Frowning at the bitterness in his voice, I lifted my head, seeking his gaze. “Hey, if you want the truth, I was glad as well.” Not that I wanted to stay a hybrid, but it had certainly been an advantage.

Looking at me curiously, he shook his head in what seemed to be incredulity. “Since the first night I met you, you’ve had me messed up. You’re my weakness − pure and simple. But you’re also the only thing that I really couldn’t live without.”

“You won’t have to,” I assured him. But I knew as well as he did that with two sociopaths out there, wanting to get their hands on their ‘project’, I wasn’t truly safe.



“Will you bloody relax, woman,” Fletcher repeated for, like, the twelfth time as he flopped onto the sofa beside me.

Trying again, and failing again, to stop fidgeting, I huffed. “How exactly am I supposed to relax when it’s my Binding ceremony tomorrow evening?”

“Well that’s what this little Pamper Party was for.” He gestured to the numerous females that were leaving my apartment after having given me several spa treatments. But even after a full body massage, some reflexology, a holistic facial, and an Indian head massage, I was still tense.

Not that the women weren’t good at what they did. In all honesty, I wasn’t a big fan of spas and massages, but I’d found these treatments surprisingly enjoyable. I simply wasn’t relaxed. But, seriously, could anybody blame me for that?

I let my hand delve into the bowl of hazelnuts on the coffee table. One of the best parts of this little get together had been the nibbles, pastries, and cakes. Oh and the Butlers in the Buff who had served the snacks and NSTs…they’d certainly been a nice addition.

“You do realise that you’re comfort-eating, don’t you? Stressed or not, attacking pastries won’t do you any good.”

I threw Fletcher a dirty look. “Shut your noise, I’ll eat what I want.”

“I think you’ll enjoy what’s coming next.”

The excitement in his tone had me instantly intrigued. “What is it?”

“We’re going to have a pedicure.”

And there went my intrigue. “That’s it? We don’t need manicures or pedicures – we’re vampires, our nails are all perfect.”

He gave me a cheeky smile. “Ah, but this is a different kind of pedicure.”

“There’s more than one kind of pedicure?”

As the door closed behind the last beauty therapist, he said, “So…are you going to tell me the real reason why you now seem to have the same enchanting glamour that Keja vampires have?”

The camp sod was too astute for his own good – it really was a good job that I adored him. There was no sense in lying to him, but I also couldn’t tell him. Not that I thought Fletcher would blab. I just didn’t want anyone plucking the info from his mind. “If I could tell you, I would. I’m sorry.”

He grabbed my hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “I appreciate you not giving me an ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’; that would have hurt. But, if you’re not going to tell me about that, you can at least answer my question of why you’re so anxious about tomorrow evening.”

“Doesn’t every ‘bride’ have a last minute attack of the jitters, or whatever they call it?”

“There’s being jittery, and there’s being bloody petrified. Why are you so scared? What could you possibly have to be scared of?”

“The mysterious dress you’ve designed?” I offered. He’d brought it with him in a full-size protective bag which he’d placed in my bedroom.

He huffed at me. “Stop stalling, Lady Jane, and spill the beans.”

Persistent little bugger.

“You’re not having second thoughts, are you?”

“Definitely not.”

“Are you worried that he’s not going to show up? If so, that’s daft. We can safely say that he’ll be there.”

“It’s not that, it’s just that…Binding…it’s not like marriage. There’s no divorce, no annulment, no get-out clause. Once you Bind yourself to someone, you have a life-long psychic connection to them that can only be broken if one of you dies. Even if the couple grew to despise each other or had come to care for somebody else, there’s no getting out of the bond.”

“And that scares you,” he guessed.

“Actually, no. I thought it would. It probably should. But the idea that it can’t be broken makes me feel more secure, strangely enough.”

“I don’t understand. What’s the problem, then?”

“The problem is that Jared gets temptation thrown in his face constantly – you’ve seen what women are like around him. I’m not saying he’s shallow, he’s far from it, though I didn’t realise that at first. But I can’t help worrying that he might one day fall for one of them. Not because I don’t trust him or because I don’t believe he loves me. But because it scares me that I’d be able to feel what he felt for her. Knowing that he loved someone else would be bad enough. But to be able to feel it, and to have no way of saving myself from that…I couldn’t deal with that Fletcher, I know I couldn’t. I wouldn’t need to kill myself to break the bond: it would destroy me.”

Fletcher pulled me against him and locked his arm around me. Patting my arm, he gently said, “Yes, he has women throwing themselves at him all the time, which is daft of them since they know you could, and would happily, whip them to death. But who can blame them, really? I mean, he’s gorgeous, he’s powerful, he’s got that dominant vibe going on, and he’s the Heir – it’s a combination that will have most females downright bloody horny.”

“Fletch, you’re not helping,” I said dryly.

He held up his index finger. “Wait, I’m not done. What I was about to say before you rudely interrupted me, was that I’ve been around him when he’s had women slobbering over him. Not once has it ever got him hot and bothered – I’d have sensed it. He actually gets annoyed about it. Sometimes there’s even a bit of resentment there, but I’m not sure what that’s about.”

The latter made me think back to Evan’s words of how Jared resented just how much attention his looks got him, of how he resented that he looked like his mother.

Tags: Suzanne Wright Deep In Your Veins Vampires