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  • Home > Lora Leigh > Primal Kiss     

    ONE

    “She’s the chick with the vamp-killing blood?”

    The loud voice pulled me out of a thick cloud of nightmares about pale-skinned monsters with sharp teeth and claws. I opened my eyes wide and stared up at the peeling white paint on the motel room’s ceiling.

    “Yeah, her name’s Jill,” was the reply. Both voices—one familiar and one not—came from outside, and I could hear them clearly through the thin door.

    “So, what are you? Like, her protector or something?”

    “Something like that.”

    “Shit, man. You’re not forgetting you’re half vampire, right? What if you get a taste of her? Will it kill you, too?”

    “I don’t drink blood, so I’m not planning on finding out.”

    I slipped out of the lumpy bed and moved toward the window to the left of the door so I could peek outside. The view was the same as it had been for three days—a very unglamorous gray cement parking lot with a dying twenty-foot-tall palm tree blocking my view of the main street.

    Declan Reyes stood with his back to the green door, his profile clearly visible to me. He’d lost his left eye a long time ago, and the damage was covered by a black eye patch. His face was scarred around that patch from old injuries, just like the rest of his body. Dhampyrs like Declan—half human and half vampire—healed fast, but scarred from every flesh wound they received. They also didn’t have the benefits of immortality like a vampire did. Thanks to his human side, Declan was every bit as mortal as I was.

    He had his arms crossed over his chest, and he faced a darkhaired man only a couple inches short of his six-four. The man looked tough, like a bouncer or a bodyguard.

    Or, more likely, a vampire hunter.

    Declan had said he was going to contact one of his old pals here in Los Angeles to see if he could help us out. This must have been the pal in question. Nice of him to make house calls.

    The idea of anyone else getting involved with my problems didn’t set my mind at ease, but I was trying not to complain. I’d recently become extremely guarded about my privacy. It was safer that way.

    The man’s lips parted to show straight white teeth as he grinned. “Wait. I think I get it. You’re doing her, aren’t you?”

    “Doing her?” Declan replied dryly.

    His smile widened. “Got to say, I’m surprised. Rumor had it that you were . . . uh, how do I put it?”

    “What?”

    “Neutered. Don’t take it the wrong way, but that’s what I heard. That serum you were on before—the shit that kept your vamp side at bay—I heard it f**ked with your libido. Always wondered why you were never that interested in hitting the titty bars with me. I guess now I know, right?”

    Declan glared at him without speaking, and I gripped the window ledge, worried that there would be a fight between them. This was one of Declan’s friends? He sounded like a Grade-A ass**le, enough to make my skin crawl.

    I actually jumped when Declan laughed a second later. It was a humorless sound.

    “My sex life is none of your f**king business, Jackson.”

    “I’ll take that as an affirmative.” Jackson was laughing, too. “What about the permanent drug you’re on now? Does that—”

    “It works the same as before. Actually, it feels even stronger than the other one. I’m with Jill to keep her safe until we find a way to get the Nightshade formula out of her blood.” Declan’s jaw tensed. “That’s all.”

    “So you’re not f**king her.”

    “It’s none of your damn business either way. But no.”

    Jackson’s shit-eating grin didn’t waver. “But you have. No wonder you’re so into this chick. Memories of a great lay can fuel a guy for a long damn time. I bet she’s hot. When can I meet her?”

    “She’s sleeping.”

    I pushed open the door, leveling my gaze with the nosy hunter I’d already decided to dislike. “I’m awake now. Hard to have an afternoon nap when there’s so much testosterone flying around.”

    “You heard all that?” Jackson scanned the length of me. I’d slept in jeans and a black tank top so I was already fully dressed.

    “I heard enough.”

    He glanced into the room, his gaze stopping at a plastic baby bottle and pile of disposable diapers. “Did I wake the baby?”

    “There’s no baby,” I said, with a sharp look at Declan.

    Jackson frowned. “Just collecting kid paraphernalia in case one suddenly appears out of nowhere?”

    “I was looking after a baby for someone, but Declan took her elsewhere yesterday and won’t tell me where.” I sounded as pissed as I felt. I had a hard time hiding my feelings, especially when it came to the things that were totally out of my control.

    A vampire—a vampire king, actually—named Matthias had asked me to protect his newborn daughter. It was his last request he’d made just before he’d died from drinking my blood.

    He was gone. But the promise I’d made remained.

    The promise that Declan had taken out of my hands.

    “Jill . . .” Declan looked at me out of the corner of his good eye.

    “Am I lying?”

    “It’s better this way.”

    “We’ll have to agree to disagree on that.”

    I did agree that my current life was nowhere a baby should be, and I’d be the first to acknowledge I wasn’t born with strong maternal instincts, but it bothered me that he’d made this choice alone and refused to tell me where she was—only that she was safe and being cared for. Declan believed the baby was in danger and that any vampire who wanted to find her could mentally influence my weak human mind to learn where she was. She was a dhampyr like Declan. Because of that, her infant blood was worth its weight in diamonds to vampires who believed the rumors that it imbued true immortality when consumed.

    Maybe Declan was right to take her somewhere she’d be better looked after than with us, but it didn’t mean I had to like it.

    He was just damn lucky I’d come to trust his judgment about shit like this.

    The vampire hunter extended his hand. “Jackson Gale. Great to meet you, Jill.”

    I glanced at Declan, but his expression was unreadable. Another one of his drug’s side effects, apart from impotence, was keeping my dhampyr traveling companion virtually emotionless. It was a difficult thing to get used to.

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