Home > Bane (Vampire Apocalypse, #1)(13)

Bane (Vampire Apocalypse, #1)(13)
Author: H.M. Ward

Kahli’s jaw opened and for a moment, only air came out. “You… You said…”

Will was grinning. Shaking his head, he leaned closer to her face, his eyes locked on hers, “I never lied to you. From square one, I told you the truth.” When you weren’t stabbing me, he thought.

“You did not!” her voice rose, but she wasn’t mad. There was something that he did. She was certain of it, but she couldn’t remember. The incident seemed hazy, like a dream quickly forgotten.

Will knew what she was talking about. When he’d used her full name to compel her, the effects left her memory foggy. Thank god, because she looked like she wanted to kill him and that was the only thing he’d done wrong. Well, to her anyway. “Listen, I’ve been trying to talk to you. I wanted to tell you since I saw Reggie in the ballroom—”

“Tell me what? That selling me once wasn’t enough?” Somehow they were nose to nose. Kahli’s body was wound so taut that she thought she would pop. She clutched the blanket draped over her shoulders, strangling the fabric with a death-grip. Will’s gaze fell on her knuckles, which were turning white.

The girl was practically shaking, she was so angry. He wasn’t usually this dense. When a he did something that made a woman enflamed like that, he knew what it was and usually did it on purpose. This time was no different. He said things that he never had the opportunity to correct. “I tried to tell you, but things flew out of control. I never got the chance…” he ran his hands through his hair, shaking his head, “No wonder why you’re so mad. You think I saved you from the wolves and patched you up to sell you to a vampire? Of course it sounded like that. It was supposed to, but I didn’t sell you to him. I wouldn’t do that to you… But this isn’t the time—” Will realized his lips were a breath away from hers, his eyes met hers, and he knew she noticed it, too. They were standing close together, her night dress brushing against his shirt. How did they get so close? Will finished speaking, barely breathing, “Or place.”

Kahli watched his lips move as he spoke. What was he doing to her? It had to be him, using his vamp charms to, to… to what? He couldn’t have her. It’s not like he’d ask her out or something. Kahli looked at his perfectly pink lips and shivered. Closing her eyes tightly, she pulled away, putting space between the two of them.

Will sucked in air, his lungs filling like they’d burst, and exhaled. He tried to force out the insanity that this girl breathed into his life, but it was still there like an itch he couldn’t reach. “I promise that I’ll tell you what’s going on. You just need to give me a little while. There are times when I can speak more freely than others. Until then, you just have to trust me. And, Kahli, I keep my promises. Always.” Will’s gut twisted as he lied to her face. He wanted to be the kind of man who made a promise and kept it, but his life wasn’t so simple. There were other forces at work, forces that overrode his sense of virtue.

Kahli stared at him. The sincerity in his voice made the pit of her stomach twist. He seemed too good to be true, which meant he wasn’t. He was hiding something. He had to be. Why would he promise her anything? She was an animal to him, something beneath him. But the way he spoke, the way his eyes lingered on her face, it made her want to believe him. Shoving away the thoughts, she nodded. There was no time to think about things. That wasn’t the way her life worked. Surviving was all she’d ever known. And at that moment, it was just another test she had to pass to remain alive. Making the mistake of thinking Will was her friend would be fatal. It didn’t matter that Cassie liked him. Saying he was the nicest murderer amongst the vampires in the palace didn’t make him a good man. Speaking with intentions that were well meant, didn’t mean a thing either.

Instead of voicing her opinions, she just nodded. They continued to walk through the dimly lit halls until they came to an ebony door. Will pushed through. The interior of the room contained padded chairs and chases. Candles flickered on the walls casting a warm glow in the cool room. The wallpaper was flocked velvet the color of dried blood.

Will extended his hand toward the chase, “Sit.”

Kahli did as she was asked, “What are we doing here?” She glanced around as she spoke, her soft hair falling over her shoulders.

Will stopped in front of a massive desk. It had intricate carvings of plants that had gone extinct long ago. There were grapes and vines—things that couldn’t survive the ice and snow—tangling up the thick desk legs. Will pulled open a drawer and heavy things made scraping sounds against the wood.

“The queen requested a tasting. She has someone here that she means to impress, and apparently this is how she plans on doing it. You’ll have to,” he stopped, his hand on a cold golden needle, “I’m sorry. I didn’t tell you anything about this, did I? The other night went totally wrong and then they…” his voice trailed off. Will looked down into the desk. He was still, like he was reliving something that he didn’t want to remember. His eyes glazed over and when he glanced up at her, he said, “It doesn’t matter. The point is that this is the first time I was able to get to you since our little incident on the lawn, so you’ll have to learn as we go along.”

The floor of Kahli’s stomach fell. He was going to do something to her. And the vamps had done something to him. She was sure of it. That look was a combination of pain and grief. She knew it well. It had sat on her small face for years before she learned to hide it. Will hid everything. Most of the time his expression was a mask, so why did he let her see that? Was it a slip? Or did he do it for another reason?

For half a second, she didn’t care. Kahli stood and walked over to him. Will glanced up at her, cautious. “They did something to you. Because of me.” Kahli’s eyes searched his face. She already knew the answer, she just wished she knew what they did. Vampires could control humans, but what about Bane? Could he hold his own against the Queen? Or was he her lapdog?

Will ignored her and extracted three tiny tools and a golden plate. He laid them on the desk. Kahli continued, “I didn’t think they’d blame you.”

“They have their own set of rules. It’s not something you could have known.” His eyes flashed at her, deep blue and deadly. It was the same look he had when he was fighting the wolves. It made Kahli’s pulse skyrocket. “Are we calling a truce?”

She nodded, “Yes, it seems like we should. Temporarily anyway. Just tell me what you’re doing and why. I, um, have issues with vamps and blood.” A shiver slid down her spine. Her issue was she wanted to kill every vampire she found, and she didn’t want any of them tasting her blood. But things changed and now she was agreeing to allow a vampire to tap her like a maple tree.

“No,” Will gasped sarcastically, his hand over his heart feigning shock. “I had no idea.” She smiled at him. It was a nervous smile, one that said she was trying, but wasn’t sure if she could do this. “Hey,” he placed his hand on top of hers, “this part is easy.” He smiled crookedly at her.

She nodded, her eyes drifting toward his hand. His smooth skin felt warm—human—not vampire. He slid it away too soon and went back to readying tools on a tray. Nodding to the chaise, he asked her to sit. Kahli sat down and leaned back in the overstuffed chair. Will was standing at her shoulder. She couldn’t see him. Her blood rushed through her body faster and faster. Panic was starting to strangle her.

Her voice was clipped, a little too high, a little too tense, “Tell me what you’re doing.”

Will kneeled next to her and showed her a needle. It was longer than a sewing needle with an equally sharp tip. He held it out to her, but she didn’t take it. “This is used for tastings. I’ll prick your finger and the blood will drip into these little silver dishes. It’s only three drops each, so nothing major. It’s for a taste and nothing more. This isn’t enough for a feeding. It’s more to show off and see if you’ll try and kill me.” He shook his head, smiling tightly. “Anyway, that’s it. A prick of your finger, a couple of drops, then we close the wound and send you back to bed.”

Kahli’s heart was pounding. It didn’t sound bad, but she didn’t like that she was being forced to do it. She tried to relax and accept it, but she couldn’t. When Will reached for her hand, she was shaking. It wasn’t fear. It was something else—some deeply engrained thought that said she failed if they tasted her. Will felt her hand tremble and looked up at her. Kahli had her bottom lip in her mouth and was biting down hard, trying to restrain herself. Every part of her body, every corner of her mind said to fight. Fight him off, kill him. Now.

“Hey,” he said, trying to settle her down, not realizing how unstable she was, “it’s not that bad. I can’t imagine that you’re afraid of anything, so what is it?” After seeing her slaughter a pack of wolves, he didn’t think she was afraid of anything. She mouthed off to the monarchy, as well. But a needle made her tremble. He didn’t get it. Why was she spooked? Will clasped her hand tighter, and looked up at her. “I’m not a wolf. I won’t tear you to shreds.”

Her eyes were glazed over, fighting the impulse to attack. Kahli’s arms were shaking the tiniest amount. It was rage, making her shiver like a frightened cat. Her mind wouldn’t allow herself to think this was okay. It was wrong. On every level it was wrong. But there was nothing she could do. It took every bit of self-restraint she had to sit there. Will held her hand softly, like he cared, but she knew it was a lie. He just needed blood.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she answered, “Just do it.”

Will glanced up at her for a moment. Her voice was strained, her body tense. Her lip was back in her mouth, getting crushed by her teeth. He moved quickly, and pricked her finger with the needle. Kahli stared blankly ahead. She didn’t watch six drops of blood fall. She didn’t want to feel anything. She didn’t want to remember any of this. Will’s warm fingers were on hers, squeezing the blood.

He worked quickly. Doing this to Kahli was like trying to chisel a piece of china. He felt like she’d break at any moment, and when she did—he didn’t know if she’d fall apart or attack everyone and everything in her path. When the last drop fell, he lifted her finger to his lips without thinking. He didn’t tell her that it was normal. He thought she knew.

Kahli sucked in a gasp, suddenly feeling his tongue flick against her finger. Startled, she jerked her hand back.

Will, still kneeling in front of her, looked up into her face, “Sorry. It helps you heal faster. I didn’t mean to frighten you.” His eyes were on hers and her body felt hot. Flushed. Her head was spinning, spinning with denial, betrayal, and a million thoughts she shouldn’t be thinking.

Watching her face, Will saw the cut on her lip open when she pulled her hand away. He leaned in close, slowly. Kahli’s heart was pounding in her chest. His eyes shifted between her lips and her eyes, as if he were asking permission. She sat there, barely able to breathe. Will leaned in closer, his dark lashes lowered, his eyes fixated on the drop of blood on her lip. He shouldn’t do it. He shouldn’t taste her, but he couldn’t let her leave with a cut.

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