Excerpts from Obsessed in Blood

Devon speaks with Ginger about Cressa's kidnapping

Before going to Ginger’s room, Devon retreated to his own and dropped onto the sofa in front of the cold hearth. He opened the first page of the notebook. The words were something you’d find in a diary, just like Sergi said. He read a page then snapped the book closed, feeling like a voyeur. As House leader, he had every right to read the notebook, if only to see if Cressa had been someplace or mentioned someone that might provide a clue to her whereabouts. But she could have written things she’d prefer he didn’t read, and he had to respect her privacy—even now. Maybe it was best for Sergi to have a look, but then a better solution came to mind…

He tapped once but didn’t wait long as Lucas opened the door before the echo of the knock subsided.

“We’ve been expecting you.” He stepped back and glanced at Ginger, who was on the sofa gripping a blanket that had been wrapped around her shoulders.

Her face was tear-streaked and her mascara had smudged giving her a sultry exotic look. Countered against the tears that began again, she looked like a terrified Siamese cat. If you pushed too hard the claws would come out.

“I’m sorry, Ginger. It’s my fault for not protecting her better. I should never allowed her to leave the mansion.”

She stared at him. The only change was her eyes. They were truly the doorway to the soul. Several emotions flickered in them, moving at breakneck speeds—grief, fear, anger—no, not anger—rage. A dangerous combination.

He sat in a chair next to the couch. One minute she was sitting near him, the next she was on the arm of his chair, her arms circled around his shoulders.

“This isn’t your fault. You must feel ten times worse than me. And ten times angrier.”

She held him, her head bent to rest on his shoulder. This frail young woman, who had to be terrified for her best friend, was comforting him. He glanced up at Lucas who didn’t seem to find Ginger’s behavior strange.

After a moment, she returned to the sofa and curled up in her blanket. “Do we know for sure it was Lorenzo?”

“No specific proof and there probably never will be. The accident was similar to the one my parents died in, but the fire hadn’t reached the passenger section by the time our security arrived to douse the flames.”

“How’s Jacques?”

Lucas would have told her, but she seemed to have a script of her own. And if that’s what it took to keep her feet on the ground and head in the game, he’d take her lead.

“Jacques will have a difficult two weeks, but the healer is staying at the safe house, and I’m sure Bella will be by his side whenever she’s not working.” He fingered the notebook in his lap, then handed it to her. “This was in Cressa’s backpack. I think it best if you read it. I’d like to know if there’s any information that might help us. It doesn’t matter how insignificant it might seem.”

She ran a hand over it. “Thank you. I’ll read it tonight.” She turned silent and seemed to recede into the sofa. Whatever she’d wanted to say or learn had been fulfilled, and the adrenaline that had kept her going was receding.

“I slept for a couple of hours this afternoon.” Devon watched her expression.

She didn’t seem to understand why he was sharing the information but then her gaze went wide. “Did she bring you into a dream?”

“No. And if she were being held against her will, I would think she would at least try.”

Devon tries to reach Cressa

Lyra twirled her glass in a slow circle, took a sip, then twirled it again. “I know you’ve recently recovered from a great mental strain. It’s not difficult to understand your hesitancy. The medallion is very strong. If you prefer, I can try to reach her.”

“No.” Devon gave her a small smile. “I need to do this.”

She nodded and turned her attention to the fire. “You try first. I’ll call Madame Saldano at the first sign of trouble after I’ve ripped the medallion from your neck. But if nothing happens, I insist on giving it a try.”

“That seems fair.” He wasn’t exactly scared to put it on, though he had no idea what would happen if the medallion sensed a vampire or someone completely untrained. He was nervous about what he’d find if he connected with Cressa. She had to be okay. If Lorenzo had wanted her dead they would have found her body in the wreckage.

He set down his glass of single malt and picked up the medallion. “I need to be asleep, right?”

“Not necessarily. A meditative state should be sufficient.” She set down her wine and stood, letting the blanket drop to the floor. “Get up.” He stood, and she pulled his chair around so it directly faced the fire. “Sit down and then put on the necklace.”

He drained his glass then sat down.

“Is the necklace touching your skin?”

“Yes.”

“Start with staring at the flames. Let your mind drift until the flames become out of focus and then close your eyes.”

He did as she asked as her fingers slowly massaged his neck and shoulders. The tension drained away as the fire blurred and he closed his eyes. The gentle touch stopped, and he let his mind drift. Simone had taught him the basic tenets of meditation though he rarely used the practice. But now her guidance returned, and he flowed with where his mind took him.

He stood in the garden at Oasis. He raced to the grotto but she wasn’t there. He walked the entire garden before something pulled him toward the lake. A shadow of a person sat at the small knoll and watched the ducks come to rest on the lake for the evening.

“Cressa?”

The figure turned its head then disappeared like mist in the sun.

“Cressa!”

He turned in a circle, arms outstretched, but there was no one there but the cool evening breeze and the sound of a crackling fire.

His eyes popped open. “Dammit.”

Cressa and breakfast with Lorenzo

Lorenzo was sitting at a table by the window. The drapes had been pulled back, filtering the room with golden light. Stalker vamp was serving breakfast. Who knew he’d turn out to be an all-purpose babysitter?

“Come here, my dear. Let me get a look at those bruises.”

I waited for the vamp to finish serving then walked over to him. He took my hand and pulled me close. Without asking, he pushed my robe aside and lifted my nightgown. I pushed his hand away, and he grabbed my wrist. Those dark pools locked with my gaze and I fell into their depths.

“Don’t ever push me away when I’m trying to help. Understood.”

I nodded. For some reason, I didn’t want to disappoint him.

He ran his hand up my leg as he pushed the nightgown up. His fingers were warm against my skin. He ran a thumb over the bruise. “I can get you some ointment to help that heal faster.” His hand moved higher until it reached my hip.

“I’ll need you to stay in your room for another day, then you can move around the house. I don’t want you to over-exert yourself.”

His eyes never left mine throughout the entire exchange, and I leaned into him. His scent was an earthy musk, and my nose wrinkled. Not my favorite. Yet, something drew me to him, and I was quite aware that his hand was on my naked hip, and it gripped me tight sending small shivers through me.

He smiled. “Let’s eat.”

He removed his hand in one swift motion, and I stared down at him, not understanding what happened. My cheeks grew hot when stalker vamp held out his hand for me to sit. His gaze was heated as it roamed over my body, and he didn’t seem to have any issue with Lorenzo seeing it.

Once I was seated, he went back to his corner like a good little robot.

Lorenzo entertained me with stories of his childhood. He was raised a spoiled little rich kid. Who was he now? He lifted a napkin and dabbed at the corners of his mouth. It was a sensuous mouth.

I licked my lips, and his gaze followed the motion.

Then he stood. “I have several meetings today so I won’t be able to see you again until dinner. Remember you’re to rest today.”

“I remember.”

He kissed the top of my head and lingered, his hand running over my shoulder and down my arm. “Be a good girl.”