“But there will be people getting bit?”

He goes rigid. “Yes.”


I swallow hard. “Will they… will the Vampires be killing them?”

He shakes his head. “This is just a feeding ground, a place to feed on willing humans in a closed space where you don’t have to worry about getting caught.”

I angle my neck back to look at him. “Willing humans?”

He nods once, his eyes focused on the sidewalk ahead. “Vampire bites are intoxicating in ways I can’t even begin to explain. Some humans love it… it’s like a drug for them and so they come to clubs like these to get their next hit.”

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I picture teeth sinking into my neck. Pain. Then euphoria? If it’s true, it sounds kind of sexy.

I push the thought from my head. “So who is this all-knowing person that we’re going to see?”

He inches to the left as a sleek, black car rolls up the road, driving close to the curb. “Draven.”

“The guy you were so afraid of back at the Black Dungeon? I thought he was dangerous and the reason why… the reason why Aislin got bit.”

“Aislin got bit because she was a Keeper and most Vampires loathe Keepers.” His jaw goes taut as we round the side of a warehouse. The road reaches a dead-end of dumpsters that line the walls of boarded up, metal buildings. “You’re not a Keeper, so you should be fine, but I’m not going to try and convince you that what we’re doing isn’t dangerous. I think you deserve more than being lied to and walking in blindly.”

“And I appreciate that,” I say. “I’m just a little nervous.”

“That’s perfectly understandable,” Laylen replies as we halt in front of a door on the side a large, rusty looking warehouse. “But Draven should be able to help us.”

“How though?”

“You know how I can control emotions?”

Goosebumps dot my skin, but more from excitement than the cold. “Yeah.”

He glances up at the stars in the sky. “Well, Draven has a different kind of gift—or curse depending on how you want to look at it. He can see what’s going on in different realms.”

“Realms, like The Underworld.” I shiver.

He nods, his attention drifting to the door. “So, if we can get him to agree, he should be able to see if your mom’s still there… it’s going to be hard, though.”

“I figured as much,” I tell him. “Since nothing is ever easy.”

He gives me a partial smile and then removes his arm from my shoulder to rap his hand on the door. The sound echoes from the inside, the only noise that can be heard around us. I’m about to ask him why it’s so quiet when the door swings open and light floods the night.

On the other side of the door is a tall man wearing a hoodie and his dark eyes resemblie coals. His skin is extremely pale like Laylen’s, his lips are a deep red, and he has a sequence of tattoos on his neck.

“Well, well, if it isn’t the cruor fastidio." He leans against the crooked doorframe, assessing Laylen with his dark eyes while I struggle to figure out what a cruor fastidio means.

“You know I’ve drank blood, Kameron” Laylen replies, his blue eyes intense and his voice sinking to a low octave. “I merely choose to do it only when necessary.”

Kameron shakes his head as he runs his tongue along his teeth. “Blood is always necessary in life, but you really don’t have one, do you?”

Laylen glances at me and then to Kameron, remaining nonchalant. “I need inside. Now.”

Kameron’s eyes devour me. “And who’s this lovely creature right here?”

“No one you need to know,” Laylen states, inching in front of me so I’m partially hidden behind him.

Kameron leans to the side to get a better look at me. “She looks like a Black Angel, but the nervousness in her bloodstream suggests otherwise,” he says and then waits for something. Perhaps for Laylen to deny that I am a Black Angel or insist that I do have hidden wings on my back, but Laylen never utters a word. “Fine, remain silent then.” He steps back, getting ready to close the door.

Laylen slams his hand forcefully against it, shoving the door back open. “I said I need in.” His blue eyes blaze and his voice is low, sultry, dangerous.

It’s giving me the chills and adrenaline crashes through my body. I’m scared, yet excited for things I’m not sure I should be excited for. I inch back, but only because my mind and body are becoming so perplexed. I wonder if it’s because Laylen is getting pissed and his emotion gift—or curse—is no longer under his control.

“You know the rules.” Kameron draws the hoodie off his head. His hair is black like the night sky and there’s a scar running diagonally on the side of it. “I can’t let a Black Angel in here. Only Vampires and humans.”

“She is human,” Laylen breathes through gritted teeth, slanting in toward Kameron. “Now open the door.”

Kameron stands upright, trying to stand taller than Laylen, but he lacks the height. “She looks like one, though.”

Laylen backs up with his arms expanded out to the side of him. “But she’s not and, if you’d look harder, you’d realize it.”

Humor dances in Kameron’s eyes. He’s toying with us and completely enjoying it. “Prove it. Make her bleed. Black Angels won’t bleed.”

I wince at the mention of blood and immediately recoil. “What?”

Laylen looks over his shoulder and the fire in his eyes makes me cower back even more. For a second I think he’s going to attack me, but then he blinks and the Laylen I know reappears. He turns back to Kameron. “No fucking way,” he growls.

“Then you’re not getting in,” he replies and starts to close the door again, about to slam my opportunity to find out about my mom away.

I peel back the bandage on my wrist and stride forward showing him my fresh wound. “Look, it’s almost still bleeding.”

He shakes his head. “I want to see your body dripping out blood.”

My expression falls. “That’s not fair.”

“Life’s not fair.” Kameron pauses with an impish smile on his lips and I can tell he’s just messing with our heads. “I want to see Laylen bite you.”

Laylen and mine’s jaws drop. “No way,” Laylen says, seeming horrified. “I can’t.”

Kameron opens his mouth, showing me his set of teeth, white, glinting, fangs fully in view. “Vampires feed on blood, Laylen. That’s what we were made to do.”

“No way,” Laylen repeats simply. “I won’t do it.”

“Then I’ll do it.” Kameron’s eyes fix on me. “Trust me, if you let me sink my fangs into,” he inhales deeply, his nostrils flaring, “that delicious looking skin of yours, I swear you’ll be begging me to never stop.”

On the inside I squirm, but on the outside I’m surprisingly composed. “At first, you said that I need to bleed, not let you feed on me, so give me a damn knife and I’ll show you I have blood in me, even though I’m pretty sure you already know that.”

I expect him to get angry, but instead he cocks his eyebrows. “You know, I really didn’t believe you were one, but the cockiness and boldness coming out of you right now is making me second guess my original assumption.” Kameron starts to slowly shut the door again. “Now bite or no deal.”

I almost hiss at him and snap my teeth. I have no idea where my emotions are coming from at the moment. Whether it’s from the disturbing environment, or if Laylen’s manipulating my emotions. I turn to Laylen and tip my chin to meet his eyes.

I’m trying not to get angry, but the idea of punching Kameron in the face right now is really appealing. He’s the one thing getting in my way of perhaps learning something about my mother’s whereabouts.

“Bite me,” I tell Laylen and his eyes nearly pop out of his head. Before he can argue, I add, “Just scuff my skin with your teeth. You don’t have to drink any of my blood, just spill some out.”

“Now that’s not fun.” Kameron pouts as he crosses his arms and leans against the doorway. “I want to see a show.”

I glare at him. Sick, twisted, pervert.

“It’s not for fun,” Laylen says, and my attention returns to him. His eyes locked on me and his brows are furrowed. “It’s only so you have to let us in.”

Kameron rolls his eyes. “Fine. Scrape your teeth against her and prove that she’s a mere mortal... so fucking boring.”

Laylen’s lip twitches as he stares down at me. His body spasms as he struggles to keep his expression tranquil and I wonder what I’m getting into; how dangerous will this really be? Will he lose control? Drink my blood? Kill me? Do I care?

I stick my trembling arm toward him and his gaze instantly snaps down to it, zoning in on my wrist. In the moonlight, my skin looks white and the bluish purple vein below it is visible.

Laylen’s long, cold fingers curl around my wrist and he wets his lips with his tongue. Then he lowers his mouth to my arm and my heart slams inside my chest as his lips part, his neck muscles tensing as a pair of fangs descend from his gum line. He lets out a growl that makes my heart leap and then a groan that makes my stomach somersault. I try to hold as still as I can, but a flurry of emotions—some dark, some fearful, some needy—whisk through me as I watch his mouth brush my wrist.

He bites on his bottom lip, sucking his lip ring into his teeth, and strands of his blond hair fall into his eyes. Seconds later, I feel a sharp, fiery sting as his fangs delve into my wrist and pierce through my skin.

“Ahh…” The pain mingled with bliss in my voice shocks me. My muscles tense as blood seeps out of my wrist, two pools of blood trickling a path down my arm.

He doesn’t put the fangs in deep, but he doesn’t pull back, either. His eyes shut and he lets out a deep, throaty groan that sends a shiver of pleasure through my body. I bite down on my lip hard to keep myself from begging him to sink his teeth into my pulse. It feels so Goddamn good and the idea of them being in further—him being in further—is driving me crazy. My skin is humming, my pulse throbbing, and my mind as well as my body are spinning out of control. I reach up and clutch onto his shoulder with my free hand.

“I can’t…” he whispers, his breath hot against my skin. “I need to stop…”

“Can’t what…” I breathe, forgetting where I am, what’s happening. Nothing other than his teeth and my blood seem to matter.

He pulls away, looking euphoric, like he’s high on my blood; his pupils possessive and out of touch with reality. The look makes my pulse hammer even faster and I can feel an emotion drizzling through my veins; a comforting need to surrender myself to Laylen. The lesions on my wrist continue to trickle out blood, a red trail rolling down my hand and onto the pavement below my feet. I cover them with my hand, trying to limit the amount spilled, but only because of Kameron and the fear that the sight of it might cause him to attack me.

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