Scarlet Heat (Born to Darkness)(3)

By: Evangeline Anderson

The handle clicked and suddenly the door flew open. The truck took a sharp curve and I felt myself slipping sideways at an alarming rate.

Oh my God! I braced for the fall but just as I started to slide out of the cab a big hand reached out and grabbed me by the arm.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Victor brought the truck to a screeching halt and dragged me back across the seat.

“I told you—leaving. So let me go.”

“I don’t think so,” he snarled. “We’re blood-bound—you’re not going anywhere.”

“So I’ll find a way to break the bond,” I snapped, yanking at his seemingly unbreakable grip. “Anything to get away from you.”

“You can’t break the bond unless you’re willing to go down some pretty dark roads and find a witch that deals in the Shadow Lands. You want that?” Victor demanded. “Because I sure as hell don’t. Like it or not, we’re stuck together, sweetheart.”

“Oh, no, we’re not.” I lifted my chin. “I spent the last six years of my life being stuck in an abusive relationship—one I couldn’t get out of no matter how hard I tried. I refuse to spend even one second more that way.”

Victor’s eyes got wide. “Abusive? What the hell are you talking about, abusive? How have I hurt you?”

“Abuse isn’t just physical or…or sexual, you know.” I felt my throat getting tight but I refused to let my pain show on my face. “There is such a thing as mental and emotional abuse too. Although when I think about it, you did promise not to lay a finger on me and you’re doing a hell of lot more than that right now.”

I glared at him and then looked pointedly at the big hand encircling my upper arm.

“Damn it!” Victor pulled his hand away as though he’d been stung. “I was just trying to keep you from killing yourself, lady.”

“My name is Taylor. Not lady, not sweetheart, and most certainly not “fanger”—it’s Taylor. And I wouldn’t have died—I couldn’t. I’m already dead, remember?”

“Oh, hell…” He ran a hand through his wild black hair and blew out a breath. “Look, I’m sorry, all right?” he said, apologizing much to my surprise. “This is just…such a bad fucking night for this. The moon is getting high and if I don’t get home soon…”

“Oh.” Understanding suddenly hit me. “You’re going to…what, change into a wolf?”

“If you’re lucky,” he said darkly. “And if you’re not…” He shook his head. “Let’s just say I really need to get home and I don’t have a lot of time for polite chit-chat right now.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, chastened. “I didn’t realize your problem was that, uh, urgent.”

“Well, it is. And it wouldn’t be good for you if I changed around you.”

My heart was suddenly in my throat. “Would you hurt me?”

“Not on purpose, no. But my wolf—the wolf inside me…” He thumped himself on the chest. “It would see you as a threat. It’s an instinctive thing—we don’t like vamps. And I don’t think too well in that form—I mostly feel.”

“So we’d better get to a place where you can, uh, change as far away from me as possible,” I said.

“Yeah.” He sighed again. “Look, I know I’m being an ass right now and I’m sorry. It’s just…the moon.” He gestured at the full silver orb climbing higher in the sky above them and his voice dropped to an even deeper register, sounding almost like an animal’s growl. “She’s calling me. I’m strong but I can’t hold off my change forever.”

“Oh, right.” I nodded nervously. I had no wish to be caught in the cab of the truck with a huge, ravenous wolf who hated vampires. “Well…can you get us home? I mean, your home of course,” I added quickly.

“Yeah, if we go right now.” Victor started the truck’s engine and looked pointedly at my door, which was still swinging open, letting in the warm, humid Florida night air. “Could you close that? I don’t care if you’re undead or not, you don’t look like you’re in any kind of shape to survive being thrown from a truck doing sixty.”

“I’m stronger than I look,” I protested, but I closed the door as he had asked. “I heal fast.”

He snorted and put the truck in gear. “Yeah. Right.”

“It’s true,” I said, stung. “I’ve had every bone in my body broken multiple times and I healed every time.”

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