SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: Four Weeks Later
“If you want to see the new Rambo movie, you’ll have to take Wade . . . or go by yourself,” Eleisha told Philip. “There’s no way I’m sitting through that.” She looked down the dark street into Pike Place Market. “Now focus. You need to practice so you can do this by yourself.”
Philip was so tall that she realized she was standing under his chin, so she stepped away to see his face. He frowned, but she couldn’t tell if his bad mood was due to her refusal to see Rambo or her insistence that he focus on the task at hand. Philip was hard to read, and they’d promised not to use telepathy on each other without permission.
“Your gift is better than mine for hunting like this,” he said in his thick French accent, not bothering to look down at her.
“No, it isn’t.”
A month ago, Eleisha had discovered that she could feed without killing. . . .Well, more important, a few weeks before that, she had learned that most vampires were latent telepaths who simply required another telepath to help their abilities surface. Not long after developing her own psychic powers, she had fed upon a mortal, left him alive, and then altered his memories so that he never remembered meeting her.
To her, this was a revelation. She had always hated killing to exist, and now she didn’t need to.
She’d expected Philip to be equally pleased . . . and relieved.
But to Philip, this new method of hunting felt more like a bridle—something to hold him back. He was a killer by nature, and Eleisha knew this. But he wasn’t stupid, and he understood the freedom of feeding without having to worry about hiding or dumping bodies.
He also cared what she thought of him. He wanted her approval. She didn’t like using this against him, but she would if she had to.
“Your gift is good for any kind of hunting,” she said.
And it was.
Of the few other vampires she’d met, Philip’s gift made hunting look the most effortless.
Within a few nights of becoming undead, a specific element of their previous personality developed into an overwhelming aura—which could be turned on and off at will. Eleisha’s gift was the illusion of helplessness. She was perceived as a helpless teenage waif who needed assistance. The fact that she was small with wheat gold hair contributed to the strength of her gift. Her victims longed either to take care of her or to take advantage of her—and she used to feed only upon the latter.
Philip’s gift was sexual attraction.
She glanced up at him again, and this time he looked down, tilting his pale, perfect face. He was slender and muscular at the same time, wearing Levi’s and a long-sleeved Hugo Boss T-shirt. Thick red-brown hair hung halfway down his back.
Eleisha wasn’t affected by his handsome appearance, but she understood its purpose.
And when he used it in combination with his gift, victims practically fell into his lap.
“Come on,” she said, walking away, knowing he would follow.
Western Avenue grew less crowded as she moved away from the market, toward the parking garage.
By now, Philip knew the drill, and although he’d already complained a few times about the monotony, he agreed with the sensible nature of Eleisha’s preference to get somebody inside of a parked car—as long as the car was in the shadows.
They paced the lowest level together, not speaking, just keeping an eye out until they’d reached the darkest sector, and Philip stopped.
A young woman wearing a Market Spice apron walked alone toward a Ford Taurus positioned behind a column. She looked tired, probably just getting off work.
Philip didn’t hesitate. He’d been undead since 1819, and he knew how to pick someone.
“Pardon,” he said, approaching her.
The woman turned at the sound of his voice in partial annoyance and partial alarm. She hit the unlock beeper on her keychain instantly. What was she doing down here by herself anyway? Stupid.
But then she froze at the sight of Philip, and he let his gift flow outward, surrounding and permeating her.
Eleisha fought to block it. She wasn’t immune to his gift, and he wasn’t immune to hers, so they had to be careful when hunting together. But she could still see Philip as this woman did: beautiful, strong, and passionate, like a hero from some cheesy book cover on the romance shelf at Barnes & Noble.
Yet even as Eleisha had this last thought, she could feel the pull of his gift,