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Success. I turned back to my sandwich, only to find that it wasn't there anymore. Maybe because it had been hijacked. 'Give me that!' I told the vamp, who was holding it firmly against his chest, a determined look on his face. 'What ees zat?' he demanded, eyeing my prize. 'Cheese.' I held it up. 'Zat ees not cheese.' 'How do you know?' 'Eet is orange.' 'A lot of cheese is orange.' 'Non! No cheese ees that color. Cheese comes from zee milk. Zee milk, eet ees white. When 'ave you seen milk that looks like zat?' I held up the square of little slices and pointed at the bold-faced label. 'Processed American Cheese.' He snatched the package, without letting go of his hostage. And eyed it warily. 'Eet says 'cheese food.'' He looked up, obviously perplexed. 'What ees thees? Zee cheese, it does not eat.
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Aw, fudge, ' floated down to me, as a couple of golden eyes peered over a third-floor window ledge. 'You're a freaking dhampir. Why are you reading Tolkien?' I shrugged, then had to dodge the potted geranium he threw at me. 'After five hundred years, you've read just about everything. Besides, he had hella world-building skills.
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I'm beginning to sense a theme, ' Mircea said, tossing his suit coat over a buckskin-covered chair. A moose head with huge, outspread antlers loomed over it, its bright glass eyes looking oddly lifelike in the low light. Mircea took in the room, his expression slightly repulsed yet fascinated. 'I believe there is only one thing to say at this point.' What's that?' Yee haw, ' he said gravely, and took me down like a rodeo calf.
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How did you hear about that?' 'Are you kidding me? So far, I had that runt Kyle-' 'I hate him. I hate all vamps. That complete toad, Michael-' '-tell me you were pregnant by a vamp-' 'kidnnaped me and-Kyle said WHAT?' 'and then a member of the Domi shows up and informs me-' 'The Domi sent someone HERE?' '-that you're actually pregnant by the late king of the Fey.' 'Late?!' Heidar squeaked.
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I remember watching an old Dracula movie once with Alphonse and having him laugh himself sick at the sight of a vamp only a few days out of the grave supposedly raising another one.He'd been impossible for weeks afterwards, mercilessly teasing all the weaker vamps in court about the three-day-old baby that was more powerful than them.
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Louis-Cesare and Ray were in trouble. I could tell because I could see them, not clearly, but in fits and starts, little glimmers like a couple of ghosts, if ghosts made "oh shit" faces on the one hand agitated French gestures on the other. And that sort of shit wasn't going to go unnoticed for long. Aaaaand it didn't.
What bug crawled up your ass?" I demanded. "If you mean, why I am upset? I should think that would be obvious!" It took me a second, but I got it. "Oh, come on. You're not still pissed about-you did the same damn thing to me!" He had the utter gall to look offended. "I did nothing of the sort-" I stared at him. "And just how do you figure that? You stripped me butt naked, diddled me over a desk and stole my duffel bag. And my clothes!" Somebody made a choking sound. I glanced up to find the door to the study open, and the old vamp looking scandalized. "Diddled?" Anthony asked, apparently delighted. Mircea closed his eyes.
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He smiled at that, and then his gaze shifted to a spot over my shoulder and it faded. 'These doubts wouldn't have anything to do with the company you're keeping of late, would they?' I didn't get a chance to answer before the shop door was thrown open and a furious war mage stomped in. Pritkin spotted me and his eyes narrowed. 'You shaved my legs?!' Mircea looked at me and folded his arms across his chest. I looked from one unhappy face to the other and suddenly remembered that I had somewhere else to be.
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I dodged behind Mac for cover and refused to take the bait. I glanced at my nonexistent watch. 'Oops, look at the time. Guess I have to be going now. Let's not do this again sometime, okay?' Before I could move, Pritkin was there, jamming the medallion into the skin of my upper arm.'Ow!'He looked at me expectantly. I glared at him. 'That hurt!' What do you see?' A big red mark,
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Dorina?" Louis Cesare's voice was loud in my ear. The one I had squeezed against the phone, which was squeezed against my sore shoulder, becuase I was using both hands to keep Ray's point in his pants. "The fey, damm it!" I told him. "They're for the fey!" "Which one?" Louis Cesare asked, his voice going velvety soft. "All of them- No Ray! Ray, cut it out!" "All of them?
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I moved to assist, but never got the chance. there was some pretty violent banging for a minute, and then a tearing sound. Finally the stall door flew open, and Ray's shirtless body emerged and started bitch-slapping everything in sight. His aim was off, probably due to the difficulty of having his eyes on the other side of the room, but he made up for it with sheer determination.
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Pritkin, it's a hotel room, not a death trap!' A glance over his shoulder showed him impatient blue eyes under a fall of messy blond curls. 'Anyway, you're here.' 'I can't protect you from everything, ' he forced himself to say, because it was true. It was also frankly terrifying in a way that his own mortality was not. He'd never had children, but he sometimes wondered if this was how parents felt when catching sight of a fearless toddler confidently heading toward a busy street. Not that his charge was a child, as he was all too uncomfortably aware. But the knowledge of just how many potentially lethal pitfalls lay in her path sometimes caused him that same heart-clenching terror. And the same overwhelming need to throw her over his lap and spank the living daylights out of her, he thought grimly, when she suddenly popped out of existence. 'Cassie!
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Aw, fudge,' floated down to me, as a couple of golden eyes peered over a third-floor window ledge. 'You're a freaking dhampir. Why are you reading Tolkien?' I shrugged, then had to dodge the potted geranium he threw at me. 'After five hundred years, you've read just about everything. Besides, he had hella world-building skills.
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I turned over, and those big hands got to work on my back. I stifled a whimper in the pillow, because Marco's idea of a massage bore no resemblance whatsoever to the relaxing spa variety. There was no lavender oil, no soothing music, no hot towels. Just an all-out assault on cramped muscles, until they cowered in surrender and turned to Jell-O.
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I'm fine," I told him tersely. "Of course you are. You're one of the strongest people I know." It took me a second to process that, because he'd said it so casually. Like he was talking about the weather or what time it was. Only Pritkin didn't say things like that. His idea of a compliment was a nod and to tell me to do whatever it was I'd just done over again. Like that was usually possible. But that had sounded suspiciously like a compliment to me.
you gotta think it's a waste of""" "Ray!" I glanced around, but there was nobody within earshot. "Well, excuse me if I'm not used to buying condoms for aliens," he said more softly. "They're not aliens." "Well, they're not human. I mean, they could have anything under those tunics, you know?
My new 9mm didn't fit my hand as well as my old one, but it was rapidly becoming a familiar weight. At first I'd decided it was okay to wear as long as I shot only at supernatural bad guys who were already shooting at me. Lately, I'd had to broaden that definition to anytime my life was in danger. I was currently leaning toward a slightly more comprehensive rule somewhere between proactive self-defense and the-bastards-had-it-coming, which, if I survived long enough, I intended to blame on my deranged partner rubbing off on me.
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He shook me, and despite it being one-handed, it made my teeth rattle. "If anything like that ever happens again. You. Leave. Me. Behind. Do you understand?" I would have argued, but I was feeling a little shocky for some reason. "I'm not good at abandoning people," I finally said. A front-desk person scurried over, first-aid kit in hand, but Pritkin snarled at the poor guy and he quickly backed up a step. "Then get good at it!" He stomped off, limping, one shoulder hanging at an odd angle. "You're welcome," I murmured.
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Laura won't hurt you," I said, wrestling him for control. "She's one of the sweetest ghosts I ever met. She just likes to play." "Yeah, I bet. With my bones, if I had any!" "She isn't like that!" "Sure. 'Cause when the innocent little girl shows up in a horror flick, it's always a good thing!
My body cheerfully informed me that he felt really good pressed against me like that, all hard muscles and smooth contours and ominous bulges. My body liked the air of barely leashed strength and caged mayhem he was giving off. My body thought he smelled really good, like heat and coffee and electricity. My body was going to get me killed.
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My one-time roommate Claire had inherited the house from her uncle, and when she went off to bigger and better things, she'd left it in my care. And it needed a lot of it. Most importantly, it needed a new roof. There was a worrying stain on the ceiling of my bedroom that had started out roughly the shape of Rhode Island, but now looked more like North Carolina. Another few more days of rain and it was going to be Texas. And then it wouldn't be anything at all because the battered old shingles were going to cave in on my head.
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I'm beginning to sense a theme," Mircea said, tossing his suit coat over a buckskin-covered chair. A moose head with huge, outspread antlers loomed over it, its bright glass eyes looking oddly lifelike in the low light. Mircea took in the room, his expression slightly repulsed yet fascinated. "I believe there is only one thing to say at this point." What's that?" Yee haw," he said gravely, and took me down like a rodeo calf.
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They'll have to eat first. And by the time they're finished, you'll be back." "With the condoms." "Right." "For the giant orgy you're convinced we're about to have in the backyard." "Dory! Just go!" "I'll go with," Ray said, getting up. "I need a snack." Which was how I ended up condom shopping with a vampire.
The Circle had been less than thrilled by its choice, but we'd finally come to terms. As in, they were no longer trying to play Whac-A-Mole with my head. Only now they seemed to think they had the right to make sure that nobody else did, either. That was a problem, because the vampires felt the same way and the Senate didn't share well.
Mircea must have heard us come in, but he continued what he was doing. He stood with his back to us, the candlelight on his bare skin causing his muscles to fall into sharp relief. He'd washed the river gunk out of his hair and now he threw it back, the water droplets shimmering in the light. The scene looked for all the world like a really good romance novel cover.
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Louis-Cesare's anger suddenly filled the small room like water, and in a heartbeat his eyes went from silver tinged to as solid as two antique coins. I sat frozen, awash in a sea of power. I was beginning to understand why Mircea had wanted him along, only Daddy had failed to mention anything about the hair-trigger temper. I guess he assumed the red hair would clue me in.
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My name is Cassie Palmer and I've cheated death more times than anyone has a right to expect. In the last two months, I've been shot, stabbed, beaten and blown up a few dozen times, and that doesn't count all the magical ways I've almost been killed. I'd have been dead a long time ago if not for my friends, one of whom had just jumped off the cliff after me. I'd have been a lot more appreciative if he hadn't pushed me first.
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I couldn't see Pritkin's face very well, just a pale blur against the shadows, but he didn't sound happy. Some people thought he had only one mode... pissed off. In reality, he had plenty of them. Over the past few weeks, I'd learned to tell the difference between real pissed off, impatient pissed off and scared pissed off. I suspected that this was the last kind. If so, that made two of us.