An hour after dusk, the Slayer woke abruptly, sitting up in a quick movement that mirrored the creature next to her and she knew without looking that he had passed the same the time she had. Dreams of betrayal often haunted them. Drake had been there too, was the reason she had survived, and she watched him ease from the box with concern. He was aging despite her gift of blood. Eventually, he would die and that would hurt her. It was the only reason she had been allowed to love him at all. The curse she lived under permitted little else.
A sense of movement in the distance drew her to the shaded window and she opened the blinds with hands that fit perfectly into the groves left by a newly made vampire who hadn’t quite known her own strength. It had made Arron laugh and that memory suddenly floated out of the shadows.
“Easy, Vitori, easy. I can’t keep replacing the furniture.” His sexy chuckle after the scold warmed her face and she turned to him with a young girl’s excited passion.
“Then take me somewhere I can’t hurt anything!” Her golden man had laughed again, delighted by her eagerness to be in his world, and he swept her against his hard chest.
“As you wish.”
Victoria pulled herself back from the haunted images, sensing ghosts lurking, waiting for her to show weakness, and she turned her eye back to the window, to her tracker. She had never seen him but she had known of him for years. He had followed her for most of a decade, with one short, three month span where she had assumed he had tired of the chase or maybe even gotten killed. When he had resumed his following of her, she had refused to name the emotion she felt, scared of it. What did he want? She closed her eyes, sending the sight out and it traveled through the clearing, passed the burning stones and outbuildings rotting in the damp wind, then into the forest, where ancient trees hid things most of the world knew nothing about.
Her tracker was knelt down by a small fire, skinning a freshly killed rabbit with his face turned away from her, and when he did not seem to sense her presence, she edged closer, curious. He was obviously a breed, like her. Why wasn’t he using magic? She watched him spit the hare and place it over the flames and as he moved toward the creek that was the boarder of this property, he finally felt her and stopped. He turned but did not rush out to greet her. He waited silently but she felt his eagerness, his happiness at her interest, and she pulled back quickly, turned from the window. She had things to do.
The Slayer moved through the rooms, working, lightly decorating. She would not stay here long and the only room she did more than the basics to, was her bedroom. Candles flickered, blown about by drafts from closed windows, brooms swept, rags cleaned, and wolf watched with tied eyes until Victoria waved a hand.
“I am fine here. He is no threat tome. Go hunt.”
“Won’t be back tonight.” He growled and while she could feel that he already disliked her tracker, she knew it was the season making him so edgy. Soon, it would consume Drake and then, her.
The wolf was gone a second later, the door closing softly behind him and for a minute, she went along, seeing the land, smelling the people and other creatures like he did and then she drew back, gave him the privacy she demanded. She would miss Drake when he was gone but there was no way she would do it differently. Unless bested, she would live forever. Who would not want that? And yet, there was loneliness in her chest. Would having an apprentice dim that feeling? Surely he was too young to interest her for long. What would he know of love and loss? Of pain? And what was he doing now, this young hunter of old Vampires?
“Ooorrrrriiiii…” A haunted whisper floated through the dusty cabin and she pushed the thought away, ignoring the sound and its owner. Ghosts were the least of her challenges in this mission.
Did it matter? He would come when she allowed him to. Her decision was not yet made, though. She waved a hand that cleaned, changed, adorned. She had not been able to see his markings. Were they of similar design? Not that it mattered much. Apprentices were usually mates as well as students, willing or not. Did she want a different arrangement? Victoria shrugged, hand busy making furniture appear. She would douse those flames when she came to them. Right now, she had a choice to make and she could not do that until she met him.
“You may come.”
“Knock, knock.” She was answered immediately and the door swung open at her silent command, revealing her Tracker.
Black work boots, muscular legs clad in blue jeans, a blue plaid shirt under a half buttoned leather jacket that hung to his lean hips. Full lips over a dark goatee, glossy auburn hair to his wide shoulders, and those eyes! They were the darkest blue she had ever seen, stunning, and glowing with want as he stared back.
Angry thuds and hisses faded into background noise as they looked at each other and a silent spell from Tori banished the haunts to silence so she could concentrate.
Daniel was almost unable to believe he was so close. Dark, hunters robes hid her form but her face was uncovered and he desperately memorized her delicate features, burning the details into his brain. Blood red lips framed by midnight tresses, high cheek bones with dark, arched brows and long, exotic lashes that enclosed the sharp, violet eyes of his dreams. Feeling her displeasure, he tried to hide his need but did not stop his perusal of her. He had never been close enough to see her markings. Long, dark nails, a slender throat, and fragile looking wrists showed him tiny golden jewels, the designs identical to his own twisting serpent. Only the colors were different.
His face gave no reaction but she could sense his surprise, his pleasure. He had not known they were compatible. He had not gotten that close in all his years of following her. Why not? Fear of her, of being slayed? Or was there another reason lurking in those vivid blue eyes?
“Why are you here? Why do you hunt me?” The tone was hard, without weakness, and the fledgling could feel her anger grow at his silence but now that he was here, all his artful words had deserted him. How did he tell this beautiful creature that he was in love with her, had been all his life, and he wanted to serve her in any way she would allow?
Daniel slowly met her eye, trying to convey his feelings, and Victoria steeled herself against the hot, sweet warmth flooding her gut. It was the first desire she had felt in over a decade, other than the season, which came every seven years. They were definitely compatible.
“I wish to serve you.”