Even though she’d just met Marta, she wanted to stay and help her. She seemed so nice and clearly she needed someone to take care of her. Her brother certainly wasn’t doing it, she thought with a snort of disgust. No wonder the townspeople seemed to hate him, she was certainly starting to.


“Woman,” Christofer said in warning, “if you hit me with that damn cane again I’m going to take it!”

She didn’t even hesitate when she whacked him on the ass. He glared at her as he smartly jumped out of the way of the next swing. She matched his glare with one of her own.

“You do not tell me what to do, Christofer Petersen. I am a grown woman and if I want to hire someone to come live with me and help me then that is exactly what I’ll do!” He noted her accent becoming more pronounced the way it did whenever she was angry.

“This is my house, Marta. I decide who comes and who goes,” he reminded her.

She folded her hands in her lap and for a moment said nothing, making him think that he’d won. He really should have known better.

“Then I’ll use my money and move out. I’ll rent a two bedroom apartment closer to town and Cloe can come live with me.”

He threw his hands up in frustration. “You’re not leaving, Marta. We don’t need anyone. I take good care of you.”

She snorted.

She actually snorted.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he demanded, noting that his own accent was starting to come through. Damn it. Hadn’t that woman done enough today? First she nearly makes him lose control in the store and now she was messing with his home life. Clearly the woman needed to leave and soon.

“You do not take care of me, Christofer,” she said firmly.

He gaped at her. What the hell? “I put a roof over your head,” he started, holding up one finger to give her a visual of just how much he did for her. “I put food on the table, which I cook I might add,” he pointed out, adding another finger. “I do the laundry,” he said as another finger joined the party. “And I run all the errands for the house,” he said firmly as the fourth finger went up, proving without a doubt that he took great care of her.

She shifted in her seat. “I would not call what you do cooking.”

“What’s that supposed to mean? You never had a problem with it before!”

“You make watery tea. Your idea of breakfast is lumpy oatmeal or a piece of fruit and burnt toast,” she announced, holding up a finger. “Your idea of lunch is a sandwich, and they’re not very good. I’m tired of bologna,” she said, earning a glare as she held up another finger. “Your idea of dinner is whatever’s in a can or one of those disgusting frozen meals,” she said, adding another finger. “You run errands only when you have time and you never bring me along,” she snapped as the fourth finger went up, but she didn’t stop. “You never spend any time with me. You’re always in the barn and when I ask you to do something you make me feel like I’m nothing but a burden,” she announced, wiggling all five fingers to get her point across.

“What do you mean, I don’t spend time with you? I sit down with you for every meal and I check on you several times a day!”

She scoffed. “You sit at the table, reading or fixing one of your sketches and your idea of checking on me is to listen to my heartbeat from the barn.”

“That’s not true!” It was.

Marta smoothed her skirt down. “I’m tired of being a burden to you, Christofer. I know you gave your word to Papa and you’ve kept it to the best of your ability, but now I am releasing you from your promise. I know you would rather be anywhere else but here and with Cloe here you can do that now.”

That gave him pause. “You hired her to get rid of me?” That actually hurt. It was true that he didn’t want to be in this town, but he wanted to be with her. She was his sister, his family, his friend and without her he would be all alone in the world.

“That’s one of the reasons.”

He began pacing the room. “I’m not leaving, Marta. This is my home and you are my family. So, if that’s the reason for this woman’s presence then you might as well send her away, because I’m staying.”

“So is she if she still wants the job after all of your yelling.”

“I did not yell!”

“You’re doing it now!”

He groaned as he picked up his pacing. An idea hit him. He stopped and faced her. “What do you really know about this woman? More to the point, how did you hire her? For all you know she could be a thief or an ax murderer.”

“I hired her through an agency. They did a background check on her, drug testing and I contacted all her former employers and they couldn’t say enough nice things about her.”


He started pacing again.

“She’s very nice. She let me go for a ride, took me out to eat and-”

“I paid for you both to go out,” he pointed out.

She smiled. “No, you didn’t, Christofer. Cloe paid, not you.”

He eyed her, not liking that smug expression on her face one bit. “She can’t stay and that’s final.”


Because if Cloe stayed he would end up breaking the vow that he’d made to his sister and the one that he’d made to himself. He wanted Cloe’s blood so badly that he actually ached with the need to go after her. He also wanted to f**k her while feeding from her then f**k her again and then probably f**k her again, he thought, but he couldn’t tell his sister that. So he gave her a lame answer instead. “Just because.”

She snorted as she stood up and headed for the door.

“Good, go tell her to leave,” he said, confident that his word was law.

She laughed at him.

Good God, what the hell?

“I’m going to bed, Christofer. I will see you and Cloe in the morning.”

“She won’t be here!” he called after her.

“She better be.”

He growled softly as he watched his sister disappear into her room. That woman was not staying. He didn’t care what Marta threatened him with. If Marta tried to move out he would either drag her back here or follow after her. Either way Cloe was not staying a moment longer. He couldn’t tell Marta this, but she was risking the young woman’s life by keeping her here. He’d never wanted anyone’s blood or body more in his life. His self-control was good, but it wasn't perfect.

Cloe had to go.

He walked into the kitchen only to find it empty and….clean? What the hell? His eyes dropped to the floor. It was shiny and white with rose petals. He frowned down at the floor. He could have sworn that it had been a dull gray this morning. The room no longer smelled of old food, dust and a thousand other odors. It smelled of chemical and oranges. Every surface was clean and shining. He could have done that, he thought with a grumble.

He closed his eyes and listened. He heard two heartbeats. One on the first floor, which was Marta's and the other was on the second floor, which meant that Cloe had made herself at home.

Oh, hell no….

He took the back stairs two at time and raced towards the sound of her heartbeat. It came from a closed door at the end of the hallway. Without slowing down, he threw the door open and quickly stumbled forward, tripping over his own two feet from the sight that greeted him.