“She’s a shifter’s marked property, a bitch,” he explained with a sheepish shrug when Christofer narrowed his eyes on him.


Ignoring the bitch comment, for now, he asked, “What’s a shifter?”

Seth opened his mouth to answer, shut it, shook his head and then ran his palms down his face, sounding tired as he said, “This is going to be a long f**king night.”

*-*-*-*

“She needs to go to the hospital,” he stubbornly said even as he gently laid her back on his bed.

Seth simply shook his head as he leaned over Cloe and carefully peeled back the blood-soaked facecloths. “You can’t bring a marked human to the hospital bearing your…..,” his words trailed off with a frown as he peered down at Cloe’s wound. “Why are you so goddamn hell-bent on bringing her to the hospital for a scratch?”

“What are you talking about?” he demanded, shoving the vampire aside so that he could look at Cloe’s wound. What he saw had his stomach twisting in dread.

“Please tell me that you didn’t turn a shifter’s property,” Seth grumbled, but Christofer was barely listening as he ran his fingers over what should have been torn flesh.

“This has to be a mistake,” he mumbled, running his fingers over the scratch on Cloe’s throat as he struggled to understand what he was seeing.

She was healing before his eyes. He watched in disbelief as the rest of her wound quickly knitted itself back together until the only evidence of his attack was the dried blood staining her skin. After all this time and all those failed experiments and this happens…….

“What are you?” Seth asked him, gently cupping Cloe’s face in his hand and moving it to the side to get a better look at Cloe’s face and neck only to have his hand slapped away.

“Don’t touch her,” Christofer said, not liking the idea of anyone, especially another man, touching her and not really understanding why. She wasn’t his wife, girlfriend or even really a friend, but he couldn’t stop himself from thinking of her as his.

Seth sighed heavily as he stepped back from the bed. “Okay, so that answers one question at least. Whatever you are, you’re possessive over your turned. Add that to the red eyes and you’re definitely not a vampire,” he said as he headed towards the door.

“Where are you going?” Christofer absently asked as he continued to trace Cloe’s smooth skin with his fingertips, mesmerized by what he was seeing.

“I’m going to go get the blood that you ordered since we’re obviously going to need it,” Seth explained, drawing his attention away from Cloe.

“What are you talking about?” he asked with a frown as he glanced over his shoulder just as Seth stepped back inside carrying one of the large coolers that he’d tripped over earlier.

“We may not know what you are, but we do know that you drink blood, which means that she’s going to need it and probably a lot of it during her change,” Seth said as he headed for the locked refrigerator.

With a frown, he looked back at Cloe. “Will she be able to eat food?” he asked, hating the idea of a woman who loved food so much suddenly being forced to live on a diet of cold blood.

“That depends,” Seth said absently as he reached over and picked up an old hardcover copy of Huck Finn and opened it, revealing a hollowed out space where Christofer kept the small key for the lock on the refrigerator.

“On what?” he asked, gently brushing a few strands of hair away from Cloe’s face.

“On whether or not you can eat food,” Seth said, removing the lock and opening the refrigerator.

Shaking his head, he headed for the bathroom. “I can’t digest food.”

“Not at all?” Seth asked from the bedroom as Christofer searched for a clean basin and more facecloths.

“No,” he said absently, frowning as he filled the small plastic basin with warm water and soap as he tried to remember if he’d ever been able to handle food since his change.

He remembered that his appetite, something that hadn’t been very big to begin with, had started to dwindle around the time that he’d turned fourteen. It had disappeared almost completely by the time he’d turned fifteen and had been completely gone by the time he’d turned sixteen. He’d managed to hide it from his family, but that was probably only because he hadn’t appeared to be starving.

He hadn’t lost any weight, had any problems functioning or any of the symptoms that should have accompanied his lost interest in food. Instead he found himself hungry for something that he couldn’t name, but not to the point that he couldn’t function. By the time that he’d opened his eyes and discovered that he’d somehow become the property of the SS, that hunger had consumed him.

It only took him a few minutes to realize what his body craved and when he did, he’d panicked. He’d curled up into a ball on the cold, metal floor of his cage and struggled to ignore the mouthwatering aroma coming off the doctors, guards and vials that lined the tables set up in the center of the large lab. Instead, he’d tried to tell himself that it was all a bad dream and that he’d simply fallen asleep in front of the fire again and as soon as he woke up everything would be okay. Instead, one of the guards had noticed that he was finally awake and they’d done their best to redefine his definition of hell.

“What about liquids other than blood?” Seth asked as Christofer returned to Cloe’s side and began carefully washing away the blood.

“No,” he answered, his attention never leaving Cloe’s beautiful face as he wondered if she was going to turn out like him or if they’d simply found a way to heal her with his blood without destroying her life.

Chapter 20

“She wants to talk to you,” Seth announced as he jogged down the stairs, another large cooler in his arms.

“She’ll have to wait,” he said even as he opened up his senses and listened to Marta’s heartbeat, making sure that her heart wasn’t stressed. After a minute he blocked out everything, focusing back on Cloe. Her breaths were still shallow, but they’d evened out, giving him some hope.

“Can I ask you something?” Seth asked, sounding genuinely curious as he set up an IV pole, something that Christofer was unfortunately quite familiar with thanks to all the surgeries that Marta had been forced to endure over the years.

His first impulse was to tell Seth to mind his own f**king business, but then he remembered that he was in no position to refuse the vampire, not when he had so many questions of his own that needed answers. “What do you want to know?” he murmured as he sat by Cloe’s side, taking her cold hand into his.

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