Wiping the counter, Ari heard the door behind open and close. At 3:11 that afternoon, the mortal closed her eyes and exhaled. “She isn’t—,” and she froze as she caught sight of the man at the counter. Where she had expected Jack to be asking for Lou, a different man stood before her.
“Never mind,” she smiled. A quick study of the man and she was aware of his nature. Ari leaned over the counter and looked up to him. Her eyes squinted, her fingers tapped. “You all look the same.”
“I’m sorry,” he spoke. He had brown hair and tawny eyes. He was leaner than Jack, a bit shorter, too, but still above six feet.
“Why is that you choose this time to come in here?” she teased. Leaning from his sight, Ari’s eyes traced around the coffee bar and found no mortals. “You have it down to a science, don’t you?”
The man laughed to himself.
“He said you were quick,” the man set his hands on the counter and lifted his brow. “Foolish, but quick,” his voice echoed the sounds of faraway lands. Places Ari admired.
“I’m Ari,” she pointed to her nametag. “I make coffee, and sometimes pastries. But I’m sure you don’t want those.”
“It isn’t important what I want.”
“Yes it is,” she argued. The man’s brow pressed in thought. “What is life unless you get what you want?” she opened her mouth in a giggling smile.
“I’m here for Jack, that’s all.”
“Well, she’s taking a vacation,” Ari turned and continued to wipe the counter. “Won’t be home until Saturday.”
The vampire stood there in silence as he watched Ari work.
“Was that all?”
“What did you mean when you said we all look the same?”
Ari, setting the towel down and facing the man again, spoke clearly. “You all look sad… desperate for a connection, for a human touch. And it might be only for satiety or nourishment, but you want it. You miss how this feels. How the world was when it wasn’t so routine.”
“Is Lou open with you about us?” he pressed.
“Yes,” firmly put. “Does it bother you?”
“No,” he returned.
“I’ve had my own experiences, too, though.”
The door opened and three college students walked in with their books and their noise. The vampire backed away from the counter and left Ari to her work.
“Will I see you again?” she asked out loud. The students watched as if viewers to a film.
“Why can’t you let it go?” Ari grilled her friend.
“It’s not that I’m holding a grudge,” Lou replied. “I just realized that I can’t be what he wants.”
“Oh, and he clearly wants a woman who obsesses over him from two-thousand miles away,” Ari snipped back. In the sun near the edge of the pier, both woman closed their eyes. “He sent his friend in today.”
“I don’t know, I’ve never seen him before.”
“What did you tell him?”
“That you were out of town,” Ari giggled.
Lou exhaled, but with a grin. “You know he’s going to search my apartment for an airline ticket now.”
“Yeah, and maybe he’ll be there when you get back,” Ari’s brow lifted.
Lou threw her head back and let the sunlight warm her skin. She and Ari had their legs drape over the pier, their toes hitting the water.
“He was sexy,” Ari went on.
“I don’t know many of Jack’s friends,” Lou spoke. “I had no idea Lilian existed.”
“Let it go.”
“Ari, it hurts,” Lou confessed. “It really hurts. I feel empty, lost. But even if let him back in, it’ll only last for so long. Someday I’ll be old and I’ll die.”
“Take his virus.”
Ari shrugged her shoulders. “Why not?”
“Because he never asked.”
“You guys ever eat anything?” Ari questioned the vampire at the coffee bar.
“I thought you knew all about us,” he taunted.
“I’ve never seen one of you eat.”
The vampire nodded and said, “Fair enough. Yes, though. We eat.”
“Good,” she smiled. She walked to the back and returned with a small, but gracious cheesecake. It had pecans, caramel sauce and a chocolate crust. The vampire’s eyes enlarged. “You can’t have any until I know your name,” she pulled the portion just out of his reach. Once again, the coffee bar was empty save for the two of them.
“Parker,” the vampire uttered without hesitation.
At a table, the two shared the desert. Ari picked at the man’s image. In her mind, she noted the collared sweater, the choice of leather shoes. She caught sight of his hair—ruffled at the top, but clean and sharp around his ears. And his hands, how strong, but slender they were. Like a pianist’s, she thought.
“How old are you?” she quizzed.
With a swallow, the man smiled. “You’re adventurous, aren’t you?”
“Well, I was born in 1811,” he put. He twisted the fork around for a second or two, his eyes focused on hers, then he took another bite. The sign on the door read closed even though it shouldn’t have.
“I was born in 1989,” she returned. The man laughed. “You’re seriously old.”
“Do I look old?”
Ari shook her head.
“I’m thirty-one in body, not in mind. I might look naïve, unforgettable, maybe even crass, but I’m intelligent enough to understand things when they’re vague.”
“And you mean…?”
“You want to be like me, don’t you?”
Ari laughed, leaned back in the booth and let her hair fall to the middle of her back. “I don’t,” she answered. “At least not right now.”
“Why be so infatuated by my kind? Why study me, study my habits?”
“Infatuated is a good word,” she licked her lips and stood. With her hand out to take the plate, Parker took hold of her wrist.
“I could do it here, right now,” he taunted. Ari’s heart skipped in her throat as she stood with her mouth gaping open. “Give you this disease and make you mine. The vampire’s fangs slid out, the spear-like tips peeked out from beneath his upper lip. Ari allowed him to hold her wrist next to his mouth as he breathed her in. She, with a steady flow of air, contemplated the outcome with a quiver in her lips. “No arguments?”
“You can drink it, but don’t infect it,” spoken sternly, wise like an old woman, tender like the rain.
Parker leaned down and kissed her flesh, and when he rose, his fangs had receded.
“She isn’t out of town,” Ari cleared as she carried the plate to the back. “She’s at home. She won’t see him though.” When Ari had returned, the vampire was gone. Quick to her phone, Ari dialed Lou and tried to explain. “Don’t be angry.”
“Angry?” Lou spat back. “Jack’s pounding on my door. Why did you tell Parker?”
“You said you didn’t know him?”
“I said I didn’t know many of Jack’s friends. Parker, I know.”
“Well, don’t open the door.”
“I like this,” Ari said at the table at Le Rivage. Parker had asked for a night alone with Ari, out of the coffee bar.
“I thought you would,” he grinned. “I’m sorry for ratting out your friend.”
“No, don’t be,” Ari sipped from her wine. “She needs to face him and either accept him back, or tell him to go away.” The vampire smiled. “Or something else?” she led on. Her fork was mid-air, holding chicken and sauce that dripped.
“No, I agree,” Parker folded his hands together at his chin. “I just wonder why it doesn’t seem to bother you more.”
“I’ve told you, infatuation.”
“I find it exhilarating; no other experience is like being fed upon,” she lowered her voice at the end. “To hang on the edge of death, to play games with a monster.”
“Am I a monster?”
“You could be.”
“Aren’t we all?”
Ari paused, then gave a smile, her face slightly turned to view him in the light. “It might be hard for you to remember, but death is a mystery to most of us. We think about it every day. We wonder what lies beyond the unknown. We fear planes, spiders and red meat because of it. And we grow old and we forget everything that we ever cared for. Then it doesn’t even matter.”
“So cold,” he ridiculed.
“It’s only the truth.”
“And you think I don’t fear death? That it never crosses my mind?”
“I think it’s less troublesome for you and your kind.”
Parker set down his fork, capturing Ari’s complete attention. Her eyes enlarged as she tried to chew and swallow. A large gulp of water and still she awaited his words.
“How close have you gotten to my kind? To know so much of our thoughts?”
“I donate,” she simplified. Her elbows hit the table and she lifted her chin.
“That’s what all mortals do,” Parker spoke to her and her alone. Ari’s left brow perked up and as she looked over the table. The vampire clamped down on her wrist quick and without warning. His strength was immense, nearly giving her reason to cry out. But in that tightly packed restaurant—every table occupied—Ari kept her composure. “You will donate to me… tonight.”
“And if I refuse?” questioned with an airy voice.
Parker’s eyes remained on the road as he drove through the city. Ari felt flush, but sat quiet. She faced forward, but let her eyes wander every-so-often. She watched him shift, handle the wheel, move his jaw around as he breathed.
“Are you taking me home?” her voice emerged from the silence. Parker didn’t turn his eyes. “I don’t want to be like you,” she informed. Several more minutes passed as Parker kept driving. Ari took in deep breaths, calming her body and heart. She knew that if she grew anxious it would almost force Parker to act. The budding curiosity of his current actions gave her enough reason to worry.
Near an abandoned factory, close enough to the water to see lights glisten off the top, Parker stopped the car. He faced Ari and watched as she scanned the area for clues to where she was. Never before had she visited this side of the city. It was bleak, dark and lonely.
“I’ll give you a head start,” he spoke.
Ari sighed, fear echoed in her breath. “A what?”
“Ten,” he began, Ari’s eyes grew wide. “Nine,” his voice clear and monotoned.
“What are you going to do?” she asked. Urgency was hidden in her voice, though a part of her enjoyed his game.
Without another second to pass, Ari jumped from the car and ran off toward the empty factory. In the car, Parker continued to count. When her reached one, he stepped out. Taking in the night air, Parker could smell the woman. He could detect the delicate vanilla on her skin, the sandalwood she wore every time he had seen her. He listened with eyes closed until he heard her heart beating strong. She wasn’t far.
Into the building, where windows were broken, sheathing torn and rotten, Parker stepped firmly and toward the one thing he desired most. Ari, hidden from his sight, rushed around in the darkness to find a safe place to hide.
“I can smell you,” he teased with a slow and growling voice. “I can taste you in the air.” The vampire closed his eyes and again took in the scents of the atmosphere. He could feel her close, hear her veins throb with fear. “You know why I’m doing this, don’t you?” he called out with eyes closed. “I think you crave this. You want the danger, but only receive the act. The fear, the panic, all the intensity is removed. You’re served on a silver platter, and it’s boring.”
Ari, motionless from his words, felt her skin ripple with goosebumps. Then he was there. Without the chance for movement, Parker was directly upon her, staring over her skin like it was candy. Finding truth in his words, she chose to flee. Quickly rushing in the other direction, Ari trekked through the old building until she found him upon her once again.
Shuddered breath, the woman spoke, “Let me go.”
“I don’t think so,” he grinned.
Ari ran again, back to the front door, toward the car. But there, just outside the door to the building, he stepped in her way. Her body slammed into his and she tumbled backward and into a metal beam. Wincing in pain, the mortal tried to catch her breath.
“Parker, let me go,” her jaw trembled. In the filtered moonlight, his fangs gleamed beneath the edge of his lip. Parker cocked his head and sharpened his gaze. One step closer and Ari trembled from her shoulders to her waist.
“Don’t ever forget this,” he advised. “Don’t ever think I’ll let you go.”
Quickened breath and Ari found herself in foreign territory. Parker came at her quick, took her arms in hand and pierced her neck with his bite. And she cried out into the darkness, into the streets where no one lived.
Two days passed before Ari heard a word from Parker. She waited anxiously to hear the door open in the afternoons, but it hadn’t until the third day. And when it did, the rush of the moment overcame her as if it were happening all over again.
“Hello,” Parker spoke from the doorway. He flipped the sign off and gazed to Ari from beneath his brow. She, without thought, stepped back and gripped the counter tight. “Do you fear me?” Ari looked him over then gave an uneasy nod. “Good,” he cleared. “I’ll take you home today.”
Ari’s eyes shifted over the vampire until she found the strength to nod in agreeance. Parker stepped closer to the counter, but Ari had no further to retreat. Her jaw clenched tight and she drew in sharp, shallow breaths.
“Come over here,” he commanded. Ari hesitated, but then walked around the counter to meet him. “Let me have your hand.” Ari bit her lip and thought of what he wanted. She took a deep breath and lifted her hand to his. “Thank you,” he rewarded, and Ari’s stance lightened ever-so-slightly. “I don’t want to see any marks on your skin unless I put them there myself. Do you understand?” Ari nodded. When Parker kept his eyes tight on her own, she spoke.
“Yes, I do.”
“Good,” he half-smiled. “You aren’t a tool for their pleasure any longer.”
“Am I for yours?” she muttered.
“Yes,” he cleared. “You are mine alone. No one is allowed to touch you in any way.”
“And how are they to know?” she smirked.
“You tell them.” Parker then took her head into his hand and pulled her close to his chest. Kissing her hair, he spoke, “Come along.”
“Why me?” she asked in the car. “Why not some other mortal?”
“Because you challenge me,” his face seemed to glow. “I admire your spirit. Your boldness. Don’t ever let it go.”
Ari swallowed. “What do you want from me?”
“I want to live,” he announced. “I want to hunt, to feed and I want to love.”
“And what about me?” she felt her skin trickle with anxiety. But it wasn’t a bad form of fright. It filled her veins with uncertainty, and that bothered her greatly, but the anxiety Ari felt toward Parker was fulfilling. It encased her being with excitement, with a desire for more.
“What do you mean?”
“You get all these things that make you happy,” she spoke as he glanced at her twice while driving. “What do I get?” Parker smiled. “What is my reward for being your personal blood bank?”
“There it is,” he laughed. “I love that about you.”
“You can’t love anything about me,” she spat. “We just met.”
“I can love chocolate after having it once,” he replied. Ari rolled her eyes. “I’ve tasted you once, and it was enough.”
“I don’t have to listen to everything you say,” she turned to look out the window. “And I don’t belong to anyone, or anything.”
Parker pulled up outside of Ari’s apartment building. His convertible was open, the sun fell upon their skin. Rounding the vehicle, Parker met Ari as she was opening her door. With his arm out, he took Ari’s hand and led her into the building.
“You, darling, get what you most desire.”
“And you know what that is?”
“I know it isn’t boring,” the vampire smirked.
“How did you know I lived here?” she quizzed.
“I’ve watched you carefully the past few days,” he explained. “When I say that you belong to me, I mean it.”
“So, I guess this is our relationship,” she more-or-less asked.
“It is,” he spoke as he followed her up the stairs. Her apartment was on the third floor facing west. At the door, she unlocked the knob and stepped in.
“Do I have to invite you in?” she toyed. Parker stepped in without a word. She tossed the keys on the counter and walked into the open area. The entire layout was wide open, all except for the bathroom off to the right of the kitchen. To the left, the bedroom sat up from the main floor like a loft. There weren’t any walls and the windows were in abundance.
“Adorable,” Parker spoke as his fingers traced the edge around a mirror near the bed. Bottlecaps from various unknown beer labels were glued to the plastic, coral-colored frame. Ari’s brow lifted. “You remind me of California,” he spoke bold.
“I was born there,” she confessed. “Moved here with my dad when I was fourteen.”
“I can hear the waves when you speak,” he told, nearing the mortal. Her eyes tightened. “Your flesh smells like salt, holds the heat of the sun,” he touched her cheek. Captivated by the moment, Ari didn’t move. “You miss it, don’t you?” She nodded. With her eyes drifting, she leaned into his palm and breathed in his air. He had a scent, too. Not that she could smell his history, but it was enough to recognize him. Pineapple was there, as was cardamom. It was delicious.
With Ari’s eyes nearly closed, Parker thrust her against the wall and pressed tight to her body. She stared up wide-eyed in fear and curiosity as his fangs slid from their recess. Her chest caved and her body ached, but she reveled in the tension he had placed on her arm.
“This is mine,” he whispered over her as his fingers trickled down her neck and over her collarbone. She agreed with a rapid nod. “Say it.” Breathing heavily, Ari let the words sink in her mind. Parker, however, was stern. He shook her against the wall and honed in closer. “Say it to me.”
Ari chewed her lip for a second, then inhaled. “This is yours. I am yours.”
“Aren’t you hot?” Lou asked Ari at the coffee bar. Ari had shown up that day wearing a long-sleeved shirt beneath her polo-shirt. It was early May; the afternoons were increasingly warm.
“No,” Ari smiled as she shook her head. Both women were getting the coffee bar ready for business. They had thirty minutes before opening. “How’s Jack?”
Lou turned to face her friend with gleaming eyes. “He’s perfect.”
“I told you,” Ari bragged. “If you would only give him the chance.”
“Well, at least I’ll have several years with him before he moves on,” Lou reminded.
“Why don’t you just ask him for the virus?”
“Maybe I don’t want it,” Lou pushed back. She was filling the sauce bottles and changing out nut containers. The one in her hand dropped into the slot and clanged loudly.
“Don’t be so bothered by it,” Ari snapped. “You chose to keep him in your life. This is just part of it.”
“I know,” Lou sighed and put her hands on the counter. “I just… I’m not sure if I want to be a vampire. And I don’t feel right asking him.”
“I don’t want to be one,” Ari spoke openly. “I like the chase.”
Lou’s eyes sharpened over her friend. “Chase?”
“The hunt, the rush of fear,” Ari furthered. She stopped wiping the espresso machine and remembered the factory. “He’s powerful, fast… he catches me before I can see him move.”
“Parker?” Lou spoke in doubt.
“He’s dangerous,” Lou stepped toward her friend. “He’s hurt women, manipulated them.”
“They just weren’t right for him,” Ari argued. She continued to clean the counter, not noticing Lou nearing from behind. Lou grabbed Ari’s arm tight and lifted her sleeve. “Stop it!”
“What is he doing to you?” Lou ridiculed. Ari’s arm was bruised—not badly, but enough—and she wasn’t bothered at all.
“I never once questioned your choice to be with Jack,” Ari kept up. “Even after you nearly died at his hands.”
“He didn’t hurt me like this,” Lou shouted back.
“Because you didn’t want it!”
“And you do?”
“That’s sick, Ari.”
“Well, then I’m sick,” the young woman turned away with glossed eyes. “I don’t need you to understand. I just want your support.”
“I’ve seen Parker hurt someone, very badly,” Lou wouldn’t stop. “I just want you to be aware.”
“I am, Lou,” Ari faced her friend with a tear on the edge of her lower lid. “It scares me, but that’s why I like it.”
“Ryan?” Ari called out after slamming the door to the pub.
“It has a spring,” the mortal quipped from the bar. He was polishing a glass with an old torn towel. Ari rushed up to the bar, slopped onto a stool and huffed with her entire body. “Long day?”
“I can’t talk about it,” Ari expelled.
“Rum,” she copied.
As Ryan poured the drink, he studied Ari’s appearance. “No tank top?” Ari looked up at Ryan and her eyes widened. “It’s hot outside.”
“It’s warm, not hot,” she countered. Ryan finished pouring the drink, but kept it in his hand. His eyes, slender and piercingly blue, honed in over Ari. He had bright, blond hair like hers. It was neat, but lengthy. There was a pen behind his ear, holding just the edge of his hair back.
“Every time the sun peeks out, you can’t wait to strip down,” he forced.
“Give me my drink, Ryan,” Ari snapped. Ryan slowly set the glass down on the bar, just out of her reach. Up and leaning, Ari grabbed for the drink, but Ryan caught her arm tight and lifted her sleeve.
“What the hell, Ari?” he shouted.
“It’s my business.”
“No, it happens to be mine!” he lifted out his arms and looked around his pub. “I agreed to take ownership of this place. To keep the pub clean and safe. Not to see people being used as blood bags.”
“No one’s being used,” Ari declared.
“Naomi sure as hell is!”
“She loves him,” Ari softened. “Why can’t you get passed this.”
“Because it’s wrong, Ariadne,” Ryan sighed. He pulled the towel from over his shoulder and grabbed another glass from the sink behind. “He drank from her without her consent. And then he erased it from her mind.”
Ari sat tall and pulled her arms inward before her. “I know it scares you.”
“No,” he laughed to himself with a shake of his head. “You don’t know what scares me.” Ari watched her brother set the glass and the towel down. He walked close to her and leaned forward, and then he lowered his collar. “This is fresh,” he told. Ari immediately recognized the marking as a vampire bite. “And I have no idea how it got there.”
“Where’s your mind?” Parker asked of Ari as they sat at a table at the French restaurant.
“I’m not sure,” she let the air slip from her mouth as her eyes stared at the tablecloth. Parker reached over and took her hand.
“If I’m bothering you, I can stop,” he assured.
“No,” she quickly replied. “I don’t want any of this to stop,” she whispered with a tight jaw as she leaned toward him. Parker licked his lips and grinned. His hand released hers and he caught her eyes in his gaze. The waiter brought their drinks and a bowl of bread. Ari lifted the glass of wine and sipped it like water.
Parker’s eyes didn’t lift from the mortal. Without emotion to his tone, he asked, “Is it another man?” His expression told her that he wasn’t jealous, nor would he become. She shook her head. “Tell me.”
A stuttered breath and Ari scratched her brow. “My brother worries about me,” she answered in a delicate, honest tone.
“Sometimes,” she smiled.
“He takes care of you,” Parker assumed.
“Since our father died a few years ago,” Ari informed. “He knows of you… of your kind.”
Parker rubbed his chin in thought. “It bothers you?”
“He’s been used lately,” Ari whispered. “Without consent.”
“Are you afraid that I’d do the same?”
Ari didn’t hesitate to refuse the notion. She shook off the idea before Parker could finish his question. “No, of course not. I just worry as much as he does, I guess.”
Flipping on the lights to her apartment, Ari stepped in with Parker close behind. He closed the door and watched her remove her jacket. And she, moving with care, didn’t rush to reveal the loose, strapless blouse she had chosen for the night. Parker neared her skin and kissed it as she closed her eyes tight. And in one brisk moment, the vampire had taken her tight into his arms and carried her to the bed.
Ari’s eyes widened beneath Parker. Her apartment was lit by strings of lights in red, ones that dangled over frames and around the bedposts. Parker reached to the mess of silk scarves draped over the right post and pulled one down. Ari waited silently for his next move. Without speaking, he reached for her hands and she obliged. Not even a grin could penetrate her anticipation. He twisted the scarf around her wrists and then thread it through the slats on the metal headboard.
Three kisses to her face and neck, then he traveled down her chest. Removing each article of clothing with kindness and patience, Parker kissed the skin beneath. Ari bit her lip; her breathing stammered deep in her lungs. His touch was cool—everything about him was cool. Laying naked before him, Ari grew eager, curling her toes and wiggling from the restraints. Parker, however, didn’t care for time. He stood and turned his back to her, removed his sweater and then unfastened his jeans.
Moving to the window, Parker opened the glass and stood there as the breeze billowed in. Ari shivered, but didn’t move more than she thought he would allow. As he placed his hands on the bed and began to crawl toward her, she shuddered and licked her lips. Her mind thought of everything they had done together. The times he would hold her so tight that it left bruises. Dinners when he would order for her and watch as she ate. And the moment they met—that thought seemed to never go away. Something about him that day, when she had expected to see Jack begging for his true love, she found what she didn’t know she wanted.
Parker rose above her and teased her with his eyes as he held her legs against his hips. Feeling the weight of his body over hers, his presence deep within, Ari moaned loudly near his ear. She couldn’t touch him with her fingers, couldn’t feel his skin in her hands. It drove her mad, but it was what she wanted.
In the early morning, when the atmosphere was clouded by a gray-blue light, Ari awoke to the sound of rain. The sheets were wrinkled, the blanket at her feet. She lay alone, but there were sounds coming from the kitchen. Just out of her sight, Ari listened to the vampire as he rummaged for something she assumed to be a snack. Then she thought of how he drank from her. She wondered if he needed it as often as he was taking it, or if it was only for pleasure.
“Did I wake you?” he asked, returning to the bed with a glass of lemonade. Ari shook her head and scooted up on the pillow. The lemonade was fresh—her favorite—mixed with real strawberries and topped with large sugar crystals. After a couple sips, the liquid looked more like a sunset than a drink.
Parker set the glass on the side table and lifted Ari’s wrist into the faint morning light. “Do you want me to heal these?” he asked as he noted the red marks on her skin. Further down, he realized there was also a bruise on her forearm. Ari, however, smiled and gazed up to him.
“I like them,” she whispered. Parker took in her words, and then he pressed her skin to his mouth and inhaled. An open-mouthed exhale and Parker tickled her wrist with his lips. Then came the bite. In her moment of carelessness, Parker pierced her skin and drew her blood into his mouth. She winced, opening her eyes to watch him clearly. His hand held her wrist so tight that she began to rustle. Parker could feel her vein throb on his fingertips as the life flowed from her to him at a faster pace.
A trail of blood, thin and dark, slid down her arm and pooled in her inner elbow. The moment was satisfying, filling her with pleasure while emptying her of her readiness. In her trance, she leaned up to his ear and nibbled on his lobe. The vampire kept drinking. Kissing his neck and taking in his scent, Ari felt cold and relaxed. She leaned to his ear once more and bit harder, now capturing his attention.
Parker stopped and looked down over Ari with sharpened onyx eyes. She trembled beneath him as he thrust himself over her quick and deliberate. His hands pressed hers to the bed; his body straddled hers. Ari twisted in his hands, rocking her body back and forth as he gripped tighter. She tried to buck him off, but all it did was amuse him. She drew in a long breath and tried to pull her hands free as her hair bunched around her. Parker was incredibly strong, she knew she couldn’t escape his grasp. Looking up to him, she stopped fighting. Her tongue danced around her mouth, and traveling to the edge of her lower lip and curling the flesh between her teeth. She breathed heavily, but it wasn’t from frustration.
The vampire’s fingers loosened over one wrist and slowly his hand lifted from her skin. Ari didn’t make a sound, nor did she move. Her arm rested there where he had pinned it, now with a fresh red mark. Lifting his other hand from hers, Parker sat tall over her body. She studied his face with an open mouth. Laying at her side, Parker pulled Ari tight, her back to his chest. She always felt delicate in his arms—breakable and above all else, human. His hold encased her, his breath fell on her neck. She reached up to take hold of his upper arm and caught sight of her wrists. And there in her bed, as Parker placed his leg over her lower body, Ari couldn’t help but smile.