When I walked through the penthouse, I didn’t look for Olivia to say goodbye. I just wanted to get out of there. I raced home to a quiet house, disappointed to find everyone in bed. Matilda was the only thing awake, and I stood outside with her, watching her play.
My body still rang with adrenaline. I didn’t want to sleep, but I couldn’t think of anything better to do. I made Matilda sleep with me since I didn’t want to be alone. She usually slept by the door when Jack was gone, as if she could summon him that way.
Eventually, I managed to fall asleep, but it was fitful. Nightmares plagued me, and I kept having that same feeling I had when I’d been Australia. That panicked paralysis, and I’d wake up and kick my legs just to prove I could move.
Jack came into the room late that afternoon, sneaking as quietly as he could. Matilda whimpered with happiness, and he tried to shush her, so I pretended to be asleep. He climbed in bed and laid next me, his chest pressed to my back. When he wrapped his arm around me, I snuggled deeper into him.
“I missed you,” I said, holding his arm to me.
“I missed you, too.”
He kissed the back of my neck and hugged me tightly. He held me for a minute and then propped himself up on his elbow. I rolled onto my back so I could look up at him, and his blue eyes were etched with worry.
“Is something wrong?” Jack asked.
When I looked into his eyes, his feelings hit me even more intensely. His love and concern wrapped around me, enfolding me like a blanket and pushing away whatever I’d been feeling before.
“I’m just glad you’re home.” I reached up and touched his face, soft skin heating up against my touch.
He leaned down and his lips met mine. I kissed him deeply, parting his lips hungrily, and pulling him to me. The more I kissed him, the more he washed over me, and I needed him.
I needed to love him and feel how much he loved me. I had to erase all the horrible things I’d been feeling, and Jack was the only one that could really make me feel good.
I buried my fingers in his hair, and he moaned against my mouth. He was surprised by my reaction, but it didn’t excite him any less. His hands roamed over my body, getting stronger and more forceful as they moved over my smoldering skin.
I stopped kissing him, and without thinking, I put my mouth on his neck and bit him. He gasped with surprise, but it quickly turned into a breathy moan. He’d bitten me several times, but this was the first time I’d bit him.
His blood hit my tongue, and the heat jolted through me, searing my veins. He tasted sweeter than honey and stronger than alcohol. He burned down my throat, with a pleasurable flame. I buried my fingers deeper in his flesh, digging them in so hard, it had to hurt, but I couldn’t stop. I only gripped him tighter and swallowed him down.
His love felt amazing. It was like I could read his soul, and his kindness and sincerity always stunned me. I couldn’t believe that anything could be as simply good as he was, and it pushed away any negative feelings I had. I could only feel him radiating through me.
My whole body pulsed in time with his heartbeat. I could feel him in every inch of my body, pouring through me. Pleasure ripped through me, and my heart felt it might explode.
Something changed. Something dark flickered through him, and I could taste it. Biting him still made him feel wonderful, and he groaned with pleasure, but something was off.
Almost too late, I realized it was death. I’d been drinking him for too long. His life was fading, to a dangerous level, and if I didn’t stop, I could kill him.
Even with that thought, it was a fight to unlatch myself from his throat. I tasted it again, that darkness ebbing in and leaving bitter fear lingering on my tongue.
I jerked back, swallowing down what blood clung to my mouth, and Jack collapsed on the bed. He gasped for breath, and I’m not sure if it was because he was having trouble breathing now, or if he’d forgotten to breathe when I bit him.
Whenever Jack stopped biting me, I felt his painful cold separation, but when I stopped biting him, I felt nothing of the sort. I felt fuller than I ever had before, but in a really wonderful way. Like I was complete, whole for the very first time.
His blood made me woozy, and the whole world seemed to glow. The colors were so bright, they were almost painful to look at it. My vision had a hazy, blurred quality around the edge, and I struggled to sit up. Faintly, underneath that, I could feel weakness emanating from Jack.
“Jack.” I reached out for him, touching his face, and his skin felt cold. “Jack. Are you alright?”
I listened, and I couldn’t hear his heartbeat. I couldn’t hear anything or feel anything from him. For the most horrifying moment of my life, I thought I’d killed him.
Then Jack exhaled deeply, and his heart thudded.
“Oh, my god, Jack!” I gasped, and his eyes fluttered open. “I thought you were dead.”
“Not dead.” He smiled crookedly. “Just… you took a lot out of me.”
“I’m sorry.” My cheeks flushed with shame, or at least flushed more than they already were.
“Don’t be. I loved it.” He let out a contented sigh. “You’re so beautiful. You’re glowing.”
“That’s the blood loss talking,” I shook my head. “Do you want me to get you something to drink?”
“No. Not yet. I want to feel this. I can still feel you in my veins, and I don’t want to lose that yet.” He reached up, resting his palm against my cheek, and I leaned into it. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” I kissed his palm and lay down with him, resting my head on his chest and wrapping my arm around him.
“Not that I’m complaining, but what made you decide to do that?” He ran his fingers through my hair, slow and weary.
“I don’t know. I just… I needed to. I needed you.” I snuggled up closer to him. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“Me neither.” He kissed the top of my head. “And let’s hope we never have to find out.”
“We better not.” I pressed myself tighter to him, suppressing the chill that ran down my spine.
“Don’t worry, Alice,” he murmured into my hair as he drifted off to sleep. “We’ll be together forever.” I fell asleep in his arms and almost convinced myself that I believed him.
When he awoke later in the evening, I found him crabbier than I’d ever seen him before. With Jack, that didn’t mean the same as it would if it were me, but he snapped at me without just cause and yelled at Matilda. I’ve never heard him raise his voice in anger to the dog, but being drained of blood did not sit well with him.