It wasn’t Cleo that walked in. It was a boy she didn’t recognize.
His skin was bronzed and his hair was short and dark, and Shay didn’t like him one bit.
Hawk-like hazel eyes raked hungrily over her and a grin spread across his face. Shay saw a glint of long canines in the dim light. Even if he hadn’t been a vampire, everything about him screamed predator.
Shay’s nostrils flared involuntarily.
“Hello,” he said, and closed the door behind him.
Shay just stared at him.
He took a step towards her, and Shay—who had still been laying down and suddenly found that she didn’t want to be in that position anymore—sat up. The chains dragged along the floor behind her.
In a blur of movement, the boy was sitting on the floor in front of her, and she jumped. He reached out to touch her hand, and she flinched away.
“Hey, shhh. It’s okay,” he said.
No, she thought. It’s not.
His hand closed on her thigh, and she froze.
She’d never been in a situation like this before. She didn’t know how to respond, but she knew that she wanted him to stop. She opened her mouth to tell him to stop, when she suddenly found herself on her back.
The boy straddled her.
“Get off me,” Shay told him. She pushed against his chest but it was like pushing on a brick wall.
“It’s okay,” he said again and his other hand crept up under the edge of her shirt. The feeling of his meaty hands as they trailed along her stomach made her skin crawl.
“I said, get off!” Shay shocked him.
He jerked, and then something cruel and furious flared in his eyes.
He hit Shay hard across the face.
Shay’s head flew to the one side and a gasp hissed from between her teeth. Her vision went black for a moment, and then she turned her head to blink angrily at the boy. That hurt.
The boy smiled, and there was nothing nice about it. “Bad move.”
His hand shot out and cupped Shay’s chin, tilting her head back. Her dark hair fell away from her neck, and the hazel eyes honed in on the pale skin of her throat. Shay could feel her pulse drumming there.
That all happened in a matter of seconds.
She felt a double sting.
Hot breath and warm lips touched her skin. Shay tried to squirm away, but the fangs were embedded in her skin and resisting made the pain worse. Aside from the physical pain, it felt as if her soul was being torn out of her.
Her lips parted in a silent scream she couldn’t force out.
Oh, what’s the point? a voice inside her said. You wanted to die. Now you’re getting your wish.
No, Shay thought. I don’t want to die.
It was pure instinct. All thoughts of seeing Matt and Rowan slipped away and were replaced by fear. She was a gazelle caught in the jaws of a lion and she needed to get free.
I don’t want to die!
She scrambled to get a grip on the boy, but her hands felt large and clumsy, as if they didn’t belong to her. Her fingers barely brushed his face, but it had the same effect of a live wire being stabbed into him.
But something went wrong. Instead of receding, the teeth bit down harder.
Shay’s hand dropped. She saw spots.
I don’t want to die . . . The thought was a soft whisper among the roaring and crashing of waves in her ears.
And then the boy was gone.
The weight of his body disappeared. There was a crash and the structure of the room around her shook. Strong hands grabbed Shay’s shoulders, helping her sit up, and then they shook her like a rag doll.
Cleo’s blurred face came into view.
A voice surfaced through the waves.
“Little Vigilante! Shay! Can you hear me? Keep your eyes open! Focus on me!”
Her eyelids were sliding closed. They felt like lead, but she struggled to keep them open. Everything around her kept going fuzzy, like a camera that was zooming in and out too quickly.
“Alright, you asked for it!”Shay saw Cleo raised her arm to her mouth, and she was doing something with it. Making a tearing motion. Then her wrist was being brought closer to Shay, and there was scarlet there. It was pressed to Shay’s lips, and something warm pooled against her tongue. She swallowed reflexively.
She waited for the bad, coppery taste that never came. Instead there was a sweet, delicious nectar that she could hardly describe.
Shay’s hands were no longer weak and they fastened onto Cleo’s arm. Her mouth nuzzled the skin of Cleo’s wrist like a nursing kitten. She drank deeply.
“Good girl,” Cleo crooned like an approving mother. “This will have you better in no time.”
Shay was blissful. She moaned at the wonderful vampire blood that filled her mouth, and a distant part of her recognized that it was her making that noise. She no longer felt woozy or tired. Her eyes were wide open. She felt as if she could run a marathon without cramping or running out of breath.
Delicate fingers were prying away Shay’s iron grip, and Cleo’s wrist was moving away. Shay made a sound of protest.
Cleo stood, and Shay, realizing she wasn’t going to be fed anymore, licked her lips miserably. She watched as Cleo whirled on the boy, who was sulking in the corner of the room. She noticed a new crack in the wall behind him.
“What the hell is wrong with you, Elijah?” Cleo shouted.
Elijah jammed his hands into the pockets of his jeans and smiled lazily.
“Kendall wants her alive! You are familiar with that word, aren’t you?”
“I wasn’t going to kill her,” he said.
“Oh, right. Sure,” Cleo retorted. “Get out of here before I go tell Kendall and have her refresh your memory for you.”
“I can’t bite her, I can’t bite the other girls. God d***. Who can I bite?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Kendall’s going to kill them all anyway. Why not have some fun before then?”
Shay barely heard the sound of the door close behind him as he left, or the obscenities Cleo muttered after him. Something that Elijah had said kept running through her mind.
Only seven words, but they changed the I don’t want to die to an I can’t die.
Kendall’s going to kill them all anyway.
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