The glare in the parking lot made me squint and shield my eyes with one arm. It also made my skin start to itch. Hans moved so I could walk in his shade. It didn’t help a lot, but I still appreciated it. I appreciated that he’d even thought to do it, more.
When we got to the car Hans unlocked it and got the door for me. Then he opened up the back and started rummaging around. I twisted in my seat to see what he was doing – then gulped and turned around again when my eyes strayed over Mr. Salvatore’s quilt shrouded corpse. That’s right, I reminded myself, we have a corpse back there. I silently prayed that we wouldn’t be stopped by the cops before we disposed of the body. However the heck we were supposed to do that.
When Hans came back around he passed me a bundle of fabric before climbing into his seat. “I should have thought of it sooner,” he said, “but it might help a little if you cover up more.”
I blinked at the bundle. Tee shirts. Did Hans just have a big stack of jeans and tee shirts in the back of his car?
Actually, that sort of made sense, in a ‘who knows when he’ll turn into a wolf and need a change of clothes’ sort of way.
“Thank you,” I said. I pulled one over my head. The shirt was massively oversized for me, but that was okay. I layered it with another and unfolded a third over my knees.
“There should be some sunglasses in the glove box,” Hans added as he pulled out of the parking spot. I hastened to find them and put them on. Then I buckled up and pulled my arms in through the sleeves of the tee shirts. I had to lean my head back against the seat so the shades wouldn’t slip off my nose.
“So,” I said after a moment, “where are we going next?” I didn’t really want to be distracting Hans while he was driving, but there were so many new unknowns in my life… I had to at least take care of that one. Where did Hans – where would I, for the foreseeable future – live?
“Home,” Hans told me. “You need to get out of the sun for the day. And you could probably use some time to settle down; adjust to things – sleep? There’s a bath and I can ask a friend to bring some spare clothes for you. Then, after dark, we can go out and get you some essentials.”
“Right,” I said. Hans hadn’t said where ‘home’ was, but he’d distracted me with the mention of necessities. With my apartment in ashes there were a lot of things I was going to need. Clothes. Toiletries. A coffin. Did they let you buy those without someone to put in them? Probably. I bet funeral directors were all in on the ‘supernatural shadow world’ thing. They probably roamed the graveyards at night, fighting zombies and providing low rent housing for sentient undead, like some sort of supernatural slum lords. Maybe I could get a good rate on a three-by-nine plot.
More importantly, would my rental insurance cover everything I was going to need? Or was I going to have to collect my life insurance, too?
While Hans drove I tried to do Megan’s trick of taking deep, slow breaths to keep myself calm. I only met with marginal success – not because I was panicking, but because I kept getting distracted by how much the sun irritated my face and then forgetting to breathe for a little bit.
When we finally stopped my heart rate had slowed to an almost metronome drone and I had given up on the whole breathing thing. I could feel my fangs starting to scrape against my bottom teeth as they extended.
That was just weird.
Hans got my door again. I slid my arms through the tee shirt sleeves and took off Hans’ sunglasses so I wouldn’t have to look at the sky to keep them from falling off. I let Hans help me out of the Hummer and took a quick glance around.
We were parked outside a nice, well-kept two story house. There was a short stone wall around the small yard, and a couple of trees. A path of polished stone steps led along the front of the house to a square, roofed porch. The neighbors’ houses were similarly sized and built, with the sort of semi-cottage, retro-esque style you find in a nice neighborhood that has a bit of history.
Hans led me down the path to the porch. I had to step carefully so I didn’t slip in my heels. I mentally added sneakers to the list of things I needed.
“Here we are,” Hans said when we were on the porch. “My house. It was Salvatore’s,” Hans added while unlocking the front door, “but he signed it over to me when we agreed I’d be handling his affairs.” Hans pushed the door open and stepped through. “Please come in,” he said before stepping aside.
I felt a bit of apprehension as I did. I remembered how Mr. Salvatore had screamed when he’d entered my apartment uninvited! But other than a brief chill as I stepped through the door, nothing happened. It was kind of like walking through a spray of mist, if a spray of mist could touch your soul and not your body. Even with Hans’ tee shirts hanging off of me like a pair of voluminous, too-short night gowns I was still hot and itchy everywhere from the sun.
“I haven’t had time to really settle in myself,” Hans said, “so whatever you want done to make things comfortable for yourself, just let me know and I’ll see to it. I want you to consider this your home, if you like. There’s a kitchen through there, and a bathroom that way. Stairs are down the hall, and….”
“Hans,” I interrupted. “Stop.” I wasn’t looking around – I was looking at him. When I saw that I had his attention I tried to smile in a way that would be reassuring but still let him see my fangs. “Tour later,” I said. “I’m sorry, but right now I’m itchy and thirsty and hot.” I wondered if my face was as red and puffy as it felt. “I think if we don’t take care of that I might just go a little nuts.” I was already starting to have trouble coming up with valid reasons to not just jump him.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to struggle with that for long. Hans reached out. His fingers caressed my cheek. Then he stepped forward, bringing his wrist to my lips. I didn’t need any more invitation. I bit.
It wasn’t quite like this morning, when I’d jumped him outside my burning apartment after licking away the scratches on Megan’s cheek. For one thing, I wasn’t completely out of control yet. For another, I wasn’t already badly burned and in need of healing. I was still – mostly – alive-ish. As such, I was seriously squicked when my fangs punctured Hans’ skin. I was also still sufficiently myself to be cognizant of the experience. It wasn’t Hans’ blood that tasted so good. It was the rush of being alive. I felt the same primal rush I’d felt before – I wanted to run wild, kick Katherine’s ass for being a bitch, carry off Megan, make out with fucking everyone, howl or scream, kill something and eat it; lay claim to the whole damn world – or at least my corner of it. But this time there was enough of me in the deluge of emotions that I knew they weren’t mine. Those desires were Hans’, cast through the lens of my own experience.
I mean… Hans had no desire to kick Katherine’s ass, and no reason to. But if someone ever treated him the way she’d treated me, he’d break that idiot in half.
Except, he wouldn’t. My brow furrowed. Hans was too controlled and good natured for that. I wasn’t tasting Hans’ desires, I realized. I was feeding on the curse that wound about his soul.
I let go of Hans’ wrist and looked up at him. He smiled softly back at me.
A part of me was amazed that he could be the person he was despite all these passions writhing just below the surface, each trying to drive him to its own ends. The rest of me….
Well, the rest of me was being driven by those selfsame passions. And that part of me reached out, grabbed Hans’ tee shirt by the neck, and tore it open down his chest.
Hell. Yes. I remembered how sexy Hans was when he was topless, but having him like that in front of me was so much better. He wasn’t grotesquely over muscled like a professional body builder. No, Hans was broad chested, narrow waisted and lean, with distinct, chiseled muscles that remained sufficiently proportionate to make him look sleek and dangerous. Exactly like I remembered from last night – but you can’t touch a memory. You can’t lick a memory. And you sure can’t yank a memory’s pants down his hips and…. Honestly, the primal urges that were running the show didn’t really care who shoved who to the ground as long as someone got mounted.
I dropped my purse and wrestled the shirts I was wearing over my head. Why the heck had I put on two of them? Once I was free of the engulfing fabric I threw them aside. Hans growled appreciatively and shrugged out of the tattered remains of his own shirt.
I didn’t bother taking off my corset top or skirt – not with Hans bare-chested in front of me. I was too busy running my hands over his abs, his waist, his sides; his chest. I was perfectly aware that this wasn’t how I’d normally act – this was Hans’ curse doing the driving. But there was enough of ‘normal me’ present for me to be okay with that – the part of me that normally freaks out and takes over in situations like this was going crazy, and I privately thought it was about damn time some other urge pulled the same stunt on it.
So, yes, I was terrified. But I didn’t let that stop me from stepping up to Hans, sliding my arms around his torso and digging my nails into his back. I tried to get up on tiptoe even though I felt like I already was – stupid heels! I settled for biting Hans’ collarbone, since that was as high as I could reach. I didn’t bite hard, and I didn’t have my fangs out, so my teeth slid shut along his skin. My lips were left pressed against it and his taste was left on the tip of my tongue.
Someone – me – moaned. I looked up at Hans and he grinned down at me, hungrily. Since I knew to look for it, I caught the slightest flare of his nostrils as he breathed in my arousal. He knew exactly what he did to me. The rush of primal desires I’d taken in with Hans’ blood was starting to fade – dissolving into the erratic emotions I recognized as my own. I was slightly amazed to realize that I was fully aroused enough to tell my panic mode to shut the hell up and let me have my fun, all on my own.
I was alive, and after the nightmare of last night there was nothing I wanted to do more than fulfill my personal promise to fuck Hans senseless or freak out trying.
Hans’ arms enfolded me. His hands ran down my back; over my ass. He squeezed gently and then hitched me up against himself. It brought my mouth almost to his lips. He bent his head down lower. I locked my legs around his waist and smashed my body tight against his, stretching up along it until we were kissing.
Hans bit my lower lip; my nails dragged down his back. He teased my lips with nips and nibbles between our kisses.
Finally, with a gasp, I pulled my mouth free. I felt flushed everywhere. My heart was pounding and my libido was wound up tight and begging to explode. Preferably repeatedly. My usual anxiety was skittering around the edges in a paranoid panic, raving about wolves and rapists and murderers and the fucking horrible things men do to women against their will. My lust responded with a none-too-polite ‘Fuck you, me. I’m willing.’
“Hans,” I growled.
His lips spread in a wide, knowing, self-satisfied smile. “Yes?” he asked in the tone of voice you use for indecent propositions.
I used the best ‘these are the rules’ voice I could muster in response. “Tour,” I commanded. “Now.”
For just a second Hans looked startled. Then I tangled my fingers in his hair and pulled my lips to his ear.
“Start,” I demanded urgently, “with your bedroom.”