I’m not sure what’s loosened her up, but I genuinely fucking hate it. Especially when I find myself tempted for the first time in far too long. And she’s much too forbidden for that.
Maybe that’s half the damn problem and the vast majority of her intriguing allure.
I hear a car pulling up, and I silently count the numerous reasons why I should extract myself from her. But I can’t seem to do it.
My arms slide around her waist, and one of my hands drifts down her side to her leg that’s over my hip, slipping my hand slowly around to her ass, giving her ample opportunity to stop me. However, I abruptly stop when I hear her soft snore near my ear.
Now I feel just a little dirty.
She’s a lot warmer to the touch, so I carefully extract myself, pull my shirt and tie back on, and walk out without thinking about the fact I almost felt up a sleeping Portocale.
I need a drink.
Damien is lounging on her couch when I reach the bottom of the stairs.
“What the hell happened to your Jag?” he asks without looking up from his phone, pretending he has no continued interest in the gypsy and isn’t fucking giddy I’ve asked him to look after her.
“I…don’t want to talk about it,” I decide to answer.
He gives me a bored expression, but then his eyebrows bounce up when he looks me over.
“Your shirt is wrinkled and you don’t have the buttons lined up,” he says like he can’t believe the sight before him.
My spine stiffens.
“I had to break the door to get in, and—”
“Had to?” he asks skeptically.
“She was freezing, and she didn’t look like she would have her key on her,” I impatiently explain. “The point is, she’s sleeping now. Stay only until she wakes up, and fix the door. Understood?”
“Your favorite tie is crooked,” he says like he’s still fascinated with my disheveled appearance. “Where’s your favorite jacket?”
I don’t even want to answer him right now.
“Didn’t wear it,” I say as I flip him off and turn to walk out.
“You always wear your favorite jacket with your favorite tie,” he calls to my back.
“Stay out of her room,” is all I call back.
It’s never good when Damien notices things he can use against me. I should have fucking called Emit. Not that he’d be any better.
After once again wedging the door onto my car enough to help block out some of the cooling temperatures of this shitty damn week, I get into my car and head back to Martin’s road.
As soon as I get parked, Emit pulls up beside me in his mid-life crisis car.
He unfolds his massive body from the small car, and stares at the pitiful sight my favorite car has become.
It’s when he grins that I decide to stab him before we leave here.
“What are you doing here?” I ask him dryly.
But we both lose interest in each other when we get a whiff of the same thing the second the wind stirs.
Our heads jerk to the house, and he’s gone as quickly as I am.
I slink around the side, smelling the distinct stench of vampire blood.
I shimmy up the side of the building, heaving myself over a second floor balcony. Following the scent from the strongest point of entry, I stealthily and warily take in my surroundings. I can only assume Emit is coming in from the other side of the scent to counter me.
Swords drop from the hilts in my hands, and I use the reflective surface of one blade to peer around the room. I pause it when I see a lifeless body lying on the ground, and then I circle my view around the room, pausing again on a second body.
It’s silent in the house, and I catch the faintest scent of Emit as he draws nearer.
Stepping into the room, I give a quick look around. I eye the body nearest to me. What has most of my attention are the threads that are fraying around his neck, arms, and legs.
My gaze swings up to the curtains that have been unraveled, partially hanging from the ornate drapery rod.
On another sweep of the room, I notice a table haphazardly turned over, a fire poker out beside it, and one leg of it badly hacked. The hacked pieces have been sloppily jammed into the two dead vampires that have been left behind for anyone to find.
“That lying little gypsy,” I say under my breath, slightly in awe of how utterly stupid I feel as my swords retract and the hilts get pocketed.
Emit walks in just as I place my hands on my hips and truly observe the scene, confounded by how exactly this came about, when she only just learned vampires exist.
She can’t be that good of a liar, can she?
“There are two more bodies in the hall, both looped with threads, and have stakes in their hearts. There’s also a full chest of stakes out there,” he tells me with the same amount of surprise.
“Martin has been swearing for years that vampires break into his house when he’s away, so he has tons of chests full of stakes,” I murmur idly.
“Martin’s literally insane, delusional, and paranoid,” Emit says absently, kicking at one of the vampire bodies as though he needs assurances the guy’s dead.
“Is he? That’s a count of four staked bodies that are proof he’s correct. What about the rest of the house?”
“No one else is here, but this is one hell of a mess,” he says on a harsh breath. “Did she snap?”
“And come to Martin’s house to kill vampires who shouldn’t be in Martin’s house?” I ask incredulously.
“Okay…so what happened?”
I run a hand through my hair. “At this point, only she can answer—”
The untouched curtains blow in the wind, and we both snap our gazes to smears of blood on the ground.
He moves to the closet door and swings it open, and I stare a little uneasily at the very large puddle of blood in the floor there.
“She’s a mortal Portocale gypsy,” Emit says quietly.
“She’s a mortal Portocale gypsy who doesn’t feed on ghosts to survive a curse she doesn’t seem to know about,” I tell him in agreement, knowing where he’s going with this.
“Mortal Portocale gypsies couldn’t survive losing that much blood unless they fed on a spirit during all of this. Damien said you told him she was cold.”
“Very fucking cold,” I state as I walk over to the hallway and peer at the two dead bodies on either side out there.
More of her blood is smattered on the ground. Why wasn’t it staining her clothes? Or was it? That horrible floral pattern was on a yellow background, but there were a lot of red florals. I didn’t pay it much attention because it was too hideous to look at.
When I look back over, I notice one of the vampires is missing a pair of shoes. I also notice half of an orange blanket has been peeled apart, matching a very familiar scarf’s material.
“This fucking gypsy is going to be the death of me,” I mutter under my breath before scrubbing a hand over my face.
“How’s Martin’s house?” I hear Damien asking, and I whirl around to find Emit holding up his phone, turning it from side to side to show him what we’re seeing.
I watch his eyes go from the screen and flick up, and can tell from the background Damien is in Violet’s room.
“She’s not as innocent as she looks, is she?” he muses. “True gypsy woman.”
“We need to clean this up, but none of these vampires are marked,” Emit tells him.
“All the easier to clean up the unregistered, and killing them simply saved Vance the trouble,” Damien drawls, eyes still not on the screen.
My own gaze narrows.
“Tell Vance I found his favorite jacket. He left it with a gypsy,” the prick says before the call ends.
“You left her your favorite jacket?” Emit asks me on a disappointed exhale. “You need to apologize for making her his newest obsession. Because he wants to take away anything you might even consider caring about.”
“It’s not like he can touch her,” I say with a cruel smile.
He tries not to smile, but I feel like his barely restrained amusement is mocking me. “He can touch her. He just can’t enjoy it,” he reminds me as he turns and walks out.
My smile immediately falls, and I reach down, grabbing one leg of the vampire closest to me.
“I now remember why I started hating you in the first place,” I call out as I haul the body behind me.
Couldn’t she have at least killed them in someone other than Martin’s house? It doesn’t matter how much we clean, he’ll still somehow know we were here.
Crazy old codger might not be quite as crazy as we thought.
“Why would vampires be here?” I hear Emit asking more seriously as he drags the two from the hallway over to the window.
“I know we complain about how boring life has gotten, but this is getting ridiculous,” is the only answer I have available, as I go back for the last vampire.
I pause and walk toward the closet, bending when I see a knife off to the side, almost hidden from sight. I lift it, smelling Violet’s blood on it.
“You lying little gypsy,” I say again, quieter as I try to figure out how the pieces fit together…but come up empty.
If she fed from ghosts, Anna would already be dead. Feeding from nearby ghosts isn’t optional. Portocale gypsies don’t get to pick and choose who they steal from, unlike monsters.
“I guess I’ll be the one to get answers out of her, since she thinks you and Damien are peeping perverts,” Emit gloats, and I grimace as I prepare myself for the ridicule.
“Yes, right,” I state dryly. “About that…”
My eyes flutter open, and I moan in the cocoon of warmth as I stretch. I pause mid-stretch when I realize I’m wearing Vance’s jacket. How did that happen? It was wrapped around me but my arms weren’t in it.
The scarf is still firmly hiding my newest stitches, since it’s stitched to the stitches for that reason. I need something—
“Damien’s in your room right now,” Ace says, causing me to jerk my attention to the corner where he’s still sitting.
I spot him idly staring down at his nails.
I forgot he was in here, and I really didn’t expect him to stick around. He’s a ghost with some observable measure of boundaries, which is new.
I don’t speak, since his words sink in and I feel the urge to tug the covers up.
“He’s curious as to why you staked four vampires in the heart, and he is watching to see what your response is when no one is looking,” he goes on. “I’d like to hear this story as well, if we’re being honest with each other.”
I glance around, trying not to be obvious.
“He’s right beside me. Don’t worry. He can’t hear or see me, but you could really freak him out if you look…”
He lets his words trail off, and I follow him as he moves. He gives me a smug grin as he takes a seat.