Free SoulBlood Short Story

Read the short story ‘Blood at First Sight’ here for free!
If you’d like to go ahead and purchase Maggie & Jacel’s full story, do so here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B096PWWGFL/

Remember, this short takes place two weeks after Jacel arrived at the base (which happened in the prequel novella, Before the Darkest Hour, which you can read here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09LTJWCKH/)


Chapter One- Maggie

“We need more lotion,” Jezebel says, scratching her dry elbow for emphasis. 

“And shampoo. Oh, and if you can find any Bath and Body Works body wash, I’d absolutely take it.” Evelyn adds, her eyes dreamy as she imagines lathering herself in the scented goodness.

I shake my head silently. For the last two weeks, the vampire has been going outside and retrieving our ‘groceries’. AKA whatever the hell he can scavenge from the abandoned stores nearby. 

“I doubt he knows how to find a Bath and Body Works store, Ev.” I roll my eyes and sigh in aspiration. 

Jacel only stares at me, not paying a bit of attention to the other women. The vampire has been doting on me since the moment he stepped through the door and scared us all shitless. His cold, intense eyes never stray too far from me whenever we’re in a room together. 

It would flatter me by coming from a human man. But him? It’s a tad bit creepy and a lot awkward.

I rub my fingers together beneath the cafeteria table as my friends make their demands. Harper wants black nail polish. Lyra wants hair detangling spray. Alora wants a med kit and whatever medicine he can find. Everyone asks for something, but I’m not even sure the vampire knows what most of the items are. 

He doesn’t ask for clarification, though. He just… stares. 

His black and crimson eyes pull me into their depths each time I look up, trying to ensnare me in his compulsion-laced gaze. My theory on his hypnosis mind control hasn’t been proven yet, but I haven’t been able to explain the way he makes me feel whenever I look at him. What else could it be? Knowing what he is, everything he’s potentially done? It makes little sense that he’d make me feel so… warm. Not unless he’s been bending my mind to his will.

And so I find myself staring at the table a lot. 

“And you, Maggie?” His husky tone catches my attention, and I raise my eyes to his again. Bad idea. 

The moment our gazes lock, I feel my stomach come to life. Butterflies wielding knives fly from the top of my belly to the bottom, flipping and flopping all around. My leg jumps, bouncing under the table as I swallow the lump in my throat. “Um, what?”

He smiles his charming half smile, nearly taking my breath away. I try to focus on anywhere but his mouth, but it’s an impossible feat. Damn compulsion, I think, trying to set my mind back on track. 

Jacel cocks his head to the side, his lips curved as if he’s holding back a laugh. “Do you want me to bring you anything? Perhaps more of the dark chocolate?”

My stomach growls at the thought, and I lick my lips. The vampire found a bag full of dark chocolate candies last week. He kept them from the other girls, delivering them to my door after dinner, once everyone else was in their own rooms. He called them nectar droplets, saying something about how sweet they smelled, and how they reminded him of me. 

“You can bring all of us something sweet if you’d like.” I reply, keeping my tone cool.

His smile disappears, displeasure written in his features. 

I still don’t know why he’s set his sights on me. I’ve given him plenty of hell, making sure I’m the most unapproachable woman in the compound. He could probably have Jezebel in his bed by the end of the week if he gave her an ounce of the attention he’s given me. And yet he’s unrelenting in his quest to make me feel like I belong in his arms. 

Mine. I can’t forget the word he spoke when we first met. He set his claim on me and me alone, and he doesn’t want to give it up. 

If I could get him to change his mind, I would, but I have no fucking clue how to turn down a vampire. The usual ‘uninterested’ attitude isn’t working on this dude. 

“Very well.” He says, standing. “I’ll leave at sundown.”

“And you’ll get the lotion?” Jezebel asks in a whining tone, looking up at the vampire from her chair with puppy dog eyes. 

Jacel pulls a hand through his thick black hair, sighing. “I’ll do my best.” His gaze cuts from her to me, as if he’s directing the statement at both of us. A chill runs over my spine, tingling all the way through my body.

He saunters out of the room, letting one side of the double doors swing shut behind him. 

Lyra blows out a long breath, staring after the vampire. “Dude is intense,” she mumbles.

“Isn’t he? It’s like he’s always stuck between being a hardass and a hopeless romantic.” Evelyn says, darting a look in my direction and wiggling her eyebrows.

I kick her leg under the table, frowning. “He’s a vampire. Maybe that’s just how they act.”

Lyra snorts. “Not all of them. Some like to throw down by munching on throats.” She gestures to the door with a flick of her wrist. “That one is special.”

I’m not so sure that ‘special’ is the right word, but I don’t argue. 

Alora tosses her leg over the bench and stands. “He’s quite interesting. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s just a few evolutionary steps ahead of us humans. He evolved in an unfamiliar environment, of course, but his skills are impeccable. If we had even an ounce of the strength the vampires had, we’d be unstoppable.”

I doubt that. If we had the strength of a vampire, we’d just put up more of a fight. Not only are they strong, but they’re fast, and their bite is deadly. 

All it would take is a single bloodsucker to get through the steel doors of our hideout and we’d all be toast. Our only saving grace is that we have a secret weapon of our own. Jacel. And he claims he’ll help us, even to the point of killing his own people.

Alora grabs her sling bag from the table and pushes the bridge of her glasses up her nose. “I’ll be in the library if anyone needs me.” She smiles at Lyra before parting from the group, leaving in a hurry.

She’s always the first to leave after Jacel leaves the room. The others and I all hang back, scared of being in his presence again, but unwilling to admit it. Alora may be a ball of anxiety, but she isn’t scared of the vampire. Not in the slightest. I, however, fear him the most. Just… not for the same reason as everyone else does.

I’m scared of the way he causes my heart to beat twice its resting rate. I’m terrified of the things he makes me wish I could do. Giving in to these temptations isn’t on my agenda though, regardless of whether it’s compulsion or my own fucked up hormones that’s causing my unusual attraction to him.

“So,” Evelyn says, slapping her palms on the table. “Who’s hungry? I hear pork and beans are on the menu tonight.” 

Again, I add silently.

Jezebel groans loud and long, flattening her head against the table. “Just kill me now,” she grumbles.

“I could eat.” I say, following Evelyn as she dislodges herself from the bench and heads toward the kitchen.

Chapter Two- Maggie

After eating and chatting about nothing in particular with the other girls, Evelyn and I leave the cafeteria. Her room is beside mine, down the third long hallway. 

We could have bunked together if we wanted, but we came to an agreement that we each needed our own space. If we tire of each other, which is possible considering we may be confined in this base for eternity, we can just lock up in our own respectable rooms and ride out the time until we make up. We’ve had disagreements in the past. Once about a boy we both made out with during a drunken game of spin the bottle our freshman year. Another time over who was going to drive during our spring break road trip. All petty arguments, which were always resolved within a day or two.

Regardless, having my own space is important. I need room to breathe. A haven to escape into whenever I need to let my mind rest. Social interactions can be overly taxing sometimes, and I need a safe place to decompress at the end of the day.

Our footsteps are the only sounds in the corridor for the first few minutes, and then Evelyn sighs. “Do you think things are bad outside?”

“I try not to think about it.” I reply, fisting my hands at my side. 

We’ve all tried using our phones to contact our families without avail. The service is shit down here, and when we do find a bar or two, no one answers. My phone has had zero missed calls and no new messages for the last two weeks.

“Have you asked Jacel?” she prompts, glancing at me sideways.

Jacel and I have spoken in private a few times. He seems to think I’m the leader of our small pack, and whenever he has questions or wants to update us on his ventures outside, he comes to me. Most of the time it’s the middle of the night, while I’m lying in bed staring at my ceiling, when he taps on my door. I’ve never let him inside, but he seems content to brood at me from the threshold.

“I haven’t asked, but he has mentioned a few things about downtown. Mostly bad news. The last survivors scavenged a lot of the buildings to scraps, and it looks like all the other humans are dead or have skipped town.” I swallow. 

Just because Nashville is a wasteland doesn’t mean that the rest of the world shares its fate. Maybe Mom and Claire are fine, holed up in our small town with a few of the redneck gunslingers for company. Maybe the mad vampires never made it that far south. Maybe.

Evelyn stops in front of her door, tapping on it lightly as she leans against it, facing me. “You should ask him. We need to know more about the outside world. Maybe he can run to the next town over, see if anyone is alive there.”

“And if they are?” I cross my arms, frowning.

“Then he can bring them here, where they’ll be safe.”

I raise my brows. “Do you think they’ll cooperate? Jacel’s a vampire, despite his good- decent – nature. They probably wouldn’t trust him.”

Evelyn just shrugs. “He could try. If we can find survivors, then maybe life underground would be worth it. I’m not so sure it’ll be fun spending a lifetime in here without an actual life.” A deep frown creases her face. “What about love? Our futures?” She shakes her head, biting the side of her cheek. “I’m trying to stay optimistic, but I don’t want to waste away in here.”

Without thinking, I pull Evelyn into my arms, hugging her tight. “We won’t waste away. We’re young and hot as fuck.” I squeeze my eyes shut, holding her tighter. “Our lives are still worth living.” 

I lean back, trying to keep my misting eyes dry as I give her an encouraging smile. “And we have each other. If I have to dress a mop in a soldier’s uniform and tape a cut out of Leonardo DiCaprio on its head so you’ll have a boyfriend, then I will.”

Evelyn lets out a shoulder shaking laugh and nudges my arm. “I’ll let you know when the need arises.” She arches a brow and leans near my ear, whispering. “Maybe we can talk the vampire into doing a haul from the sex store. I wouldn’t turn down a vibrator.”

My cheeks heat, and I peer down the hall, shushing her. “You know he has superhuman hearing, don’t you? Gosh.”

Ev rolls her eyes, twisting the doorknob as she does so. “He probably doesn’t even know what a dildo is, Maggie.” Her voice rises an octave. “Though it’d be cool if he’d learn.”

I cover my eyes with one hand, turning away as she enters her room. “Bye, Evelyn!”

“Byeee.” She sings back. Her door shuts with a soft click, and then I’m alone.

Our doors are a few yards apart, but the seconds it takes for me to get there are long enough to give the hairs on the back of my neck time to rise.

He’s watching me. I don’t know how I know it, but I do. I can feel his eyes like a physical touch; a caress on my back, a tug on my psyche. My muscles tense, and when I reach my door, I freeze, hand grasping the knob. “I know you’re there, Jacel.”

His response comes as footsteps, slow and steady, the sound echoing through the hallway behind me. I turn, eyes wide before narrowing, when I catch sight of his fierce expression. Every time I see that look on his face, the one filled with brutal longing and possessiveness, my body fights over which emotion it wants to cling to. Awe? Or annoyance? 

Annoyance has won this round. 

His black, volumed hair bounces with his step, and he smiles as he closes in on me. A set of gleaming fangs sparkle beneath his upturned lip, and I can’t prevent the shudder that runs up my arms and over my spine. “Maggie. Funny seeing you here,” Jacel purrs, leaning against the painted concrete wall a few feet away.

I arch a brow. “Oh, surely not, seeing as my room is nowhere near yours, and this hallway is the furthest away from anywhere you’d be headed.” My hand drops from the doorknob, and I cross my arms over my chest. “What is it you want, Jacel?”

His smile transforms into a look of hunger as he bites his bottom lip, his piercing eyes burning with heat. “You know what I want.”

I do. He’s made sure of it. 

He wants me to be his.

I wave my hand in dismissal. “We’ve talked about that. Here on Earth, we humans like to choose our partners, and I most certainly am not choosing you. So what is it you really wanted? To come and demand I fuck you? Because that will not happen.” I narrow my eyes. 

Jacel’s back straightens, his eyes flaring. “I’d never demand that of you.” He shakes his head, running a rough hand through his locks. “I came to ask once more if you wanted something from the outside world before I left.” 

Well, shit. Now he’s going to make me feel bad for being a bitch. I sigh and lean against my door, mimicking his earlier pose. “I really don’t need anything, Jacel. If you’re adamant about getting me something, you can look for clothing. We all need new outfits.”

He stares at me, not speaking for what feels like forever. I’m about to let loose a nervous laugh under his uncomfortable scrutiny when he leans forward, closing the distance between us. Our noses are an inch apart before he stops, and I plaster my back against the wood of my door on instinct. “I want to provide for you, Maggie. I don’t care about the others. You are my mate, and you are the one who deserves all the spoils I bring back. Yet now you tell me you wish for nothing? Why should I even go? What good does it do me to care for the others if you aren’t finding joy in my findings?” His finger trails over the side of my face, and he tucks a strand of my curly hair behind my ear.

I gulp, stunned into silence and frozen with shock. I don’t know what to unpack first. I’m his mate? No one else matters? He’s only helping the others because of me? Would he let them suffer if it weren’t for my presence? Another icy shiver runs up my neck as I stare into the eyes of the vampire.

“You’d let them die if it weren’t for me?”

His face wrinkles, as if he’s confused by my question. “If I thought they were just food, perhaps. But I know they’re beings with as much complexity as myself. I don’t think I’d let them die.” He rubs his chin, watching me closely. “But I also don’t think I’d be out searching for Bath and Body Works if it weren’t for you, Maggie.” He leans in closer, and no matter how loud my mind screams for me to be frightened, I don’t lean away. “I just want to please you, in more ways than one.”

My voice is a murmured whisper when I speak. “Why?”

He places his hands on my face, cupping my cheeks as he leans forward. Our noses are touching, and I can feel his breath as his nostrils flare. He’s smelling me, breathing my scent into his nose. I know this should make me fear him. He’s a predator, and he’s smelling me. Catching my scent like a bloodhound tracking its next meal. But the way he does it, with such longing and care… Fuck, it makes me feel things I promised I wouldn’t let myself feel.

With my head in the clouds and all my hesitance vanquished, I press my lips against his.

My chest explodes with all the feelings I’ve been forcing myself not to feel for the last two weeks. Thoughts of monsters and blood disappear in an instant as he leans against me, pressing his chest to mine until I’m flattened between him and my door. His tongue snakes out, brushing against my lips as he seeks entrance, tasting me. I moan deep in my throat before parting my lips, allowing him to do whatever he wishes.

It’s so easy to just let go. To allow him to touch me, to hold me, to kiss me. 

Until his fang scrapes across my upper lip, stinging as it pierces my skin. I press against his chest, pushing him away as I lift my other hand to my mouth. I look from him to the blood on my fingertips.

He grabs my hand in a blur of speed, grasping my fingers. He dips his head slowly, licking the drops of crimson from my skin. “I seem to have nicked you. I’ll be more careful next time.”

I lean away from him as I push harder against his chest. “I think you should go, Jacel. This was a mistake.”

His face darkens, but after a moment, he dips his chin in a single nod. He steps back, turning as he calls over his shoulder. “I’ll be sure to find more clothing. Goodnight, Maggie.” 

And then he disappears around the corner, leaving me alone and breathless in front of my door.

Chapter Three- Maggie

After a night of unrestful sleep and a morning of listening to the girls bitch and moan over sweetened rolled oats, I find myself back in my room with Evelyn for company. I’m lying on my bed staring at the ceiling as she describes her childhood in a coastal town.

Evelyn grew up in Myrtle Beach, a tourist hot spot further north. I had heard of the spring break show downs that happened there, but I always hit the gulf shores whenever I had time to take a trip. Most of those instances happened with my family during our vacations, and hearing her stories that mirror my own cherished memories brings back a nostalgic ache to my chest that I can’t seem to wish away.

“Let’s change the subject. I’m tired of hearing about an ocean I’ll probably never witness again,” I lie. The truth is that I can’t stand to think of my mother and sister any longer.

Evelyn crosses her legs as she relaxes against the wall, limbs outstretched. She’s playing a game of Candy Crush on an old iPad we found in one of the vacant offices. It was the only electronic we could find that was unlocked, and with the internet down, we couldn’t download any other games. We take turns renting the tablet for a day before handing it over to the next person in line, like an endless game of pass the stick. Today just so happens to be Evelyn’s turn with the tablet, and she’s damn sure getting her money’s worth, metaphorically speaking.

She peers at me from over the screen, brows arched. “What, or maybe who, should we talk about? Jacel, perhaps?” Her lip turns up on one side as she shoots me a devilish smirk.

I roll my eyes. “What about him?” I try to sound cool, even though my stomach does a little flip at the mention of his name.

He wasn’t at breakfast this morning, nor in the library, when I passed by its open door. To be honest, maybe it’s best that he’s putting distance between us. The kiss we shared last night was a mistake. It can be nothing more than a terrible, horrid, frighteningly beautiful mistake.

I can’t forget that he bit me, and that he licked the blood from my fingertips.

Evelyn makes a disbelieving noise. “Are you serious? He was staring at you like he wanted to eat you this morning.”

“This morning?” I shake my head, not understanding. He wasn’t around this morning. I remember looking for him as I nibbled on my burnt toast. I mean, not looking-looking, just curiously surveying the room and noticing his absence.

“Yup.” She grins. “I saw him pop in while you were arguing with Jezebel. He stared for a good minute before disappearing again.”

I shrug my shoulders, ignoring the uptick in my heartbeat. “Maybe he needed something.”

“Righhhht.” She draws, side-eying me. “He needs you, from the looks of it. Why don’t you give him a shot? He’s a little creepy, sure, but he hasn’t tried to eat any of us yet. Besides, we don’t have many options in the boyfriend department, and he definitely has a thing for you.”

“Give him a shot?” My eyes widen. “He’s a vampire.”

She waves her hand at me, her game making little cha-ching noises as she swipes her other finger over the screen. “So what? We’re humans, aren’t we? We probably seem pretty alien to him, too. And he’s helping us. I don’t see a reason not to trust him. Yet.”

I return my gaze to the ceiling, dissecting her words. 

Could I learn to trust a vampire?

Have I done so already?

***

The hallways are as bright as they always are, day and night, as I sneak through the compound. The only noise echoing through the corridors are the squeaks of my sneakers as I travel. Everyone else is cozy in their beds by now.

It’s ten past midnight, and I’ve finally talked myself into finding Jacel.

I’ve been fighting a losing battle of mental tug of war since Evelyn left my room earlier today. Two thoughts warred inside me; should I let the vampire kiss me again, or should I tell him to leave me alone once and for all?

I had to really dive deep to find the answer. The strongest emotion came to the discussion last, giving me peace in my final decision.

Loneliness. I’ve been lonely for a long time, even before the end of the world.

Whenever I’m with Jacel, even if we’re a room-width apart, I feel seen. Valued. 

He makes me feel special, which is ironic, if you think about it. The otherworldly vampire makes me feel special.

I’m not sure whether I’m making the worst decision ever, or the best. 

By the time I make it to his office door, my hands are shaking. I bite my lower lip, debating on turning around right this second and running back to the safety of my comfortable, predictable, unchanging bedroom. 

But before I have time to flee, the door swings open, revealing a massive shadow looming in the dark passage. Red eyes glint in the dark, reminding me I’m in the presence of a predator. I hold my breath, frozen in fear.

A heartbeat later, the lights switch on with an audible click, and I’m staring up at Jacel’s worried face.

“Maggie? Are you well?” A defined line creases between his brow as he reaches out to me, placing both hands on my shoulders as he scans me from head to toe.

“Well? Oh- oh I’m fine. Totally normal.” I stammer, mentally slapping myself for sounding like a blubbering idiot. I straighten my back and clear my throat. “The reason I’m here is to clear the air, Jacel”

His face smooths back into its uniform blank gaze, but his eyes remain heated, and they seem to consume me with every second his heavy stare rests on my face. I fight the urge to fix my hair, and wish I had thought to apply lip gloss before I made the rash decision to come here in the dead of night. With the rest of the base so quiet, our meeting here feels strangely intimate. 

My cheeks grow warm at the thought, and I push all notions of what we could do while the rest of the world sleeps to the very back of my mind. 

His gaze flicks up to my lips. “Would you like to come inside?”

I can hardly breathe, but I nod my head yes, and then follow him into his so-called lair.

Jacel shuts the door behind me. 

Time to change my life with a single conversation.

Chapter Four- Jacel

Maggie’s gorgeous brown curls slide down her shoulder as she leans back in my office chair. Her plump lips are now white as she presses them together, studying me as if she’s trying to piece together a puzzle hidden within my eyes. 

I watch her. It seems that’s all I can do when it comes to my mate. Other than our brief, soul-changing kiss last night, she hasn’t let me come near her. The moment I walked into the girls’ hidden dwelling, I became enemy number one. Someone to be feared. A monster.

I’ve been chiseling away at those false assumptions ever since. Last night, I broke through an iceberg. I’m just not sure if it’s frozen over again. As I look into the eyes of my mate, I have a sudden burst of hope.

She isn’t staring at me like I’m the beast of her nightmares.

She’s watching me like she imagines I’m the hero who rescues her in those dreams.

I take a step toward her, noticing that she no longer flinches away. “You say we should ‘clear the air’, Maggie. What exactly does that mean?” I take another step before lowering myself in front of her chair so that we’re at eye level. Her stare widens as she drops her head to follow my motion, but when I place my hand on her knee, she doesn’t swat it away.

“I mean we should talk about what’s happening between us,” she says, gesturing between her chest and mine with a single manicured nail. Her pink mouth parts as a luscious, blood red tongue snakes out to wet her lower lip. She doesn’t mean for the action to be seductive. It’s more of a nervous tic, but the action nearly draws a groan from my throat.

The air is coated in her scent, and the soft, feminine energies which waft off her in waves. I can barely stand to be near her when she’s this raw with natural beauty. Maggie is bewitching, from her perfectly tanned toes to the top of her frizzy curls. 

I rub my thumb over her knee, imagining what her skin feels like beneath the thick sweatpants. “What is happening between us, Maggie? I know how I feel, but I’d like to know what’s occurring inside that elegant brain of yours as well, my mate.”

She arches her brow. “Can’t you just read it? That’d probably make this conversation a little easier.”

I cock my head to the side. “You’ve made it very clear you don’t particularly enjoy the ‘invasion of privacy’ that’s involved with my ability, Maggie. Shall I fish for your thoughts now?” I wouldn’t mind tumbling into her mind right now. I want to feel how she feels; to see into her soul and uncover her most exclusive desires. Maggie is a mystery I’m always trying to unravel, but I never seem to get anywhere close to the truth.

She sighs and places her hand over mine, and my eyes light up with surprise. She’s touching me by choice. “Oh, no. I don’t think I’d like that. Let’s keep the mind reading to a minimum, if that’s okay?” A warm, pink blush spreads over her freckled cheeks, and I can almost smell the blood as it pools there.

My fangs ache to bite into her, but this hunger is not the kind I’m used to. This urge is far more sacred; unique in its difference. My soul longs to join with hers, to bind us forever. The Calling is like a never ending ache, one that will not mend until I’ve completed our union.

Maggie is my mate, and so for now and forever, I’ll care for her. I’ll love her. I’ll protect her from all harm, no matter the enemy.

“Whatever you wish, Maggie.” I dip my head and place a quick kiss atop her hand, not able to help myself. She makes a noise of appreciation in the back of her throat, and my chest blooms with pride at the fact that I’ve pleased her.

I want to please her more often, to pleasure her in ways she’s only ever felt in her dreams. I want to taste her.

She clears her throat. “I like you, Jacel. I know it’s wrong, and I know you bit me, which was a little frightening, by the way-”

“It isn’t wrong for you to like me, Maggie. In fact, it’s perfectly right.” 

The Calling signaled us as mates, which means Maggie and I fit together like two halves of a whole. Our souls are linked by something old, written in the stars of all worlds’ skies long ago. If she didn’t enjoy me, it would be a shock.

I’ve never heard of a soul-match who didn’t stay together. In all of my travels, not once did I catch wind of anyone being rejected on Azure by their true mate. Not the way Maggie has rejected me, up until our kiss last night. I had almost lost hope in our bond; had almost thought our species were too different.

Almost. 

“Regardless, the biting was something we should discuss before we take things further. I do like you.” She snickers to herself, smiling slightly. “Though I’m a bit out of your league. Vampires are so…” She waves her hand over my face. “Perfect. Like Greek gods or something.”

I grab her free hand in mine, holding it firm. “You aren’t out of my league, Maggie. You’re the most beautiful creature I’ve ever encountered. I would truly be the luckiest male alive to have you as mine.”

Her cheeks redden again, and she looks down at her lap, lashes fluttering. “Thanks.” She mutters.

I place a finger under her chin and coax her face back up until our eyes lock again. “Please, continue. What do you want to tell me about my bite? I didn’t mean to pierce your skin. You’re just so… soft.” For emphasis, I brush my thumb over her cheek.

“I don’t like it. We can see where our friendship takes us, but I’ll never kiss you again if you bite me. I may look like a snack,” her brows raise as she smiles at a joke I don’t fully understand. “but I’m not one. I don’t want you to drink my blood.”

A wave of disappointment crashes through me as my throat dries, but I don’t let it show on my face. I don’t wish to hurt Maggie, or frighten her, but how can we complete the bond if we don’t share our blood? Would I be contempt with staying this way; unbound, but in her good graces?

The answer is yes. It has to be yes. Losing her isn’t an option.

So I just nod my head. “I’ll not bite you again, Maggie. You have my sincerest apologies.”

Her smile brightens. “Then I accept your apology.”

And with that, I place my hands on both of her knees, rubbing up them slowly. “Does this mean we can be friends, Maggie?”

Her gaze darts down to my wandering hands, and I can see her throat bob as she swallows. “Y-yes.”

“Tell me, mate.” I lean forward until our faces are only inches apart. “Do friends get to taste each other?”

Chapter Five- Maggie

“Do friends get to taste each other?” He asks, voice thick and husky.

Oh, shit. We’re really doing this. “Not normally, no… but if biting is off the table, I guess I can make an exception for you.” How could I say no? He’s had me trembling in this office chair, panties soaked, since the moment he placed his hands on my knees.

God damn, do all vampires have this skill level in seducing women? 

How was it I ever feared him to begin with? I mean, his fangs are still a little frightening, but now the alarming gleam of the sharp incisors kind of turn me on. It’s like I’m frightened to be bit, but letting go and trusting him not to hurt me is sexy as hell.

This is Jacel. The male who stares at me and me alone in a room full of beautiful women. The vampire who killed three scumbags to save me from a world of misery. Jacel, the only one of his kind who isn’t a monster.

In two weeks, I’ve gone from having night terrors of the guy to wishing he would touch me more often. Like now, as his hands trail higher over my thighs.

Could this all be stemming from vampiric compulsion, like in the Hollywood television shows? I have a feeling my accusations about him having that ability are false, because these emotions are too… me. It’s like he knows how to please me in exactly the right way. He’s brought me my favorite kind of chocolate, made my oatmeal with a hilarious amount of cinnamon and sugar, kissed me the way I always longed to be kissed…

It can’t be compulsion if everything he does is what I wished for in a partner before I even knew what it was.

It doesn’t matter what the other women think about what we do behind closed doors. In fact, they don’t even need to know.

“Can I kiss you, Maggie?” Jacel purrs, stroking his fingers dangerously close to the inside of my thighs.

“Please,” I breathe, leaning down so our lips are almost touching. I stop just in front of his face, waiting for him to take me.

He does. He adjusts his crouch so that he’s towering an inch above my head, taking control of this vulnerable state I’ve allowed myself to fall into. All of my worries are squashed the moment his lips are on mine. He kisses me gently, but his lips are demanding. He wants the control, and I’m more than willing to hand it over to him.

I’m tired of being strong. Tired of keeping my guard up.

It’s time to let him keep me safe, even if it’s just for the night, I think.

Jacel’s hands cup my neck on either side, not squeezing, but making sure I know he’s got me in his grasps. The action causes my arousal to rise even higher, and I moan into his mouth. Damn, he must think I’m easy as hell. I think, realizing it took him less than a minute to make me want to rip his clothes off.

Maybe this intense longing comes from the fact that I’ve been celibate for far too long. Or the fact that the two times I had sex, my partners were the five-minutes-and-done type.

Jacel growls deep in his throat, his eyes blazing. I’m not sure if I did something wrong, or if he did. Did he just read my private thoughts? Heat fires behind my already rosy cheeks.

I don’t have time to tell him off before he rips my jeans at the seam and cold air blasts against my swollen core.

I gasp, brows already drawn together as I struggle to sit up and yell at him for ripping my only good pair of jeans. Before more than a startled cry can leave my throat, his hot, wet tongue is between my legs.

I collapse back into the chair, limbs suddenly limp.

This is something I’ve never done. Not once has a man… went down there. I’ve always been a source of pleasure, never pleased myself. The sensation of his hot tongue touching the most sensitive part of my body sends a shock wave of ecstasy from my toes to the tip of my head, and I arch my back, pressing my hips toward him in a silent beg for more.

Jacel watches me with heated eyes, and I can’t seem to yank my gaze away from him, even as my mind goes blank in a fit of overwhelming lust. My lips part, a moan escaping through them as his tongue glides over my clit.

Oh, fuck. I lose control then, throwing all self preservation aside as I grind myself against the vampire’s face. Luckily, through it all, his fangs don’t ruin my fun. His fingers grip the swell of my hips as he clings to me, licking me greedily, as if he can’t get enough. When I come, legs clenched around his shoulders, he kisses me.

His lips trail sweetly, revering kisses all over my folds, climbing upward until he reaches my knee.

I hold my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Does he expect me to do the same for him now?

His eyes cut to me, scalding, as his brows pull together. He plants one last kiss over my thigh before pulling away. “I’ll not need any returned favors, Maggie. This was my gift to you.” He stands, pulling at the strings of his sweatpants.

“Erm, it looks like that’s exactly what you’re expecting,” I say, pointing to the pants that are now falling past his knees.

Much to my displeasure, he’s wearing a pair of boxer briefs, but I can still see an outline of his clearly excited member.

He clucks his tongue and throws the pants at me. “No. I only assumed you’d like to leave here with bottoms.” He raises his brow in a silent question.

Touche.

My cheeks heat red. “Oh, thanks.” I begin to pull my legs through the clothing, glancing at him through my lashes. This is… not as awkward as it should be.

I just had one of the most explosive orgasms I’ve ever experienced on this dude’s face, and yet he’s admiring me like I’m a shiny new trophy. He leans against the wall in his small office, watching me pull on his pants. Finally, I look at him head on, bracing myself for whatever happens next. 

“I know you think I’m yours now, or whatever, but we need to keep this between us, okay? I don’t want the other girls to know I’m,” I gesture to him, fumbling with my hands as I try to work out just what we really are. “Involved with you. Besides, it’s improper to kiss and tell.”

Jacel’s cheerful expression hardens at my words, but only slightly. He nods his head once. “But you will come back to me? You’ll give me a chance?”

I don’t think I could say no even if I wanted to. Instead of answering, I smile. He must take that for a yes, because he gives me one final look-over before approaching. I stand perfectly still as he leans toward my neck, my pulse jumping, but he only nuzzles the tender flesh there. I can hear his nostrils flare as he inhales deeply, taking in my scent. 

I don’t hear an exhale, but a moment later, he’s in front of the door, holding it wide as I dazedly walk out of his room and back to reality.


You can purchase the complete SoulBlood series here to read more about Maggie, Jacel, and the complete dhampir-human-novian cast!

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