Updated: Dec 10, 2019
153 years ago
Kara held a cool rag to Ambrose's forehead as he slept. He had been out for the past six days. Gage kept him knocked out during his transformation into a vampire. While Ambrose's stomach wound healed perfectly, his body was completing the change from human to vampire. Gage told her that he wouldn't be in this kind of pain if he weren't injured and so close to death before he injected Ambrose with his venom.
Kara winced every time Ambrose moaned in pain, hating the thought that he hurt and couldn't say anything. Nor could she do anything to ease his discomfort. That was the part that hurt her the most. And she had never even met this man before Gage brought him home from the war with a wound that was sure to kill him.
Gage told her it was for the best to keep him unconscious; it was more humane. Besides, Gage wouldn't take the chance of Ambrose hurting Kara.
Today was a good day for Ambrose. He hadn't shown any signs of pain. His sleep restful, peaceful, and his breathing changed. Kara was confident he'd open his eyes today. At least she hoped so.
She made fresh vegetable soup and biscuits, knowing he'd be hungry when he woke. And since he hadn't eaten real food in days, she wanted something that would be easy on his stomach. She left Ambrose to stir the soup when a pair of arms came around her. Lips touched her neck, kissing a hot path from the base of her throat to her ear.
"Something smells heavenly, and it's not whatever the hell you're stirring in the pot." Gage nipped at her ear.
Kara grinned as she stirred. "Well, if you don't want to eat whatever the hell is in this pot, then you'd better go hunting. Besides, this will be best for Ambrose when he wakes up."
Gage turned Kara in his arms, tugging her into his body.
Kara felt his hardness, looking up, she smirked. "So, that's what you're hungry for."
"Always, sweetheart." His lips touched hers. "Always. The time away from you nearly killed me."
"I wish you hadn't fought in the war. We should have just left with Ares."
Gage's old friend, Ares, was a full blood vampire. They had been friends for close to thirty years. But Ares wanted nothing to do with the war. He pleaded with Gage and Kara to go with him, but Gage said he couldn't. He needed to help the humans free slaves. Gage had a moral obligation. He was a vampire, so he could fight longer, heal himself, and fight some more.
And that's what he did.
"I know, love, but if I hadn't gone, I never would have met Ambrose. And he'd be dead now if I wasn't there for him." He stroked her cheek with the back of his fingers. "He's a good man. He saved my ass many times. My head was nearly removed if not for him."
Gage arrived home from the Civil War a mere six days ago. He and Kara were apart for almost a year. At that time, she went to stay with her parents. He didn't want her home alone and unprotected.
Kara tipped her face to kiss his lips. "Then I adore him already for bringing you back to me. I never want to be without you again though. Promise me, no more wars. Next time we leave, maybe find Ares again."
"No more wars, I promise." Gage reached behind Kara and moved the pot off the wood-burning stove. "That can finish cooking later; I need a snack before supper." He picked her up and carried Kara to their bedroom at the end of the hallway.
Kara giggled when he lifted her. As they passed Ambrose's room, she glanced in his room to make sure he still looked comfortable.
"He's fine for now, sweetheart."
"I hate seeing him in pain. He seems better today, though."
Gage set her feet on the floor, and he spun her back to him. His fingers swiftly unbuttoned her dress. "I promise you, he will be fine. After this, he will never feel that kind of pain ever again." He slipped her dress from her shoulders, landing in a pool at her feet. His hands ran up her silky flesh, cupping her breast, his hot mouth nipped at her bare shoulder. "I need to be inside you."
Kara wiggled against his erection. "Yes, I can feel your need." She turned around and pulled his shirt from his pants, her hands sliding under to feel his heated skin against her palms. His temperature ran much hotter than hers. Gage kept her warmer on a cold night than a fire.
After Gage stripped out of his clothes, he pulled Kara's naked body to his. Searing hot flesh melted as one. "I have a lot of catching up to do, love. I hope you know what you got yourself into when you mated with me." His fangs extended, sinking deep into her neck.
Six months after Gage and Ambrose returned from the war, their lives were nearly perfect.
Ambrose was a vampire. Gage taught him how to hunt animals for blood if he was desperate. But when Ambrose wanted a human, Gage showed him how to wipe the memory of the female, so she'd have no recollection of the event. Gage told him if he ever went too far and killed someone, he'd rip his fucking fangs out. He was sure Ambrose believed him.
Kara and Ambrose adored each other, and Gage was thankful. Ambrose treated Kara with the utmost respect and looked out for her when Gage was gone. But lately, Ambrose became distant and started pulling away from Kara. Gage noticed he stayed outside and away from her most of the day, barely talked to her unless she spoke first. Kara was upset by his sudden change, and that made Gage unhappy.
Ambrose was in the corral, training a horse when Gage stopped. He rested his forearms on the top rail, one boot on the bottom. "She's looking good, brother." The buckskin was a wild, beautiful three-year-old they caught. Ambrose spent all his spare time with the mare he called Glory.
"Yeah, she's coming along just fine. Damn smart, too."
"Or maybe it's the trainer."
Ambrose didn't respond, keeping his back to Gage as he brushed Glory down after her training session.
"You and I need to talk."
"About whatever the hell is wrong with you."
"That's a damn lie." Gage saw the signs, he hoped Ambrose would come to him for help, but he didn't. He knew all too well the issues of being a vampire caused: they craved blood and sex. And the two went together. Living so far outside town caused problems, so it was hard to find a woman, and even farther for a brothel. If he got blood from an animal, then he wasn't getting sex.
"Put the fucking brush down and come here." Gage snapped at the man he considered his brother. After all, Ambrose had his blood running through his veins.
Ambrose turned to look at Gage, their gazes locked. After a moment of contemplation, Ambrose walked over to the fence. "I said I'm fine. And I don't need a momma."
"Fuck you, brother. You know I'm not stupid, right? I see what's going on. You are staying away from Kara because you crave her, you want her."
Ambrose didn't say a word. A muscle ticked in his clenched jaw, his lips in a tight line.
Gage shook his head. "Look, I understand how hard it is to find a woman living this far out. And it's a damn long ride to town every time you need a woman. And if you don't calm that rage inside, I don't want you around Kara. If you snap and hurt her, I will kill you."
"Fuck off. I said I'm fine." Ambrose turned to walk away.
Gage flew over the fence, spun Ambrose around and slammed his fist into Ambrose's face. When Ambrose came at him, Gage threw him to the ground, his knee in the middle of his chest. "Wrong words to say to me."
"Fine, I'll leave. I'll go grab my shit, and I'll be outta here in an hour."
"Is that what you want? To leave?"
"If it keeps Kara safe from me, then yes."
Gage rubbed a hand down his face. He stood and held his hand out for Ambrose to help him up. "Just shut up and listen to me. I don't want you to leave. Kara doesn't want you to leave. So, we have come up with a solution."
Ambrose's green eyes narrowed. "What are you talking about? What kind of solution?"
"The kind that keeps Kara safe from you losing control. You can have Kara when you need her, as long as you never hurt her."
"What the fuck does I can have her mean?"
Gage held Ambrose's angry gaze. "Kara and I agreed that when you need blood and sex, you can go to her for it."
"No is not an option, Ambrose. You are family, and we don't want you to leave. But you can't stay if you are afraid to be near her." Ambrose's head was shaking. "Look, I know this may seem strange, but vampires have sex aside from their mate. I have other women when I decide to, and Kara understands this even though she is human."
"I can't, Gage. She means too much to me. I would never use her that way."
"You don't get it, brother. This was her idea." Gage turned to walk away. "I'm going into town. I'll be home by supper. Go to her Ambrose."
Ambrose stood there for what seemed like forever. Having sex with him was Kara's idea? Kara was a loving and sweet woman, and he fucking adored her. How could he do this to the woman who nursed him back from death?
His head dropped. Glory whinnied behind him, he looked up and saw Gage riding off on his black stallion. "Come on, girl, let's put you in the pasture." He walked Glory to the pasture where the cows and horse commingled. Taking the rope off her, he heard a blood-curdling scream from the house.
In a dead run, he busted through the door. "Kara!"
"In the kitchen!"
Ambrose ran down the hall to the kitchen that sat at the back of the two-bedroom cabin. He skidded to a stop when he spotted her standing on the supper table. "What's wrong? Why the hell are you on the table?"
Her chin tipped to the wall across from her. "A snake."
He turned and nearly laughed; it was a two-foot garden snake. But he knew Kara's fear of bugs and snakes. She could sew up a gaping wound on a half-dead man, but a cricket sent her into a whirlwind of terror. Ambrose walked over and picked up the snake and turned to walk back over to her.
Her hand flew up. "Stop! Don't you dare come any closer. Kill it. Outside."
"Sweetheart, he won't hurt you. He eats the other things that scare you. Frogs, mice, bugs-"
"Do I look like I care? It has no business being in my house." She pointed to the back door. "Kill it now."
He grinned at her, stepping outside, he walked the snake close to the barn and let it go free. When he walked back inside, Kara was still on the table. "It's gone."
"Ambrose! Gone and dead are not the same."
He walked over and looked up at her. She hadn't moved from her position in the middle of the table. "Are you going to come down? He won't come back in. I took him to the barn. He'll find a mouse to snack on." He put his hands up to her, "Come on. Let me get you down."
She eyed him, then the door. "If he won't come back then why did he come in, in the first place? Huh? Got an answer for that?"
He couldn't help it; he laughed at her — God, how he adored this woman. Her spunk, fire, determination, and love set her apart from any other woman he'd ever met. She loved with her whole heart, her whole being. And it would kill him if he ever hurt her, which was why he distanced himself from her lately. He wanted to bury his cock into her sweet body so badly that he couldn't think straight most days. That knowledge made him feel like he was betraying Gage, his brother, his friend, the man who gave him a second chance at life.
"Woman," he shook his head, his hands reached for her. This time Kara let him, her hands landed on his shoulders as he lifted her down. Ambrose didn't let go once her feet hit the floor.
"Thank you, Ambrose. But if he comes back in, I'm coming after you."
"Yes, ma'am." He grinned at her.
"I miss you." Her words were a whisper. Kara's small hands slid down to his chest. Golden brown eyes looked up at him, eyes filled with pain.
"Shit, sweetheart." He lowered his forehead to hers. "I'm trying to protect you."
"I don't need to be protected from you."
Kara cut off his words, her face tipped to his, she kissed his lips. A simple, soft kiss, one that broke through his defenses.
His arm banded around her, dragging her up to his primed body. His hand cupped the side of her neck and deepened the kiss.
And that was it.
He lost the fight.
His willpower disappeared.
The feel of her feminine body against his made his heart thump faster. And the taste of her on his lips brought him to his knees. He needed this woman more than he understood, more than he wanted to admit.
"Take what you need from me, Ambrose. I want you to give you what you need."
His heart cracked wide open for this woman.
But he knew, once he took her, he'd never let go.