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Dead and Loving It (Page 25)

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He nuzzled her neck and, though she was expecting it, she was still surprised when he bit her. She was also surprised at how terrific it felt. Always before she’d had contempt for prey, for bottoms, for victims. But letting herself be taken, letting him get what he needed from her—it was exciting in a completely different way. Always before she’d been the wolf; now she was the rabbit, and it was very fine.

She buried her fingers in his long hair, marveling at the feel of it, the silky texture, and he snuggled her closer to him. His teeth were sharp, but his arms around her were gentle, almost careful.

“Wait,” she said, but he ignored her and kept drinking.

“Okay,” she said, “but I have a limited number of underpants, so don’t—s**t!” She heard the tell-tale rrrrrrip and, out of spite (and, okay, some lust… okay, a lot of lust) ripped through his blue jeans in exactly the same way. “If you have any money at all,” she informed him, wriggling beneath him so they could match up, “you’re buying me new clothes.”

She reached down and felt him, cool and hard, which was startling and sexy at the same time. He hummed against her neck, and his grip shifted, from gentle to urgent, and then he was pushing against her, shoving, and she wrapped her legs around his waist to help him, to help herself. They groaned in unison and then she felt him slide all the way home, and that was worth the stupid trip, too.

He arched above her, her blood running down his chin, and she jerked his head down, licked it away, and met him thrust for thrust. He kissed her bite mark, and she heard him mutter, “Pretty.”

“Back atcha,” she gasped back, her o****m very close, shockingly close, and then she was clutching at him so hard she heard something snap and realized with dim horror that she’d dislocated his shoulder. Then she realized that he hadn’t noticed, or cared, because his thrusts had sped up and his hands were hurting her, bruising her, and she didn’t much care, either. Then they were arching together and shuddering at the same moment, and then they were done.

.

After a minute in which she caught her breath and he popped his shoulder back in without so much as a change of expression, she groaned, “I’m so sorry about that.”

“Why?”

“I didn’t mean to hurt you. That badly, I mean.”

“So?”

She looked at him, and he looked back at her, two night creatures who could see each other perfectly well in the dark.

She smiled. “Boy, you’re just the perfect man, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“And so modest!”

“No.”

..

“Want to go again?”

“Yes.”

She grinned. “I’ll bet. Listen, Betsy said you followed her home… you saved her a couple times. It’s no big deal, I’m just curious…”

“Lie.”

“Okay, okay, don’t nag. Yes, it’s a big deal. Do you love her?”

“Yes.”

So. That was that. The perfect man was in love with someone else. Of course. And the queen, of course, thought of him as a highly evolved dog. Of course. And she… she was f****d.

Chapter 10

They spent the night together, trying to hurt each other in various ways, to the extreme satisfaction of both. Antonia, who had been warned again and again

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(never with monkeys; they’re fragile)

found vampires to be fragile, but they healed so quickly it hardly mattered.

And just when she was wondering what to do about the filmy curtains on her east-facing windows, Garrett yawned, showing long, catlike fangs, and crawled beneath her bed.

“I guess that’s that,” she said. “Hey—there really is a monster under the bed!”

There was no answer, so she got up, showered, dressed in her last outfit (she’d have to shop today—ugh—or borrow something), and went downstairs.

Sinclair was still up, reading the Wall Street Journal of all the tremendously dull things. She’d read a shampoo bottle before she’d even look at that paper.

“Good morning, Antonia.”

“Hey.” She fixed herself a glass of chocolate milk, stirred through the other papers on the counter, and finally picked the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

He said, without looking at her, “That’s a nasty bite.”

“MYOB, king who isn’t my king.”

“It was just an observation,” he said mildly. “But you should know, Tina isn’t in, ah, things for the, ah, long haul.”

“What?”

“You are a stunning woman, but the very fact that your presence here is a temporary one would be, ah, attractive to her. I hope my candor hasn’t offended you.”

She sipped her milk dispassionately and thought about what fun could be had if she let him keep his silly idea. Then she compared it to the fun of telling him the truth.

“I didn’t spend the night with Tina, numb nuts. I spent it with Garrett. That’s all so fascinating about Tina not being able to commit, Mr. Nosy, but I don’t swing that way.”

“Oh.” The paper rattled. Score! He hadn’t seen that one coming at all. Har! “Well. That’s. Well.”

“Not that it’s any of your business.”

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“Right.”

“Because it’s not.”

“Yes.”

“The only reason I’m even telling you is because you were nice enough to give me some advice. Totally unasked for advice, but never mind.”

He looked started. “Did you just say totally?”

“No.”

They sat in silence for a while, Antonia wondering about blood sharing and the nature of Fiends. If Betsy’s blood had helped him, and Laura—whoever she was—had helped him, what might werewolf blood do? Anything? Nothing?

She jumped when Sinclair broke the silence. “To answer your question—”

“I didn’t say anything,” she said, startled.

“—I have no idea what your blood would do to Garrett. Or not do.”

“That’s really annoying,” she snapped. “I wasn’t talking to you. I was just sitting here minding my own business. Your problem is, everybody’s so busy kissing your a*s, they don’t tell you to cut the s**t.”

“On the contrary,” he said, completely unruffled—dammit! She was longing for a fight. “My charming bride-to-be tells me to cut the s**t on a near-constant basis. My question for you, Antonia, is why you’re even wondering about it.”

“Why?” She was startled and then angry she didn’t see the question coming. “Why? Well, I don’t know… as long as I’m in town, you know. Couldn’t hurt, right?”

He smiled at her. It was a perfectly nice smile, not at all the rich promise of lust he’d given Betsy the night before, but she still felt a stab. Lower. “Do unto others, as we monkeys like to say?”

“You’re not monkeys,” she said, shocked. “Well. Jessica and Marc—I mean, I’m sorry.” She was flustered, and even a little shamed… she had obviously been overusing the rude word. “I don’t even think of you as—look, can we get off this? If I offended you, I’m sorry.”

“You’re clueless,” he said, picking up the paper with a rattle, “not sorry. You poor thing.”

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She fumed through the rest of her breakfast and bolted as soon as she could.

Chapter 11

“Stop staring.”

“I wasn’t,” Jessica whined.

“Yes, you were.”

“Well, I heard you had a bite mark. But I don’t see a thing.” “Superior life form,” she reminded them. “It’s long gone.” It was the next night, and they were going through Betsy’s

closet, looking for clothes Antonia might borrow. It was all so

girlfriend-ish she thought she might puke. But the alternative—

shopping—was ever so much worse.

“This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen,” she said,

peering into Betsy’s closet and counting at least a hundred pairs of shoes. “Those look expensive. You walk through dog s**t in those things?”

“Why do you think she needs so many of them?” Jess asked brightly. She put a rainbow-colored stack of T-shirts on the bed. “Those should work.”

“I’ve got a bunch of leggings and stuff you can borrow, too,” Betsy said, muffled from the closet, “but I draw the line at lending you my panties.”

“I’ll go to Wal-Mart or something later.”

Jessica, who was both rich and a snob, was unable to conceal her shudder.

“Knock it off, Jessica. You’re in no position to look down on anybody. Not if you can’t run a mile in less than a minute.”

“I could if I wanted,” Betsy bragged from the closet. “I just don’t want to.”

“You can’t do s**t in those shoes,” Antonia snapped back.

“Hey, there’s a perfectly nice Super 8 over on Grand, if ever you feel the need to, you know, get the hell out.”

“Would that I could,” she grumped, but she was secretly pleased. It was like—like they were friends or something. They were grateful she’d helped Marc. They didn’t pry (much) into her sex life. Nobody was worried about her having a defective cub. Nobody cared that she was running out of clothes and needed to borrow. It was—er, what was the word? Nice.

“There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask,” Jessica said. “Let me see if I’ve got this straight, calling one of us a ‘monkey’ is like using the ‘N’ word?”

“Sure,” Antonia said. “Another way to look at it is, if I’m doing it, chances are, it’s socially unacceptable. Seriously. I am not the role model for any of you.”

“The ‘N’ word, huh?” Jessica mused.

“I don’t think we should be talking about this,” Betsy said nervously, emerging from the closet with an armful of slacks on hangers.

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