Stop tormenting yourself, I told him. It wasn’t your fault.
He ignored me. “There has to be a way to help them.” Pausing in his pacing again, he took a deep breath to steady himself. “If it spreads through bodily fluids, then it’s almost like a human virus, right? If we follow that logic, then surely there’s an ‘antivirus’. There has to be some kind of counteragent.”
“If there is, I’ve never heard of it,” said Luther.
“Where did it first originate?”
Luther shrugged. “I have no idea.”
“Okay, so who do we talk to? You must know someone who’s studied this.”
“No one dares get close enough to a tainted vampire to study it.”
A string of curses flew out of Jared’s mouth.
Aching for Jared, I turned to Antonio. “What now?”
“We need to contain Evan, Stuart, and Max. Although the symptoms may not show for a few days, it is still important to isolate them. It would be safe for them to be contained together as opposed to separately, since they will not attempt to feed from each other. Tainted blood will not appeal to them on any level.”
We’ll help them somehow, Jared. Again, he ignored me. But I had the feeling that he was simply too trapped by his own panic to focus on anything else.
“We can’t afford to allow this to spread any further.” Antonio’s gaze danced from Jared to me as he asked, “Are you positive that none of the others were bitten?”
I nodded. “Positive.” Jared gave him a nod as well.
Luther’s brow creased as if something suddenly occurred to him. “Did you see Quentin Foy down in the tunnels?”
“No. But I’m not sure I’d have recognised him anyway.” Not when they had all been more like skeletons.
“I have to wonder if Quentin sealed them in there, leaving them to die.”
“Why would he do that?” Jared asked.
“Maybe he couldn’t find it within himself to destroy them. You know that you would find it difficult to kill any vampires from The Hollow, no matter if they were tainted.”
After a short silence, Antonio rose from the bench. “I need to hold a teleconference and alert the High Masters. They need to be aware of the outbreak so they can take precautions with their vampires.”
Before he and Luther could walk away, Jared held a hand up to stay them. “Wait, what about Quentin? I mean, if we find out from him when The Call first became an issue in his nest, could we find some way of understanding it better, of fighting it?”
Antonio sighed heavily. “I would like to say yes, but this is something that has been around for a very long time, Jared, and nothing has ever been able to stop it. If there was some way of fighting it, I would imagine that someone would have discovered it by now.”
“But not if the only response to the outbreak that vampires have ever made is to kill anyone who became tainted and then hide away, right?”
“Maybe,” was all Antonio said, but there was no hope in his voice. “I must get things in motion now.” Antonio and Luther hurried away with the guards and dogs, leaving Jared and I alone.
I went to Jared and slid my arms around his waist. He was trembling with fury and hurting so badly, and I felt so helpless. Oh sure I was worried about Evan as well, and the thought of him dying was too much to bear. Similarly, knowing that Stuart and Max were tainted was intensifying the ache still in my chest. But considering that one of the victims was Jared’s twin brother, this whole thing had to be a million times worse for him than it was for me.
“I’m not dropping this.”
I kissed his throat. “Neither am I.”
“We basically have four weeks to find a way to help them. That’s the longest they’ll last.”
I nodded, but I had no clue whatsoever where to start. Apparently, neither did Jared because rather than coming up with some sort of game plan, he just buried his face in the crook of my neck and inhaled deeply. I spoke into his ear. “Come on, let’s go home. We’ll talk about it there.”
He teleported us to the living area of our apartment, but instead of releasing me, he tightened his hold, still vibrating with anger. I soothingly smoothed my hands up and down his back while dabbing kisses on his neck. Bringing his forehead to rest against mine, he rubbed a thumb over my bottom lip. His irises were glowing red, but there wasn’t just rage there now. There was also heat and desperation. I knew that look, my body knew that look, and it sent a shiver of need down my spine.
One hand fisted in my hair. “I need you right now.” It was a dark rumble.
“You have me.”
“I can’t go slow,” he warned, yanking my head back slightly.
“I don’t want you to.”
He slammed his mouth down on mine, and I immediately opened for him. The kiss was full of urgency and desperation, as if he thought I could somehow take away his anxiety and pain. Or maybe I was just his escape from it. Tingles of fire were everywhere because his hands were everywhere. Clothes were torn and dumped at our feet. Normally, Jared was the worst tease imaginable. His foreplay could go on for hours, and he’d love every moment of it. But this time there was no finesse, no teasing, no playfulness from either of us.
His hand slid down to the underneath of my thigh and he hooked my leg over his hip, grinding his rock-hard c**k against me. An image of me on my knees with his c**k in my mouth suddenly flashed in my mind, and I wondered if it had somehow come from him or if the thought was my own. It didn’t matter. I dropped to my knees and curled my hand around the root of his dick. Knowing exactly what he liked, I sucked in the energy around me and exhaled a small flame of fire, heating my mouth. I then took him inside, enjoying his groans and moans.
“Fuck, Sam.” His fingers tunnelled into my hair and tugged hard as he began pumping his hips, f**king my mouth. “That’s it. Keep those lips nice and tight around my cock.” As he repeatedly thrust into my mouth, I sucked and licked and swirled my tongue around him. Suddenly he stopped, panting. “Baby, I can’t hold out. I’ll go out of my f**king mind if I’m not inside you now.”
He lifted me into his arms, urged me to curl my legs around his hips, slammed me against the wall, and then drove into me. We both groaned as my muscles clamped tight around him. But he didn’t thrust again, didn’t bury himself deeper inside me. Instead, he held himself completely still. I could sense him digging deep for control, worried that he was hurting me.