Good, the Bad, and the Vampire

By: Sara Humphreys

Dakota towered over her, but Trixie was not going to back down. The stench of silver from the weapons hidden in his coat scorched her nostrils, but the comforting scent of sandalwood clung to him, soothing the burn. Damn. He smelled good. Too good. Her fingers curled tighter around the smooth leather of his coat, and her knuckles met the firm, unyielding muscles of his chest. She’d long suspected the man was nothing but bone, muscle, and sinew under all that leather.

Suspicions confirmed.

Why was she attracted to a man who was as deadly as he was cocky? Glutton for punishment. That had to be it. Even as a human she never could lay off the boys who were no good for her—and look where that had gotten her.

“You lookin’ to tangle with me?” Dakota leaned into her grasp and arched one eyebrow. “I’m happy to oblige.”

He was trying to intimidate her into submission. Trixie wasn’t easily intimidated by anyone, and she sure as hell wouldn’t be by him, his weaponry, his position as a sentry, or his penetrating stare.

Dakota inched closer and pressed his firm body further into her grasp. His lips tilted, giving her a glimpse of the tip of one of his fangs. Trixie let out a strangled groan and licked her lower lip. Why was seeing only a part of his fangs such a fucking turn-on?

“If by ‘tangle’ you mean have me kick your ass?” She hoped like hell he couldn’t see right through her. “Then, yeah, and for the record, I’m not afraid of you.”

Dakota’s bluish-gray eyes peered at her beneath his furrowed brow. His short-cropped dark blond hair glistened in the silvery moonlight. His hands hung at his sides and his lack of response both frustrated and confused her. He was a sentry for the Presidium and she’d basically just attacked him, but the guy did nothing. Most sentries, even Shane, wouldn’t take crap from a vamp like her.

“Say something.” Trixie softened her tone.

“Like what?”

Maybe she’d get a more favorable response if she wasn’t so bitchy. The worst part of this whole stupid mess was that her instinct was to be nice to him. She liked him but she didn’t want to want him. Not like this.

“How about,” she began slowly, “if you promise me that you won’t come here again. Ever.”

In a surprisingly disarming move, Dakota’s large hands settled on hers and he held them against his chest. A rush of warmth whisked over her skin when his flesh covered hers, and her blood hummed with awareness. She’d touched other vampires, platonically and otherwise, but none of them made her feel like this. For a human, a vamp would feel cool to the touch. To another vampire, their skin was basically room temperature or neutral.

But not Dakota.

His hands were warm, firm, and rough. They were the hands of a man who knew a hard day’s work, and damn if that wasn’t a turn-on. What was it about a man’s man that could get a girl’s blood moving? She thought of the little horse he’d carved for Emily and something inside her quivered. These hands of his could put down an enemy with swift precision, but they could also gently and painstakingly cradle a piece of wood, massaging it and whittling it carefully until it became a delicate treasure. There was more to this cowboy than met the eye.

Tender and rough. Sweet but lethal.

How would it feel to have these hands running over more sensitive parts of her anatomy?

To be cherished, cradled, and coveted?

What was she doing? Trixie blinked. He was a sentry, a soldier who dealt in death and violence. There was nothing tender about that. But still…

Pinned beneath his intense blue stare and his impossibly warm hands, she fought the surge of desire that sizzled and simmered in her blood. Her arms were crushed between their bodies, and it was impossible not to notice the subtle movements of his muscles as he inched closer.

“I’ll make you a deal,” he whispered, his thumb rasping lightly over her knuckles. “You tell me why you’re comin’ to this house in the middle of nowhere, and I’ll promise to keep your secret.”

“You don’t know my secrets.” Trixie tried to tug her hands from beneath his but he refused to release her. “Please let me go.”

“Not yet.” He held her in a viselike grip, cool as ice. “So you have more secrets than these little visits to the woods?”

“I said, let me go,” she ground out.

“Why?” he asked in an almost lighthearted tone. “The sun won’t be up for a few hours and you still haven’t answered my questions. I am a sentry for the Presidium—you know, that pesky vampire government. Didn’t anyone teach you to respect authority?”

“Yeah, you may be a vamp cop,” she scoffed. “But your boss is my maker. I win.”

“You are a spitfire of a woman, do you know that? You remind me of a horse that hasn’t been broken yet. All skittish and full of wild energy.”

“Are you for real?” Her jaw fell open. “Did you just compare me to a horse?”

“It’s a compliment. You’re spirited. I always preferred wild horses to the ones who’d been saddled.” His eyes twinkled with mischief and flashed at her in the dark, twin pools of silver that harkened of desire and danger. “I like that in a woman. And tellin’ me you have secrets is like throwin’ a scented shoe in front of a hound dog. Only makes me want to find out what they are.”

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