One eyebrow rose. “You won’t be hurting me unless you wish for death.”


“Some days I do,” I murmured absently, caught on not only his words, but the way he had stated it as if it was fact-based. Then there was the fact that he knew with absolute certainty I wasn’t part of this camp. I wasn’t able to use my Shifter senses to tell if he was speaking the truth or not with his previous comment, so I asked slowly and maybe with a bit of a slur, “What is your name?” God, I hated hunches, and I was going to be pretty damn pissed off if after enduring this f**king shit I couldn’t have retribution on this ass**le.

His head cocked so he was looking at me a bit more straight on. “You do realize I’m the one asking the questions…and I’m the one with a knife to your throat.” It wasn’t really a question, so I didn’t answer. After a few moments of analyzing me while I blinked blurrily at him, he sighed heavily. “You really are going to pass out soon from blood loss.” He appeared annoyed by this, and I knew the feeling when someone continued to pass out while you were interrogating them, the bore of delaying entertainment. “I’ll tell you mine, but I’ll expect the same in return.”

I was becoming agreeable to this since it was taking Antonio so long to find me, and I believed Mr Asshole Vampire’s assessment to be correct. I was damn close to passing out cold, my thoughts quickly becoming indistinct, which meant I needed to be released soon. I did not want to be unconscious while caught like this, or worse, become so incoherent I would risk flashing fang in an attempt to bite someone. So be it if my name got me down from here. “You have my word.”

The Vampire nodded once, the action appearing to have tracers, confirming my thoughts further, and he stated evenly, “I’m Ezra Zeller, King of the Vampires.”

I blinked. “I want you to know you are officially at the front of the line of people I despise…and that includes Coms.” And the curses that flew were whispered since that was all I could manage. “God hates me. Fucking hell, God seriously hates me.” I inhaled heavily, still unable to scent him with the silver containing my powers. “Why couldn’t I smell you before?” I blinked, sniffing again, realizing there was still a lingering scent dusting both of us that I didn’t need a Shifter’s nose to smell.

Marijuana, that was why. “Drugs are bad, drugs are bad, drugs are bad.”

I yanked at my cuffs, the action more of a feeble wiggle, but I was furious. “Isa is never doing drugs. I will kick her ass if she does this shit.” I rattled the chains again, still rambling to myself while glaring at him and his blank expression.

“Goddammit!” I muttered breathlessly, slitted eyes on the f**king…Vampire King…someone who was as untouchable as I normally was. “Sure, Lily, smoke some f**king weed, and whatever else was in it, and try to relax past the nothingness. Have a little fun with the Shifter you thought was probably a damn cat. But, wait, nope, he’s the goddamn Vampire King.” Another wiggle of the chain. “Fucking masking. Masked myself right into f**king torture when I can’t do shit back even once the damn cavalry finally arrives.”

Hell, he was still masking, which was impressive since it had taken me a while to learn to do in long stretches. Chest heaving, I turned my attention to his hair. “And purple? Who the hell spells their hair purple, anyway? At least mine halfway resembles a Com.” I heaved in a breath, pissed the f**king hell off, and glared through the haziness.

His head tilted. “You thought I was a cat?” He paused, and I didn’t answer. “Huh…that means you’re most likely a Shifter.” His eyes lifted toward his hair, then back to my gaze. “And I like the purple.” He went silent, waiting for the one answer he wanted, the knife digging a bit deeper near my jugular.

Voice a mere croak, I rasped, “King Zeller,” asshole, “if you would care to take off my left glove, you’ll have your answer.”

He stared for a beat, then his green eyes traveled up to my left hand, and ever so slowly, his eyes high on my numb hand, he asked, “Why exactly will I have my answer that way?” His eyes lowered to mine. “Do you have your name tattooed there for moments of forgetfulness?”

If I wasn’t mistaken, he was actually showing a sense of humor, the torture apparently putting him in fine spirits. Too bad it was a bit late for comedy in my book. “King Zeller,” asshole, “I may appear like a Com,” I wheezed, blinking hard, all his features beginning to mesh into a large mocha and green blob, “and I may be the size of one, but I’m anything but. Check my f**king hand and get me down.” I paused. “Or check my hand and continue torturing me, so I can Lawfully kill you afterwards, which I would actually prefer.” My eyes shut even as I felt him begin to stiffen behind me; he was definitely not a slow Mystical, rapidly beginning to understand. “Fun time’s over, King Zeller,” asshole, “because my name’s Lily Ruckler, Queen of the Shifters.”

He went completely still against me. Then I felt a tingle on my left hand, and suddenly my glove was gone via his Vampire speed while my cold, numb ring finger was lifted by his warm blood-covered fingers — my much needed blood. My eyes didn’t have to be open — which was a good thing because I was tired as hell — to hear the litany of curses that rumbled deeply, attacking my ears. I heard the knife fall to the floor, and suddenly his bare, muscled arm was around my waist, lifting me against him. I groaned softly, my body’s weight lifted off my wrists, my head tilting back over his shoulder as he worked to free my wrists from the cuffs.

“You should have told me your damn name,” he growled, apparently having trouble with the cuffs, hissing every time he accidently touched the silver. “Why the f**k didn’t you?”

“Waiting…for…Antonio,” I whispered slowly, lethargy overtaking me. “Was going…to kill…you…when he arrived.” I shouted a groan when my arms dropped down against his arm around my waist, no longer cuffed. “Shit, that…hurts.”

“I’ll give you peace once I get the other cuffs off,” he stated bluntly, lifting me like a babe.

I felt the brush of wind against the side of my body not warmed by his, the sound loud in my ears…and suddenly I was being laid on a soft mattress. I made myself blink, and the quick flash told me we were in his bedroom. “Under your damn…bedroom. No wonder…Antonio couldn’t…find me.”

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