Twice Tempted Page 65

’’I did something awful, didn't I?’’ she whispered. ’’I don't remember it, but when you touched me in the car, I felt it.’’

I wanted to pat her consolingly but her pulse was already starting to sound like a dinner bell, so I didn't trust myself to get any closer.

’’Vlad's not angry at you,’’ I said in my most reassuring voice. ’’In fact, you're going to help us find the other person who forced you to betray him, and then we're going to stop her.’’

Vlad's brow arched.

’’Her?’’

’’Her,’’ I repeated, glancing up at Shrapnel. ’’And apparently, she's a spell caster.’’

Chapter 38

Shrapnel stared at me and his obsidian gaze became sprinkled with green.

’’You lied to me. You don't know who she is.’’

He sounded more surprised than angry, not that he'd have any reason to point fingers on the subject of dishonesty.

’’We don't know yet, but we're about to,’’ I replied coolly.

With Shrapnel now getting a bird's-eye view, Vlad strode over to Sandra.

’’If you were aware of none of your actions because they altered your memory, I will hold you blameless.’’

Conditional words of comfort, but they worked. Sandra knelt on one knee and bowed her head.

’’You took me from the streets after my parents abandoned me. Gave me a home, an education, and the promise of a better future. I would never knowingly betray you.’’

Vlad's mouth curled sardonically as he cast a look up at Shrapnel. ’’Then you would be more faithful than two of my closest friends turned out to be.’’

At those words, a stinging mixture of anger and pain threaded into my emotions. I winced, reminded that Shrapnel's actions were more than a vampire going against his sire. A knife in the back hurt so much worse when it came from a friend.

Sandra rose and brushed her hair aside. ’’Las?-m? s?-?i dovedesc, prin?ul meu!’’

Vlad grasped her neck and lowered his mouth. As he bit her, something rose in me I didn't expect. Not hunger, though the fresh scent of blood made my own fangs spring out. Not concern for Sandra losing more blood since she was already in rough shape. Instead, I had an overwhelming urge to rip her out of Vlad's arms and then lash her with a sizzling electrical whip until nothing remained but ragged pieces.

I was jealous. How absurd. He was a vampire, she was a human who'd had her mind altered, and the best way to get around that was to take her blood before mesmerizing her. I knew that, but it didn't stop the surge of emotions that made sparks fall from my hand.

His mouth on her. Her head falling back in a way that didn't denote pain. The line of his throat as he swallowed . . .

A bolt torpedoed into the rock floor beneath my hand. Turning into a vampire hadn't dulled my inner electricity a bit. At once, I covered the crack with my foot, as if that would stop anyone from noticing.

Vlad lifted his head, his gaze going unerringly to the spot before he looked at me. I expected an eye roll for my display of irrational jealousy, but instead, he looked thoughtful.

Then he released Sandra, dabbing the puncture wounds in her neck with his thumb after he pierced it with a fang. I tried to rein in my emotions - and the currents that kept my hand sparking - while mentally singing Sting's ’’Every Breath You Take.’’ Life-and-death stakes going on, Leila. Get your priorities straight.

’’He came into her room to mesmerize her,’’ I said, in case that detail helped.

Vlad's eyes turned green as he stared at Sandra like she was the only person in the room.

’’Shrapnel came into your room,’’ he repeated, his voice resonant. ’’He wanted you to pass along a message. What was it?’’

’’I don't know,’’ she whispered.

’’Yes you do.’’

The air crackled, causing the hairs on my arms to stand on end. An invisible wave seemed to roll off Vlad, filling the room with enough energy to make my skin crawl. What was he doing?

’’You can see him in your room,’’ Vlad continued in that same vibrating tone. ’’Hear his voice even now. What is he saying?’’

’’He says’’ - her face tightened as if straining to hear a far-off whisper - ’’tell her that her powers are back. She almost died using them, but Vlad revived her and now he won't leave her side. I will attempt tainting her food if she wakes up.’’

I swung an accusing look Shrapnel's way. While I was in a coma, he was planning to poison me?

Rage brushed my emotions but Vlad said nothing and he didn't glance away from Sandra.

’’That wasn't his only message. What else?’’

In the monotone I'd come to associate with people under a vampire's influence, Sandra recounted Shrapnel telling his accomplice all the details of my abilities, my location at the carnival, and my location at the hotel with Maximus. He even stated that Maximus would need to be neutralized by extreme measures. The liquid silver bullets flashed across my mind. It didn't get much more extreme than that.

When Vlad ordered Sandra to repeat the woman's messages, they started off as benign inquiries about me that seemed more curious than threatening. That changed after the carnival bombing. Once her real intentions were exposed, it wasn't a surprise that subsequent messages consisted of variations of Kill Leila. Kill her now. While my anger grew, most of this we already knew, and I didn't need to feel Vlad's emotions to know he was frustrated by that, too.

’’Where do you meet her to relay these messages?’’ he asked.

Sandra frowned. ’’I've never met her, but every two days, I go into town to the bookstore. I write the messages down and put them in The Odyssey by Homer. If The Odyssey has a new message waiting from her, I memorize it, throw it away, and then repeat it to Shrapnel, but only if he asks me to. Otherwise, I never mention it. I don't even remember the messages.’’


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