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Dead and beyond, p.17
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       Dead and Beyond, p.17

           Jayde Scott
 
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  The darkness before my eyes lifted. The moon, a perfect semi circle, hid behind heavy rain clouds, but the light was enough to help me recognize the parking space, which led to the house perched on the cliffs overlooking the angry sea below. My first happy memories with Aidan invaded my mind.

  We came here right after I started working for him. I remembered the car drive and how confident and easy-going he had seemed. At that time I was too naïve to question why he moved so quickly from barely exchanging a word with me to wanting to date me. I didn’t know Aidan had watched me in London and naïve to question why he moved so quickly from barely exchanging a word with me to wanting to date me. I didn’t know Aidan had watched me in London and planned my arrival in Scotland so he could protect me, get me to fall in love with him and win the supernatural race, all at the same time. That night in that same house, I had fallen for him. Plan accomplished. Now I wondered about the purpose of this second visit.

  He was about to whack me.

  Or worse, tonight was the night when Rebecca would be taking over my body.

  Heck, for all I knew, he might be planning both.

  I held back a shriek at the thought and fought the urge to turn around and get the hell out of here. But I figured if I wanted to escape, I had to be cleverer than that. What was the point in running anyway when he’d chase right after me? As a bounty hunter, he’d find me in the blink of an eye.

  “Come on,” Aidan said, grabbing my hand and pulling me behind him. Slight impatience became evident in his voice.

  “I don’t want to.” I stood my ground. “Is that your surprise? Don’t you remember you brought me here already a few weeks ago?”

  “I know that.” He pulled again. I didn’t budge from the spot.

  “Maybe another time. I like it here outside so much better anyway.”

  “Amber, what’s wrong with you?” Aidan asked. “Just play along. You’re ruining my surprise.”

  Yeah, I bet I ruined more than that. Like his future with his beloved, the detached house in the suburbs and the two point four children. I wanted to scream in his face that he could have all of that, just not at my expense, but I didn’t. He pulled again and this time I followed because, as much as I valued my life, I knew I couldn’t fight fate. The guy was everything I had. I loved him to bits. If he preferred someone else, then he should have the happiness he craved. I’d die for him because I couldn’t bear to live without him.

  We reached the house and he opened the door. “I didn’t bother with a lock. Now that you know about our world, there’s no need to pretend, right?” He laughed softly. “Besides, everyone crossing this threshold knows they’re entering at their own peril.” I swallowed past the lump in my throat. Talk about dropping hints. Aidan held out his hand. “Please, after you.”

  Sudden panic grabbed hold of me, threatening to choke me. I shook my head as I looked at him imploringly. “Aidan, I know what you feel. I really do.

  When you’re in love you’d do anything to be with the other person, but I don’t deserve this.”

  “What are you talking about? Of course you do. You’ve been—” He moistened his lips as he struggled to find the right words. “Please, I’m not good at this.

  I’ve never done it before, so I don’t wanna mess it up.”

  I was convinced I understood him. He hadn’t killed someone like me before, but he didn’t want to mess up his chances of being with the psycho ex.

  Aidan pushed me gently but firmly in front of him, through the entrance and down the narrow hall, ignoring my half-hearted protests. We stopped in front of the door to the living room, and he grabbed the handle. In slow motion, I watched my life roll before my eyes. I was about to die and the guy couldn’t stop smiling.

  Was it so hard to pretend it pained him? Did it not sadden him? Not even a little?

  My panic turned into a rage I hadn’t felt in years. “I know what you’re about to do. You’re—” Aidan opened the door as I shouted “—killing me!”

  And then my gaze fell on the beautiful living room that was now turned into the most stunning office I had ever seen with countless candles lining the floor in the shape of a heart. The flickering candles mirrored in the dark glass, as though they were dancing for us. A huge glass desk was set up near the floor-to-ceiling windows running across the entire wall. On top of it was a silver frame featuring a snapshot of Aidan and me. I instantly wanted to lift it up and place a big, fat kiss on it. But what enthralled me the most was the huge stony fireplace set up right in the middle of the room in which bright flames leapt greedily at dry logs, creating that crackling and popping sound of burning wood that I adored.

  I stepped past Aidan into the room, my mind searching for answers as to how this could possibly fit in with my assumption that Aidan might be about to kill me.

  “Kill you?” Aidan said, touching my upper arm gently. I turned to face him. “Amber, what are you talking about? I thought you’d be thrilled to have your own office. And since this is my favorite view in the world, it might help inspire you to fulfill your dreams.” He shrugged, as though it was no biggie, but I knew it was. For once, I had to admit I had been wrong…and I couldn’t be happier about it. He didn’t spend his time away from me planning my demise but rather revamping this place so I’d feel comfortable. A surge of love rushed through me and I brushed a stray tear from the corner of my eye. My boyfriend wasn’t about to dump me. Our relationship was going stronger than ever.

  His raised eyebrows told me he was still waiting for an answer.

  “I meant, you’re killing me! This is breathtakingly beautiful.” I pointed around the room. “I don’t even know what to say, except thank you and I love you so much.” I rose on my toes to plant a kiss on his lips. As usual, he had to meet me halfway.

  “My girlfriend deserves the best, which is why Kieran and I made this for you. Of course it was mostly me since he’s been busy hooking up with Patricia.”

  Aidan walked over to the white leather sofas on the left side of the room and retrieved a gift bag, then handed it to me.

  “What is it?” I asked, pulling out a large packet wrapped in red tissue with tiny silver hearts.

  “Open it.”

  No need to tell me twice. I removed the wrapping carefully, making sure not to damage the paper so I could keep it forever, and peered at the pair of designer jeans I cherished so much because they really made my butt look awesome.

  “You said how much you miss doing normal things like shopping and since you ruined your favorite pair jumping out of that window—” His voice trailed off. The tiniest trace of a blush covered his cheeks. He was so cute when he was embarrassed.

  “Thank you. Again.” I wrapped my arms around him and buried my face against his chest so he wouldn’t see the shame in my eyes. I couldn’t believe I almost ruined my chances with the most gorgeous guy in the world by turning into a suspicious nutter. I vowed never to doubt him again.

  “Wanna try it on?” Aidan asked. “I got you the right size.”

  I looked at the label and groaned inwardly. The guy knew my real size? Why didn’t I think of removing the labels before I started dating him? I had just committed a horrible beginner’s mistake. According to Cosmo’s dating advice, a boyfriend must never know the size you’re wearing because men have great spatial visualization based on numbers, hence can easily picture sizes, which might just cancel out the more flattering result of being in love and seeing everything through pink-colored glasses. The plan is to tell him the usual supermodel size, add the very generous number two, and that’s the answer he should be given upon inquiring about one’s size, particularly if you don’t have a killer body like my friends Clare and Sofia.

  “Uh, yeah, they might be a tad too large,” I said.

  “Are you sure?”

  I slapped his arm playfully. “Aidan, I know my body better than you do.”

  “You’re right. I’ll take them back and exchange them for whatever you want.”


  “Nah, it’s okay. They’re bound to get smaller after a couple of washes.” He looked so horribly disappointed, I swallowed down the sudden lump in my throat. No lies between us. “Oh, toss it. You got the right size, I just don’t want you to know it.”

  “Why?” A lazy smile spread across his lips. I stared at his tiny dimple I adored so much as he continued, “You’re gorgeous. Everyone else’s beauty pales in comparison to yours.”

  I wondered whether he meant it or just tried to please me.

  I wondered whether he meant it or just tried to please me.

  “I mean every word,” Aidan whispered, sensing my thoughts. Something flickered in his gaze—an all-consuming fire that burned just for me. He brushed my hair out of my eyes and cupped my face as he lowered his lips onto mine. I pulled him on the sofa and began unbuttoning his shirt. For the first time in my life I had no doubt I was doing the right thing.

  Chapter 22

  Aidan and I spent the night at the cottage, but we didn’t get intimate straight away because he insisted on teleporting back to the house to get a few things, claiming he’d be back in five. I tapped my fingers against the cold leather of the sofa, anxiously awaiting his return. My whole body was on fire; even my scalp seemed to burn from so much tension. This was the moment I had been picturing over and over again in the last few weeks, and now that it had finally arrived it felt surreal. As though it wasn’t happening to me but to someone else.

  I draped myself over the sofa, propping my head up on my elbow, only to sit up a second later. What was I doing? I couldn’t look seductive if my life depended on it, so I decided to go with the girl next-door look. Be cute and funny, behave like it isn’t a big deal. I nodded enthusiastically at my own thoughts.

  Yeah, I could do that. Only too late did I notice Aidan had already returned with countless pillows and a blanket, and was regarding me amused as he pushed another log into the burning fire. I realized he hadn’t bothered to put his shirt back on. My gaze lingered on his broad chest, smooth and perfect with clearly defined muscles he could only have acquired through lots of exercise. I wanted to bury one hand in his dark hair and let the other trail down his chest to feel, maybe even taste his skin. My tongue flicked over my lips in response, eager to fulfill my brain’s suggestion.

  “You look a little flustered. Are you okay?” Aidan asked with a smirk. Clearly, the guy knew he looked good and he had no intention to claim otherwise.

  Heat rushed to my face, scorching my skin. Thank Goodness it was semi-dark and he might not catch it, but I knew I was kidding myself. Aidan sensed everything.

  “Yeah. I was just removing lint from my top. It tends to bother me a lot,” I said. “You’d think for the price I paid for it you’d actually get good quality.”

  Smiling, he ambled over, his blue gaze, now the color of dark sapphires, focused on me. My mouth went dry while my hands turned all clammy.

  “Maybe we should teach your top a lesson for misbehaving. Let’s get you out of it and buy a new one tomorrow.” His voice came low and husky. I nodded and opened my mouth to offer my assistance but he didn’t seem to need my help pulling my shirt over my head. My fingers trailed up and down his naked torso, my mind marveling at how strong he seemed. In the soft light, I could make out a few scars that had healed and faded but never disappeared. I meant to ask him about those when his hot mouth met mine and drew me into the sweetest and most breathtaking kiss I ever had. By the time he finished, my mind was reeling and I was seeing stars. Literally.

  Outside the window, a million stars dotted the night sky. I had never seen so many in my life.

  I sat up mesmerized and whispered, “You were right. This is the most beautiful view ever.”

  “Second most beautiful view. It could never compare with you,” Aidan whispered, drawing a circle on my shoulder. A shiver of pleasure ran down my spine. I leaned back into him, wishing we could just merge into one being.

  That’s the moment I saw it for the first time: a tiny silver thread, sparkling like diamonds, enveloping Aidan and me. Drawing us together.

  Bonded for life. Forever and beyond.

  “I guess this is our proof,” Aidan whispered. “We’re officially in love. It sure took you an eternity to fall for my charm.”

  I smiled and wrapped my arms around him as I pulled him on top of me. “No, it didn’t. I fell for you the moment I saw you. I was just really good at hiding it.”

  Chapter 23

  Spending the night with Aidan felt so natural, so right. As our passionate kisses became more intense, our bodies moving in accord, I knew I had been wrong thinking my sudden bloodlust had anything to do with Aidan’s magic. Whatever was happening to me was definitely not his fault. The magic infused gates didn’t break the Shadows’ ritual either. And finally, I realized even though turning into a vampire had never featured on my bucket list, as in Top 100 Things To Do Before I Die, it was actually a blessing rather than a curse because I’d get to be with the man of my dreams for the rest of my existence.

  In the morning, when the first rays of the rising sun spilled through the windows, I knew I had to talk to him about my bloodlust but he looked so content I just couldn’t spoil our first night together, and hopefully one of many more to come.

  “You’re perfect,” Aidan whispered, wrapping his arms around my waist as he joined me at the window to watch the silent sea hundreds of feet below us.

  Bright sunrays bounced off the crystal blue water. Seagulls circled the sky, their cries filling the air. Everything looked so peaceful and serene, the complete opposite of last night’s high tide when the sea had hit the stony cliffs angrily, covering everything in a blanket of gray foam.

  “Thank you. So are you.” I snuggled against him and took a deep breath of his manly scent, wishing I could hold it forever. “Do you think we could come here more often?”

  He laughed softly. “That’s not up to me to decide, babe. It’s your place now. If you invite me, I certainly won’t say no.”

  “In that case you have a lifelong request to pop over as often as possible.” I turned to meet his beautiful blue eyes fringed by dark lashes. I wanted to kiss him so badly it hurt, but I was barefoot and he was so impossibly tall I had to settle on tapping the tip of his nose with my finger. “It’s a great responsibility, so don’t take it lightly.”

  “I promise I won’t,” he said. “But are you sure you really want to extend a lifelong invitation to a vampire? He’ll be able to cross your threshold any time he so desires. He could even teleport without your knowing and hide in the shadows to watch you because he can’t get enough of your beauty. And finally, he might even decide to visit at the most inappropriate hours, such as during working hours, or when he feels he just can’t take another second without you.”

  “Yeah, I think I want that.” I nodded. “In fact, let’s make it an invitation valid forever and beyond.”

  ***

  Like everything in life that’s so beautiful it takes your breath away, our perfect time together came to an end quicker than I wanted. By noon we returned to the safety of Aidan’s mansion. Last night’s events still burned bright in my memory, making me feel all giddy and loved up, and even a bit shy. Aidan felt the same way not including the shy part because the guy knew no shame. He couldn’t keep his hands off of me. It took us a while to reach his bedroom on the upper floor because we couldn’t stop kissing and touching each other.

  “I need to get back to the Lore court and finish this Layla assignment,” Aidan said eventually.

  I pouted. “I miss you already.”

  “Me too, babe.” He pulled me into his bedroom and closed the door behind us. I honestly thought he changed his mind at the last minute so I dropped down on his brocade bed, ready to take off my clothes again. Unfortunately, Aidan stopped me. “I’d love to, but there’s no time. There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.”

  I pushed up on my elbows as I regarded him intently. What could possibly be more import
ant than a roll in his clean and expensive sheets, which always smelled of musk and him? I could actually live in those.

  “I haven’t found Seth yet,” Aidan started, sitting down next to me, interrupting my thoughts.

  “You’ll find him eventually.”

  Aidan shook his head. “You don’t understand. Do you remember why Thrain couldn’t find Sofia in Rio?”

  I nodded, thinking back to our trip to Brazil not too long ago. “Her ex cast some sort of magic around her so the shape shifter couldn’t track her down. But he did, eventually. Thrain’s not even a professional. But you are, so I’m pretty sure you’ll find him sooner or later.” I leaned in for a kiss. He averted his gaze. I sighed and decided I might just give up right now because there was no point in trying to seduce him into bed. When broody Aidan was in his working mode, he was worse than the cute rabbit from the Duracell adverts that, once you inserted the batteries, couldn’t be stopped for hours.

  Aidan ran a hand through his hair, hesitating. “You know Cass asked me to help track Sofia down because Thrain couldn’t get her scent. What I never told you is how I track down whatever I’m supposed to find.”

  “You use a GPS?”

  “No.” He grinned. “I have something much better.” Fishing in his pocket, he retrieved a tiny object and placed it in my palm. Stunned, I peered down at the gold ring with an emerald stone in a marquise setting adorned with tiny leaves and flowers. It looked just like the ring on the ghost’s finger.

  Just like Rebecca’s.

  My laughter died in my throat.

  “Witch’s blood,” Aidan explained. “It was infused into melted gold to create three rings that would track down everything, from objects to people, dead or alive.”

  My finger traced the stone as thick as a fingernail. I regarded him, horrified. “You killed a witch to get her blood?”

 
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