Belonging

Ebook only

A Hunters World Novella

Being a vampire sucks. Just ask Cori Lewis.

The “Change” didn’t change her enough. She’s still shy, quiet and she never feels as though she belongs anywhere.

Not even with the people who took her in after the vampire attack that left her near death. But other things have changed a lot. Cori needs sex — now!

She goes in search of a one-night stand — hot sex with an anonymous man in a dark alley — and her life changes yet again.

He’s a connection to the past she thought was lost and he’s everything she’s ever dreamed. But when he finds out who she is, he might never be able to forgive her.

Monsters—damn it, Levi was so damn tired of the monsters that preyed on others. Snarling, he pulled back his fist and would have driven it over and over into the man’s busted face if something hadn’t caught his arm.

The hand on his forearm was feminine, delicate. Very delicate, incongruous with the strength there. Struggling to jerk away, Levi snarled, “Get the fuck off.”

A soft sigh. “You wanted to help me. You did it. You don’t need to beat him to death.  I think he got your message.”

He tugged again, but that hand holding him didn’t budge. Hell, it might as well have been a chain of titanium restraining him, though he knew it was a trick of the mind. Brought on by grief. Liquor. Rage. Slowly, he looked down at the man but he couldn’t even make out the face. With a snarl, he shoved to his feet and stumbled off.

As he did, the man whimpered and scrambled off, crawling the first few feet before clambering upright and stumbling away. Fucking miracle the bastard can even move, Levi thought distantly.

Sucking a deep breath of almost frigid air, he glanced around, looking for the woman. Fuck, the other one…where was the other guy? Had she been hurt?

Squinting in the darkness, he forced words out through a raw throat. “Are you okay?”

A long silence and then again, that soft sigh he’d heard earlier. “Okay enough, I guess.”

“Did they hurt you?”

“Hurt me?” She sounded confused. A pause. As though them hurting her hadn’t occurred to her. “No, they didn’t hurt me.”

Her voice was closer now, hough he hadn’t heard her move. Hell, he could barely see her, a slim, slight shadow lost among darker shadows. He caught the impression of a pale face, hidden behind a dark fall of hair. Her voice changed, dropped to a low, hoarse rasp, as she said, “You’re hurt, though.”

She touched him, her fingers quick and light, too cool as they glided across his wrist. “I’m fine,” he said, glancing down at his hand. It hurt like a mother and would be worse once the adrenaline faded. But the physical pain was almost a sweet release. Especially since he’d been able to vent some of the rage trapped inside him. He flexed his fingers and tried to assess the damage but it was too dark. Not even the thinnest slice of a street light penetrated this far into the alley and overhead, clouds obscured the moon.

“What are you doing out here this late?” he asked, getting more irritated by the second as pain and adrenaline chased the alcoholic haze from his mind. “Not the safest part of town for a midnight stroll. At this hour, you’re going to run into all sorts of freaks and sickos.”

He wasn’t sure, but he thought she might have laughed. “Freaks. Yeah, there are all sorts of freaks around, aren’t there?”

She touched his wrist again and this time, she lifted his hand upward. He shifted, trying to get her a little more into the light so he could see her face, but she didn’t budge. Keeping her head down, she studied his hand closely, too closely. “It’s fine. Hell, not like you can see it that good in here anyway. Come on, let me…”

She dipped her head and pressed her lips to the back of his hand, carefully avoiding his torn, ragged knuckles. “Thank you.”

Her lips were soft, cold. Hunger punched into him, flaring to life from nowhere, emerging from the dark despair that had gripped him for the past three days. Hissing out a breath, he tugged on his wrist. She reluctantly let go and sighed, a shuddery, shaking sound. His voice gritty, Levi rasped, “Come on. I dropped my phone by the sidewalk. Let me find it and we can call the police.”

“No!” Her voice was sharp, nearly desperate.

“Lady, you need to file a police report.”

“No. I can’t call the police.”

“Look, I know you’re upset, but you need to—”

“No, I don’t need to. I’m not hurt. There’s no reason to file a report.”

She wouldn’t do it. Arguing with her wasn’t going to do anything but add to the headache that threatened to take the top of his head off. “Then let me get you home,” he said, sighing. He couldn’t leave her here. If she wouldn’t file a police report, he’d at least make sure she got home safely. How, he wasn’t sure—he was too fucking drunk to drive and too fucking broke to call a cab.

“No.” She shook her head and backed away, keeping her face averted so that her hair hid it.

“I’m not leaving you.” Levi squinted his eyes, trying to get a better look at her. Her voice. There is something familiar about it, he thought.

She moaned, her body swaying.

“Damn it.” He closed the distance between them and caught her arm in his hand as she faltered. Terror clutched his heart, made his voice harsher as he snarled, “I thought you said they didn’t hurt you.”

“They didn’t hurt me.”

And they hadn’t, but Cori was still in pain. All but reeling with it. Half sick with it, and it was compounded by her stupidity. She’d figured that she could find some guy in a bar who’d be willing enough to give her what she needed without asking much of anything in return. She’d stopped at the first one she’d found in Richmond. But just before entering, a wave of self doubt had washed over and she’d ducked into the alley to give herself a pep talk.

The two men had seen her and, though she’d heard them approaching, she hadn’t worried overmuch. She was short, female, and looked like a stiff wind would blow her over but that vampire strength that usually failed to impress her would come in handy. When they’d grabbed her, she’d tried reason first.

They’d laughed and that was when Galahad, or whatever his name was, had come rushing up. She’d been startled by his sudden appearance, but completely taken off guard by the way her body reacted.

The way her body was still reacting. She couldn’t really even see him that clearly, though granted, she was trying very hard not to even look at him. Looking directly at him would make it worse, so she just didn’t look. She’d caught a glimpse of dark hair, the vague impression of his height, but nothing else. And still, she was hovering on the brink of orgasm, just from being close to the guy.

Her nipples, hard, hot little points, stabbed into her bra, rubbing against the silk, the sweet abrasion almost painful. Her thighs shook under her and she had to lock her knees to keep from sagging against him. Worse, her gums throbbed in warming and as he moved closer, she could feel her fangs extending.

The taste of blood was heavy in her mouth. Blood. She’d bitten one of the men who had been getting ready to attack her. Cori had bitten somebody, and not because it was time for a midnight snack either. She’d defended herself, but now the taste of blood was bitter in her mouth. She averted her head. Although she knew he couldn’t see her, she couldn’t look at him with blood on her mouth.

He reached out a hand and brushed her hair back. Unable to stop herself, she turned her face into his palm and rubbed against him.

His hand shook.

Lids drooping over her eyes, she took in a deep, slow breath. There.

She could smell it. Smell him Smell his hunger. He felt it, too. Either the darkness was seriously working in her favor or the vamp mojo was kicking in, because the air around them began to spike with heat and hunger,  and not all of it was hers. Desperation made her daring and she took one small step closer. Then another. Another.

The long black skirt she wore was little hindrance to the cold wind cutting through the night, but she barely felt it. What she could feel was him. His heat. His hunger. His gaze staring down at her bowed head, all but willing her to look at him.

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