Danica rolled over and buried her nose in the pillow. She breathed in the scent of Mal on the cool fabric. Sighing, she reached out. Instead of semi-warm vampire body, all she felt was chilled sheet. Dani opened her eyes and glanced around the room. Empty bed. Odd. She sat up. Mal’s clothes still lay strewn all over the floor.
Maybe he was in the bathroom.
She tipped her head, listening for movement in the bathroom. Anything. Water splashing. Footsteps. Singing. Grunting. Hell, at this point she just wanted to know he was there and God knew Mal couldn’t be in the bathroom without making some sort of noise.
Her blood chilled in her veins. Would he really stroll off? Sunlight streamed in through the window. Maybe that was it? He went to the living room to get away from the morning sunshine?
Without his clothes?
Another thought crossed her mind. The crap about the doctor seemed like bullshit the night before. What if it wasn’t bull? She shivered and fumbled for her sleep shirt. I’m not going to check out the house in the nude. She yanked the rumpled cotton garment over her head and freed her pony tail from the collar. Deep breaths to steady herself weren’t working. With shaky hands, she palmed her cell.
Danica crept from the bedroom into the living room. The silence damned near broke her. He wasn’t the type to leave without fanfare—even when they weren’t sleeping together. Her chest squeezed. They’d crossed a line the night before. A damned scary line they couldn’t go back on.
A flutter across the room caught her eye. The front door wobbled on its hinges, wide open. He wouldn’t go for a walk...he’d never get back before he crisped. The object fluttering on the door stopped moving.
Hesitant, Dani crossed the room to the door. Was someone there waiting for her? She’d seen enough scary movies to know the most mundane things led the demise of the minor characters.
Writing festooned the paper—a loopy script, written in red. Red?
I warned you, Miss Burke. Mr. Reeves belongs to me.
Belonged to him? To Dr. Bowie? The bastard. She flicked open her phone. No one fucked with her friends and Mal was so much more than a friend. She punched the numbers to make the call.
“Make it good, little girl,” came the voice from the other end of the line.
“Daniel, I need help.” Danica ripped the paper down and slammed the front door. “Something’s happened.”
“Fingers and toes.”
“Daniel, I don’t have time for this.” She stomped through the apartment to her bedroom. “Mal is gone.”
“Like poofed?” Her twin snorted. “I’m sorry. What’s wrong with your mate?”
“Mate?” She tugged the phone from her ear and stared at it. Mate? She shook her head and resumed the call. “Look, this Dr. Bowie wants him for his blood. I need you to help me find Mal before he’s drained.”
“You got it.” Something rustled on Daniel’s end of the line. “Meet me down in the Warehouse District in ten. Building F, but don’t get any ideas. We’ve had our eye on him for more than a year.” The line clicked dead.
She’d ask Daniel about the mate business when she saw him.
Danica pulled to a stop beside Daniel’s patrol car. Her twin nodded and waved her to him. The boxy buildings loomed before them, practically blotting out the sunshine. No wonder Dr. Bowie worked there. He could do what he pleased with the vampires and keep them half-dead long enough to really kill them. She rubbed her arms. The chill seeped into her bones.
“He drains them, leaves them in the dumpsters and lets the sun do the rest.” Daniel held one finger up and spoke into his radio. “Copy.” He turned his back to her and continued talking into the device.
Uneasy, Danica scanned the area. Two dumpsters, one in full sun. The other sat in partial sun, but if there was anyone in there, they’d be toast in less than ten minutes. Something flopped from the top. She squinted. Looked like a piece of fabric.
Danica elbowed Daniel. “Hey. Is that someone or something?”
Daniel clipped the radio to his shoulder holster and withdrew his gun. “Stay back.” Inching forward, he made his way to the dumpster. Three other officers in SWAT gear moved in behind him. With catlike movements, Daniel cased the dumpster. The radio crackled, making her jump.
“Fuck. We need a bus. He’s still moving.” Daniel’s voice popped and skewed over the radio frequency. “Now.”
Still moving? Her heart lodged in her throat. What was still moving?
“Get my sister. She’s the only one who can help him. Now, damn it.”
Danica broke into a sprint. She had the SWAT for protection. Whatever Daniel wanted her for, she’d be there. She slipped to a stop in the pebbled gravel on the pavement. The thing she’d noticed flopping wasn’t a shirt—it was Mal. She fell to her knees. The poor vampire’s skin was paler than normal. His hair lay in sticky clods against his forehead. She glanced at Daniel.
“What do I do?”
“Feed your mate.” Daniel nodded and handed her his pocket knife. “Go on. The team has the doctor under control.” He removed his jacket and placed it over Mal’s nude body. “I’ll give him back his modesty.”
Cut herself to feed Mal. When had her life turned so bizarre? She shook her head and closed her eyes, slicing the knife across her wrist. Wincing, she gritted her teeth, opened her eyes and placed her wrist against Mal’s lips.
Words flickered across her mind. I love you, my mate. Had Mal said that before he left? She’d thought it was dream. Tears burned at the back of her eyes. Take it, damn it. She shoved her wrist at him a little harder and forced his mouth open.
“Don’t leave me, Mal,” she whispered. “Please?”
A gentle suction pulled at her skin. Behind his eyelids, his eyes moved. Moved! Danica cradled his head in her arm and stroked his matted hair. The pull grew harder and his hands twitched.
Should she pray? Did vampires pray to God? The devil? Didn’t matter right now. All she wanted was her vampire back. She closed her eyes and held her breath. The twitching could be the first stages of death for all she knew.
The sucking stopped. Dani opened her eyes and blinked back the moisture. “Mal?”
Through heavy-lidded eyes, he looked up at her. “Dani.”
Tears fell fast and hard. She gathered him tight in her arms and sobbed. “I thought you were dead.”
“I am dead, love.” He rubbed his nose against hers. “You saved me.” He struggled to sit up, only to go limp in her arms. “Sorry. Where’s the asshole?”
“Daniel says the SWAT’s on it.”
Daniel stood. “Good to see you among the undead. There’s a foot chase in progress. I’ll have Alonzo get you both home and he’ll stand guard ‘til we get the bastard.” Nodding, Daniel turned on his heel and broke into a sprint.
As noted, Alonzo strode to their position. “Want help getting him into the car?”
“Thanks.” Danica allowed herself to breathe. Things would be alright. Not right at the moment, but soon. She could handle soon. She watched Alonzo help Mal into her car.
“I’ll be right behind you.”
Dani climbed into her car and settled beside Mal. She placed her hand on his.
“Take me home, babe. Please? I feel like death warmed over.”
“You’re already dead.”
“Then warm me all over?”
“You got it.”