Consumed Page 1



It wasn’t often that I found myself scowling. In general, I was a happy, upbeat, animated person. Even when I was a toddler, I’d always had a ready smile on my face. Always had more energy than I knew what to do with. My father had called me ‘dippy’. My mother had called me ‘neurotic’. Whatever. Both sounded fun.

I knew I was a little too…easily excitable…for most people’s tastes. Knew I was quirky with the whole ‘humming at random times’ thing, my refusal to eat anything green, and my aversion to all things luminous yellow – it was a weird colour and I didn’t trust it. But I didn’t see the point in changing to please others, it was a thankless job. And it seemed totally dumb to let people or their behaviour get to me. But when it came to a certain blond Pagori vampire, I didn’t seem to have much choice in the matter.

It was a few months ago, before Samantha Parker and Jared Michaels had ascended to become the Grand High Pair, that my brother and I had come to The Hollow – a gated community set on an off-the-map Caribbean island. The previous ruler, Antonio, had agreed to help me and Cristiano locate some of our missing nest. Sam, Jared, and their personal squad had accompanied us during the search, and that was when I’d first met Salem McCauley.

Confident. Focused. Reserved. Fearless. Dangerous. Private.

Salem was a complex character. He also had a very unapproachable air about him; his posture seemed to scream ‘stay the hell back’. Most vampires did. Maybe I should have been one of those people who gave Salem a wide berth. I didn’t, though…because his tall, trim build and his confidence and intensity always sparked a primal need to build inside me, twisting my stomach. It was too basic and elemental for me to make any sense of it, so I’d stopped trying to.

Normally, only one thought raced through my mind when I was around him: He is so freaking hot.

Right now, a totally other thought was zooming through my brain: I’m going to kill him.

The conversation I’d had an hour ago with Fletcher, Sam and Jared’s PA, replayed in my mind once again:

“Fletch, you should see the new member of Evan’s squad, he is so cute. We talked for a while, and he seems really nice – smooth, too.”

“You know that he won’t ask you out, though, don’t you?” Fletcher said carefully.

Offended, I frowned. “Why not?”

“Well…he wants to live.”

“Okay, you’ve totally lost me.”

“If he touches you, Salem will kill him.”

I shook my head. “He wouldn’t.”

Fletcher’s smile was almost pitying. “Ava, you’re on an island where the ratio of men to women is something like 60 to 1. Don’t you find it a bit weird that not one bloke has come onto you? Salem put the word out that if any man touched you, he’d kill him.”

I ground my teeth. “He has some fucking nerve.”

Fletcher shot me an impatient glance. “Oh, come on. Did you really expect anything different? I don’t know why you two haven’t got together, but I do know he won’t let anyone else have you.”

And so, I was going to kill the shithead.

Said shithead was currently beside me at the long, glass conference table with the rest of his ten-man squad. I didn’t have a clue why I’d been asked to sit in on their meeting with Sam and Jared in the main building of The Hollow. Until the pair finally entered, I wouldn’t know. I might have been excited if it wasn’t for one thing…I’m going to kill him.

It had been a week ago, when he’d cornered me outside the restrooms of a bar, that he’d quite unexpectedly kissed me. No, ‘kissed’ wasn’t the right word – it was too tame. Salem hadn’t kissed my mouth, he’d taken it, plundered it, left me aching for more. But he hadn’t given me more.

Another conversation replayed in my mind…

Off-balance by the way he’d so abruptly pulled away, I stumbled, breathing hard. Every part of me cried out for him, and I knew by the bulge in his pants that he wanted me too…So why was he standing all the way over there?

As if Salem had seen the question in my eyes, he stated, ‘I’m not going to fuck you. I don’t want a one-night stand or a fling.’

‘What do you want?’

His eyes flared. ‘Everything.’

The unexpected response made my stomach clench – whether that was in anxiety or excitement, I didn’t know. Probably both. But there was one thing I did know: ‘I don’t do relationships. I can’t give you more.’

His mouth curved slightly. ‘Oh, but you will.’

Since then, he hadn’t kissed me again. But he’d teased me with subtle, light touches –brushing against me as I past, his hands lingering in places they had no right being. Each time, the memory of him devastating my mouth while his hands kneaded and teased would slam to the forefront of my mind. And the bastard knew it. He was attempting to wear me down. But it wasn’t going to work. Nope. Not at all.

Relationships never worked well for me. Guys liked me well enough until they realised just how quirky I really was. The cheeriness, the humming, the giggling, the optimism, and the ‘being a morning person’ thing – or ‘dusk person’, in my case – would begin to wear on them.

Eventually, they would get frustrated with me all the time, would try to change me, and then I’d have to punch them in the dick until they vomited. It just seemed practical to avoid all that and stick to flings, where everything was superficial and casual.

It had been so much easier to resist Salem when he’d been a hot and cold motherfucker: talking to me some days and then blowing me off on others. Even then, though, I’d never been able to stay mad at him for long. There was a deep sadness in Salem; a well of pain. He was good at hiding it, and I probably wouldn’t have sensed it if I hadn’t known someone like him – my brother.

From minute one, Salem had been oddly protective and possessive of me for some unknown reason. In actual fact, I wasn’t sure that he knew the reason either. He seemed confused by his behaviour, seemed to be a person who didn’t trust his own feelings. Or maybe he just wasn’t good at understanding them.

That protectiveness and possessiveness had hit a whole new level in the past week. Every ounce of his natural intensity and determination was focused on me. It was scary and, well, kind of hot. But hearing that the cheeky fucker had literally ordered the other males on the island to stay away from me, thereby stopping me from having a fling with anyone else…not so hot. If he thought he could –