Zeke blinked, then, very slowly, he smiled. A real smile, one I hadn’t seen since that horrible night when he had died.

And for a moment, everything Sarren had done to him, to us, fell away completely, and he was the same boy I’d met in that abandoned town: charming, determined, ever hopeful.

Leaning in, he kissed me, long and deep, and I wrapped my arms around his neck, pulling him closer. He backed us up until I was against the wall, rough concrete pressing into my coat, feeling every part of him against me and needing more.

His lips trailed a path from my mouth to my jaw and neck; I gasped and arched my head back, feeling the lightest scrape of fangs against my skin. And that hunger flared up again.

With a growl, I shoved away from the wall, pushing him toward the bed in the corner of the room. He sank easily onto the mattress, taking me down with him, wrapping his arms around my waist. I set my elbows on either side of his head and kissed him, feeling his hands slide over my back, skimming under my coat. The dark, tattered material was suddenly too constricting; I pulled back and shrugged out of it, letting it drop to the floor. Zeke gazed up at me, blue eyes serene, no traces of doubt or fear shadowing his face.

“Allie.” His voice was a breath, a quiet murmur, as I dropped to kiss him again, pressing my lips to his jaw. He groaned and arched his head back, baring his throat, and I felt my fangs lengthen in response. He was so close, the scent and feel of him filling my senses, but I wanted to be closer. I wanted all of him, all he could give, and everything I could offer. No more barriers. Tonight, Zeke was mine, and nothing would take that away.

I bent to his neck, kissing his throat, barely pricking his skin with my fangs. As Zeke groaned again, my hand slipped under his shirt, tracing his skin. He gasped, and I started to push up the fabric.

“Wait,” Zeke whispered, sounding breathless. I pulled back to look at him, my lips just inches from his own. “Allison,”

he said, though his eyes were slightly glazed and the tips of his fangs glinted as he spoke. “We don’t have to do this. It doesn’t have to be tonight.” His hand rose, pressing against my cheek, his eyes never leaving my face. “We have forever to figure this out,” he said gently, “if it’s not the right time…”

I resisted the urge to bare my fangs. “The last time we chose to wait, Ezekiel, you died. ” He flinched, his eyes darkening with the memory, and I clenched a fist in his shirt. “Not that I have any intention of losing you again, but right now, we’re up against a madman who has a pretty good head start on creating another apocalypse. He’s not taking this away.” I did bare my fangs then, a gesture of defiance. “If the world ends tomorrow,” I whispered fiercely, “if these really are the final days, then I’ll be damned if I have any regrets.”

Zeke’s eyes gleamed. Without warning, he reached up and pulled my head down to his, crushing our lips together. Before I could react, he abruptly shifted and flipped us over so that I landed on the mattress with a thump, blinking in surprise.

I’d forgotten how strong he was now. He kissed me deeply, then trailed his lips down my neck, making me gasp and arch into him. My blood thrummed, surging through my veins.

I wanted him to bite me, to sink his fangs into my throat. I ached to feel him again, like his soul had merged with mine and I knew every tiny corner of his mind and heart.

I growled, clutching him close, and Zeke responded with a growl of his own, his lips on my mouth, my neck, tracing a path down my middle. I gasped and tore at his shirt, pulling it over his head. More clothes followed, both of us almost frantic to shed them, to get as close to the other as we could.

When nothing separated us, I ran my hands over his scarred back, down his tightly muscled arms, and over his lean chest, trying to memorize him with my touch.

Zeke pulled back, his face hovering close to mine, his stare bright and his fangs fully extended.

“Say you love me, vampire girl,” he whispered, his voice low and husky. “Tell me…that this is forever.”

“I love you,” I said immediately. “And if we have forever, there’s no one else I want to spend it with.”

He lowered himself onto me, and I bit my lip, digging my nails into his back. It hurt, but I’d felt far worse pain then this.

As he bent to kiss me again, I closed my eyes, surrendering to sensation. We were so close; it felt like I was on fire, heat singing through my veins. But there was still something missing.

Closer, I thought through the haze . Get closer, Zeke. It isn’t enough.

Zeke suddenly clutched me tight, a breathless growl escaping him. As I gasped, arching my head back, he bent his head and finally sank his fangs into my throat.

I cried out, gripping his shoulders, a hundred emotions coursing through me. I felt him everywhere, within and without. I felt his fear, the desperation that he might lose me, either to Sarren’s hand or his own failings, and then he’d be left to deal with the monster he’d become, alone. I felt his anger, his rage at his sire, the demon who’d destroyed his family, who had hurt so many people and wasn’t finished yet. His determination to succeed, to keep as many people safe as he could. And…his love for me, intense and powerful and almost frightening. It was an endless well, a cocoon that wrapped around us both, warm and strong and intoxicating.

It brought tears to my eyes, and they spilled down my cheeks as I lay there, unable to move. Not wanting to move. Willing to stay here like this, forever.

Zeke pulled back, retracting his fangs, and gazed down at me. I met his eyes and saw they were a little red, too.

“I never…thought it would be like that,” he whispered in an awed voice. Placing a hand on my cheek, he trailed his finger down the red tracks, his expression anxious. “Are you all right?” he asked. “Did I hurt you?”

I reached for him, sliding my fingers into the hair at the base of his skull. “Come here,” I whispered, tugging him toward me. He complied instantly, and when he bent down, I rose off the mattress, lifted my face to his neck, and sank my fangs into the side of his throat.

Zeke gasped. His blood flowed over my tongue, hot and sweet and powerful, searing through my veins. I sensed every emotion from him once more, feeling his blood mingle with mine, merging us together. Zeke trembled, holding me close, eyes shut in complete surrender.

When I pulled back, dawn had broken the horizon outside; I could feel the light just beginning to spill over the trees and the rest of the world. Retracting my fangs, I gazed sleepily up at Zeke, who met my stare with a look of complete adoration.


Tags: Julie Kagawa Blood of Eden Book Series
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