Kissed by Death ebook FINAL

 

The Grim Reaper can bite me.

I’m bound to Grim by blood now, making me his vampire slave for all eternity.
But he’ll find out there is only one will I abide by. Mine.

Now the rest of the immortals know I exist, and they want a lookey-loo at the only living vampire.

Except half the immortals want to possess me as their own vampire slave, while the other half wants to kill me outright.

Grim swears he won’t let anyone harm me, but he’s been absorbing tainted, dark souls to the breaking point.

How can he protect anyone when his power is compromised?

This is fine, right?

Asking for a friend.

Kissed by Death Chapter 1-2

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Read an excerpt of Holly Roberds Kissed by Death, an urban fantasy romance. Book 2 in Vegas Immortals: Death and the Last Vampire


Chapter One

“Everybody thinks it’s every woman’s dream to find the perfect man.
Actually, every woman’s dream is to eat anything she wants and not get fat.”

“What happened here?” The British voice was edged with both shock and dismay.

“What?” I cast a glance around at the hotel suite I lived in. It looked as it had for the last five days. I stood and crossed the room to Timothy. Which required I deftly tiptoe over stacks of plates, takeout boxes, and piles of dirty clothes. After gorging myself a couple times, I decided I didn’t need to hoover everything down. So abandoned cake pieces, half-eaten burgers, and cold French fries decorated the platters.

“Mother of pearl, Vivien, this place is positively disgusting.” Timothy must have been really shocked to use that kind of language. Despite appearing to be in his late twenties, Timothy’s actual age was closer to five thousand. And he only reverted to old-fashioned curses when particularly aghast.

Not that it was too hard. He was the most fastidious, proper (not to mention the tidiest) person I’d ever met. Next to him in his perfect suit, not a gelled hair out of place, tablet in hand, I resembled a hobo. My rocking lounge wear was comprised of lime-green sweatpants, two sweatshirts pulled over each other, and fuzzy socks. Well, one sock.

Where did that other bugger get to?   

I studied my surroundings a little closer. “Yeah, I guess I should take a time-out from watching reality television and pick up a bit.”

The Asian man looked about with open astonishment. “Why haven’t you let in the maid service to handle this?”

“What? And invite his spies in? No, thank you.” To show I didn’t need help, I grabbed a stack of takeout boxes that had only started to smell, and delicately perched them on the already full trash bin.    

Okay, maybe I needed a little help.   

Timothy began muttering to himself. “No, maid service won’t do. We’ll simply have to burn everything in here to get it properly cleansed.” 

I stuck a hand on my hip, officially offended by his offense. “It’s not that bad.”

He must have left the door open because Miranda walked in. “Whoa, that’s pungent.” My friend covered her nose, joining Timothy in his horror. Her fro of tight curls bounced when she reared back. A portion of her hair was braided over one ear, giving her a seriously badass vibe. She wore her uniform, having just gotten off her shift. Miranda was the new head of security of the Sinopolis Hotel, and she’d stepped into the role like a total boss. And yet, she scanned my pad with disbelief.

“What?” I threw my arms out. “It’s not that bad.”

Miranda gave me the onceover, her expression becoming more pained from behind the hand still covering her nose. “Did you throw a party and not invite me? It looks like you invited a ton of people over and ordered from every junk food place available.”

“Not all restaurants, but most of them,” I corrected. Then with a grin, I said, “Miranda, while you’ve been busy with your new job, I have been living the dream.”

Timothy and Miranda exchanged a wary look.

“I can eat whatever, and however much I want, and never get fat.” I threw up my hands in triumph and did a booty dance.

Neither of them joined in with my victory dance.

Miranda spoke first. “Um, Viv, isn’t that because you drink blood now, since you’re a vampire and all?”

I stopped mid-booty shake.

Timothy cleared his throat. “That’s why I’m here. You need to feed.” His tone was careful, as if worried he would spook me. Too late. I was spooked.

Suddenly, I was a torrential cleaning machine. I yanked out a trash bag from under the sink, then started throwing takeout boxes and entire cups and plates into it as well. “I don’t need it. I don’t need him.”

Ever since I woke up a vampire with no memory of who I was a month ago, I’d needed to feed on blood every day to survive. But when I made a deal with the devil—or I guess more accurately, with Death himself—my needs changed. I did it to save Miranda’s nine-year-old son. And I would do the same thing again in a heartbeat. But that didn’t mean I was ready to come to terms with the new arrangement.

I had fed from the god of death, and now only his blood would sustain me. And because of our blood bond, Grim could control my will whenever he damn well wanted to. While he hadn’t treated me like a slave or a drone yet, I knew the dark side of that power. The master vampire who turned me had used me like a tool for his bidding. And if I learned one thing early in life, it was that power corrupts.

“You haven’t seen him in five days,” Timothy pointed out.

“Did Grim send you here?” If his majesty thought he’d snap his fingers and I’d come running, he’d better guess again.

“No.”

“You’re lying.”

Timothy let out an exasperated sigh. “Well, you’ve ignored his calls and texts when he’s done everything from cordially invite you to dinner, to threaten to pull you by the hair to get you to see him.”

I didn’t understand the dynamic between those two. Though he was a god like Grim, Timothy acted more like the Alfred to Grim’s Batman. Except Timothy was far too young to be Alfred, and Grim wasn’t a vigilante. Just a beast.

I glowered at Timothy. “And now he’s sent someone to butter me up because he’s too afraid to come see me. He knows if he showed up at my door, I’d kick his ass.” For good measure, I threw some pretty intimidating karate chops into the air.

But that wasn’t entirely true. Even on my best day, with all my vampire strength and speed, Grim was a god and able to rip my head clean off with little effort. I’d seen him do it to a number of vampires, or sekhors, as he called them. The first time he used the word, I thought he was calling me a sucky whore.

And I was the last one in existence. I stopped myself from thinking about that for too long. Sekhors were around aplenty in ancient Egypt when everyone was worshipping Grim as Anubis, but then the vampires went crazy with boredom and bloodlust. They tried to take over the world. So the gods wiped out all of the sekhors, since human-turned vamps couldn’t handle immortality without going batshit insane.

My brain stumbled and paused on that thought.

Was that where the myth about vampires turning into bats came from? So far I hadn’t figured out how to sprout veiny wings, but I could make annoying high-pitched squeaking sounds.

Long story short, Grim wasted all the bloodsuckers. And until he met up with my fangs a couple weeks ago, he hadn’t seen a vampire in five thousand years. Dude was not happy about it.

But the two of us destroyed the master vampire and his little army, and Osiris gave me special dispensation to continue with my undead existence. On the condition I help Grim discover who resurrected the vampire bloodline.

So, my choice was to either unearth a conspiracy plot amongst the gods, or have my head ripped off. Sure, I could play Scooby Doo to save my neck. I was, after all, a bounty hunter in my previous life. Piece of cake. Mmm, cake.

“Do you want to take this one?” Timothy asked Miranda in a sidebar.

“Yeah, I didn’t realize how bad things had gotten,” Miranda said. “Give us a minute.”

“No problem, I’ll get someone to take care of…this.” He cast a last glance around with fearful dread before stepping out, his phone already to his ear.

Meanwhile, I furiously jammed the trash to its limits with junk. I pulled out another bag and left the kitchen to tackle the living room.

Miranda dropped her hand and came as close as she could without knocking over my impressive skyscraper of pizza boxes. “Vivien, sweetie, you need to eat.”

“If you were paying attention, you’d notice that’s all I’ve been doing.” I crammed a throw pillow I’d spilled spaghetti on into the waste bag.

“You get what I mean. You can’t live off human food anymore, and Timothy said you haven’t been to the penthouse in five days. I know you’re in pain.”

A plate hovered above the trash as I stopped to glare. “I am not.” Yes, every movement made my very atoms feel like they were being scraped against a chilled cheese grater. But she didn’t need to know that.

Miranda took advantage of my pause, taking the garbage bag away from me. “You are wearing two sweaters, and I’m betting you have at least one pair of leggings on under those sweatpants.” She gave a pointed look at the piles of blankets that swallowed the couch.

Ha! Showed how much she knew. There was a pair of pajama pants between the leggings and sweatpants.

I’d heard about vampires staying at the temperature of a corpse. But nowhere in the lore did anyone capture the fact that when I didn’t get a decent meal, I’d become as cold as a witch’s tit in a frozen hell after a blizzard. Miranda didn’t even know about the many heating pads hidden amongst the blankets, and I didn’t enlighten her. Out of my makeshift cocoon, it hurt to move. It hurt to stand still. Everything in me pounded with thirst and need, making me weak as a kitten, and my head might as well have been stuffed with cotton. At least being hungry now didn’t make me want to lunge at Miranda and rip her throat out anymore.

Similarly, ever since Grim’s blood hit my lips, my desire for human blood disappeared in a magic puff of smoke. I once heard when someone started drinking top-shelf liquor, they couldn’t stand cheap swill anymore. After drinking blood from a god, there was no going back to human. I couldn’t even if I wanted. I only desired…needed Grim’s blood.

Nope. I don’t need him. I don’t crave him. Not in any way whatsoever.

“Not to mention,” Miranda went on, hands on her hips, “you look like death.”

I crossed my arms. “I am dead. Or undead. And I don’t need him.”

“So you’re going to die from a case of stubbornness?”

“I’m testing a theory. If I eat enough human food, maybe I’ll magically turn back into a human, just like in a fairy tale.”

Miranda’s brow arched. “We read very different fairy tales.” Then she licked her lips and dropped her arms, as if preparing herself. “What are you really afraid of, Vivien?”

“You think I’m afraid?” My laugh came out a bark. “I’m not scared of anything.” I’d survived on the streets as a vampire for two weeks on my own without killing anyone, destroyed the master vampire, and literally laughed in Death’s face. I was a straight-up badass. No, I was Taylor Swift—Fearless.

Miranda straightened and said in a firm tone, “Great, then you’ll have no problem going to him tonight and getting what you need. Now get in the shower,” she said, pointing to the bathroom. “Pull your big-girl panties on and go see him.”

“But—”

Miranda’s face darkened, and she pulled the scariest weapon out of her arsenal. Her mom voice. “No buts, missy, you do what I tell you or I’ll show you what they taught me in Special Forces.” Only slightly less scary, Miranda was ex-Army, but the Special Forces bit was new to me. I trudged off to the shower, throwing only one mournful glower over my shoulder to let her know I wasn’t happy.

I stepped out of the bathroom, barely warmed, despite trying to burn off my skin with scalding water. When I emerged, I saw Timothy had made fast work of my rooms. Not one but four cleaners rushed about the place, tossing garbage, cleaning surfaces, and vacuuming. Miranda sat perched at the kitchen counter, drinking a cup of tea.

A satisfied smile spread along Miranda’s mocha-colored face. “There now, don’t you feel better?”

I had to admit, a thorough scrubbing did me good. My hair had transformed from a dark, scary rat’s nest to thick, smooth auburn waves. Strangely enough, I felt more fragile now that I’d cleaned up. It was as if my loofah scrubbed away both the grime and the lie I told myself that I’d never need to face my dependency on someone else’s blood again. I’d put on some heavy black eyeliner. It was the closest thing to war paint I had, and it helped cover up my vulnerability.

I wore a crop top, leather pants, and pulled on a bulky, bright blue faux fur coat. The combo would appear to be a style choice, rather than functional. My teeth chattered when I didn’t feed, no matter the hundred-degree weather of a Las Vegas summer.

“Do I pull this off?” I asked with a little spin. “I named the coat Cookie Monster, obviously.” Not only was it the same shade as the beloved puppet, I too possessed a voracious sweet tooth.

“It’s Vegas,” Miranda said. “If you wore a green spandex suit and walked on stilts down the Strip, no one would look twice.”

“You’re right,” I said, pulling the coat closer around me. “People will think Cookie Monster is pimpin’.”

And in Vegas, one could totally get away with wearing a pimpin’ jacket.

“Wait, do people say pimpin’ anymore?” I said.

“Nobody has said pimpin’ since the nineties,” Miranda pointed out.

“Oh god, what will it be like when I’m thousands of years old, dropping outdated slang like a fuddy-duddy? Like Timothy?” I shuddered.

Timothy rolled his eyes before clicking off his tablet. Pretty sure the guy would expire if he wasn’t beep-booping on his little iPad. Then he pushed me out the door. The deadlock slammed shut with an obnoxious clank.

I turned to Miranda, who’d been ejected along with me. “Did I say something?”

“Constantly.” Despite her dry accusation, there was no real judgement.

Beneath the spirit of a tough-as-nails mom and ex-Special Forces soldier was a sarcastic hellion after my own unbeating heart. When Miranda stumbled upon me and a far scarier vampire in an alleyway, I’d saved her. I’d convinced her not to kill me because she owed me her life. But then she turned around and saved my ass. We had a mutual save-each-other’s-butt thing going. I liked it.

I’d never had a genuine friend before. But I now understood what everyone was talking about all these years. She cared about my well-being, made me laugh, and partnered up with me for hijinks. Even fewer people would get tangled up in a supernatural battle against vampires. But Miranda jumped right into the fray with me.

While Miranda was clued into vampires, she did not know Grim was the god of the dead. She knew something was off about her new boss. But I doubted she’d jump to the conclusion that gods walked amongst mortals. And I was forbidden from telling her. As in, I literally couldn’t; Grim used the blood bond between us to bind my will so that I could never tell Miranda. So, of course, I immediately tried to tell her. But in my hundred attempts, every time I either tried to form the words or write them down, an invisible grip would tighten around me, preventing me from revealing that fact.

Probably for the best. Miranda had enough to come to terms with after finding out vampires were real. Not to mention I’d almost killed her son. I still wasn’t sure how Miranda could stand to be around me, even though Jamal was as right as rain now, if not suffering from a minor case of anemia. She said that wasn’t me, it was the master vampire controlling my will, so it didn’t count. That was true, but part of me wondered if she was biding her time to kill me. Though she had ample opportunity over martinis at girls’ night. Maybe she was plotting to steal my Netflix password before chopping my head off. Clever girl. 

Miranda and I took the elevator down to the lobby of Sinopolis. The pyramid hotel was the epitome of exclusive wealth and a hub to the high rollers. When the doors opened, tropical flowers, fresh soil, and water filled my senses. In the center of all the onyx tile and gold accents was an honest-to-god oasis.

Miranda kept pace with me as I approached the private elevator to Grim’s penthouse. I raised an eyebrow. “Acting as escort?”

She gave me a terrifying smile. “If I need to twist your arm to get you in there, I will.”

I stuck my tongue out at her. “I’m a scary, strong vampire. I’d like to see you try.”

Miranda pushed me. I flailed and stumbled, barely saving myself from splatting on the tile floor.

“Whoa, not cool,” I complained, rubbing my arm. “I think you bruised me.” If I had even a drop of blood, I would have been as tough as a brick house. Which was her point exactly.

“Yeah, super scary and strong. Now get your butt on that elevator,” she said, pointing at the call button. I pressed it, but not without considerable grumbling. Timothy programmed the buttons to recognize my fingerprints, or lack thereof.

They opened with a bing. Dread pooled in my stomach. I stepped inside and turned around, pushing in the gold circle that would send me to the top of the pyramid hotel. Where he was waiting.

Miranda gave me the thumbs-up as the doors closed. Though the second they shut, I wanted to pry them back open. But the elevator had already started its ascent. I backed up to a corner and shut my eyes, trying to psych myself up.

“You are strong, independent, and don’t need anyone. You are just here for a quick bite.” I couldn’t even laugh at my joke. “You will not be affected by his presence. You will have a dignified meal, slam, bam, thank you man for the blood, and be on your way.”

I silently added. And do not, under any circumstances, let him know he turns you into putty.

Chapter Two

The elevator doors slid open with a loud ding that made me cringe. I stepped into the penthouse. Grim lived at the very top of the pyramid-shaped hotel he owned. A single light was on in the kitchen, off to the left, and I made out the silhouette standing over by the wall of slanted windows. 

He looked out the windows at the colorful lights of Vegas’s biggest attractions. He didn’t bother to turn around, though he must have heard me enter.

In slacks and a black button-up shirt, his broad shoulders and back held the menace and power that always surrounded him like a mantel. He didn’t turn as I took a few steps closer.

Something inside me trembled. Was it because I was weak, near starving, cold as a corpse? Or from the fury that I had to submit to the power he held over me? Either way, I hated it. I would have destroyed myself rather than drink from him, if it weren’t for Timothy and Miranda intervening.

If it killed me, it would be death on my terms. I couldn’t think of a more ironic outcome.

“Sorry I’m late for dinner,” I said, taking a stab at levity.

He didn’t respond or turn around.

My defenses drained away as his blood called to me. Beckoned to me like a rushing river of ambrosia. I knew I’d been depriving myself, but now my body screamed as it fully experienced the throes of the starvation I’d been putting myself through.  

Satisfaction…satiation was within reach.

The god of death’s voice came out as a low, throaty rumble that sent a shiver up my spine. “What must I do?”

I continued my careful, measured approach, though part of me still wanted to turn and run. I got two steps before I stopped, trying to resist the need pounding through me.

“Should I break your door down? Throw you over my shoulder and force you to feed?”

I took another step.

“Is it better I let you continue your hunger strike until you’ve withered away to nothingness?”

Half a step this time.

An extra layer of danger lined his tone now. “Accept that you will drive me to madness by making me wait, unable to know how you are?”

I stopped, only a couple feet away from him. Still, he did not turn around.

Put on the spot, I felt compelled to give an excuse. “I was…busy.” Even that sounded lame to my ears.

Grim turned to look at me, half of his face cast in shadow. The other half shimmered with dancing neon lights from the strip. I didn’t need to breathe, but he still somehow took my breath away. Those deep mahogany eyes were dark with power, the dark scruff around his full lips more pronounced, and thick black hair fell into his eyes. All the expensive, refined clothes could not hide the savage force of him.

Then he grinned. No, it wasn’t a smile. He was baring his white teeth at me, in warning. Any sane human would be scared out of their wits, but if they only knew what he really was. The god of the dead. Known in ancient Egypt as Anubis, also called the Grim Reaper, and now known as Grim Scarapelli. He had more secrets and history hidden underneath this hotel than I had atoms in my body.

Everything about him pulled me like a powerful magnet. His heat called to me, and I wanted to be enveloped by it.  

But I wasn’t a fish, and he wasn’t a hook and line. I dug my heels in and scrounged up some of my own power.

I tapped my foot and set a hand on my hip. “Are you going to be fussy all night, or are we going to do this? I have places to be.”

Grim fully turned toward me and arched a brow. “Oh?”

I expected him to move closer, but he didn’t. Bastard. He was going to make me come to him.

I swallowed hard and closed the distance between us. “Yes, I am very busy and important.”

Grim canted his head before giving me a slow onceover. Another shiver raced up my spine. “Admit it, you missed me.”

His words surprised me. The god of the dead was toying with me.

I gave him a half shrug. “Sure, in the way someone misses a cow because she wants a glass of milk.”

Energy rolled off him in an intense wave. Gold sparked in his eyes.

“I missed you,” he murmured.

Grim’s answer shocked me. There was an underlying tenderness to his words I didn’t know him capable of. 

Despite my resentment, I wanted to mold myself against him, drag my tongue along his neck and bite into him right there. I was so hungry, and even from a few feet away, his delicious scent wrapped around me. But I refused to lose control no matter the pain it caused me.

“You miss having your little bloodsucking slave around? Mad I won’t stick around to let you puppeteer me?”

His expression flattened, now deadly serious. “I would never treat you like that.”

I was done talking about this. There was nothing Grim could say that would convince me he would not use me, however he saw fit. He had the power; he would take it. And I would do everything I could to throw a wrench into that plan, or more likely, a dozen wrenches. Maybe even stick a banana in his tailpipe.

The little men running my brain madly punched buttons and pulled levers.

We need orders, sir. All the dials appear to be on the fritz. Are they broken?

She doesn’t know whether to be amused or aroused by that last bit of imagery, Jenkins.

That’s messed up, sir.

We aren’t here to judge, Jenkins. Just do your job and get her focused on feeding. If this old girl doesn’t get blood soon, we’ll all be out of a job.

The tiny men in hardhats were right. The fact was, I was here to feed, and that’s what I was going to do. Before I could think any more, I reached for him. My hands fumbled as I tried to pull Grim’s shirt collar back, my fingers stiff with cold. I felt as awkward as a teenager about to have her first kiss.

Whoa, not the same at all. Don’t even think that.

“Wait.” Grim grabbed my hands, stopping me. Then he took a step back. “I like this shirt. I don’t want blood to get on it.” He untucked the garment from his pants, flashing me a strip of bare flesh. A much-needed bit of heat snaked through me. His eyes remained trained on me as he unbuttoned his shirt in a lazy, unhurried fashion.

I did my best to look anywhere but at him, but I couldn’t help watching each button slip out from the slits of his shirt. Hard muscle exposed itself to my eyes bit by bit. Then Grim slid the shirt off his sculpted shoulders, revealing his bare upper body to me. I’d fed from him twice and knew that skin tasted how it looked. Like salted butterscotch. My head turned fuzzy and light.

Because I’m near starvation. Yes, right, it has nothing to do with him.

The god of death was just that, a god. He looked like every painting, sculpture, and perfect rendition of what mere mortals thought worthy of reverence and worship.

His gaze was still fastened on me when he finished. It took a moment for me to realize he was waiting for me to approach him a second time. Cocky bastard.

If I weren’t starving…

The heat emanating from him drew me in again. Canines elongating, I dipped my head to where his neck met his shoulder and bit into him.

Blood welled into my mouth, and I couldn’t help the groan that escaped my throat. My fingers dug into his arms. Like the last couple times I’d tasted Grim, it was like biting into an apple that opened the gates to the universe.

His life-giving liquid slid over my tongue and down my throat. A rich, dark, honey nectar. When I’d fed from humans, my body warmed up at the core, gradually spreading outward. But when I drank from Grim, heat came like bright, hot stars bursting inside of me.

It was pure power, and I wanted to drown in it. I travelled past planets, beyond stars, until I was floating in space. The galaxies were spinning, expanding as if in some chaotic yet perfect never-ending dance. I, too, was part of this ballet of elegant entropy. I was both everything and nothing.

It scared and excited me to where I thought I would burst.

Then the expanse narrowed until it was only Grim and me. Something brushed against my mind, like a memory or a promise. But it didn’t matter. Only this present moment, with the two of us, mattered.

I heard the steady rush of his blood leading to his heart. 

Thump. Thump.  

Unable to help myself, I molded my body against him. My hands ran up his arms to his shoulders. 

Thump, pause Thump.  

His heart had skipped a beat. 

A part of me bucked against the intimacy, and the other part wanted to continue down the rabbit hole, touching and tasting, to see how many times and how quick his heart could skip.

“Enough,” he said, low and soft.

Satiated, I released him, sucking in a gasp of cool air I didn’t need. It was then I realized Grim held me up in his muscular arms, as I’d turned into a boneless puddle. Grim slipped his hand under my legs to cradle me, then carried me over to the couch before gently setting me down. I registered the brush of his fingers as he pushed hair back from my face. I let out a contented mewl. 

When had I taken off my jacket? The furry blue coat lay on the floor, like a sleeping pet. Heat now radiated from my skin. His warmth, now mine.

At the beginning, I’d intended to drink in a controlled manner. I planned to resist latching onto him like a feral, starving child. But with his blood running through my veins now, I didn’t give a flying fairy.

I was a rainbow unicorn riding cloud nine on a rad surfboard.

“Fuck,” I said on a soft breath.

“Better now?” he asked, sitting on the couch by my hips.

I flung an arm over my eyes, suddenly feeling so terribly vulnerable, I was on the verge of tears. The relief his blood gave me rocked me to my core. And being in his arms was like coming home.

“Yeah.” My words came out shaky, but talking would keep me from breaking down. “I knew I had been depriving myself, but holy blood bags.”

“You will never do that again.”

I lifted my arm at that. “What?” The crescent shape of teeth marks on his neck had already almost finished healing. A rivulet of crimson slid down his collarbone and it took everything in me not to lunge forward and lap it up with my tongue.

“You will never go that long without feeding, simply to spite me,” he said.

I pushed up on my elbows and glared. His bossiness was killing my buzz. “Oh please, like I did it just to spite you.”

“Then why did you?”

“Because…”

I don’t want to need you. I don’t trust you. I don’t trust myself.

All my reasons caught in my throat, each reason more loaded than the last. And explaining any of them would be like handing him the end of my rope. With only a slight tug, he could completely unravel me.

So I didn’t explain. Instead, I pushed Grim away and stood up. Though I was still a little dizzy, I tried not to let it show as I leaned over and grabbed my coat. “Thank you for dinner. My compliments to the chef.” I meant the words to come out with more levity, but they were dry and biting.

As I turned to go, the truth pressed against my tongue and teeth, dying to come out.

I had missed him too.

No, I missed his blood, I insisted to myself.

The denial skated over my core, then flung off a ramp. Dammit.

Deep down, I knew Grim was more than a meal ticket. One of us was fire, and the other ice, though I was never sure who was which. All I knew was I desperately wanted one of us to melt into the other.

Nope. Scratch that. That was the blood talking.

I reminded myself he possessed total and complete power over me. He’d enslaved me to his blood. No one held that kind of power without abusing it. He’d treat me like one of his reapers—pull on my leash, strangling me, as soon as I stepped out of line.

Grim’s phone buzzed in his pocket as I pressed the elevator button. When he picked it up, I didn’t need my sensitive vampiric hearing to pick up the yelling over the phone. 

I recognized Timothy’s cultured British accent, though he sounded panicked. “He’s gone.” 

“Timothy, what’s happened?” Grim was on full alert now, tone rigid and spine straight.

“I don’t know how it’s possible, sire, but he’s gone.”

“Calm yourself, man.” Grim barked the command, taking control of the situation. “Who is gone?”

“Amit. Amit is gone.”

Grim was a man of few words and even fewer facial expressions, so when he paled, alarm flashing in his eyes, I knew Timothy’s cause for panic was legit.

If Death himself was worried, it stood to reason we should all be a wee bit terrified.

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