Home > Tegan's Blood (The Ultimate Power #1)(12)

Tegan's Blood (The Ultimate Power #1)(12)
Author: L.H. Cosway

A cold sweat slicks itself over my entire body. It makes me shiver and I feel like there are tiny spiders crawling over my skin. Then I hear the most gentle of knocks on my front door.

“Tegan, let me in,” says Ethan, his voice is a sea of calm.

“Go away.” I shout, because I really can’t face him.

“I could knock down this door if I wanted. I’m merely refraining out of respect for your home,” he replies, through gritted teeth.

“I’m ill Ethan. Leave me alone.” I’m on the cusp of begging now.

“Then let me take care of you.”

I don’t reply. Perhaps if I stay silent he’ll get bored and leave. For several minutes there is quiet. Then, abruptly, I hear a loud bang on the door.

“Goddammit Tegan, I’m not going to wait much longer.”

I hear my neighbour’s door open and somebody steps out into hallway.

“Could you keep it down?” says the old man who lives by himself in the apartment across from mine.

“You will go back inside and return to sleep,” says a cold and mechanical voice. It takes me a minute to recognise it as Ethan’s.

“I will go back inside and return to sleep,” repeats my neighbour, he sounds like he’s in a trance. Then I hear his door close, the lock flick over and he’s gone. It’s quiet again. Except I can hear a vague scratching sound. What the hell is that? A moment later my heart jumps when the bathroom door opens and Ethan steps inside.

“How did you get in?” I ask, stunned.

“I have my talents,” he replies, nonchalant.

“Breaking and entering is illegal you know, I could call the police.”

“Ah, but you see there was no breaking involved, I merely entered. Go and check the lock and see for yourself.”

“Ethan,” I say, tired and weary. “Will you please just leave and let me rest?”

“I wish to speak with you about what happened tonight,” he says as he stands in my bathroom doorway, tall and threatening as a hunting tiger. “But could we please go to another room?” he continues. “This place reeks of blood and death.”

“Well,” I reply, “you’d know all about that now wouldn’t you,” my voice is snappy, desperate almost, and my stomach churns at his use of the word blood. The image of it is far too fresh in my memory.

“It goes with the territory I’m afraid,” he replies gravely.

I grab a piece of tissue from the holder beside the toilet and do my best to dab the cold sweat from my forehead.

“Wait a minute,” I say, my thought processes finally catching up. “What do you mean my bathroom reeks of blood and death?”

“A man took his life in this very room did he not? You may have washed away the evidence of that act, but for one of my species the scene is as it was before any of his blood ever got cleaned away. I can smell and sense it all around me.”

That must be another special ability of vampires, they know if blood has been spilt in a particular area. My stomach clenches, heaves, trying to make me be sick again, but there’s nothing left inside for me to throw up. My head tilts to the side of its own volition, like a wilting daisy. Then, without even a passing second, Ethan is crouched before me, he picks me up and I allow him to do so.

He may be a bloodthirsty killer, but right now my options are to either spend the night on my cold bathroom tiles or allow a vampire to carry me to my bed. I decide to go for the latter option. Yes I’m selling out, but there are times when a person has been through so much that they no longer hold the conviction nor the inclination to do what is morally right.

I submit to his strength, his lean, comforting arms, his charade of protection. I should not be taking the easy option. But God, as Ethan pulls back the duvet and lies me in my bed, I don’t think I care any more about good and evil, vampires and slayers. All I want to do is sleep for a month. A year. A decade.

I lie back and sink into the pillows, as I feel Ethan removing my boots. The heavy weight of them drops away as I hear them fall to the floor. He then sits me up and takes off my jacket. I allow him to manoeuvre me as though I were a rag doll.

“For modesty’s sake,” he says in a gentle voice. “I will leave you in your dress.”

I’m consumed by a mixture of exhaustion and stark wakefulness, and if I had any energy at all I’m sure I would have something to say about Ethan mentioning the removal of my dress. However that doesn’t happen, because a moment later I drift off into a deep and heavy sleep.

I don’t wake up until well into the afternoon hours the next day. My eyes are crusty, my throat is dry and I’ve been drooling on my pillow. As I turn over I hear paper crackle from under my head. I reach beneath my hair to find a note. From Ethan. At this moment all of my memories from the previous night suddenly come crashing down on me.

I had vague nightmares of slaughter. Snap shots of the fight between Ethan and the slayers mixed up like a surrealist painting with the imagery of a butcher slaughtering pigs in an abattoir. I suppose that was what Ethan had been doing, because compared to his superhuman strength those slayers were akin to pigs in a slaughterhouse.

I take the note and do my best to de-crumple it. It’s written in a severe joint script, the handwriting of an earlier era I presume. It reads:

Dear Tegan,

The approaching daylight meant that I could not wait for you to wake up.

There remains much for us to discuss. Particularly in relation to your new

place of work. It would please me if you came to the club this evening at

six so that we may finalise matters.

Yours Always,

Ethan.

P.S You are even more delectable when you sleep.

I throw the paper away, angered. What business of his is it where I work? I decide in favour of going to meet him only so that I can set him straight as to the fact that he has no right at all to tell me where I can and cannot work. Fucking vampires. Total control freaks. But I can’t help worrying that his dislike of where I am working is not the only reason he wants me to come to the club. I know his secret. That makes me a liability. And I shudder to think how Ethan Cristescu deals with liabilities.

Upon giving myself a sniff, I decide that a shower is on the cards. I’m sure I excreted at least several litres of sweat last night. Fear seems to be conducive to perspiration. Ugh. I peel off my dress and walk straight to the bathroom. It still smells faintly of vomit. I grab the bleach and pour half its contents down the toilet to kill the odour.

Cold water hits me first and I gasp audibly. I lather on a generous amount of my new jasmine shampoo, then I exfoliate until there’s barely any skin left to scrub. If I scrub my skin hard enough will it scrub away the memories too? Probably not.

When I get out of the shower I wrap up in a massive towel and make myself some tea and toast for breakfast. Then I get back into bed, food and all. I might as well allow myself to relax if I’m going to be meeting up with a killer vampire later this evening.

I pull my phone out of my bag and dial Amanda’s number. I need to speak to her to see if she’s okay, but I also want to know if she remembers anything from last night. I hope she does if only so that I don’t have to carry the burden of this knowledge all on my own. It would be a comfort to be able to talk about the vampires with a fellow human being.

The phone rings five times before she picks it up sounding tired. Her throat is scratchy when she answers, “Hello?” as though she chain-smoked one too many cigarettes the night before.

“It’s Tegan, how are you?” I ask, thinking the question is open enough for her to tell me anything odd that might have happened to her last night, with Lucas for instance.

“As good as I can be considering I’ve got a killer hangover,” she replies. “God Tegan, what did I drink last night?” Yeah, the keyword there being killer.

“You probably drank more than I’d recommend,” I tell her. “Although you did get off with that guy Lucas,” I continue as a prompt. “How did that happen?”

“Oh my God, I didn’t actually believe it when he came and started talking to me. But I think I must have drank too much because soon after we went out to the back of the club and he was kissing me and then I just blacked out. All I know is I woke up in my bed this morning fully clothed. How did I even get home?” she asks, her voice a little nervous.

She’s clearly telling me the truth about not remembering anything. I’d be nervous too if I’d experienced that kind of a memory lapse. Right, so she definitely doesn’t recall the whole “feeding” scenario. Damn. Can I tell her what really happened? My stomach turns over on itself, as though to warn me that the vampires might not take too kindly to me revealing the truth of their existence to my friend. So, like the coward that I am, I lie to her.

“Oh well, you were very drunk, so I told Lucas your address and he drove you home.”

Yeah, more like Lucas rifled through her purse, found her address on an ID card, and then brought her there. They seem to like to be in control these vamps, as I’ve already noted.

“Did he really?” Amanda gushes. “What a gentleman! Oh but I didn’t get his number, do you know it?” she asks hopefully.

“No, I don’t have his number.” I tell her flatly. Although I can tell by the tone of her voice that she’s already infatuated and determined to find some way to see Lucas again. It’s going to take a lot more than me not having his number to ward her off.

“Oh well, that’s too bad, but he works in Crimson right? Maybe I’ll go there again to see him. Hey, why don’t we go tonight?”

“I’m not really in the mood for clubbing tonight Mandy, besides, I already have to drop into Crimson today to see Ethan.” I tell her on a sigh, and immediately regret having said it. There’s no doubt she’ll try to hint at me inviting her along any minute now.

“Ethan?” she asks in a questioning tone. “Who’s that?”

“The owner of the club.” I reply.

“The owner? Why on earth are you meeting up with the owner of a night club?”

“Long story,” I tell her, a really long story. “Apparently we’ve got unfinished business to discuss.”

“Oh Tegan, you’re not in any trouble are you?” she continues with worry.

“No, at least not the kind you’re imagining.” I say, wishing I could just tell her the truth.

“Oh I remember now, Nicky told me that some guy who works at Crimson was into you. She never said it was the owner though, wow, lucky girl.”

Not lucky in the slightest, I think to myself, but little does she know. There’s a moment’s silence, and I can almost hear the cogs turning in the machine that is her love-hungry brain.

Then she asks, “Hey, you wouldn’t want some company on your visit to Crimson, would you Tegan?” as if butter wouldn’t melt.

I smile to myself. I might as well give in to the inevitable. “You aren’t going to quit asking until I say yes are you?”

“Nope.” She answers sweetly.

“I suppose I’d better say yes then,” I reply, consoling myself with the fact that Ethan can’t try anything too extreme if Amanda is with me. I tell her to meet me around the corner from the club on Davis Street, outside a little café called the Butterfly Inn at five to six. Then I hang up. The time on the screen of my phone reads 14:13. I lie back and cuddle into my duvet, making a nest of it, and try to get some shut eye before an evening that could very possibly lead to anything at all.

I don’t wake up again until a quarter past five, so I only have time to quickly brush my teeth and put on a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a royal blue mack before I run out the door to meet Amanda. As predictable as a girl desperate to attract a man can be, Amanda is dolled up to the nines. It’s actually surprising because she never was one to go out of her way to please a man. It must be that special vampire attraction that has her acting out of character.

Her electric blue hair is stylishly messy, her eyes are charcoal black, and she’s wearing a stunning purple dress with shiny black heels. Next to her I feel as plain as a Jane could feel, but my task here isn’t to impress, I’m here to set a very sexist record straight. I will not allow a man I hardly know to tell me what I can and cannot do, even if he is a vampire.

As we take off from outside the café, I lock eyes with a man who has just sat down at a table by the window. He’s handsome, with light brown crew cut hair, dark eyebrows and bright blue eyes. He’s medium height and well built, and for the first few seconds after our eyes meet I don’t actually remember where I know him from, but I would swear that he’s smirking at me.

Then, a moment later, as I walk with Amanda in the direction of Crimson, the penny finally drops. I’ve seen the man in the café before. The man in the café is a vampire slayer. The slayer I begged Ethan not to kill. The only man left alive in that industrial estate last night. And just like Ethan told me, he’s obviously not going to quit hunting him until one of them is dead. That’s clear from the fact that he’s eating in a café not two minutes away from Ethan’s night club. I wonder if he really was smirking at me. The expression is decidedly sinister since I know that he works as a killer for a living, at the very least it’s a weekend hobby of his.

He must have recognised me, he wouldn’t have glanced at me with such fierce eyes if he hadn’t. An intention lay in those eyes. I’m just not entirely sure what it was.

What kind of determination does it take to keep coming after your prey, even when you have witnessed it devour five of your comrades? Should I warn Ethan that the slayer is back already? I’m torn between the two opposing sides, and I can’t decide who needs protection from the other more. Ethan is without a doubt well capable of taking care of himself. And I know that if I tell him of the slayer’s current proximity there’s a good chance he’ll march straight to the café and snuff out the threat. I don’t think I could live with myself knowing that a man got killed because I ratted him out. So I conclude for now that it’s best if I keep my mouth shut.

   
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