Home > Tegan's Return (The Ultimate Power #2)(9)

Tegan's Return (The Ultimate Power #2)(9)
Author: L.H. Cosway

After another five minutes we’ve almost come to the end of the street, and Ethan stops in front of a tall, dark brick town house. All of the lights are off on the inside, nobody home I presume, and there are heavy blinds concealing what lies beyond from prying eyes.

Ethan places a hand on the gate. “Would you care to come inside?” he asks, and his meaning suddenly hits me. He lives here. He must be far wealthier than I imagined. I guess that’s one of the benefits of a long life, you have time to accumulate things, money being one of them.

“There isn’t a catch is there?” I ask warily. I wonder if Rebecca is inside. Although the building does look entirely empty. Perhaps I just want to believe that Ethan isn’t involved in the kidnap of a young girl. But that’s just wishful thinking, because if he is Whitfield’s right hand man then he was surely involved, hell, he might even have orchestrated the whole thing.

Ethan laughs low and deep. “And what if there is?”

Right now I feel like my childhood cat Ginger, who would become mesmerised by the heat and flames of the fireplace in our living room. On winter nights she’d try to walk straight into it, to get as close as possible to its delicious warmth. Going inside Ethan’s house feels just like that, walking into something I know is going to be bad for me in the long run, but not being able to help myself because it feels so good in the moment. Ethan opens the gate and holds his hand out to me.

Quite inevitably, I take it.

Chapter Six

Be Afraid of the Cold

I step inside Ethan’s hallway and the spicy scent of cinnamon hits me, mixed in with the citrus smell of limes and oranges. I’ve always noticed how people’s individual homes have a particular smell, normally it’s dust or mildew. I once had a friend whose house smelled like a swimming pool, water and bleach.

Ethan hits the light switch and the hall is illuminated in a soft golden glow. The walls are a light cream colour, and there’s a dark wooden coat hanger by the door, the floors and the staircase are dark wood too.

“Let me help you with that,” he purrs, unbuttoning my coat before placing it on the hanger. Then he removes his own and leads me through the long hallway. I glance in one of the open doorways to find a study filled with bookshelves. I continue to follow Ethan as he leads me into a stylishly modern kitchen, all clean metal furnishings and black marble surfaces. Very male.

“Do you live here alone?” I ask, wondering how one man could need such a large house.

“No, Delilah lives here too,” he answers, a fond smile on his lips, “she protests about it, always trying to convince me to allow her to get her own place. Unfortunately, as a dhamphir living among vampires she is at risk. Not everyone likes the idea of Delilah being allowed to remain in South Tribane, especially now…” he drifts off, and I take advantage of the opportunity to question him.

“Especially now what?”

Ethan shakes his head. “Never mind, it’s nothing you need to worry about.”

I fold my arms across my chest. “I don’t like being kept in the dark Ethan.” I know that there’s been a war, but I’m eager to hear Ethan’s version of the events.

He seems to be considering how to respond. “Come, we will sit in the living room and I will tell you a story.”

He leads me to the next room, which is soft and comfortable where the kitchen was cold and sterile. We sit down on a couch, and Ethan turns to face me.

“When you departed, the animosity between the North and the South grew substantially, and then there was a war,” says Ethan.

“And who won this war?” I ask, as Ethan takes my hand and begins smoothing his silky fingers over my palm.

“Who do you think?” he says, but there is no triumph in his voice, and the question seems to be rhetorical. “I will not apologise for what happened. I understand that you are human and that death is quite a big deal for you, but for me, it is something very distant, something that doesn’t often cross my mind. Unless of course I have to bring about the death of another. That is something I don’t enjoy, but if practicality calls for it, I will kill to defend myself and my people.”

“And that’s what you had to do in this war.” I say, almost feeling sad for him. I have seen Ethan kill, and when he does he becomes something else entirely. Something cold and unforgiving.

“Yes. Because dhamphirs are our enemies I have had to be extra protective of my sister, otherwise she might fall into the wrong hands. There are a lot of angry vampires out there at the moment Tegan. Even though we have won this war, there is still hate deep inside of them as a result of how the North took the side of the Sorcerer Theodore.” Ethan smiles for a minute. “I have restricted Delilah from going anywhere at night other than the club and this house. She is free to go where she pleases during the day, but still, she’s a headstrong woman and does not enjoy being told what to do.”

“I can imagine,” I reply. “What about Governor Pamphrock, is he still in power or have the vampires overthrown him completely?” I ask, even though I already know the answer, it might lead Ethan to talk to me about Rebecca.

“We are at something of a stand-off with Pamphrock at the moment. He has lost a lot of men and he is weak right now, but he continues to stubbornly hold onto the small amount of control he still has.”

Okay, I’m almost there. “So how do you plan to get him to surrender that control?”

Ethan’s eyes flick swiftly to mine. “What makes you think I have any say in what is going to happen?”

Oh shit. I’m not supposed to know about Ethan’s position in the power mechanics of the vampires’ political system. I scramble through my brain to come up with a reply. “Well, you did say that you were in a much better position of power now as opposed to when I’d first met you.”

Ethan’s posture relaxes and he seems to accept my answer. “That is true.” He goes quiet for a minute. “In regards to your previous question, we have something of Pamphrock’s that he wants to get back very badly. We have told him that if he steps down as Governor of the North we will return to him what we have taken.”

Oh God. So Ethan has been involved in Rebecca’s kidnapping. My heart is just about to start beating frantically, but I consciously will myself to relax. Ethan would only sense my anxiety and become suspicious.

“And what exactly have you taken from him?” I ask in a whisper.

“You don’t need to know that,” Ethan replies, his voice soft, like a caress. Damn, I was so close. He grabs me by the elbow and pulls me up before positioning me astride him on his lap. A feeling of intense pleasure seizes me as his hands run over the outsides of my thighs. I’m such an awful excuse for a human being. I’m supposed to be getting information about a little girl, not getting my rocks off. Then I think of how I’m deceiving Ethan too and I feel even more disgusted with myself. Why in the world did I allow myself to get into this situation?

“You’ve got far too many clothes on,” says Ethan, his mouth a bare inch from my own. Our breaths mingle, and then he closes the distance between us, placing a soft, probing kiss on my lips. I sigh into his mouth and he pulls me tight against him. We stay like that for a long time, just savouring the taste of each other. His tongue slides into my mouth and I gasp in pleasure. Somewhere during our kiss he removes my top and opens the top button of my jeans.

Then the moment is broken when a cold, disgruntled female voice declares, “Well now, what have we got here?”

I practically jump off Ethan. Delilah, Lucas and Eliza are standing in the doorway. Delilah looks bored, Lucas highly amused, and Eliza, well, she looks like she just about wants to rip my head off. Being almost two hundred years old and a vampire, I’m sure that she could. I should definitely be afraid of this cold, beautiful creature. I remind myself to avoid ever being alone with her. I quickly pick my top up off the floor and put it back on.

Eliza’s arms are folded tightly over her chest. She’s got those muscular but feminine arms; I can see them clearly because she’s only wearing a sleeveless brown top.

Ethan doesn’t seem too fazed by our intruders. “What are you all doing here?” he asks, running a hand through his hair, which is now quite messy as a result of our encounter.

“I was driving Delilah home,” says Lucas. “She insisted on coming to see you,” he continues, gesturing to Eliza.

“Yes,” says Eliza. “But I hadn’t realised you were scheduled for a feeding tonight.” Her voice cuts into me, as do her honey golden eyes, and they remind me too much of her father’s. It’s unsettling. I feel like telling her that Ethan had no intention of feeding from me, but thankfully I have enough of a sense of self-preservation to keep my mouth shut.

Ethan gets up from the couch and stalks toward me, while saying to Eliza, “No harm, no foul,” but his eyes are still on mine. He steps in close to me and uses his expert fingers to languorously close the top button of my trousers, which he had previously undone. His eyes are hooded and they promise me something, sending me a message that says, we’re not done here, not by a long shot.

“Well,” says Lucas with an overly dramatic sigh. “I’d better be getting back to the club.”

“I’ll be in my room,” Delilah adds.

Oh no, they’re not going to leave me alone with just Ethan and Eliza, I have no inclination of being the recipient of whatever kind of attack Eliza is so clearly planning in her head. I briefly wonder if there really is something between her and Ethan, but he seems so bemused by her obvious possessiveness that it must be all one sided. Or so I hope. I latch onto Lucas as an escape route.

“If you’re going back to the club then you can give me a lift,” I say to him.

“Of course,” he replies happily, eyes wandering from Ethan to Eliza and then back to me.

“No, Tegan stays. Lucas you can bring Eliza back to the club with you,” says Ethan in disagreement.

I place a hand on Ethan’s arm, and even though I’m not looking at Eliza, I can see her visibly tense up, her posture as still and hard as stone.

“I have to be getting back soon, anyway,” I tell him quietly.

Ethan’s eyes roam over me, but he seems to accept that I have to go. “I will see you tomorrow then,” he replies, without even a hint of a question in his voice, no room for negotiation. All I can do is nod. He places a gentle kiss on my lips before showing me out of his house with Lucas walking ahead of us. I notice that Eliza hasn’t made any move to leave, and I can’t help the sense of annoyance that provokes in me.

Inside the car, I sit in the back behind Lucas and strap on my seat belt. We don’t say a word as we exit Ethan’s driveway and he watches us leave from the doorstep. Lucas glances at me in his overhead mirror. My arms are folded and I do my best to put as much cold, hard strength into my eyes as I possibly can. I need to show him that just because I’m a human, it doesn’t mean I can’t take him.

He grins perversely. “Something you want to say to me, Tegan?” The way he pronounces my name makes me want to punch him in the face.

“You’re not even worth my attention you f**king low life.” I reply, able to truly speak my mind now that Ethan isn’t present.

“And why is that?” he says, as he abruptly manoeuvres the car around a sharp corner and I crash into the side door.

“You turned one of my best friends into your own personal blood bank, made her addicted to your bite. I told you I’d hurt you if you ever hurt her.”

Lucas’ smile is like a razor blade, shiny and lethal. “I never inflicted pain,” he replies. “In fact, quite the opposite.” Now he looks at me again in the mirror, and I nearly jump out of the car when his eyes flash red.

“You don’t scare me, I’ve survived worse monsters than you,” I say, as images of Theodore and Antonia flit through my brain.

“Do you want me to show you how scary I can be?” We’re now in the car park at the back of Crimson, and the tension in the small space between myself and Lucas is almost suffocating. Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have provoked him. But I need to find a way to help Amanda.

“Why don’t you just move on already, get yourself a new blood donor and let Amanda get back to being the girl she was before you came into her life?”

“It’s not that simple,” says Lucas. “She’s become too addicted to my bite now, if I stopped at this point she would die from the withdrawal.”

Oh God. This is so much worse than I’d thought. “Isn’t there some way to make her better?” I ask, my voice now small and quiet – sad.

Lucas has lost some of the cocky confidence he’d had a moment ago. “The only way is for her to continue as my blood donor.” He seems resigned.

I don’t know what to say to that. Instead I silently button up my coat, get out of the car and slam the door shut. I can’t help wondering where it is that Ethan gets his blood from, and whether or not his donors are like Amanda, empty and helplessly addicted. I step out onto the street in search of a cab.

When I get to Finn’s I sense that something bad has happened before I’ve even gone through the front door. But that’s probably because there’s a pool of fresh blood covering the doorstep. In the kitchen Wolf is emitting a high pitched whine and Finn is spread out on top of the counter, his leg gushing blood that is dripping down onto the floor. There’s a young man standing in front of Finn, trying frantically to slow the bleeding. I drop my bag onto the floor and rush over to them.

“What happened?” I ask shakily. Finn looks up at me, a grim expression on his face.

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