Home > Tegan's Return (The Ultimate Power #2)(6)

Tegan's Return (The Ultimate Power #2)(6)
Author: L.H. Cosway

His eyes lock on mine, he is less than a foot away from me, and I stand transfixed by him. He visibly takes in a long, deep breath and then lets it out. There is no expression on his face, and I don’t know whether to stay or to run and hide. I can’t tell if he’s glad to see me or not, and it’s agonising. He steps closer, and places his cool hand on my bare arm, his blue grey eyes study me closely, taking in every single detail, just like I had been with him. He bends down and leans into me, so that his lips are right above my ear. He reaches up and takes a lock of my short, black hair in his fingers.

I can feel his soft breath drift over my skin when he speaks right into my ear, so that I can hear him over the music. Funnily enough, his proximity has caused me to forget everything else around me, the sounds, the people, right in this moment there is only him.

“I remember the start of the First World War, when women began wearing their hair like this,” he says, still smoothing the strand between his fingers. “In the beginning it was for practicality, then it became a social statement. I always admired how it showcases the neck.” His fingers let go of my hair to softly stroke down my skin, from my ear to my shoulder blade, then around to cup the back of my neck.

I swallow, and it takes me a minute to find my voice. “It m-must have made things less messy when it came to feeding time.”

Well there I go, ruining the moment. Ethan doesn’t seem bothered by what I’ve said. He looks at me and smiles deeply, and the expression makes him even more beautiful that it’s almost hard to look directly at him.

“I had hoped you would return someday, though I never imagined it would actually come to pass,” he says, speaking close to my ear again.

The song ends and November Rain by Guns ‘n’ Roses comes on. I almost grin, what an opportune moment for a slow set. Ethan’s arms slip around my waist and pull me in close to him, our bodies flush against one another. I rest my head on his chest as we sway to the music. His fingers move back and forth over my lower back. I tremble. Ethan must notice, because he holds me tighter against him then. I can almost hear him humming the tune to himself. The song ends too soon, and we part still looking at each other.

Someone appears beside Ethan, a tall, slim woman. She’s got long, silky honey blond hair, and her eyes are almost the same colour. Her skin is bronze and flawless. A vampire, definitely a vampire. She puts her hand delicately on Ethan’s arm, all the while her eyes remain focused on me, like I’m some sort of intriguing mystery.

“Ethan darling, who is this precious girl you’ve been dancing with?” she asks, her voice sweet and delicate, but I can sense a strength behind it.

Ethan turns to the woman, and it appears that he hadn’t realised she was there until she’d started speaking.

“Eliza,” he says, “this is Tegan, she’s an old friend.” I smile at how he introduces me, since it’s exactly the same thing Finn said about me to his neighbour Maria.

“Tegan,” says Eliza, trying out the sound of my name. “Is she a witch? She doesn’t smell quite like a human.”

Uh oh. Ethan’s eyes meet mine for the barest fraction of a second. “No, not a witch, a human, but a very distant descendant of the magic users.” Okay, I’ll take that excuse. At least Ethan’s keeping my secret and not telling this Eliza lady about me. Surely that’s a good sign. For my own survival if nothing else.

“Ah, so that explains why she smells different,” says Eliza, her gaze wandering over me curiously. “Why don’t you come and join us upstairs, Tegan?” She’s smiling now, but there’s no warmth in it whatsoever.

I look to Ethan, but his face is indecipherable. I guess going up to the VIP section will allow me a better chance to listen in to the vampires’ conversations.

“All right then,” I answer. Ethan holds out his arm to me, and I link mine through it. I think I catch Eliza scowl briefly before a smile replaces it milliseconds later. I squeeze Ethan’s arm and look up at him as we leave the dance floor. I try to ask a question with my eyes, is it safe for me to go up here? His nod is almost imperceptible, but it puts my mind at ease somewhat.

Once we get up the stairs I peer about, taking in my new surroundings. I don’t think I’ve ever been among this many vampires before. It causes my temperature to run a little cold. They glance at me as I walk by with Ethan, Eliza leading the way ahead of us. I hadn’t realised how large this section was when I’d viewed it from downstairs. There’s a main area and a bar where most of the vampires are partying, I even notice a few humans among them. Blood donors perhaps. Then there’s a long hallway that leads to various secluded areas for private groups. We enter one of them.

I recognise Lucas and Delilah instantly. Lucas is sitting on a chair with a human girl on his lap, I don’t realise it’s Amanda until she turns around and I can see her face. Her hair is no longer blue, now it’s bright pink. Delilah is sitting beside them, chatting with an older woman with short dark hair. There’s a table in the centre of the room with lots of vampires sitting around it, and at the head of it sits a vampire who seems to demand attention simply from his very presence. He looks around forty, with hair and eyes the same colour as Eliza’s, they must be related in some way.

Lucas sees me then, and his eyes gleam in amusement, he whispers something in Amanda’s ear and then she looks at me too.

“Tegan!” she exclaims, jumping up from Lucas’ lap. I let go of Ethan’s arm and go to her, giving her a big hug. But when I look at her eyes it seems like there’s something missing, something not quite right. Then I see the bite marks on her neck and arms, some of the scars are older than others. Oh God, he really has turned her into his blood whore. The problem is, she seems so unbelievably happy about it. I look over Amanda’s shoulder to see Delilah watching our exchange, her arms crossed stubbornly over her chest.

“You came home,” says Amanda, dragging me over to sit with her on a couch close to Lucas.

I stroke some of her pink hair out of her face and look at her straight on, trying to figure out how this could have happened. I know she’d been smitten with Lucas’ attentions, but I never thought she was the kind of girl to allow herself to be used. To become no better than a fridge full of blood. She seems so out of it that I have to wonder if she even realises that Lucas is a vampire. Perhaps he’s been wiping her memory every time he feeds from her. I glance over at him and he stares right back at me, satisfied. Like he’s happy to have broken my poor fragile friend.

I try to put enough hate into my eyes, to communicate with him silently that he’s not going to get away with this. For a second he actually looks startled by my aggression, but he shrugs it off quickly and glances away, starting up a conversation with Delilah.

I focus my attention back on Amanda, my hands cupping her face now, she grins back at me, quite obviously clueless as to the fact that she’s in a room full of vampires. Oh yeah, I’m definitely going to make Lucas pay for this. I caused Antonia to kill herself when it seemed like there was no way on earth for me to exact my revenge on such a powerful vampire. Next to her, Lucas should be a piece of cake.

“Amanda, are you okay?” I ask, despite it being obvious that she is definitely not anywhere near okay.

She continues to grin and answers, “Of course I’m okay, in fact, I’ve never felt better.”

I sense someone watching me, and look across the room where Ethan is now sitting with Eliza. She’s right up close to him, her arm draped over his. He seems tense though, and I continue to shoot daggers at him with my eyes, to show him that I am not at all happy with how he allowed Lucas to do this to Amanda.

The vampire sitting at the head of the table begins to speak, “Well, what have we got here?” he asks, taking in the sight of me holding onto Amanda for dear life.

“This is Tegan, Father,” says Eliza, “she’s an old friend of Ethan’s.” So they are related. The vampire at the head of the table is Eliza’s dad. I try not to think about the fact that they only look about five years apart in age. Clearly that’s nothing unusual in the world of the vampires.

“And she is familiar with Lucas’ human,” he says, his voice is like cold steel, it slithers over me in a highly unpleasant manner.

“Yes,” Ethan replies, “Tegan and Amanda are friends.”

“Interesting,” says the vampire. Then he rises from his seat and comes to stand in front of me. He holds out his hand, “Come and sit with me child, I would like to talk with you.” Then he takes in a long, deep breath that makes me shake to my very core. Please, please, please don’t let him recognise my scent. I have a feeling that this vampire is ancient, far older than any of those present.

This makes me nervous, because if he is hundreds of years old then he might have encountered a human like me before, a human with my special variety of blood. I try my best to remind myself that my mother’s spell has hidden what I am deep down inside of me, there’s no way this vampire could know what I am.

I take his hand and he leads me to where he had previously been sitting, I sit on the chair beside him. Once we are comfortably seated he takes a moment to study me.

“My name is Jeremy,” he says after a minute. Instantly I understand who he is, as I recall Finn telling me of the new vampire Governor of South Tribane. Jeremy Whitfield. The very same vampire who kidnapped Rebecca. Also the very same vampire who has taken a sudden and unexpected interest in me.

I almost can’t move for a second, but I snap myself out of it and try my best to appear calm. I cannot let him know what I’m up to, and I have a feeling that this vampire is so old and experienced that he does not need to be told things in words to discover information. I have a feeling every single move that I make is telling him something new and interesting about me. Damn, why didn’t I buy one of those NLP books when I had the chance? That way I’d at least know how to disguise my inner thoughts more effectively.

I remain silent while he continues to speak. “It is surprising that I have not come across you before now, tell me Tegan, where in the world have you been hiding?”

My chest freezes with panic. Does this vampire know what I am? But then he starts laughing. “Goodness child, you look scared to death.”

I pull myself together, and try not to sigh in relief. He doesn’t know what I am, he’s just wondering how he has not encountered me before, since apparently I have quite an appetising scent. Like a very special sort of vampire cuisine, and surely a vampire as important as the one sitting before me would have his pick of the most tasty blood donors in the city.

“That’s probably because I don’t live here any more, I moved away a couple of years ago. I came back to pay a visit to my dad.”

“And when will you be leaving again?” he asks, his gaze wandering over me.

“In a week or two,” I answer.

“So soon,” he says with a tut, “we will have to do something to remedy that. In fact, I’ve been looking for a new human to bring into my home.”

I look to Ethan in panic, he stares back at me and there is a confidence in his eyes that makes me feel a little less frightened.

“I’m afraid Tegan’s ownership already lies with me, Jeremy,” says Ethan in a steady voice.

Jeremy glances between the two of us. “Is that so?” he says, and there is a slight hiss to his words.

“Yes,” both Ethan and I say at once. I give him a small smile as Jeremy glares at him in assessment.

“Very well then, I would not wish to thread where my loyal warrior has already marked out his territory,” says Jeremy. He stands now, and trails a cold finger down my cheek. I suppress a shiver. “Come daughter,” he continues, talking to Eliza, “we will return home. Thank you Ethan for your hospitality this night, it has been quite an enjoyable evening.”

“But Father, I would like to stay a little while longer,” says Eliza, she almost sounds like a whining teenager being forced to leave the party early by her strict parent.

Jeremy doesn’t breathe a word, he just stares at her in reprimand, and then she gets up silently and follows him from the room. The majority of the other vampires present go with them, seemingly they belong in Jeremy’s entourage. Only a few stragglers remain, alongside Ethan, Lucas, Delilah, Amanda and myself. Ethan is beside me the second Jeremy and his crew have left, taking me tightly into his arms. He buries his face in my hair, breathing deeply.

After a moment I ask, “So what was all that about ownership?”

Ethan smiles with both his mouth and his eyes, he looks happy and amused at the same time. “Jeremy wanted to take you as a blood donor, I told him I had already made my claim on you so that he could not do it. It is highly disrespectful for a vampire to take the blood donor of another.”

“But I’m not your blood donor,” I say in protest.

His eyes take in my entire face. “No you are not, but he does not know that, and I would prefer it if we kept it that way.”

I swallow. “All right then.”

“So now you belong to me,” he says, with such fierce possessiveness that I feel like running straight of the club. He laughs then. “Well, that is what you will say should anyone else try to claim you.”

Delilah interrupts us then, coming and sitting close so that the other vampires don’t overhear. “What the hell are you doing here Tegan?” she asks, and it actually seems like she’s scared for me.

“I already said, I had to come see my dad,” I answer.

“That’s all fair and well, but if I have my facts straight I believe that your father does not live anywhere near the city, so I repeat, what are you doing here?”

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