"Sorry I’m late." I took a seat next to Darius, our newest recruit.
The director moved around to the head of the table. "I was just introducing Darius to Agent Sanchez."
Darius dramatically unfurled his wings. "It’s a pleasure to meet you, Agent Sanchez."
Alex’s breath hitched. I normally loved it when it did that.
I didn’t have to look at Darius to know that his sky blue eyes were gleaming, his shoulder length golden hair glowing, and his skin radiating with the luminescence of the divine. The preening asshole was predictably pulling out all the stops.
He stood up and extended his hand.
"Likewise." Alex reached across the table, accepting his offer graciously. She was the consummate professional, the type that dotted every i and crossed every t. She knew policy and protocol. She knew how to handle a gun, how to handle herself, and how to handle every inch of me.
"Nice to have you back, Renfield." Darius sat back down. His wings snapped back with a flourish and disappeared behind him.
Alex’s eyes widened as she watched a single white feather, tipped with gold, drift down onto the table between us.
I brushed it onto the floor. "You’re molting."
Darius shrugged. "You know what they say. Out with the old, in with the new." He leaned back in his chair, legs stretched out casually in front of him. "By the way, the printer’s been jamming all week, I don’t think the regular repairman quite has the same touch as you. Maybe you could work a little magic?"
Consummate sorcerer that I am, I flipped Darius the magic bird. I should have been on top of the world. I’d just returned from a successful month-long mission and had spent last night in Alex’s bed, in Alex’s body. Instead I was filled with apprehension.
I didn’t understand why she was here and I feared the answer. Alex and I had met a few months ago during a case. It was a temporary assignment my father had secretly arranged. He’d suspected Alex was actually Sophie, the long-lost daughter of an immortal who had been aiding him in the revolution to mainstream our race. It turned out, as usual, that dear old Dad was right. Alex was Sophie. That also made her unequivocally Chosen, a human child born of a forbidden mating between a human female and an immortal male...a male vampire like me.
"You already know Agent Renfield," the director said.
Alex nodded. "Forgive me, Director, but why am I here?"
That’s my girl, straight to the point.
The director’s face hardened. He wasn’t use to being questioned. He ruled his little kingdom with an iron hand, doling out information as he saw fit and in his own time.
"We have an opening on our team," he said.
I sat up. "Who?"
"Katrina crossed over. She’s gone. Her business here is finished."
Katrina, like the director, had long been dead. She was a ghost and, if you believed the rhetoric, stuck on this planet until she tied up whatever loose end Peter deemed necessary to tip the scales one way or another. Had she known for the past twenty years what she needed to do? No. It was said Peter, if he really existed, liked to keep such things to himself.
"Surely you aren’t proposing to offer the position to Alex."
"You have an objection?"
"Damn right I do!"
"Interesting. Your closing report made Alex sound very capable."
Darius leaned across the table, and made a show of studying her intently. "And I have to say, Alex looks very capable."
Alex’s heart rate quickened. I told myself it was due to the scrutiny and not his finely chiseled cheekbones and dazzling smile.
"Alex is right here," she said, pushing back from the table. "Do you mind?" She walked over to the side table that forever held coffee and doughnuts.
"Help yourself," the director said smoothly.
This morning she’d chosen to pair a conservative charcoal grey skirt with a matching silk blouse. Her hair was pulled back into a French twist and her make-up, as always, was subtle. But underneath it all was the wicked red and black lace lingerie. In excruciating detail I remembered how she’d looked standing in front of her closet, sliding into her patent leather pumps while wearing the ensemble, matching bra and panties, garter belt and sheer stockings. I discreetly adjusted my dick as Alex poured herself a generous cup.
"The opening, you propose to have me fill it?" she asked.
"Yes," the director replied.
"No!" I rose from my chair. "It’s too dangerous. Alex isn’t equipped to work—"
"She was once. She could be again. You could arrange it. Preferably something more subtle than the last spell."
"Alex doesn’t want to live a life cloaked by magics."
Alex had been under what she’d come to think of as a curse. In reality, it had been a protection spell. But like most dark magic, it had come with unintended consequences. When our last mission was over, I broke the spell, freeing her and complicating things between us tremendously.
If the director knew about the broken spell, he probably knew about us, that Alex and I had become lovers. I held my breath and waited for the other shoe to drop.
"Perhaps she’s changed her mind." He turned to Alex. "Surely you’ve had time to miss it, dear, the extra...endurance. Knowing no matter what happened you’d come out unscathed. What if we could arrange it so that you could take a pounding, but feel no pain, incur no injuries, experience only pleasure?"
My blood turned cold. The bastard had either been in Alex’s bedroom last night, or he had it under surveillance. Just last night she’d expressed concern about my protecting her, shielding, holding back during sex, resisting the natural impulse to bite her and in doing so hiding a part of my self. "You can’t do that."
"No. But you can. It won’t be a hardship. What you have is unsatisfying. Admit it. This will give you something you both want."
I did want her blood, but I didn’t need it and despite her growing desire, I wasn’t going to take it. Blood doesn’t sustain us. It’s more like a drug, intoxicating, lowering our inhibitions and making us impulsive. It’s addicting. I knew once I’d had it, I’d want more. I wasn’t ready to be that committed, that dependent and I loved Alex far too much to treat her like food.
"You have no idea what I want."
The director smiled. "No, you have no idea what you want."
"Tread lightly," I warned him. "Or you will have yet another position to fill."
"While you’ve been away we’ve been working another case. We just got a lead. We can get this guy, but we need a human on the team in order to do it. I know the two of you can be convincing together."
"What kind of operation are we talking about?" Alex asked.
"It doesn’t matter," I interjected.
"It does matter," Darius said.
I glared at him with newfound contempt. His presence here wasn’t a coincidence. He was here to be a pain in my ass, I could feel it.
The director pushed a file folder across the table toward Alex. "You’ve heard of the Blood Bath Killer?"
She opened the file and began to flip through the photos, studying each one with a critical eye. "I worked with Sullivan Cross to profile the killer. But that was quite a while ago and something you already knew."
The director smiled. "There was a piece of information you didn’t have then."
Alex looked up. "What’s that?"
"The victims, every one of them, were Chosen, like you. And they were all supplying blood regularly to an immortal."
"No, just feeders. We know who the killer is, but our evidence is circumstantial. We need your help in order to get something more solid."
"You want to use Alex as bait," I said.
Darius pushed back from the table. "I can protect her."
"How?" Alex asked.
Instead of answering Alex, the director addressed me. "If you don’t want to reinstitute the spell, Darius will become her Guardian."
"Only if she wants me." The angel was standing quietly in front of the window, bathed in light.
"Do you really think we can catch this guy?" Alex asked the director.
She held up her hand to silence me. "Do you really think we can catch him?"
"You fit the profile. If we’ve got it right, and we think we do, he won’t be able to resist you."
Alex spread open the collar of her blouse and exposed her neck. "I don’t fit the profile. I’ve never been bitten."
"That problem could easily be overcome." Collin had slipped into the room unnoticed. I hated it when he got the drop on me like that. He was immortal, not because he bought into the cannon or was in pursuit of redemption. He’d been a feeder for longer than my father had been alive. To him, humans were a valuable commodity to be collected, fed from, and fucked. He’d never consider mating with one and I’d never consider letting him within ten feet of Alex.
"Elu Ezubu Arhis Sube’u." A blast of ice-cold air rose up from within me, propelling Collin backwards, and slamming him into the door.
Suddenly the director was by my side. "Let him go, Agent Renfield."
I had no intention of releasing him, not until I made my point. I walked up to Collin. "You volunteering, Collin?"
"If you need for me to, I’ll step up to the plate, Dell."
"You opportunistic bastard."
"You know it wouldn’t mean anything."
He was right, it wouldn’t. That was part of the problem. Alex deserved to have it mean something, to have it mean everything, no regret, no hesitation, no doubt.
The director stepped in front of me. "Let him go. That’s an order, Agent Renfield."
"You’re not to touch her. Do we understand one another?" I hissed.
I released him.
"We’ve always understood one another," he said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a small box. He placing the box on the conference room table, then turned to the director. "It tested fine."
"May I take this file?" Alex asked.
The director nodded. "Of course."
"I’d like to review it." She slipped it into her briefcase. "Can I call you when I’m through? I’d like to hear the details of your proposal, Agent Darius."
"Call me anytime," he said.
Alex once again addressed the director. "How quickly do you want to move on this?"
"Tonight’s the full moon. If he stays true to form he’ll be on the prowl."
"But where?" I asked.
"That’s where we got lucky," interjected Darius. "Jessie Cartwright, the author, is hosting her annual vampire ball. She does it every Halloween. Our guy bought a ticket months ago."
"There will be hundreds of women there."
He pulled two tickets from his pocket and held them out to Alex. "But I’m betting none will smell as sweet or be as tempting as you."
"He’s immortal?" she asked.
Darius smiled. "That’s why we’re involved."
I placed my hand at the small of Alex’s back. "We’ll be in touch," I told them before guiding her out the door.
"Agent Renfield!" It was Collin. He was holding the box. "This is for you. It might influence your decision."
As soon as the elevator doors closed, Alex turned to face me. With a wave of my hand I erected a shield and stopped our egress, we were cocooned in silence, hearts pounding.
"How long do you think they’ve known?" Alex asked me.
I ran my hand through my hair. "I don’t know. And before you ask, I have no idea how they found out."
"I want to get this guy, Dell." Of course she did.
"Alex, you don’t have to—"
"I want to." She pulled the file out of her bag and offered it to me. "You read this from cover to cover, then look me in the eye and tell me you don’t."
I took the file from her, then wrapped my arm around her waist and backed her up against the wall. "I hate it when you interrupt me."
I crushed my lips to hers in a possessive kiss that I hoped would telegraph the need I sometimes had trouble putting into words. As my tongue slipped inside her mouth her arms wound around my neck and she made one of those little mewling sounds. No matter how hard I was, that sound had the ability to make me harder still.
"Wait!" she gasped.
"We’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do."
I reached down for the edge of her skirt and started to inch it up. "I know what to do. I want you, Alex."
She glanced at the surveillance camera mounted in the far corner of the elevator.
"Petu." In the blink of an eye we were catapulted through space and time, caught up in a vortex that teleported us to the safety of my bedroom. The instant we landed Alex pushed me away. She was breathless, but not from passion. The force of the wind and surge of energy had left her unsteady and she faltered. "I’ve got you." I eased her onto the bed. She was pale and trembling.
"You promised, Dell!"
"That doesn’t count." I’d sworn I wouldn’t use magic on her without her consent. When she’d made the request, I’d understood it. Alex had lived much of her life cloaked in a protective shield that she’d come to view as a prison. Entering into a relationship with someone who could at the drop of a hat place her back there required trust. "Does it?"
"Yes, it counts. You used magic on me!"
I sat down next to her and took her hand in mine. "I’m sorry."
"Are you sorry because you broke your promise or because it killed the mood."
Women are complicated. Alex is even more complicated than most. I’d given up trying to figure her out. It was far simpler to stick to the truth. "Both."
Alex leaned her head on my shoulder. "I’ve missed you. I’m glad you’re back."
"It would be nice to work together again."
"We do make a good team." I turned to face her. "How do you feel about the possibility of reinstituting the spell?"
"How do you feel about the possibility of having Darius become my Guardian and having another vampire mark me?"
I headed for the kitchen. "Homicidal?" I pulled a beer out of the fridge, twisted off the cap, then took a long drink.
"I’m serious, Dell. Talk to me. Explain what it means."
I picked up the take-out menu that I kept next to the phone. "Are you hungry? I didn’t get lunch today. How does Chinese sound?"
Alex grabbed my beer. "Chinese sounds great." She took a swallow and slipped out of her pumps. "Orange Chicken, extra egg rolls. I’m gonna take a bath."
"Then we’ll figure this out?"
"Yeah, then we’ll figure this out."
I couldn’t believe what was in the box. The package fell out my coat pocket when I retrieved my wallet to pay the delivery boy. I cracked open another beer and held the condom up to the light. At first I wasn’t quite sure what it was. Now I was certain. I slipped it into my mouth and then took a sip of the ice-cold ale. It dribbled out of my mouth and down my chin. Not a drop went down my throat or touched my tongue. It would allow me to mark Alex without tasting her blood, to give into my impulse to bite her, and her desire to have me penetrate her completely without any of the dark and permanent consequences.
I wasn’t ready for permanent, neither was Alex. But we were both ready for more, both wanting more. My father had told me we were playing with fire. I thought having her would quench my thirst. But each encounter served only to fan the flames. Even when I’d been away from her, she’d occupied my every thought. Deep down I knew she was the one. It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when.
"Is the food here yet?"
I turned around. Alex was standing in the doorway to my bedroom. She was completely nude, backlit by the glow of flickering flames, droplets of water still glistening on her luscious body.
"The candles by the bed were a nice touch," she added.
In the blink of an eye I was on her. Arm around her waist, hand fisted in her long chestnut locks, body bowed, neck bared, invitingly, enticingly. I let my sheathed fangs lightly scrape across the full mounds of her breast then over her collarbone.
"I want you to let me mark you. No one else, Alex. Me."
I felt her pulse quicken. The scent of her arousal hit my nostrils, making my cock hard and my mouth water.
I lifted her into my arms and carried her to the bed. Laying her down on the clean, white sheets.
"Dell?" Her voice was tenuous, uncertain. "Are you sure? I don’t want you to do something you’ll regret. Collin said he’d do it, and it wouldn’t have to mean anything."
My eyes met hers. I removed my tie and quickly divested myself of my shirt. "But it should mean something. I opened the gift from Collin."
Alex’s hands were working furiously to unbuckle my belt and pull down my zipper. My cock spilled out into her waiting hands. She gripped it with confidence and gave it a squeeze that made my eyes roll up.
"Let’s not talk about Collin," she said as she parted her lips and sucked me inside.
Her mouth was warm and wet and I so loved to fuck it. But that wasn’t what I wanted tonight. That wasn’t how I wanted to do this. After a few thrusts I pushed Alex back and pulled away.
"What’s wrong?" she asked.
I toed off my shoes, then removed my trousers and socks. I wanted to feel her, skin on skin, to lie on top of her, every inch of my body connecting with hers. "Nothing’s wrong."
I took her hand in mine and lifted it to my mouth, sucking her fingertips gingerly inside. She pulled them out. "What is it?"
"Something that will let me bite you without actually consuming your blood. It’ll get the job done and I won’t have to hold back anymore. I can give you what you crave, what you want, what I want."
"And what is it you want," she asked, falling back against the pillows, and enticingly parting her knees.
I crawled up the length of her body until I was on top of her, my cock poised at her entrance, my eyes looking steadily into hers. "You. I want you," I told her slipping inside her pussy.
Alex tilted her hips and wrapped her legs around my hips. "You have me." She lifted her hand to caress the side of my face. "Do it, baby."
"When you come," I whispered into the shell of her ear.
"I’m so close." She was trembling beneath me, her body taut with anticipation.
I leaned up and angled my hips so that with each thrust the base of my cock teased her clit.
"Oh, God," she gasped.
I reached under her knee, opened her further, and drove in deeper. Her nails scraped my back as she held on tight, searching for purchase, pushing back, meeting every thrust. A rumble started from somewhere in the recesses of my chest. My belly was a mass of coils, tightly wound. Alex arched up, head thrown back, screaming my name as the orgasm that had been building washed over her.
That’s when I let go, pouring my seed and sinking my fangs into her. With the double penetration she went again, longer and harder than ever before. Her cunt clenched around my cock, milking me as I sucked her essence into my mouth. The scent of blood and sex was thick and sweet. It spilled onto the pristine sheets creating a tableau that I thought would forever fuel my fantasies.
"I love you," she whispered, weakly.
I pulled back and smiled. "I love you too, baby. Was it everything you thought it would be?"
"More." She lifted her hand to her neck. "But I’m starting to feel dizzy."
She was still bleeding profusely. "Shit!"
"Why isn’t it stopping?"
I pulled the condom from my mouth and tossed it aside, then reached for my discarded shirt. "I’m going to apply pressure, Alex."
"That’s not going to work."
He quickly shed his suit coat and stripped off his shirt. "It’s Collin or me."
Alex’s eyes were darting back and forth between us. "Dell?"
"I can heal her with magic. I’ve done it before." I’d brought Alex back from the brink of death when she’d been shot a few months ago, but it had taken a shitload of power and a spell I’d said I’d never use. "Let me tap into your energy."
"My power isn’t mine and you know it. It’s of no use to you."
"You set us up. Where’s Collin, standing out in the hallway? He knew it would come to this. You knew it would come to this."
"I know what’s supposed to be."
"Bullshit! I can fix this." I knew what I needed to do. Every cell in my body was pulling me toward the solution, toward the seeping wound. I needed to lick it clean, to lap at the blood, to sooth her, save her. A defiant roar burst forth as I dove for Alex’s neck. Only I didn’t make it. Before my tongue reached it’s goal Darius grabbed a fistful of my hair.
"When you taste her, it should mean something. You don’t need to cast aside your convictions, merely your pride. She called to me. She’s calling to me still. Leave us." His wings unfurled as he moved onto the bed kneeling alongside Alex. One wing dipped down, feathers sliding through the pool of blood and slipping underneath Alex’s rapidly paling body.
"I’m not leaving. No fucking way."
I felt the brush of feathers across my shoulders, then fluttering down my back, cupping my ass, enveloping me, drawing me in. "Then stay," he whispered, dipping his head down to place a kiss on Alex’s mouth. It was tender, chaste and the moment he did it something passed between us. Something like magic, only not. When Darius pulled back he turned to look at me, eyes effulgent, shining with an inner radiance. I fell into them. There was no malice, no darkness. Only light and love and peace, which he released into my mouth with a sigh.
A rush of warmth flowed through me, at once calming and arousing. Like warm butter it flowed from the center of my being to my outermost extremities.
The center of Alex’s body lifted up, seeking out my touch. She gasped, her breath thready. She was slipping away.
"Do whatever you need to do," I whispered. Tears leaked from my eyes and dropped onto her nude body, so beautiful, so familiar, and suddenly so mortally close to leaving this world.
Darius reached for my hand and placed it on her breast, encouraging me to palm it as he leaned down and lapped at the wound, erasing the evidence of my folly.
Alex gasped, writhing beneath me, feeling pleasure, not pain. I stole a glance at Darius. He was going about his task with a purposeful intensity but he was not unaffected, not unaware. His hand slipped around my neck, his long fingers lacing through the locks of hair at the base of my skull and guiding my head down the length of her body. His wings stroking my backside, encouraging me as I peppered her body with hot, open-mouthed kisses. The scent of blood became overpowered by that of her passion.
I cupped her mound. Alex flexed her hips, seeking out friction. I peered up at her from between her legs, my mouth a hairsbreadth from her weeping cunt.
She was looking down at me, her eyes shining bright, her skin glowing, pristine, perfect. There was not a drop of blood to be seen. One of her hands traveled from the site of my mark, slowly down over her ripe and rosy nipples, to the lips in front of me. Her other was holding onto Darius, her fingers digging into his thigh.
His eyes here closed, lips parted, hair splayed out across the pillow next to Alex. The sharp features of his face had softened, but his dick was anything but, the rigid outline of it was evident, encased in his precisely tailored trousers.
"She needs to release the energy," he said, his voice rough with want as he fisted the bed sheets in his hands. "Take care of her."
And I did without hesitation. I eagerly wet my lips, separated her folds, then dove in, licking, sucking, fucking her core with my tongue. She tasted like honey, warm, sticky sweet and oh-so-delicious. I made her come with my mouth, then again with my cock. She was insatiable, unabashed, unashamed, climbing with me to the ultimate, elusive peak. I was helpless to do anything but blindingly follow, holding on. I was resolved to give her what she wanted, what she needed and I did. Until we both collapsed, a tangle of sated limbs, slipping into unconsciousness, slick with sweat, sore from exertion, safe in the arms of an angel.
"Congratulations, Agent Sanchez. You nailed him," said the director.
"We nailed him." Alex slipped her hand into mine.
The director tossed a file folder onto my desk. "Your report seems to be missing some important details, Agent Renfield."
I smiled. "You know everything you need to know."
"I need to know if my agent is a feeder. If you are, provisions on assignment need to be made."
"And there’s no spell?"
Alex shook her head. "No spell."
The director looked across the room, his gaze landing on Darius. "The two of you are okay?"
Darius looked up, his eyes met mine.
I gave Alex’s hand a squeeze. "Never been better."
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