Kyle hoped Victor had answers.
He needed to convince Shelby to go back to safety—to return to her career and to Max. He wanted her to live a full rich life and have the children he could never give her. Now he had nothing to offer her except a life with a monster. The only thing important to him was getting her on that next boat out of there and keeping her safe no matter what.
“Dr. Lachlan, you seem preoccupied.” Victor Salazar’s voice brought Kyle back to the present.
Without realizing, he’d walked straight into Victor’s office without knocking on the makeshift door. Kyle had more than one reason to see Salazar. The man might offer a quick solution for getting Shelby out fast.
“I have plenty on my mind right now. Sorry if I’ve been distracted lately.”
“Let us walk where there is privacy.” Salazar said, and fell into step beside him. “Doctor, if you don’t mind me saying so, you look like hell.”
Usually always so polite and correct, Victor's blunt statement shocked him.Kyle stopped walking and grinned, entertained by the frank statement. “No offense taken. I guess I do look pretty ratty. My fiancée didn’t recognize me at first” He ran a hand through the hair he’d tried cutting. By daybreak it had grown back to his shoulders. “I probably should tie this stuff back.” He ran a hand across his chin. “And shave.”
Salazar laughed. “So your Shelby has arrived? I’m sorry I frightened her when I called, but she was your emergency contact. I thought she should know you were missing.”
Kyle liked Victor, the man who ran the makeshift hospital. The other doctor’s voice was deep and rich. He exuded confidence, passing it on to everyone else. Even during the worst of situations he had a way if keeping everyone calm.
“Yes, but… She shouldn’t have come.”
“For now, I’ll leave you with this unsolicited bit of information. Not every jaguar in the jungle is believed to be a shifter. Some jaguars are just what they appear, and as sad as it is to have to kill one...”
Instead of saying anything, Kyle waited for Salazar to finish. He thought the approach was a strange way of fishing for information, besides what would he tell him? His story was preposterous.
“...it’s not the same as killing a human, or is it, Dr. Lachlan?”
He shook his head, not trusting his voice to answer. If only that had been the case.
“In any case, self defense is a necessary action against any deadly predator,” Salazar finished.
“I understand what you mean. But what are you really saying? Do you know more about the shifter story than I’ve been told?" Kyle couldn't do this alone. If someone had information, he'd find a way to get it. "Because I need to know and...I have more to add."
Salazar's poker face gave away only a small tell, so Kyle dropped the bomb. "The jaguar that attacked me was a rogue shifter and it bit me. Julian helped me survive and then again when I went through the shift.”
If he expected the other man to be surprised, Kyle didn't see it in Victor's expression or body language.
The man stared at him a long moment as if inspecting him before he said, “I have been around a long time. If there are any questions I can answer for you I will be willing to try.”
Really? Kyle had a million questions. For one, Victor’s scent was too similar to Amyra’s for him not to question the coincidence. "What do you know of the directress?"
"Amyra? I see.” Salazar’s eyes opened wide, the poker face gone now.
“No. I don’t think you do? Amyra captured me. Do you believe in any of this?”
“Yes, Kyle. I do.”
Salazar seldom used his first name. What did the sudden familiarity between them imply? The whole situation was worrisome. The jungle beyond the perimeter of the camp held secrets the outside world didn't know about. Even after witnessing his own experience, he was in denial. If Salazar took all this in stride, Kyle would be forced to to face reality and believe the unbelievable. The way to uncover the truth was to face it.
“There’s more to my story.”
Kyle filled Salazar in about Amyra as they walked across the compound toward the surgery. The older man remained quiet until Kyje said, “Dr. Salazar, you smell like her.”
“Yes, I suppose I do. Amyra is also my maker.” Salazar stopped walking and met Kyle eye to eye. Victor’s pupils turned into swirling pools of molten silver. “Although I sense a bit of her scent in your blood, at the moment the jaguar is stronger.”
“Then tell me. Does this mean I'm rogue?”
“Rogue? You? No. You must be a born jaguar shifter to go rogue. The vampire bite disagrees with their blood and infects them. But I see how all this does complicate things for you. Are you going to tell your fiancée?”
“Where would I start.” Kyle shook his head.
“She cares about you a great deal. Start from the beginning.”
“That simply? I don't know. Tell me your story. How did she change you?”
“I was a doctor of sorts in ancient Spain where she found me. I had been arrested for heresy, and the race to see if I would burn at the stake or die of the plague in the rat infested prison was closing in on me quickly. Amyra claimed she had need of my gifts for healing. At the time, I was considered something of a mystic. Among others, I had the gift of sight. I read thoughts. She wanted my powers.”
“How did you survive the transmutation without becoming the demon she is?”
“I didn’t—not entirely. I harbor demon characteristics in my blood. When I feel the demon rise from time to time, I temper it. I keep myself satisfied with donor blood, and my old gifts serve me well. Amyra is basically evil and was from the beginning. The demon controls her. Did she tell you how she achieved immortality?”
The bitch was a deadly viper to anyone who didn't serve her evil purposes. “No, but I gathered she killed the King, her husband, to attain it.”
“Yes, him and thousands of others over the long years. Hers is a very long story.” Victor spit the words out, full of venom and distaste.
“She’ll be coming for me at sundown to feed. I haven’t been able to shift since that first night. I believe it’s because she’s kept me too weak.”
“You are correct.”
“I’m worried. If I can’t keep her out of my head, how can I protect Shelby?”
“Slow down. Do not worry about the young woman. I will make sure she is safely out of here on the first boat in the morning. You can watch over her during the night. After she is gone, I will find donors to feed you without Amyra knowing. You must drink from the vein to gather your strength. Bagged blood won’t work to strengthen you enough to fight her.”
Kyle's insides turned. The idea of drinking blood no longer disgusted him, but the ramifications of what he'd become suddenly hit him like a lightning bolt. His life as he knew it was over. “Victor, I don’t think I can handle all this.”
“You can with training and my assistance. But for your safety and mine, you must not think about our plan or reveal what we do when you are with anyone else.”
“I know how to handle blocking Amyra from my thoughts if I concentrate. I just worry about anyone else being able to do the same.”
“Trust me. I’ve learned what to divulge to Amyra and what to hold back. What about your Shelby?”
“I’ve convinced her that I don’t want her anymore. If Amyra reads her mind, she’ll only see what I’ve managed to plant in Shelby’s thoughts today. It’s killing me to hurt her like this.”
“Sad, but necessary. Then she will be safe. Excellent.”
“Safe, but broken. The pain on her face when she looks at me twists my soul. I’ve hurt and disappointed her. There’s no hope for us with me like this and her... Well, she wants children and a normal life. What can I offer her now?”
“Perhaps later, you will tell her the truth and allow her to decide.” Salazar held up one finger. “But not yet. For her own safety you were right to make her believe you are finished with her.”
“I hate this!" Kyle ran a hand through his hair. "I can't allow anything to happen to her.”
There was so much he wanted to tell Shelby, but Victor was right, the only hope he had of protecting her would be by keeping her out of it. Her safety wasn’t a fair trade for her feelings.
“Heart break is nothing compared to the pain and suffering of Amyra’s torture techniques—as I believe you may well know, my dear friend.” Victor squeezed his shoulder.
“Tonight Amyra will come and expect me to feed from her. She’ll take my blood, too.” He covered his face with both hands and shook his head. “I don’t want Shelby to see that.”
He didn’t expect Shelby to stay by his side, not now that he was this monster and out of control, but if there was a remote possibility for hope in the future, that chance would end the minute she saw him with Amyra. No woman would ever understand or forget what appeared to be an erotic sexual encounter fueled by blood.
Added to the sensual nature of feeding from one another, he wasn’t sure he could control the new monster within him the way Victor could. He needed time and training.
“What is it Amyra really wants from me?”
“That is obvious. She wants your power. As she ages, she seeks unusual humans to share her blood with in order to strengthen her own. You are a jaguar shifter now, and she wants that power. Before she can assimilate the jaguar's essence, you must be vampire. She had to turn you. Even though she drank from you before, she wasn’t able to take on your true nature. Once you turned vampire, your blood provided her with what she needed to attain the jaguar gift.”
“So the blood she’s been taking since I transmuted to vampire five days ago, is strengthening her?”
“Yes. She is taking on the catlike qualities.”
“And yet she only lets me drink small amounts from her.”
“You need human blood to feed the jaguar. She’s starving you with her blood in order to keep you weak on purpose. I wonder why?”
“Because I struck a bargain with her. When I agreed to drink from her, she vowed to release me from her control at the end of one month. The way she gets me to drink from her is by making me believe only her blood can provide the strength I need to survive.”
Salazar’s laugh sounded sardonic. “The woman is devious. Her blood is useless. It weakens your jaguar and the jaguar is what you need for strength. The only thing capable of fueling the jaguar is human blood. The cat can hold back the demon in you.” Salazar tapped Kyle’s chest. “Always remember you are first of all human, and human blood will keep the demon from gaining power over you.”
Victor put a large hand on his shoulder. “Come with me. I have friends who will help if it means there’s hope of stopping the dark one.”
“What do you mean?” Kyle asked as he followed Victor into the jungle along an invisible path through dense underbrush and hanging vines.
“She weakens as she ages.” They paused along the path, and Victor listened to the voices up ahead. “We will find you a human host, and I will guide you through your first feeding.”
“I don’t know.” Kyle gripped Victor’s arm. “What if I can’t hold back?”
“You forget. I am at full power. I can stop you, boy.” Victor grinned and cocked a brow in the direction of the voices. “Hear the heart beats? Smell that? Pure human blood. You will still be weak after one feeding. I will be able to control you and so will Amyra. But it will be enough to keep the demon at bay and each time you feed, you will become stronger.”
“Why are you doing this—helping me?”
“There is only so much I can do against my maker. I believe when you are at full force you may hold the power to control her. At least you may prevent her from taking more of your power, and she will weaken.”
“Ha! I doubt it. I’d have to be as ruthless as she is to defeat her, and I haven’t fallen that low, yet.”
“We will see, doctor. Over the long years, I have seen what men will do out of necessity to save themselves or ones they love. Don’t underestimate yourself or your abilities. You are smart and quick. And good is always stronger than evil.”
Kyle let the moment of hope fill him. There was a bit of light filtering through his darkness. If he could access the power of a vampire and the ability to shift as the jaguar with the aid of human blood, maybe Victor was right. “She must have weaknesses. Isn’t that why she needs me?”
“Yes, and I will tell you what they are.” Victor clapped Kyle on the back and said, “Our volunteers are just up ahead.”
Hola, amigos, he shouted, and then Victor went on, gesturing between the men and Kyle. He spoke in the native dialect. Kyle couldn’t make out more than a word or two here or there, but it wasn’t necessary since he already knew where the conversation was headed.
One heavily muscled man said something and waved him forward. Victor explained, “He wants us to follow him. He is the one who will allow you to drink from his vein.”
As they entered a closed hut, Kyle asked, “A man?”
“The man’s blood is stronger, and he is more resilient. He will build up his blood supply again more readily than a female. And he will not risk his women to one who is newly turned.”
“He’s afraid I’ll hurt them.” Kyle made the statement and nodded. He understood the man’s concern.
Kyle had his own.
After experiencing the unbridled arousal that feeding caused, he was wary of taking blood from a man. He wondered whether he’d be sexually aroused by drinking the man’s blood, and if he was, where that would lead.
“You will drink from his wrist. If you are worried about the act being sexual, as you’ve only experienced with Amyra, there are other pleasurable experiences you can substitute. The satisfaction of a job well done, a good turn, a delicious meal. Send your thoughts to your host and share a different type of pleasure.”
Kyle nodded and smiled his appreciation to the man who would be his host. “Gracias, mi amigo, ” he said, and asked Victor, “How do we proceed?”
“Have the man sit in the chair. You can do it with a mental command. He is relaxed because I’ve assured him I will watch over you, and he is easily susceptible to your suggestions. Go ahead.”
Kyle did as he was told, imagining the chair and seeing the man sitting in it, completely relaxed. Then before he knew it, the man was doing exactly what he had envisioned.
“Well done,” Victor said. “Now go down on one knee and keep the relaxed mental link open between you. You don’t want to frighten him. Lower your head when you extend your teeth and puncture his wrist. I will tap your shoulder when I think you have taken enough. Remember to close his wound with your tongue and keep pleasurable thoughts in his mind.”
“What do these people value?” Kyle asked. He wanted to give his man something mentally that he could relate to.
Victor chuckled and asked the man a question in that strange dialect. The man laughed and answered. Victor translated. “He says, he’d like to see Miami. Have you been there?”
“Yes.” Kyle smiled. “I’ll do my best to show him Miami through my eyes.” He knelt and bowed his head over the man’s wrist before he paused. “What’s his name?”
“Enrico Chavez. He is a welder.”
“Explains the muscles.” Kyle said, “Gracias, Enrico.”
He followed Victor’s directions, keeping the pain from entering the man’s mind, all the while thinking of the day he went out sailing on Biscayne Bay in Miami with a group of friends. The sun was warm and the beer quenched his thirst. The breeze moved the boat at an easy pace. A sailfish broke the water and the group “ahhed” over the sheer size of the fin. Later, the grouper nuggets were spicy and melted like butter when he popped them in his mouth. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky as they headed back into harbor…
The tap on his shoulder pulled Kyle from his memories and back to the chore at hand. He kept calm and licked the wound closed, then lifted his face to Victor who was grinning.
“Don’t forget to release him and erase this memory for your sake. By the way, nice memories.”
“How could you know?”
“I have tasted Enrico’s blood. I share his mental link and so would Amyra if you didn’t wipe it.”
“Oh! Thanks for thinking of that. I hadn’t thought that far ahead.”
“You will learn. Let us hope it will not be the hard way.” Victor grinned again and handed Enrico money. “I always pay him. Let him believe he allowed me to feed from him today.”
“But we spoke to him before and—”
Victor waved his hand. “And he will now just think you were along to learn.”
“Thanks, Victor.” Kyle gripped the man’s shoulders. “I owe you big time.”
The vampire held Kyle’s arms in return.
“If you become strong enough to handle Amyra, I will be forever in your debt. I’m tired of fighting her alone, and I refuse to do her bidding anymore. In my heart, I am a healer not a killer. Come let’s walk back. Your Shelby will be looking for you, and the day grows short.”
Kyle hesitated. “Does it get lonely?”
“This life? Yes. You lose friends you love over time. You move on. We can not stay in one place too long or people grow suspicious wondering how you stay so young. Yes, this is a lonely life. Perhaps it is the very reason we prefer to stay with our own kind. Perhaps it is why I stayed with her so long after I realized the extent of her evil ways. I am unable to control her, but she is the only constant in my life.”
“I’m concerned. There are no others like me. The jaguar shifter people won’t accept me and the rogues don’t trust me. I think they’re jealous because they thought they would be the ones turned as I was.”
“So my young friend, where will you go?”
“I’d like to stay here and learn from you, but I won’t stay with Amyra. When I’m strong enough, this parasitic relationship will end.”
“I may have a solution. An old friend of mine lives outside New Orleans. He could help. He is older and more powerful than Amyra. But Nicolai is not evil. He was born a vampire who sired a living child—a hybrid—but one of the last born with true vampire DNA. He spends his time looking for a solution to our sterility.”
“Why is it that we can stand the light and Amyra must sleep during the day? She can rise only at night.”
“It is the reason she needs your blood. Your human blood allows you to walk in the sun, like mine. The elixir that gave her immortality did not allow for that. She constantly must renew her strength. For that, she needs a vampire with a human nature.”
“Why doesn’t she just change one who wants to be a vampire? Why force me?”
“You watch too many Hollywood films. Not every human can be changed—only certain humans with supernatural chromosomes in their DNA strands.”
“You never sensed it? Somewhere in your ancestral tree, a family member was supernatural. Perhaps, Dr. Lachlan, there was a Scottish werewolf in your past?”
A sarcastic sounding laugh escaped from Kyle when he said, “Great, my internal shifters will be fighting like cats and dogs.”
Victor joined him, chuckling. For a brief moment, Kyle almost found humor in his hopeless predicament. At least he had a friend. He wasn't alone in the dark anymore.
BetrayalShelby gazed at the ring on her finger. Max told her she shouldn’t wear it to Guatemala. The danger of being robbed and all that. He was probably right, but considering the circumstances, if Kyle was dumping her, she could return the ring to him immediately and move on. Based on the last time they were together, this hadn’t been the welcome she expected from the man who asked her to marry him—the man who claimed he wanted to be with her forever.
“No,” she thought and blinked back the tear. “This was what being dumped felt like.”
Resisting the rest of the tears that choked her, Shelby unpacked a few things. She needed to clean up if she was going to meet the surgical team and the world renowned, Dr. Salazar.
She was just about finished when there was a rustling outside and Kyle called to her.
“I’m back. Mind if I come in?”
She looked at her watch, he’d been gone over an hour. “Of course not. Come on in.”
When he left on the chartered flight with the other doctors from New Orleans, he was robust and carefree. He looked nothing like the strong man he’d once been. Now he look sick.
No. Not sick. Strung out.
Years in New Orleans with the voodoo queens and the druggies had her thinking something else when she looked into his eyes.
He seemed to be under some kind of spell.
Stop it, Shelby. You’re a medical doctor not a witch doctor. She shook off her misgivings as fancy.
“You feeling okay?” she asked.
“A little better. I need to clean up before dinner, and then I’ll introduce you to some of the others.”
Kyle’s coloring looked a little better, and he wasn’t as thin as she’d imagined when she first saw him—definitely not as sallow and drawn. But when he removed his shirt to change, her insides gripped with the old desire to touch him.
Why couldn’t she? They were engaged. She slowly extended her hand and lifted her chin.
Her hand skimmed his chest, he gasped like he’d been burned, and he turned his back to her.
“Shelby, don’t. I can put in my time here because I don’t hope for more. I’ll never be able to stay if I touch you. I have to get my head straight before I come home. I’m weak and strung out from lack of sleep.”
“What is it? I wish you’d let me—”
“Not now. There’s nothing you can do. Dr. Salazar offered to help me when you leave. You’ll meet him at dinner.”
“I can’t wait. His medical reputation is impressive, and he’s no slouch in the humanitarian department, either.”
Kyle’s symptoms could be depression, but more likely she suspected drugs. He seemed better at the moment. Maybe he’d taken whatever he needed to plateau out before he returned to the tent. He wouldn’t be the first doctor to succumb to working under pressure in sub-standard surroundings and losing people every day. The strenuous routine could have him taking something to stay awake, then something to go to sleep, and finally something else to chase the ghosts. Knowing his type of dedication, he’d pass on food to save a life. That would explain his weight loss, and depression could explain his disinterest in her.
Was she reaching for reasons, excuses for his behavior, or was he just over her? Not a kiss or embrace in greeting. Her stomach sank.
“If you’re ready, we’ll head over to the surgery and I’ll show you around. Afterwards, Victor said he’d meet us at the mess tent for dinner.”
Now he had her confused. Why was he being nice? Shelby decided she’d just go along with him and see where this all led.
After running through the rain shower across the compound for a tour of the surgery and several of the other medical facilities, Kyle checked his watch. “We should head over to meet up with Victor.” He pulled his rain jacket over his head. “Ready?”
“Doesn’t this get old.”
“The canopy. The rainforest? It’s hard to tell what time it is in the perpetual shadows.” Shelby pulled up her own rain gear and ran. Breathless, she shouted, “And I thought it rained a lot in New Orleans.”
Kyle actually snickered, sounding a bit like his old self. “I think I’m growing mold.”
Under the overhang at the mess tent, Shelby focused on shaking off the rain and ran into him. He had to catch her to balance her.
“Sorry,” she said, and for a split second she thought she saw that light she loved flicker in Kyle’s eyes. Then, it was gone.
“Dr. Lachlan, is this your Shelby?”
This was the world famous Victor Salazar. She’d seen enough pictures of him and read enough articles about the man who ran charitable medical facilities all over the world. He was in Guatemala heading up Kyle’s recovery team. And was every bit as handsome as his pictures. If she had to describe him, she’d say he could pass for Antonio Banderas in his best years.
Kyle made the informal introductions and even managed to smile at Dr. Salazar when he said, “I had them set up a table in the back. Follow me.”
“Thank you, Dr.—”
“Please call me Victor. Dr. Salazar makes me sound so old and decrepit.”
Hardly, she thought and smiled as she realized he was even better looking in person. Flesh and blood and all that charismatic Spanish charm made it impossible to tell how old the man was. He was extremely fit and didn’t look a day over thirty-five but because of all he’d accomplished, his reputation, and his many years of service, she estimated that he had to be at least ten or fifteen years older. When she stared at him, he smiled at her as if he read her thoughts. There must be some reasonable explanation.
Victor held the chair for her with the elegance of an old world gentleman. “Thank you…Victor.”
He lowered his head in a neat bow and smiled politely. “You are welcome. May I pour the wine?”
“Yes, please. I think I need a nice rich wine to relax me. It’s been an eventful trip and a very long day.”
She didn’t miss the way Kyle sat across from her facing the entrance and nervously watched as if waiting for someone. Thank goodness Victor carried on a normal conversation through the appetizers, and the wine did help her relax.
He was just pouring her a second glass when she heard Kyle muffle a gasp. Victor stopped pouring and looked up, staring behind her. The men’s expressions froze on their faces.
Victor resumed pouring and, without expression, said, “Ah, it’s the directress, Amyra de la Santiago.”
Kyle’s eyes went flat black at the mention of the name. What in the hell was wrong with him? Shelby turned to see the woman who had struck the men dumb gliding toward their table with a benign expression on her breathtakingly beautiful face. That ivory face was surrounded by waist length, wavy, raven black hair. Her coal black silk dress clung to her perfect body, draping to emphasize every womanly curve. All that black should have been too much, but her red lips against her paleness and enough creamy skin at her voluptuous breast seemed to balance the lack of color in her clothing. No wonder the men couldn’t speak when she approached.
“Doctors, won’t you introduce me to our guest?” Amyra asked. There was a heavy accent, not all Spanish—something more exotic. Egyptian?
Dr. Salazar did the introductions while Kyle kept his head down. He looked beaten.
Shelby’s sixth sense kicked in. This woman was the reason he wanted Shelby gone. A woman knew such things. This siren was the cause of Kyle’s withdrawal from her. But what had she done to destroy the man he’d been? And why?
“I hope you do not mind an interruption, Kyle. One of the triage techs asked if you would mind looking at a patient before you start your dinner.”
Had Kyle shuddered when she said his name?
“I’d be happy to take a look.”
“Allow me to show you which patient.” The woman possessively wrapped her arm in Kyle’s. “If you will excuse us for a moment, I will only keep him a few minutes. We will return shortly.”
She escorted him to the door, but Shelby didn’t miss how he grabbed the plastic rain gear and wrapped it over her and himself on the way out. The scene looked too comfortable, too intimate, and too casual. They were used to being wrapped up together, and Shelby’s heart cracked a little more.
When Shelby looked down at the table, and picked up her glass of wine, she knew Victor was staring at her.
“Kyle has missed you. It is good that you have come for him.”
The man’s rich voice had a relaxing quality to it.
“He isn’t returning with me. I’m going back on the morning boat. He says it isn’t safe here. Why is that?”
“This is a dangerous area. The mud slides continue, and the wild animals are breaching our perimeter.”
Shelby looked back where Amyra and Kyle had slipped into the rain and added, “I’m not sure that’s the whole story.” She put her glass down and asked, “Do I look like a fool, Victor?”
He chuckled. “No, Shelby. You are no one’s fool. But sometimes we see the obvious and believe what is a false image without seeing the truth below the surface. Trust me. What you think you see is not the true picture.”
“Okay, then I’ll trust your impression. But something is very wrong.”
“Here try a pasteles. The cook is a local magician in the kitchen.” Victor held the fork to her lips and stared in her eyes.
Shelby took a bite and rolled her eyes to heaven. “Mmm. This melts in your mouth. It’s delicious. Do you think I can have the recipe? I don’t think I can come back here every time I want another one. Ahh. Ohh.” She licked her lips and caught Victor watching her tongue whip over her mouth.
He laughed. The sound stirred something in Shelby’s gut. He was sexy as hell and letting her thoughts wander down that side trip embarrassed her. Her face flushed with the heat he caused, and she wondered why she was reacting to him. He wasn’t coming on to her, and she certainly had no interest after the long day and the fiasco with Kyle. Never-the-less, there was no denying Victor exuded sex, and damn if he wasn’t looking at her as if he knew her every thought. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair and felt her cheeks heat.
“Perhaps another glass of wine?” he asked.
She held up her hand. “I think I need to eat something before I have another glass. It must be stronger than I’m used to,” Shelby said with a smile. “Or I’m more tired than I thought.”
“Kyle shouldn’t be long,” he said and stood up. “Ah, what did I tell you? Here they are now.”
Victor pulled up another chair for the directress, holding it with the same impeccable manners as he had for her earlier. Just then a young man brought out several dishes filled with piping hot food. Shelby didn’t recognize any of the dishes, but the combination of spices smelled delicious.
“Kyle, you are just in time for the main course. Shelby was enjoying Alma’s pasteles.” Victor offered to serve. “May I?” he asked the directress.
“I couldn’t eat a thing, Victor,” Amyra said and glanced at Kyle. “I ate recently, but I’d love to share an aperitif with all of you, in honor of Kyle’s guest.”
“Are you feeling all right, Kyle?” Shelby asked. Kyle looked weak and sick again when he returned. The nagging worry made Shelby wish she knew what was wrong with him.
“Fine. Just a little tired.”
“Excellent. While you eat, I’ll find my favorite bottle. It will perk you right up. Excuse me.” Amyra stood and glided to the back room.
Shelby had never been uncoordinated, but she wished she could move with that same kind of grace. Next to this woman, she felt like a clumsy frump.
The three of them ate dinner quickly, even with her and Victor carrying on the major part of the conversation. By the time the table was cleared Amyra returned with a tray full of small fluid filled glasses. She placed a glass in front of each one of them and made a toast for Shelby’s safe return home the following day.
Perhaps the daggers the woman kept shooting at her when no one else watched was why Shelby didn’t think her words were genuine?
What in the world could make this woman jealous? She was exotic and glamorous. Everything about her made Shelby feel inelegant. Not only inelegant but inadequate.
The aperitif suddenly had her head spinning. She usually wasn’t a big drinker, but she’d always been able to handle wine.
“You’ll have to excuse me. I’m sorry. I’m feeling quite dizzy. Too much travel.” Hell, Shelby felt like a light weight.
“It is the altitude.” Victor reminded her. “Drink plenty of water. Bottled water.” He smiled that half grin at her.
“I didn’t forget about the water, or about brushing my teeth with it, too. All the mud around here is a constant reminder of the living conditions. But thanks for the explanation about the altitude. I’d forgotten about the difference. I’m used to New Orleans, which is below sea level.” Shelby forced a smile.
Kyle stood up and offered her his arm. “I’ll see you back to the tent. Then I have late rounds. Don’t wait up for me.”
Feeling as she did, she couldn’t have if she wanted to. By the time she changed and dropped down on the bed, her body felt like lead. Funny, her mind was still active and racing with all sorts of thoughts. Like who the hell was that woman? And what was she to Kyle?
Twenty minutes later she heard Kyle come in, whispering. He wasn’t alone. Amyra was with him.
“The woman is asleep. I gave her a sleeping draught so we could be together.”
I am not asleep! Nothing came out. She could speak, couldn’t move.
Amyra kissed Kyle as she unbuttoned his shirt, going down to her knees in front of him. Shelby couldn’t help noticing he was erect.
She wanted to shout. She wanted to throw something at them. God she wanted to run. At least close her eyes. But she was paralyzed. Really paralyzed. She couldn’t do more than blink while her fiancée was being seduced right in front of her. She hadn’t been given a sleeping draught the bitch had given her a paralytic drug.
To make matters worse, Kyle wasn’t pushing the woman away. He didn’t act like he was put out by having the woman’s hands on his chest then her tongue licking down his belly.
What did he do?
Nothing. He stood still while she unzipped his pants and slid them down over his hips. His erection bobbed high against his abdomen, and Shelby remembered the way it felt to wrap her hands around it when Amyra did just that.
Kyle groaned as the woman licked up the length of him. He ran his hands into her hair and held her against him, pumping into her mouth as she took him down her throat.
She had done this on purpose. The bitch had actually drugged her so she was forced to watch them together. She'd seduced Kyle while she watched so there'd be no doubt which woman he wanted.
Kyle threw back his head and growled. Fangs popped over his incisors. He lifted Amyra to her feet, picked her up, and tossed her on the bed. She glanced at Shelby and smiled, her mouth full of fangs too.
Shelby screamed and screamed, but no sound escaped from her paralyzed throat.
Kyle stripped Amyra down to her glowing skin and sank his teeth into her groin. She moaned with an expression of ecstasy on her face while his hands squeezed her breasts. Lifting his face, he licked blood from his lips, and then rose above her, straddling her hips, he offered her his neck. Sitting up she spread her thighs so he could enter her, and sank her fangs into his chest.
Kyle pumped into her, taking her over and over again like a man possessed.
Please God, this has to be the drug. Don’t let this be real.
Amyra encouraged him to take her from every position, and he became a puppet to her needs all night long.
Shelby’s eyes were locked open and her insides churned—she was devastated. It was one thing to know the man you loved wanted someone else—it was something else altogether for him make love to someone while you were forced to watch, trapped in the room listening to his groans as someone else pleasured him. This was pure torture.
Kyle came and sighed, again and again, wrapping Amyra close within his embrace, and Shelby’s mind shattered as her heart broke. Soon the dark took her in a semi-conscious, fitful sleep.
Read the previous chapters of Defeat The Darkness here at the Hearts of Darkness page
To Be Continued Next Week....
All rights reserved. No part of this may be copied or reproduced without the written permission of the author. Copyright 2012, Eliza March