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Dead and beyond, p.3
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       Dead and Beyond, p.3

           Jayde Scott
 
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  “Maybe it’s some sort of new bloodsucker ability.”

  He shook his head. “Did you—” His voice trailed off, but our telepathic connection finished the sentence in my head.

  “Drink?” I groaned, irritated by his implication. “Of course not. You’re such a moron. You know I’m not some blood-crazed monster roaming the streets at night in search of my next victim.” I scoffed. “Unlike someone I know.”

  “Come on. That’s hardly fair. It was a long time ago.” He cocked a brow meaningfully. “Did someone offer? Some people would give anything to become what we are.”

  “Stop flattering yourself. I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation.”

  “Like?”

  I bit my lip, deep in thought. “It’s a necromancer thing.”

  “Yeah.” He nodded, but I could tell by the frown lines on his face he wasn’t convinced. Sofia shot me a hesitant smile. I ignored her as I turned to Cass and the girl heading for us. With her long, curly hair and freckled skin, she was the spitting image of Cass, but two dress and cup sizes bigger.

  Cass pushed her forward, ready to start the introductions. “Patty, this is Amber, her boyfriend, Aidan. You know Soph already. Guys, this is Patricia. You can call her Patty or Muffin.”

  Patty laughed as she grabbed me in a tight hug as though we were already best friends.

  “You’re her aunt, the Seer?” I asked. “I thought you were locked up in a haunted bakery.”

  Patty rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I get that a lot. Followed by, why are you two the same age? What’s with the extra pounds? How did you escape your prison?

  Let’s just say, I’m on parole.”

  “The Big Boss—” Cass pointed at the ceiling “—has decided to give her the night off since our birthdays are on the same day. At the stroke of midnight she’ll be whisked off in a huge pumpkin back to the Swiss Alps. Isn’t that very Cinderella?”

  “She made the pumpkin part up, but everything else is true.” Patty spun in a circle and took a few exaggerated breaths. “That’s what freedom tastes like. Me likey.”

  Aidan shot me an amused look. “You two could be twins, Cass.”

  “You should’ve seen us before Patty fell into the chocolate muffin dough,” Cass said.

  My jaw dropped. Granted, Patty was a bit chubby, but only Cass could be so blunt. Patty didn’t seem to mind though. “Do you have any idea what it’s like being stuck somewhere and having no one to talk to, except for a napping cat?” she asked, grinning. “Oh, wait. You will soon enough. Trust me, once you’re stuck with your dad for the next fifty years or so, you can say goodbye to that waist of yours.”

  I peered from one to the other as I tried to make sense of their banter. Both being fallen angels, Cass’s curse was similar to Patty’s. Both had to find and marry their soul mates in order to be able to leave what they called their ‘prisons’. Cass had found her soul mate in my brother, who wouldn’t wed, dead or alive.

  As far as I was aware, Patty hadn’t met hers yet.

  “I like the weird lenses. They’re mint,” Cass said, pointing at my eyes.

  “Who’s the chick?” Kieran asked behind me a moment before his shove sent me tumbling into Aidan. I rubbed my shoulder out of habit and prepared to push him back, but his expression stopped me. He looked strange; his face was flushed, his eyes sparkled as though he was coming down with the fever or something. “I’m Kieran. You must be a hell of a thief because you stole my heart from across the room,” he said to Patricia, ignoring everyone else. Even though I wasn’t surprised at his blatant attempt at picking up the girl, for the first time I thought I heard a tiny tremor in his voice.

  “Is he nervous?” I whispered in Aidan’s ear.

  “Looks like it,” he replied with a frown, regarding Kieran up and down. “I think he’s losing his style. I can’t believe it’s the same guy who told me to play hard to get when I was trying to win your heart.”

  “You asked your brother for dating advice?” Cass’s hoot rang through the air. I laughed with her because it was kind of hilarious. Kieran might be hot and women threw themselves at his feet, but he couldn’t keep a girlfriend if his life depended on it. And his pick up lines sucked. His worst one yet: Congratulations!

  You have just been voted ‘Most Beautiful Girl In This Room’ and the grand prize is a night with me! That one still had me crying with laughter.

  Kieran inched closer to Patricia, his arm already wrapped around her waist. The creep was obviously taking advantage of her. I would’ve slapped him in a heartbeat, but something stopped me. The poor girl had been locked up in a haunted bakery for two years. She was probably thankful for the bit of attention coming from a good-looking yet extremely cheesy guy. Who was I to deny her a bit of fun?

  “You smell like—” Kieran took a whiff and closed his eyes as though to savor her scent.

  “Dough and baking powder?” Cass prompted.

  “No.” He shook his head, his eyes boring into Patricia’s, whose cheeks were just as flushed. “Roses and a warm summer rain.” Patricia giggled. He continued unfazed by Cass’s scowl, “What’s the name of your perfume? Catch of the Day?”

  Cass’s gaze moved from Patty to Kieran and then back to Patty, her face slowly turning into a mask of fury. “No way! This isn’t happening. Whoa, get him away from her. It’s like watching a dog drool all over a pretty dress. Just gross.”

  “Did she just call me a pretty dress?” Patricia said.

  Kieran laughed. “What can I say? Cass always had an amazing way with words. But she’s a good friend, so she’s forgiven.”

  “In your dreams, moron. Maybe when Hell freezes over,” Cass spat.

  “Come on,” I said, pulling her away.

  She struggled against my iron grip. “I don’t want to go. He’s doing that thing of his, and it’s just gross. I’m not letting him bang Patty.”

  “No one’s banging anyone,” I whispered, peering at Cass’s father who stood across the room, paying us no attention.

  Cass looked barking mad. Luckily, she wouldn’t receive her fallen angels powers for the next couple hours, or I might’ve needed to call in reinforcement.

  But even without her powers she didn’t follow me out without putting up a fight.

  “No, you don’t understand. I can see the silver thread between them. He’s her bonded mate,” she hissed.

  “No, you don’t understand. I can see the silver thread between them. He’s her bonded mate,” she hissed.

  “That’s just your fear talking,” I said. Aidan grinned as he grabbed her other arm and helped me pull her into the hall.

  “Not fear. My worst nightmare,” Cass yelled. “I’d rather she spent her days locked up in that bakery than hook up with him. He’s an idiot. He cannot, must not hang out with her.”

  Ignoring the party guests all around us, I forced her to look at me. “Even if it were true, you can’t change it.”

  Her stunning green eyes widened. “Of course I can.”

  “No, Cass,” Aidan said slowly. “You’re not getting involved.”

  “Why not? You’re just saying that because you’re his brother and you want the moron to hook up with my family.”

  My gaze implored Aidan to tread carefully. Cass had a short temper and she never forgot. Apparently, she wasn’t just anyone because even the Shadows feared her. So she had to have some major legacy up her sleeve that would surface eventually, and I didn’t want her wrath unleashed on my boyfriend.

  “I’m not saying that because I’m his brother. I just don’t want her to hate you.”

  I could see Cass’s mind working, weighing up possibilities. She was a clever girl; she’d do the right thing.

  Her face lit up, and for a moment I really thought she came to her senses—until her lips curved into a nasty smirk. “Toss it. One day she’ll thank me.”

  I peered at Aidan, who peered back at me, lost for words. When I turned back to Cass, she was gone.

&nbs
p; “I have a bad feeling about this,” Aidan muttered. I nodded and fell into his arms so he wouldn’t notice the sudden pang of hunger washing over me. My nose picked up my brother’s scent a moment before he came down the stairs, cheeks flushed, eyes sparkling now that he was back in the land of the living.

  Someone growled.

  “Amber?” Aidan’s voice seemed to come from far away. My lips twitched. My focus sharpened on my laughing brother. He looked so young and healthy.

  And alive. I had never felt so hungry in my life.

  Then that growl again. It took me a while to realize it was I who made that sound. A moment later, I pounced.

  Chapter 3

  Strong arms pinned me to the ground. I struggled as Aidan’s voice whispered in my ear, “What’s wrong with you? You almost killed your brother.”

  Aidan kept his strong grip on me as I sat up and peered around me. The door to the living room stood wide open. I could see Dallas inside, chatting to Cass’s father.

  “Are you sure? He looks pretty alive to me.” I had no idea what Aidan was talking about. All I remembered was the growl, and then landing on the floor with a loud thud.

  “Well, yeah, because I stopped you,” Aidan said. His gaze wandered to my eyes and I knew he was about to return to the other topic that bothered him.

  “Your new eye color might take me a while to get used to.”

  “Get a grip. It’s not like I’m some freak. I’m sure it’s perfectly normal. Remember Layla? She has those weird yellow-green eyes, so it’s not that strange at all.”

  “Let’s hope you’re right.” He raised his brows.

  “It’s probably a temporary thing anyway, so stop making such a fuss because it’s not a big deal, Aidan.”

  “And what about you wanting to attack your brother?”

  I rolled my eyes at him because he was such a drama queen. The guy just didn’t know when to drop a topic. “You’re overreacting. I was happy to see him.

  Obviously, I wanted to greet him, not eat him. Do I look like a starving dog to you?”

  “A few minutes ago...yes! Maybe we should get you a rabies shot.” I slapped his arm as he continued, “You were acting like a mad lunatic. The only thing missing was the saliva.” Grinning, he rubbed his finger over my lips. “Looking closer, I think I saw something foamy at the corner of your gorgeous mouth.”

  I pushed him back because I didn’t like him making fun of me, but I couldn’t stay miffed at him for long. He was too cute for that. “I demand an apology, or you’ll be out in the dog house.”

  “Huh?” Being five hundred years old, he wasn’t fully accustomed with the language of this century. Why did I keep forgetting that? “That’s an analogy referring to the couch,” I said. “You see, I can do dog jokes too.”

  “That’s hardly fair. I couldn’t bear to be away from you for one night. But you can’t blame me, Amber. First the weird eyes, and now this.” He held out his hand. I ignored it, only now realizing if anyone witnessed my brother’s almost attack, no one intervened. “You must be tired. I’m taking you home,” Aidan continued.

  “I’m not going home and my eyes aren’t weird!” I punched his arm and walked out the front door, determined to snub him for the rest of the night.

  The evening air was stifling hot, making breathing impossible. Loud music carried over from the mansion. Tuning out, I sat on a large stone and peered at the volcanoes spitting hot lava in the distance. The red liquid rose high against the canvas of the night only to spill down the hill in a lazy stream. In spite of the horrible smell, the view relaxed me. I wondered how my life might’ve turned out if I didn’t travel to Scotland to start my new job as Aidan’s housekeeper a few weeks ago. Would I be going to college now? Maybe even have a part time job in London. I was in love with Aidan, so thinking of leading a different life didn’t make any sense. But I was only eighteen. I missed being normal, doing normal things. I wanted to do something with my life, not travel around the world, visiting friends for the rest of my very long existence. I needed meaning, a purpose, something to look forward to every morning. Even though I couldn’t have my old life back and college wasn’t an option yet, I could make the most of my new circumstances. If only I found an occupation suitable for a vampire.

  The volume of the music had dropped to a bearable level when I returned to the house, ready to discuss my new decision with Aidan. Not that I needed his approval, but I wanted his opinion and guidance, maybe even his enthusiasm. I knew he’d support my endeavors. As different as we were, Aidan would do anything to make me happy because, in the short time we’d been together, I had become an important part of his life, and vice versa.

  I found him in the hall, leaning against the wall, facing the door, as though he had been waiting for me all along.

  “Hey,” he said, burying his hands in his pockets.

  “Hey.” I inched closer and wrapped my arms around him.

  “I’m sorry about before.”

  “So am I.” My lips searched his. His mouth conquered mine in a long, sweet kiss. I pulled away first.

  “You know what’s really hot after a fight?” he said, meaningfully.

  My brows shot up. “A jog around the block followed by lots of ice cream?”

  “Think more along the lines of soft sheets, rose petals and—”

  “I’m not yet ready for that kind of action, Aidan, so stop pushing it.” I turned away from his impossibly blue gaze and the way it made my heart skip a beat every time he looked at me. He was hot, no doubt about it, but I wasn’t easy to get. “There’s something I want to run past you,” I said, grabbing his hand to pull him out into the night.

  “Sure.” His tone remained nonchalant with not even the tiniest bit of mistrust. He had so much faith in me, for a moment I was inclined to suggest checking us into the nearest hotel because I wanted him just as much as he wanted me. But I bit my tongue so I wouldn’t blurt out an invitation. In order to sleep with him, Aidan had to be attracted to my inner being, not just my body. After a few weeks of dating, I just couldn’t be sure that was the case already.

  I sat down on the stairs and waited until Aidan followed suit before I shared my plans with him. “When I met you, I wanted to go to college and pursue a career.”

  “You know that’s no longer an option, Amber. I’m sorry.”

  “I know that, and it’s fine.” I moistened my lips as my gaze trailed over the volcanoes in the distance, taking in the hot lava bursting into the air. Nature’s natural fireworks. So beautiful, so deadly. “Look, I’m not like you. I can’t just exist without a purpose. I need more in my life, something that fulfills me.”

  “You mean I just float through life without living it, without having a purpose? You officially sound like my brother.” His tone appeared reproachful but his eyes sparkled with amusement. One of the many things I loved about Aidan was that he was never really cross with me and maintained a sense of humor in difficult situations. It made being honest and sharing my deepest feelings with him easier.

  “That’s not what I meant.”

  “I know,” he said. “You need excitement. I totally get it. Being stuck with a bunch of old vampires must be as boring as dining with the old folks on a Saturday night.”

  His attempt at infusing humor into the situation helped me ease up a bit. “You’re laughing at me.”

  “Not at all.” His eyes sparkled again and the corners of his lips twitched.

  “Whatever.” I smiled. “You know how I hated being a vampire because I had no idea what I was getting myself into?” When he nodded, I continued. “I want to help others who find themselves in the same position. And I’m not talking about vampires alone. I want to give young immortals a place where they feel safe because I feel like I need to accumulate a bit of positive karma, both for us and them.”

  “Well, in that case I’ll be sure to air the guest quarters and bring out the good silver.”

  “Well, in that case I’ll be sure to air the gue
st quarters and bring out the good silver.”

  I blinked, surprised. “You’re okay with it?”

  He wrapped his arms around me and drew me closer until his lips lingered mere inches away from mine. “Of course I am. I love you. I’d do anything to make you happy, even if it involves letting dangerous strangers into my home. I’d better get your brother to hook us up with some security cameras because I have a feeling we’ll need them.”

  I drew back to regard him. “Thank you.” I meant every word since I knew how private Aidan was. He had lived over five hundred years surrounded by only a handful of people, one of them being Kieran He had been a member of the Lore court because he enjoyed his job as a bounty hunter, but that was all the social contact he ever got. That he made an exception for me showed me how much he loved me.

  “So—what exactly did you have in mind? Opening a Paranormal Anonymous place, and then what? Hold a weekly meeting where you share your experiences?” He bit his lip. I couldn’t help but think he was making fun of me again.

  “No.” I shook my head slowly. “I want youngsters to see us as a refuge, a place where they can learn to use their powers without fear that others might take advantage of them.”

  “A shelter?” He cocked a brow. I grimaced. Did he have to put it like that? “Sure. As long as you don’t expect me to take them out on job orientation days.”

  I grimaced again. “No, Amber. You do your thing, but I’m not getting involved.”

  He kissed my cheek and turned to the backyard, signaling the conversation was over. I grabbed his arm and forced him to face me. “Why not?”

  “In case you haven’t noticed I’m not exactly a people person.”

  I threw my hands up. “Socializing doesn’t require a diploma.”

  “It might as well.”

  “Must be a Scottish thing,” I mumbled under my breath.

  “What?”

  I shrugged. “Nothing.”

  “Look.” He squeezed a finger under my chin to force me to meet his gaze. His eyes glinted in the darkness around us. His skin seemed like alabaster, so soft and smooth, so perfect. Just like him. “It’s not a Scottish thing. I’m just—” he paused, gathering his words “—ever since I was born, Kieran was the popular one.

 
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