Paris had been twirling that one lock of hair for two hours and now and it was driving me crazy.

I watched the lounging girl get up and pace around my room for the three hundredth time. How could one person fidget so much? “Will you sit down please?”

Paris gave me a look. There was a knock on the door and her head snapped in that direction, eyes large. I wasn’t sure if she was scared or excited; she reeked of both.

Since she wasn’t moving, I went to open the door.

“Frances,” the beautiful man on the other side greeted me, garnet eyes gleaming at me in a red fashion. I barely hid my shiver at the way he said my name.

“Jax, welcome.”

Jax Girard raised his eyebrows.

“Come in,” I invited him.

Jax entered and regarded Paris with cool disregard. “You must be Paris Matthews.”

Paris nodded. From this distance, I could see the pulse pounding in her throat. “Yes, that’s me.” Her voice cracked on the last word, sounding hoarse and unused.

“Paris is a little nervous,” I told Jax. “Until today, she didn’t know we existed.”

Jax nodded in understanding. “Did Frances tell you who I am?”

Paris looked at me and shook her head. “She said a friend.”

Jax raised another dark eyebrow at me. “I’m her prince.”

“I didn’t want to frighten her,” I explained quietly.

“But I am also her friend,” Jax continued.

Paris looked confused. “Is that legal?”

Jax shrugged. “Father doesn’t approve of me befriending lower stations—“ he shot me an apologetic look. “—but Mother doesn’t mind.”

“Are you two lovers?”

I nearly choked at the question. Jax shot me an amused look.

“No,” he answered Paris with a smile.

Paris leaned around him to ask me, “Why the hell not? He’s gorgeous.”

Jax smirked. “She’s not interested in ‘arrogantly haughty’ princes.”

“Are you arrogantly haughty?”

“According to Frances, I am.”

I rolled my eyes.

“You don’t seem that bad to me.”

I sighed. “You’re crazy,” I told Jax.

Jax laughed. It was an incredibly appealing sound. But, of course, I’d never tell him that. “Perks of the job, sweetheart.”

I made a face at him and he laughed harder.

“Are you ready to embrace the darkness, Paris?”

Paris looked uncertain. She looked to me for assurance.

I wasn’t sure I could give her any comfort, but I nodded encouragingly anyway.

Paris looked back at Jax, took a deep breath, and grinned. “Infect me with your venom, baby.”

Jax burst out laughing. “I like her,” he said to me. “She’s funny. You have a good taste in friends, Frances.”

“You included, I suppose you mean?”

Jax inclined his head. “Naturally.”

I rolled my eyes and said pointedly to Paris. “Arrogant.”

Jax ignored that and pulled Paris close to his chest, cradling her to him almost as if she were his lover. I fought against the bitterness that rose in my throat at that. I knew it was her blood he craved, not her. Paris meant nothing to him, yet I couldn’t help the pang of jealousy as he lowered his mouth to her neck.

I shivered, remembering the night he had turned me. The way he’d held me while the transaction took place was like I was something cherished, something treasured above all else.

The exchanging of blood was an intimate affair. I felt like I was trespassing on something private as I watched Jax’s sharpened teeth penetrate her skin and the look of pure ecstasy cross Paris’s face. I looked away.

When Jax had finished feeding from Paris, he moved away, still propping her up against him because she was weak from blood loss. I heard the tearing of wet flesh and I knew he was cutting his wrist so she could drink.

“Your turn,” Jax said quietly, and held his pale wrist to Paris’s quivering lips.

When Jax was satisfied Paris had gotten enough of his blood to turn her instead of kill her, he set her down on my bed so she could build up her strength during the change. The change was painful and I cringed internally at what I knew Paris was suffering.

I watched Paris jerk slightly, eyes rolling up in her head as she passed out. I turned to pace my room, but froze, feeling someone’s eyes on me. Turning, I met Jax’s intense gaze. “What?”

“Nothing.”

I narrowed my eyes on him, but didn’t press the issue even though the curiosity burned forefront in my brain.

“Frances—”

“I have to go.”

“Where?”

I shrugged. “For a walk.” Jax still had Paris’s blood smeared all over his mouth and his blood staining his wrist.

“I’ll come with you.”

I gestured with my chin towards my best friend’s twitching body. “Somebody needs to watch her in case she wakes up soon. Don’t need a newborn vamp on a killing spree.”

I left before Jax could say anything more.

The way Jax had looked at her… Maybe I’d been wrong and Paris did mean more to him than I’d thought.

Then I shook my head, dismissing that idea. They’d only just met— I’m being ridiculous.

Then again, Paris was cute… And I’d never given him reason to believe I was available or interested.

I cursed my bad luck. I’d all but set them up together, by inviting him to my house. All because I was afraid of having my little, dead, unbeating vampire heart broken. Why did I have to push him away? I thought miserably, kicking a soda can in the middle of the street.

Ever since Paris had found out six weeks ago that I was a vampire, she’d been begging me to turn her. But I wasn’t quite confident in my self-control and I didn’t want to end up accidentally draining her completely, so I’d caved and asked Jax to do it. She’d been intrigued by the concept of a vampire prince and agreed that this was an acceptable substitute to me being her sire. Now they’d live a long, happy, eternally undead life together.

Bloody hell. I wanted to scream at my misfortune. Who cares if I get my dumb heart broken? I should have given Jax a chance. I should have at least told him I was into him.

Paris had met him for five seconds and told him he was gorgeous. I’d known him for two hundred and fifty years and never let him know I had those thoughts.

The song “Stitches” popped into my head, a gloomy soundtrack to my sucky day.

Who cares about my damned heart? It’s dead anyway, I thought acidly. One more scar won’t kill me.

The line “your bitter heart cold to the touch, now I’m gonna reap what I sew. I’m left seeing red on my own…” ran through my mind and I clenched my teeth, glaring mutinously at a stray cat perched on a dumpster.

“Bloody hell,” I growled aloud under my breath, cursing popular culture’s obsession with love songs. Damn you, Shawn Mendes.

But I knew I couldn’t blame Shawn Mendes for my problems. He was just writing a catchy song that happened to fit my life at the moment. He wasn’t the cause of my anger and pain, though. It was my own damn fault I had lost Jax. It was my fault, because I’d never really had him in the first place.

“Frances!”

I was so wrapped up in my deep, dismal thoughts that I barely heard my name.

“Frances!”

I finally heard the shouting and turned.

Jax was running down the street after me. He reached me and I met him with a raised eyebrow. “Look, I know you told me to stay with Paris, but—”

Without thinking, just knowing I had to stop him from saying anything more, I grabbed him and kissed him, Paris’s blood slick in my mouth because he hadn’t washed it off yet. I felt my fangs elongate and my eyes burn red in response.

At first, Jax stood frozen, still as a statue. But then, slowly, he snaked his arms around my waist, pulled me to him, and kissed me back. He was cautious in his touch, almost as if he didn’t believe this was real or I would bolt if he was too rough.

When I finally ended it, Jax seemed almost breathless, which was ludicrous because breathing was unnecessary for us. He smiled uncertainly. “What did you do that for?”

“Watching you with Paris…” I felt stupid admitting it, so I murmured the last part to the ground. “I got… jealous.”

Jax raised his eyebrows this time. He placed a finger under my chin and forced me to look up. “Hmm? What was that?”

I knew he’d heard me, but I repeated it anyway. “I got jealous.”

Jax gently caressed my cheek, smiling. “How long have you known you had feelings for me?”

“Pretty much since the 1770s.”

“That long, huh?”

I couldn’t tell from his voice what he was thinking or feeling, so I risked it and looked at his seraphic face. Jax looked amused and bewildered.

“And all this time I thought you were just waiting for your perfect guy.”

“You are my perfect guy.”

Jax smiled. “And you’re my perfect everything… you always have been, since that hot September night I first laid eyes on you in 1765.”

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