Hearing a throat clear, I slowly turned my head and peered up at the fierce-looking vampire that was standing beside the sofa, glaring down at me. In addition to being my mate, Jared Michaels was my co-commander...and he didn’t look happy, which was totally understandable given the circumstances. He had clearly teleported into our apartment using his very impressive vampiric gift, and now I was in seriously deep shit. As Jared’s twin brother and fellow vampire, Evan, would say: busted.
I smiled awkwardly, knowing my expression was guilt-ridden. “I wasn’t expecting you home just yet.”
“Oh, well I can see that.” Even scowling, Jared was still unfairly edible. He had a dark, raw masculinity that was so overwhelming it could make a girl feel drunk.
I flashed him an apologetic smile. It had no effect.
“This isn’t the first time you’ve done this, is it?”
Lying would be pointless, considering that our bond would allow him to sense it – a bond that had developed when we were joined through a vampire Binding ceremony five months ago. Binding was so much more than marriage; the powerful bond that formed between the couple could only be broken by death, even if the couple no longer cared for each other. So, in addition to having a brail-like tattoo where a wedding ring might have been, I now also had an extra sense; it was solely focused on Jared, allowing me to know things such as his vitals, his thirst level, and his mood. I didn’t need the bond to alert me of his current mood – he was undoubtedly pissed.
Realising that he was waiting impatiently for an answer to his question, I quietly admitted, “No.”
He folded his arms across his solid, well-defined chest. “How long has this been going on?”
“Define ‘not long’.”
I shrugged. “A week, maybe.”
His snappy comment had my snake, Dexter, lifting his head from where he was curled up on the rug. In the beginning, he hadn’t liked Jared at all. Thankfully, though, Dexter had gradually warmed up to him as he came to understand that Jared was as equally protective of me as he was. Still, Dexter would bite him in a blink if he thought Jared was any threat to me. That wouldn’t be good, given that Dexter’s preternatural venom could cause temporary blindness, mental disorientation, and then muscle paralysis. Two bites at one time could also cause excruciating pain followed by death. Sweet.
Wes, who was the Sire of the Grand High Master Vampire Antonio, had the remarkable gift of making his pictures come to life. When Wes drew an image of a snake on my arm, it automatically became a tattoo that could become a live snake. Dexter was a mix of a spitting cobra, a black mamba, a rattlesnake, and a garter snake. Wes had named the hybrid breed ‘Strikers’ due to how fast they attacked. An amazing thing about them was that they changed colour with their mood. At the moment, Dexter was jet black – which we had learned meant that he was alert and wary.
“I knew you were keeping something from me,” continued Jared, not in the least bit daunted by Dexter’s shift in mood and the possible danger. There wasn’t much that fazed Jared Michaels. “I just couldn’t figure out what it was.”
“Look, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again,” I promised.
“I would have thought you had better self-control.”
“So I had a moment of weakness. Doesn’t everyone?”
“How am I supposed to trust you when you pull shit like this?” A glint of amusement entered his intense hazel eyes, making me inwardly sigh in relief. I’d kind of expected the red tinges to his irises that marked him as a Pagori vampire to start glowing – it was something they did whenever he was angry, thirsty, or horny. Pagoris were the most powerful of the three vampire breeds, having incredible speed and strength. Unfortunately for them, they easily became aggressive and had a very strong bloodlust. “Answer me one thing honestly: did you find it by accident, or did you go looking for it?” My expression must have answered that, because he shook his head sadly.
“I just don’t like surprises,” I said defensively. Which was why I had searched our entire apartment for my birthday presents. I decided against telling him that I’d also found the other two gifts – it was bad enough that he’d caught me playing with my brand new PlayStation 6, which hadn’t yet been released in the human world, complete with the ‘Vampire Nation’ game.
Jared’s shrewd eyes narrowed. “You found the other presents, too, didn’t you?”
Crap. “I’m not comfortable with all these questions.”
Shaking his head again, he plucked me from the sofa. I instantly wrapped my limbs around him, melting into the kiss that he planted on my mouth. His deliciously spicy, masculine scent swirled around me, making me want to drag him to our bedroom and have my wicked way with him on the king-size bed that we’d moved here from his old apartment.
He pulled back, smiling, and ran a hand through my long, dark hair. “I can’t believe I’m going to have to teleport your presents somewhere out of your reach. All you had to do was wait another two weeks.”
I pouted. “You don’t have to teleport them away. I already promised that it wouldn’t happen again.”
His smile widened. “Yes, you did. But I’m pretty sure there are loopholes in that promise somewhere.”
I sniffed haughtily. “Fine. Be that way.”
The randy bastard ground himself against me. “Now you’re just making me want to f**k that attitude right out of you.”
“Smooth,” I teased.
He nuzzled my neck, breathing in deeply. “Unfortunately, being inside you and hearing you scream my name with that husky voice and that British accent will have to wait until later.” He had a thing about my accent, but I happened to really like his Californian accent, so happy days. “The guys are probably already at the bar.”
Thanks to vampire speed, we would be ready in less than ten minutes to meet with our squad to celebrate the completion of our most recent assignment, which had ended two nights ago. The gated community in which we lived was referred to as The Hollow. It housed vampires and humans, and contained plenty of stores, bars, and also a nightclub. It was situated on an off-the-map Caribbean island, surrounded by a tropical rainforest, and had a man-made beach in the centre for the residents to use. Antonio, his staff, and the legion also had access to the private beach behind his mansion.