The car ride back to Bastian’s apartment may well have been the most awkward one of my entire life.
Silence reigned the entire journey.
Bastian looked my way every other minute, I could feel his eyes scouring every inch of me he could see. And I pointedly looked the other way out the window. Not because I didn’t want to look at him, but because I burned to look at him. It was a hum in my very blood, my palms itched to touch him.
The whole damn car smelled like him. That wonderfully heady scent of vanilla, roasted coffee beans and decadent silk sheets.
It wasn’t helping in my attempt to keep the naughty thought of his body out of my head. Which wasn’t going to do either of us any good, considering he’d see every dirty thought the moment it entered my mind. Which would just make this journey all the more awkward.
So instead I methodically recited the times table…in Latin...backwards.
Dull enough even to keep Bastian’s sinfully erotic body out of my thoughts.
Still, I almost groaned with relief when we pulled into an underground garage and Bastian killed the engine.
He glanced at me for the hundredth time and this time I turned to look at him. He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out. Then he shut it, cleared his throat and hastily pulled the key from the ignition. He was out the car and my bag in hand, as well as his own, before I even had my seat belt undone. When I got out and went for my bag he simply turned on his heel and headed for the elevator.
Guess the ‘you’re big enough to carry your own bag’ thing only lasted so long.
I fidgeted with a loose thread on my top as the old elevator clanked and squealed its way up the floors. I tried to think of something to say, anything would be better than this painful silence.
“So was she pretty?”
I winced. Oh god, shoot me now. That did not just come out of my mouth. Silence was definitely better.
Bastian just looked at me, one perfectly arched eyebrow raised high. I swallowed hard.
Painful silence it was then. Most definitely better then whatever horrendous topic my mouth could concoct next.
The doors mercifully groaned opened. The hallway beyond wasn’t the polished marble and shining chrome I would have expected, but at the very least it looked sanitary and safe to walk down at night.
The glass shades covering the wall lights had seen better days, the glass missing some of its frosting and turning an unpleasant shade of yellow. The floor was clean, but the linoleum was clearing second grade and a desperate attempt to mimic marble tiling. The walls were painted a sensible shade of olive green, not exactly welcoming but I dread to think how hideous the hall would be if the landlord had followed through on their mission of false elegance by painting is white.
The hall wasn’t particularly long, maybe 10 apartments in total, 5 on each side. Three doors down, Bastian stopped at a door on the left. Magic rippled as he undid an enchantment on the locks with a seemly casual wave of his hand and then he opened the door.
I followed him inside, watching him drop my bag just past the door in the entrance to the lounge. The door shut behind me with a quiet snick.
He cleared his throat again, “Um, there’s not much in the apartment to eat, I haven’t had the opportunity to go shopping and I wasn’t expecting a new house guest. But feel free to scavenge what you can. I’ll go to the store tomorrow after work.”
“I can go.” Almost immediately a furrow burrowed between his brows. I interrupted him before he could protest. “You’re right, you weren’t expecting to have anyone else here. At the very least I can buy some food. It’s not like I’m not earning a fair wage, I can certainly afford to contribute in some way until I can set up somewhere else to live. I’ll try and be out of your hair as soon as I can.”
I was stretching the truth a little bit. If I hadn’t found somewhere respectable to live already I wasn’t going to have any more luck living here, but maybe it’d give me extra incentive to do something about it.
A frustrated breath escaped through Bastian’s nose, “Or you could just stay here.”
My gaze had wandered off to the side, where Bastian’s coats hung by the front door, but at his words my head snapped back to him.
“What?” I asked, dumbfound.
He gave me a decidedly gentler look and turned away from me, moving off to the little kitchenette attached to the lounge.
“You could just stay. I have a spare room. It’s got no furniture in it at the moment, but we can fix that. There’s plenty of room for both of us, and it’d make my life a hell of a lot easier to split the bills. Besides, having you around might keep the hell witch of a landlord off my back. He’s a sucker for a pretty smile.” His lazy grin was so familiar it almost fooled me out of my shock. At his offer and his very unexpected compliment.
He raised that perfect eyebrow again, daring me to come up with any kind of argument.
It was abit of a joke that I couldn’t think of anything remotely substantial.
Obviously my lack of intelligent response was clearly written on my face, because Bastian nodded like the issue was settled and turned to grabbed bits out of the fridge.
“You can take my bed tonight, I’ll take the couch. We’ll sort ou-”
His head popped out from around the fridge door, “No what?”
I moved further into the room, grabbed my bag from the doorway and placed it beside the couch. I yanked the zipper open and pulled out my small wash kit.
“No. As in no, I won’t take your bed. This is your apartment, which I’m invading. You’ll sleep exactly where you would if I wasn’t here. I’ll take the couch.”
“Hang on just a minute-”
I held up my hand, cutting him off. A pinch between my eyes forewarned a headache swelling. “This isn’t 1922. Your manhood won't be compromised if I'm not in a bed. I'm not going to be crippled by a night on the couch. I’m not a delicate flower to keep in a glass case Bastian, so don’t treat me like one.”
His jaw dropped, and for a moment he looked too stunned to argue. I took advantage of his delayed response and stalked down the hall, “I assume the bathroom is this way. If you don’t mind, I’m still covered in blood and smell like sweat and alcohol. I’m taking a shower.”
What in the seven circles of hell just happened?
The steady hum of fridge pulled me out of my stupor. With an angry grunt I slammed the door shut, then instantly regretted it when I heard something fall over inside it.
I leant my head against it’s cool surface. Damn, it’d been a long time since she spoke to me like that. And as much as it enraged me, part of me loved the familiarity of it. Part of me loved it for other reasons. But that was just the aftereffects of a feed talking.
That was also what had kept my eyes glued to her ass as she marched down the hallway to my small bathroom.
Inappropriate. Really really attractive, curved behind that would probably fit perfectly in my hands…
Definitely completely unacceptably inappropriate.
She’s practically my sister. I snorted at my weak attempt to lie to myself. Never had I in my existence considered Garnet my sister. But despite a brief crush on me in her teens, there was no doubt she considered me her blood brother now. Her body’s response to my blood earlier proved it sure enough.
Besides, even if she did think of me in that way, pursuing that path really wouldn’t lead anywhere good. Well, it’d be pretty damn good in some ways…
Best not to think of that at all, especially with her very naked in the next room, under the hot spray of the shower, her long hair wet, water clinging to her silvery lashes. Her warm eyes beaconing me…
I shook my head, trying to clear it of that particularly risky thought process. Christ, what was wrong with me. I shouldn’t be this worked up right after a feed. Maybe it was just the unusual events of the evening, and having Garnet in my home after such a long time and after leaving on such bad terms.
I began to make a sandwich for each of us as I thought of the mess I’d made of leaving our home back in Pentwater. I hadn’t told Garnet I was going until long after I should have. I couldn’t have expected her to react any differently when I only gave her 3 days notice. And I probably shouldn’t have called her a useless small town American dreamer with no drive to actually do anything with her life.
I winced, pausing with my knife in the peanut butter jar. Damn, I was an ass. It was a miracle she was even here at all.
Even angrier at myself I finished my double stack of peanut butter chocolate sandwiches and started on Garnet’s. Thankfully I’d found some passable ham in the back, and rescued the toppled mayo from its place on the otherwise empty shelf in the fridge.
By the time Garnet turned the shower off I had made up the couch with sheets, a throw and a pillow from my room. Clearly she was determined to take her anger at me out on my water bill.
Or rather our water bill.
The reality of my offer hit me like a brick in the face. Garnet. Living here. With me. Alone.
Shit, what was I thinking!
Obviously I wasn’t waiting for my birthday to experience my own personal hell.
When the bathroom door opened I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. She stood in the doorway, framed by swirling steam, wrapped in my favourite green towel, wet hair clinging to her neck and chest.
Then her sheepish expression made my heart tighten painfully.
“Um, could you pass me my bag…I forgot my clothes.”
I dropped the pillow I’d been clutching, “Sure. Here.” I passed the worn duffle bag to her and tried not to stare.
She offered me a little smile and disappeared back into the bathroom. She emerged 5 minutes later, dressed in the same sweats that had been her favourites back home, and a tiny tank top that was intent on giving me a heart attack.
I sat heavily in the chair opposite the couch and pushed her sandwiches across the coffee table I’d found in a garage sale a couple of months ago.
“I made you a sandwich. You should eat, your body needs to heal.”
She sat on my worn second hand couch and smiled that sweet smile I remembered from our childhood, “Thanks. Though I don’t think healing is an issue. Your blood well and truly fixed that.”
I tried not to swell with pride of the thought of that, “Still, to be sure.”
She didn’t question me again, just tucked into the sandwich with more relish than the crappy ham and cheap mayo was due. I ate mine while I studied her.
Her hair was definitely longer. When I had left she had just cut it, so that the locks just brushed her chin. Now it was half way down her back, her damp strands hanging over her breasts. I suppose it was fortunate that her tank top wasn’t white.
Her curves had grown in before I left, and had changed the quality of her prey dramatically when we had hunted together. But now they seemed different. Soft, more sensual, in that enticing feminine way women sometimes had. Before she had been obvious about her curves, eager to flaunt them after waiting so desperately for them to arrive and save her from her awkward small stature and muscled limbs. Now there was a deep acceptance of her form. The kind beautiful women had when they didn’t realise how truly beautiful they were.
She was still the stunning shade of gold all over too. From the tips of her pretty toes to her small oddly shaped ears. I always said their strange angular shape was quirky, but she hated them so much she had made it a habit to wear her hair down to hide them. Her hair with that colouring made her look like an exotic princess from a far away land.
She still had that habit of folding herself into incomprehensively small shapes wherever she sat too. Like now, how she tucked her small feet under her and held her plate close. She looked so small, it was easy to see how she could go completely unnoticed in a room, when she stayed silent.
Which was rarely.
“Still testing if demons can develop diabetes?” Her smart mouth quirked up in one corner.
My sugary sandwich paused halfway to my mouth. Then, watching her carefully, I took a huge bite and said around the mouthful, “well, if I don’t, who will? These are important questions that need answering.”
She held my gaze for a moment, then threw back her head a laughed that throaty bold laugh that sounded like home. A paused for a moment then joined her.
And just like that everything was ok again.