Bring Me to Life
Love can conquer all, but Vincent’s been dead for two hundred years and Bryna is the one who killed him.
Being dead sucks, or so Vincent Asher believes. He’s spent the last two hundred years of his death battling vampires because his boss won’t let him kill demons. Known as a force called the Wraith, Vincent has become bored with preventing the apocalypse. When he hopes his boss will give him a more exciting assignment, he gets the shock of his afterlife. He must protect the woman who killed him.
Bryna Wildrose accidently killed the one man she ever loved. In a self-imposed death sentence, she’s spent the last ten years of her life trying to get herself killed. She never meant to kill Vincent, and the guilt is eating her alive. A vampire gives her a dire warning. The Wraith is coming for her. She can run, or she can let death take her.
Given no choice, Vincent goes back in time to find the one woman he loved more than life itself, but when he expected to torment her for causing his death, he learns nothing is what he believed it to be. Real love never dies, but Vincent’s power might not be enough to keep Bryna alive.
Bring Me to Life
Time Walkers,Book 1
Death sucked. Sure, the women were hot and the ability to move back and forth through time to fend off the apocalypse was entertaining, but even the afterlife could become monotonous. Fast times and even faster women had become his stint in existence. True, such things as illness and pesky bullets couldn’t kill him any longer, but Wraith was getting bored. At some point in the last two hundred years he decided his fate had been Hell instead of Time Walker limbo; he’d just been too naïve to know it at the time of his death. Actually, it was probably about the time he’d earned his moniker instead of going by his Earthly name.
He ducked down when a vampire swung at him with a two-by-four. He popped up, caught the board on its second swing, cracked it over his knee, and then stabbed the undead with the sharp end. Why should he have to endure Hell by his lonesome? The vampire burst into a smoky cloud of ash which fell to the alley before it was gently blown away.
Wraith looked at his watch.
New York City, 1939. He pulled his crumpled list out of his pocket and checked where he was supposed to go next. New Orleans, 2085. Great. There was nothing worse than having to go to the largest vampire nest in North America, but they were still boring. He perked up a little. Maybe it wasn’t a vampire this time and he’d get another crack at a demon. Those were always so much more interesting to kill when Felix decided to let him, which wasn’t very often.
He checked his list again and watched as all his assignments vanished one by one.
What the hell had he done now to get in trouble? He’d been good for the last decade—well, there had been that one night in a Hestia temple with two virgins, but it hadn’t been his fault. They’d asked him to stay. Besides, that was five years ago. Surely he wasn’t getting into trouble for that.
Headquarters appeared on the page in big glowing letters. He walked down the alley and visualized headquarters, and the imagery around him blurred from dank, garbage-ridden streets to bright white halls lined with gold trim.
He was in Hell all right.
He walked down the hall with its never-changing view until a large door out of nowhere swung open.
“Get your ass in here!” Felix bellowed.
“You’re late,” he snapped.
Wraith arched a brow at him, but didn’t say anything. Felix was like a bazillion years older than he and could send his ass back to the Bronze Age to deal with babes who didn’t know how to bathe or shave. “Yeah, so sue me. What did I do this time?”
“We found out the point in time that causes the apocalypse. It’s your job to go stop it.”
Wraith sighed. Same old, same old. When was he going to get an exciting assignment? He stuck out his hand for the transparent cellophane-like material Felix handed to him and looked down at the forming image. Two hundred years of annoying monotony drained away as raw rage boiled in his system. “No. I’m not doing the job.”
Felix rolled his eyes. “You’re not supposed to kill her, dumbass. You’re supposed to protect her.”
Wraith glared at his asshole superior. “Like hell I am. Find someone else, or I guess it’s The Apocalypse Meets the Twenty-third Century.”
“It’s this or judgment.”
Wraith started to curse. “You’re kidding me? I have to save that bitch or you’re going to throw my ass in Hell?”
“Yeah, ain’t the afterlife a bitch?” Felix said without sympathy. “Get going. I need you there a day before the main attraction.”
Wraith pulled out his assignment sheet and looked at the time. It was the day before what should have been his twenty-eighth birthday. He’d never had an assignment so close to his death date before. That wasn’t affecting him nearly as much as having to save the life of the woman who killed him.
There was no such thing as a good vampire. Bryna Wildrose rolled her eyes as she stared down at the hardcover edition of the latest and hottest “righteous vampire” series. If only people knew what existed after the sun went down. They’d never believe the true horrors of the night. Undead beings with the ability to suck a person dry did exist. She had the scars and psychiatric ward visit to prove it, or more aptly, to prove she’d been involved with a nefarious group from the ever-growing vampire subculture.
Bryna made a disgusted sound and started to walk away from the table at Steel Cliff’s Books. The mega book chain always had tables full of the newest releases. Bryna was on a mission. She stopped and stared down at the book again. Did she really want to spend twenty-nine ninety-five plus tax to get the proof she needed that her ex-boyfriend was trying to exploit her trauma? Her hand curled around the book spine, ready to take it to the cashier to make her purchase. A blinding flash of past pain and fear riffled through all her raw nerve endings. Vincent’s face flashed into her mind, and she whimpered at the pain tightening in her chest.
She jumped back from the book table and plowed right into the solid form of a man. She cringed and then slowly turned around. She didn’t know what she was expecting, but six-feet-three of brawny beauty wasn’t it. Not appreciative of her sudden arousal and miffed at herself for letting a memory get the better of her in public, she glared up at him.
“Sorry,” she mumbled. Bryna turned around, snatched up a book, and scurried toward the checkout.
“Excuse me,” an edgy masculine voice murmured behind her.
She was not going to deal with this. “Look, I’m sorry I bumped into you; there is no need to—”
Damn! No! She dropped the book on the floor in the checkout line and bolted for the door. She hesitated for a moment before she burst through the door and into the streetlamp-lit parking lot. Nighttime was always the most difficult, but she found if she kept to the very public places, it wasn’t nearly as scary. Vampires didn’t attack where other humans could see them.
“Bryna.” The deep resonating sound filled her ears again.
She pivoted on her heel, arms crossed over her chest, and she took a step back. “How do you know my name?”
A crooked smile moved across his Dionysus face. “It’s on your name tag.”
Her gaze dropped to her chest, and then she let out a slow breath. “I’m so sorry, really. It’s just…” She sighed again. “It’s been one of those days. I’m sorry I bumped into you, really, I just think its best—”
His eyes were so light a blue they could have been silver. “Uh, I need to be getting home. Thanks for the offer, but—”
“You want coffee with me.” His tone went lower.
She shook her head. The scars she had from a vampire tingled. “No. I really don’t. I’m sure you’re nice and all, but—”
His eyes went wide and his jaw clenched. “You will come with me for a coffee.”
She snorted. “Dude, no.”
“Come on, lady,” he snapped. He took a sidelong glance down the walk at the corner shrouded in darkness before his shimmery eyes flicked back to her. “I know who you are, and there are those who are pissed off you gave your story to an author. You’re a marked target.”
Her insides froze starting with her toes, and it frosted upward like chilled glass. Her stomach dropped and she pressed a hand to it. The supernatural freaky undead didn’t want living humans to know about how they operated. “No.” It came out in a whisper. She really was going to kill Shawn when she got a hold of him. He had no right. The only person she’d ever trusted to tell the real story of how Vincent died, and he’d betrayed her. Still, she didn’t trust the man looming overhead. She could sense some vampires, but not all of them. “Do—do you have a name?”
“Draven.” He put his hand out. “Come with me if you want to live.”
Did he really think that line was going to make her trust him? Her life had not just turned into a live-action horror flick. A B-rated one at that! She studied that hand and then looked down the sidewalk. Sure the guy always saved the woman and then they rode off into the sunset at the end of the movie, but there was always the genre twisting stories. Hadn’t she already proven that when she killed the hero?
There was movement.
She swallowed hard. It was just her imagination getting away from her. She needed to get home. Her apartment was safe. A vampire couldn’t enter her home—could it? Damn the fictitious vampire lore. She had no idea if any of it was real or not, no matter what Andy said. She made it a point to avoid the nastier things in life no matter how much they kept wanting to find her. She was not a demon hunter. If someone would just tell the demons and vampires, she wouldn’t have to deal with freaky shit.
A dark and ominous figure emerged from the shadows. The savage round puncture scars on her throat tingled. The hand strained open more. Bryna stared down at it. If she took that hand, she had no idea what would happen to her, but if she didn’t—she didn’t know what would happen to her, then, either, but she did know staying in a public, well-lit parking lot was her best bet.
Draven’s stance became nervous. “Please, Bryna, you don’t know what’s after you. He will hunt you down until you are dead.”
“But that makes no sense,” she whispered. “I didn’t write the book. It’s out in public now. There isn’t a way I can take it back. How are people going to know—”
He reached out and clamped a powerful hand around her wrist. “We have to go now!”
Whoever this man was, he felt all wrong. She knew way too much about this world to let some stranger carry her off into the night. She jerked back. “Let me go.”
“He’ll kill you.”
“Who?” she demanded as she still jerked to get her arm back.
The Wraith? Oh shit. He was a nightmare, but more than that, he was the ultimate killer. Demons, vampires, ghosts, ghouls, hellhounds, you name the creature, and the Wraith was supposed to be able to kill it no matter how large the horde. According to Andy, there was no way to survive him once his sights were set. The Wraith wasn’t supposed to go after humans, but she supposed there was a first time for everything.
She stopped struggling and looked to where the dark figure in a black trench coat and hood strolled out of the darkness. He pulled his hood back to reveal black-rimmed glasses held together in the middle by tape and a face full of youthful pimples. His eyes were huge as he stared at Bryna and Draven. “Ma’am, do you need help? I…um…I-I can call the police.”
Bryna lowered her head and bit down hard on Draven’s hand. He yowled and snatched his arm back.
She gave the gothic geek a tight smile, somewhat relieved the Wraith hadn’t stepped out of the shadows to kill her. “That won’t be necessary. He was just leaving.”
A hint of elongated canine teeth showed in Draven’s mouth, and he hissed quietly at the teen. His silver glare turned on Bryna. “The Wraith is coming for you. No one can survive him.” Then Draven backed into the darkness and was gone.
This was just great. She directed the boy into the safety of the building, and then clutched her purse tight to her chest as she ran for her car. She got into her car where it was parked directly under the lamplight and locked the door. She crumpled against the steering wheel and willed herself not to cry. It had only been a matter of time before Vincent’s death would catch up to her. She supposed it was fate and justice. He was dead while she lived. That night wasn’t fuzzy any longer. His blood was on her hands and no matter how hard she washed, it was never going to come off. And now, she didn’t know how she’d ever be able to atone for it, or if she ever could.
She sat up and wiped at her eyes before sticking the key into the ignition. No matter what she did there was no way to undo it. The tears started again as she pulled her keys back out of the ignition. No, she needed to know exactly what Shawn did to Vincent’s death in his book. If he did anything that made what Vincent went through less or not as important, she’d find some way to make the bastard pay. It wouldn’t ever make up for what she’d done to her first, and probably only real love. She could at least make sure his memory wasn’t tarnished. She dragged herself out of her car and willed herself to move back across the parking lot. She got the book, went through the checkout, and got back to her car in a record-breaking ten minutes. There, now she could go home, cry herself to sleep, and then go do what she always did on his birthday.
She almost got her wish, too, but Peggy, the elderly woman from across the hall from her apartment, rushed out of her door the second Bryna opened hers. “Wait, I have a message for you.” She held a toy poodle in her arms and massaged the dog’s ears. Pookie lifted his lips at Bryna in a snarl, but didn’t growl. See? Even animals didn’t like her because they could detect a black heart when they saw one. No matter how good a person tried to be, animals could always see the truth underneath.
She shook her head and tried to refocus her attention. Strange men trying to make her go with them and now an even stranger message? She never got messages from anyone. This was peanut-butter-and-pickles not good. She offered Peggy the best smile she could manage. “Oh? What kind of message?”
Concern washed over the older woman’s face. “Oh, dear, there was a man looking for you today. I tried to call the police, but they said they couldn’t do anything because he hadn’t done anything threatening—but he did, I tell you! Just his existence was threatening.”
“I’m sorry he scared you,” Bryna said as patiently as she could. “What message did he leave?”
Her features went disapproving. “You know, dear, you really do need to date a different caliber of man.”
Bryna wholeheartedly agreed; only she couldn’t seem to make herself pick out a decent man to save her life. She suppressed the urge to snort at herself. There had been one…She shook her head. “We weren’t talking about my choices in men.”
“We should be,” Peggy declared. “I didn’t think you were into the hit-man type.”
She could feel the rise in her blood pressure. “Peggy, what did he say?”
“He said your boyfriend’s back, and there is going to be trouble.” Her faded brown eyes nailed Bryna in place. “I am telling you that whoever this man is, you should not let him into your home—and call the police immediately. I will not feel sorry for you if he beats you after I’ve warned you.”
Bryna was only half-listening to Peggy as she tried to figure this one out. She had to admit her choices of men since Vincent died had been specifically picked during a self-destructive phase. The only one after that had been two years ago, which was Shawn, and he wasn’t stupid enough to threaten her like that. He knew her secrets. She shoved down the guilt of never having told them to Vincent while he’d been alive. “I don’t have a boyfriend, Peggy. What did he look like?”
“A monster!” Peggy declared and shook a fist at her. “He was at least seven feet tall and built like one of those TV wrestlers. He had weapons on him. A sword and knives, Bryna! He wore all black and his eyes glowed.” Then she shuddered. “A hideous scar slashed across his face. He’s dangerous, I tell you. Pookie didn’t like him one bit.” She rubbed behind the dog’s ears and brought him up close to her face. “It’s okay, darling, mama will protect you from the big scary man.” She glared at Bryna. “He said he’d be by in the morning to pick you up.”
“Thank you,” she said in wobbling tones. Suddenly Draven the vampire didn’t seem like such a bad thing. What was being drained of blood to whatever it was Wraith could do to her? Yeah, she was pretty sure she should have taken the vampire’s warning. Though she wasn’t ready to die yet. She blew out a breath and thought for a moment. Would any kind of plan she could come up with this time keep her alive? Did she even care? Her shoulders slumped.
She left Peggy babbling in the hall.
No matter how wrong it sounded in her head, she needed to get the hell out of town. Her self-preservation instincts were good. Even when she knew her right to live had died with Vincent. She closed the door and leaned against it for a few moments before she went through her sparse apartment gathering up clothes and anything she’d need. She briefly wondered if she should call the restaurant she waitressed in and let them know she was quitting, and snagged the phone. She didn’t want anyone knowing there was a huge possibility she wasn’t going to make it to the end of tomorrow alive. They’d only get hurt.
After leaving a message that she quit, and then throwing all the valuables she had into her backpack, she hitched it up over her shoulder and left. She’d stop at an ATM to clean out her bank accounts. The creatures of the night were no longer scary; if they got her, it was no less than what she deserved. If they didn’t, Vincent was about to get justice. She got back out to her car and went directly to the one place she had no right to be. The one place she always felt safe.
She didn’t know how many times she’d ended up there over the last ten years. Usually when she’d messed up her life to the point she shouldn’t have been able to be pulled out of the tailspin. Now, it just seemed wholly pathetic and narcissistic. But she was here anyway. Cemeteries were sacred ground. A vampire couldn’t come there, despite what fiction said. While she didn’t know if the Wraith could come into a cemetery, she was more willing to take her chances with him. After all, the Wraith made his name killing vampires.
With a flashlight, a blanket, and her backpack, she got out of the car and carefully walked the memorized path to Vincent. She wiped at the tears dripping down her cheeks when she got to it. She laid her blanket next to the large headstone.
Her hand ran along the smooth, cold granite. Her fingers traced along the words engraved in to the stone. Vincent Asher. Beloved Hero. Then over the date of his birth and the date of his death. She looked at her watch and then sat next to the headstone. It was after midnight. “Happy birthday,” she whispered.
It didn’t matter now. Once, long ago, she promised him one person would always remember his birthday while she was alive. She still lived. Bryna wiped at the tears leaking down her face. “I’m in trouble,” she said. “Yeah, I know, I always say that.” She tried to smile, but failed. “I didn’t know where else to go. I hope you don’t mind me staying here with you tonight.”
She bowed her head. They’d been so young, and he’d been the answer to every prayer she’d ever had. Their relationship had been frowned upon, but at the time, she hadn’t been able to see the danger in it, and she still didn’t. Vincent had been on his own since the age of sixteen because of his parent’s deaths. She hadn’t meant him until a year later when he’d been the tender age of seventeen, and she’d been only fifteen. Her father died in a work accident, and her mother’s mental breakdown afterward left it impossible for her to deal with a troubled teenager. She’d been sent to live with her Uncle Ron and his wife, Aunt Jeni. She envied the sweet disposition of Cinderella’s stepmother compared to her aunt, even though Aunt Jeni could have moments of pure compassion.
That first day of school had been filled with one trauma after another—that was, until she made it to lunch and saw the hottest guy sitting all alone. She introduced herself. If she’d known then what she knew now, she’d never have done it.
Her hand stroked down the face of the headstone. “I’m so sorry. I never meant to screw up your life. If it hadn’t been for me, you’d have made it to law school. You’d probably have a nice wife with some kids. Hell, you’d be alive.” Her voice shook and the tears flowed. “I know. You probably hate me and wish I’d stop bothering you. It looks like you’re going to get your wish. This is probably the last birthday I’ll get to visit you. I’d have gotten flowers, but the florist isn’t open this late at night.”
She was babbling, she knew, but she’d always hated silence. It gave her too much time to think, and gave too many opportunities for her to remember things she didn’t want to remember. “Anyway, I got that book Shawn wrote like I promised I would.” She pulled it out of her backpack and turned on her flashlight and started to skim through the pages. “That son of a whore. He turned you into one of the vampires. And look, I’m all sweet and innocent.” Her face crumpled. Shawn hadn’t gotten the second part wrong. She had been sweet and innocent. It had been one of the things Vincent loved about her. Everything was all wrong now. There wasn’t any way she could get that part of herself back. It was forever gone. She should be the one in the grave. And if she’d loved him the way she’d believed she did back then, maybe—no—he would still be alive.
“You know,” she whispered as she closed the book. “Maybe I should go back. I don’t know what the vampire was planning on doing with me, but if he wanted to protect me from this Wraith character, then whatever he’s going to do to me is probably what I deserve.”
“You’re probably right,” said a deep masculine voice in bitter tones.
Bryna began to tremble as she stood up and moved her flashlight around trying to find out where the man was. “I wasn’t talking to you.”
“Are you sure? I’m the only one here.” The voice came from the right.
Bryna swiveled in that direction, slowly moving her light over the gravestones. “I don’t make it a habit to tell strangers my dark secrets.”
“And yet you chatter at the headstone of a man you murdered, where anyone can hear you.”
Her blood chilled. This wasn’t good. She should be running, but she couldn’t get her feet to move. “You’re the Wraith the vampire warned me about?”
His laugh was harsh and maniacal sounding. “What if I am?”
Her body wound tight, ready to run, but she forced herself to stay. She sniffled and wiped away the tears running down her face. “I don’t know how this works. Do you torture me before you kill me, or do you just kill me?”
There was a long silence. His tone was angry when he spoke again. “I am not allowed to kill humans.”
The sound of his voice sent a shudder through her. “But you would if you were allowed?”
The question hung there so long she wondered if the man had left. She was about to sit back down when she saw movement in the direction his voice had come from. She moved her flashlight, but all she got was a dark, cloaked figure standing next to one of the headstones. It gave the man a grim-reaper effect and had her trembling. He started to walk slowly toward her. “I am not allowed to kill humans,” he said again.
“Okay.” Her voice shook, and she had no idea if she should be worried that he could hear her fear or not. This was it. She could run, and save her life, or she could stay and give Vincent the justice he deserved. “Then what do you want with me?”
“Unfortunately, I have to keep you alive for the next week.” His tone was thoroughly disgusted.
“After that?” No! This wasn’t right. He should not be here to save her.
The figured shrugged. “You’re free to die in whatever way you wish.”
“Why do you have to keep me alive?” This was the strangest conversation she’d ever had. It wasn’t making any sense in her head why supernatural powers would want to keep her alive.
“I think you can answer that one.” He came closer, but she still couldn’t see his face.
She stared at the dark figure with a sword showing from the hem of his cloak. He advanced on her. Of course he’d want to keep her alive for the exact reason Vincent got killed. Still, that didn’t automatically make whoever this being was evil. She’d at least hear him out and make a decision when she was feeling more stable. Right now, there could be an earthquake under her feet and she wouldn’t notice with all the chaos spinning in her head. She leveled her gaze on the faint golden glow inside the man’s hood. “Because I’m a freak?”
Vincent—the Wraith—flinched back. There were a lot of things he hadn’t expected after seeing her again after two hundred years, or, ten in her time line, but the stark desperation in her once beautiful voice sent ice into his veins. He didn’t like it. There was no reason for him to feel any kind of sympathy for her. His directive was to keep her alive. No matter how much he’d wanted to confront her over the years, he wanted to protect her less from whatever death she thought she deserved. So then why did he feel the tugs of long dead and buried emotions struggling to the surface? He shouldn’t feel anything for her. He didn’t want to feel anything for her. She was a job. Nothing more. His gaze locked onto the most amazing green eyes he’d ever witnessed to this day. Damn it. The week would not pass as quickly as he would like. He forced harshness into his voice, “Do you always babble at the grave sites of men you’ve murdered?”
She wrapped her arms around herself and took a step back. Her head bowed. “I have nowhere else to go and he…I’m sorry. You’re right. I shouldn’t be here.” She stooped down and gathered up her belongings and then ran.
He stood there and watched her run away from him. It seemed that no matter how much time had passed, she still affected his thinking and his body. Damn that woman. She should be the one standing here. If he’d have known how things were going to turn out…Ah, hell, he’d still have talked to her that first day when she’d been the only one brave enough to come to his lunch table alone.
He snarled at himself and his own stupidity before he went after her. There were vampires all over the woods surrounding the churchyard. The parking lot wasn’t sacred ground. They’d make short work of a tiny thing like Bryna. As much as he hated to admit it, watching her die wasn’t on the top of his to-do list. He still didn’t know exactly what he was supposed to do here, aside from keeping her alive. Felix hadn’t been forthcoming with information. He’d cryptically told him he had to talk to Bryna about it. Now he knew. She was a freak. Great. That explained everything quite nicely. He moved out in front of her just as she made it to the gate and blocked her path.
His voice boomed out in a roar. “Do you have a death wish? You have to live for the next week.”
She skidded to a stop in front of him. Her tiny body trembled as she cowered back, but there was steel in her voice. “After that, I’m free to die however I want?”
“I cannot hurt you,” he snapped. “Do not cower away from me.”
Her back snapped straight and her chin lifted. “Why not? If you could kill me you would. Isn’t it a little stupid not to be afraid of—whatever you are—when you could actually kill me. I’m just supposed to believe out of hand that you’re not going to kill me?” Her teeth ground together as she glared up at him. “I’ll do whatever you tell me I have to do, okay? Run away from whatever danger is after me this time, stay and fight it or put my head on a chopping block for you to hack it off.” She dragged in a breath. Her tone was hysterical and her body shook viciously. “Why?” she screamed at him. “Why aren’t you here to kill me?”
Vincent stared down at her. Where she’d been bright before, feminine colors with ribbons and flowers, now she was too-tight black and bloodred with harsh black eyeliner and spiked dog-collar Goth. For the last two centuries he wondered about why she’d killed him, and what secret she’d been keeping from him. He still didn’t know the answers, but the girl he remembered was nowhere to be found in the woman standing before him. It scared him. On a deep level he hadn’t been aware existed before, this tiny replica of his Bryna scared the ever-loving hell out of him. He’d thought there’d have been something left of the girl he knew, but he stared down at a stranger. A stranger who dangerously teetered on the edge. He set his jaw and shoved back every bit of the feeling and raw emotion wanting to tumble out. “Why did you kill a man you said you loved?”
She turned her head and her shoulders rounded. “Because it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
“You always were a horrible liar.” The raw rage he was feeling dripped from his words. What the hell? That had been the exact answer he’d expected from her, but, damn the woman, she was lying to him. His eyes started to tick. “Why did you kill him?”
Bryna stepped back at the savage sound of his voice. This was the second time he said something that made her believe this man knew her, even if she didn’t know him. “Who the hell are you? Let me see your face.”
“Who I am and my face do not concern you. Answer the question. I won’t ask it again.”
She laughed then. A short, hysterical sound. “Or what? You’ll kill me? You already said you can’t. More is the pity.”
“There are worse things than death,” he snapped.
She snorted. “Yeah, and I bet you can’t do any of those either, unless you plan on guilting me to death. Which, by the way, you’re really good at.”
His tone went disgusted. “What happened to you? Vincent would have died for you—he died because of you. I find it hard to believe he was stupid enough to fall for whatever act you handed him when you couldn’t lie to save your own life.”
Her eyes snapped to his face. “You know him?”
“You could say that.”
They stood there staring at each other as the minutes stretched out before she folded her arms over her chest and let out a pathetic sound that was supposed to be a laugh. “Yeah, it seems like I screwed up everything again. Look, I’ve been up for twenty-four hours. If you don’t mind, can we go sleep somewhere? Then I have things to do in the morning.”
She could almost feel his eyes moving over her before he shrugged. “Wherever you want to go. I always had been a slave to your whims.”
“Would you stop that? Stop talking to me like you know me.” He was really starting to freak her out. That wasn’t the easiest thing to do these days—or the safest.
“Oh, but I do know you. I know you better than you know yourself—or I did.”
“No,” she bit out. “I’d remember a bastard like you.” Her brow arched up. “On second thought, I probably wouldn’t considering how many of them there have been in my life.”
“Whored yourself out, did you?”
Her mouth snapped shut. Her face crumpled, and she turned her head as tears streaked down her face. “You know what,” she said as she felt the fight drain out of her. “Why don’t we skip the Save Bryna’s Life Campaign. It’s a little late for that.”
Vincent watched her walk away from him. He felt like he’d just been slapped in the face, and maybe he deserved it for the last remark. But goddamn it, she was the one who’d killed him. Her feelings shouldn’t come into this at all. “It’s not a campaign,” he said as he followed her to her car.
“I didn’t ask for it.” She unlocked the door and jerked the door open. “Back off,” she said softly. “My temper can be a scary thing, and I’m tired and confused and not really feeling very friendly at the moment. Go sleep somewhere. You weren’t supposed to come for me until the morning.”
“There are vampires out there now.” His tone went firm. Young and stupid didn’t even begin to describe him at the age he died, but he was damn sure he’d known Bryna. Maybe he really hadn’t. She had caused his death.
“Right,” she muttered. “And I’m supposed to live until next week before they are allowed to turn me into a Bryna snack. Great. My last week on Earth and I get to spend it with super guilt man.” She turned around and glared up at him. “Look, I never meant for Vincent to die. So if you know him on the other side or wherever you came from, tell him I’m sorry. It should have been me.” Her voice went small. “Seriously, I am about to freak out, and that’s not good. People die when I get upset. Okay? I don’t know you, and I really don’t want you getting hurt, so just leave me alone.” She got into the back seat and slammed the door shut.
Vincent stood there staring at her as she shifted this way and that before she curled into a tiny ball on the back seat and cried. What the hell did that mean? People died when she was upset? He didn’t like this one bit. A thought entered into his head that hadn’t come at all in his two hundred and eighteen years of existence. What if his conclusions about that night were wrong?
A love that will transcend time…
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