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Despite the fact that the guards outside the room have surely heard the wall crashing in, and we should be acting fast to evacuate, I can't quite stop kissing Pierce. I mean, just wow! Though I have no experience at this at all, I have a feeling the guy is really, really good at it. Even my toes are melting. I'm running my hands over his biceps, which are like iron beneath his plaid shirt-my favorite. It still smells faintly of seawater. I know I should be asking about where he's been, about the vision in the scrying lamp, about working for my dad, but all those things will have to wait. I think I might have moaned a little just now.

"Ahem." It's the mermaid in the next room. "We hate to interrupt whatever is going on in there, but ..."

Neptune's Beard! I need to stop kissing Pierce! The angel chorus will have to wait. Pierce's lips quiver against my mouth. I can tell he's trying not to laugh.

I pull away. This can only mean ... "Are you reading my mind again, vampire?" I think at him.

"Perhaps," he says.

"It's been more than 24 hours since you had my blood." I think I might have whined a little bit when I said that out loud.

"I saved some for dessert."

"Ew! That's disgusting. I don't even want to know where you stored my blood." Even as I'm saying this, my body flushes with excitement over the memory of Pierce biting my neck. I might even have cocked my head to make my neck a little more accessible. Ugh! I step back.

"If a vampire could blush, Waverly Marie Fishwater, I would be the color of ..."

"Blood?"

"I was going to say the rapturous color of the sky over the ocean at sunrise. And I cannot take your blood right now, mermaid, as much as I'd like to." He eyes my neck and licks his lips. Because mermaids heal so fast, I know there is no, um, evidence of his, um, previous encounter with my jugular. "You cannot fathom the self-control it takes not to overindulge."

"Ahem. Mermaid being held in captivity in a tank over here."

"Oh right, sorry." I really do need to be able to concentrate on more than one thing at a time. "We'll discuss this later, vampire."

He grins. The nerve. And kisses me so softly, like a feather brushing my lips. Stop, Waverly! Concentrate. We need to get out of here before the guards arrive! Right now!

"Pierce," I say out loud. "We need to move quickly and rescue the merfolk being held prisoner in the next room. The humans have been extricating their tears with that horrible machine you found me in. The humans called it a Lachrystractor. It uses pain to make merfolk cry, then harvests their tears to make Elixir of the Sea, a product they're going to sell to make a fortune. It stops humans from aging."

"Don't worry, Wave. I'm putting out a repulsing energy field. Should hold off the guards for a few more minutes. And with regard to the chair in question ... Pierce kicks the chair with enormous force. It dislodges from the bolts holding it to the floor and hits the ceiling. It drops to the floor and explodes. Shards of glass and twisted metal fly everywhere. Nothing hits me because Pierce has pushed me to the white tiled floor and is using his body as a shield.

"Uh, oh," says Pierce.

"What?"

"Someone's coming." He leaps off and pulls me to standing.

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