Twice Tempted (Night Prince #2)

Fourteen hundred and thirty-one.”
I blinked. “What's that?”
“The year I was born, which is not, as you'll note, yesterday.

Gretchen shrugged. "After seeing how he acted when she almost died, I'm starting to get why she's with him." Then her voice hardened. "And really, Leila. That's twice now.

Have your boyfriend add therapy bills to my expense tab.

Hearing that I'd come so close to dying should've terrified me, but all I could muster up was a weary "This day sucks.

He’d wanted all of me and that’s what I’d given him. Did it mean I had nothing left?
“No,” he muttered, voice thick with passion. “You have me, and I love you.

He was impolite while making a point? This is Vlad the Impaler. His points usually come at the end of a long pole.

Hi. Cat was just keeping me company until you came back.”

He glanced in the direction she’d just disappeared to before returning his attention to me.

“Fourteen hundred and thirty-one."

I blinked. "What's that?"

"The year I was born, which is not, as you'll note, yesterday.

I am offering you a real commitment— a place in my life forever. Even if our relationship ended, our tie to each other never would. Let me make you a vampire, Leila, and watch decades slide by like days while you’re by my side.

I dare because I want no misunderstanding between us. I am everything you think I am, but I love your daughter, and what I love, I protect with all of the violence in me, which, as you've guessed, is considerable.

I despise flowery speech since those who use it are usually guilty of the worst betrayals later. That and the type of life I’ve lived have made me incapable of saying the pretty words you deserve to hear, yet if I made you a vampire, you’d feel my emotions as clearly as I hear your thoughts now.”

Then he drew my hand to his chest, placing it over his heart.

“I never turned any of my previous lovers because I didn’t want them to feel how little I cared. You I loved, yet you left me because I wouldn’t verbalize my emotions. That will probably happen again, but if you could feel what you mean to me, Leila” —his voice deepened— “words wouldn’t matter.

I’d want our wedding to be special. I don’t have a dress, you don’t have a best man, and instead of flowers, we have corpses on poles decorating the front of the house.”
“Flowers are on the way, as is my best man, three seamstresses are ready to make any dress you desire, and I’ll have the corpses taken down,” he replied without missing a beat.

I forgive you, but only because you said 'please.'"
Smartass, I thought. Then I groaned at the instant chorus of "Please!" mixed with cries for release from Vlad's prisoners. No wonder he got so sick of the word.
"I'm only merciful to one person a day," he threw over his shoulder. "As the saying goes, today isn't your day and tomorrow doesn't look good, either.

If you introduce yourself to anyone as Mrs. Dracula, I'll bite you in a manner you won't enjoy.

It only takes one person to love, but it takes two to make a relationship work.

It's a dungeon, Leila. They're Supposed to smell."
Mission accomplished. The stench might have actually killed my new appetite. If hell could fart, it would smell like this.

Love is a terrible weakness. It gives your enemies a perfect target, clouds your judgement, makes you reckless... and that's on a good day.

Maximus grunted. "Some days you remind me of Vlad."

"Meaning?" I said sharply.

"Your obsession with revenge. Next you'll want to drive a pole through that vampire once you find her."

The thought was appealing, but...

More of that hair-raising energy rolled out of Vlad, until I was rubbing my arms to chase the tingling sensations away. Was this what Marty meant when he told me vampires could measure each others’ strength by feeling their auras? If so, then Vlad’s had Badass: Do Not Engage written all over it.

No one feels like you do, so every brush of your skin is a cruel reminder of what I’ve lost. I can barely stand the sight of you because you’re more beautiful than I’ve allowed myself to remember, and when I cut that wire off Maximus and smelled you all over him, I wanted to kill him more than I’ve wanted to kill anyone in my life, yet I couldn’t because of my promise to you.”

Slow tears continued to trickle down my cheeks, but for a different reason this time.

“You care.”

The words were whispered with a despairing sort of wonder. He wasn’t willing to rescind his loveless vow, clearly, but I was wrong about the apathy I’d thought he felt. That he admitted all the above was surprising enough; the fact he’d done it within earshot of his pilots was no less than shocking.

Vlad grunted. “Don’t worry. I intend to kill them as soon as we land.

Only fools pity survivors their scars and you should never kowtow to fools

Survival first, then heartbreak.

This wasn't the first time I'd woken up as a captive. It wasn't even the second. I so needed to reevaluate my life choices.

Vlad made a sound too harsh to be a growl. "You won't be satisfied until you've brought me to my knees, is that it?"
"Why not?" It shot out of me with all the recklessness of my still-broken heart. "You brought me to mine.

When I heard the ghouls coming for you, all I cared about was reaching you in time. How often must I tell you that you mean more to me than vengeance? I can live without defeating my enemies, but I cannot live without you.

When we entered the first chamber of the dungeon, the stench made me recoil. It smelled like someone had mixed together kerosene, rotten fruit, stale blood, urine, and dog shit, then blown it up. How had I not noticed this before? I wasn't even breathing, but the rancid odor found its way into my nose anyway.

"This place stink."

"Did the guards forget to spray Febreze?" Vlad asked in mock indignation. Then he gave me a jaded look. "It s a dungeon, Leila. They re supposed to smell."

Mission accomplished. The stench might have actually killed my new appetite. If Hell could fart, it would smell like this.

Words.” His tone sharpened. “I shared my house, my bed, and my blood with you, as well as offered you a place in my life forever. What are words compared to that?”

I sighed, my anger dissipating as quickly as his flames had. “Oh, Vlad, if you believed that, you would’ve told me what I wanted to hear to just appease me. You didn’t, which proves saying ‘I love you’ means more to you than everything else.

You can have all of me, I silently told him, but I'm taking all of you in return.

You might be the cruelest person I’ve ever met,” he said in a conversational tone.

“What?” I gasped.

“My first wife killed herself. Took me centuries to get over it and love again, yet you weren’t going to mention that you might be compelled to slay yourself in front of me.

You see, you don’t want me to love you. You want the version you’ve made up. The knight, even though I’m the dragon and I always will be.

You should be afraid. Very afraid. Before, I told you if you wanted to end things between us, I would let you go, but, Leila"--his voice deepened--"I lied.