"Get down!" Phil shouted at the priest as Vanda hurled the chair across the conference table.
The chair crashed into the wall, denting the Sheetrock six feet away from Father Andrew, who crouched underneath the table. With vampire speed Vanda grabbed another chair, but Phil wrenched it away and seized her by the wrists.
"Let me go!" She kicked at his shins.
She wasn't as strong as a male Vamp, but with her rage in full bloom, she was damned close. Phil struggled to hold on. He could always unleash his inner wolf and take her down in a second, but he refrained. She was upset enough already.
He pushed her back against a wall, pinning her wrists to each side of her head. "As your anger management sponsor, I have to say—"
"You're not my sponsor." She attempted to knee him.
He twisted and took it in the hip. "I have to say you're not managing your anger in a constructive manner."
"Let me go, you traitor!"
"Calm down and I'll release you."
She met his gaze, her eyes a stormy gray. She lowered her voice to the barest of whispers. "I'll tell him."
So, she was threatening to tell the priest that he'd indulged in forbidden kisses with his charge. Phil leaned forward and whispered in her ear, "Do it. Then he'll fire me, and I'll be free to bed you tonight."
Her breath hissed against his cheek. "Damn you." She raised her voice. "I'm okay now. You can let go."
He leaned back. "No more throwing chairs?"
"Only if you're sitting in one at the time."
He released her. "I know you're upset, but we really just want to help you."
She moved away from him, rubbing her wrists. "You call this help? The two of you ganging up on me? I hate this stupid therapy crap. You want to examine all my old wounds and poke and prod at them till they bleed. What is the point? It doesn't make any of it go away."
"Ignoring it doesn't make it go away, either."
"I told you to leave my past alone." She glowered at him. "I trusted you."
"Betrayal of trust," Father Andrew murmured as he removed some papers from a portfolio and placed them on the conference table. "I think that would be a good place to start." He glanced up at Vanda. "I apologize for the…unorthodox scheduling of your first appointment, but we feared you might refuse to attend otherwise."
"You're damned right I would," Vanda grumbled. "I don't need anger management."
The priest looked at the cracked Sheetrock where the chair had crashed into it. "I disagree. Have a seat, please." He sat and put on his reading glasses.
Vanda paced toward the end of the table but didn't sit. Phil could feel the tension radiating from her. She was like a wildcat prowling in a locked cage.
Father Andrew made a note on the top sheet of his stack of papers. "I noticed you called Phil a traitor."
She scowled at Phil. "He is."
"After watching your interview, I can understand why betrayal would be a sensitive subject for you," the priest continued. "Do you believe your sister, Marta, betrayed you?"
"I don't believe anything about her." Vanda strode to the television and turned it off. "She's dead to me, just like the rest of my family."
"She changed you into a Vamp," Phil said.
"No!" Vanda spun to face him. "Sigismund changed me. Marta just bit me and drank from me till I was too weak to fight her off. Then she presented me to her new boyfriend like a dinner entr'ee."
"You definitely harbor some anger toward her," Father Andrew observed.
"Why should I be angry?" Vanda ejected the DVD from the player. "Marta didn't do anything. She just stood there and watched while her boyfriend changed me, and our little sister lay dying in a nearby cave. She did nothing!"
"Sounds like betrayal to me," Phil said.
"I don't want to talk about it!" Vanda snapped the DVD in two and threw the pieces at Phil. "Leave me alone."
He dodged the flying pieces. "I won't." He strode toward her.
She growled and reached for another chair. He grasped it, holding it down, and while they both leaned forward, he engaged her in a staring contest. She arched a brow and refused to back down.
The priest cleared his throat. "I am truly sorry, my child, for the family members you lost. Do you know if Marta is still alive? Or undead, I should say."
Vanda let go of the chair and turned away from Phil. "I don't know. Who cares?"
"She could be your only surviving family," the priest continued. "I think you should see her."
Father Andrew clicked his pen and made a note on one of his papers. "I have a good friend in Poland. A priest who went to seminary with me years ago. I'll ask him to check on the whereabouts of your sister."
"I don't want to see her!"
The priest regarded Vanda sternly over the rim of his reading glasses. "I have an assignment for you. I want you to give serious thought to forgiving your sister."
"What?" Vanda looked at the priest like he'd suddenly grown two heads.
"How old was Marta when you fled to the mountains?" Phil asked.
Vanda gritted her teeth. "Fifteen, but—"
"She was a child," Father Andrew said.
"And Sigismund probably had her mind under his control," Phil added.
"I don't care!" Vanda shouted. "She let Frieda die! I won't forgive her. I can't."
Father Andrew removed his glasses. "Forgiveness doesn't mean that you condone her actions. You don't need to forgive her for her sake. You do it for yourself, so you can put all the pain to rest and start living again."
"Why should I live when they're all dead? Everyone I loved is dead! Next you'll be telling me to forgive the damned Nazis." Vanda ran to the door and wrenched it open. "Leave me the hell alone!" She ran down the hall.
Phil paused at the door, watching her. "I should make sure she's all right."
The priest sighed as he shoved his papers back into his portfolio. "Maybe we're pushing too hard." He stood and pocketed his glasses. "I was a bit worried when she blew up, but you seem quite capable of handling her."
Unfortunately, handling Vanda was about all Phil thought about these days. "You gave her a lot to think about. Let it stew for a while."
Father Andrew nodded and gathered up his things. "I'll be in touch, then. Thank you for your help." He patted Phil on the shoulder, then walked toward the banquet hall.
Phil took off in the opposite direction, hunting for Vanda. With his superior hearing, he caught the faint pattering sound of her high heels on the marble floor.
Then it stopped. She must have left the hallway and entered a carpeted room. But which room? Fortunately, he could also rely on his superior sense of smell. He followed the sweet, jasmine scent of her hair gel and tracked her to the end of the hall where the chapel was situated.
Tomorrow night Father Andrew would perform Mass in the chapel at Romatech. About twenty Vamps usually attended, more if they came for the free synthetic blood offered afterward in the fellowship hall.
Phil paused in front of the double doors leading into the fellowship hall. Vanda's scent lingered there, as if she'd stood there for several minutes, debating what to do. He glanced down at the crack below the double doors. Still dark. With her superior night vision, she hadn't bothered to turn on the lights.
He opened a door quietly and slipped inside. His night vision was excellent, too, and he saw several bare refreshment tables in the middle of the room and numerous empty chairs lining the walls. He scanned along the ceiling. No security cameras. Whatever happened here would remain private.
Across the room, Vanda stood by the window, gazing out at the stars. The door clicked softly when he shut it.
She stiffened but didn't turn around. "Go away."
He winced at the pain in the timbre of her voice. She was either crying or close to it. He moved slowly toward her. "I was worried about you."
"You never follow directions, do you? I said go away." She whipped around to glare at him. "I also told you not to snoop around in my past, but you deliberately went against my wishes. You even brought the priest into the act. How could you? You don't think I'm screwed up enough? You have to expose my old wounds for the world to see?"
He stopped by a table. "Your wounds are deep. Even Constantine, a young child, could see it."
Her eyes darkened, a storm brewing in their gray depths. "Oh yes, let's help the poor woman before she goes totally berserk. I don't want your pity, Phil!"
The energy from her strong emotions awakened his inner wolf, inciting a surge of power within him. Good God, he wanted to haul her on top of a table and show her how beautiful she was. He balled his fists to retain control. "I feel a lot for you, but none of it is pity."
Her eyes narrowed. "That's what this is really about, isn't it? Your eight years of unrequited lust. You want me mentally healthy so you can screw me."
He clenched his fists tighter. The animal inside him urged him to jump her, but he was an Alpha and master of the beast. "Don't insult me, Vanda. I want you to be happy. I want you healthy enough that you can forge your own future, instead of wallowing in your painful past."
"Is that all?" she scoffed, then strode toward him. "Here's a news flash for you. I can forge my own future just fine. I have all the confidence and guts I need." She stopped in front of him, her chin lifted in defiance.
"False bravado," he muttered.
She slapped a hand against his groin. "Does that feel false to you?"
He gulped. Her roaming fingers had quickly located his cock. Not hard to do as fast as he was swelling.
"This is what you want, isn't it?" She rubbed the heel of her palm up and down the length. "You've wanted it for years."
He hissed in a breath. "I know what you're doing. You're avoiding the meat of the matter."
"I've got the meat right here." She squeezed.
He groaned. It felt so good. But he knew she was using sex to vent her frustrations and throw him off track. It was wrong. It was glorious. He wanted more.
She unfastened his waistband. "You're getting so big." She unzipped his pants. "What an animal you are."
She had no idea. His inner beast strained to break free from the mental control he'd clamped down on it. How could he take advantage of Vanda when she was clearly desperate? What had happened to her in the past that she would rather throw herself at him than discuss it? "I think you should stop."
"Make me." She curled her fingers around the waistband of his briefs and tugged them down.
His erection sprung free. His inner beast howled. Take her. Take her now.
"Oh my." She wrapped her hand around the hard shaft. "You're magnificent."
He groaned when her thumb caressed the smooth tip. Moisture seeped from him, and her fingers glided over him, slick and urgent.
To hell with being honorable. He'd been honorable for eight years, and all it had gotten him was continuous hard-ons and cold showers. So what if she was trying to manipulate him with sex? It would backfire on her when she became emotionally attached to him. He could use sex just as well as she could. He wasn't that gangly young man with a boyish crush anymore. He was an Alpha wolf who had chosen his mate. Nothing could stop him from claiming her.
"Hmm, I bet you're yummy." She leaned over.
"Stop." He pulled her straight and captured her gaze with his own. "You want me to climax, fine. But I'm going to do it deep inside you."
Her eyes widened. Her heart pounded so loud and fast, he knew his suspicions were confirmed. He'd called her bluff and upped the ante. She'd intended to only give him a blowjob, thinking that would be enough to distract him. She'd wanted to perform a service on him, not get involved with him. She hadn't planned on having her own body invaded.
Her false bravado kicked in and she lifted her chin. "Why not? It's just sex."
It was not just sex. It was a wolf claiming his mate. It was dominance and power.
His grip tightened on her shoulders. "Fair warning, Vanda. Once you give me your body, I'm taking your heart."
She scoffed. "Fair warning to you, Phil. My body is all you're getting. Now lie down and take it like a man."
"I don't lie down." He grabbed her around the waist and set her on the table.
He removed her high-heeled sandals and dropped them on the floor, then he grabbed her ankles and lifted her legs so her feet rested on his chest. "Look at me."
Her gaze drifted upward with a wary look.
Still gripping her ankles, he suddenly spread her legs wide. She gasped.
"Relax." He rested her ankles on his shoulders. "Like you said, it's just sex."
Her eyes narrowed. "Exactly."
He skimmed his hands down her shins to her knees. "I want to see your eyes turn red. I want to make them glow." He reached underneath her knees and tickled the delicate skin there.
Her legs trembled and she closed her eyes.
"Lie back." He smoothed his hands down the back of her thighs. "Look at me."
She opened her eyes to glare at him. "Stop giving me orders." Even though she snapped at him, her eyes were tinted red with passion.
He smiled. "Sweetheart, if it's not too much of an imposition, I would be forever beholden to you if you could kindly assume a reclining position so I can screw your brains out."
"That's more like it." Her eyes glittered, bright red and defiant. "Make me."
"Gladly." He scooped his hands under her rump and lifted her hips up so suddenly that she fell back with an Oof. With one quick move he jerked her underwear down to her ankles. As he slipped the black lacy panties over her feet, he could feel how damp they were. His nostrils flared with the scent of her arousal. His erection throbbed in response, and he tossed the panties onto the table.
He shoved his pants and underwear down to his knees. "You're ready for me, aren't you? You're slick and hot."
Her feet pressed into his shoulders as she tried to wiggle closer to his erection. "Do it. Now."
There was no way he was going to rush through this. After eight long years, he finally had her at his mercy. He'd make her scream, over and over again.
He slowly pushed her dress past her hips and left it wadded up at her waist. Then he skimmed his fingers across her bare stomach. Her muscles rippled with a tiny spasm.
"Do it." She was starting to pant.
He dragged his fingers into her pubic hair. The brown curls glistened with moisture.
"Get on with it." She squirmed.
"Chill. Like you said, it's just sex."
She gritted her teeth. "Stop reminding—Aah!" Her body jolted when his fingers slid between her wet folds.
He explored her, exulting in how slippery she was, how engorged she was, and how she trembled and gasped for air. She was already close to coming. His erection hardened painfully, and it took all his control not to drive himself into her.
Instead, he inserted two fingers and rubbed the inside walls of her canal. She groaned and lifted her hips. Her inner muscles clenched at his fingers. Almost there. He circled her clitoris, then tweaked it.
She cried out. Moisture gushed over his fingers, and her body spasmed. He fondled her clitoris and stroked her inside walls, wringing more cries from her, more spasms.
Finally, she went limp. She lifted a hand to her brow. "Oh God. That was…that was…"
She shot him an annoyed look. "Yes."
"Good. How much recovery time do you need?"
"None. I'm fine."
"Good." He tugged her bodice down to reveal her breasts. "No bra? My lucky day." He noticed the tips of her rosy nipples were hard.
"I didn't have one that worked with this dress," she mumbled.
He outlined her purple tattoo with his finger. "You have this little bat to scare everyone away from your heart. It doesn't scare me." He leaned over and kissed the tattoo. "I've always wanted to do that. And this." He sucked a nipple into his mouth.
She gasped. Her legs clamped around his waist.
He suckled one breast, then the other. "I have to taste you." He lifted her hips and enjoyed one long lick along her folds.
She shuddered. "Phil…"
He flicked his tongue over her clitoris. Her womanly scent filled his nostrils. Nothing excited his inner wolf as much as smell. The wolf clawed at his control, threatening to overpower him. He couldn't allow himself to go Alpha right now. He could still retain human form while the power of the wolf was unleashed, but it would scare Vanda too much.
He'd reached the tipping point. With a growl, he thrust himself into her. She instantly climaxed, crying out as her inner muscles squeezed him hard. He gripped her hips and pulled her toward him as he ground into her over and over. Her breasts flushed pink. Her breathing was labored.
Their bodies slapped together. He dropped his head back and relished each thrust. This was his woman. He would never give her up. The wolf howled, and his groin grew tight. With a loud groan, he pumped faster and faster.
She screamed and climaxed once again. Her inner muscles clamped down, and he gushed into her. Again and again. He held her tight against him until the last of his spasms faded away.
The dark room was filled with the sound of breathing. His mind slowly cleared. The wolf inside grinned with victory. He'd claimed his woman. The man on the outside wondered if he'd overdone it. He'd intended to attach her to him. What if he'd given into his lust only to chase his loved one away?
She pressed a hand against her chest and closed her eyes as she inhaled slowly and deeply. She seemed calm, but he could still hear her heart racing.
He moved back and slipped out of her body. "Are you all right?"
She opened her eyes, but looked to the side. "Sure."
He touched her cheek. "I've dreamed of doing that for eight years. It was even better than I'd imagined."
"That's good." She struggled to sit up, but her arms shook.
"No. I'm fine." She reached for her panties.
So, she was going to act aloof. He could take care of that. He pulled his underwear and pants back up. "Thanks, Vanda. You're a great lay."
Her chin snapped up and her eyes flashed. "Don't you dare talk to me like—" Her eyes narrowed. "You're trying to make me angry, aren't you? What kind of anger management sponsor are you?"
"The same kind who engages in forbidden sex. When can we do it again?"
She scoffed. "There's no need to. You got what you wanted."
"You wanted it, too. You screamed at least three times."
Her fingers trembled as she struggled to put her panties back on. "It was…just sex."
"It was a hell of a lot more, and you know it."
She gave him a wary look as she scooted off the table. "I need to get back to the club. It's always busy on Friday night." She adjusted her bodice and smoothed down her skirt.
Dammit, they'd just had mind-blowing sex, and she was acting like it was no big deal. "Don't you want me to hold you for a while? I thought women liked that."
"No thanks." She picked up her sandals, then sat in a chair to put them on. "Do yourself a favor, and don't get your hopes up. I'm never going to love again."
Too late, he wanted to shout at her. She was already his. She just didn't realize it yet.
She finished putting on her shoes. "Karl was my first love, and my last."
Phil winced inwardly. She certainly knew how to throw a punch. A surge of jealousy swept through him. She'd mentioned this Karl before. Logically, he knew Vanda was close to a hundred years old, so it wasn't surprising that she'd been in another relationship or two. Still, he resented this man who had claimed her heart before him. "What was so special about him?"
She shrugged. "He loved me, even though I was undead and filled with rage."
Phil opened his mouth to tell her that he loved her, too, just the way she was, but he stopped. He didn't want to act like he was competing with a dead man. Or any man, for that matter. "Karl is dead."
She glowered at him. "Thanks for reminding me." She turned her head to look out the window. "The Nazis sent their wolves after me, to track me down and kill me. Karl tried to protect me, but the wolves…they…" She grimaced, then lowered her head into her hands.
Damn it to hell. Vanda had witnessed her lover getting ripped apart by wolves? Thank God Karl had managed to protect her, but shit—how could he ever tell her he was a shape shifter?
"Vanda, I'm sorry." He sat beside her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Karl sounds like a brave man."
She leaned on him, resting her head on his shoulder. "He was. He was the leader of the underground resistance in southern Poland. After he died, I never wanted to love again. Then I met Ian, and he grew on me. He looked so much like Jozef, and it was like having a little brother again. But he came close to dying last December, and it all came back to me. The fear. The pain. That's why I can't love again. Especially a mortal. Mortals always die around me."
Phil rubbed his chin against her brow. If only he could tell her he was a werewolf, that he could live for centuries.
She stiffened. "There's something vibrating in your pants. Either you've learned a sexy trick or—"
"It's my walkie-talkie." He stood to retrieve the small two-way radio from his pants' pocket. "Phil here."
"Come to the security office." Connor's voice sounded urgent. "We just heard from Angus. Casimir and two of his cohorts came to Apollo's compound. There was a battle, but Casimir escaped. We need to discuss our next move."
"I'll be right there." Phil dropped the walkie-talkie back into his pocket. "I'm sorry, Vanda—"
"I understand. Too bad they didn't kill Casimir."
Phil tucked in his shirt, then refastened the waistband of his pants. "Do you know him?"
"I never met him, but Sigismund spoke very highly of him. He wanted to be Casimir's best friend, but that honor belonged to Ivan Petrovsky and Jedrek Janow."
Phil recalled that Ivan had been the Russian-American Coven Master until two of his own harem women had murdered him. "Jedrek was the guy who attacked DVN?"
Vanda nodded. "He was a big pal of the Nazis. He hunted me for a year after Karl died. I lived in constant terror, always afraid the wolves would tear me to pieces while I lay helpless in my death-sleep." She shuddered.
"Vanda, sweetheart." Phil caressed her cheek. "You're safe now. Shall I take you back to Maggie?"
She took a deep breath. "I'll be fine. You go on, and I'll follow in about five minutes. We don't want people to see us returning to the party together."
He hesitated, reluctant to leave her. "I hate to see you hurting."
"I'll be all right. I'll take Maggie back to the club. I'm always happy there. I feel in control there."
"Then I'll see you before dawn at the townhouse." He leaned over to kiss her, but she turned her head away.
"Good night, Phil."