Love Me To Death
Blood & Magic, Book 1
Ebook ISBN: B018ZT9JXQ
[ Paranormal Romance, MF ]
Colin’s vampire race avoids humans and not only is the beautiful Sophie forbidden to him, but loving her is a death sentence. Just one droplet of his seed on her body will kill her and Colin wants nothing more than to bury himself inside Sophie and stay there for eternity.
Whatever you do, don’t breathe in her scent.
Colin Ramsey shifted in the narrow movie theater seat and continued the inner dialogue to keep his shit together despite the high impact action playing out on the screen. Agreeing to go to the movies with Sophie had probably not been one of his brightest moments. He gritted his teeth against the memory of her puppy dog eyes when she’d asked him to go with her because no one else would.
She had some friends, not a lot, but being in her second year at college and only twenty years old, she was still feeling her way around.
Damn if he could deny her anything.
And that was the problem.
It was getting too dangerous to be near her. The want that had been a slow simmer for the last four years was gradually consuming his every thought and it didn’t matter if he wasn’t with her.
He still wanted.
The need pulled at his balls and his heart until it took every ounce of his control not to give into his animal instincts.
Colin glanced at the human female and clenched his fists. The darkness of the theatre did nothing to drown out his desires.
The need to touch.
To take was becoming almost more than his control could handle.
She laughed at something on the movie screen and the breath caught in his throat. The darkness of the theater meant less than nothing to him. In some ways, he saw better in the dark than in the light—even more reason for his time in her life to come to an end. Their differences extended beyond the fact that they were not the same species.
He couldn’t, he wouldn’t jeopardize her life.
“Oh, God! Please take me!”
Shit. The steroid-pumped hero and the bleach-blonde heroine were doing the nasty in a crane elevator on the silver screen.
He could no more stop his gaze from going to Sophie than he could sing and dance underwater. She seemed mesmerized
by the steamy scene and he couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking. Was she blushing? Was she thinking of him?
Oh, shit, don’t even go there.
The on-screen femme fatale gave a long, lusty moan and Colin hunkered down in the seat, grimacing as the faded jeans he wore suddenly got tighter than ever.
Was the damn movie ever going to end?
An hour later Colin held the door open for Sophie as she walked in front of him into the cool night air.
“Wow, wasn’t that great?” she gushed and he wanted to gnash his teeth.
Thankfully, a cool wash of wind hit him straight in the face once they’d walked outside. “Mediocre, at best.”
His darling beauty with big, blue eyes and long dark hair glared at him. “Ah, come on, Colin. Do you have any idea how much of a downer you are?”
Smirking, Colin dug his hands into the front pockets of his jeans just as they rounded a corner. “Now you’re just saying that because you like sappy mov—”
The air around him stilled suddenly and he halted, every inch of his Tuteurian senses suddenly on alert. Sophie kept moving, then stopped, finally realizing he wasn’t beside her.
Her brow furrowed with confusion. “What’s wrong?”
“Not sure.” Narrowing his gaze, he surveyed the area. An acrid scent filled the air, causing the hairs on the back of his neck to rise.
“Come on.” Reaching out, he grabbed her arm at the elbow and hurried her along. “Let’s get out of here.
“Colin,” she protested. “Slow down. You’re walking too fast.”
Gritting his teeth against moving at a slower pace, he eased back, even though every instinct inside of him demanded he throw her over his shoulder and run like hell.
When they had arrived before sundown, the public parking garage had been teaming with cars and people. Now, as they walked into the dimly-lit monstrosity, it was nearly empty.
They took as fast of a pace as he dared up to the third floor of the garage. As they rounded the last corner, he could see his lone jeep up ahead, but too many shadows settled into the corners of the garage for his comfort. Whatever was out there was a bigger threat to Sophie than him. He could handle himself. Sophie, as a weak human, didn’t stand a chance if something nocturnal decided to attack her.
He was the only thing that stood between her and whatever was out there.
Colin briefly considered sending her back to the relative safety of the theater before he faced the threat, but even then he couldn’t be sure there was only this one threat and he damn sure had no clue how he’d explain why he needed Sophie to leave the garage without him.
Determined to get her out of harm’s away as soon as possible, Colin grasped her arm tighter and muttered, “There’s the jeep. Come on. Let’s get inside.”
Sophie laughed. “Really, Colin? Are you afraid of the dark now? Don’t worry. I’ll protect you.”
Ordinarily, he adored her humor and would have probably teased her into laughter or tickled her or even chased her to the car.
Something was very wrong and every instinct inside of him shouted he had to get her to safety quickly.
“Ha-ha. Very funny. I’m freezing my ass off,” he lied.
“You’re such a wimp!”
Just as they reached the car and he leaned in to put the key in the passenger side door, a burst of wind came at him from the opposite side of where she stood huddled against the jeep. Before he could react, a massive force slammed into him and he had just enough time to catch himself before face-planting on the concrete.
Shaking his head to clear the knock he’d taken, he heard two thumps, then Sophie’s scream filled the emptiness of the semi-enclosed garage. Swearing, Colin lunged to his feet just as a large male figure growled at him as it, too, gained its footing.
Whoever the male was, he was definitely nocturnal and of Colin’s race.
With a quick glance at Sophie trying to get her bearings after having the wind knocked out of her, Colin took their assailant by the throat and propelled him through the opening of the garage, falling a good three stories to the ground.
He was right behind the asshole, jumping down to the pavement where the male was just rising from the concrete.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Colin growled at the male. “Who are you?”
Their assailant hissed back at him and, for the first time, Colin got a good look at the creature. “What the hell?”
The male was definitely like him, a Tuteurian, but something was seriously wrong with him. With blood-shot eyes, that appeared almost pained, his face wasn’t right, twisted, almost, and spittle dropped from the creature’s fangs—
Fangs? Holy Shit!
They both looked upward at the sound of Sophie’s voice calling his name. The male hissed and made as if to launch the
three stories of the garage to get to her, but Colin caught him by the throat again before he could fully execute such a move. The male flailed in the air just before Colin flung him to the left so that Sophie would be unable to see them.
“Stay there!” Colin yelled to her.
“Are you okay? What’s going on?”
The creature landed on his feet and hands in a very nocturnal way.
“I’m fine!” The words had barely left his mouth before the creature lunged at him again.
Colin swung his hand out, catching the male on the jaw, sending him to the ground.
“Where are you?”
“Shit, Sophie,” Colin mumbled to himself, hoping like hell she stayed put. “Don’t move! I’ll be right up!”
He flew to where the creature had fallen, but before the male could move, Colin grasped him in a headlock. “Who are you? What are you?”
The male twisted to get free, one claw raking the side of the Colin’s arm and he knew he had no choice.
With a jerk, he broke the creature’s neck, rendering it unconscious. Breathing heavily, he stood and looked at the thing briefly before going to a nearby tree and breaking off a nice size smaller branch. He quickly made it into a make-shift weapon and returned to where the creature lay totally zonked out.
“I’d really like nothing more than to interrogate your ass,” he whispered as he raised the weapon above his head, “but
Sophie’s here and there may be more of you. I can’t take the time.”
He slammed the weapon into the creature’s heart and watched as it slowly disintegrated.
Dust to dust.
Stumbling to his feet, Colin pulled up the sleeve of his jacket and saw the welts on his injured arm. It might hurt like hell, but he would attend to it later, he thought, before pushing the sleeve back in place.
He walked back to where he could see Sophie leaning over the third story railing. She had her arms wrapped around her waist, fear and confusion trembling through her body.
“On my way up!” he yelled just before he took off towards the entrance to the parking garage, half of his mind absorbed in thought of how to protect Sophie and the other half sending out feelers to determine if other dangers lurked in the darkness.
Thankfully, the warning bells that had hammered his senses when they’d left the theater were gone. He just hoped that meant no more of those creatures waited in the shadows.
Damn, this wasn’t the first time he’d seen something that didn’t fit with what he knew of the world, but this creature, this caricature of his species, was something he had thought no longer existed.
If there is one, there have to be others.
Colin’s stomach cramped at the thought of more like that creature out there. It had been a Tuteurian, but nothing like Colin had seen in a long, long time. Creatures like that weren’t supposed to exist anymore. Where the hell did it come from?
And why now? Why attack them?
More importantly, how could he protect Sophie? The creature hadn’t been easy to fight. The only thing going for Colin was it had been clumsy, as if it were drugged. But that couldn’t be right either. While his kind were susceptible to some poisons and he’d known of a female who’d gotten knocked on her ass from drinking witch’s brew once, human drugs didn’t make a dent and Tuteurians had no drugs of their own. There was no need.
Maybe the creature was under a spell, but even then, that would take a lot to accomplish and only a wizard, usually, had enough power to create a spell strong enough to take down a Tuteurian.
Colin shook his head, unsure of how this would work. Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe that thing was a one-off or part of an experiment.
Whatever it was, Colin worried that it had been after Sophie and not him. The creature had seemed ready to abandon him when they were on the ground and go after Sophie. Plus, initially, his instincts had screamed at him that Sophie was in danger.
A creature like him always trusted his instincts.
The fact that Sophie was in danger really pissed him off. Going after Colin was one thing, but Sophie was off limits. He wouldn’t allow her to be hurt, especially not by one of his own kind.
Sophie, like the rest of mankind, were little more than poor, pathetic, weak humans with no clue of the real world in which they lived. They were protected and, if something unexplained happened, well, their minds would come up with an explanation that fit. And those like himself, those of the nocturnal world, perpetuated the lie.
The very last thing his kind and those like him wanted was for humans to know the truth. Then, the world they lived in would cease to exist and that was absolutely the worst possible scenario.
When Colin finally reached Sophie, she was leaning against his jeep shaking
Hurriedly, he moved to take her in his arms, grimacing as she snuggled against his chest. Every hair on his body stood at attention and the traitor in his pants twitched, happy to be so close to her warm body again. Apparently, the fight with the creature did not to alleviate his discomfort.
She sighed with relief. “Thank God you’re okay.”
“I’m fine.” Colin moved his hips away from hers and his balls protested.
It wasn’t often he had her like this, full-fontal against him, her nipples hardening against his chest. So, yeah, they were probably peaked as a result of fear and not desire, but he’d take what he could get.
Holding her against him with one arm wrapped around her waist and the other gently cupping the back of her head, she buried her face against his throat. Colin inhaled deeply of the sweet, intoxicating scent that was uniquely Sophie.
Pressing his lips to the top of her head, he felt the soft tickle of her hair. “Are you all right?”
She nodded against him, her arms tightening around his waist.
As much as he relished the feel of her in his arms, he knew without a doubt he couldn’t let it continue. Pulling back, he tucked her hair behind her ear. “Let’s get you home.”
Before he could release her, Sophie’s arms tightened and she leaned back to look into his face. “How on earth are you not hurt? You fell three frickin’ stories to the ground!”
Gritting his teeth, Colin continued in a soothing voice that usually calmed her. “I’m fine. You know I propel, so heights don’t bother me. I know how to fall without getting hurt.”
“From a three-story building without a rope?” The skepticism in her voice grated on his nerves because he feared, for once, that the curiosity in her gaze was stronger than his usual influence over her.
He cupped her cheek. “It was nothing. I’m fine. You’re fine. So, let’s get out of the cold and go home.”
As Colin looked toward the jeep, something happened that never in a million years or even in the span of his long life would he ever expect her to say.
His head jerked back to see not just skepticism, but outright disbelief in her gaze.
“What did you say?”
“You heard me.” She stepped closer, her gaze narrowing with suspicion. “You. Are. Lying.”
Her beautiful plump lips tightened and her gaze blazed with something he’d never seen before from her. For once, he wasn’t standing in front of the beautiful, human girl who’d always listened to his every word and believed everything he said no matter how outlandish it might be.
No, he was standing in front of a very determined human woman, with all the womanly curves and stubbornness to go along with it, and she wasn’t buying his act.
Her gaze also held something else, something he’d sensed many, many times, but she’d never so blatantly shown him in the past.
Lust. Desire. Perhaps even need.
Instinctively, he jerked back to move away from the danger the emotions in her eyes represented.
He loved her more than he wanted her.
His aching balls could shrivel up and die for all he cared because nothing compared to the love that bathed his very soul for this vulnerable, human female.
He would die for her.
He would kill for her. Even if that meant killing himself because he would never, ever be the cause of her death.
Colin blinked. “We’ll discuss it later.”
He looked down at the tiny hand she’d clamped down on his arm. “We’re not moving until you answer my questions.”
The determination in every molecule of her being ripped through him, making the thing in his jeans twitch. Damn, she was sexy.
Flashing blue eyes.
The wind tossing her long dark hair.
The stubborn little jaw.
His nostrils flared as her scent blasted his senses. Lust—biting, consuming, ethereal—slammed through him like a freight train.
Her eyes widened. Her lips parted on a sigh and he was lost. Control evaporated and need sharpened every molecule of his being.
Hands that had only minutes before ended another living creature’s life, jerked her body to his. No longer did he move his hips away from her. Instead, he pulled her against him, flattening the straining muscle of his desire against her stomach.
She gasped, but no fear tinged even a sliver of her gaze.
Sophie wanted him.
He had to have her or die.
Colin took her mouth in a devouring kiss. Their first and only kiss breathed fire. She gave no resistance to his seeking tongue as he pushed between her teeth into the warm, wet cavern.
Colin drank into her essence, his mouth fused to hers as he sucked her tongue into his own mouth. He lashed his tongue between her lips, mimicking the motions of sex, of love … because he loved her, too.
Trembling with the last bit of control keeping him from slamming her against the car, ripping off her jeans, and plunging deep inside her, he moaned into her mouth, his hands clenching and unclenching into the rounded curves of her ass, rocking his hips against her.
Laughter pealed close by and he stiffened. Despite being gone headlong into lust, the innate instincts of his kind knew young humans were near. Teenagers.
Colin opened his eyes and lifted his mouth from hers.
Sophie gazed back at him, her bright blue eyes a little unfocused.
She had responded. Well, maybe. He wasn’t sure. He hadn’t exactly given her an opportunity to respond and he wasn’t sure if he would’ve known anyway. He’d been too caught up in his own need. She hadn’t resisted—now, that he knew for damn sure.
Sophie still hadn’t moved. Her body rested against his, loose even, as if every bit of energy had been scraped out of her.
Colin lifted a hand and traced with his thumb the still wet and slightly swollen bottom lip. “God, your lips are gorgeous.”
Full and ripe and he couldn’t figure out which he wanted more—to devour them with his mouth or—
The rambunctious noise got louder as the teenagers entered the ramp leading up to where they stood on the third floor of the parking garage.
Colin stepped back and Sophie swayed slightly before she caught herself.
“We need to leave.” Clearing his throat, Colin quickly unlocked the door and opened it wide for her. Without saying a word, Sophie got into the passenger seat before he closed the door and rounded the vehicle to get into the driver’s side.
The drive to the brownstone was done in complete silence with the possible exception of the low-level noise coming from the radio.
Apparently, once he parked his Jeep on the road in front of the brownstone, all bets were off and the quiet was a thing of the past.
The minute he turned off the ignition, she turned on him. “What the hell was that?”
“What do you mean?” he hedged. She could be asking about their attacker or the kiss. Neither subject was one he wanted to have a meaningful discussion about at the moment.
“What happened back there at the parking garage, Colin?”
Without answering, Colin opened the door and shut it quietly, taking heavy strides around the vehicle, but Sophie was there already out the door, slamming the passenger door shut.
“Colin—” She tried, but he grasped her arm and pulled her forward toward the building. Even though he didn’t sense anything dangerous in the woods across from the Brownstone, he wasn’t taking any chances. The sooner he got her inside the building and into her safe, warm bed, the better he would feel. Well, as good as he could feel without him in the bed with her.
It was the continuous slamming of her fist against his shoulder that finally got his attention.
“Shit!” He grabbed his injured arm. “What the hell, Sophie?”
She jerked her elbow out of his hold and yelled right back. “Quit treating me like a damn child! Talk to me. Tell me what happened back there.”
“I don’t know what you want.”
“Are you kidding me? Really? Are you seriously going to just pretend nothing happened?”
Lips tightening into a straight line, Colin growled, “What the hell do you think happened?” Humans couldn’t handle the truth. They always made up a reasonable explanation for the unexplained.
“For starters, I’m talking about the kiss, you big dummy!”
Colin gritted his teeth. “Forget it. Nothing important happened. You need to go home, Sophie. It’s late.” He turned to walk away towards the Brownstone, hoping like hell she gave it up and followed.
He heard her behind him, the three-inch spiked heels of her leather boots clicking on the concrete. “You can’t pretend it didn’t happen, Colin.”
“We are not having this conversation.” Ever. Nothing good could ever come of discussing his tongue down her throat.
He slung open the door to the entry way and waited for her to precede him. Once inside, his intent was to head straight to the stairwell leading to his third story apartment until he felt a tug on the sleeve of his jacket.
“Talk to me.”
“No,” came his succinct reply.
Before he knew what was happening, Sophie slung her weight around him and pushed him against the wall. Instinct had the palms of his hands going to her shoulders.
“Ignoring me isn’t an option, Colin Ramsey. So, you might as well forget it.”
His gaze catalogued her beloved features again and the uneasiness was back. Oh, there was danger in the air all right, but not of the fang kind. No, this danger was much more deadly for the woman he loved.
“This isn’t the place or time,” he hedged.
“So when? Where? We have a lot to discuss.”
The unrelenting sparks in her blue eyes caught him unaware for a moment and he came to a sharp realization.
Sophie had grown up and he hadn’t been looking. Not really. He’d been aware of the physical changes and had been mesmerized by them for the last four years. His perpetual blue balls were evidence enough of her womanly curves.
No, it was the emotional maturity she’d achieved that he’d dismissed. The knowledge of just how much a woman she truly was only served to flame the need inside him, reminding him of the urgent need they’d briefly shared in the garage.
Then she got in his face. “You might as well give in because I’m not giving up.”
He couldn’t help the twitch of his lips. Oh, his darling little human was persistent, he’d give her that. The boner that felt like it was going to bust through his jeans made it imperative for Colin to leave the damn building.
He couldn’t stay. The last thread of his control barely kept him from shoving her against the wall and devouring every luscious inch of those berry-red lips that had been teasing the hell out of him for the last five minutes. Now that he knew what she tasted like, the need to kiss her again would be exponentially worse than in the past.
Yeah, running away … he got it. He knew only too well what Sophie—who was all grown up now, damn it—had done to his libido. Keeping his desire for her hidden and just being her friend for the last four years had given him a permanent case of blue balls, but he’d done it.
Then tonight happened and he’d saved her and all hell had broken loose.
Nice. There went all of his self-sacrificing hero shit. He was back to wanting and needing and not having.
Colin scowled down at her for all the good it did him. Her eyelids only drooped more and her lips parted, forcing him to withhold a mammoth size groan as the thing in his pants twitched.
Hell no … not gonna happen.
He forced his hands to ease up their grip on her shoulders. He knew he’d been holding her too tight. The craving had been eating at him for so long now and to actually have her in his arms—
He abruptly let go of her and side-stepped her. “You’re home. You’re safe now,” he growled, hearing the scratchiness of his own voice. It sounded foreign to his ears, far too much like the monster that lived inside of him.
“Get inside your apartment, Sophie. I don’t have time for this shit.” His words echoed around the inner hallway of their apartment building. The brownstone was old and drafty in the winter, but it kept the girl he loved safe at night in the small downstairs apartment she shared with her grandparents.
He could see the protest building in the mutinous expression on her face. Oh, she wanted to argue, but he’d shoot her down, despite what had happened between them. Or, perhaps, because of it.
“What was that … person … who attacked us?” The demand of her words had him closing his eyes in dread. The way she’d said person made him think she doubted it was human.
But, shit, he couldn’t exactly tell her that.
“It was no one. Just someone probably high on drugs or something.” Turning, Colin moved towards the main door leading out of the building.
The hardwood floors creaked as she took a step towards him. “Where are you going?”
“But we need to talk!”
With his hand on the door, he turned to glare at her. “Not now.”
“Then when?” she persisted, tucking a wayward strand of her long, thick hair behind her ear. That beautiful mess of hair was always in her face and he loved it.
God, she was beautiful. The most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. Long, dark hair that cascaded down her back, bright blue eyes, and a smile that literally sucked the air out of the room for him. She rocked his mind and body on more levels than he even knew existed. The way her tight, faded jeans hugged her body almost made him want to cry. If he had any tears, that is, which he didn’t. His kind rarely cried.
Try never. “I don’t know.” Colin turned back to the door, intent on putting as much distance between him and the human
female who was much too human for what he needed and more vulnerable than he could possible explain.
“You can run, but you can’t hide,” she chanted.
His brow furrowed as he glared at the little minx. “Excuse me?”
“I know where you live, remember?” One thin, dark brow arched with challenge. “You have to talk to me at some point.”
Damn, he should be angry as hell at the nosy human female. She had no business questioning him, no right whatsoever.
Colin’s jaw tightened and he muttered between clenched teeth, “Not here.”
Her stance eased. “Okay. Can we talk in your apartment?”
Not bloody likely. “The library. Top floor, reference section. Tomorrow evening.”
A slow grin curved her well-kissed lips. “Perfect. But I’d prefer to talk tonight in your apartment.”
Colin shook his head and turned the door knob. “Not happening, sweetheart.”
He turned to look at her again, one foot already out the door.
Her well-defined brows scrunched together. Confusion, like every other damned thing about her, looked gorgeous. “What was that thing that attacked us tonight?” she finally asked.
He shook his head, the inevitable feeling of loss cutting inside his gut. “I don’t know.”
“But we’ll talk about it, right? Tomorrow, I mean.” The hopefulness in her voice only increased the gnawing sense of dread curling inside his stomach.
“Tomorrow, Sophie.” The promise lingered between them. “You’re safe now, so get some rest.”
With that, he walked from the building and jogged down the stairs leading to the sidewalk. Cars littered the street in front of the rows and rows of Brownstone apartment buildings. People home for the night, settling in to watch the police procedurals or soapy teen vampire dramas and didn’t have a clue what really went bump in the night right outside their door.
Colin halted and glanced back up at his own building.
Hell, what about him? He was Colin Ramsey, the blood-craving creature who lived upstairs in Apartment 3B.
Colin shook his head and hurried down the sidewalk, leaving the Brownstone behind and the very fragile, human girl who made him want things he had no right even contemplating.