That mischievous twinkle was back in Wes’ eyes. “You’ll find that he’ll often move around your body like that, just as he’ll also change colour while in tattoo form.”

“Does it feel weird when he moves?” Jared asked me.

I shrugged, chuckling. “I can’t feel anything at all. But I can sense his mood. He’s…content.” So Wes was right. Dexter was just as happy as a tattoo.

Wes slapped his knees and rose. “Well, I shall let myself out.”

Just as he reached the front door, a thought occurred to me. “Wait, just what exactly does his venom do?”

Mischief returned to his eyes. “If he spits the venom, it will cause irritation to the skin and eyes, but will eventually wear off – unless the victim is human, in which case it can cause blindness. A single bite would not be fatal to a vampire, but it wouldn’t be pleasant. There are, in fact, three stages.”

That didn’t sound good. “Stages?”

“Each stage is only temporary and should wear off after a few hours. Stage one is blindness. Stage two is mental disorientation. And the final stage is paralysis.”

I shouldn’t ask, I know, but… “And if a second bite is delivered, what would that do?”

Wes shrugged. “Merely cause excruciating, cry-wrenching pain, which is then soon followed by death.”

Of course it did.

To look at Fletcher’s skinny frame, you wouldn’t think that he had the strength to cut off a person’s air supply merely by hugging them. I struggled inside his hold, managing to wheeze out, “Fletch, I’m fine.”

“You’re not fine and you bloody well know it.” The Empath pulled back, wearing a stern expression. “I can sense that you’re a mess right now. I want to know everything, lady. Don’t leave a single thing out.” So we went inside my office, and I revealed everything – the brothers, the pain, and my problems with my gifts.

Fletcher shook his head and put his hand to his chest. “This isn’t good for the heart. I think I feel a palpation coming on.”

“I’m trying not to worry. I really, really am, because I know that Jared will sense it if I do. He’s in a bad enough state as it is.” It was nice not having to pretend for just a little while.

“Well of course he is. He loves you and he’s used to saving the day and having all the answers. He’s so worried about you, it actually hurts me to feel it. And—” Hearing the tap-tap-tap of high heels coming down the corridor, he groaned. “Oh here comes Widow Twankey. She’s intent on trying to put a spanner in the works, isn’t she?”

I laughed. “I call her Jessica Rabbit, but Widow Twankey’s better, without a doubt.”

Seconds later, wearing a superior grin and a dress that left nothing whatsoever to the imagination, Magda strode inside. Seriously, someone needed to tell her that she wasn’t the only one with a pair of tits. “I was hoping we could talk.”

On receiving a nod from me that said I’d be okay, Fletcher strutted past Magda, snarling, and left the office. Of course he’d be eavesdropping, as usual.

I arched a questioning brow at her, being sure to look disinterested.

“Hi again, Sam.” When I didn’t respond, she sighed. “I feel like you and I got off on the wrong foot. Truly, I am not the enemy. In fact, I can help you understand Jared much better. I thought you and I could spend some time together and get to know each other.”

“Oh you did? Well see, here’s the thing. I don’t want to get to know you. I have no reason to. If Jared had wanted me to, I’d have made the effort. But as he doesn’t…well, I’ll just tell you to f**k off.”

“Aren’t you curious to know what he’s keeping from you?”

“I’m curious to know why you don’t own any decent clothes.” I heard a snort of laughter from behind the office door.

“Jared always liked them.”

I could tell by her smug expression that she thought that was all it would take to set me off. Sure, I was pissed, but I was not about to give her what she wanted. “Do you want to know what he likes better? When I bite the head of his dick. Yeah, my Sventé saliva does the trick every time.”

A sound came from her that sounded suspiciously like a hiss. “I didn’t need to resort to tricks.”

“No, you needed to Turn his brother before he would stay with you.”

“He could still have said no, but he didn’t. He chose to Turn, chose to be with me.”

“He chose to be with Evan – dress the situation up with a pretty bow if you like, but that fact remains. Now,” I drawled, leaning forward. “I’m going to make myself very, very clear, and if you have any sense in your messed-up head, you’ll listen. Jared is not yours. He does not want to be. He has absolutely no interest in you, and I can’t say I blame him. If I’d been in his position, I’d rather have sucked cow snot through a straw than go back to a manipulative, calculating, devious bitch.”

She snickered. “You’re jealous of the blood-link, aren’t you? That’s why you’re being so hostile toward me.”

Jealous? Yes. Hostile? Pfft. “When I’m being hostile toward you, you’ll know it in those precious seconds before I punch a hole into your chest searching for a heart that’s probably not there.”

“I really am sure that I told you to stay away from Sam.” Jared’s tone was flat, cold.

Magda twirled to face him, spluttering. “It’s natural for me to have an interest in a person who wishes to Bind with one of my vampires.”

“I’m not one of your vampires,” he objected through clenched teeth. “You may have Turned me, but I cut my ties with you a long time ago.”

She shook her head, looking almost desperate. “You’ll always be linked to me, Jared. Running away wasn’t going to get rid of it. Dim it, yes. But you’ll never get away from it.”

His words were quiet, but not soft. “Oh, but I will when I Bind with Sam. My blood-link with her will replace the one I have with you; you already know this.” In a blink, he was stood behind my chair with his hands on my shoulders.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “So get out.” To my surprise, she did.

Jared dragged me from the chair and pulled me against him. “You okay?”

“Agitated beyond belief,” I answered honestly, relaxing in his hold. “But this will all be worth it when she feels the link die. My conscience goes asleep when she’s around.” He didn’t smile as I’d thought he might. Instead he sighed, resting his forehead against mine.

Tags: Suzanne Wright Deep In Your Veins Vampires