Scarlet Heat (Born to Darkness)(2)

By: Evangeline Anderson

He hates me, I thought miserably. We don’t even know each other and he already hates me. God, I wish I didn’t need him. I wish I wasn’t so thirsty. His warm, animal scent was doing things to me, making my already dry throat feel like sandpaper. Giving me those strange feelings I’d been fighting almost from the moment I’d first drunk his blood from the Chalice of union       during our brief and perfunctory wedding ceremony.

I squeezed my thighs together tightly and tried to ignore both my growing thirst and the frightening needs stirring inside me.

Overhead, the full moon was rising, shedding pure silver light over my pale, white hands. I noticed they were trembling and folded them quickly in my lap. My stomach felt like it was gnawing a hole in itself and I was faint and dizzy. It had been well over a week since I’d last had any blood but so far Victor hadn’t offered me any. In fact, he’d done nothing but growl at me to get in the truck and those were the last words he had spoken. We had been riding for forty-five minutes in complete silence.

Maybe if I get him to talk, I thought. Maybe it won’t be so bad…we could even be friends. Or at least not enemies. After all, he went to Corbin to borrow money instead of to another were so maybe he doesn’t hate all vampires.

I cleared my throat nervously and cast a sidelong glance at the big werewolf. He was so huge he seemed to take up most of the truck. I was scrunched up in the corner, sitting as close to the window as possible to avoid touching him but I could still feel the furnace-like heat of his big body radiating against my cold skin. As intimidating as he was, though, I had to say something. Had to make the first move or nothing was ever going to get done.

“Um, it’s a beautiful night,” I ventured.

The big were was silent. I frowned—had he heard me at all?

“I said, it’s a beautiful night,” I said, raising my voice to be heard above the roar of the truck’s engine.

“Yeah. Really fucking gorgeous,” he growled, still staring straight ahead.

Instantly, I was tempted to shrink back into myself and shut up. But something told me that I couldn’t do that. Tonight would set the tone of our future relationship and I didn’t want the big were to think he could treat me like a doormat—just some stupid girl he could walk all over. I’d taken enough abuse from Celeste, had spent years walking on eggshells around my cruel mistress. I’m not going to live like that, I told myself, lifting my chin. Not anymore.

“Your property certainly is way out of Tampa,” I said, determined to make conversation.

Victor grunted, his golden eyes never leaving the road.

“Don’t you like the city?” I asked. “I always think the nice thing about Tampa is that it’s big enough to always have something going on without being so huge you can’t get around in it.”

Victor made an annoyed sound in the back of his throat. “Do you always talk this much?”

“I’m sorry.” I crossed her arms over my breasts and frowned at him. “I was just trying to make conversation.”

“Well, don’t. And it’s not that I don’t like the city—I live in the country because I’m a fucking were. I need space to change, space to run and hunt.”

"Oh.” Abruptly, I felt stupid. “Of course. I guess I didn’t…didn’t think about that.”

“That’s because you’re a vamp. Your kind don’t need wide open spaces to let loose in—you’re monsters all the damn time, not just once a month like us.”

“We’re not monsters,” I said, stung. “At least, I’m not.”

“Oh no?” The glance he threw me was a lot less than friendly. “Last time I looked, vamps are undead and live on blood. That’s the fucking definition of monster if you ask me.”

“At least I look normal,” I snapped, losing my temper. “At least I don’t grow hair all over and…and turn into an animal.”

“At least an animal is alive,” he snarled. “More than I can say for you undead fangers.”

That was it—I had suddenly had enough. Years of repressed anger and hurt rose up inside me. I didn’t care what the consequences were for breaking the blood-bond between myself and the huge werewolf—I wasn’t going to take one more minute of this.

“That’s it,” I snapped. “Stop the truck.”

“What?” Victor gave me an incredulous look and kept driving. “Why the hell would I do that?”

“Because I’m leaving.” I fumbled for the handle on the unfamiliar door. “How do you open this damn thing, anyway?” Falling out of the speeding truck wouldn’t be a picnic but I was a vampire—I would heal. Of course, my body was in pretty bad shape because of the enforced starvation I’d endured recently so it might take a while. But even a slow and painful recovery was better than taking any more of the were’s abuse.

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