Marcus watched, heart in his throat. His sweet Karalana was leaving, packing her flat. Perched in the middle of the balcony, he decided it wasn't everything; just enough to start a new life somewhere.
"You can't leave," he said, pushing open the sliding glass door. Heat followed him, desert scents mixing with the aroma of green things. Kara had a talent for coaxing growth from anything, even in Las Vegas.
Like his heart.
She looked up, blue eyes wide, mouth parted in a gasp. Marcus felt life stirring in him. Nothing amazed him more than his reaction to her. Kara's pulse raced, and he longed to taste it against his lips.
"What are you doing here? Jackson can't find you." Her voice was more relieved than concerned; Kara was happy to see him.
"The book store is closed."
She smiled ruefully, returning to her task. With her back turned, he could so easily approach, wrap his arms around her, kiss her long neck. Her hair was already up, out of the way. Marcus took a step closer, letting desire move him.
"Of course it is. I'm moving on so Jackson can't hurt you, can't find me." Kara moved to her bedroom, and Marcus followed. There was no fear in her voice, though her shoulders were tense. He would do anything to relieve her stress. "He wanted to use me as bait."
Marcus growled. "Is this a trap?" His fists clenched on their own. It had been decades since he'd last done physical violence, be he would kill Jackson if the hunter laid a hand on Kara.
She turned, eyes wide, and closed the gap between them. Laying her hands on his chest brought him great relief. "No!" Karalana smiled, tilting her head. "I told my father long ago I wanted nothing to do with hunting vampires. I still don't." She shook her head, lowering her eyelids. "I want nothing to do with hunting you."
The young woman's hands were so warm on his chest. As soft as her name, Kara yet had a strength to her that could endure any pain. "Don't leave," Marcus said again, closing his eyes. "I'll go, draw Jackson away. Keep your life here."
Kara leaned forward until they were almost touching. "Where will you go?"
Anywhere to keep you safe, he thought. "Away. Some place Jackson won't be near you." Marcus dared to open his eyes.
She stared at him, tears brimming, cheeks flushed. She tightened her grip on his chest, and he couldn't stop himself from laying his hands on her shoulders. "I don't want you to leave."
Her plea was hardly a whisper, but it was a clarion call to his soul. This charming young woman wanted him, wasn't scared of him. How could he deny her?
Leaning forward, Marcus kissed her. One hand cupped the back of her head, the other traveled to the small of her back. Kara grabbed his neck, pulling him closer, opening her mouth. Passion burned them, and both would gladly be consumed by the fire.
Kara broke the kiss, drawing his mouth to her neck. Marcus groaned, fangs aching as need swelled. "Stay with me." She pressed the heat of her pulse to him.
Marcus obliged her, finding solace in her blood.