Home > Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(6)

Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(6)
Author: Jackie May

“Nora, calm down. I won’t hurt you.”

“Liar!” I try again in vain to break free. “If you don’t want to hurt me, why won’t you let me go? I didn’t do anything to you. I don’t even know you.”

“But you know other things. You’re involved in things you shouldn’t be, aren’t you? You took Xavier to that club knowing what waited for him there. What were you doing, tying up loose ends?”

“Are you delusional? I was escaping him, not trying to get rid of him.”

“Harsh way to ditch someone. Do you have any idea what that woman was? What she will do to him?”

My fear vanishes. It’s pushed out of my body by my hatred. I glare into Parker’s eyes—eyes that I hate for being so mesmerizing. “Do you have any idea what he intended to do to me? What he’s been trying to do to me for months? I hope that she-demon sucks every last ounce of life from him until there’s nothing left. I hope she tortures him the way he wanted to hurt me—the way I know he’s tormented others. I hope she kills him. Then he won’t be able to hurt me, or anyone else, ever again.”

I feel Parker’s sympathy for me in his thoughts, and his repulsion for Xavier, but I’ve admitted outright my knowledge of the underworld now, and that Xavier has been hurting women. Parker thinks I must know more about Nadine than I’m telling him, even if I don’t know who Nadine is specifically. He thinks I can give him answers that I honestly don’t have.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Xavier is involved in the disappearance of Parker’s friend—the prick dragged me off tonight at knifepoint—but I don’t know anything about it. “I can’t help you. I don’t know what Xavier’s up to. I’m just his neighbor. He forced me to come with you guys tonight. I was probably just the next girl on his list. I don’t know anything about your missing friend.”

Parker’s frustration turns to shock. “How did you—what are you?”

Oops. Shit. I didn’t mean to let that slip. I’m being careless because I’m scared, and now he knows I’m reading his thoughts.

I tug my arm, but Parker won’t let go. “I’m just a human who accidentally found out about your world. I’ll never tell. I’m not that stupid. I swear I don’t know what Xavier was up to. You’re better off going back to get him.”

“I will, but I can’t just let you go. I need answers.”

“I’m just a victim. I swear.”

A hint of sadness bleeds into me from him, and I hate that his face softens. I don’t want to see or feel his compassion. “I want to believe you, but I have to make sure. I’m sorry.”

When I realize he intends to take me to his master, I finally succumb to panic. “No! Not to the vampires. I can’t go there. You can’t take me there.”

I frantically shake my head. I want to be brave, but I can’t. My fear is too strong. My nightmare is still too vivid. I lose myself to my panic as I’m thrown into the memory of the night I discovered the underworld.

I was six years old. I was sleeping when the premonition hit, jolting me awake. The power of it was so strong I couldn’t move. I screamed for my mother, and when she came to me, I begged her to run. I told her danger was coming and that we needed to hide, but she said I’d had a nightmare and told me to go back to sleep. I didn’t know back then to listen to the warnings. I didn’t know, then, that they were never wrong. I didn’t convince my mother. I let her hold me and sing to me while I tried to ignore the dread in my chest.

They came into my room like shadows in the night and ripped me from my mother’s arms. There were three of them. One of them fed from me while the other two went after my mother. My vampire quickly lost interest in me, though, when the others decided not to simply drain my mom. I was thrown to the ground like a broken toy and had to watch, half conscious, as those vampires did unspeakable things to my mother.

My young eyes couldn’t comprehend the true awfulness of their crimes at the time, but the nightmares stayed with me, and I eventually grew to understand the depth of all they’d done. They left her body on my bedroom floor and didn’t spare me another thought before moving on to find their next victim. I still remember their laughter as they shut the door on their way out.

I don’t know when my knees buckled, but Parker is now holding my limp body upright. He’s cooing at me in a gentle voice as he lightly strokes my hair. “Calm down, Nora. Shh. It’ll be okay. Relax. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“Please,” I whimper. “If I have to die, be merciful, and do it now. Fast. Don’t take me to your master. I can’t go to the vampires. I know what your kind do to humans. Please, Parker. Not vampires. Anything but vampires.”

I’ve never begged in my life, and I hate that I’m doing it now. I hate Parker for making me do it. But I can’t go through the torture my mother endured. I can’t.

“Nora, look at me.”

I don’t want to. I don’t want to see the monster again. But his voice is so soft, so soothing. Parker’s fingers press my chin up toward his face, and then I feel the back of his hand brush my cheek. “Nora,” he whispers softly. “Open your eyes.”

I know I shouldn’t. I can’t remember why, but I know I’m not supposed to look into his eyes.

“Nora.”

I crack. When I look, his beautiful azure eyes are right there, waiting to greet mine. My head swims, and I remember why I wasn’t supposed to meet his gaze. “You’re compelling me. You son of a…”

I fall unconscious before I can finish my sentence.

Waking up is difficult. It feels like I’m coming out of a drug-induced sleep. My memory is foggy. I don’t know what happened or how I got here—wherever here is. A quick inventory of my body tells me that I’m fine, aside from the slight ache in my head. I can’t be hung over. I don’t drink. Not ever. Nor do I do drugs. Nothing good can come from impaired judgment. The only answer I can think of is that I’ve been roofied. Or…

The fog lifts, and memories of last night crash to the front of my brain. I see it all with crystal clarity up until Parker compelled me. Everything after that is blank. “That bastard.”

He brought me to the vampires.

I bolt upright to find that I’ve been sleeping in a large canopied four-poster bed in a grand suite five times the size of my apartment. The furniture is extravagant, made of dark cherry wood, and very masculine. The carpets, linens, and wall hangings are a mixture of beige and brown tones with deep burgundy accents. To the right of the bedroom area is a retreat with a full living room setup centered around a large stone fireplace. To the left is the entrance to the most beautiful, luxurious bathroom I’ve ever seen. It’s a room fit for royalty. Or a master vampire.

I’ve got to get out of here. I throw back the covers, relieved to see that I’m still wearing my own clothes. My shoes have been taken off, but everything else seems to be in place.

Shooting to my feet, I realize too late that I’m still very affected by Parker’s compulsion. My motor skills haven’t completely returned. I grab one of the bedposts to keep from falling. The moment I grasp the post, I connect with a psychic imprint and am thrust into a vision.

A man leans against this bedpost. For a moment, all I can do is stare as he slowly removes his tie and dress shirt. He appears to be in his late twenties to early thirties and is painstakingly attractive. His dark blond hair is pulled back into a short ponytail, and his dark eyes pop in contrast to his flawless pale skin. I swallow at the sight of his muscled chest and stomach, clearly defined beneath a tight white tank top.

The look of heat in his eyes leaves me breathless. The vision is so intense that it feels as if that needful gaze is directed at me. But it’s not. He’s staring at a woman standing in front of him. “I’m glad you’ve come to join us, Desi.” His voice is low, soft, and alluring. “Are you settling in all right? Have you been welcomed?”

“Of course, Sire.” Her voice trembles slightly, but I don’t think she fears him. She looks nervous, but hopeful. There is longing in her gaze. “Everyone has been wonderful and…” A blush rises in the woman’s cheeks, and she looks at her feet.

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