Chapter 7: Timely Interruptions
Anders hovered near the end of Cate's bed, where she was fast asleep.
How he had been so lucky to have found this girl, he would never know. Had it been fate? Or just luck?
She certainly didn't look like any kind of heroine. She wasn't anything like what the Elders would approve of. She was a woman, for God's sake.
He had had one job – find a human man. Get involved with as few people as possible, and quietly take him away. Return with him, and you shall be rewarded. We shall all be rewarded.
Anders sighed and gazed out of the bedroom window, surveying the stretch of buildings, roads, and cars all winding down for the night. How small and self-centered the human world was; how little regard it had for the realms just beyond its narrow field of vision. It was young, its people were naïve. They would learn in time – all good things must come to an end.
Cate rustled in bed, unconsciously pushing the sheets aside. Anders' attention snapped back to her, and felt a sickening sense of worry rise up in his chest as he simultaneously quashed the urge to jump in her bed and hold her close. He could convince the council members. There had to be another way. He wanted there to be…yes, there had to be – for Cate.
Outside, a group of clouds travelled on, and the moon shone through. A beam of light peeked in through the curtains and landed serendipitously across Cate's bed, nimbly caressing the contours of her face and chest.
The temptation was too hard to resist.
Quiet as death, Anders moved to crouch beside her, eyes transfixed to the subtle angle of her jaw, the faint shadow of her clavicle…her slow and steady pulse. His own heartbeat quickened and he swore at himself for coming in here at all, for getting this close when she was so open. How much could he touch her now, lying here like this? How far could he go, how much could he take for himself, before she woke up? He was selfish. He wanted it all. Wanted all of her, all of her now and again and forever and always and take, take, take. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.
The smell of her skin and hair hit him like a gust of wind, and carried the succulent undercurrent of her blood. They were all becoming stronger to him. With each passing day they spent together, and the greater their attraction grew, the keener his sense of smell for her became.
Without thinking, Anders hungrily placed the tip of his tongue at the base of her throat, and tenderly licked the pale skin. His hands tightened their hold on the edge of Cate's bed. His body told him to attack, but his mind resisted. His lips were now poised just above her neck, a hair's breadth away from kissing her – tasting her.
Anders stiffened in anticipation as his fangs surfaced. The sharp tips barely grazed Cate's neck, but that was all it took, and it was all over, his mind was clouded, and it was too close not too—
Cate shifted slightly, cooing softly in her sleep as a small smile crossed her lips. Her head tucked toward her chest and her hands came to rest beside her.
Anders sprang back in surprise. She hadn't woken – but god, as he looked down, he definitely had. Cursing his lapse in control, he disappeared from her room in a matter of nanoseconds, fleeing the apartment building as fast as he could. Out in the streets, he could think.
He wouldn't jeopardize this. He couldn't.
When Cate woke the next morning, she was surprised that it wasn't at the sound of her radio alarm clock. Turning on her side and squinting blearily at the numbers, she flopped on her back with a groan as she realized that she had, miraculously, woken up on her own -
"15 precious minutes before I actually have to haul my ass out of bed!" She rubbed her eyes and with great reluctance slithered out of bed, feeling even more wronged when she remembered that it was the weekend. She trudged out of her bedroom and headed straight for food.
Food, food, food…that's right. I literally care about nothing else right now.
"Morning, sleepyhead," a smooth male voice greeted her from the kitchen table.
Cate glanced at Anders, who was already dressed in a T-shirt and pair of jeans, cheekily eating one of her breakfast desserts. His hair was casually mussed and, unlike Cate's, not one part of his body protested the blasphemy of early Saturday mornings. Life was just not fair.
"How do you always look so fucking perfect at like, 7:15 in the morning?"
"You know I like it when you talk dirty, Cate, but save it for the bedroom."
"Ugh. Go away."
"Or the couch. Or the shower. Actually, this table isn't looking like such a bad option right now—"
"Shut up!" she whined, plunking down across from him as he grinned unabashedly. "I want to get down to business."
"Glad we're on the same page."
"Not that business," Cate felt her face get hot, and scowled. "The you-telling-me-more-about-vampires business. I want some answers, buddy."
"Right now?" Anders cocked an eyebrow. "Don't get me wrong; I owe you that much, but...you're barely awake, Cate."
"This may be the only time I don't have enough energy to kick you out of my house."
Anders dramatically gripped his chest "Oh, how my lover wounds me."
"Who are you calling a lover," muttered Cate, doing her best to suppress a giggle as she recalled last night's activities.
God, he has nice lips. She inadvertently sneaked a peek, recalling how soft they were, and how they felt moving over hers. I wonder how they would feel pleasuring...other places...OH GOD. STOP.
Cate vigorously shook her head, much to Anders' amusement.
God, Anders, you had better not be listening in on this right now...because I swear to God, if you are, you will find a very important piece of anatomy missing tomorrow morning.
Cate narrowed her eyes at Anders, who blinked innocently.
"I'm ready to answer your questions, Cate. Hit me with your best shot."
Cate beamed, temporarily banishing all naughty thoughts from her mind. Who in the world actually gets the opportunity to talk to a legit vampire?!
"If you bite me, will I turn into a vampire?"
He shook his head, chuckling lightly. "To become a vampire, you'd have to drink the blood of one. And even then, you wouldn't have many of the abilities purebred vampires possess."
"Like rapid travel, or..." Anders hesitated. "Immortality."
"Immortality?" Cate clasped her hands together, eyes wide. "Oh, my god. That is so cool. Immortal as in, you can never die? Damn. Are you immortal?"
"It's not that big of a deal," Anders brushed off her question. "You'd still gain varying degrees of heightened senses, like...sense of smell."
Thankfully, Cate didn't seem to mind that he had so obviously sidestepped her original question. "Like blood?" She grinned.
"What makes it taste good?"
Anders leaned back in the chair and puffed out his cheeks. "It's difficult to say. You humans seem to think that there are these select few individuals—"
"—with blood so insanely delicious that it drives every vampire wild with lust. It's more like…" He looked at Cate. "It's that the physical and emotional attraction comes first – then the desire for your partner's blood."
Cate scrunched her nose, oblivious to his penetrating stare.
"I think I like that better. It makes you seem more…" She almost said human, but stopped short, "multi-dimensional."
"We're not what we're so often made out to be."
Cate looked at him quizzically. His tone of voice had shifted ever so slightly, and although he looked at her still with those captivating hazel eyes, his mind seemed to be elsewhere.
Things must be tough for him. In ways I may never know…
"Is…" she paused. Restarted. "I mean, I know I'm just me, but…is there anything I can do…for you?"
Anders was yanked from his thoughts. There was the million dollar question with the make-or-break answer. He had just been summoning the courage to tell her – but no. No, it wasn't that he was a coward, he repeated to himself. It just wasn't the right time.
"There certainly is," he replied breezily, swiftly redirecting the conversation. "I want to know all about Cate McPherson. Tell me about you."
Cate smirked. "Aren't you supposed to already know everything about me? Y'know, with your super vampy powers that you use to search out your soul mate - or should I say, next victim - before they're even born, so you can watch them grow up and shit?"
Anders rolled his eyes. "I think you should pretty much just take every idea you have about vampires and forget all of them. Free up some brain space."
She ignored that jibe. "That would make things so much easier, though," Cate said thoughtfully. "I'm really bad at this kind of thing."
"What kind of thing?"
"Talking about myself," she gestured randomly with her free hand, the other fingering a chocolate chip cookie. "There's nothing much to say, to be honest."
"That's what you think," Anders countered resolutely. "Everybody has a story."
"I know, I know…and, I mean, I guess I have somewhat of a story, but…" She suddenly felt frustrated. "I don't want to just be another story, y'know? I want…" she let out a long sigh and shrugged her shoulders. "Oh, whatever."
"No, what is it? Tell me what you want." Anders stopped eating his cookie and tried to make eye contact, but Cate refused to reciprocate.
"It doesn't matter; it's stupid."
Anders tsked and stroked his chin dramatically. "You know, I'm not one to abuse my power, but…I can quite easily figure out exactly what it is you're trying to say." Her head snapped up and she glowered at him as he tapped his head knowingly.
Cate pursed her lips. "I would hate you forever."
"But you wouldn't," Anders grinned, clearly quite confident that he was going to get what he wanted. "There's only room for one asshole here, and it isn't you."
Cate glared at him.
Damn him for making me tell him. Damn him for making me want to.
"I…I…" Cate sighed. "How do I explain myself…as insignificant a work of literature my story is next a great number of classics, I kind of like being that one dusty book with a little bit of mystery. Sometimes I feel like the more people read me, the more worthless I become. That I'll have no secrets left for myself."
Silence followed, and Cate's trepidation threatened to reach right across the table and beg for some reassurance.
But to her surprise, Anders didn't laugh or mock her explanation. Instead, he nodded, a serious look on his face.
"If I'm understanding correctly…I don't want to just take your book out for a 2-week loan, Cate."
"That's what they all say, until they move out and donate their books to Goodwill."
"I've never once thrown a book away."
"Are you saying you've read a lot of books?"
"I'm no scholar, Cate, rest assured."
"But you're amassing a collection. Guys like you have their own personal libraries."
"When are we going to stop talking in book metaphors?"
Cate smiled ruefully, shaking her head in mild embarrassment. "I guess I'm getting a little old for this silly romance stuff, aren't I?"
Anders held her gaze steadfastly and reached across the table to envelope his hand over hers.
"You're not going to make this easy for me, are you?"
"I haven't made it easy for anyone."
A grin started to pull at the corners of his mouth. "Oh, I see…" He nudged his foot against hers under the table. "No one's inked themselves onto your pages, shall we say?"
"You know what I mean."
"That I'd be your first boyfriend, you mean."
"WHAT?!" Cate squawked, blushing ten different colors of red. "Where, where…no. No, that is definitely not true." She awkwardly stood from the chair and purposely turned her back to him as the heat in her cheeks traveled right up to the tips of her ears.
Where is that hole in the ground to suck me up and never let me see the light of day ever again when you need it?!
"What I mean is that…is that…" Fuck. My. LIFE. "I've been on dates! Yeah. You know." Cate whirled around and faced Anders with defiance, who still sat, jean-clad legs splayed and arms relaxed, looking way too pleased with himself.
"With several different guys, I might add."
"Oh yeah? And how were they?"
Cate crossed her arms. "They were fun. Movies, dinner, standard stuff. They just never went any further than that, is what I meant." She quickly turned on her heel and faced the counter, busying herself with the teacups.
She mentally facepalmed. Yeeaah, definitely not winning any awards for acting anytime soon.
"No, I meant," and Cate jumped, his voice suddenly right behind her, "how were they."
Anders leaned forward, and she felt his chest against her back. She fumbled with the teacup she was holding, and in her peripheral vision saw two large hands on either side of her, trapping her between him and the marble. She didn't dare turn around, afraid of how easily he might see the emotion on her face.
You call yourself a cool-headed woman, ne'er swayed by the charms of a man?! You should be ashamed of yourself, flustered at the slightest bit of attention! Steel yourself, soldier, and show him you mean business! Show him you won't—
"Come on, Cate…" Anders mumbled into her hair. "I need to know what kind of competition I'm up against."
All coherent thoughts flew out of Cate's head.
"I…well…" Cate hesitate, and swallowed thickly. She was just about to conjure up an imaginary ex-boyfriend when she felt him push against her bum, and she whipped around in mortification.
His face was but a fraction of an inch away from hers. In this pseudo embrace, there were only a few inches of space between them. And damn it all to hell, of all moments to see it, she had to notice the stark, undeniable contrast of her slightly rounded tummy and too-curvy hips opposite his flat, taut abdomen and tapered waist. The type of contrast that never works out in real life.
Because there are rules about attraction, and this…this thing happening right here is definitely breaking like, ten of them.
"I'm sorry, Anders, I ca—"
He silenced her swiftly by capturing her lips in a kiss, loving her little gasp of surprise as she tentatively responded. He tasted like cookies, chocolate, and vanilla, his mouth warm and probing. His tongue swept across her bottom lip and she experimentally mimicked the action, eliciting a low sound of approval that reverberated in his chest and sent pleasant shivers to her belly. He closed the gap between them entirely, pressing her against the kitchen counter.
Perhaps it truly was awakened instinct that prompted her to loop her arms around his neck and stroke the nape of his neck as he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her to him in a crushing squeeze. She was about to break away and get his hands off of her body before he had the chance to remember how decidedly un-toned she was – but he was too persistent, too demanding, and his fingers fluttered at the bottom of her shirt…
Just then, the phone rang.
I know, I know. Way, way overdue.
I need to update this more regularly – and I will. I know I've promised so many times before and gotten people's hopes up, but I'm going through a really rough time right now, probably the worst I've ever had to deal with, and I just haven't had the motivation to even get myself up in the mornings. I hope you can all forgive me and continue to support me – it really means a lot.
Anyway, enough with the melodramatics. I'd love to read any reviews you have – even just to let me know how you're doing. (:
Also! I've got a new story up! Here's the synopsis:
Mr. 364 Days
They call him Mr. 364 Days, and Paige has sworn to stay far, far away. But he never said he was an honorable man…
Go check it out. ^^