Chapter Twenty-Two

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Luke hadn't meant to fall asleep. When Kiara drifted off, he just wanted to watch her. But his whole body was screaming exhaustion, both from the abuse it had taken and the effort the healing process took. 

When he woke up, Kiara was still nestled against his chest. Luke blinked. He felt different, somehow stronger, wilder. It took him a moment to realise what it was - Kiara's blood pumping through him. He licked his lips, savouring her sweet deliciousness. Blood-drinking was pleasurable to all vampires, but he'd never guessed anything could taste as exquisite as Kiara's blood.  

It was pitch-dark in the cavern of duvet she'd created but Luke's keen vision could decipher Kiara's face. Relaxed in sleep, her golden hair spilling round her shoulders, she looked like an angel. A blood-spattered warrioress. The mark of his fangs was red and sore on the smooth line of her neck. 

Emotion swelled through him. Kiara hadn't even hesitated to cross that barrier, not if it meant helping him. Just when he thought he knew her, she did something new to amaze him and make him fall in love with her all over again. 

His gaze drifted back to Kiara's neck. The twin holes stood out starkly on her throat. He wanted to taste her again, to sink his fangs into her soft skin... 

Luke froze. He was bending over Kiara, his face inches away from her neck. The scent of her skin was like sweet honeysuckle, enticing him in. His mouth opened, fangs straining.  

He pulled back so hard he almost jolted Kiara awake. There was a thudding in his chest and a roaring in his ears as he realised what he had been about to do. He'd known this could be dangerous before he bit her. Human blood was far more potent and addictive than animal blood, and since he'd never tasted it before he had no idea what might do to him. He might even hurt Kiara. The thought hit him like Caleb's crossbow bolts. Luke's gaze flicked to the door. He could leave now, sneak out while Kiara was sleeping and then her sweet blood couldn't be there to tempt him.  

He reached out with a trembling hand to touch her face. Even in sleep she responded to him, nuzzling into his palm, her lips curving in a slight smile. The left side of her mouth was swollen and bruised where Caleb had kicked her. She was so beautiful but so breakable, like bone china. If he tried taking her blood again he could hurt her, maybe even - 

Luke shook his head, clearing away the cobwebs of dark thought. What was he thinking? This was Kiara. He could never hurt her. It didn't matter how much her blood called to him; there was no addiction in the world powerful enough to make him forget how he felt about her.  

As if she could somehow sense the force of his love, Kiara stirred in his arms. Her eyes opened, blinking sleepily up at him. 

"Hi," she whispered. 

Luke lowered his head to kiss her. 

"Mmmm." She snuggled against him, her body soft and warm. "I see you're feeling better." 

"Thanks to you." 

Kiara stretched up to embrace him. Her hand touched the crossbow bolts still sticking out of his shoulder, and a grimace creased her face. "I forgot about those." 

"They don't hurt anymore," Luke told her. That was a lie; the bolts twinged sharply every time he moved but Kiara had more than her fair share of panic and worry this morning.  

Kiara wriggled upright, dismantling the duvet cavern. "How long have we been asleep?" There was a note of panic in her voice. 

"Not long. Maybe an hour. Why?" 

"I left Caleb's car round by the back of the house. I've got to move it before someone gets home." 

She scrambled across him and out of bed. Suddenly Luke was very aware that she was just wearing a bra. Her skin gleamed pale in the shadowed room.  

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