For a moment, she thought he was about to pick her up and carry her off to some secluded corner of the camp as if he owned her. She wouldn’t have fought him. God, not even close.
But as they stood there, Sera felt a subtle sting start to needle her cheeks and forehead. Her eyes started to burn, then the next breath she took carried the grit of fine sand to the back of her throat.
It was arriving even sooner than Karsten had warned.
She didn’t have to tell Jehan. Pulling her close, he tucked her head against his chest and rushed with her toward the nearest outbuilding as the night began to fill with a roiling swell of yellow dust.
By the time they reached the aluminum-roofed storage building several yards ahead, the biting wind had picked up with a howl. Sand churned across the camp, blowing as thick as a blizzard.
His body still charged with arousal, Jehan held Seraphina against him as he threw open the rickety wooden door. “Inside, quickly.”
She no sooner entered the shelter than a muffled cry somewhere amid the storm drew both of them to full alert. The voice was small, distant. Unmistakably terrified.
“Yasmin.” Seraphina’s face blanched with worry. “Oh, God. The little girl who came to greet us when we arrived. She and some other children ran off to play a few minutes ago.”
The cry came again, more plaintive now. There was pain in the child’s voice too.
Jehan cursed. “Stay here. I’ll find her.”
Without waiting for her to argue, he dashed back into the night using the speed of his Breed genetics. The little girl’s wails were a beacon through the blinding sea of flying sand. Jehan followed her cries to a deep ditch on the far side of the camp. At the bottom of the rugged drop, her small body lay curled in a tight ball.
At the sound of her name, she lifted her head. Agony and terror flooded her tear-filled eyes. The poor child was shaking and sobbing, choking on the airborne sand.
Jehan jumped down into the ditch. Crouching low beside her, he sheltered her with his body as the sandstorm roiled all around them. “Are you hurt?”
Her dark head wobbled in a jerky nod. “My leg hurts. I was trying to hide from my friends, but I fell and they all ran away.”
Jehan gingerly examined her. As soon as his palm skated over her left shin and ankle, he felt the hot pain of a compound fracture. The break streaked through his senses like a jagged bolt of lightning. “Come on, sweetheart. Let’s get you out of here.”
He collected Yasmin into his arms and carried her up from the ditch. At the crest of it, Seraphina was waiting. A heavy blanket covered her from head to toe as a makeshift shield from the storm. She opened her arms as Jehan strode toward her, enveloping him and the child as the three of them made their way across the camp.
“She needs a medic,” he informed Seraphina as she murmured quiet reassurances to the scared child. “I felt two fractures in the lower part of the left fibula, and a fairly bad sprain in the ankle.”
Seraphina’s brows knitted for a second, then she acknowledged with a nod. “The medical building is in the center of camp. This way.”
She set their course for one of the glowing yellow lights emanating through the sand and darkness up ahead.
Jehan didn’t miss the uncertain glances he drew as he and Seraphina brought the injured child into the small field hospital. Their wariness didn’t bother him. Being Breed, he was accustomed to the wide berth most humans tended to give him. And it didn’t escape his notice that one of the nurses carrying a cooler with a large red cross on it made an immediate about-face retreat the instant her eyes landed on him—as if her stash of refrigerated red cells might provoke him to attack.
The humans needn’t have worried about that. His kind only consumed fresh blood, taken from an open vein.
And right now, the only veins that interested him at all belonged to the beautiful woman standing next to him. Even dressed in his worn shirt and oversized pants, Seraphina stirred everything male in him the same way she stirred the vampire side of his nature.
Just because their kiss had been interrupted by the storm and a distressed child, that didn’t mean he’d forgotten any of that fire Seraphina had ignited in him. Now that the little girl was safe and in the care of a doctor, Jehan’s attention—all of his focus—was centered on how quickly he could get back to where he and Seraphina had left off.
But he stood by patiently as she made introductions and explained to her fellow volunteers that Jehan was her friend, that he was the one who went out into the storm to locate Yasmin. Seraphina’s vouching for him seemed enough to put the humans at ease, since it was clear that everyone at the camp trusted and adored her.
He was beginning to feel likewise.
More than beginning to feel that way, in fact.
After the medic and nurses went back to their work, Seraphina turned to look up at him.
“When you brought Yasmin out of the storm, you said her leg was broken.” He nodded, but that didn’t seem to satisfy Seraphina’s curiosity. “Actually, you said her fibula had two fractures and that her ankle was badly sprained. You were right, Jehan. According to the field medic just a few minutes ago, you were one hundred percent accurate. You told me you felt her injuries. You can feel physical injuries?”
He shrugged, barely acknowledging the ability he so seldom used.
“Can you heal them too?”
“No. And now you know my curse,” he murmured wryly. “I can inventory someone’s wounds, but I can’t help them.”
She tilted her head at him, warmth sparkling in her eyes. “You helped Yasmin tonight.”
Jehan stared at her, unsure how to respond. Seraphina couldn’t know how his so-called gift had hobbled him in his life. He’d grown up feeling useless, aimless. It wasn’t until he’d found the Order that he realized there were other ways to do something meaningful with his life. That his life had purpose.
She was still studying him, looking gorgeous and far too interested in him as she held his gaze. “The storm’s really blowing out there. Do you want to wait it out in here or would you rather go to my place?”
He arched a brow. “Your place?”
“My tent.” She smiled, and the warmth of it went straight to his groin. “It’s where I stay when I’m here at the camp for any length of time. It’s not all that comfortable, but it is private.”
Jehan’s grin broke slowly across his face. “Miss Sanhaja, are you trying to seduce me?”
She licked her lips, tilting her head as she held his hungry gaze. “I think I might be.”
Holy hell. The promise in her voice had his blood racing so hard and fast to his cock, he wasn’t sure he’d make it to her tent.
“Lead the way,” he drawled thickly, his fangs already punching out of his gums.
He held the blanket aloft over them as they dashed out of the medical building and raced through the blizzard of sand. Seraphina’s tent stood toward the far end of the camp. By the time they reached it and found their way past the zipper and ties that secured the shelter’s entrance, they were coated in a thin layer of grit. They stumbled inside together hand-in-hand, Seraphina laughing and breathless in the dark.
She left him for a moment, bending to turn on a lantern.