Home > Tegan's Blood (The Ultimate Power #1)(4)

Tegan's Blood (The Ultimate Power #1)(4)
Author: L.H. Cosway

“You think I’d make you pay? Tegan, what kind of men have you been seeing?”

“Not good ones, obviously.”

“You deserve better.”

“Thank you.” I say hesitantly. He confuses me, one minute he’s talking like a smarmy flirt and the next he’s the perfect gentleman.

“So, will you do me the honour of your company?”

My heart skips a beat. Oh he can f**k right off if he thinks I’m fool enough to fall for his false chivalry. This thought is in contention with the unexpected answer that slips past my lips.

“Okay then, where do you want to meet?” What the hell, it’s not like I’ve got anything better to do. At least I’m not deluded enough to pretend that I have.

“Come to the club around seven, we’ll go somewhere from there.”

“All right, see you then.”

“See you,” he says and then hangs up.

I can’t say I’m not excited about going out with Ethan, but I get a strange vibe off him, like intense attraction and trouble all mixed in together, it’s confusing.

After buying food today I have exactly eleven pounds and fifty-seven pence left to live on for the foreseeable future. I need to find work and quick. At six-thirty I leave to catch a bus in the direction of Crimson. The fare is one-fifty, that leaves me with ten pounds seven pence. I like to do the maths, it keeps my mind occupied. When I get to Crimson I knock on the door because it hasn’t opened for business yet.

I still can’t get my head around the fact that Ethan owns this place, he just seems so young and care-free, not like a stressed out business owner at all. The big black iron door creaks open and a second later Lucas peeks his head out.

“Well hello, come to see me have you?” He leers, showing off those ridiculous fake fangs again.

Some people just don’t know where to draw the line between real life and fantasy. My friend Amanda once convinced her boyfriend to let her drink his blood. She made him get tested and all beforehand, but still, I can’t see the logic to it. Or the pleasure. Amanda is a hard-core vampire role-play enthusiast. Perhaps I should introduce her to Lucas. I hesitate, what do I say to him?

“I, um, I’m here to meet Ethan.”

“Yes I know, just playin’ with ya,” he says with a grin, and all of a sudden the tension I’d felt a second ago has disappeared. “Come in,” he says, gesturing into the club.

He leads the way out to the hallway at the back and straight to Ethan’s office. Lucas knocks first, and I hear Ethan’s muffled voice say, “Enter.” How strange and formal, somebody definitely enjoys being the boss.

I peer down at myself to check I look all right. I’m still wearing the black jeans and white cardigan. I hold my coat over my arm. I hope he hadn’t planned on going anywhere fancy.

Lucas waits for me to go in and then says, “See you,” while smiling widely. Funny, the fangs are gone now, and I hadn’t noticed him remove them. He leaves and I stand by the door, the furthest away from Ethan as I can get. I don’t know where that instinct comes from.

“Hi.” I say.

“Hi yourself,” he replies, shrugging into a navy jacket. Then he comes over to me all too quickly, takes my hand and places a delicate kiss on my skin. I shiver.

“You look good enough to eat,” he breathes. “And you smell even better.”

“Sure I do,” I reply, trying for nonchalant and failing. The breathing hitches tend to give me away.

“Shall we?” he says, presenting me with his arm.

“Sure, where are we going?” I ask, genuinely curious.

“There’s this diner I like to go to for food. We could go there if you want?”

“All right, after you.”

He smiles intensely and leads me out the back to the car park. His silvery black Cadillac is parked in the best spot. God, I could probably survive for years on the price of that car.

“Nice wheels by the way,” I tell him as I strap myself in.

“She’s a beauty isn’t she,” he says, all in love with his shiny toy.

“Just out of curiosity, how much did this thing cost?” I ask.

“Bought her in the States last summer, cost about $67,000.”

“Fuck, that’s obscene.” I gasp. I’m also a little repulsed. To spend that on a car seems a waste to me.

“Not really, I like to ride in style.”

“Evidently.”

“It doesn’t sit well with your morals does it?” he grins, seeming to enjoy my obvious disgust.

“What doesn’t?” I feign ignorance, knowing that if I start on the subject I won’t stop until he realises I’m far too left wing for his liking. And pardon me for thinking with my stomach, but I want whatever free meal he’s planning on buying me.

“The fact that I spent all that money on a car,” he answers.

What can I say my brain and my trap are definitely two separate entities. I give him my personal view when I begin, “Well my dad is a school caretaker, and my mother died when I was three, I can’t even fathom having that kind of money to spend in a lifetime of saving. So no, in my view it’s not moral to spend that much on a car when you could just buy something like a Nissan that will get you from A to B and only cost a fraction of the price.”

“A Nissan?” he snorts.

“Yup. Some of us don’t even have the luxury of a Nissan. Some of us have to get around the old fashioned way, with our legs.”

“Yes, some people do,” he says in a deep voice, and I regret having said it because now he is focused intently on that previously mentioned part of my body.

“Speaking of which,” he continues. “Yours are a picture.”

“You should concentrate on the road, Ethan.” I reprimand his wandering gaze.

“Yes you’re right, I really, really should.” But despite him agreeing with me, his eyes still haven’t returned to the road.

I snap my fingers in his face to get his attention. A second later he lifts his gaze and focuses back on his driving.

“What is your problem?” I hiss.

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s like you’re constantly sexed up. It’s making me uncomfortable, and I get the exact same vibe off your friend Lucas, even Delilah. Are you three some sort of sex addicts or what?”

He laughs deeply. “No, Tegan, we are not sex addicts. Have you considered that maybe it’s you?”

Is he mental? I have not made one step towards even light-hearted flirting with him, Delilah or Lucas. It’s certainly not me. “How could it be me? You lot are the ones coming on to me.”

“I can assure you, we’re not like that with everyone.”

“So what then? Am I somehow leading you on, without consciously being aware of it? Because it’s definitely not something I’m doing on purpose.”

“That’s exactly it my darling. It’s just you, and I’ve yet to discover what it is about you that is so – alluring.”

I look down at my feet and let my hair fall over my face. Hiding the blush on my cheeks.

“I like it when you do that,” he says, looking from the road to me.

“Do what?”

“Hide behind your hair.”

“Oh.”

“It makes my mind wander.”

“Right.”

“Do you want to know where it wanders to?”

“I have a feeling I don’t.”

He laughs softly and then pulls into the car park of a fast food restaurant, all glowing signs and traditional American diner style décor. Ethan gets out of the car and opens my door for me.

“Milady,” he says, bowing slightly and smirking. Then once again he offers me his arm and I take it.

When we get inside the people in the place hush their conversation for a moment, some nodding to Ethan in a respectful manner. After he nods back they return to what they were doing before we arrived.

“Ethan my man, how’s business?” says a tall, bulky but muscular man with curly red hair. He’s standing behind the counter and wearing a stained chef’s apron.

“Good. Business is booming so I’m happy,” Ethan replies while giving the man a sturdy handshake.

“That’s what I like to hear. I’ve been busy myself with this place.”

Then Ethan turns to me and says, “Tegan, Tommy, Tommy, Tegan,” introducing the two of us to each other.

“Hello,” I say quietly. The stature of the man is a little intimidating.

“She’s a cute one, Ethan,” says Tommy looking from me to my ‘date’. “Table for two is it?”

“That’d be great.”

Tommy leads us to a secluded booth at the back of the restaurant, hands us two menus and tells us he’ll send the waitress over to take our order.

“So you’re a regular here then?” I ask to fill the silence.

“Tommy makes the best burgers in the city,” says Ethan.

“I better order one then,” I reply.

“Order the whole menu if you want.”

Oh, well just colour me swooned. “Thanks for the offer but I think a burger will be enough.” And then, as if in disagreement, my stomach growls loudly. How embarrassing.

“You sure about that?” he laughs.

“Positive. I just haven’t eaten today yet that’s all.”

“You shouldn’t starve yourself, I know how women can be about their figures these days.”

“It’s not that. I didn’t have an appetite because my dad called this morning to tell me he found out I wasn’t attending my lectures, and now he’s cut me off. That kind of news tends to kill a person’s appetite, particularly when they don’t know where the money is coming from to fund their next meal.”

“Is that why you have to find a job?” he asks.

I nod.

“You know, the offer still stands for you to come and work for me. If you’re not comfortable being my PA you could work in the club pulling pints and collecting glasses.”

“That’s nice of you to offer.” I say, mildly sarcastic, but I don’t think he picks up on it.

“I like you.”

“Um – thanks. But I’m going to put out some feelers first, and if I can’t find anything I might take you up on it.”

“I think I’m offended,” he smirks.

“Why?”

“Because you just said you’d take the job with me only as a last resort.”

“It’s not like that.”

“What is it like then?” he asks, clearly enjoying himself.

“Well, we’re on a date aren’t we?”

“Yes.”

“So I don’t think it would be wise to mix my work life with my personal life.”

“So you consider me a part of your personal life,” he breathes, leaning in closer to me over the table. Here we go again.

A second later we’re interrupted by a blond waitress who asks, “You two ready to order?” and I have a feeling that the sultry note in her voice is for Ethan’s benefit. Is it wrong to be irritated by that?

Ethan nods toward me. “Tegan?” and I have to admit that I like his manners.

“I’ll have the cheeseburger with fries and a coke, and could I get extra pickles on the burger?”

“Sure,” replies the waitress, and I think I see her scowl at me for a second before she turns to Ethan to take his order.

“I’ll have the bacon cheeseburger, large fries, a side salad and a large coke.” Then he shuts his menu and hands it back to her, before saying, “Thanks.”

She smiles lazily and replies, “No problem, honey.” Then she saunters off with an over-emphasised swing of her ample hips.

I find myself staring at the golden flecks that shine through Ethan’s hair, when he catches me watching him he smiles and says, “I’m getting under your skin aren’t I?”

“Not particularly,” I lie with a casual shrug.

“Admit it, Tegan,” he says, in a voice so low it’s almost a whisper.

“There’s nothing to admit.”

“You can try to avoid it all you want, but we will be together, it’s inevitable.”

“So what are you now, a psychic?” What an idiotic thing to say. If I had any cool at all I would have come up with something suave to say like, nothing’s inevitable but death, honey.

“Nope,” he answers. “But there’s a tension between us, the kind of tension that always resolves itself in the most natural of ways.”

“Not interested,” I lie and avoid making eye contact with him for fear he’ll be able to read me.

“Why not? I can make you feel amazing, I can make you feel as beautiful as you are.”

My heart rate must surely be going a hundred miles an hour, but I struggle on. “Listen Ethan, it’s not that I’m not tempted, because we all know how attractive you are, and at any other time I’d probably be hopping straight into bed with you. But right now I’m not in a good place to be starting any kind of new relationship, short or long term. So will you please just stop…”

The honest truth comes spilling out before I can censor it. Without even realising, tears are streaming down my face and I frantically try to wipe them away with my hands.

A moment later Ethan has left his seat and come to sit in beside me, he puts an arm around me, pulls me into him and whispers in my ear, “dragostea mea”.

He takes the napkin from my place setting and uses it to wipe away my tears. I notice that he doesn’t throw the napkin away, but instead he folds it neatly in half and puts it in his pocket. My cheek rests against his shoulder.

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