"No," he said throatily. "More." And he lowered his mouth again.
Vlad's face crystallized in front of me, but instead of green drapes all around us, we were back in the hall and he was staring down at me, frowning.
"I know you caught a glimpse of something when you touched me. Your mind went silent. Tell me what it was."
My cheeks flamed with heat. At the same time, disbelief washed over me, covering the remains of pleasure more intense than I'd ever experienced while masturbating. That hadn't been a vision of him with another woman, yet still, denial screeched across my mind.
No. Not me and Vlad like . . . like that!
His frown cleared, replaced by a brow going up. Damn his mind reading. Think of something else! I mentally screamed, avoiding his stare. ANYthing else!
I no longer looked at Vlad, but I could almost feel his gaze roving over me, noting my newly tight ni**les, accelerated heartbeat, and probably picking up on that damn lingering throb between my legs, too.
"Not surprising," he said at last, his voice thicker with things I didn't want to name. "I predicted the same thing myself."
My cheeks continued to heat until I expected them to burst into flames like his hands. I brushed past Vlad and headed for the staircase, not daring to look at Marty, either. How could I? I'd just gotten a glimpse into a future where I was in bed with the man who'd tortured him.
"Nothing's set in stone. I've changed my premonitions before," I muttered, both to Vlad and myself. Still, I took the stairs two at a time.
An hour later, Marty opened my bedroom door without knocking. He'd changed out of the torn, bloody clothes and had taken a shower, from the damp look to his hair. I was sitting cross-legged in bed, trying without success to pretend I'd misunderstood the image I'd glimpsed. Yeah, right. Because Vlad had been between my legs looking for a set of keys he'd lost.
"Frankie?" Marty said gruffly. "I don't wanna bother you, but I don't have long to talk."
"Why? What's going on?" I asked at once, leaping up.
Marty shut the door behind him, scratching one of his long, bushy black sideburns. "I'm leaving for a scouting mission."
I didn't ask, Scouting for what? "Vlad might not even be right," I muttered. "Maybe no one told Jackal and the others to snatch me up. Maybe they thought of it all by themselves."
"They didn't," Marty replied, grimness clear in each syllable. "That vampire from the hotel, Shrapnel, spent the whole plane ride grilling the redhead who took you-and he was creative. But that was nothing compared to what Vlad did once we got here. Next to that, I got off easy. They didn't act alone. They were sent after you, but they didn't know by whom. All they had was a phone number and a big deposit in their bank account with promises of more if you gave them the goods on Vlad."
I sighed. I hadn't really thought this would be over so quickly, but I'd hoped. "I'm so sorry, Marty." I gestured at his chest, wanting to cry at what he'd been through. "He shouldn't have hurt you."
Marty snorted. "I'm happy to be alive. You probably guessed that I tailed you from Gibsonton, waiting until there were fewer vampires guarding you. When I realized it was Vlad I attacked, I thought I was done for. The only reason I'm not toes-up is because you made him promise not to kill me. I'd heard that he holds to his word. Never thought to find out personally."
I managed a limp smile. "Since I'll be spending time with him looking for this mysterious puppet master, is there anything else I should know about Vlad?"
"Yeah." Marty's expression became hard. "What you saw in that last vision . . . don't let it happen."
I closed my eyes, feeling my cheeks warm again. So Marty had figured out what I'd glimpsed, too. Not a shock; he was a vampire, and I'd been anything but suave in my reaction.
"Marty," I began.
"I wouldn't care if it was someone else," he cut me off. "This isn't about your inexperience with men."
"Announce that to everyone, why don't you!" I hissed, my eyes flying open. With how well vampires could hear, he may as well have tattooed a big V onto my forehead.
He waved a hand impatiently. "You're missing the point. Vlad isn't your typical vampire. We're all ruthless at one time or another, but he's in a class by himself. You let yourself get involved with him, he'll rip your heart out and destroy your life, and if I didn't love you like the daughter I used to have, I wouldn't say this when I know damn well that he's listening."
The raw pain in his voice took away my embarrassment.
"Don't worry." I forced myself to sound nonchalant. "I know how dangerous he is and I don't want to get involved with him. I must've had a case of temporary insanity because he's immune to the electricity in my touch." A shrug. "I'll get over it."
Marty chucked me on the hip. "That's my girl. I don't know how long I'll be gone, but you watch your back."
"I will," I promised Marty. "When do you leave?"
Marty sighed. "Now. Give me a hug, kid. Love you."
I knelt down and wrapped my arms around him, careful not to touch him with my right hand.
"Love you," I whispered. "You watch your back, too, Marty. Don't you dare let yourself get killed."
He laughed a trifle grimly. "I'll try not to."
At nine o'clock on the dot, I came down the staircase. I'd considered refusing to join Vlad for dinner after what he did to Marty-among other reasons why I didn't want to see him-but avoiding him would be pointless. We had to work together to find out who'd ordered my kidnapping. I wasn't about to let that person get off the hook.
Besides, I'd gotten over my embarrassment for my naughty vision about Vlad-and for Marty trumpeting the news of my inexperience for every vampire to hear. Was I supposed to be ashamed for valuing other people's lives over my own needs? I wasn't that coldhearted and ruthless.
I couldn't say the same about the vampire who rose when I entered the dining room, his expression showing a flicker of surprise as he took in my appearance. To show that I wasn't suffering from damaged modesty, I'd changed into a strapless black dress, the tight fit clinging to curves honed by countless hours of gymnastics. My normally straight black hair now had waves of curls in it, and the red lipstick and smoky eye makeup looked good against my lightly tanned face.
That's right, Voivode, I thought as his gaze swept over me a second time. I might be scarred, but I'm still tasty-looking, aren't I? Too bad you're not getting any of this no matter what that vision showed.