Sam ground his teeth at Clementine’s stubbornness and hovered around her in case she fell.
Blood soaked the back of her pink t-shirt and dripped, leaving a gruesome trail as she walked along the exterior balcony toward their motel room on the second floor. “You paid with cash like I told you?” She weaved on unsteady feet.
“Yes, ma’am.” He barely had enough money in his wallet to buy a soda now. “No credit card to track.” He reached out to grab her elbow, but she swatted his fingertips. Reflexively, he shook the sting away. “Playing tough and insisting on walking doesn’t get you brownie points if you pass out.”
He unlocked and opened their room door. The scent of cheap air freshener and stale sweat swept over him. He turned and sneezed.
He wiped his mouth. “Thanks.” Wasn’t there some supernatural law against vampires being polite?
“It smells odd in here.” She leaned against the door frame and pointed to the faded yellow bed. “Can you pull off the blanket?”
“We got what we paid for, a cheap-ass room. At least they don’t charge by the hour.” He winked and did as Clementine asked, then watched as she crawled onto their bed, lying on her stomach. “What can I do to help?” The deep red stain continued to spread under his scrutiny. “When Daedalus was staked, he didn’t bleed like this.”
She twisted around and whispered, “You were there?” With her blue eyes wide, she appeared very young, but vampires were experts at fooling people. Clementine could be five hundred years old, for all he knew. With a wig, Daedalus looked twenty, younger than Sugar.
He chuckled at the memory and recalled the expression of horror on Sugar’s face. “It happened in my old apartment.”
“You’re one of the original Omegas?”
“You make it sound like a bad thing.” They’d had five pack members at the beginning, before Daedalus came and changed everything. Now they numbered in the triple digits and were called the Vasi. He pointed at her wound. “Can you bleed to death?”
She rolled back onto her stomach. “No, but I’ll need to feed before the blood lust takes over me. You have to remove the bullet.”
He grabbed the edge of her shirt and tore it open, exposing her back.
She hissed and glared at him over her shoulder. “I could have taken it off.”
Pasting mock surprise on his face, he laid a hand on his chest. “Where’s the fun in that?” Not waiting for her response, he went into the bathroom and washed off his pocketknife. A pair of tweezers would have been handy. And some gauze. He grabbed a face cloth instead. “Do I need to sterilize my knife or find some antiseptic?”
“I’m a vampire. Disease doesn’t plague us.”
He shrugged off her prickly tone, betting she was as gentle as the sound of her name on his lips. “Good, because I can’t provide either.” On his knees, he straddled her legs and leaned forward to examine her wound. He planted his palm between her shoulder blades.
“What--” She struggled under him. “What are you doing?”
“I don’t want you to move.” Using his shifter strength, he shoved her flat against the bed and wiped the blood away. “Stop wiggling so much. It’s distracting.”
“Not like you can do more damage.” Her words came out muffled.
“No, but you’re turning me on.”
She went limp, her breathing heavy and strained.
He couldn’t help but chuckle. This shitty day was getting better. Using the tip of the pocketknife, he gently probed her wound. “Tell me if it hurts.” The hole in her flesh was deep. It appeared as if her backbone had absorbed the impact of the bullet. Damn, vampires were tough.