Chapter Thirty-four


Zsadist dragged his head over to the side and looked at the clock. Ten in the morning. Ten... ten o'clock. How many hours? Sixteen...

He closed his eyes, so exhausted he could barely breathe. He was flat on his back, legs splayed out, arms lying wherever. He'd been in that position since he'd rolled off Bella maybe an hour ago.

He felt like it had been a year since he'd come back into the room the night before. His neck and wrists burned from the number of times she'd fed from him, and the thing between his legs was sore. The air around them was saturated with the bonding scent, and the sheets were wet with a combination of his blood and the other thing she had needed from him.

He wouldn't have traded a moment of it.

As he closed his eyes, he wondered if he could sleep now. He was starved for food and blood, so hungry not even his penchant for keeping himself on edge could override the needs. But he couldn't move.

When he felt a hand brush over his lower belly, he peeled his lids apart to look at Bella. The hormones were rising in her again, and the response she called from him answered, the it growing hard once more.

Zsadist struggled to roll over so he could go where he needed to be, but he was too weak. Bella shifted against him and he tried to lift himself again, but his head weighed a thousand pounds.

Reaching out, he grabbed her arm and pulled her on top of him. As her thighs parted over his hips, she looked at him in shock and began to scramble off.

"'S okay," he croaked. He cleared his throat, but it didn't help with all the gravel. "I know it's you."

Her lips came down on his and he kissed her back even though he couldn't lift his arms to hold her to him. God, how he loved kissing her. He loved feeling her mouth against his, loved having her right up close all in his face, loved her breath in his lungs, loved... her? Was that what had happened in the night? Had he fallen?

The bonding scent that was all over the both of them gave him his answer. And the realization should have shocked him, but he was too tired to bother to fight it.

Bella eased up and slid the it inside of her. As beat as he was, he groaned in ecstasy. The feel of her was something he couldn't get enough of, and he knew it wasn't because of her needing.

She rode him, planting her hands on his pecs and finding a rhythm with her hips because he couldn't thrust anymore with his. He felt himself gearing up for another explosion, especially as he watched her breasts sway with her movements.

"You are so beautiful," he said in his hoarse voice.

She paused to bend down and kiss him again, her dark hair falling around him, a gentle shelter. When she straightened, he marveled at the sight of her. She was glowing with health and vitality from everything he had given her, a resplendent female who he...

Loved. Yes, loved.

That was the thought that shot through his brain as he came inside of her again.

Bella collapsed on top of him, exhaled in a shudder, and suddenly the needing was over. The roaring female energy just drifted out of the room, a storm that had passed. Sighing in relief, she shifted off of him, separating her gorgeous sex from his thing. As the it flopped lifeless on his belly, he felt the cold of the room on that flesh, so unappealing compared to her warmth.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

"Yes..." she whispered, settling on her side, already easing into sleep. "Yes, Zsadist... yes."

She was going to need food, he thought. He needed to go get her food.

Gathering his will, he took a deep breath, and another and another... and finally forced his upper body off the bed. His head swam wildly, the furniture and the floor and the walls spinning, trading places, until he wasn't sure whether he was on the ceiling or not.

The vertigo got worse as he shifted his legs off the mattress, and when he stood his balance deserted him completely. He fell into the wall, slamming into the thing, and had to hold himself up by clinging to some drapes.

When he was ready, he pushed free and leaned down to her. Lifting her up in his arms was a struggle, but his need to care for her was stronger than the exhaustion. He took her to his pallet and laid her down, then covered her with the comforter they'd long ago shoved to the floor. He was turning away when she took his arm.

"You have to feed," she said, trying to draw him close. "Come to my throat."

God, he was tempted.

"I'll be back," he said, stumbling to his feet. He lurched over to the closet and drew on a pair of boxers. Then he stripped the bed of the sheets and mattress pad and left.

Phury opened his eyes and realized he couldn't breathe.

Which made sense, he supposed. His face was mashed into a wad of blankets. He moved his mouth and nose free of the jam-up and tried to get his eyes to focus. The first thing he saw, about six inches from his head, was an ashtray full of dead blunts. On the floor.

What the hell? Oh.. .He was hanging off the foot of the mattress.

When he heard a groan, he shoved himself up, turned his head around¡ªand came face-to-face with one of Vishous's feet. Beyond the size-fourteen was Butch's thigh.

Phury had to laugh, and that brought the cop's groggy gaze up out of a pillow. The human looked over himself and then Phury. He blinked a couple of times, like he was hoping to wake up for real.

"Oh, man," he said with more gravel than voice. Then he glanced at Vishous, who was passed out next to him. "Oh... man, this is too weird."

"Get over yourself, cop. You're not that attractive."

"Fair enough." He scrubbed his face. "But that doesn't mean I'm all into waking up with two men."

"V told you not to come back."

"True. That was my bad call."

Talk about a long night. Eventually, when even the feel of clothing against their skin had gotten to be too much, they'd lost any pretense of modesty. It had just been a matter of enduring the need: lighting up red smoke after red smoke, hitting the Scotch or the vodka, slipping into the bathroom alone to relieve themselves privately.

"So is it over?" Butch asked. "Tell me it's over."

Phury shuffled off the bed. "Yeah. I think so."

He picked up a sheet and pitched it at Butch, who covered himself and Vishous. V didn't even twitch. He was sleeping like the dead on his stomach, his eyes squeezed shut, a soft snore coming out of his mouth.

The cop cursed and rearranged his body, propping a pillow up against the headboard and leaning back. He rubbed his hair until it stood straight off his head and yawned so wide Phury heard the guy's jaw crack.

"Damn, vampire, I never thought I'd say this, but I have absolutely no interest in sex. Thank God."

Phury pulled on a pair of nylon warm-ups. "You want food? I'm going to make a kitchen trip."

Butch's eyes blissed out. "You're actually going to bring it up here? As in, I don't have to move?"

"You're going to owe me, but yeah, I'm willing to deliver."

"You are a god."

Phury put on a T-shirt. "What do you want?"

"Whatever's in the kitchen. Hell, make yourself really useful and drag that refrigerator on up here. I'm starved."

Phury went downstairs to the kitchen and was about to start foraging when he heard sounds coming from the laundry room. He went over and pushed the door open.

Zsadist was cramming sheets into the washer.

And dear Virgin in the Fade, he looked like hell. His stomach was a shrunken hole; his hips stood out from his skin like tent posts; his rib cage looked like a plow field. He must have lost ten, fifteen pounds overnight. And¡ªholy hell¡ªhis neck and wrists were chewed raw. But... he smelled of beautiful dark spices, and there was a peace about him, so deep and unlikely Phury wondered if his senses were playing tricks on him.

"My brother?" he said.

Z didn't look up. "Do you know how to work this thing?"

"Ah, yeah. You put some of that stuff in the box in and you move that dial around—Here, let me help."

Z finished stuffing the belly of the washer and then stepped back, his eyes still locked on the floor. When the machine was filling up with water, Z muttered a thank-you and headed into the kitchen.

Phury followed, his heart in his throat. He wanted to ask if everything was okay, and not just with Bella.

He was trying to choose his words carefully when Z took a roasted turkey out of the refrigerator, tore the leg off, and bit into it. He chewed desperately, cleaning the meat from the bone as fast as he could, and the moment he was done he ripped the other drumstick free and did the same thing.

Jesus... The brother never took meat. Then again, he'd never been through a night like last night before. None of them had.

Z could feel Phury's eyes on him, and would have stopped eating if he could have. He hated people looking at him, especially when he was chewing on something, but he just couldn't get the food in fast enough.

He kept shoving stuff in his face as he took out a knife and a plate and started slicing off thin shavings of the turkey breast. He was careful to take only the very best parts of the meat for Bella. The odd bits, the corners, the stuff close to the core, that he ate himself, as it was not as good.

What else would she need? He wanted her to eat calorically dense things. And drink¡ªhe should bring her something to drink. He went back to the refrigerator and began making a pile of leftovers for review. He would choose carefully, taking to her only what was worthy of her tongue.

"Zsadist?"

God, he'd forgotten that Phury was still kicking around.

"Yeah," he said as he cracked a Tupperware bowl.

The mashed potatoes inside looked okay, though he really would have preferred bringing her some that he'd made. Not that he knew how to do that. Christ, he couldn't read, couldn't work a damn washing machine, couldn't cook.

He had to let her go so she could find a male who had half a brain.

"I don't mean to pry," Phury said.

"Yeah, you do." He took a loaf of Fritz's homemade sourdough bread out of the cupboard and squeezed the thing with his fingers. It was soft, but he sniffed at it anyway. Good, it was fresh enough for her.

"Is she okay? Are... you?"

"We're fine."

"What was it like?" Phury coughed a little. "I mean, I want to know not because it was Bella. It's just... I've heard a lot of rumors and I don't know what to believe."

Z took some mashed potatoes and put them on the plate with the turkey; then he spooned on wild rice and covered the lot with a good dose of gravy. He threw the heavy load into the microwave, glad this was one machine he knew how to work.

As he watched the food go around, he thought about his twin's question and remembered the feel of Bella getting up on his hips. That joining, of the dozens they'd had during the night, was the one that stuck out the most. She had been so lovely on top of him, especially as she'd kissed him...

Throughout the needing, but mostly during that particular union, she'd chipped away at the past's hold on him, marking him with something good. He would treasure the warmth she'd given him for the rest of his days.

The microwave dinged and he realized Phury was still waiting for an answer.

Z put the food on a tray and grabbed some silverware so he could feed her properly.

As he turned and headed out of the room, he murmured, "She is more beautiful than I have words for." He lifted his eyes to Phury's. "And last night I was blessed beyond measure to serve her."

For some reason, the brother recoiled in shock and reached out. "Zsadist, your¡ª"

"I have to bring my nalla her food. I'll see you later."

"Wait! Zsadist! Your¡ª"

Z just shook his head and kept on going.

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