Born in Blood Collection Volume 2 - Cora Reilly
Wide eyes. Parted lips. Flushed cheeks. Pale skin. She looked like a porcelain doll: big blue eyes, chocolate hair and creamy white skin; breakable beautiful, something that I wasn’t meant to touch with my scarred, brutal hands. My fingers found her wrist; her heartbeat was fluttering like a birds. She’d tried to fight, tried to be brave, tried to hurt me, maybe even kill me. Had she truly hoped she could succeed?
Hope; it made people foolish, made them believe in something beyond reality. I’d got out of the habit of hoping a long time ago. I knew what I was capable of. She had hoped she could kill me. I knew I could kill her, no doubt about it.
My hand traced the soft skin of her throat, then my fingers wrapped lightly around it. Her pupils dilated but I put no pressure into my touch. Her pulse hammered against my rough palm. I was a hunter, and she was my prey. I’d come to claim my prize. That’s why Falcone had given her to me.
I liked things that hurt. I liked hurting others. Maybe even loved it; if I were capable of that kind of emotion. I leaned down until my nose was inches from the skin below her ear and breathed in. She smelled flowery with a hint of sweat. Fear. I could smell that too. I couldn’t resist and I didn’t have to, not anymore, not ever again with her. Mine. She was mine.
I lowered my lips to her hot skin. Her pulse hammered under my mouth where I kissed her throat. Panic and terror beat a frantic rhythm under her skin. And it made me fucking hard.
Her eyes sought out mine, hoping—still hoping, the foolish woman—and pleading me for mercy. She didn’t know me, didn’t know that the part of me that hadn’t been born a monster had died a long time ago. Mercy was the furthest thing from my mind as my eyes claimed her body.
The first time I met him, he was in disguise, dressed up in a stylish black suit, made to look like he was one of us. But while the layers of fine fabric covered his many tattoos, they couldn’t hide his true nature. It shone through, dangerous and chilling. Back then I didn’t think that I’d get to know him and the monster within better than I knew anyone else—that it would turn my whole life upside down. That it would change my entire being to the very core.
* * *
“I can’t believe they let you go with them,” Talia muttered. I turned away from the mirror to look at her. She sat cross-legged on my desk chair, dressed in her shabbiest jogging pants, and her long brown hair was piled atop her head in a messy bun. Her t-shirt, a faded gray thing littered with holes and stains, would drive our mother into a meltdown. Talia smiled grimly when she followed my gaze. “It’s not like I need to dress up for anyone, you know.”
“There’s a difference between not dressing up and between what you’re doing,” I said with a hint of disapproval. I wasn’t really annoyed at my sister for wearing her shabbiest clothes, but I knew their only purpose was to rile mother up, and it was a likely scenario given our Mother’s tendency for perfectionism and overreacting. I really didn’t want her mood to turn sour so shortly before the ball. I’d be the one to suffer since Father was definitely out of the question when it came to becoming Mother’s favorite target. Mother had a tendency to take it personally if Talia or I weren’t perfect.
“I’m making a point,” Talia said with a small shrug.
I sighed. “No, you’re being petty and childish.”
“I am a child, too young for a social gathering at the Falcone’s mansion,” Talia intoned in her best imitation of Mother’s chiding tone.
“This is an event for adults. Most people will be over eighteen or far beyond. Mother’s right. You’d have no one to talk to and someone would have to keep an eye on you all night.”
“I’m fifteen, not six. And you are only four years older than me, so don’t act all grown-up,” she said indignantly, pushing up from the desk chair, and staggered toward me. She eyed me squarely, the challenge unmistakable. “You probably told Mother not to take me with you because you knew you’d have to watch me. You were worried I’d embarrass you in front of your oh-so-perfect