“Still. Talking.”


She cursed under her breath before slamming the door.

Was the vampire brain damaged? Ava wondered as she paced the length of her living room. Mia liked to say all men were damaged in some way, but Ava hadn’t believed her. Until now.

McKell acted as if they were best friends. He acted as if he owned the place. He acted as if he hadn’t kissed the breath right out of her and rocked her entire world. He acted as if her blood was subpar.

Bastard.

Sure, they were partners now. In a way. Sure, they were working together. Kind of. So he should treat her better. Definitely. He should treat her as if he valued her opinion. As if her kisses were amazing. As if her blood was the best he’d ever had.

Bastard, she thought again.

When she’d told him he would have to drink from other people, he’d responded quickly, with no hesitation. Clearly, he’d wanted to drink from other people. And that pissed her the hell off. Not just because he’d made her feel subpar, which was irrational—she knew it was, but she couldn’t help herself—but because she hated the thought of his mouth on anyone else. He should have demanded access to her blood.

Ava stomped into her kitchen and fixed herself a ham sandwich. And as she chewed with more force than necessary, she realized she was shaking. Not from anger, as she would have liked to convince herself, but from arousal.

McKell’s kiss had heated her blood, and the fever had yet to cool. Her ni**les were still hard, her stomach twisted into a anticipatory knot, and her skin too tight for her bones. And her tongue ached, damn it! He’d scraped the sensitive flesh with his fangs, and rather than hurt her, the action had intensified her desire for him.

She’d wanted her hands all over him. Had wanted to offer him complete access to her neck. Had wanted to tell him to suck every last drop of her blood. Only thoughts of who and what he was had stopped her from doing so. He was a criminal. A vampire who clearly considered himself far superior to humans.

Dessert, he’d said with disdain.

She couldn’t forget. Not what he thought, and not what she’d always wanted. Respect. She would not be known as the agent who f**ked her targets. No, no, never. Talk about humiliating. Especially since a few of the other trainees already referred to her as trash.

Street trash. Daughter-of-a-druggie trash. Trash, trash, trash. She was so used to the reference, it didn’t bother her anymore. But adding to the list? Sleep-with-anything-that-breathes trash? Hell, no.

After draining a glass of water, she picked up her home phone to ring Noelle. The slide of a door caught her attention, and she dropped the phone, grinning. Noelle must have sensed her need and come running, because her friend was already here.

Ava trudged into the living room, and sure enough, Noelle had let herself in. She fell onto the couch, and stared down at the worn fabric. She frowned.

“You were bleeding?” her friend said. “Which means you’re injured. Why didn’t you tell me you were injured? And who did it? I’ll kill him. I swear to God I’ll kill him dead! Is he the one who brought the whip?”

Shit. McKell had left stains on the couch? He was paying the cleaning bill or buying her a new one. “I’m fine. The vampire was bleeding, not me.”

Gray eyes swung to her, shock in their depths. “He was here? And he brought a whip?”

“Was? No. He’s still here.” She jabbed her thumb toward the back of the apartment. “He’s sleeping. And yes, he brought it, but no, he’s not going to use it,” she added before her friend could ask. She might use it, though. Later. The thought of tying him up—don’t you dare go there!

Now those gray eyes widened. “You banged him already?”

Unlike the others, Noelle wouldn’t view such a bedding as trashy. Noelle was a romantic, though she would probably deny that until her dying breath, and would have praised Ava for following her heart. Or panties.

“Nope. No banging.” But she would have, and would have hated herself for it. Despite everything, she wouldn’t have stopped him. Would have gone all the way. Taken everything he had to give. Between her legs, his c**k had been thick and long and ready, and she’d wanted it. Desperately.

Yet he had been of sound enough mind to stop and toss her to the floor. Now that was far more humiliating than being referred to as trash, she thought. She’d craved him like a drug, yet he had remained somewhat detached.

She would not let that happen again.

“So what’s he doing here?” Noelle asked, merely curious.

“He demanded I patch him up, and then decided he needed a nap.” Was her resentment showing?

“So you kissed him? ‘Cause, baby, your lips are red and swollen.”

Ava’s cheeks heated. Probably to the same shade of red as her lips. “You should see my tongue.” Now why had she admitted to that?

Noelle clapped excitedly. “Your tongue? Did he bite it? He did, didn’t he? Show me, show me! I wanna see.”

“No way.”

Noelle smashed her hands together, as if she were preparing to pray. “Please. Show me. I won’t laugh, I swear.”

“Fine.” Once Noelle started begging, she didn’t stop until she got what she wanted. Ava stuck out her tongue.

Noelle laughed. “Oh, my God. You have puncture wounds.”

The heat in her cheeks spread to her neck, her collarbone. “You said you wouldn’t laugh, Tremain.”

“I lied. You know I’m a liar, so you can’t hold me responsible. And he clearly likes to nibble. God, you’re so lucky! And to think, I gave him to you. Just gave him away, without sampling the goods myself.” She shook her head in disbelief. “I’m usually not such a dumbass.”

Ava had never been jealous of Noelle before. Had never wanted to hide a man from her friend. Noelle had given her so much over the years, she would have happily handed over her probably-traumatized liver if her friend asked. But just then, she wanted to wash all thoughts of McKell from Noelle’s mind. She wanted to place a blanket over the vampire’s head and never let anyone see him ever again. Except her.

All this jealousy, because of one kiss the vampire hadn’t really cared for?

Something was seriously wrong with her. As she’d already decided, she wasn’t going to let him kiss her again. Or drink her blood. After all, the reason she had demanded he refrain from drinking from her still applied. If he even glanced at her like he was thirsty, she might strip and beg him for more. Just as she’d begged while he had kissed her.

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