17 and up Language and Adult Situations
Sinners in the Dark New Adult Paranormal Romance
March 25th, 2016
If he called her Buffy one more time, she’d knee him in the family jewels. She detested being at someone else’s mercy. She hadn’t needed anyone’s help to stay alive since her family’s death, which had been years ago. How was she supposed to turn over that kind of control, even if it meant her life?
“You keep throwing in my face that you govern whether I live or die. It makes you a sick, sadistic bastard, just like I always thought you were.”
Either her words didn’t affect Echo, or his acting skills surpassed any other actor’s. He just sat in the chair, facing her. Watching her.
Via’s legs would hold her up only for a few more moments before she tumbled to the ground. Reaching out, she steadied herself with a shaking hand. “You like being in control, don’t you?” Egging him on was most definitely stupid, but anger overruled common sense. He’d thrown some hard hits at her, alluding to her past and freaking comparing her to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Eh, the latter wasn’t so bad, but the first was something akin to a physical blow to the gut. “You like this? Seeing me at my worst?”
She flinched when Echo shot up and moved in a blur of motion, ending up directly in front of her. His face distorted in anger. “You think I like you when you are weak and whining like a bitter child?” He rammed his hands against the wall beside her head so hard it shuddered and plaster cracked, trapping her where she stood. “This is your fault and no one else’s. Don’t you forget that!” he bellowed.
Via’s anger was not to be outdone. “My fault that you’re a sadist—”
“Finish that fucking word, Via, and I will show you how sadistic I can truly be.” His accent nearly garbled his words, which only happened when Echo was roaring to kill.
He grabbed a fistful of her hair, and Via’s instincts kicked in. She tried to knee Echo in the balls, but he deflected her weak blow with his knee and a hard grunt. Echo leaned into her, using his weight to hold her immobile. He squeezed his fist in her hair when she struggled. Normally, Via would have no trouble getting free, but her body wasn’t responding the way she needed it to. When she wanted to move away, Echo’s body offered support; when she wanted to scream, he tightened his hand in her hair and that goddamned blood connection kept her heart thundering.
Echo placed his warm lips on Via’s ear and whispered, “Tell me, my little vampire slayer, are you used to having people treat you like a broken princess? Stepping on eggshells around the tortured orphan?” He grabbed one of her wrists with his other hand and clenched his fist in her hair, yanking the strands.
Via tried in vain to untangle his fingers from her head. She shook her head in disbelief. “A princess?” What kind of royalty am I? Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov? After what happened to her parents, it made sense. Only she survived the massacre. In the end, it was discovered Anastasia hadn’t truly survived at all. She and Via had quite a lot in common as she was dead inside.
“That’s what I asked.”
“No, they have never treated me that way, and you know it.”
“Bullshit!” He leaned away. “Back at HQ, they all walk on eggshells around you. Muttering under their breaths, ‘Poor, sad Via. She lost her mommy and daddy.’”
Some of the fight left her, though not at the mention of her parents. She was unable to deny her body’s plea for rest. “To hell with you, dhamp.”
He gave her a scornful look that spoke volumes of anger and disappointment even as he lessened his hold on her. “No, little girl. You did this to yourself. You let your hate blind you to the shit right in front of your face. You aren’t as big and tough as you think you are, and if you don’t take more of my blood, you will die.”
Being brave isn’t synonymous for being stupid, you know only my blood can heal you. Unless you know another dhampir willing to save your life after all the shit you talk about them—” Echo released her hair and clutched her face, which ensured she looked nowhere but in his eyes. “And, Via, I won’t fight for your life. That’s your job. Take more of my blood and live, or go the fuck away.” Echo pushed away from her, and Via used the wall to steady herself.
She searched her mind for something to throwback at him—something personal that would cut deep the way he’d just cut her—but because she knew so little about him, she came up empty. “You just want to be able to see in my head and use shit against me. I know what you’re about . . . complete and utter control.” She raised her chin rebelliously. “I’m your partner, remember? I’m trained to sense these things about you.”
Echo laughed and rubbed his hands together. “Yep, but if you are strong and smart enough, you’ll realize you can do that same shit right back to me.”
Her eyes widened in surprise and disbelief. “Bullshit!” she shot out, though she hoped he wasn’t lying. She didn’t know as much about the blood connection as she should have, solely because she’d spent her time studying dhampirs’ and vampires’ fighting habits and staying far away when they were feeding or mating.
Echo shrugged. “Whatever, Via, but make a choice or get out. I’m sick of this shit.” He strolled to the bed and sat down. “I was planning a nice nap when your bleeding ass so rudely interrupted my plans.” Echo kicked off his shoes and pulled his shirt over his head.
Via took in the massive expanse of his side and chest, including the scars and tattoos. Bullet wounds, knife slashings, and razor whips created their own brand of tattoos across his back. Clinging to the wall for whatever support it offered, she glanced away, but not before seeing the strange words inked across Echo’s muscled back as he turned away from her. She couldn’t read Cyrillic, but many Orthodox Slavic countries still used the symbols.
She’d never asked Echo about his origins, but rumors had spread throughout the Sect the day he arrived. She wondered about his age more than anything else. If the rumors were right, Echo was born in the eighteenth century. Still, that didn’t make him super strong, or give him a one-up on younger dhampirs. She’d learned that dhampirs acquired extra strength by a healthy supply of blood and, like any human, exercise. More powerful than the average human, a dhampir’s strength only grew if he or she honed it.
Glancing back at Echo, who was still facing away from her and pulling the covers off the bed, Via knew he’d been working at it. His muscles held definition without being overwhelming, his legs were solid and powerful, and his biceps, though not gargantuan, looked as if they’d taken time and care to create. She observed him in fights, and though he wasn’t her partner by choice, Via like to believe that Austin had placed his two best fighters together for a reason.
Echo regarded her over his shoulder. A sly smile graced his lips. “How long you planning on staring?”
Via straightened as best she could and turned away. She listened as Echo climbed onto the bed.
“You can stay for a day, two tops, if you let me give you the proper amount of blood to heal you and cleanse your blood faster. But you have to stay here. My blood is not on the take-out menu.” He chuckled at his own corny ass joke.
However, Via was not in a joking mood. She truly believed Echo would use their blood connection to convince her to sleep with him. And at the moment, she wasn’t sure if she was strong enough to deny him. “I’m not sleeping in the same bed as you.”
He didn’t seem annoyed or offended as he answered, “I have a bedroom down the hall. Sleep there.” He patted the spot beside him on the bed. “Come here. We’ll do it here.” Via cocked a brow, and Echo laughed. “We will exchange blood here.”
She took in the sight of Echo sprawled out on the bed, waiting for her. Via clutched her stomach as a burning need bloomed within her. “You said—”
“You want this to be even, yes?” His accent thickened, giving his words a harsh gravelly sound.
“What’s with the accent all of a sudden?” she asked to stall for time. “It’s not normally that thick.”
Echo rolled his eyes then lay back. “I’ve always been from Ukraine, and I’ve always had an accent.”
“Yeah, but not so thick.”
He placed his arms behind his head. “It’s thick when I’m annoyed or,” he opened an eye and observed Via, placing a hand on his crotch, “horny. Now get over here. I can see in your eyes that you are getting weaker. We need to give my blood time to take root and negate the poison’s effect.”