Home > Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson #2)(8)

Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson #2)(8)
Author: Patricia Briggs

Samuel hesitated, then stepped back from me. "Do it." His voice was more growl than tone.

Stefan moved slowly, waiting for Samuel to move aside before he touched me. He smelled of my shampoo and his hair was damp. He must have taken a shower-and found clean clothes somewhere. Nothing in that motel room had escaped the murdered woman's blood. My own paws were still covered in it.

I had an immediate, visceral memory of the way the carpet had squished, supersaturated with dark, viscous fluid. I would have thrown up, but the sudden sharp pain in my head cut through the nausea, a welcome distraction.

It didn't take Stefan long to unbuckle the harness, and as soon as it was off, I changed. Stefan stepped away and let Samuel resume his place at my side.

Anger tightened the sides of Samuel's mouth as he touched my shoulder. I looked down and realized that my skin was bruised and raw where the harness had rubbed, and everywhere were small rust-colored spots of dried blood. I looked like I'd been in a car wreck.

Thinking about cars reminded me about work. I looked out the window, but the sky was still dark.

"What time is it?" I asked. My voice came out in a hoarse croak.

It was the vampire who answered. "Five forty-five."

"I need to get dressed," I said standing up abruptly, which was a mistake. I clutched my head, swore, and sat down before I fell down.

Samuel pried my hands away from my forehead. "Open your eyes, Mercy."

I did my best, but my left eye didn't want very badly to open. As soon as I had both of them opened, he blinded me with a penlight.

"Damn it, Sam," I said, trying to squirm out of his hold.

"Just once more." He was relentless, this time prying my sore eye open himself. Then he set the light aside and ran his hands over my head. I hissed as his fingers found a sore spot. "No concussion, Mercy, though you have a sizeable goose egg on the back of your head, a hell of a shiner, and, if I'm not mistaken, the rest of the left side of your face will be purple before daylight. So why does the bloodsucker say you have been unconscious for the past forty-five minutes?"

"Closer to an hour now," said Stefan. He was sitting down on the floor again, farther from me than he had been, but he was watching me with predatory intenseness.

"I don't know," I said, and it came out shakier than I meant it to.

Samuel sat beside me on the couch, pulled off the small throw blanket that hid the damage Medea had done to the back of the couch, and wrapped me in it. He started to reach for me, and I pulled away. A dominant wolf's desire to protect was a strong instinct-and Samuel was very dominant. Give him an inch and he'd take over the world, or my life if I let him.

Still, he smelled of the river, desert, and fur-and of the familiar sweet scent that belonged only to him. I quit fighting him and let my aching head rest against his arm. The resilience and warmth of his flesh against my temple helped my headache. Maybe if I didn't move, my head wouldn't fall off. Samuel made a soft, soothing noise and ran his clever fingers through my hair, avoiding the sore spot.

I hadn't forgotten or forgiven him for the flashlight, but I'd get even with him when I felt better. It had been a long time since I'd leaned on anyone, and, even knowing it was stupid to let Samuel see me so weak, I couldn't force myself to move away.

I heard Stefan go to the kitchen, open my refrigerator, and mess around in the cupboards. Then the vampire's scent drifted nearer and he said, "Get her to drink this. It will help."

"Help with what?" Samuel's voice was a good deal deeper than usual. If my head had hurt a little less, I would have moved away.

"Dehydration. She's been bitten."

Stefan was lucky I was leaning against Samuel. The werewolf started to his feet, but stopped halfway up when I whimpered at his sudden movement.

Okay, I was playing dirty, but it kept Samuel from attacking. Stefan wasn't the villain. If he'd fed off of me, I was sure it had been necessary. I wasn't in any shape to step between them, so I chose to play helpless. I only wished I'd had to act a little harder to do it.

Samuel sat back down and moved my hair away from my neck. His fingertips brushed a sore spot on the side that had just blended in with my other aches and pains. Once he touched it, though, it burned and ached all the way down to my collarbone.

"It was not me," Stefan said, but there was something uncertain in his voice-as if he wasn't entirely sure of it. I un-buried my head so I could see him. But whatever had been in his voice hadn't touched the bland expression on his face.

"There is no danger to her beyond anemia," he told Samuel. "It takes more than a bite to change a human to a vampire-and I'm not certain Mercy could be turned anyway. If she were human, we'd have to worry that he could call her to him and command her obedience-but walkers are not so vulnerable to our magic. She just needs to rehydrate and rest."

Samuel gave the vampire a sharp look. "You're just full of information now, aren't you? If you didn't bite her, what did?"

Stefan smiled faintly, not like he meant it, and handed Samuel the glass of orange juice he'd tried to give him earlier. I knew why he handed it to Samuel and not me. Samuel was getting all territorial-I was impressed that a vampire could read him that well.

"I think Mercy would be a better narrator," Stefan said. There was a thread of uncharacteristic anxiety in his voice that distracted me from worrying about Samuel's possessiveness.

Why was Stefan so anxious to hear what I had to say? He'd been there, too.

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