What annoyed me more than Joy’s antics was the knowledge that she’d once been his consort; that she’d touched him, that she’d had him inside her. I hated it. And she knew that I hated it, thought it gave her some kind of power. But it was truly difficult to hate her because she was so pathetic it was honestly saddening. It was impossible to feel anything other than pity for this girl who had absolutely no self-respect.

Off that irritating subject…“Are you going to tell me what’s bugging you?”

Jared’s brows drew together. “What do you mean?”

“You seem uneasy about something.”

“I just wasn’t expecting this so soon. It’s the shock, that’s all.”

Our bond told me that that wasn’t a lie, but I had the feeling there was more to it than that. Choosing to let it go for now, I said nothing. If his sense of unease didn’t shift, we’d definitely be revisiting this subject.

He nipped my chin playfully. “There’s one thing we’ll find really hard about ruling: confining ourselves to The Hollow.”

Now that was an extremely good point. I bit my lower lip. “I really don’t think I can do it. For one thing, I’ll go crazy – or, at least, I’ll go crazier than I already am. But for another thing, I like the life we have now. I like being a commander, going on assignments, protecting people, and whipping the living shit out of dickheads.”

He laughed. “Yeah, I’d miss that too. So maybe we should make some changes.”

“Go against tradition?”

“Face it, baby, we’re not much for rules, are we? So we’ll come up with new ones. We can’t become different people. If we do, we’ll run the risk of drifting apart.”

That was true. “I’m liking this idea of making up new rules.”

Keeping me tight against him, he stood upright and urged me to curl my legs around his waist. “Later. Now I’m going to f**k you until there’s not a thought in your head except how hard you want to come.”

Sounded like fun.

At dusk, Jared and I headed to Antonio’s mansion for the usual meeting that was held for the commanders. Strolling inside the conference room, we found Antonio seated at the head of the table with Sebastian and Luther sitting either side of him. His personal guards and two pit-bulls were standing unobtrusively in the background, as usual. But the other commanders were strangely absent. Instead, there were two vampires that didn’t belong inside The Hollow: one male Sventé and one female Sventé. Both were very familiar and a long way from their home in London.

The cute, tiny brunette leaped from her seat, dashed around the table, and was suddenly hugging me so tight that I was worried a rib would crack. Not the most affectionate person in the world, I awkwardly returned the hug, patting her back.

Entertained by my discomfort, Jared smiled. I take it you know her? Thanks to Antonio’s ability to impart power – thus allowing vampires to develop additional gifts – Jared had three gifts: teleportation, electrokinesis, and telepathy. He wasn’t able to read minds, but he could hear any thought that was directed at him. Antonio had once rewarded me with additional power as well, and I’d developed a second gift. But the ability to Merge wasn’t a gift I liked to use much as it wasn’t exactly comfortable to join your body with someone else’s.

Quick warning: the girl is like the energizer bunny, I told Jared. Pulling back, I went to speak, but she beat me to it.

“Oh my God, it feels like it’s been years since I last saw you! How are you doing? I’m doing just fine. You look absolutely amazing! I heard through the vampire grapevine that one of your Binding presents was the Keja allure. In my opinion, you didn’t need it, but it must be nice having it. Oh and I love the mercury ring in your eyes! I’m so sorry that I missed your Binding. My brother will explain why.”

Everything had come out in a rush in the sweetest voice filled with excitement and optimism. See what I mean? I could easily pick up on Jared’s amusement. Ordinarily, someone like Ava would annoy the shit out of me. But there was something very endearing about this female. “I’m great, thanks.” I turned to Jared, who was clearly holding back a laugh. “Jared, this is Ava Sanchez. Ava, this is my mate, Jared Michaels.”

As I’d expected, Ava had the same response to him that every female did: she went jaw slacked and wide-eyed. I couldn’t really blame her. His alluring eyes demanded a person’s full attention, practically took them hostage. It was impossible not to wonder just how it would feel to run your fingers through his short, tousled chestnut hair, or to skim your hands over his tall, perfectly sculpted body.

Most males would relish and bask in that kind of attention, but Jared hated it. He resented the fact that he got his looks from his deceased twisted mother. Also, it annoyed him that much of the reason females flocked around him was that he was Antonio’s Heir. He didn’t find being wanted for his looks and position particularly flattering. Although I’d repeatedly told him that he had more to offer than this, he didn’t agree. He didn’t see himself clearly.

To Ava’s credit, she snapped out of her daze quicker than most did. “It’s nice to meet you. It was wise of you to choose Sam as your mate – she’s the best.”

“I can agree with you on that,” he replied.

As the pit-bulls, Achilles and Nero, dashed to my side, I gave them a quick stroke before meeting the gaze of the smirking dark-haired male seated next to Sebastian. “Can’t say it’s particularly a pleasure to see you again, Cristiano.”

“Now that’s not very nice, is it,” he said, amused. The bloke wasn’t bad as vampires went. In fact, he was relatively decent and was extremely protective of his sister, Ava. He had actually helped me on a number of occasions back when I’d lived in London. But he was also a taunting prick who lived to annoy people just for the fun of it. He could actually be quite charming, which I had learned the first night I met him when I was still human. As his expression turned nostalgic, I had the distinct feeling that he was remembering that night.

I could sense that Jared was a mixture of suspicious and agitated by the way Cristiano was looking at me with such familiarity. Glaring at Cristiano, Jared spoke to me. Tell me nothing happened between you two.

Nothing happened…exactly.

Define ‘exactly’.

I’ll give you the long version later. The short version is that he once kissed me and he…drank from me. I felt jealousy and anger zoom through Jared, which was understandable since drinking blood was an intimate and sexual act for vampires.

Tags: Suzanne Wright Deep In Your Veins Vampires
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