Ashleigh stirred from her dream and grabbed the closest thing to eat, her heart racing. Baring her fangs, she bit Caleb, the teasing taste of blood making her take a firmer grip.
“What the fuck?” Caleb’s angry voice woke her, and she pulled away.
Licking her lips, she glanced at Caleb and the scared child in his arms. “I’m sorry, Caleb. I was having a nightmare and—”
Caleb pulled Zander closer as he studied her. “What were you—” His eyes widened when a smaller set of fangs embedded in his skin. “Aww…Zan! Not you, too!”
Ashleigh laughed as she watched Zander suck on his father’s arm. “He won’t let go until he’s done, you know.”
“Why does everyone want to bite me today? Jeez.” Shaking his head, Caleb reached over and picked up a thermos. He handed it to Ashleigh. “Well, here you go. Since everyone else is doing it, here’s breakfast in bed.”
“Thanks.” She took it with a smile. Her slender fingers tapped on the shiny surface. “How thoughtful of you.”
“What was your nightmare about?” Caleb ruffled Zander’s short, black hair. “Drake?”
“Yep.” Ashleigh popped her lips at the end of the word and sighed. She was in a bad mood, but the blood perked her up as she drank from the thermos.
“Aren’t Natalie and your Gran coming today?” Caleb made a sour face as he pried Zander off his arm. Zander giggled, his lips dripping with blood. He was a cute kid, with striking, sky-blue eyes.
“Oh, yeah. I completely forgot.” Ashleigh grabbed a tissue and wiped her son’s face. She jumped out of bed and grabbed clean clothes. “Did you feed Zan?”
“No, he fed himself.” He glared at his arm as he placed a tissue on the healing wound. He glanced at Zander’s smug face and nudged his arm. “The kid came in here screaming and jumping on the bed. Didn’t you hear him?” Caleb ran his hand through his messy hair. He was shirtless and still in his boxers. “You usually wake up before me.”
“Oh, God, Caleb.” Ashleigh ran back over to the bed when she saw blood on Zander’s pajamas. Pulling him to his feet, she checked him over and saw it wasn’t from him. “What did you eat, Zan?”
“Arf arf!” Zander put his hands up and stuck his tongue out like he was a puppy. His actions made Caleb laugh, but when he saw Ashleigh’s angry face, he covered his mouth. Noticing his father’s laughter, Zander rubbed his tummy and wrinkled his nose. “Mmm…puppy.”
“Why did you do that?”
Zander shrugged his shoulders and bounced on the mattress.
“Damn it…” Palming her forehead, Ashleigh closed her eyes for a few seconds. “I thought you locked his door last night.” She took off Zander’s clothes, revealing his tanned skin.
“I must’ve forgot.” Caleb wiggled his nose and pulled out his phone. As he texted, he focused on the screen. “Whoops.”
“Whoops?” Rolling her eyes, she tossed Zander’s clothing to the floor. He now stood in his underwear, little tigers printed on the fabric.
“Mama’s angwy?” Forcing an over-dramatic pout, Zander fidgeted with the friendship bracelet around his wrist. The threads were dirty, the colors now muted.
“We don’t eat puppies, Zan.”
Caleb rolled on his side, pulling Zander into his arms. He swatted the little boy’s bottom. “We eat kitties.”
“Not funny.” Ashleigh whacked Caleb with a pillow, but he raised his hands to ward it off. He erupted into laughter, Zander joining in with a high-pitched giggle. “You’re just as much of a kid as Zan is.”
“What’s with you this morning, grumpy?” Caleb stood and grabbed Zander. He held the squealing boy under his arm, Zander’s limbs dangling. He walked them over to the bathroom.
She was out of breath. “I’m just…stressed.” She watched Caleb draw a bath. Letting out a small sigh, she ran a hand through her hair. She wore only a T-shirt, but it was long enough to cover her underwear. “This whole thing with ruling the Council. And the pressure of being this powerful vampire everyone relies on…and I’m way behind on my next book…and all these notes coming in from Drake…and these nightmares…I just want it all to slow down. I can’t take it.”
“Chill, Ash. You’re fine.” He lifted Zander into the tub. The boy grabbed the sprayer and shot it in his face. Caleb weaseled it from the child’s hand and retaliated before hanging it back up. He stood and dried his face. “We’re fine.”
Holding out her arms, Ashleigh wore a fragile smile, her bottom lip pouting. She motioned for him to come to her.
Abandoning his duties at the bath, Caleb tossed the towel and went to her. Embracing her, he squeezed her butt. “We’re all right. So, stop worrying.” He kissed her cheek and pulled away. “’Kay?” He squeezed her chin and bared his fangs. “Or else, I’ll bite you.”
“You will?” Her face filled with a giant smile. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she pushed her nose against his and stared into his eyes. “Where?”
A devilish chuckle escaped his lips before he kissed her. His hand ventured under her shirt and took hold of her breast. Shoving her against the wall, his kisses deepened. He took a firm hold of her hair and pushed hard into her hips.
Her hand squeezed between their pressed bodies and into his boxers. She grabbed hold of the prize with a firm, painful grip.
Biting her bottom lip, he held it hostage as he murmured, “Wanna play rough, little girl?”
He wrinkled his nose and bared his fangs. Swooping down on her neck, he nipped at her skin. Ashleigh laughed as he tickled her tummy.
Her gaze wandered over to Zander, who chewed on the cord to the faucet. “Zan!” Holding onto Caleb’s shoulders, she pushed him away. “Get that out of your mouth, right now!”
Caleb turned to look, a small huff of air escaping his nostrils from a muffled chuckle. He turned when a large man entered the room. “Hey, Robert.”
Speaking in a monotone voice, the suited man addressed Caleb. “Master Mason.”
“Will you take Wolf Boy for a little bit? Ash needs a break.”
“Of course, Master.” Robert bowed to him and went to retrieve Zander. He wrapped the boy in a towel and carried him from the room.
Looking to the side, Ashleigh avoided Caleb’s gaze. “Thanks.” He took her hands and placed them on the wall near her ears, his body pressed against hers. “What if he bites my Gran? She’d freak out.”
“As long as she doesn’t get too close, he won’t.”
“What grandma doesn’t want to get close to her grandbaby? Zan’s so cute, she’ll just want to cuddle him.”
“We’ll say he’s contagious or something.” Caleb gave her a quick kiss and pulled away. “Stop worrying—he’ll be fine.”
“I just…” Pushing her lips together, she tried not to cry, but the tears came. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she hugged him. “I just want this to be perfect, you know?”
“It’ll be perfect.” He pulled away and gave her a quick kiss before he undressed. Tossing his boxers at her, he smirked when she caught them. “Just calm down. You’re gonna kill someone if you keep this up.” He stepped in the shower. “Relax.” He shut the door.
Ashleigh watched him for a few seconds more and walked back into the bedroom. She went to the dresser when she noticed new flowers sitting there. A deep frown filled her lips when she saw the card.
My heart is black, but my love for you is as bright as the sun. Forgive me, my love. Come back to me and…
Instead of reading the rest, she crumpled the paper and tossed it in the trash. She waited for Caleb to finish, hopped in the shower and got ready for the day. After she dressed, she slipped downstairs where Caleb was now playing video games in the living room with Kris. The guitarist lived at their house more than his, something that annoyed her.
Zander was with them and was now in a trendy tee and jeans, his hair in a perfect Mohawk. He gnawed on a sucker. Even though he grew out of the teething stage, Zander chewed on everything. They tried binkies, but his sharp little teeth shredded them. Raising a little vampire was difficult, but at least she had help.