She just stared back at him.
His hands fisted. “Right. You don’t remember that part, do you?”
“No,” she gritted out. “I don’t.”
“When a vampire takes blood from live prey, the vamp can tap into that person’s memories.”
So she didn’t have her own memories, but she had his?
“I’m not sure which highlights you saw,” he said, and she was glad that he didn’t try to come any closer to her. She wasn’t sure what she would have done. “But I’m guessing from the scream that just shook this place, they weren’t good ones, huh?”
She gazed into those glowing eyes. “Do you have good ones?”
His fisted hand rose and pressed over his chest. Right over that dark tattoo that covered his heart. “I do.”
“I didn’t see them.”
“What did you see?”
“You.” Her breath felt cold in her lungs. “Killing vampires.”
He nodded. “I’ve done that.” A long pause. “A lot.”
“But you weren’t just…killing them. You were—you were drinking from them.”
All emotion left his face. “Saw that, did you?”
“Do werewolves do that?” She hated being so lost. “You drink from your prey?” She’d thought that blood-drinking was something that only vampires had to do for survival.
Alerac began walking toward her. She backed up, instinctively, and her shoulders pushed into the heavy wood of the bedroom’s wall.
He kept coming. Stalking her. Closing in.
“No,” the answer slowly growled from him. “Usually, we just kill our prey and move on. But I needed their blood.”
His jaw was clenched tight. “You.”
Jane could only shake her head.
“You changed me. After you, I wasn’t just a werewolf.” He sounded angry, enraged—at her? “I had to feed from them. I didn’t want their blood. I wanted—”
He broke off. She was pretty sure her heart had just jumped right into her throat. “You wanted my blood,” Jane finished.
“I guess you addicted me.” Still angry. “You changed me. Made me into something other than the wolf I’d always been. I stopped aging. I didn’t die, and the hunger for the blood grew.”
So—what? He was some cross between a vampire and a werewolf?
“It wasn’t just about feeding.” Those images were in her head, and Jane couldn’t get them out. “You—you tortured them.”
No denial. She’d hoped for one.
But he just stood there, watching her.
“Why?” Jane demanded.
“Because they deserved the pain that was coming to them. They were there that night. They took you. They trapped you.”
“And you killed them.”
A little shrug. “It’s what I do.”
He terrified her. “No one should speak of death so easily.”
His eyes narrowed. “What did the vampires look like in your dreams?”
She wanted to put distance between them. To run.
I can still feel his touch on my skin.
“T-two were chained in a dungeon.” That was what it had looked like. Just like a medieval dungeon that she’d seen on a history channel special once. “One was blond. The other had brown hair. You killed the blond first, and then—then you turned on the other one, even though he said…” She couldn’t finish.
“Dunstan said that he didn’t know where you were.” He raked a hand through his tousled hair. “He lied. It was his ship that took you across the ocean. Your blood that I’d found still staining the floor of the vessel.”
Nausea rolled in her stomach.
“He deserved exactly what he got.” There was no remorse from Alerac. “They all did.”
She shouldn’t ask. She shouldn’t, but she did. “How many?”
He stared back at her.
“How many vampires have you killed?”
Then he smiled at her. Lifted his hand. Stroked her cheek. “My Jane…I stopped counting long ago.”
She knocked his hand away. Shoved him away. She’d thought that she could trust him. That he could help her.
But he was just as much of a monster as the creatures that had come after her. Killing. Not caring. Again and again.
“Jane.” Anger beat in her name as he squared off against her. “You don’t know what they did—”
She locked her arms around her body. Escape. It was all she could think of. “How long until you drink from me?” He’d said that her blood addicted him. That she was the one he truly wanted.
Now, too late, she realized it wasn’t about physical love. Or even some kind of emotional attachment that had linked him to her across time. To him, her blood was power.
And he wanted as much power as he could get.
“I could have taken your blood when I took your body.” Cold words. Brutal words.
“I didn’t,” he said.
No, he hadn’t, but she remembered a moment when his teeth had edged over the curve of her shoulder. When she’d felt just a flash of pain.
Then he’d pulled back.
“You wanted to,” she whispered.
One dark brow rose. “Are you going to pretend that you didn’t want to taste me? Because I’ll know that you’re lying. I saw your fangs.”
Fangs that were emerging, even then. She clamped her lips closed, horrified.
“It’s what we are,” he said simply, shrugging. “When we fight and when we fuck, the bloodlust rises within us.”
She didn’t want bloodlust. She just wanted—
I don’t know! But it isn’t this!
“We can’t fight nature.”
She wanted to try. “You found me in Florida. Then you brought me here…because my blood makes you stronger?”
His eyelids flickered. “I brought you here to keep you safe.”
She knew he was lying to her. Jane shook her head. “Try again.”
Before he could speak, she heard someone calling his name. Then Liam was shoving open the bedroom door. The werewolf glanced at her—a fast sweep with his eyes that took in her sheet-clad body—then focused completely on Alerac. “We have company.”
The way he said it, Jane knew he wasn’t talking about the good kind of guest.
Alerac spun toward him.
“Ryan,” Liam said flatly. “He must have heard that we have her.”
Alerac marched for the door.
“Wait!” She hurried after him.
Alerac didn’t slow.
So she grabbed him and made him stop. “Who is Ryan?”
Jane didn’t like the look that Liam and Alerac shared.
“Who is Ryan?” Jane repeated.
“A vampire.” It was Liam who spoke. “A very powerful, very angry vampire.”
Great. “Someone else who wants me dead?” Maybe they should just make a line.
Alerac glanced down at her hand as it curled around his arm. “I have a…truce…of sorts with Ryan.”
“A truce that will be ending,” Liam muttered. “You know it’s gonna be over.”
Alerac nodded. “I will speak with him. Have the guards escort him to cabin on the ridge. I’ll meet him there.”
So he was just waltzing off to meet this Ryan guy? “I want to come with you.”
“No.” An immediate and hard denial. “If he sees you…” Alerac exhaled. “I’ll have an even worse battle on my hands.”
“Is he the one who has been trying to kill me?” The vampire who’d sent men after her? Twice?
“Lorcan has been hunting you. As for Ryan, I’ll find out exactly what he wants.” His focus shifted briefly to Jane’s face. “He won’t be a threat to you.”
That wasn’t the answer she’d wanted.
But it appeared to be all that she was getting.
Alerac left her, with Liam following right on his heels behind him. There were murmurs in the hallway. Jane put her ear to the door and heard—Alerac was putting guards on her! Men to make sure that she didn’t leave the bedroom.
What. The. Hell.
She started searching for clothes. She yanked open the closet. She’d take something of Alerac’s and make an outfit. Just like on that fashion show she liked to watch.
Except she didn’t have to make anything work.
Because one side of that massive closet contained clothes. Women’s clothes.
“What’s happening?” Did the werewolf have another lover? Lovers? Her eyes narrowed as she yanked some clothes from the hangers. She jerked them on.
A perfect fit.
She glanced into the long mirror that waited at the end of the closet.
The shirt that she’d grabbed was the same blue as her eyes. The jeans hugged her hips and curled over her legs.
She found shoes next—shoes that were the exact size that she wore.
The tightness in Jane’s gut grew worse.
Whirling, she rushed from the closet.
She didn’t waste time heading for the door and the guards out there. Instead, Jane hurried toward the big window that looked out over the mountains. She put her hands on the window pane and stared down.
Alerac and Liam were walking beneath her. The glow from the moon illuminated them.
They’re going to meet the one called Ryan.
Alerac killed vampires.
He can’t kill this one. Because something had happened when Alerac mentioned Ryan’s name.
An image had flashed in her mind. An image of a tall man, with pale skin and blond hair.
And her eyes.
She wanted to see this man—this vampire.
She wanted to make sure that he stayed alive.
Jane waited. Watched until Alerac vanished down a snaking path that led into the woods.
Then she opened the window. Three floors up.
A fall like that would kill a human.
Good thing she wasn’t human.
She crawled through the window, clung to the side of the house for an instant, then she let go and just fell.
“Where is she?”
Alerac schooled his features as he faced off against Ryan McDonough.
It had been five years since he’d last seen the vampire. That night, they’d both been covered in blood. They’d gone for each other’s throats.
He could have killed the vampire then. Alerac had been moments away from taking the man’s head. But he’d stopped.
Because Ryan had her eyes.
“She’s free, I know she is.” Ryan’s voice no longer held even the hint of an Irish accent. Like Alerac, he’d left their homeland long ago.
Left searching for what had been taken.
Alerac glanced over his shoulder. Liam was watching them with a guarded gaze. Liam had never trusted the vampire, and he’d sure never understood why Alerac let the guy keep living.
“I was at the bar in Miami. I talked to the woman who owned the place. She told me—”
“Talked?” Alerac interrupted slowly as he sauntered around the small cabin. “Or did you drink her?”
Ryan’s lips thinned. “I needed the truth. I got it. Then I had to fly all the damn way up here to catch you—and you know I hate those damn planes.” Then he moved in a fast lunge and grabbed Alerac’s arms. “Where is Keira?”
Alerac’s claws had burst free at the attack. Even as Ryan tightened his hold, Alerac had his claws at the vamp’s throat. “I let you come onto my land.”
“Because you have my sister!” There was no fear in Ryan’s blue gaze. Only rage. “And I want her back.”
Not happening. “You need to step back. Or else we’re about to see if you’re still as much of a bleeder as before.”
Jaw locking, Ryan slowly released Alerac. But he didn’t retreat. The vamp kept standing toe-to-toe with him. “I heard her cries in my mind. Over and over again, until they nearly drove me mad.”
He’d always known that Ryan shared a deep connection with Keira. Twins. The only born vampire twins that Alerac knew of in this world.
He just hadn’t realized exactly how deep that connection went for them.
“I knew the exact moment when she was free,” Ryan’s voice was low. “Because that’s when her screams stopped.”
Alerac swallowed. “If you were so tied to her, then why the hell couldn’t you find her?”
Ryan shoved him across the room. Alerac slammed into the wall.
“I tried!” Ryan snarled.
Liam rushed at him.
Ryan’s fist sent the wolf down.
“In my mind, all I saw was darkness. All I could hear was her screams. I searched…” Ryan stalked toward him. “Just as hard as you did. I never gave up on her.”
The vamp’s fangs were out.
Only fair, since Alerac had never lost his claws.
“You just found her first,” Ryan continued. His lips twisted into a savage grin. “But you don’t get to keep her. She’s my blood. My clan. And I’m taking her home.”
The hell he was.
“Home?” The word was barely human. It took all of the control Alerac possessed to keep the form of a man. “A crumbling castle in Ireland? One that even you haven’t inhabited in a century? And don’t damn well talk to me about her clan. It was her clan that turned on her. That let her be sentenced to that hell.”
“For you!” Something seemed to break behind Ryan’s eyes. He lunged at Alerac. Punching. Kicking. Clawing. “You destroyed everything!”