Twice Tempted Page 20

’’Five foot four, about a hundred and twenty pounds, dark hair, and a slight accent that could be Welsh, English, Scottish, or Irish.’’

Maximus scowled. ’’That's all you got? A female vampire that might be from the UK?’’

I knew how useless that information was. ’’I'll try linking to her again, see if it works better this time.’’

Despite my disgust, for a second time I rubbed the burnt piece that Maximus had yanked off of Adrian's body. Flashes of lights followed a rocking sensation, but when I concentrated harder, those images faded and I began to feel dizzy.

’’Leila? Are you all right?’’

’’Fine. Just a little carsick,’’ I muttered, trying again. After a few moments, I caught a glimpse of a woman wearing the same outfit as Adrian's killer, but that and the thick spill of walnut-colored hair was the only way I could be sure it was her. Her features were completely indistinguishable. The tiny blue room she was in rocked, which was odd. Then all my attention focused on what she was saying.

’’ . . . no, it wasn't too risky . . . I took care of it, dearie. He's dead, ending any chance this will be traced back to us.’’

From how she spoke, she must be on the phone. I stared at the blurred spot where her face would be, concentrating, but instead of getting better, it made the haziness worse.

’’You're overreacting,’’ she went on. ’’Even if there are suspicions, they won't lead anywhere. Whatever she might have been worth to him alive, she's less dangerous to us dead . . .’’

I tried to focus on her more, but then my dizziness came back with a vengeance. My ears rang, too, and I felt something wet trickle out of them.

Maximus swore. Then the car swung so sharply that it fishtailed, adding crashing to my list of concerns. I couldn't seem to voice a complaint, though, and now the only thing I saw were large black spots. That can't be good, I thought, right before something hard smacked me in the forehead.

I had a few minutes of blissful nothingness until I became aware that I was choking on coppery-tasting liquid. I tried to spit it out, but a hand clamped over my mouth.

’’Swallow, dammit!’’

Left with no other choice, I did, grimacing as I recognized the taste. Vampire blood. Pureed pennies would've been less repugnant. I opened my eyes to find Maximus crouched over me. My seat belt was off and my seat was all the way reclined. At least he'd pulled over before utterly ignoring the road.

’’Yuck,’’ I said once he finally dropped his hand.

He didn't look offended so much as relieved. That's when I noticed both his hands were smeared in red and so was the front of my shirt. This couldn't all be from Maximus forcing me to drink his blood. That whole lack of a pulse meant vampires didn't bleed much even when they were cut. Add that to the steering wheel being ripped off, and I'd missed something big.

’’What happened?’’

He tossed the steering wheel into the back before flopping back into the driver's seat. ’’You started hemorrhaging from your eyes, ears, and nose. Then your heart stopped. I had to give you CPR and blood to bring you back.’’

Hearing that I'd come so close to dying should've terrified me, but all I could muster up was a weary ’’This day sucks.’’

Maximus's incredulous expression made me want to laugh, an even more irrational response, but what was I supposed to do? I couldn't cry because that wouldn't fix anything and we didn't have time for me to slowly rock myself while shaking, which was the only other thing that sounded appealing.

’’I must be using too much power within too short a time,’’ I said. ’’Plus, I'm not fireproof anymore, but remnants of Vlad's aura might still be messing with my system. Between the two, I should've guessed that my body couldn't handle it.’’

Maximus still stared at me as though he couldn't believe my nonchalance over almost dying. I ignored that, directing my attention to more important issues.

’’What happened to the steering wheel?’’

’’It was in my way when you needed help’’ was his reply.

’’Well.’’ I forced a smile that must've been lopsided at best. ’’Thanks. Too bad we have to get another car now.’’

His teeth flashed in a matching humorless grin. ’’That's the least of our problems.’’

Great. ’’What's the worst of them?’’

Maximus pulled out his cell phone and wagged it at me. It didn't ring but the screen was lit up, showing an incoming call.

’’This is the third time Vlad's tried to reach me. I have to answer or he'll get suspicious.’’

’’Don't you - !’’

Maximus held up a finger. ’’Don't even breathe loud,’’ he muttered before answering his phone with a brief ’’Yes?’’

I froze when I heard Vlad's voice. That familiar, cultured cadence affected me so much that for a few moments, I didn't breathe at all.

’’Maximus,’’ my ex said coolly. ’’Am I interrupting anything?’’

Smoky gray eyes bored into mine as Maximus replied, ’’No, why?’’ in a tone so casual that I blinked. Good liar, I noted for future reference.

’’Because this is my third call’’ was Vlad's implacable reply. Guess it was too late to keep him from being suspicious.

’’I left my phone in the car while I found someone to eat,’’ Maximus said glibly. ’’Everything all right?’’

Even if I wasn't a couple feet away in a closed space, I still would've heard Vlad's whiplike reply. ’’No, everything is not all right. When did you last see Leila?’’

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