Home > Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy #3)(4)

Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy #3)(4)
Author: K.F. Breene

Something had happened with Darius, though. Ever since my near-death experience on our foray into the Island of Eternal Light, where the unicorns lived, his humanity had been creeping back. He claimed he was falling in love with me. It shouldn’t have been possible, and maybe he was lying, but based on his actions and the changes I’d seen in him, the evidence was hard to deny.

Which put me in a bit of a predicament, I had to admit. I couldn’t deny that I also had feelings for him. I didn’t want to attach any L-words to it or anything, but falling for a vampire was as crazy as it was stupid. His species was known for entrapping prey with their sensuality. For using it to take control. If Darius was playing me for a fool, acting like he was invested in our budding relationship and coaxing me to fall for him, he’d be in a unique position to accomplish his ultimate end game: to bond me, emotionally linking us in such a way that severing the connection would cause great pain.

So while it seemed like he was really into what we had going, and that he was genuine in the sweet nothings he said to me in the quiet hours we spent wrapped in each other’s arms, there was a very real possibility that he’d figured out how to manipulate me into getting exactly what he wanted.

A smart girl would’ve run away screaming. A sane girl would’ve kept her distance. Clearly I was neither of those, because I just couldn’t get enough. The man in him was like a disease without a cure—he ate away at me until I had no option but to submit. He was a sickness I loved to hate.

Even the vampire side of him had me on board. Dizzy was right: our practices had improved his already impressive abilities. He’d gotten faster. Stronger. More skilled. If he wasn’t better than Vlad at this point, he was as good, taking away Vlad’s upper hand physically. I doubted there was anyone in the world that could fight alongside me, complementing my abilities with his own, as well as Darius could. And if the two halves of my magic warred with each other, leaving me defenseless, I also doubted there was anyone who would protect me as viciously and ardently as he would. The girl side of me was totally into that. It was very hot.

“I’m good,” I said to Callie as I slid into the driver’s seat. The leather bucket seat welcomed me like a long-lost friend.

I wonder if he’ll let me keep it…

The door shut with a soft plunk.

I pushed the ignition button, then smiled in glee when the engine purred to life. My soft pump of the gas pedal made the beast rev in a refined sort of way.

“What a beauty,” I said in a terrible Australian accent.

Darius sat into the passenger seat a moment later. The dual mages got into their car as well.

“Do you know how to drive it?” Darius asked as he closed the door.

His asking meant I probably didn’t.

He proceeded to explain the paddle shift gearbox and give me some tips on how to keep from losing control. “Most importantly, Reagan,” he said seriously, “don’t kill us.”

“Do not kill us…” I put it in gear. “Got it.”

I stomped on the gas. The tires spun, kicking up dust and slapping the warehouse walls with dirt and rocks. That poor warehouse really had a hard life now that it belonged to me.

The car shot forward.

It would take a lot to kill Darius or me. Game on.

Chapter Three

“That was sensational,” I said as I neared my house twenty minutes later. I would’ve made even better time if Darius hadn’t insisted I obey the stop lights.

Party pooper.

“Yes. You have a knack for reckless behavior,” he said.

“I feel like that shouldn’t be a surprise for you. I’ve never tried to hide that flaw in my personality.”

His lips tweaked upward into a half-smile. When I’d put it in park, he took my hand, turned it over, and kissed me lightly on the inside of my wrist. “Will you allow me to feed from you tonight?”

Butterflies filled my stomach. I tried not to smile like the idiot I was. “Not if you use the word feed, I won’t. We’ve talked about that.”

“Will you allow me to make love to you in the way I do best?”

The heat rushed to my face, and I shut off the car with a small shrug.

When I got out of the car, I was immediately greeted with “What the hell?” Mince, a resident in the neighborhood and an ex-boxer with the nose to show for it, came along the sidewalk in front of my house. He stopped beside the car and shot me an accusing stare. “What did you do, Reagan? What did you do? And, more importantly, what is he going to do to you for doing what you did?”

“Words, Mince. Use your words. Preferably ones that make a little sense.” I walked around the car as Darius got out, managing to look like a million dollars despite being hurt and missing most of his hair. It wasn’t fair.

Mince shoved his finger toward the dent. Every line of his body screamed indignation. “Are you serious?” He turned to Darius, his expression now pleading. “Dude, for the love of all that is holy, do not let her drive your car. Because she did this, right? She’s responsible for the dent? You don’t have to answer. I already know.” He bent over his phone, his fingers tapping the screen. “We’re going to have to get someone to look after it, or it’ll be stolen before you close your door.”

“Smokey will watch it.” I made my way up the stairs. “He’ll let me know if anyone goes after it.”

“That creepy guy is in the hospital. He ain’t watching nothin’ but the drip of the painkillers in his IV.” Mince shook his head at the dent again.

Shock ran through me. Smokey was definitely creepy, always loitering around the neighborhood and watching what went on, but he was harmless and really excited about the supernatural, something humans shouldn’t know about. Humans also shouldn’t get chased down by an aswang, an evil, soul-sucking being, because they knew me. I tended to let the weird factor slide with him. “Smokey is in the hospital? What happened?”

“Just kidney stones. Happens to the best of us. He’s got medical, though, so he’s fine.”

I took a deep breath. Mince was terrible at realizing what was newsworthy and what wasn’t. “You know, in the future, maybe you should lead with news about any attacks, B&Es, or people in the hospital before lamenting a small issue with the door of an inanimate object. It would really help me out.”

Mince looked at Darius in bewilderment. He hooked a thumb my way. “Is she for real? Small issue?” He shook his head and chuckled, focusing on Darius. “You got problems, son. I do not know what you are doing with her.”

I leveled him with a look. “Just remember—if I’m fine with denting a million-dollar car, I am more than fine denting your head with said million-dollar car.”

He took a hop-step toward the cemetery on the other side of the street, one of the more interesting views I could think of for a homeowner in New Orleans. His hands rose into the air. “Don’t get excited. We understand each other.”

I turned and let myself into my house.

“You have colorful neighbors,” Darius said, following me.

“You’ve said that before.”

“And I am surprised anew each time I’m confronted with them.”

“Cognac?” I grabbed a bottle of wine for myself. He nodded and went to my pantry, no doubt remembering my declaration of hunger. Darius cooking for me had turned into one of my favorite things.

Before I sat down at the kitchen table, a knock sounded at my door.

I frowned as Darius paused in his efforts. A moment later, his large frame was in the archway of the kitchen. “Are you expecting someone?”

“No. What’s with the rigidity? Are you expecting an attack or something?” I hopped up and ripped out my sword, uncertainty seeping through me. I didn’t think he still kept things from me that might put me in danger, but I hadn’t threaten-questioned him lately. It was anyone’s guess.

Without a word, he zipped to the front door, claws elongating from his left hand. Nothing else on his body changed, a sign of his excellent control, something that came with age for a vampire.

I took his place in the archway. “Use the peephole—” I cut off as the handle turned and the door cracked open.

Darius stepped to the side and flattened against the wall, clearly intending to use surprise to his advantage.

“She likes us to knock!” Dizzy sounded harried. “How many times does she have to tell us that?”

The breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding left my lungs in a gush.

“No, she likes strangers to knock. She doesn’t care if we just come in,” came Callie’s reply as the door swung open.

Dizzy filled the doorway, looking back at his wife. “What is your head made out of, wood? Darius’s people breaking in makes her jumpy. She wants us to knock!”

Shaking his head, Dizzy turned and took two steps into the entryway. Before I could ask what they were doing following me home—even though I had a sinking suspicion I knew—he glanced over and noticed the large shape with claws.

Dizzy had jumped, reached into his satchel, and thrown a spell before my brain could shift from Why are you here? to finding an appropriate four-letter word to yell.

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