LEST YE BE JUDGED
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore
LEST YE BE JUDGED
Ice formed in Adam’s veins and sent a chill through the room. His teeth were set in a firm, vicious line as he closed his eyes in concentration. The roar that wanted to break out and heap destruction on the world was abated by the freeze. He would not give in to the rage that seethed just beneath the surface.
Keeping his eyes closed, Adam raised both hands and stretched them in front of his body, turning to ice everything that came in contact with the energy that was projected through the tips of his fingers. He heard a gasp, a request to stop, but heeded it not. Better that a few sticks of furniture be destroyed or a few inconsequential vampires perish than the entire world. He cared for not one of them at this moment. His concern was for Eve, his wife, the bane of his existence, and the woman he’d forfeited his life for.
With but a thought Adam froze time. He needed a moment to ponder how his life had spiraled so out of control. Naturally his thoughts fell on Eyanna, his wife from more than a thousand years in the past, the wife who’d reincarnated into Eve’s body.
Drawing in a deep breath Adam could still see Eyanna. Anger threatened to overcome him as thoughts of exchanging his mortal life, hoping it would save Eyanna assailed him. Adam took in several more bottomless breaths as images flooded him. Him, being turned. Eyanna, being afraid for his soul, afraid of him, throwing herself in the town fire hoping to save him. It hadn’t. How could it when for over a thousand years he’d mourned her. And in his mourning he’d become the monster that she’d feared he would.
Only for a time had finding Eve brought joy to his life. Perhaps things could have been different if he’d not known her soul was that of his lost love. Perhaps his conflicting emotions toward Eyanna’s leaving him to suffer immortality alone could have prevented him from not showing Eve the physical side of love after he’d turned her.
A deep sigh filled his lungs and burst forward. That deed was not on Eyanna or Eve. It was his and his alone. His stubborn insistence to not bed a vampiric woman was because of Tarasha turning him and nothing more. But that was the reason Eve was now lying in the bed, dying of poisons she’d created. A deep shudder raced down his spine.
A vampire witch.
He could almost, ‘not’ blame her for having fallen in love with Sullivan. But he did. He blamed them both and he’d promised Sullivan that should harm befall Eve there would be retribution.
Now his wife lay waiting for him as he sat beside her bed with the tubing running from his arm to hers, waiting to receive his life affirming blood. He could either save or release her.
With startling clarity Adam opened his eyes and snapped his fingers together softly, restoring time. A grunt of derisiveness fell from his lips making him even more aware of the reason Eve was once again at death’s door. His trying to be other than what he was, Adam Omega, ‘Vampire,’ had led them all to this moment of death and dying. Death would come sooner for some than for others.
No more trying to be, ‘Mr. Nice Guy.’ What nonsense! He no longer cared what foul names his wife called him. He would do as he’d done for a thousand years. He would right the wrongs that had been done to him. He was in charge. He stretched slowly and lazily, finally opening his eyes, allowing his gaze to take in each player in this macabre drama. Adam shook his head in disgusted remorse. Eve, his wife, was dying from a potion she’d made and coupled with the AB-5 Dr. Meah had invented. It had proven to be a deadly cocktail.
His gaze took in Dr. Meah, a previously loyal friend who’d have to be harshly dealt with. Adam had dozens of scientists working for him and could get dozens more. Dr. Meah’s time of service, at least to Eve, had come to an end. It was over, finished.
A gurgling sound caused Adam to focus on Mark, the only human in the room. The mortal was turning a ghastly shade of white as Sullivan’s
fangs sank deeper and deeper into him. The mortal would be but another casualty in this little war. There was no pity in him for the mortal. Mark should have obeyed Adam’s commands. Adam turned his attention to Sullivan, the pale faced, blue-eyed vamp who’d thought he could come in and so easily take his wife. Adam sank his own fangs fiercely into Sullivan’s neck. Eve had only been on loan. Now he was calling in that loan.
A hiss of air, a strangled garble, as Mark fought for his last breath. Adam heard the mortal’s heart slow, then stop completely. Sullivan’s hand fell from around the neck of the corpse and he shuddered as Adam continued to drink from him. Dr. Meah was trembling, his fear snaking through the room and scenting the air with its foulness.
Finally it was done. Dr. Meah had drunk her blood. The poison was gone from Eve; now the healing could begin. The little witch should have left well enough alone.
How long had it been since he’d called her, ‘Little Healer?’ She should have just accepted her role as mistress of the vampire kingdom, wife to Adam Omega.
There had been no need for Eve to go rooting around trying to become what she’d been in a long dead past. But she had ventured into her past, learning, picking up new skills along the way, thus forcing Adam to acquire those same skills, skills he’d abhorred, skills he’d considered sacrilegious.
A shudder of annoyance braced its way up his spine and he wondered what other things Eve had been working on before succumbing to her own dire handiwork and thought he knew.
He had a surprise for Eve. If his wife chose to be a witch, then he would match her powers. The only difference would be that they would draw their powers from different sources, hers from light, his from darkness.
Adam smiled to himself. The darker arts yielded more power and worked far quicker, much to his delight. He continued gazing at Eve. The huge amber ring Adam wore on his left hand glowed with life. The rich honey hue deepened as did his thoughts. She would not know something that he did not. He would not allow it.
“Adam, stop it. Freezing us and everything in this room is doing no good. It’s not going to help Eve.” Sullivan growled.
In a deadly slow move Adam turned on the chair, pausing for just a millisecond to gaze at the furnishings and vampires encased in ice. Something primal was fighting to take him over, an urge to kill, maim, and destroy, to end it all. But there was something he had yet to do. Still in slow motion he turned back toward Eve, surprised to see her blanket was a sheet of ice. He stared at her body for a moment, sighed, and then moved a finger over the area around her, turning the ice back into a thin cover, drying it in the process.
Blood danced on the tips of Adam’s fangs, Sullivan’s blood. As a drop fell away he glared at Sullivan, the cause of all of this, and sank his fangs into his flesh again, this time with unadulterated fury. He didn’t drink. His actions now were not for feeding but for inflicting pain. He pierced through vessels, and bones, clamping his jaws together. A silent tremor from Sullivan caused him to relent and he began to retract his fangs from their merciless grip.
Again Adam lifted his eyes to survey the damage. For the first time in a long while he allowed the blood tears to flow from grief, grief at what he’d allowed to transpire. He should have never been moved by Eve’s tears, nor her pleas to live a life apart from him, to be allowed to love Sullivan, to live with him. Sullivan’s hand knocked Adam’s to the side startling him. A bemused expression crossed Adam’s face.
“I think you’ve had enough of my blood,” Sullivan said, moving from Adam toward the bed to check on Eve.
Adam gave a low growl as Sullivan attempted to move closer to the bed, closer to Eve. Adam was having none of it. He growled louder as his fangs lengthened and his eyes changed color.
“Don’t come any closer.” He sent the words with a snap to Sullivan. “I’m taking my wife back. I’m taking her back, right here, right now, and in your bed.”
“Can’t we make sure Eve has survived before you throw your silly tantrums?” Sullivan asked, ignoring Adam’s lowered fangs and the growl. Adam would have to kill him here and now to prevent him from checking on Eve.
“I’m going to kill you, Sullivan.”
“Yeah, I know. I’ve got it. Haven’t you tired of threatening me? You’ve given Eve your blood and if she makes it, I will thank you for that. But you will not have Eve. Nothing has changed, Adam.”
Adam chuckled. It was time to take control again. He should never have allowed a woman, his wife, control. He should not have allowed her to sully his love.
“Sullivan, Sullivan, Sullivan,” Adam repeated. “How I want you dead. How I wish at this very moment I had the time to make it so.” His fist twisted as he applied pressure to Sullivan’s heart without even touching him. Then he took in a deep breath and released it and Sullivan. Whatever he decided to do to the vamp he wanted Eve to witness it.
“I’m taking my wife back.”
“Just you try it,” Sullivan hissed as his own fangs descended. Energy shimmered in waves, casting a silver glow around Sullivan’s body. Fear for Eve coupled with his anger at Adam’s arrogance in thinking that after two years he could just come back and reclaim the woman he hadn’t wanted. The gall of it made Sullivan a bit more forceful than usual. He was breathing hard, trying not to rub his chest. That more than any of the feats Adam had accomplished made Sullivan envious. How he wished that he could tighten his fist and cause Adam’s heart to cease beating. If he could cause Adam pain without even touching him, it would be one long, continuous torture session.
“While you try to take Eve from me, where do you think I will be, Adam? And do you think it will be that easy? She loves me as well as you.”
“Are we really going to do this dance and pretend that you have a choice in the matter? Don’t worry, when I decide to take her, which is right now by the way, you’ll be right here. In fact, I insist that you have a ringside seat.” Adam stared hard at Sullivan, not blinking, not moving a muscle.
“I gave you one chance to keep her safe. You’ll not get another.” Adam’s voice gentled and the rough edges were swept away as he turned his attention to Eve.
“You should have known better, Sullivan.”
Sullivan’s pain was palatable. He regretted the things that had happened to Eve but still his regrets made no difference. He could have cost Eve her life. Adam was right, he had known better. Acute shame washed over him.
“Adam...” Sullivan sighed, then called his name again. “Adam, will she be okay? She’s so still. She looks to be dead. Her heart is no
longer beating.” He stared at Adam. “Did it work? Did your blood save Eve?”
“Why don’t you link with her and find out,” Adam taunted.
Sullivan blanched, his skin losing the little color that it possessed. His blue eyes filled with moisture at having to admit that his link with Eve wasn’t strong enough. He’d already tried to reach her. It would have to be Adam to bring her back to this side of life. Adam had made her, only he could go in that deeply. He stared at Adam, not wanting to ask another thing of him, hating that he couldn’t give Eve the things she needed. He felt powerless. He couldn’t even penetrate her mind enough to know if she were still in there. He’d once again have to rely on her crazy husband.
Sullivan’s skin crawled with revulsion and he bit back the snarl that threatened to slide across his face. To get anything from Adam he would have to crawl, make himself humble, and bow before the almighty Adam Omega.
Anger rose and he swallowed that also. He had more important matters to contend with. Eve was the only important thing in his life and he had to know if calling Adam to save her with his blood was going to be worth the look that would surely be in Eve’s eyes if she survived.
“Adam, check on her please,” Sullivan pleaded, his eyes remaining on Eve.
“You want me to check on my wife for you?” Adam shook his head, chuckling a little as he did so. “Sullivan, you never cease to amaze me.”
“Is allowing Eve to linger in that twilight state part of your plan? Do you think your actions will cause me more grief than I already feel? They can’t.” Sullivan tried for a different tactic. “Surely you’re as concerned as I am to know if your blood was strong enough to bring Eve back from the brink of death.”
“You think using logic and appealing to my vanity will turn the tide in your favor, cause me to…what?” Adam tilted his head slightly to study Sullivan. He shook his head, causing the locs on his shoulder to move about. With one hand he pushed the long hair from his face and secured it in a purple binding. His movements provided the few seconds he’d needed to distract Sullivan. Killing Sullivan no longer held the urgency it had but scant hours ago. A different plan was forming, one that might prove to be a lot more fun than just killing Sullivan outright as he’d promised. Oh, he’d still kill him, but maybe he’d have some fun with him
first, payback. Who knew in the end how long he’d allow Sullivan to continue living?
Adam’s gaze followed Sullivan’s and both vampires stared at Eve. Then their eyes met and held. It was Adam who broke the connection and turned once again to look at Eve. Maybe it was time his fledgling wife graduated. He’d bring her back to life and when she learned his plans for her she’d wish even more that he hadn’t.
“You enjoy having this power over us, don’t you?” Sullivan hissed.
A smile graced Adam’s lips. He wouldn’t deny that he enjoyed the power he had. Being in control of the world was a high. Only one Being that he knew of was higher. And that Being hadn’t deemed the affairs of the world important enough to get involved in. Yet. And if the day came that it changed… well then, Adam would deal with it then.
He glared at Sullivan, then softened his gaze as always when he turned to look at his wife, so still, so corpse like as she lay there with his blood flowing through her veins. He turned the ballcock, removed the needle from his vein, waved a finger over the puncture mark, and unencumbered by tubings, moved closer to Eve.
Entering Sullivan’s mind Adam scanned his thoughts. The tormented vamp was right about one thing. It was time that he made a mental lock with Eve. He had no doubt that she would pull through. Whether she wanted to was a different matter. Still, it was time, he thought as he ran his finger gently over her face, sighing deeply.
Ignoring Sullivan, Adam rose from the chair and crawled into the bed and pulled Eve into his arms, holding her, planting kisses on her still form. Then he leaned his head back and roared the ancient cry of warriors.
When the last echo died, he brought his head up slowly and stared hard at Sullivan for a long moment. “Like I said, I’m taking my wife back, right here, right now, and in your bed. Holding Eve in his arms, turning her so that she was facing him, he gazed on her, the memory of every moment he’d spent with her filling him. His thoughts from a thousand years in the past caused him to shiver. He pressed his lips to Eve’s carotid artery and sank his fangs gently into her, going deep into Eve’s psyche and connecting with her thoughts.
“Eve, you know that your time with Sullivan has ended.” He waited. When she didn’t answer he went deeper, caressing her with his thoughts. “Eve, I know you can hear me. I will not let you die.”
“Go away, Adam. I’m having the most beautiful dream and you’re spoiling it.”
He couldn’t prevent the mental chuckle. “So you think you’re dreaming?”
“I have to be. I haven’t seen you in some time. You don’t know what’s happened to me and I don’t want to be around when you find out. You’re going to be upset.”
Adam’s first thought was to remind her that she’d seen him, talked to him, told him she loved him because she couldn’t help herself, but loved Sullivan because she wanted to. Apparently she’d forgotten all of that or maybe she viewed it as a dream. He decided to not press the issue. “Upset?” he asked.
“Okay,” Eve whispered softly. “Let me say it. You’re going to be truly pissed.”
Adam chuckled again. “Then tell me what you’ve done, wife.”
The amber ring on his finger suddenly blazed to life. He could feel an electrical charge and a burn from the gold as it seemed to become welded to his skin. The gift had been a gift from his bride when she was Eyanna and loved him and him alone. He smiled to himself; something in her spirit loved him still.
The ring had not bothered to alert him to Eve’s feelings in many months. It was hard to believe that on the brink of death it was he she thought of. But then again, she seemed to have a habit of allowing herself to love him when she was at the brink of death. Adam shook the thought away. Eve would not die, he’d seen to that.
“Eve,” Adam whispered again, allowing his words to caress her. “Eve, talk to me, tell me what you’ve done.”
“No, I want to dream.”
“Tell me what you’ve done, Eve, or innocents might pay for that which I imagine.”
He waited, knowing that threat more than anything would penetrate Eve’s defenses. The thought that Adam Omega, monster that she thought him to be, would harm innocents…. He sighed. She would not be able to allow it. She’d talk.
“In all this time I have not fed in the way you ordered me to do.” Eve hesitated. “No one knew, not at first, not Sullivan and not Dr. Meah. As for Mark, he thought I was feeding from him. I implanted memories of
the feedings.” She sighed. “I couldn’t go through with it, Adam, not even with your threats to me.”
“What else?” Adam asked, already knowing the entire tale but wanting to force his wife to tell him. This he knew she would resist when she fully recovered. Now in this state she would not lie.
“I used my crystals to try to find a cure, a way to return to being mortal. I…I…coerced Dr. Meah into allowing me to be the trial subject for his new drug, the AB-5. It worked for a time but so many things went wrong. This time I’ve succeeded in doing what I’ve always wanted. I will die an almost mortal death. I have a virus of sorts.”
“Do you really believe I will allow you to die?”
“No, I suppose you wouldn’t.”
“What else is there? You said you dreamed. Tell me your dream.”
“That I’m mortal and God has forgiven me my sins.”
The ring burned more fiercely and Adam felt his heart lurch. He hesitated a moment before answering, then spoke very softly, almost whispering. “I will forgive your sins, Eve.”
“I know you think you are my love, but you’re not God, Adam.”
Adam caressed Eve’s face and dropped a kiss on her head. “Then I will take your sins on my shoulders and grant you absolution.”
For a long moment there was silence. Then Eve spoke. “Why are you just now entering my dreams, Adam? Why haven’t I heard from you before now?”
“You only had to call me, Eve. But you were too busy making nice with Sullivan.”
“He loves me, Adam.”
“As do I.”
“I love him also.”
“As much as you love me?”
“I could never love anyone as much as I love you, and you’re very well aware of that. But you’re also aware that I have no plans to grovel for your affections. With Sullivan there is no groveling, just reciprocated love and respect, Adam. If you’d been able to provide the things I needed you wouldn’t have to return now and play the hero and bully, both of which you will surely do.” Eve sighed, realizing what she’d just admitted. “This isn’t feeling so much like a dream anymore. Is this real, or am I dreaming?”
“It’s real.” Adam heard Eve’s sigh and waited.
“Then I’m dying and you’re here to do what… cause Sullivan pain? Make him feel the guilt that he shouldn’t?”
“No, I’m here to make sure you don’t die…and…” Adam couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re accurate in your reasoning. I’m here to make sure that Sullivan feels pain. This time he’s gone too far. This time I will kill him.”
When she didn’t answer Adam pressed harder, knowing the connection was still there. “You can hear
” he said. me.
“Of course I can, but I’m trying very hard to blank you out.”
Adam chuckled and moved to nuzzle Eve’s neck. Taking in a deep breath, he was more than a little surprised. This time it wasn’t just a vague fragrance he caught. Eve’s entire essence was scented with the fragrance of fresh lemons, as though it were originating from her basic DNA. He ran his tongue along her carotid artery, feeling his blood as it flowed through the veins of his wife.
“It is time, Eve,” Adam whispered into her mind, “time for you to return. The poison is gone and your spirit has returned. My blood sustains you now.”
“Can he hear us?”
“You speak of Sullivan?” Adam asked. “Not this deeply. Why?”
“Because I want you to think about something. If you just kill either Sullivan or Dr. Meah, what joy will you receive? None. You like the game of cat and mouse too much. I know you. You enjoy threatening Sullivan and even me.”
“This time it’s no threat.”
“I’d like to make you a wager, Adam.”
This easy time with Eve before she returned completely to her body was a pleasant diversion. Now they could be civil. Now he could be magnanimous about her foolishness. He could tease her, because now he knew she would survive. His heart lurched again and he swallowed the gratitude for having made it to her in time. At least the fool had not been so unwise as to not reach out to him for help. Sullivan had caused him many problems and from the tone of Eve’s voice, he could tell her wager would concern him. Another problem.
“You’re forgetting, Eve, that usually when you want to wager I win.”
“Hear me out. I’ll wager that you will get more joy from allowing both Sullivan and Dr. Meah to live.”
“How so?” Curiosity forced Adam to continue listening to yet another insane plan of his wife. But, Eve, being alive and presenting insane plans was a thousand times better than Eve being dead.
“You want to make them both fear what you’re going to do, right? Give them, say a month, and tell them you will kill them in a month, or two months. The waiting will drive them crazy with worry. Then when the time is about to run out you can give them an extension.”
Adam laughed aloud. “I think the crystal potions you took affected your brain. Do you really think you can manipulate me in this manner?” He laughed again. “It’s time for you to wake now, Eve.”
Feeling Eve’s resistance Adam braced himself, then heard the softly murmured words of an incantation. His obstinate Eve. He’d have to give her credit for trying. He applied a bit more pressure. “Wake up, Eve.”
“I don’t want to,” Eve insisted stubbornly, trying her best to wield her magic. The magic she possessed was something that Adam Omega did not control. “I think I’ll remain here a bit longer. I think just the thought that I can control my fate will make you rethink what I’ve said. You’ll begin to worry about me…maybe not about me, but that I can defy you even in my dreams. The great Adam Omega, whose blood is not strong enough to undo what his poor, silly, fledgling of a wife has done.”
“It’s not going to work.”
“What will it hurt, Adam? We all know you’re going to kill them. I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to make them suffer first. That would be more to your liking, I would think. Make them afraid of what you’re going to do every moment that they live. Surely you’re not afraid that I’ll find a way to stop you.”
“Of course I’m not afraid and you very well know it.” He kissed her gently and felt her probing his mind, trying to access his plans. “Stop that,” he reprimanded her as he ran the tip of his tongue over her lips, tasting her, feeling the steady burn of the ring.
“Why are your thoughts blocked from me? Why won’t you share your plans with me? There is nothing I can do to stop you, or so you’ve told me, Adam. Tell me your plans for Sullivan…and for Dr. Meah,” Eve pleaded,
“Don’t trouble yourself with that. You know who I am. I keep my word. I warned both you and Sullivan what would happen to him if he allowed harm to come to you. He allowed harm to come to you. Now he will die.”
“You will have to kill me if you kill Sullivan.”
“Maybe I will, but it will be when I tire of you. It will not be today.”
“Adam, I am no longer just Eve.”
“I know that. I have long sensed the reemergence of Eyanna within you. I feel your power, but it is nothing compared to mine.”
He heard a soft chuckle. Could Eve be laughing at him? “Do I amuse you, wife?”
“I believe you’re afraid of my magic. I think in this case my magic is stronger.”
“Ah, so it’s a test of powers that you want, my powers versus your magic? Who do you think would win?”
“It could be fun to find out.”
Again Eve spoke words of an incantation and Adam muttered words too softly for Eve to hear and counteract. Forcing the psychic to teach him the dark arts had been well worth the fear he’d instilled and the burly body guards he’d killed. And his brave, silly Eve, so insistent on trying to control him, had not even sensed his magic. Or perhaps she had and thought it was the power of his being a vampire that stopped her. Adam wanted to laugh. He’d missed his wife. It was high time she returned home. He had more than a few surprises for the mistress of the vampire kingdom.
“I’m not afraid of you, Adam.”
“Then the poisons must have affected you more than I thought.”
“We are necessary to each other. I know that now. I am your Achilles heel as you are mine. You may shout and throw around your lightning bolts, but in the end you will not kill me.” Eve laughed. “I feel what you feel, Adam. Tell me, does the amber ring I gave to you not burn you at this very moment?”
“What of it? That does not make your magic stronger than my powers.”
“And from where I am it seems logical that I am stronger, that I would win any wager we entered. After all, I have had the ancient powers of nature within me for many, many generations. Mine was a birthright.
Yours was but darkness thrust upon you. That you didn’t want, I might add. Yes, you’ve harnessed that power and made it stronger, but it’s not embedded into your basic DNA, not like mine, and yours is not as old as mine. As for your ability to control the elements, I can control the elements also, though not to the extent that you can. But I can do things that you cannot. I can command the power in crystals to do my biddings. Can you?”
Curiosity was getting the better of Adam. Would Eve remain this defiant when she was fully awake or would the bravado leave when she left the nether regions of unconsciousness?
“If you’re so brave, so powerful, wife, why did you run and hide? Why did you protect yourself with crystals to block yourself from me?” He couldn’t stop his smirk at knowing Eve would never again be able to use her crystals against him. He too possessed the knowledge of the stones. Lucky for him that he was one in a handful that the stones talked to.
A rare gift, the psychic had said. Rare, he’d thought. He was rare. He was Adam Omega. Why would the stones not talk to him? He was the first and the last of his kind. There had been none like him in the past and there would be no more after him. Of course there would always be vampires, but there would never be another him. He was the alpha and the omega. He’d tried to tell Eve that and she’d not understood.
Adam shrugged. Eve’s next lessons would not be ones of gentleness. He would have to be ruthless to force her to comply. But comply she would for she must. He would not leave her dependent on others. She must know how to feed. Then when she chose not to, that would be her choice, but still she must learn it and he would not stop until she could do it with skill and efficiency.
Placing kisses at the corners of her mouth, he nipped his finger, drawing a bubble of blood and stuck it into the warmth of her mouth, closing his eyes in ecstasy as her lips closed around the finger and suckled it gently.
“You have not changed, wife. With everything that’s happened to you you still defy me. You believe your powers equal to mine. You genuinely believe that to be true?”
“Why?” Adam asked softly, running the pad of his finger across her lip.
“Because, Adam, had the situations of our lives been reversed I would have been stronger. If it had been me who had been turned and waited a thousand years to find you, I would not have turned you. But if I had, I would not have abandoned you. You’re a coward where I’m concerned. In all your decisions pertaining to me, Adam, you’re a coward. Yes, you can kill others without a thought. You can even sit in church
picking out the parishioner you will help. You will defend the weak with your last breath but you’re too much of a coward to be without me. So you have chosen to control me instead. That makes you a slave to me, Adam, my slave, and that makes you a coward.” With those words Eve pushed Adam from her mind with a jolt.
Adam blinked several times in disbelief. As his vision cleared, his gaze focused on Sullivan, who was watching him warily. For a long moment Adam just stared at the vamp, giving himself time to allow his confusion to clear. Eve had shoved him out of her mind and it hadn’t been a little shove. It was powerful, one that befitted the mistress of the vampire kingdom. “Or a witch,” a little voice whispered. He couldn’t believe it. For longer than he cared to admit he was truly stunned. The blood, he thought, his blood had given her this.
“What happened?” Sullivan dropped his cool veneer, rushing to Adam clutching Adam’s left arm in his hand. “Tell me, is Eve in there?”
Again Adam stared into the blue eyes of his rival and a small smile came. “Oh, she’s in there alright.”
“So your blood worked, you’ve healed her?”
“I think so,” Adam nodded, “but there are a few minor adjustments I think I need to make.”
“Adjustments? What the hell do you mean, adjustments? Eve is not a car or an appliance. I don’t want you messing with her mind.”
All playfulness left Adam as he glared hard at Sullivan. “What you want is of no importance. You have no rights here. You remain here out of my graciousness. Eve is my wife, understand, not yours and even if she were….even if she were, she would still belong to me. You have tried my patience once too many times. I do not have the time to bother with you and your wants. Unless you want me to remove you from your own home do not bother me again.”
“Damn you, Adam.”
“Damn me all you like, just stay the hell out of my way.” Adam glared at the other vamp, then at the doctor. Eve was right about one thing: Others he could kill without a thought. Only lingering emotions of times past, of friendships that once existed had kept Sullivan and the good doctor from being incinerated the moment he’d returned to find his wife at death’s door. He gritted his teeth in impatience, then said to Sullivan,
“You have no choice but to wait for me to bring Eve back, so wait!” He raised his hand and slammed Sullivan into a chair. “Stay,” he ordered.
“No,” Sullivan shouted back as he came up from the chair, “I will not stay. I am not an animal that you can issue orders to and expect me to meekly obey them.”
“I could care less if you obey them meekly, though I would prefer it. It would be easier for you that way.” Adam smiled as Sullivan’s hand came up and shot a bolt of electrical energy at him. Adam did not move, merely smiled at Sullivan and the stunned look on the vamp’s face. “Want to try again?” he asked and repositioned himself so Sullivan could take better aim. When this volt also failed to penetrate, Adam stopped smiling. “My turn,” he announced in a voice filled with ice. He raised his hand and his eyes narrowed into slits. He released a charge so powerful that the house shook on its foundation as the bolt found its mark in Sullivan’s body. The vamp went back so hard he knocked out a good section of the wall.
“Would you like for me to take my second shot now?” Adam asked.
This time Adam raised both hands. He noticed Sullivan did not cower or attempt to cover himself, but instead did as Adam had done and prepared himself for the next volley Adam would send. Only this time Adam didn’t discharge the volt. He looked upon Sullivan for a long moment, then held out his hand and helped him up.
“Tell me, Sullivan, three years ago you were not this brave. You would have never thought to take me on one on one. Plot my demise, overthrow me, yes, but hand to hand combat? What happened? What is it that makes you stand up to me now?”
“Eve,” Sullivan answered without blinking. “I have something to fight for, someone. I was completely unprepared for the power she’d have over me, the way she’d sneak into my heart and own it and my soul. She does own them, Adam, and I will not so easily give her up. I will not stand by and allow you to make adjustments to her mind. I can imagine the adjustments you’d make, the commands for her to stop loving me, to be your obedient little robotic wife.”
“Don’t be a fool. If that’s the way I want things, then that’s the way it will be. But I have no wish for a robotic wife. One who simply hates me is more than enough.”
Again the vampires locked gazes until Sullivan spoke. “But we all know that in spite of her hatred for the things that you’ve done, Adam, it’s not hatred she has for you.”
“But it’s your bed she’s been warming for the past two years. That does not speak of love to me. And if you know she loves me, you should not have fallen in love with her. That would make you a fool.”
Sullivan sighed. “Don’t you think if I could have made myself not love her, knowing that she will always love you, that I would have? She loves you and we all know it. But she loves me also and I make her happy. You don’t,” Sullivan said with bluntness, “And with my last breath I will fight for her.”
For what seemed an eternity the room was silent. Adam chuckled as he waggled his finger in front of Sullivan’s face. “That little story you just told, why did you feel the need to share it?”
“I wanted to give you fair warning.”
“You’re warning me…you’re warning me? This has got to be a dream. You’re warning me? You can’t beat me, Sullivan. If I was having my worst day, and you were having your best day, you’d still be unable to defeat me. Now enough talk. Sit there and be quiet.”
Before Sullivan could even think to protest Adam had once again slammed him into the chair and this time he could not move. When he went to speak he could make no sound. Adam smirked as Sullivan finally got the picture. “Magic,” Adam said, twirling his finger. “It’s heady stuff, almost as intriguing as vampiric powers.” He laughed again and finally turned away from the glare Sullivan was giving him. Sullivan’s glares did not matter.
Now it was time for him to deal with Eve, to reenter her mind. So what if she’d managed to shove him from her mind. No matter, she was still a fledgling.
Cautiously, Adam reentered Eve’s mind, intrigued by his wife’s newfound powers. She’d actually found a way to make him work to get to where he wanted to be. This time he had to go in even deeper, past all the barriers she’d set to guard her thoughts.
“So you’re back,” Eve heaved a sigh. “This is getting tiresome.”
“No one has ever called me a coward, Eve. I don’t believe even you have ever done that. You’ve always called me a bully.”
“I can’t remember if I’ve called you a coward before or not but it doesn’t matter. A bully is always a coward. Kiss me, Adam, and let’s see how strong you really are.”
“Do you think I will become aroused and turn tail and run?” Adam smiled. “I can assure you, dear wife, that nonsense is over with.”
“Want to make a bet?” Eve inquired.
“To bet would, as I said earlier, still be foolish on your part.” Adam gave a casual shrug of his shoulder. Though Eve couldn’t see it he knew she felt it. “I am right and…” He stopped. “What are your plans for me this time, Eve? Your potions didn’t work so well on you. So what makes you think you’d have any better luck with them working on me? Your incantations have no power where I’m concerned. Surely you must know that.”
“Make love to me right here, right now, in Sullivan’s bed with Sullivan standing there ready to slit your throat. Even you can’t be in here with me and protect yourself fully from an attack. Sullivan is not the weakling that you think him to be. He will not allow you to harm me, that I’m sure of and yes, Adam, he will even go against you to protect me. But he won’t have to, for you will defeat yourself. So, go ahead, Adam, try it and let’s see which of us is the most powerful.”
“Another challenge?” Adam’s hands moved over Eve’s body as easily as his thoughts moved through her mind. “Do you think you can resist me? You never have been able to. Let’s see if you can now.”
He sent white hot heat, sealing it with a kiss of passion. Eve moaned out her pleasure, her arms coming upwards to curl about his neck. He took her lips. Stopping for less time than it took to take his next breath, Adam opened his eyes to glare a warning and point a finger toward Sullivan, freezing him in his seat, then sealing him in ice.
Eve was not fully aware yet. She thought she was in a dream. As her body arched to move to him, her hands ran over his body, pulling at his clothes. Her tongue battled his and her moans of pleasures were ragged and real. Adam tore his lips from hers to taste the blood, his blood. As it flowed into him, a quick spasm of pleasure ran the length of his body and he drank from her.
In an instant Sullivan was up from the chair rushing toward Adam, pushing him from Eve. “You will not touch her, and you will not violate her.”
“She is my wife.”
“In name only.”
“How did you release yourself?”
“Does that matter now?”
“Yes, it matters.” Adam shrugged. “I’m going to have to adjust the time and keep you incapacitated for a much longer period. Ready?” Adam asked.
Sullivan was furious. His body trembled with rage and before he could stop himself his hands were around Adam’s throat. “Die, die, die, Adam, damn you. Just die.” Sullivan growled as his hands pressed even harder against Adam’s throat.
“Stop it, Sullivan.” Dr. Meah ran into the fray, trying unsuccessfully to pull Sullivan away from Adam. “Think of Eve. Only Adam can return her to us. Let him go.”
“No, Adam has no plans to return Eve to us. He’s only toying with us and with her.”
“Still, Sullivan, she is his wife and…and…don’t make me say it. Look at him. Does he look worried? If you wish to see if Eve survived this, I would suggest you let go of Adam,” Dr. Meah said softly, looking from Sullivan to Adam. “I’d let go of him now.”
Dr. Meah’s words penetrated his brain and Sullivan sucked in a much needed breath. The blood fever retreated slightly and Sullivan released his hold on Adam, angered that Adam had not tried to stop him, had put up no defense, and even now stood staring at him as though he were a worthless insect. One day he would wipe the smirk from his face, kick his ass good and proper. But Dr. Meah was right. He’d have to allow Adam to bring Eve back. Then he would take her and run, but not before kicking her husband’s ass. That one was a given. He wasn’t afraid of Adam, not any longer. And he’d be even more damned than he already was if he stood by and allowed Adam to paw Eve as though he were not in the room.
“You forced her to respond to you,” Sullivan snarled, moving away, knowing in his heart Adam had used no force.
“Do you truly believe that? You’re not a fool, Sullivan.” Adam smiled. “Then again, maybe you are. Remember, I went to the core of her existence, where her feelings are not hidden from me nor masked in fear for what I might do to her…or to you,” he said pointedly. “But I don’t worry now for a different reason. Eve will not remain with you even if I were to allow it. You killed Mark, betrayed her.” A laugh fell from his
lips. “She will not forgive your killing the mortal.” He shrugged. “You were supposed to be her savior from the likes of me, but you are me, to a certain extent.”
Adam ran his hand over Eve, tracing her breasts, moving over her hips, daring Sullivan with a glare. He moved to within an inch of her mound. As he gazed at his wife several unbidden tears found a path down his cheeks. You would seek death and leave me alone again, he thought angrily. You need to know how it feels, wife. Several more tears followed the path of the former ones and he shook his head and blew out a breath. Enough of this nonsense. He was about to inflict yet more pain on his wife. It too would be part of her training. He leaned over her and took her earlobe into his mouth, suckling her gently.
“You would do this to her now, Adam, defile her in front of other men? Are you now that depraved? Are you doing this to hurt me, to show me that she loves you still? I already know that and I know that I would not do to her what you’re doing to her now. You’ve taken everything from her, Adam. Must you now take her dignity?”
Adam lifted his eyes, ignoring the blood tears that stained his cheeks. He felt the weight of what he’d done clear to his soul. In fact, it was his soul that was crying out for him to stop. Images of what he’d stood for in his long distant past resurfaced. If it were a matter simply of his sinning, perhaps he could deal with that as he ought. But it wasn’t. It was the life of his wife. He’d never be able to let Eve go.
His gaze took in the scene before him as he lifted his head high as though in prayer and tilted his face so that the muscles in his neck corded with tension. Then just as quickly he ended what he was doing and stared into nothingness. He allowed the blood tears to run under his chin, staring as Sullivan faced him, his hate-filled glare lethal. Sullivan was of little consequence. Eventually he would be dead. Adam would kill him as he’d promised.
“Eve,” Adam called out, snapping his fingers. “Awake now, Eve.” Her eyelids fluttered briefly. She was still fighting him, trying not to return, but it was all for naught for return she must. “How do you feel?” He growled low as Sullivan once again made a move toward the bed. Not this damn time, he thought and sent a message telepathically to Sullivan. “She is my wife and I will check on her condition.”
He’d commanded Eve to return and he’d been generous in speaking it aloud so that Sullivan might witness her acquiescence. But Eve hadn’t
done as he’d ordered. She was going to make him crazy with her defiance. He shook his head and established a mind lock with his wife.
“Eve, I know you’re fine. I can feel it in my body. Remember, our bond does not lie.”
“What are your plans now, Adam? Will you use this to take control of my life? I don’t have many friends and I don’t want to lose them. If you harm them, it can never be the same as it once was between us.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then I’m sure we can work something out.”
“Are you once again offering me your body, or would it be your soul? How far would you go to keep them safe, wife? You’ve played many roles with me: the whore, the witch and the unfaithful wife. I care for none of them. But I will grant you this: You are brave beyond belief.”
“I think I’m the braver of the two of us, Adam. I’m not afraid to make a wager with you and see it through.”
“But you lost, my darling. You desired me. You have given me no reason to give either Sullivan or Dr. Meah longer to live. What will I get?”
“The sheer joy of knowing you control them.”
“Then return to your body and bargain with me from a position of power.”
“What will I find?” Eve asked softly, a slight tremble of fear tingeing her voice.
“Return and find out,” Adam challenged. He narrowed his eyes and looked around to see what Eve’s first impressions would be. The amber still burned, a good sign, but would it lose its glow when Eve returned?
He’d not tell her more. She needed to return and deal with whatever she found. Of course she wouldn’t like it but that was neither here nor there. Mark was dead, that much was obvious. Adam felt no remorse for his death. It would have happened eventually anyway. He stared long and hard at Eve. Besides, who knew when his wife’s sentimentality would have gotten the best of her and she’d think of turning Mark just to give him a fighting chance. Adam couldn’t have that. He refused to allow even Eve to disobey him totally.
He watched as Eve’s eyelids fluttered and she fought to return fully to the here and now. She ripped the needle from her vein and stared for a moment as though disoriented. Then her eyes found his and she frowned, knowing that he was once again the reason for her existence. It
was his blood flowing through her, giving her life, giving her strength.
In giving Eve so much blood in order to save her life, he’d
risked not being at his best. For a few hours Eve would be nearly his match perhaps, but Adam had no intention of letting her know that vital piece of information.
Eve didn’t want to fight the heaviness that was clinging to her but she couldn’t remain in a twilight state with Adam as her only companion. She needed to know what had happened in her absence. Her senses had alerted her to the strength flowing through her veins. She didn’t need anyone to tell her any longer that she would not die. How could she? She carried Adam’s blood in her veins and apparently enough of it that the poison had been pushed from her system. Still, she felt foggy as she tried to remember the details leading up to this moment.
‘Return now, Eve.’ She heard the sound of Adam’s voice and could no longer resist. Her eyes fell on her husband and love fought with hate. He was dressed in purple silk. Eve didn’t miss the message Adam was relaying. He was royalty. He’d always thought that, hadn’t he? Her eyes roamed over him and she hated to admit that she’d missed him, his beautiful eyes, his slow, easy smile, and his straight even teeth, so white they appeared to gleam. Her eyes traveled over the contours of his face. Every line, every quiver of his lips was etched with power. She took a moment and concentrated on his lips, full, luscious and tantalizing. At that moment he gave her a secret smile before using the tip of his tongue to caress his top lip. Her hands clenched the silk sheets, knotting them more than she’d already done in her twilight state. They were damp, evidence of her writhing showing clearly. She knew it wasn’t just a fever that had brought it on. Then again, perhaps it was, a fever named, Adam Omega.
As her eyes moved over his massive chest, Eve became acutely aware of other beings in the room and groaned guiltily, wishing she could pretend Adam didn’t affect her. But what was the use? He did. She could only try now to minimize the damage to Sullivan’s ego.
“I don’t believe you did this to me again, Adam.” She shot him a quick look, pleading with her eyes for him not to give away her innermost
thoughts and feelings. For an answer he smirked then gave a slight shrug unseen by Sullivan.
Frowning slightly, Eve pushed herself to a sitting position. They were all staring at her as though she’d returned from the dead. Oh, she thought, she had. She looked around the room. “Mark,” she whispered. “Adam, you found out I hadn’t been feeding from Mark and you killed him.” She shook her head as she sank back on the pillows. “Now you pick on mortals?” she asked. “Why not?” she answered her own question.
“I did not kill the mortal.” Adam shook his head slowly and stared at Eve, his gaze never wavering.
“Then who?” Eve glanced toward Dr. Meah, dismissing him. The doctor would never do it. The words, ‘I’m sorry,’ drifted toward her and a knife twisted in her heart. “Sullivan,” she whispered, “tell me you didn’t.”
“I weighed my options and was left with little choice,” he answered.
Eve’s head snapped up. It was as she’d thought. Adam had been the driving force behind Mark’s death. “Your bargain to save me?” she asked. She didn’t like where this was heading. “Sullivan…” The hurt clung to her. The one good deed she’d done had been undone in… she looked at the clock. “How long have you been here, Adam?”
“Long enough to kill, I suppose.”
“No, long enough to save your life,” Adam retorted.
“Why, Adam? Why did you do this once again? Why did you force Sullivan to kill Mark? And who the hell do you think you are?”
“Who the hell do I think I am? I shall tell you who the hell I am. I’m your husband,” Adam answered. “And I need no other reasons for doing the things that I do. I gave you life and only I can take it away. As for forcing Sullivan to do my bidding, I did nothing of the sort. The things that were done in this room were done of free will. I gave my blood to you, Sullivan gave his blood to me and Mark of course provided nourishment for poor Sullivan. Tell me, Eve, how was I to save your life if I didn’t have a means to replenish my own blood? As I said all of us were willing participants.”
Adam looked toward Dr. Meah, raised a well shaped brow, then shrugged. “Well, on most of our parts anyway. As for the simpering mortal, he wanted to be used to save you. Who were we to deny him the ability to do something useful for once in his meaningless life?”
“It was a life. Mark was trying to protect me.” She laughed harshly. “From you, I might add. I know that you harmed him before.” Eve swallowed, closing her eyes as she did so.
“How pray tell was that mortal to be your protector?”
“I had finally convinced him to give up being fodder for vampires. I was giving him a chance to have a new life and you took that from him,” Eve continued as though Adam had not spoken. Her eyes snapped open. “You didn’t have to force Sullivan to Kill Mark. You could have found another way to replenish your blood. We’re all aware that it was done to teach me a lesson. I’m tired of your lessons, Adam.”
“Sorry to disappoint you, darling, but this time the lesson was not yours to learn.” He smiled coldly up at Sullivan. “I will not be judged by any of you. Who do you think you are to judge me? You don’t have that right. None of you are any better than I am. None of you know what you will do until you’ve faced such a situation. Sullivan needed to be faced with that situation in order to know how it felt.”
Eve’s head swiveled back and forth between Sullivan and Adam. “What do you mean?”
“Don’t you know?”
“If I did I would not have asked.”
“Eve, it is lucky for you that I love you or I would sever your head from your neck,” he raised a finger, “or maybe just cut out your tongue.” He smiled. “But for now I will do neither. I am too relieved to see you and believe it or not, pleased to hear your insolent tone. So, I will tolerate it for now because it pleases me.”
“Adam, what are your real reasons for my not finding more bodies lying dead on the floor... Why are Dr. Meah and…” She glanced at Sullivan and stopped. “What are you up to?”
“You have many lessons to learn. It was foolishness on my part to think that I could trust you enough to want to live, that you would do the things necessary in order to survive. There has never been a vampire made that did not ingest fresh human blood, whether offered freely or taken by force. Do you think I would have stayed away so long if I’d known the danger you were in? You’re a very silly woman, Eve, and for your sake I must do what I foolishly trusted you…,” he sneered and spat, “you and your consort to take care of. I will not have you defenseless or dependent. You have lessons to learn and you will learn them.”
“I did have human blood, just not the way you wanted me to take it. Besides, I told you, I’m sick to death of your lessons.”
“That may be,” Adam said to Eve, sitting next to her, running his hand down the side of her arm, ignoring her slapping his hand away. He replaced it each time until they stared into each other’s gazes and Eve stopped. “I will make sure that your education is left to me. I will be assured that you will know how to feed.”
“Your coming back changes nothing. You are not the master of my fate. I am. You cannot order me around.”
Eve pushed Adam’s hand from her arm, ignoring Sullivan’s warning, his mental image of the last time she’d challenged Adam in that manner. “Go ahead and try if you think it will work.”
“Didn’t I just prove that to you? Your time of playing the vampire whore has come to an end. I did tell you that when I was ready to reclaim you I would. Eve, I’m ready.”
“And what if Eve isn’t ready to be reclaimed by you, Adam? We both owe you a debt of gratitude but nothing more.” Sullivan moved closer to Eve and sat on the opposite side of the bed, taking her hand in his and kissing it, holding on tightly and not releasing his grip until she winced. “Welcome back,” Sullivan whispered to her. He turned his gaze at last to Adam, who was watching him with a strange glint of amusement in his eyes. It was time to get this over and done with.
“Well, Adam, you didn’t answer the question. What if Eve isn’t ready to be reclaimed by you?”
Adam’s left arm was propped on the pillow besides Eve. First he allowed his hungry gaze to settle on his wife. Then he kissed her lips lightly before trailing his tongue down the side of her neck. As she shivered, he moved slightly away. With his thumb and forefinger he slowly rubbed at his temple, then worried his chin in an even slower and more deliberate manner. He studied Sullivan through narrowed eyes, amused that the vampire truly thought to take him on.
What strange universe is this? he wondered as he’d wondered in the past. None of this should be happening. He’d been much too lenient with all of them. He brought his gaze from Sullivan to land back on his wife. He ignored the pleading in her eyes not to harm Sullivan, not to kiss her again in front of him. He gave her a hard look, saw the petite flutter at the base of her throat and leaned down and suckled it. Eve’s gasp of pleasure filled the air.
“Do you think Eve’s not ready to be reclaimed? You were but a brief interlude, Sullivan. Your time is over. Be thankful that you even had it.”
None in the room could have missed the deadly intent behind Adam’s words. He was unfazed by Sullivan’s rage. The calmness with which he spoke belied the true nature of his emotions. Adam was the most dangerous when he seemed calmest.
Rubbing his palms together slowly, interlacing his fingers for several moments, Adam almost appeared unconcerned, sleepy even. He
sighed as though bored with them all. “Sullivan, perhaps you should inquire of Eve her intentions.”
Had she truly thought that Adam would give in to her silent pleas? She wished now as she had many times in the past that she could have them both. Truth stayed on the fringes. For what she truly wished was that Adam wanted her in the same manner that Sullivan did. As her gaze landed on Sullivan, she looked away; fully aware the kiss she’d shared with Adam in her twilight state had not been a dream. It had been real and if she admitted the truth of things, it was Adam’s kiss more than anything that made her fight to return to her body. She had been fully conscious when Adam had trailed hot kisses from her lips to her throat. Stopping him hadn’t been an option. It never had been when he’d touch her. She’d been drawn under his spell as always, from the moment he’d looked at her with love in his eyes.
In that moment all in the room had ceased to be. Knowing that Sullivan had witnessed it, Eve wished even more that she could find an anti-love potion. She’d never been able to resist Adam’s kisses and apparently she never would. She dropped her eyes in embarrassment and took in a breath, sensing the odor of death, mortal death. This she could deal with. Her feelings for Adam she could not.
Instead of saying anything to Sullivan, she directed her comments to Adam. “Why did you do it this way?” she asked again. “Mark didn’t have to die.”
Eve turned her head and stared at Dr. Meah. She saw the fear in his eyes, read his thoughts. She remembered all that had come before, Adam forcing the vamp to drain the tainted blood from her body. She trembled at the remembered pain of Dr. Meah’s fangs piercing her flesh. He now had Eve’s tainted blood. Panic rushed through her.
All the people she loved were in this room, embroiled in this nightmare, even Adam. She’d once sought to save him. Now there was no longer any possibility of that. Biting her lips, trying to find a way to address the situation with Sullivan, she took in a deep breath.
Adam was watching her, his look issuing a challenge to her, telling her, she was afraid to confront Sullivan with what he’d done. And the truth of it all was that she was. She didn’t want to not be in Sullivan’s life, to not be loved by him, to not be held in his arms. A small tremor of fear moved over her. This was not going to be easy but she had to deal with it.
“Sullivan, you made me a promise.”
“This wasn’t up to Sullivan, Eve. Your life is my gift to you and I will continue to make sure you live until you learn to respect that gift and choose life for yourself.”
“I wasn’t talking to you,” Eve screamed. She could feel the haze of anger clouding her vision. “This is the gift you’ve given me, Adam? This?”
She glared. “Dr Meah was trying to help me. I wasn’t trying to defy you or to die. I just didn’t want this. I never wanted to be a vampire and I still don’t. You say I don’t respect life but you’re wrong. It’s you who have no respect for life or the desires of others. I have loved you through many things, forgiven you for the unforgivable. But you will not tell me this is a gift, that I don’t respect the privilege of being alive. I do. I just wanted to feel like me, mortal, human.” She shivered.
“Don’t any of you contradict me. I’m well aware that I’m no longer mortal. I know that. Still, for a time my illusion remained intact. Sullivan and Dr. Meah were able to help me with that illusion. And you would kill the two of them for that?” She bent her head, resting her hands on her knees and groaned in agony.
“Adam, you, my love, have taken everything from me. Do you want to make me suffer? My being with Sullivan was never a threat to you and you knew that. Still, you’ve made it impossible for me to be with him. You were aware that I loved him, that he made me happy. You took that away from me. I don’t think I will ever be able to forgive that.”
Tears coursed down her cheek and she wiped then away. “I swear, if it’s the last thing I do, I will find a way to rid myself of these blasted blood tears. If I have a need to cry I will at least cry real tears.”
The knowledge that she couldn’t cry real tears made Eve cry even harder. She didn’t want to give up the one man in her life who had loved her unconditionally, who’d done nothing but protect her. She’d taken so much from Sullivan and given so little in return, she thought. All the time they’d had together had always been in the shadow of Adam. It was no different now.
It was with a heavy heart that Eve turned to look at Sullivan again. She loved him beyond reason and felt the burden, swift and unrelenting, that she would no longer be able to reside with him. His betrayal hurt worse than Adam’s because she’d expected more from Sullivan.
“Sullivan, I didn’t expect any better from Adam to have disregard for human life, to kill Mark, just to prove a point. But I did expect better from you.” She heaved a breath, looked at the three vampires in the room, closed her eyes, lay back on the bed and wished for death.
“Why him?” Adam asked.
“Because he has honor, because he knows the meaning of love.”
“How the hell do you think I knew what was happening? Don’t you wonder? I had shut my mind to you.”
Eve bolted upright. It couldn’t be true. “Sullivan,” she said, her voice one long agonized sob as she rose from the bed and made her way to him. “I told you that I wanted to end it. Please tell me Adam’s lying, that he just came and you saw a way to help me. Tell me you didn’t call him.” Sullivan’s gaze was on her and it was so filled with pain that she knew the answer.
“I love you,” Sullivan said, looking at her and doing his best to ignore Adam. “I didn’t want to lose you, Eve. I couldn’t imagine living for an eternity without you.”
“That’s so touching,” Adam laughed. “Because only one of you will be living for an eternity. You’re no different from me, Sullivan. You with your high and mighty attitude about my rights. Did you have the right to come to me, to go against what Eve wanted? Did you? She wanted to die. Why didn’t you let her? Isn’t that what you asked me, why didn’t I allow my wife to die?” Adam pointed a long, slender finger in Sullivan’s direction.
“Judge not. ‘Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother's eye.’ Matthew 7:5.”
Sullivan turned to face Adam, his fangs bared, a sneer on his face as he spoke. “You think you still have the right to throw scriptures at me?”
“Apparently I do.” From the corner of his eye Adam saw the doctor moving away and he squeezed his hand, feeling the beating of the vampire’s heart. He narrowed his eyes toward the vampire. “You will stay where you are, Doctor, and see how this all plays out.” Adam applied a bit more pressure to the beating heart.
“Sullivan, I did warn you many times, first for sleeping with my wife. But neither of you chose to listen. Now you will have to deal with the consequences of your actions.” He shot Eve a look. “Don’t say a word,” he ordered in a deadly calm voice, “or I will kill him where he stands.” He turned again to Sullivan. “I told you if any harm ever came to Eve I’d kill you and I meant it.” He glanced toward Eve. “Harm came to her. She almost died.” A lump lodged in Adam’s throat and he had to force his words around it. “Sullivan, I wasn’t kidding.”
“I didn’t think that you were.”
Studying Sullivan, Adam had to give him credit. There was a time the vampire would not have waited around to have his sentence meted out. Adam stretched his arms out and yawned. He truly was feeling a bit tired. He’d given so much blood to Eve, it had been necessary. Still, he could feel the toll it had taken on his strength. No matter, none in the room was aware of that fact except him.
“Adam, do you mind if I check on Eve?”
For a long moment Adam stared at Dr. Meah. “She is well now, Doctor, no thanks to you.” When the doctor cringed, Adam smiled. “The three of you tire me. I want to know everything that has happened in my absence.” He turned his back to Sullivan. He could feel the hatred for him coming off the vamp in waves. “Don’t even think it,” he said, then laughed. “Now as I was saying, fill me in.”
Adam deliberately kept his back turned to Sullivan to taunt him. He knew the man was worried about Eve’s displeasure with him. Eve’s displeasure should not be what was uppermost in Sullivan’s mind. Retribution for the harm that had befallen Eve should be what he worried about. Adam would deliver punishment in his own time. He would do nothing before Eve was fully aware of what had transpired? No way. He stretched once more, then turned slowly toward Sullivan. “Start talking,” he ordered and snapped his finger. He sank into the overstuffed chair he’d conjured and waved his hand around the room.
“Your tastes in furnishing leave much to be desired. How my wife has tolerated living here is beyond my imagination.” Adam stretched, making himself comfortable as he listened to Sullivan’s tale of his ineptness in caring for Eve. The more Adam thought about Eve’s suggestion to make Sullivan squirm a bit, the more he liked it. He knew Eve had her own reasons, more than likely to whip up some spell that she thought would keep Sullivan safe. Well, no such luck, Adam thought and twined his hands together. He laughed out loud and watched as fear became etched on the faces of Sullivan and Dr. Meah. This was going to be fun.
Before Adam could blink an eye Eve was standing in front of Sullivan, her stance definitely protective. He folded his arms across his chest and studied her in amusement. “After allowing me to make love to you in front of his face you now seek to protect Sullivan? How foolish. He’ll appreciate this gesture less than an apology for allowing me the kiss,” Adam assured her in their private conversation. He’d have to give her credit, though. She didn’t flinch. She’d come a long way; he was pleased. Still, this wouldn’t do. His blood that was giving her strength and power would not save Sullivan, not this time. “Just take a look at his face,” Adam whispered into her mind. “He can’t decide with whom he’s more furious, me just for existing, or you for loving me.”
“Can’t you behave just once, Adam?” Eve gave him a scathing look and repositioned herself. She hated to admit that Adam was right but Sullivan’s anger was creating an unwelcome frisson.
“You have a problem to take care of, Eve,” Adam said. “You’ve not yet dealt with Sullivan. You keep becoming distracted, scattered. Concentrate, Eve,” he instructed and laughed, giving her an air kiss as he took her by the shoulders and gently turned her from him to face Sullivan.
For several moments Eve could only stare at Sullivan. Dealing with him was much harder than dealing with Adam. She and Adam yelled and cursed, sometimes even hit. With Sullivan there was hardly any such drama. That was what was making it so damn hard. She loved him, and in the deepest part of her, she understood his motives, but understanding and being able to live with him were two different things.
Eve shook her head slowly. “Not you, too, Sullivan, not you.” She pressed her lips together to keep from saying more, all the time watching as sadness filled his eyes and he reached out for her. She took a step away and saw the immediate pain that came into his eyes at her actions. “Why?” she asked.
Sullivan reached once again toward Eve, then dropped his hands. “I don’t expect you to forgive me, Eve. I knew the consequences when I asked Adam to come and save you. I knew what would happen.”
“But why Mark? He had nothing to do with this. He wasn’t involved in this madness. Why did you take his life?”
“I had no choice.”
“You did. He didn’t play a part in this.”
“He did, Eve.”
Sullivan turned from her to glare at Adam. “Mark was my payment. I would have drained a thousands mortals to save you.” Anger filled him and he looked away. “I don’t expect you to forgive me. I know you hate what I’ve done. I feel it. But what I did, I would do again.”
“You’re sounding just like Adam,” Eve said in a sad little whisper.
“Maybe I’m more like him than either of us thought. I know now why he turned you. I would have turned you also if it meant you would live.”
“Sullivan!” Eve stared at him. “Now I have no one I can trust.”
No one she could trust? Adam closed his ears against the painful words. There was one thing about him Eve could always trust and that was that he would love her throughout all eternity. “Eve,” Adam called out to her, speaking softly.
“Leave me alone,” she roared, her voice fierce, shattering the glass in the house. “I’m talking to Sullivan.”
Adam made a move to stand and Eve sent a volt of pure electrical energy toward him. “What the hell,” he roared, this time truly annoyed.
“Adam, I’m talking to Sullivan.”
“Eve, don’t.” Sullivan moved to stand between Eve and Adam.
“Don’t what?” Eve asked, moving away from Sullivan. “Don’t get Adam angry? What will he do? Will he kill someone else? Will you?”
“Eve.” Her name slid from Sullivan like a plaintiff moan.
“There you go… ‘Eveing’ me again. I loved you, Sullivan. I trusted you. You gave me back my life and now you’ve taken away everything else. I was happy with you and could have lived the rest of this wretched existence with you by my side. How am I going to live this life without you?”
That did it for Adam. His blood or not, he was not going to listen to any more of his wife’s pathetic murmurings of love for another man. “Please, Eve, no more, you’re boring me.” He walked toward them and
lasered Mark’s body, incinerating it instantly. He gave a slight shrug as he felt cold hatred washing over him. Surprisingly, it wasn’t coming from Eve, but from Sullivan. The only emotion he sensed from Eve was anger. He paused, suddenly sensing something else, relief. At last, he thought, his wife was happy to be alive whether she admitted it or not. The circle was complete.
He watched as she rounded on Sullivan, putting her arms out to deflect Adam’s rage. He grinned at her and shook his head slowly in amazement.
“So you’ve chosen, Eve.”
“Yes, I’ve chosen.”
Adam stared silently as Eve did a slow half turn in Sullivan’s direction before glaring backwards, her gaze lethal. She was trembling with anger and indignation but her skin was warming from his blood.
Adam had to smile at the irony. If not for him Eve would be dead twice now. He’d given her life. He loved her with every fiber of his being, had loved her forever and had given her this dark gift that she didn’t want. Now she wanted to use his gift to save her lover. If one lived long enough, one saw amazing things and Adam had lived quite long enough. Eve belonged to him. She was his wife, his love, and it was time that she understood that.
“Stop glaring at me, Eve, your disgust will not deter me.” He looked toward Dr Meah. “Doctor, I will not kill you immediately” He shrugged and gave Sullivan a smile. “Nor you, Sullivan. I think I will make you both sweat. Eve suggested it and it does have merits.”
Adam opened his arms wide and looked at the three as a parent would look at his insolent children. “The three of you bear close watching. You try my patience and it tells me I must remain in close contact with the three of you until I can decide what punishment each of you must receive.” He shook a finger as all opened their mouths to protest. “Don’t thank me, not yet,” he said sarcastically.
“Thank you? Adam, you’re crazy.” Eve laughed in genuine amusement, wondering what Adam was planning, trying to probe his mind without detection.
“Haven’t I told you to stop doing that?” Adam locked gazes with Eve and sat in a chair near her. “You make me tired, my love, you truly do. But playtime is over. I will take you home and I will give you one week to rest. Then you will learn to do as you should have done two years
ago. I will no longer trust you to behave like either a vampire or an adult. You will drink if I have to force the fangs from your gums and shove them into a mortal. If I have to I will hold you in place until you’ve fed.” His voice was calm. He sat in his chair and waited for Eve to make the next move.
She’d have to bide her time, play this slowly, pretend that nothing was wrong. Adam was probing her mind. And she’d have to remember to keep up a barrier against his probe. She toppled and nearly fell dismissing the three ready to assist her. “No, don’t,” she moaned. She was the only one in the room who knew her weakness was false. She stared at Adam and saw the weary expression on his face. He didn’t trust her but he loved her beyond all reason. She was his weakness, she was totally aware of that. He had gone quiet, an air of anxious apprehension about him. His probe became stronger and she sent him images of her fainting. He blinked, still not sure, and she was aware that his love for her was clouding his judgment just enough for her to do what she wanted to do.
“There is no reason for you to feel faint, Eve,” Adam said calmly. “I sense deception on your part.”
“No deception, Adam. I just need to take a moment. I’m not used to having so much of your blood in my veins.” She smiled sweetly. It has a powerful kick,” she said and looked into his eyes. “Thanks, and I really do mean that.”
Holding on to the poster of the bed Eve slowly made her way to the head of the bed, trying with all her might not to will the drawer to open, not to demand her crystal to come to her. But this one crystal was a special one she’d prepared many months just for Adam. She had no idea if it would work or not but she knew this much: She had to try. She sat on the bed and sighed heavily in the silent and still room. They were all watching her, that much she knew. Eve leaned her head against the pillow but kept half her body off the bed. She had to time her next move carefully.
“Adam, I do have some thoughts on the lessons that you’re insisting that you’re going to teach me. I will not feed directly from humans. You lied to me when you told me that you wanted your best
scientists to find a means for vampires to live without a need for human blood. But the moment I tried it you became enraged.”
“You were never meant to be a lab experiment.”
“But who better than I?”
“Anyone. Sullivan could have tried the concoction, the good doctor. I don’t care who, just not you.”
“It worked, Adam,” Eve declared, knowing Adam as well as he knew her, and knowing her statement would get a rise out of him. Just as expected, Adam was up from the chair and pacing across the room, sparks of electricity flying from the tips of his fingers. And he wasn’t even trying. Eve shivered, imagining what Adam could do if he were trying. She shivered again. She didn’t have to imagine. She’d seen the power Adam wielded. He’d almost destroyed the world. Adam turned from her and quicker than she could have thought she quietly opened the drawer in the small stand next to her bed and palmed the crystal. The moment she held it Adam turned back to her with a knowing smile.
“So, my beautiful, treacherous wife, you feel you’re well enough to defy me openly.” He smiled. “Did you think it impossible for me to master the parlor tricks you’ve learned?”
“They are no tricks, Adam, they are my birthright,” she said, standing.
“Then perhaps they’re mine also for your magic has no effect on me, nor do your crystals.” Adam took a stone from his pocket and held it in the palm of his hand. He tossed it to Eve. “Go ahead, try.”
“Will you do as I asked and spare Dr. Meah and Sullivan?” Eve said, taking the conversation into Adam’s mind to keep it private. She palmed the stone Adam tossed her.
“There is no guarantee that I will. I might and then again I might not.” Adam gave her a hard look and narrowed his gaze. “Half the time even I’m unaware of what I might do. So, I’m afraid I can’t give you any promises, my love.”
“And you’re determined to force me to drink directly from humans? I can’t change your mind?”
Eve laughed but hers was a laugh of supreme conviction. She glanced down at the crystal Adam had given her before tossing it on the bed. She smiled as she stared into the eyes of her husband. Determination
fueled her spine as she walked with strength and stood directly before Adam. “One last chance, Adam, don’t make me do this.”
“Go ahead, baby, take your best shot.”
“Remember, you asked for this.” She cocked her head a tiny bit to the left. “Remember, I’m just doing as you asked.”
Adam Omega, Grand Master Vampire, be gone now from my sight. Let your very essence be sealed in flight. Go now to a time and place before I ever looked upon your face.”
Eve smiled and pointed the crystal that was in her palm toward Adam, who was looking at her as though she were crazy. There was not a trace of fear in him, but she’d not expected there to be. What did the great Adam Omega have to fear from his fledgling of a vampire wife, or of the powers of the ages that ran through her bloodline? He didn’t fear her and that was to Eve’s advantage. “Are you sure, Adam, that you want me to take my best shot?”
“Do it,” Adam said calmly, the softness in his tone speaking volumes. He waited patiently.
Then Eve raised her hand and clapped three times. And just like that Adam was gone. Eve waited for a moment to see if her incantation had really worked. She didn’t sense Adam. She tried to connect with him in her mind and couldn’t. She laughed. It had worked. She’d sent the great vampire back in time.
Sullivan and Dr. Meah were staring at her. For a long moment neither moved. Then Sullivan touched her. “Eve,” he called to her. “What did you do? Where’s Adam?”
“I don’t really know. I sent him back into the past but I can’t tell you how far back, not really.”
“Since when could you send anyone into the past?”
“Since never,” Adam answered as he appeared back in the room. He walked up to Eve, opened her hand and removed the crystal. He arched a brow. “Really, Eve, did you think it was going to be that easy? You should know you can’t just put a hex on a vampire. And especially not on me. You wouldn’t be able to do it even if I were asleep. I’m protected.”
Eve stared at him. “What if you weren’t protected? Do you think it would work? Would I be able to send you away?”
“That really doesn’t sound like what should be coming from your mouth. I should be hearing about your gratitude and your words of love.”
“Didn’t I say thank you?” She gave a short laugh. “Thank you, Adam. I’m grateful. I would be more grateful if you’d stop threatening everyone. This was all a mistake. The fault was mine.”
At her words Adam’s head snapped up and without trying, his eyes became red. He walked away from the woman he loved, circled the room, picking up objects and tossing them to the floor. No rage was involved; it was simply annoyance. His emotions were raw, too raw to engage in a battle of wills with his wife. There was one thing she had wrong. She was not to blame. The fault was his. He took in a deep breath, expelling it slowly.
“The fault was not entirely yours, Eve. Yes, you should have fed as I ordered and no, you should not have mixed chemicals. Still, some of the blame is mine.” He moved toward her, allowing the red haze to leave. Adam reached his hand out to touch her, felt her tremble and then felt the burn from the amber ring. He closed his eyes and drew Eve into his arms. As his arms closed around her he breathed in her essence. “I don’t know what I would have done if you had died. You gave me quite a scare. I have to admit that,” he whispered.
“I know,” Eve answered, holding him tightly, closing her eyes to block out the sadness in Sullivan’s eyes as he watched them. This moment was not for fighting, but for telling the truth for once. She loved Adam Omega. And she was glad to be alive.