all right, Rhi?” he asked with concern, brushing my hair out of my face. That was a mistake on his part. I caught his scent in my nose as his hand drew near, and I had never smelled anything more divinely perfect.

I let out a low moan, and ran my fingers along his arm. He snapped it back with alarm. I shook my head, trying to clear it. I had to get out of the room, I was having trouble thinking. I stood up and staggered off to the bathroom mumbling, “I’m going to go splash some water on my face.”

Closing the bathroom door I stared at the stranger in the mirror. She stared back at me, with red, aching eyes, platinum blonde hair that softly framed her face, and a look of desperation in her painted eyes. Rage at my lack of control over my life, my inability to satiate this need that was driving me crazy, and at some unknown intangible enemy boiled up inside me, and with a cry, I smashed the mirror, shattering it into shards. It fell into the small airplane sink in pieces. I wanted to smash more stuff.

Andreas tore open the door, alarmed, and when I turned I didn’t recognize him as Andreas, all I saw was salvation, the salve for my wounds, the end for my yearning need, cheesecake in angel form. Maybe it was the lack of sleep that caused me to lose control. Maybe the appeal of an angel was just that strong to a vampire and I didn’t have that kind of control yet. Maybe it was the constant state of tension and teasing he and I had both been under all day. Maybe it was a combination of all of the above. At any rate, Rhiannon was gone, and an angel-blood-crazy woman remained. The problem was that he felt it, too, and my most basic instincts hit him like an anvil, and he was momentarily stunned. Logic and reason waged a war with dark desire behind his eyes, but logic won out.

It was too late, however. By the time I, with a primal growl, jumped on him and knocked him to the ground, he had regained his senses. I needed to taste him, oh how I needed it! It was my sole purpose for being, my driving force, my reason to breathe. Or so it felt at the moment. I was strong, vampire strong, and he was exhausted and still recovering from the explosion.

“Lucas!” he shouted, trying to throw me off of him. I snarled, and I tried to bite, but he wrapped a hand around my throat, forcing my head back.

Lucas was there in an instant, and wrapped his arms around my torso, forcibly yanking me off of Andreas, and flung me back into the cabin, where I landed like a rag doll on my back. I jumped back up on my feet, lightning quick, but Lucas was faster. He lunged for me and knocked me flat on my ass, pinning me to the ground, holding me there fast, his hands on my wrists, kneeling on my thighs.

“Let me up!” I roared. I struggled, I snapped, I fumed, I tried with all my might to free myself, but he was stronger.

“I warned you about wrestling with me, girl!” he snarled. “Andreas, be a pal and open the closet there. You’ll find some rope and shackles strong enough to hold a vampire.”

“What in the name of all that is wild and free do you keep stuff like this in your plane for?” Andreas asked, bringing over the supplies. “Wait, scratch that. I really don’t want to know.”

Lucas grinned fiercely at him. “Aren’t you glad that I do, though?” I struggled underneath him and growled. “Shut up,” he snapped at me. “Good lord, is she always such a handful?”

“You have no idea,” Andreas said tersely, attaching metal shackles to my ankles. Lucas shifted his grip so he could secure them to my wrists. I managed to just writhe helplessly, begging uselessly for release, tossing my head back and forth, needing something I was being horribly denied.

“Now comes the fun part,” Lucas said. “Upsie daisy!” With quicksilver speed, he managed to shift me into one of the chairs, and sat fast on my lap, pinning me there, wrapping his legs tightly around me, and twisting my arms behind the chair. “Now tie her up,” he told Andreas while I struggled underneath him, trying to escape the chair. Andreas swiftly fastened my arms behind me, and tied my legs to the chair itself.

“Are you sure this is going to hold?” Andreas asked skeptically, once he was done. He stepped back to eye his handiwork.

“Assuming you tie a good knot, it will hold, trust me. Spectra rope has a tensile strength of over fifty-thousand pounds, it’s stronger than steel cable.” Lucas relaxed his grip on me, but stayed where he was, straddling me.

“Please!” I sobbed. “I need – ” I gasped for a ragged breath.

He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out his flask. “Shh,” he said, tipping it up and into my mouth like he was feeding a bottle to a baby. “I know what you need,” he said gently. The blood hit my lips, and I moaned and drank the life-giving nectar. I drank every drop he had. It poured down my aching throat, soothing my burning need, and slowly, ever so slowly, my senses began to return to me.

Andreas was pacing the length of the fuselage. “I thought she was supposed to have control over this,” he snapped at Lucas.

Lucas was peering into my eyes, like a doctor assessing a patient. “She does, as much as any newborn vampire would have.”

“That’s a load of crap!” Andreas shouted with fury. “She was hell bent on tearing out my throat!” He stood there, shaking with contained rage, his fists clenched.

Lucas eyed him with alarm. “Are you ok? Do I need to tie you up, too? I know you’ve got this link with her and all, but get a handle on yourself!”

Andreas sat down, stiffly. “She is… distracting.”

“Great,” Lucas muttered. “Listen here, Rhiannon,” he lectured to me. “You need to calm down. Angel boy here feels what you feel, too, and I don’t need to fight the two people I came to rescue.” He turned to Andreas. “You are tasking my patience, angel. Like I said, she has as much self-control as any newborn vampire would have. Around me in a room full of humans, she would probably survive just fine without losing control. But lock her up in a room with an angel, and is it any surprise she went berserk?” He frowned and stared at me. He gripped my chin in his hands, forcing my face up. “This was a bad idea, Rhiannon Maddox. I should never have agreed to this,” he said sternly.

I struggled against the rope and shackles, stuck fast. “Would you get off me?” I whined. I was fully, and completely, unbearably embarrassed. “Andreas, I am so so sorry, but would you please get Lucas off of me?” I begged, squirming helplessly.

Andreas strode over, watching me warily. “I think she’s back to normal,” he said to Lucas. “And I think you’re enjoying this way too much.”

“Are you sure, angel?” Lucas slowly, reluctantly stood up, climbing off of me, giving me a look of regret.

“Well, for one thing, her eyes are back to normal. She’s embarrassed, a little angry, and there’s this… I don’t know quite how to put it. Whenever she is in the same room with you I get a sense of need from her. It’s still there, but dim.” He rubbed his forehead. “This woman has more simultaneous emotions than should be possible, it’s hard to keep them straight sometimes.”

Lucas laughed at that. I, however, blushed in embarrassment and shame. “I said I was sorry,” I grumbled. “You don’t have to make fun of me.”

Lucas grinned at me. “Too bad her sense of humor hasn’t returned yet.” I stuck my tongue out at him.

He and Andreas both relaxed visibly and sat down. Lucas sat next to me, lounging comfortably in his seat, and Andreas sat opposite him, as far from me as the small cabin would allow. “What?” I shrieked. “You’re just going to leave me trussed up here like a – a prisoner?” I struggled against the ropes, but they held fast. I wasn’t going anywhere, and that seriously annoyed me. Of all the nerve! “I’m ok guys, really, you can let me up, I promise to behave!”

Lucas shook his head gravely. “I don’t think the angel wants to take that chance, my dear.” He looked over at Andreas, inquiringly who shook his head no. “The little bit of blood I gave you will wear off eventually, and as much as I enjoy struggling with you, I don’t want to have to go through all the effort of tying you up again.”

I sighed, and rolled my eyes, and resigned myself to my fate. “Fine, have it your way,” I conceded begrudgingly. I wasn’t about to admit he had a point. The scent of Andreas still sent my nostrils flaring instinctively. He was distracting, but not to the point of losing all sense of self again, and I preferred keeping it that way. I was still thirsty, but not unbearably so.

Lucas grinned. “Good! Besides, if you manage to break free, I’m just going to throw you in with the luggage. Now, since I have your undivided attention, why don’t you tell me why I had to fly down in the middle of the night and pick you up, and why you are dressed so deliciously?” He leaned forward attentively, his luscious and lascivious smile back on his face. “I am all ears.”

Andreas and I took turns telling Lucas about the warehouse, and the files we found, and the explosion, and the hotel fire. We described how we deduced we were being followed, which led to our disguises and madcap trip zigzagging across the country. I told them both about my conversation with Grant, and how David had finally talked, but only to repeat the name of Warren O’Dell. Lucas was very curious about that fact.

“I have heard nothing further about our elusive vampire,” he murmured, shaking his head. “This is as much a mystery to me as it is to you. You will keep me informed of any further developments, yes?”

I nodded my head yes. “Oh Andreas!” I exclaimed. “I never had a chance to tell you this, everything happened so fast. While you and Aislinn were napping back at the James, I found the link in all those files.” Andreas leaned forward intently to listen. “Every one of those people are all linked in one way or another to TerraGen Industries or Marshall Lewis,” I said triumphantly. “The notes are all in my carry-on.” Andreas dug out my pad of paper, and I went on to explain the links I found, through professions of some, business associates of others, and parents of the younger ones.

“Well,” Lucas said thoughtfully, drumming his fingers on his knee, “It seems that all roads lead to Marshall Lewis. But the biggest puzzle piece I see is how do you fit in?”

“What did your folks do for a living?” Andreas asked, looking up from the pad, an idea forming in his eyes.

I shrugged. “They were both professors at U-Dub. My mom taught art history, and my dad was the head of the neural engineering research laboratory.”

Andreas nearly jumped out of his seat with that, and if I hadn’t been tied down, I might have, too, as understanding dawned on me. “Is TerraGen involved in any way with neural engineering?” he asked, excited.

“I have no idea. I never really understood what my dad did, anyway.” I shook my head ruefully.

Lucas smirked. “How much are you willing to bet that they do? Tell you what, if we find out that they aren’t, I’ll let you tie me up for a plane ride.”

Andreas and I both ignored his comment.

“Why didn’t you mention this earlier?” Andreas demanded. “This could very well be the missing link we were looking for, Rhiannon!”

I shrugged. Or as much as one can shrugged when tied up to an airplane chair. “I don’t know. It didn’t occur to me. I try not to think about my parents too often, Andreas. It brings back painful memories,” I said pointedly. “I don’t like that kind of pain.”

I felt the plane start to descend. We were approaching SeaTac finally. It was just in the nick of time, too. My palms started to sweat again, and I could feel that hunger start to return. I gritted my teeth, determined not to lose control again. “Andreas,” I said softly, “Please be a dear and stand down wind, you smell fantastic, but let’s not push it, shall we?”

He cursed. “Do you have any more of that stuff?” he asked Lucas gruffly.

Lucas shook his head. “Not on me, but if it comes to it, she can have some of my own.” He eyed me with concern.

I pursed my lips. “It won’t come to it,” I swore, shaking my head vehemently.

We landed safely, without any further incident, and I was still in control; stressed, tense, thirsty, with a burning ache deep inside me, but I was in control. Once we finally rolled up to the gate, Lucas knelt in front of me, a very sober expression on his pale handsome face. “I am going to untie you, Rhiannon, but I swear to you, that the instant you start to lose control again, you will end up hogtied in the trunk of my car. I would rather not go through the effort, but I promise you I will, if you force my hand.”

I gulped, but nodded. “I am okay, I am in control.”

“Good,” he said, as he loosened the ropes. “Just keep repeating that to yourself.” Once free, he helped me up, and we exited the plane. Andreas went first, followed by Lucas and I, his arm in an iron grip around my waist, holding me fast at his side.

Lucas led us to a limousine. I was grateful for that; I’d rather he not be driving, just in case I flipped out again. “Where to?” he asked us.

“My house is definitely not safe anymore, is it?” I said mournfully. No doubt people would be watching it, waiting for me to show up so they could drag me off to parts unknown and do equally unknown things to me. I preferred keeping those things the unknown department. Fighting my urge to jump across the limo onto Andreas was enough of an unknown to deal with right then. Lucas kept a tight grip on me, though. He knew I was struggling with it, as I clenched and unclenched my fists at my side. My heart was racing, my breath was shallow, and I could feel sweat trickling down the back of my neck with the supreme effort of concentrating on maintaining my cool.

“Definitely not your house,” Andreas agreed. “I highly doubt our regular safe house is, either. We could try a hotel or something,” he suggested.

Lucas let out a long suffering sigh. “And that worked out so well for the James, didn’t it? You can hole up at my place for the night.”

Andreas and I both started to object. “Believe me, there is no place safer than a vampire’s lair,” Lucas said. “But tell anybody that I let an angel in there, and I will kill you,” he warned darkly.

I let out a low moan. “No no, this is a bad idea. I don’t think I can handle being around both of you for much longer. Let alone a full night!” I squirmed in my seat.

Lucas’ hand clamped down tighter on my arm. “Well, you’ll just have to hang out with me, then!” he said cheerfully. I was too distracted to argue.

“I should have known you’d have ulterior motives,” growled Andreas.

I looked up at Andreas helplessly, hungrily. “You need to get away from me soon,” I gasped in warning.

“How long does it take for me to wear off on her?” Lucas said, shifting in his seat until he had one arm behind my waist, and another on my bicep, holding me fast with both hands. I was breathing hard, but I wasn’t struggling. He didn’t want to take any chances.

Andreas sighed painfully, and leaned forward to rest his head in his palms. “The first time, about five minutes. The second time a full day, but that was because she was blood drunk, not because she was thirsty. I honestly don’t know how long,” he said miserably.

Lucas nodded. “I can keep you both safe until morning, but she has a point – being around you right now is a greater danger to both of you than just being around me.”

Andreas nodded his head unhappily in agreement.

Lucas’ house turned out to be a veritable fortress in the Capital Hill district. It reminded me of a bomb shelter, made almost entirely of concrete. From the front, it was just a single storied unimpressive grey block. The limo pulled into his driveway and swung around back, down a hill to a large garage door. His house, his ‘vampire lair,’ as he put it, was carved into the side of the hill, more below ground level than above. There were no windows on this side of the building. In fact, there were no windows at all in the entire building, although I didn’t get a true sense of this until we were inside.

By the time he helped me out of the car and led us both inside, I was unsteady on my feet, and shivering like I was hypothermic. I was seeing red everywhere, and clung to Lucas like a drunk woman. My throat was dry, but every time I glanced at Andreas or smelled his heavenly scent my mouth watered, which only forced me to cling to Lucas even harder.

“This way,” said Lucas cheerfully. He let us in through a side door next to the garage, which was locked with one of those palm sensor security pads. “This place is practically bomb proof, built almost entirely underground, and fire proof. I have an extensive security system. You will be quite safe,” he said, somewhat chattily. He led us down a single flight of stairs to the bottom floor, buried beneath the ground. The concrete walls and floors echoed with our steps, and the place was so dim and grey it reminded me of a tomb, which seemed somewhat appropriate, given who the owner was. The walls were decorated with tapestries and the occasional abstract expressionist oil painting, which softened the tomb feel somewhat. He seemed to favor neutral colors in his art.

He led us down to the end of the hall and swung open a door to a guest room. “Accommodations fit for an angel!” he proclaimed, somewhat sarcastically. The room was fairly Spartan, but there was a soft looking bed with a sky blue down comforter. A patchwork quilt hung on the wall, giving the concrete encased room an incongruous homey feeling. “I apologize for the lack of amenities,” he said softly. “I don’t have many guests. The bathroom is the first door on the right.”

I stood there, quaking in Lucas’ arms. “Please get me out of here,” I hissed. “I’m sorry,” I stammered. Andreas stood so close to me, so very close, and I so very much wanted to taste him. It would be so easy to reach out and grab him, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it?

Andreas stepped into the bedroom, alarmed, knowing full well what I was feeling. Lucas pulled me close, tight in his grasp. “Lock the door,” he warned. “She’ll be upstairs in the morning.” Andreas, giving me a look of quiet desperation, slammed the door, leaving me alone in the hall with Lucas, gasping for breath, reaching out for the doorknob.

“Oh, no you don’t,” growled Lucas. Rather than fight with me, he simply swept me up into his arms as if I were light as a feather, and carried me away. I whimpered and moaned, but the further we got away from Andreas, the clearer my head got. He carried me down to the opposite end of the hallway and through a set of wide double doors.

I buried my face in his chest, and it felt as if an invisible knot unclenched from around me. “Thank you,” I breathed. My heart still pounded, my breaths still came fast, I was still hungry for blood, but it was no longer threatening to drag me down into a pit of mindless insanity.

“Thank me in the morning,” he said, tossing me onto a bed. I sat up, surprised, as he strode over to close the bedroom doors. I looked around us. We were in a large, dimly lit bedroom, sumptuously decorated with red and black tapestries hanging on the walls. The bed was a large California king, with the softest slippery black silk comforter. The granite tiled floor led to a spacious master suite, and I spotted a whirlpool tub peeking out through the doorway.

I climbed to my knees on the bed. Lucas made a beeline straight for me with vampiric speed. Before I could blink, he was in front of me, pushing me onto my back, and crawled on top of me, hovering there on his hands and knees. “Finally I have you all to myself, and your guardian angel is locked up tight, he won’t be coming to your rescue.” He eyed me hungrily.

Fear bloomed in the pit of my stomach, joining the aching hunger and played tug o’ war with my emotions. “You bastard, you did this on purpose just to get me alone,” I accused, squirming out from underneath me.

He laughed, and reached out, grabbing me, and slid me on the slippery silk right back to where I had started. “You’re not thinking straight, darling,” he whispered, stroking my neck, sending a rash of goose bumps down my flesh. I couldn’t help but moan. “You called me for help, remember? And I helped.” He trailed his lips down my jawline. “For a nominal fee,” he breathed into my neck. His touches were sending my senses reeling, and against my better judgment, I didn’t want him to stop. He ran his tongue along my clavicle.

“No,” I whispered, weakly pushing away from him, but he knew he had won.

“Yes,” he whispered back fiercely, pulling my body tight against his. “You cannot deny you want this, can you?” He kissed me, rough and fierce, his teeth sharp on my tongue and lips, setting little pin pricks of fire everywhere they touched.

I moaned, but I melted. “No,” I whispered again, but this time in agreement. I was so hungry, and in need of something so badly, my head was spinning, and I was well beyond thinking straight, so I just gave in to him, with aching nerves and a burning need, and oh how his touch burned me.

He slowly undressed me, calling me beautiful, kissing every inch of my flesh with lips and teeth that burned like fire as he slowly exposed me until I lay there quivering on his silk bed begging for him to touch me, to fill me, reaching out for him. “Lucas,” I moaned. “Please, I need you.”

He smiled in triumph, and once he was undressed, pressed his body against mine. He was every bit as beautiful underneath them as I had imagined. His glorious flesh was cold and hard against mine, but when he finally entered me, I burned. He drove me, thrashing, to the heights of ecstasy, and I buried my face in his neck.

“Bite me,” he growled. I needed no further encouragement. I grabbed his head, and tore into his neck with an animal need, and as his blood touched my tongue, and as he filled me in my deepest places, an orgasm overtook me, driving all sense out of me, and I could no longer breathe as waves of pleasure crashed over me and carried me away.

I came down to earth, gasping for breath, as blood dripped from his neck into my open mouth, until I watched, almost mournfully, as the twin bites closed and healed. He moved slowly in me, watching me with the patient hunger of a seasoned hunter.

He kissed me and a groan escaped his lips. “Oh Rhiannon.” He licked the nape of my neck as he thrust.. “I need…” he nipped my neck with his teeth. “I need… please let me…” he trailed off.

“Yes!” I gasped, in between clenched teeth. With another moan, he bit me. The pain of the bite was transformed instantly into pleasure, and combined with the fierce pleasure he was pumping in and out of me, the world melted away and I came harder and fiercer than I had ever known possible, screaming out, raking my nails across his skin, and holding him tightly against me, not wanting it to end.

He finally reached his own climax, and slowly slipped his teeth out of my neck. He looked down at me with bloody lips. “I told you it was better with sex,” he panted. Expressing my agreement, I reached up, and pulled him down for a kiss. I tasted my own blood in his mouth, and it was heady.

Lucas pulled back and hovered over me, his expression hot with pleasure. He bit his tongue, letting his blood drip into my mouth, one glorious drop at a time. I swallowed each, before leaning up to take them directly from the source. He bit my tongue then, too, and our blood mingled.

With a roar I rolled him over, and we made love again. No, I shouldn’t call it that, it’s not the right term. We rutted like animals, with growls and bites and scratches. If it weren’t for our rapid healing capacity – his a natural state of being and mine absorbed from him, I have no doubt we would have been bloody and wounded afterwards.

Finally, when I was exhausted and dripping sweat and could take no more, he stopped. We both lay on our backs, and I felt bruised with drunken delicious pleasure in the aftermath, and finally satiated. “This isn’t me,” I panted, willing my heart to slow down. “I don’t do this kind of thing.” I tilted me head to look at him. Amusement flashed across his face. “I’m not the kind of girl who does these things,” I protested, feeling my face flush.

Lucas laughed softly, and rolled onto his side, propping himself up on an elbow to look at me. “Rhiannon, vampires are very sensual creatures. So are angels. They’re the yin to our yang. Right now you’re part of both. So quit apologizing and protesting. I am not going to judge you as some loose woman just because you gave in to your desires.” He leaned over and kissed me gently. “If you were that type of woman, I would have had you the first night I met you.” He trailed his fingers absently down my torso.

“Oh,” I said, somewhat mollified. Sleeping with him didn’t make me a slut; there were extenuating circumstances, weren’t there? I wasn’t myself, I was under the influence, I was… I was tired of thinking about it. “Awfully sure of yourself, aren’t you?”

He chuckled. “Yes.” He lay back down next to me.

I snorted. “Don’t be getting any ideas in your head. This was a one-time thing. You caught me at a weak moment. I’ve hardly slept in days, my life’s been spiraling out of control, people have been hunting me, and I was seriously under your influence.”

“Whatever it takes to help you get to sleep,” he said patronizingly.

I decided to ignore that, instead stretching out and luxuriating in the soft silk rubbing against my naked skin. “So if you’re rich enough to own your own private plane, and a bomb shelter like this, and just live the life of leisure, why even bother to run two clubs?”

“For a few reasons,” he replied. “One, it keeps me busy. You try living a few centuries and tell me you don’t get bored. Secondly, the vampire club provides a spot for us to gather, and a way for me to keep an eye on my subordinates. Third, the human club gives me the opportunity to meet girls.” He rolled over and winked exaggeratedly at me.

I let out a peal of laughter. “You mean find a snack,” I teased.

“Point and case,” he said, kissing my chin.

We stretched out comfortably for a few minutes in silence. I felt blissfully satiated for the first time in his presence, and I told him so. He, of course, took full credit for that, claiming that he had the cure for what ailed me.

“Would you really have thrown me in the trunk?” I asked.

He let out a peal of laughter. “With relish,” he said, his eyes gleaming wickedly at me. “And then dragged you off to my bedroom kicking and screaming and taken complete advantage of you.” He grinned evilly at me. I had no doubt he was deadly serious about it, too, and my heart sped up a beat thinking about it.

I decided to change the subject. “So are vampires really undead?” I asked him. “Because if you ask me, you are anything but.

Lucas laughed in delight. “That term has always amused me. How can something be undead? One is either dead, or living.”

I rolled over and furrowed my brows. “But your heart doesn’t beat.” I ran my hand across his chest pointedly, searching for a heartbeat, and not finding one. He grabbed my wrist and held my hand in place, over his heart.

“Wait for it,” he whispered. After about thirty seconds of resting my hand on his cold, hard chest, I felt it, a distinct, but undeniable heartbeat. I gasped in surprise.

“But I can’t see your blood pump like I can humans!” I protested, and looked at him, silently demanding an explanation.

“If you were to meet a newborn vampire, you would be hard pressed to distinguish them from a human just by looking at them.” He pulled my hand away from his chest and kissed my fingertips. “When I was brand new my heart beat just like yours, fast and fierce, and it took a lot of blood to keep it pumping.” He rolled over to look me in the eyes. “That’s what makes newborns so dangerous, and that’s why when I took you to the Portland club Ophelia assumed you were new. You smell like one of us, but your human heart rate gives you the appearance and self-control of a newborn vampire.”

“Oh,” I said, understanding dawning on me. “So the older you get the slower your heart beats, and the slower it beats the less blood you have to take to survive?” He nodded his head in agreement. I thought about that for a few seconds. “What happens when it stops beating entirely?” I asked quietly.

He smiled. “I don’t believe that it ever does. Think about it this way, if you cut a piece of paper in half, and then cut the half in half again, how many times would you have to cut it until there was nothing left to cut? Theoretically you could go on forever cutting it in half, and there would always be a smaller piece left to be cut again.” He laced his fingers through mine absently as he spoke. “Say for arguments sake my heart beat sixty times per minute when I was first turned. Within a year it only beat thirty times per minute. Double that time period, and it would only beat 15 times a minute by year two. By year four, it would be half that again. You can keep doubling it, and my heart will slow down, until soon it beats so slowly it’s barely noticeable, but it never stops completely.”

“What keeps you alive, then?” I needed to make sense of this in my brain. What he was saying made sense, but it went beyond all that was naturally possible, didn’t it? Mammals needed oxygen to stay alive, and oxygen was carried by blood, which was pumped by the heart, and in all the time I had known Lucas I had only felt one heartbeat. It just didn’t make sense, and I needed sense.

He grinned and winked at me. “Magic,” he said cryptically.

I punched him in the arm. I was still having a tough time accepting magic as an answer. There was a rational scientific explanation for everything, my analytical brain knew this, but I was too tired to analyze it further. “How did vampires come to be anyway? Is it a virus or something?”

He laughed. “You’re just full of questions, aren’t you? It’s cute.” He lazily drifted his fingers along my torso, giving me a rash of shivers. “It isn’t a virus, otherwise it would be easier to catch, no?” he mused. “We tend to view it more as an altered state of being,” he said, bending over to nip playfully at my clavicle. “An improvement, an upgrade from humanity.” I twitched reflexively. I was trying to carry on a conversation, but he was obviously trying to stir up my hormones again. “There is an old vampire legend that a demon created us, molded us out of human flesh, to create balance in the world,” he whispered, nibbling on a nipple.

I squirmed and let out an involuntary sigh of pleasure as my hormones won out over my logic. I felt that aching thirst bloom anew within.

“He saw the angels reigning supreme, with no force to counteract them.” His lips blazed a trail of heat from my navel to my neck, and I moaned and quivered underneath him. “So he bent the laws of nature to his desire, and created us as the opposing force to keep angels in check.” His fingers and his lips seemed to be everywhere on my skin, and I burned with hunger. “The angels tell a different story,” his voice whispered in my ear. “You should ask your friend sometime.”

Coherent thought fled, and all desire to talk left, replaced with my baser needs. “Lucas,” I breathed. “I need…” I gasped as he bit my lip, drawing blood. He licked it off ravenously.

I stared up into his eyes, red to match my own. “I know,” he whispered, and he entered me again, impaling himself on my aching flesh, and my teeth met his neck and I drank, and the world melted away into a sea of pleasure.

Finally, after both our needs were quenched, I slept.

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