When Isabel's best friend Deanna gets kidnapped from her wedding, Isabel must join forces with Cedarville's deadly vampire, Henri St. Thomas. For her own protection he offers to bind her to him with her blood, but is he trying to make her his slave or only protect her as he says? How can she trust a man who has been dead for over a thousand years?
Henri had once lived and died by such archaism. He nodded in agreement. “In our society, the older one is, the stronger they are. This is the opposite of human experience. Imagine if your leaders never died away, but only grew stronger and more rigid.” Of course she could have no idea how rigid.
She shook her head. “What do we do?”
“There is a way to protect yourself. Exchange blood with me.”
“Are you kidding? You want my blood now?” She lifted a hand and green light flared like a small jewel floating above her palm. Her power brushed over him like the warmth of a fire on cold, empty night. A long night. Hundreds of years of night.
He shook his head, mostly trying to clear it. Her power kindled his hunger once more, and the tinder sprang to life in a blaze of need. Her soft flesh invited him; her pulse at her neck sang in his own blood. “It’s either me or her,” he spoke slowly, trying to keep control over his own compulsions. “I’m sorry, Isabel. I’m sorry you’ve come to this place and have to make this decision. If you want, you can run now. I’ll drive you to a bus stand, and you can take the first carriage leaving in any direction. I’ll still try to save Deanna. This was all my fault anyway.”
She narrowed her eyes. “What do you mean?”
“I was the one who sent a request to the Council of American Vampires. The judge is coming because of me. She suspects that. Hence, the reason her minions took Deanna…and you were chosen as her weapon. She punishes me at the same time she gains strength for herself.”
“But you knew she would retaliate. Why did you do it?”
Why indeed? “She sends her people up into Seattle Center at night, when the tourists are thick and the Ferris wheel turns. They dress as street performers and clowns. Children have been disappearing. I’ve been watching the news and reading the papers. Not many. But after the second one, I knew. Prostitutes, homeless, the indigent…these I can’t save. The Council wouldn’t care. But now the police are saying there is a serial killer working Seattle Center. We are not allowed to catch the attention of humans…it is the first law.”
“Holy Mother,” she whispered. “I guess I can understand what you did then. But…exchange blood? What does that mean? Because if you were wondering, I really don’t want to be a vampire.”
“God no!” She was the embodiment of life. The thought was grotesque. “No. An exchange won’t change you. It takes a draining to the point of death, the last heartbeat, and then a great deal more vampire blood. A near draining of the master, as well. It’s not at all easy to be changed.”
“And the enslave part?”
How much to tell her now? “That’s…true, to some extent. But she won’t be able to control you, and I am the lesser evil.”
Her face grew unreadable in the verdant illumination. Her fingers twitched in her lap. “So you want to bind me to you. Won’t your mistress be angry about that?”
“Yes.” An understatement. “But she won’t harm you. She’ll still want to use your power. She doesn’t have much time or a lot of options.” Was he lying? He had no idea really. Saying the Mistress of Seattle was crazy was like saying Mount Everest was a modest hill.
“So what it comes down to is that I have to trust you. This is your plan?” Her lips pursed, and she frowned out at the night.
No, he had other plans. He just had no intention of telling them to her. “We are running out of time, Isabel. We need to do this quickly.”
She stared down at her hands, the green light floating in front of her. “You or her? Goddess, I don’t know. I don’t trust you, Henri.” She drew in a deep breath. “But you saved Deanna’s life and helped out Arlene. I guess, I guess I’ll pick you. Is this going to hurt?”
His hunger swelled at her words. “Perhaps for a moment.” He eyed the bucket seats. “Let’s get into the back.”
She sighed. “Like teenagers on a date?”
“I…I wouldn’t know.”