Sunglasses at Night


The sun had been full down for fifteen minutes. Morena, decked out in all black, elbows resting on the top of a counter, except for the electric blue of her earphones stuffed into her ears, checked her watch one more time. One of the hotel staff stared at her from reception. The sound of Lincoln Park blared from her headphones. She turned her eyes to him just as he thought to go speak to her about it. She raised an eyebrow at him as if to say, “Yeah? Come try it.”

She frowned, checking the time on her phone, about to text, again, when she finally spotted Jesper striding towards her from across the hotel lobby. His movements seemed tight, controlled, like some sort of caged animal. There was an aura around him that almost looked like the heat coming off scorching pavement.

It was the blood doping. He’d explained. He’d be at maximum capability stuffed to the proverbial gills with fresh blood. A lot of it hers. And it had hurt like hell. Still, it made him damn sexy to look at. Except he had to lose those ridiculous sunglasses.

He paused next to her, seemingly taking in the lobby while she remained, holding up the counter as it were. She studied him, wondering what else got revved up by that much blood in his system.

“It’s the bite, you know.”

“What?”

He turned his head towards her. “I can see the way you’re looking at me. Sense it. It’s just a side effect of biting my shoulder, drawing blood.”

She lowered her elbows off the counter but remained where she was. “Sure. What’s with the sunglasses?”

He stared her in the face and lifted the shades to show her. The iris of his eyes was a golden red color.

“Oh.”

He dropped the shades back and place and turned his head.

“She had any visitors?”

“Naw, no one’s gone up or called her room. Alex, the security guard on duty, woulda called me if so.” There was something in the way his head was turned, the look on his face; it was like he was only half paying attention. “What?”

He turned his head slowly to her. “Listening.”

“For what? You couldn’t hear her from here. She’s on the 12th floor.”

Morena saw his eyebrows go up and down.

“You are shitting me, right? You can hear 12 floors up right now?”

A smile crept across his face. “Just this floor. And maybe one more up. Or two.”

Morena stared for a moment. She wasn’t sure what she would’ve done if, per chance, this nasty vampire dude had shown up. She’d given the Kukri, the only weapon she knew of that could help humans deal with vampires, to Sophie. She’d even decided that carrying her piece actually made her react in too human of a way and left it at home. She thought she might felt naked without it, especially after having a good portion of her blood drained the prior night.

“How are you feeling?” Jesper asked, as if reading her damn thoughts again.

She felt wonderful. Like she had just done some amazing cleanse and all the bad juju had been drained out of her and was being replaced by the bright, shiny, new. She couldn’t help flash him a smile.

“It’s your marrow. You’re feeling it regenerate your red blood cells.”

“Way to spoil an oh so fresh feeling.”

“When the cells regenerate—“

Morena held up her hand. “God, Soph was right. Once you guys start talking, can’t shut you up.” Before he could interject anymore vampire wisdom, she fished an electronic card key out of her skinny jeans and handed it to him. “Room 1234.”

He smiled. “Thanks. I got this.”

It took Morena a moment to understand what he meant.

“No, seriously, I got this.”

He put it all into the look that passed between them. Whether it was because this had now turned personal between him and Sophie, or because he would likely be fighting another vampire, he didn’t want Morena involved further.

Her face showed her disappointment. She was in this with him. She wanted to see it through.

“Nick. You need to make sure he’s safe. Watch over him. I’ll take care of Sophie.”

It took a moment. From inside, there was this thread that wanted to follow him anywhere in the world that he might lead. It was the bite. She knew that. Residual influence from direct contact with his blood. Whatever he had taken from her in blood, he had kept his promise. There was no binding in it, no charm, no intended influence. He had further seen to it that Camille didn’t even remember what had happened or that she had ever thought vampires existed.

But then there was Nick. He probably would be rolling into the office at any moment with no clue what Hell was about to be stirred up in Downtown Bellevue. For Jesper was convinced the Carpathian would attack this evening and he had done everything to be prepared. And now, it was time for her to play her part.

She nodded, stuffing her hands in her pockets. He exuded such vampiric strength and confidence; she had no doubts that he could handle whatever Bad Vamp could dish out. But still, you never knew what could happen in combat.

As she was about to say something, to reach out to him, he stepped to her and kissed her check.

“It’s going to be alright.”

She nodded, her eyes getting misty. Then, before a tear escaped her eye, she turned on her heel and heading out into the night.

Jesper took his cell phone out of his pocket and proceeded to send her an email. It would probably take a few minutes to get to her but, by then, she would be able to do nothing to change his fate.

Morena,

If I fail, it was not because of you. If he finds you, severe the neck, clean through. Then cremate the body, to be sure. Do not bury anything but ashes.

I was not deserving of such a friend.

-J

He caught a scent on the air. It was time to go. It was time to fight.

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