McKell used both hands to wipe his face, as if the motion could also wipe away the memory of Mrs. Tremain’s distraction. He returned to the vampires. “You were just telling me how to survive in the sun.”

“No, we weren’t.” One shook his head violently.

“Not even if you stab us again. But please don’t stab us again.”

McKell lifted his leg and rested his foot on One’s injured thigh. “I wouldn’t be so sure about that. But, lucky for you, I’m willing to negotiate. Tell me what I want to know, and the women will kiss. Each other.”

Both men blinked, looked at each other, looked at Ava and Noelle. One lost his glaze of pain, and Two licked his lips.

“They have to kiss first.”

“And then we’ll tell you everything we know. Promise.”

McKell removed his foot and faced Ava, then motioned with his hand. She just blinked at him.

“Well?” he prompted. “Get started. Kiss.”

She planned to reward him, not everyone in the room. “First, this is your interrogation. We’re just here to watch, listen and learn. Remember?”

He pursed his lips. “Ava.”

“Second,” she continued, “you’re caving to their demands? Well, I won’t allow it. Either they spill the secret, or there’s no kissing. And I won’t budge on this.”

“Yeah,” Noelle said with a nod. “We won’t budge on this. No matter how sexy their voices are.” She gave the vampires a pinkie wave. “And no matter how bad I want to get my tongue into my little firecracker’s mouth.”

One nodded in invitation, and Two wiggled his brows.

McKell splayed his arms, as if he were powerless. “You heard the females. Answers first, kiss second.”

One and Two faced each other, whispering, debating. “We shouldn’t tell him, even for that kiss.”

“He’ll find out eventually.”

“Yeah, but he’ll kill us just as soon as we tell him.”

“I think he’ll kill us if we don’t. He said so, remember?”

“But when he knows, he’ll make it painful.”

“Rumor is, he’s been kicked out of the underground. Maybe he won’t care. He hates humans, and didn’t he say that he no longer enforces vampire law?”

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re stupid? He could be lying. The woman he kissed is a human, so he can’t hate them too badly.”

“You’re the stupid one.”

Did she and Noelle sound that dumb when they argued? Geez! She’d had enough, was getting upset that McKell wasn’t getting what he wanted, and was close to stabbing someone again. “Offer ends in five … four … three …”

“Fine,” One rushed out. “I’ll tell.” Deep breath in, hold … hold, slow release. “If you drain a human to death, once every night, you develop a resistance to the sun’s deathly rays. But you have to kill every night, because the effects only last twelve hours.”

“That’s the only way?” McKell asked.

That’s all he cared about? The guy had just admitted to murdering someone every night. Stab someone? No, she had a target, and a simple stabbing wasn’t violent enough.

“Yes,” was the eager answer. “Now about that kiss …”

“And that’s all you have to do?” McKell asked now.

That’s all?

Another eager, “Yes. So back to the kiss …”

Those bastards! All of them. McKell included.

He twirled the blade he still held. “I’m not done yet. Most other vampires living on the surface world know this?”

“If they don’t, they learn pretty quickly.” One’s gaze swung to Ava and Noelle. “Is that all, because—”

“And they willingly do it?” McKell asked.

“Of course.” Two’s irritation was showing, but he hurried on. “Humans are merely food, after all. And I know, I know. Humans are our food, and we’ve always been forbidden from killing our food because the supply could run out. But listen, we don’t do that. That’s why we were out tonight. We stopped killing. Trying to blend in during the day was a waste of time. We thought to get jobs, you know. Real jobs. Be productive. But why work when you can simply convince people to give you what you want?”

“Thank you for being truthful,” McKell said.

If he told her to kiss Noelle now, Ava really would grab another knife and sink it—

“By the way. I lied. There’ll be no kiss.” With one fluid slash, he cut One’s throat, then Two’s. Both gurgled in pain and shock, bled, color fading, bodies twitching … passed out. “Don’t worry. They’ll recover.” He tossed the knife on the floor. “But for their crimes, they are my gift to AIR. Your people may do whatever they like with them.”

Ava relaxed against the couch. Bless his sweet little heart. He’d just earned himself another reward.


McKell wasn’t surprised when Ava and Noelle left him alone with the unconscious vampires. To “ship his property to AIR on his own, as he most likely wanted to do, possessive ass that he was.” What had surprised him? They’d expected a thank-you for their consideration. Aka a back rub, followed by a foot rub, followed by hand-feeding them dinner. Before taking off to “do shit he shouldn’t concern himself with,” they’d been very vocal about their desires.

Females. He’d let them go only because they’d sworn to remain inside the house.

So, alone in the dining room, McKell surveyed his handiwork. The vampires were unmoving—and messy—and there was no way in hell he was going to spend the next hour patching them up for safe travels to their new home, while the girls did God knew what. Only one way to handle this, then. He delegated their care to the two guards waiting outside the door, ordering the men to bind those slashed necks and drive the vampires straight to AIR headquarters, making no stops along the way.

They nodded and jumped into action—after admitting that Ava had already commanded them to do exactly that.

Females, he thought again. Only this time he was grinning. His woman was clever.

Now he surveyed the room itself. Ruined, as he’d first warned Noelle. But she hadn’t seemed to care about the possibility and subsequent reality, so he wouldn’t either. Besides, he well knew how possessive some people could be about their things, cough cough, and he didn’t want to upset Noelle’s harpy of a mother by moping up a single drop of blood and touching what now belonged to her.