Hans proved amenable to my plan – perhaps even eager for the excuse not to cut our flirtation short. He stepped up to me again and leaned in to catch me about the waist. One of his arms looped down under my butt and then he straightened. I was swept off my feet. I yelped in surprise, but it turned into exhilarated laughter when I wound up in his lap after he sat down. I wrapped my arms around Hans’ neck and pulled myself up so I could kiss him properly.
Hans ran his fingers along my spine and returned my kiss. My arms broke out in goose bumps. I made a happy noise and snuggled in closer. The basement air was chilly but Hans was deliciously, delightfully, warm. The crook of his arm circled about my waist and his hand held me tightly to his chest. He cupped my head with his other hand and kept my lips tilted toward his.
I was happy to further my education in kissing. Hans was good at it. His were different than Emma’s, too: Hans met my lips more firmly. He controlled how long each kiss lasted. He was less inclined to tease with his tongue and more inclined to nibble. His stubble prickled. I liked kissing Emma, but I liked kissing Hans, too. I let him keep control and let myself get lost in the sensations.
They were very, very nice.
After a little bit what nervous energy I had abruptly dropped off. I pulled my lips away from Hans so I could bury my face against his shoulder. I felt so cold… Hans’ skin was blissfully hot in comparison. Lethargy swept through me before I could react further. I felt stiff as I slumped against Hans – stiff, but comfortable in his embrace. I breathed out: a long, contented sigh. It sounded kind of wet and raspy, though. But then again, everything was starting to sound distorted and slow. I didn’t bother breathing back in.
My heart wasn’t beating anymore, either.
Hans suddenly tensed underneath me. “Abigail?” he asked. His voice sounded bizarrely distant and slow for the urgency it contained. “Abigail?!”
I couldn’t find the energy to respond. Hans didn’t wait for me to. He shifted me out of his lap and laid me back on the couch. I didn’t really feel him move me. I wasn’t feeling much of anything, but my dim awareness of what was going on around me didn’t seem to have anything to do with the five physical senses anyway.
I felt like… like I was having an out of body experience. Only instead of floating above my body and looking down on events, I was still inside of my body and looking out. Just not with my eyes. It probably should have been an interesting experience, but I was too detached to focus on it.
Hans checked my pulse in my wrist and at my throat. He muttered something that was probably a curse but was meaningless to me. Then he stepped around the couch and out of my limited perception.
I don’t know how long he was gone. Probably just minutes – maybe even just seconds – but it could have been days for all I could tell. I didn’t mind, though. There was an undeniable tranquility to the grey stillness of the world.
When Hans came back and he began doing things time became meaningful again. He crouched by my side and cut the tip of his finger with a knife. I felt something in me – something emotional, not physical – stir. Hans brought his finger to my lips and I could smell blood. Physically smell it: I wasn’t just aware that the scent existed like I was aware of what Hans was doing. Hans pressed his cut to my lips and the grey shroud over my awareness pulled away.
I felt slow and stiff. Not sore, but lethargically wooden. The taste of blood and rush of life brought me back, though. I may have whimpered. I sucked on Hans’ fingertip and teased the cut with my tongue to keep it from closing up when my symbiotic vampire healing factor started to work on it.
Hans started to pull his finger away when he saw that I was “awake.” I made an angry noise and bit down hard enough to prevent escape. I was feeling wolfy and possessive – not nearly so much as I had the first few times I’d fed on him… but badly enough, it seemed. Still, I’d been distracted enough that the cut on Hans’ fingertip had time to heal before I turned my attention back to it.
Damn shared vampire magic.
I let Hans pull his fingertip free and pouted. Hans, perversely, seemed to relax a little. “How are you feeling?” he asked.
“Thirsty,” I answered crossly. It wasn’t actually that bad but my wolf-by-association was angry that its meal had been taken away. Fortunately I wasn’t thirsty enough and I hadn’t drunk deeply enough for the wolf to be overwhelming. However, between that and having had my thirst teased without being sated, I was feeling a little petulant.
Hans relaxed a little more. I frowned at him. “Why so tense?” I asked.
Hans managed to chuckle. He sat down on the couch next to me. “This is the first time I’ve been with a vampire as she went dormant,” Hans said, “And my first time waking you up from it.” He looked sideways at me. “It was more disconcerting to see you like that than it had been with Salvatore – and I know I needn’t have worried, but… I’m glad you woke up.”
I looked up at him and blushed. Damn, I’d drunk enough to start blushing again. The hint of wolf I’d taken from Hans had been subsumed into “Alive Abby,” too, which left me just a shade on the hyper-anxious side of my soulless sweet spot. I felt my lip tremble slightly as I started to worry about what could have happened.
“I was dead-dead, wasn’t I?” I asked.
Hans grimaced. “Close enough to be indistinguishable,” he said.
I swallowed uneasily. “I’m sorry,” I said. No wonder he’d tensed up and stopped giving off that ‘ready for sexy-fun’ vibe. It had to be an utter mood kill when the girl you’re making out with abruptly dies in your arms. “I was still kind of alive,” I offered for what reassurance it was worth. “I mean: I was still sort of aware of what was going on around me.” I blanched. That probably meant Mr. Salvatore was still kind of alive and sort of aware, too. Damn, that guy was just creep-tastic.
Hans blew out a short ‘heh’ and wrapped an arm around me. He pulled me in close. “Good,” Hans murmured.
I pressed myself against his side and wrapped my own arms around his ribs. For a moment we just sat like that: half-naked and holding each other for comfort, lost in our own thoughts.
I wondered if Hans was feeling for me the things I’d started feeling for him – things I still wasn’t comfortable looking at, since they’d sprung up too fast to be what I thought they were. But was that why he’d found it more disturbing to see me ‘dormant’ than he had with Mr. Salvatore? Or was it just symptomatic of physical unease; of having my skin turn corpse-cold and hearing a death rattle wheeze from my throat?
I didn’t really want to know. I wasn’t even willing to really look at my feelings for Hans. I was too nervous about what I’d find if I tried to name them.
But then again: Even though we’d only known each other for three days, maybe it wasn’t weird and wrong that I was becoming… attached. They had been three intense days. After everything we’d been through, did the usual time frames for relationships even apply? For that matter: what were the usual time frames? I certainly didn’t know – and those uncertainties made me miss Megan. She would have been able to figure this stuff out.
I shifted in my seat and let Hans go. Maybe it was just wishful thinking, but I thought he was a little reluctant to release me when I pulled away. Regardless, since I didn’t want to think about what he might be thinking about and I didn’t want to keep thinking about what I’d been thinking about, my only recourse was to stop thinking things and start doing things instead.
“We should get moving,” I declared. “I’d like to drink a little more before you go, and you’re already going to be late for work as it is.”
Hans was smart enough to catch my swerve in the conversation with ease. Mr. Salvatore had left Hans in charge of his publishing house. Yesterday had been a company-wide recuperation day, but people would be back in the office today and they would expect to see Hans. Depending on who Megan and Fumiko had talked to and what they’d said about the last few days, there would probably be questions Hans would have to address about the nature of Mr. Salvatore’s “illness” and subsequent psychotic break.
“You aren’t coming with?” Hans asked. “I don’t really care for the idea of leaving you here without a donor available.”
I grimaced. “I don’t either,” I admitted. “But just being in the sun for the drive to the hospital and then to here took a lot out of me yesterday. I think I’ll last longer on less blood if I stay indoors when the sun is up. And until I have more donors, anything I can do to reduce the demand on you and Emma is a good thing.
Hans gave me a begrudging look. I had a point, but he clearly didn’t like it.
“Plus,” I said, “If you want you can always swing by at lunch so I can top off. I went for twice as long as that last night, and I bet it’s because I didn’t get any sun. Also, I don’t think we should leave Mr. Salvatore’s remains unsupervised. I think we don’t have to worry about Emma, but she wasn’t his only donor and someone might get it into their head to do something they shouldn’t.”
Hans sighed. “Alright,” he agreed. He stood. His hand seemed to unconsciously clench tighter around the handle of his knife. “I won’t argue with you,” he said. His smile twitched. “I don’t even know why I want to,” he admitted. “Those are some very good reasons.”
I stood and started looking for my shirt. “It’s okay. You’re just being protective, Hans. And I’ll appreciate that as long as you don’t go overboard and get controlling.” Of more interest to me at the moment was the question of why. Was he just being protective because that was the sort of person he was? Because he felt responsible for what had happened to me, since he’d let me in on the reality of magic? Or was it because he was genuinely growing attached to me, like I was to him? Unfortunately, those thoughts strayed too close to things I wasn’t ready to think about. I pushed them aside and dressed.
Hans had frowned. “Maybe,” he said. Then he smiled. He came up behind me and caught me about the waist and chest. He hadn’t bothered to dress, and I felt a little thrill as I was pulled against his bare chest. “Or maybe I just enjoy having you close.” Hans buried his lips in my hair and kissed the top of my head. I tried to keep my cool, but squirmed with pleasure despite my best efforts.
“Given the distressing news about Salvatore,” Hans said, “I think I’ll send the office home early.” He nuzzled his way to the top of my ear, which he gave a playful nip. “Then we can have the afternoon to ourselves, until your date with Emma. How does that sound?”
“That sounds good,” I breathed. I leaned back against Hans and closed my eyes. My imagination was already running off along indecently naughty lines. Apparently all it took to stroke my libido back from the dead were a few touches, a whispered voice with a sexy accent, and some playful nibbling. I twisted around and kissed the nearest expanse of Hans’ skin I could find. In my head I was picturing doing a lot more than that – and, wonder of wonders, I was actually picturing myself doing it. I squirmed until I could nuzzle against Hans’ chest and hide my blushing face. “That sounds really good.”