The Recruit (Book Six)
Copyright 2021 Elizabeth Kelly
Holding her breath, Clementine bent and grabbed the bottom of the curtain. The immediate wave of dizziness made her grope backward with her other hand for the support of the bed. She released her breath and drew in a few deep ones until the dizziness eased a little. She lifted the curtain and ducked under it, glancing around cautiously.
Hospital beds lined the large room, each bed separated by a curtain. All of the curtains were open, except for one. That one housed the mystery man with the fever she guessed, as she glanced behind her. The drawn curtains around her bed hid her from the two women and she took a few soft steps toward the door she could see at the end of the room.
Christ, she hoped that was the exit.
She took another couple of steps forward, only vaguely aware of the metal clinking sound coming from the bed with the curtain drawn around it. She glanced behind her again, her nerves strung tight and her stomach churning.
When she turned back toward the door, the curtain was twitching around the other bed. She took a step back, her eyes widening in surprise as the man ducked under the curtain and straightened.
He had a broken handcuff around his wrist, and he studied her with as much surprise as she studied him.
The man from the club.
The man who had nearly made her come.
The man who had bitten her.
Pretty name for a pretty girl.
A fresh wave of dizziness washed over her and this time there was no escaping it. She was going to faint.
* * *
Nathaniel stared at the woman standing in front of him. She wore a hospital gown like him, and her blonde hair surrounded her face in a golden messy halo that reminded him of the sunlight he missed so desperately.
Her dark brown eyes were huge in her face and while the hospital gown hid her body, he could still remember the firmness of her breasts, the way she’d moaned when he’d kissed her, the sweetness of her lips.
What is wrong with you?
Guilt flooded through him. He was a priest, a man of God, and his lustful thoughts were a sin.
Bitter laughter echoed in his head. He was no more a priest than the woman in front of him was. Hadn’t been for a very long time. Not since he was turned in his tiny office at St. Michaels.
He swallowed hard, bile rising in the back of his throat. Why was he thinking of his past?
Because you’re different.
He was different.
It wasn’t just the way his heart was beating in his chest for the first time in over a decade, or the way his cold skin actually had a touch of warmth to it. No, it was also the emotions. The guilt. The crushing, overwhelming guilt.
All of the humans he had slaughtered. The blood drinking, the sexual depravity… what had he done?
The woman was swaying on her feet. What little colour she’d had in her face had disappeared completely, and he stared transfixed at the blood dripping from her hand. The smell of it called to him and his mouth watered. She had sweet blood. The sweetest blood he’d tasted in a very long time and he craved another taste almost immediately.
Guess you’re not that different.
The woman’s eyes rolled up in her head and as she crumpled to the floor, he darted forward and caught her. He sank to his knees. She wasn’t heavy, but the feel of her soft and supple body was doing strange things to him, making his limbs feel weirdly weak. He studied her face before gently smoothing the hair back that was caught on her pale lips.
Mauve coloured bruising marred the delicate skin beneath her eyes and more guilt rushed through him. He’d done that to her. He’d drank her blood – too much, but the taste of her had been a heady rush he hadn’t felt in a very long time and his usual iron control had slipped.
He touched her silky hair again. The warmth of her soft body reminded him he was a man with an intense sexual appetite. The blood oozing from her hand reminded him he wasn’t a man at all, but a monster. A monster who –
The cold muzzle of a gun pressed against his forehead and a long-forgotten emotion rolled through him.
He stared up at the dark-haired woman standing in front of him. She had warm brown skin and pretty dark eyes. She held the gun to his head with her left hand. Her right hand was at her side, the index finger swollen and at an impossible angle.
He guessed that she normally held her gun in her right hand, and his gaze flickered to the hand holding the gun. If she felt off-kilter with the gun in her left hand, he might have a chance to knock it free before she fired. He was fast after all. Very fast.
“Uh-uh, handsome,” the woman said with a tight and icy grin. “I can see exactly what you’re thinking and trust me, you’re not faster than me.”
He hesitated, his newly beating heart thumping faster and harder as the woman’s grin widened. “I will kill you.”
“Better listen to her, fanger. My girl gets a real lady boner for killing blood sucking assholes like you.”
“Hello, Reid,” the woman said.
“Hey, sweetheart.” A man stepped into his view. He had blond hair, a gun in his hand, and the cold smile of a ruthless killer. “Our newest pet vamp misbehaving?”
“Don’t know yet,” the woman said. “Waiting to see if he’s going to be a good boy and do what I say, or if he’s going to get a bullet full of liquid sunshine to the brain.”
Any lingering hope that this might be a real hospital disappeared with their exchange. More fear stole into him, making his breath feel like it was freezing in his lungs.
Fuck, he knew exactly where he was and the only reason he wasn’t dead already was because they had no idea who he was.
Reid grinned at the woman. “Goddamn, Selena, you are so fucking hot when you’re in killing mode.”
“Thank you.” Selena nudged Nathaniel’s forehead with the gun. “Well, what’ll it be, handsome?”
“Handsome?” Reid gave her a look. “You think this pale bastard is handsome?”
“He’s not not handsome,” Selena said.
“You know, sometimes I think you say shit like that just to get me all riled up,” Reid said.
Selena nudged Nathaniel’s forehead again. “Step away from the woman. I won’t ask you again.”
Nathaniel eased the woman to the floor before holding his hands up. “I’m not going to hurt her.”
“Oh look, he speaks,” Reid said. “Jesus, his voice is deep. That’s kind of hot, am I right? Fuck, now I’m sort of digging him.”
“Stand up slowly,” Selena said.
He stood up and she nodded to the bed behind him. “Sit.”
He backed up and sat, keeping his hands above his head. “She fainted. I caught her so she wouldn’t hit her head on the floor.”
The man named Reid crouched and lifted the woman into his arms. An older woman pulled back the curtain around a bed and Reid laid her on it as Selena stared at him.
“I’m not trying to hurt anyone,” Nathaniel said.
Selena studied the handcuff with the broken chain around his wrist. “You were trying to escape.”
He glanced at the handcuff. “Not so that I could hurt someone.”
“You can’t blame him for breaking the handcuff,” Reid said. “If I had his fucking strength, I’d do the same thing.”
“Reid,” Selena said.
Reid grinned at her. “What? I would.”
“How are you feeling?” the older woman said.
“Fine,” he said.
He wasn’t fine. He was afraid and tired and thirsty. So goddamn thirsty.
“It looks like his fever is gone,” the older woman said as she studied his face. “Are you thirsty?”
He swallowed hard before nodding. “Yes.”
She made to move toward the back of the room and Reid rested his hand on her arm. “Not yet, Barb.”
“We don’t starve them,” Barb said with a frown. “You know that, Reid.”
“Yeah, I know,” Reid said. ‘But for now, I like this one nice and weak. He’s the biggest fanger we’ve turned and I’m not taking any fucking chances. I’m certainly not giving him blood and boosting him up to top notch strength.”
“He’s right,” Selena said. “We keep him weak for now.”
“So, what do we do with him?” Barb said.
“We take him to one of the special rooms to hang out in until Jordan decides whether we adopt him as a facility mascot or send him to New York with the rest of the turned vamps,” Reid said.
He pulled his gun again and pointed it at Nathaniel. “On your feet, good looking. We’re gonna go for a walk.”