Although she’s willing to give him a gift of her blood, Rafaela also has no qualms about telling him when he’s had enough. Dirk has very little self-control in most things, but Rafaela is his addiction of choice.
“Enough! Leave more for later.”
“Why?” he gasped. “You never—”
“Merry Christmas, my love. I had no other gift for you.”
“This is the best gift,” he moaned as his climax neared.
“The best,” she agreed.
They came together with a loud scream. Collapsing on the bed, they laughed as they struggled to pull up the blankets. Both sweaty, they suddenly felt cold in the cool bedroom. Snuggling together, they kissed deeply.
“Thank you, Rafaela. That was a great gift. Alas, I have nothing for you.”
Her fingers stroked him under the covers. “Yes, you do. I’ll take this in abundance.”
Dirk chuckled, pulling her closer. “And I’ll gladly give it as often as you want. Why do we have to be who we are?” he asked, not for the first time. “Why couldn’t we have met and fallen in love without all the inconvenience?”
“Believe me, I’ve asked the universe that question more than once.” Rafaela put her head on his chest, resting her cheek over his heart. The steady thudding comforted her and let her fool herself into believing he was still a human—even for a short time. “You never told me how you were turned,” she whispered.
“I must have.”
“Nope. I’d remember something like that.”
He sighed, rubbing her arm. “Are you sure? It’s not a pretty story.”
“They never are, my love.”
Dirk kissed her forehead. “No, they never are.” He inhaled slowly.
For a moment, Rafaela thought he wouldn’t tell her, but with another deep breath, he began. His voice was so quiet, she strained to hear.
“My kind are attracted to discord and violence. Where blood runs, we’re in the thick of it. We love wars for our kills can go unheeded among the many dead. So it was in April of 1862 when the battle at Shiloh took place. My father wasn’t landed gentry, nor was he slave owner. We had a small holding nearby, and my father, brothers and I went to defend our home.
“I wasn’t trained as a soldier, but I did what I could against the enemy. Little by little, they pushed us back, until suddenly there was a breach in our defenses. We fell back, many dying to ball and bayonet. I was closest to the breach. My family and I lost each other in the battle. A man leaped at me, face frenzied, eyes black as night. He tackled me, sunk his teeth into my neck and drained me dry. I fought him, kicking and biting as I might. . . .”
“And you tasted his blood.”
“I did. Just a drop of the vile brew was all I needed. He left me for dead and went on to rip the throats from my father and two of my four brothers. Another he turned on purpose. The last, youngest, he left unscathed. To this day, I don’t know why. I lay there, unable to move, until the battle was over. I think I passed out from blood loss. When I woke, a medic knelt over me. I could see the vein throbbing in his neck and smelled blood, for he was covered in it. None of it his, but it didn’t matter. He died horribly. I think his death bothers me most of any.”
“More than my family’s?”
Dirk nodded. “I regret that too, Ella. Truly, I do. But at least they knew what I was.”
“They had no chance. You killed them in their sleep!”
Eyes closed, he drew a shuddering breath. “And I regret that too. When will you forgive me for something so long in the past?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps never.”
He chuckled a moment. “That’s one of the things I love most about you. Your tenacity.”
Rafaela kissed him deeply, tasting her blood on his mouth. “I think I forgave you long ago, Dirk. But I can’t forget.”
“No, I suppose not. Would it help to know that it wasn’t personal? I didn’t actually know they were your kin. I was sent by the leader of my coven.”
“Why? What was the point of targeting my family? They were innocent.”
“Because they were the family of a Hunter. It mattered little who they were. I did as I was told, like a good little soldier. I’m sorry. Had I known who they were, I wouldn’t ever have done it.”
“Don’t you think he sent you because he knew about us?”
“I didn’t at the time, but, yes. I’m sure he did. Which is why I killed him a few years later.”
“Good. Saved me having to.”
Dirk’s hands caressed her, tracing the curves of her voluptuous figure. It was obvious he was done talking. Since it suited Rafaela, she obliged him by fondling him in return.
© Dellani Oakes 2105