DAYS AFTER CAMERON AND a few of the other Raaka clan—her clan, she was disgusted to admit—nearly killed Julian, Kat was stunned to find Julian cooking breakfast for her in the morning. Well, what was their morning hour. Because close to a week prior, he nearly died.
Humans made breakfast in the morning and the first light of day, but for her and the rest of the Awakened vampires, breakfast came in the early evening and the last light of day.
The sun set right outside the windows, casting a warm glow through the entire cabin that added the perfect backdrop to the moment. The sizzling of the bacon enticed her closer, making her mouth water. Heat from the burner soaked waves of warmth through the room. The tongs Julian used to turn the bacon scraped over the cast iron pan which had seen years of wear.
Kat watched the love of her life while he worked, lost in the delicious sight. The sight of him taking care of her made her heart swell, filled her with an intense sense of comfort and safety. Even just to be with him, despite knowledge that her mate—if she were forced to call him that—wanted her captured and chained. Julian’s presence warmed her heart. A heart warm and beating only because she’d fed on his blood recently.
He moved to the small fridge—recently stocked—to grab a few eggs, cracked them in another pan heating on the ancient gas top stove. The moment they hit the hot pan, they sizzled and began to pop. Julian went about making omelets with expert skill, not bothering to mix it beforehand in a bowl, but using his own method of straight into the pan. Also implementing some of the bacon grease as flavor. Kat shook her head. Julian rarely ate anything “bad,” but when he did, he obviously went all out.
Mister sexy wore an unusual outfit of jeans and flannel shirt. She smiled. Normal corporate suit gone, the powerful business man was hidden away for a time. Just for her. Stripped down, he became a man who wanted to take care of the woman he loved, nothing else.
Her heart skipped a beat. She loved Julian. He loved her. They’d both admitted the truth after a long hard road for the both of them, which felt amazing. They’d told each other how they felt before, but this time was so much different. Julian had finally made it abundantly clear—he wanted her.
Her pulse raced and she enjoyed the sensation. A pulse that would disappear if she failed to feed. Drinking blood to stay alive was something she had to get used to. Blood became easier to drink, especially knowing she had to feed on it to live, but she was still not a fan. Well, unless it was Julian’s. When she fed from Julian, it was a sensual experience, his blood tasted like candy.
As long as she fed, her heart would beat, her body would feel warm, and she was able to go out into the sunlight. The latter for only a brief time because she was a young vampire. As long as she fed on a regular basis, few would think her anything but human. Though she cried tears of blood, so maybe she’d avoid crying in front of anyone who wasn’t Awakened, or didn’t know about them.
With all of Julian’s meetings, she had noticed not all of them were with Awakened. He seemed to also meet with many of the individuals in the city government and other states. The pact to keep things peaceful between human and Awakened was taken seriously by him. To keep the Awakened from being found out. It wasn’t lost on Kat that he spent a lot of time taking calls and dealing with issues that came up from young Awakened causing havoc, or outsiders. He was good at his job.
Like the other Awakened, she could pass as human . . . if she fed. Human with the exceptions that her senses were heightened. The disease inside of her transformed her DNA—it did not make her a monster unless she chose not to control it. She felt more powerful than she ever had, and could shift into a wolf if she so chose. So powerful, in fact that she felt as though she could take on the world.
Destroy the world even.
It amused her to some degree. At first when she was Awakened, she wasn’t sure if she’d survive, or if she wanted to. Now? Now something stirred within. A little voice she always had inside that said she was meant for something. Something far more, and with her Awakening, she was on that path. That path she’d been meant to walk.
The man in front of her was a key. On the other hand, maybe the key. Otherwise, why else would things feel so perfect around him? Why would he feel like home? He was her home.
Most Awakened didn’t become immediate mates to someone who’d sired them, unlike her whose mate—Cameron—hunted her. A mate who wanted to keep her far away from the man she was so deeply in love with. The Prince of the Awakened who currently had his sleeves rolled up, revealing his toned forearms, and was pulling biscuits from the oven. Julian, being the Prince, had the power to dissolve pairings and create them. By his order, Awakened would obey. By his law, Awakened would fear to defy.
Kat’s tongue moistened her lips while Julian’s hands maneuvered the food about. Those hands she craved. Those hands she wanted to grab her body and spend time working on her versus the food. Strong, seductive, gentle, yet forceful hands. Hands that could mold her into any reaction he wished. She was helpless to his touch. Her gaze trickled up his forearms, to the collarbone she loved kissing and nibbling, to his neck—
Julian sensed her eyes on him, and what she had in mind. “Stop it, Kat.” His words were harsh, cutting through her daydream, but the tone suggested anything but. He should know better than to use that ‘I will discipline you,’ tone on her. It only added fuel to the already burning fire.
“Stop what, Julian?” She laughed gently and slid from the wall where she stood, to meander over and hop up on the counter next to where he worked.
Julian’s attention shifted to her. His eyes twinkled with the desire he suppressed. “I am aware of what is going on in that adorable head of yours.”
“I don’t think you are.” Kat shook her head. She leaned closer and whispered, “I think you’re too old to.”
Julian took the pan off the burner with slow controlled movements. In a blink, he moved in front of her, tugging her to the edge of the counter. Kat gasped. He put his mouth against her ear. “We both know I can sense your thoughts.”
“Can you?” Desire rolled through her. Kat playfully bit at Julian’s neck.
Julian moved away from her to finish the breakfast. An aggravated groan slipped from her lips. They just got started, dammit.
“Serves you right.”
“Yeah, you remember that when I pay you back there, tough guy.” Kat snorted, which earned a delicious grin from Julian.
“Make yourself useful, woman.” He pointed at the simplistic coffee machine—a contrast to the expensive one at his mansion that she couldn’t figure out how to turn on no matter how many times she was shown. “Pour us some coffee. Breakfast is finished.”
Kat stuck her tongue out, but a second later hopped off the counter to do as told. “I still don’t understand how we can eat regular food. Isn’t there some sort of code for the Awakened?” She wiggled her fingers about. “No human food? Only blood? Like no water for gremlins after midnight?”
Julian chuckled at her explanation. “Food doesn’t nourish us the way it would were we human. On the other hand, food can fill our stomachs. We can enjoy the taste. We need blood to live, not food. Doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it.” His eyes caressed her body. “Like other things.” He finished filling the two plates, then carried them to the table.
Warmth spread like lava through her body. Kat cleared her throat and followed with two cups of coffee, moving to sit across from him. She placed them on the table.
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on giving up things I enjoy,” Julian said, reaching over to wrap his arm around her waist before she sat down. He tugged her body toward him and sat down with her on his lap, then caressed her cheek with the back of his hand. “You said something about payback, correct?”
“Yeah, I meant I would pay you back, not the other way around.” Kat laughed, shaking her head. God, this moment was pure fairytale. She was the luckiest woman in the world. Beyond blessed to have this man in her life.
“Oh, my apologies.” Julian tapped her on the nose before he held his arms out to the side. “Then by all means leave, sweetie.”
Kat pursed her lips. “Hate that term. Adore this Julian, however,” she said, wrapping her hands around his face. “He’s relaxed and enjoying himself. Looks good on you. Big tough business guy has been put on hold. Love more that it’s just for me.” She gave him a gentle kiss.
Julian stroked her back, knowing the way to touch her to produce the reaction he desired. The same it’d been since the moment they met. Shivers of hunger flowed through her body. The touch, the voice, he could get anything he wanted from her with so little effort and he didn’t know it. She sucked on her bottom lip.
“When I’m alone with you it’s easy to forget all the people awaiting our return,” Julian said. “It’s easy to forget everything. You realize they may come back if we stay here too long?”
Kat shivered beneath Julian’s touch. He wrapped his protective embrace around her. Memories of how he appeared in the shed rushed through her. Covered in blood, hanging on to life nearly a week prior. Cameron and his men had done a number on him. They’d left Julian for dead, thinking they’d finished him.
They didn’t believe he’d survive.
The choice to give him all her blood after removing those bullets had been the easy part. Having found him so close to dying?
If he had died in her arms, she wouldn’t have survived. Having shared so much blood between them lessened the fury she felt within from the feud between his clan, the Runsasi and her own clan, the Raaka.
Nevertheless, the hatred she felt inside her from the Raaka still burned fierce. It made her wonder if that would ever cease, whether it ever could. Julian warned her the Raaka blood carried hate toward the Runsasi. Their blood infected her with it.
The love she held for him was unlike anything she’d ever experienced before though. With his blood flowing through her, something changed. They’d become so much a part of the other that sensing his presence nearby had heightened. In her soul, she always known when Julian was nearby.
The sensation was similar to a small hiccup. His essence touched her with a feather light hint, yet it made a huge impact on her. Warmth filled her, a sense of safety she never felt with another emanated through her, overwhelmed her. Julian’s aura was powerful . . . and she loved it wrapped around her like a warm cozy blanket. A part of her wondered if he claimed her without thinking.
An instinct on his part. Something unconscious, but determined. The urge to have her all to himself took over. He claimed every inch of her, every time he entered the same vicinity as her. A sensation she’d never tire of.
She could never forgive Cameron for trying to kill Julian. And she couldn’t believe he’d found her at Julian’s cabin, one she had the impression was private. Nobody knew the place existed. At least she’d thought so until she caught Sean’s scent.
Kat had plans to find a way to pay Cameron back . . . with interest. Forced into becoming his mate was one thing, but she belonged with Julian. Julian was in her blood. Julian was in her heart and soul. He was everything to her. A surge of protectiveness struck her when she thought of someone hurting him again.
Kat clenched her teeth. Her jaw ached as the pressure built. Her fangs descended against her will, further downward, descending beneath her rage bit-by-bit.
“Part of me wishes they’d never found us here,” she admitted. “A bigger part of me is glad. I don’t know why. I feel like it helped. I guess because ever since that night, the anger that burned deep down has dampened toward you. Maybe some of it is because everything is in the open . . . somewhat. I don’t understand how, Julian. How can I hate you, yet be so madly in-love with you at the same time?”
Julian gave her a soft smile and caressed her cheek, his calm working its way through her system. She leaned her face into his hand, her eyelids drooping.
“It’s the feud between the clans. It’s raged for centuries. I don’t know if anyone has ever shared so much blood that way. Perhaps my blood is stronger in your system so it helps you. Maybe because of the love shared between us. I’ve never felt this way toward anyone else.”
“Because you know what’s good for you.” Kat grinned and retracted her teeth.
Julian laughed. “Is it me, or have you grown more full of—”
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Dark Illusions: The Next Chapter – Extended Edition is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, stories, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015, 2018 Kim Iverson
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