Drip Drop Teardrop Page 7

“Nearly two thousand years,” he replied promptly. “When London was Londinium and much smaller, I might add. I had more free time back then.”

She gave a little guffaw of hysterical laughter, ignoring his glare. She waved him off. “I’m not laughing at you. I’m just laughing at this.” She gestured around her. “I think all the trauma has finally gotten to me.”

Brennus stared her down. “You know this is real, Avery. You know me.”

She shook her head. “No.”

“Yes. You do,” he insisted, his voice hardening under her denial.

She shivered, clutching her stomach, heat blossoming on her cheeks. She felt a little feverish. “Why?” She desperately wanted to cry as she pinned him with her forthright blue gaze. “Why are you so familiar?”

Brennus exhaled, a relieved smile playing on his lips. He had a beautiful mouth, she realised distantly. He relaxed back into the armchair. “I only took over New York nine years ago. I came here for a reason. When she was ten years old, a little girl and her parents came over from the U.S. to Britain, and they were involved in a tragic car accident. I came for them all.”

Avery swallowed past the lump in her throat, not sure if she had heard correctly over the rushing of blood in her ears. “Them all?”

Nodding, Brennus leaned forward again, his eyes dark with sympathy. “I took the parents easily. But the little girl…” He shook his head, his face alight with wonder. “…she fought me. No one had ever fought me before. You fought me, Avery. You fought me and won.”

“No.” She quivered, pressing her spine against the wall, wishing she could melt into it. Tears spilled over her lids but she couldn’t escape the truth. No wonder he was so familiar.

“We made a connection that day that can’t be broken. I knew I had to watch over you. So I called up Edward who controlled New York and we traded.”

Her jaw dropped. “You make it sound like you traded baseball cards.”

Brennus shrugged. “After eighteen hundred years as an Ankou you tend to be less sensitive about death.”

Avery ignored the comment, staring at her bare feet in a daze. She’d painted her toe nails black today. That wasn’t an omen, was it? “So you followed me?”

“Yes,” he whispered, his voice packed full of emotion she wished wasn’t there.

“And now what?”

“You belong with me, Avery. I feel it in my gut.”

Her head snapped up, her stomach fluttering with butterflies. “When you say belong… you mean…?”

Throwing her a wicked smile that would thaw the iciest of hearts, Brennus replied, “As in belong with, as in my friend and eternal lover.”

She dropped her head in her hands, shaking uncontrollably. “This can’t be happening, this isn’t happening, I’m going mad-”

“Avery, stop,” he snapped and she felt the breeze of blurry movement as he knelt before her, only inches from her now. He moved supernaturally fast. His warm hand reached up and yanked her hands away from her face so she’d have no choice but to look at him. All she could see were his eyes; the paleness of his face and horror of his scar just a blur compared to the sharp clarity of those eyes.

“You’re warm,” she said dumbly.

Brennus grunted, “You expected different?”

“Cold. I expected you to be cold.”

He snorted. “I’m not a vampire, Avery.”

Her eyes widened. “Do they exist?!”

His eyes closed and he shook with suppressed laughter. Finally his lashes fluttered and he opened his lids, pinning her to the wall with his black gaze. “No. They don’t.”

Trying to pull her wrists out of his grasp, Avery muttered, “So you really think I belong with you, huh?”

“Didn’t you feel it when we danced?” he whispered sensually, his hot woodsy scent enveloping her.

“Stop that!” she snapped, snatching her hands back.

Brennus frowned in confusion. “Stop what?”

“That.” She gestured vaguely. “That intoxicating, drugging thing you do with your heat and smell…” She drifted off at his languid grin. She huffed, “You’re not doing anything, huh?”

He shook his head smugly.

“Look, I don’t know what you’re expecting from me but you’ve got the wrong girl,” she insisted.

Brennus went back to glaring. “I’m not wrong.” He heaved an exasperated sigh. “I know I’m not much to look at, Avery, but if you gave me a chance…” He gulped in a breath and shook his head. “I’ve lived a long time, Avery, and I know that you’re the one. The Ankou are destined to live forever performing the duties of their obligation to the dead… unless…”

“Unless?” she whispered.

“Unless they fall in love with a mortal who loves them back. The mortal frees them from their obligation and joins the Ankou in immortality. They live forever together, the Ankou no longer tied to the world of the dead.”

Slowly realisation dawned and for some reason she felt a stab of pain in her chest. “You’re using me!” she hissed, her eyes narrow slits of rage. “You’re using me to get out of being a reaper!”

Brennus threw her a disgusted look. “Of course not! I have to love you and you have to love me. It has to be real. Or it won’t work.”

“Well I’m sorry to burst your little fantasy, mister, but I don’t love you.”

The air thickened around them. A chill, tight and cold, descended over them and Avery knew Brennus was responsible for it. “You’ll give me a chance, Avery. Spend some time with me. Please.”

“No.”

“Avery-”

“I said no!” she growled aggressively in his face. “You took my parents!”

“You know that’s not true.”

“Get out!”

“Avery-”

“No!”

“Avery!” he snarled ferociously and she slid back, seeing real darkness in him, the scar glaring at her. “I’ve frightened you? Good.” He stood up in one fluid motion, staring down at her with no expression. “You have a choice, Avery. You come with me for a week and give me a chance to prove what I say is true, or I take your Aunt Caroline before her time.”

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