Unspoken

By: C. C. Hunter
Acknowledgments

I could not do this alone. Thank you to my husband, Steve, for being my rock, for doing the dishes, making coffee, and proofreading all my books. Thank you to all my friends who walk with me, whine with me, and share wine with me. Thank you to my assistant, Kathleen Adey, who keeps me on my toes and organized. To my editor, Rose Hilliard, and my agent, Kim Lionetti, who have to put up with this crazy writer.





Chapter One

The sound of the door swishing open filled the small space. Before Della Tsang heard the footsteps, the scent filled her nose. Another vampire. But not just any vampire …

Him.

Chase Tallman. The guy she was regrettably bonded with. The guy who’d given her his blood to ensure she’d survive a rare second turn into vampirism that had made her a Reborn—a stronger kick-ass vampire who attracted ghosts. Not that she’d asked for it, or would have wanted it—especially the ghost part.

His footsteps brought him into the closet-sized room. The door whooshed closed. Her heart thumped against her breastbone.

She’d been to hell and back looking for him. Had even gone to France to find him, with no luck.

And now he just shows up.

Here.

In the ladies’ bathroom at Whataburger.

The door in the stall next to hers opened and shut. Surely he wasn’t … He didn’t intend to … The sound of someone stepping on the toilet lid echoed.

He did.

She glared up. He peered down at her over the stall wall. His dark brown hair looked a little longer. His bright green eyes were glowing with humor.

“Fancy meeting you here.” He smiled, no doubt at her position—knees bent, locked, her tush hanging two inches above the pot, her jeans down to mid-thigh. Thank goodness her light blue top was long and flared and covered her lady business.

She jerked up and zipped. Never taking her eyes off him, but wishing she had her hands on him. Like her fingers around his throat. He wouldn’t be smiling then.

“No paperwork?” he teased.

He thought this was funny? Seriously? Did the guy want to die? Did he not have a clue how much his deceit had hurt her?

If she didn’t need information, she’d kill him. And she’d make it slow and painful.

But she needed information, needed to find her uncle, the man who’d killed her aunt and was letting her father go down for the murder. And Chase had that info. Had it from the start, and had lied about it.

She’d recently learned the truth. The man Chase referred to as Eddie, the man who had taken him in when he was fourteen and helped him through his first turn, and bonded with him on the second turn, was Della’s uncle.

Who sent you? She’d asked Chase that a thousand times. And a thousand times he’d lied.

As much as she hated admitting it, she understood Chase’s loyalty to the man. Not only was Eddie his father figure, but she knew better than anybody how a vampire blood bond could mess with your head and your emotions. But Chase’s loyalty to her uncle meant he’d been disloyal to her. He’d made that choice. And she’d be damned if she’d let her own father go to prison for her uncle’s sin.

Bolting out of the stall at the same time he did, she cornered all six feet of him. Her pulse raced with fury.

He held his palms up, shoulders tight, but his eyes exhibited no fear. Instead his pools of green still held a touch of tease. Oh, how she wanted to teach him a lesson. She leaned in, putting her face in his, letting him know she wasn’t intimidated by him.

A move she instantly regretted. This close, his masculine scent all around her, the lure, the attraction, all of which she blamed on the bond, chipped away at her sanity. She fought it. Didn’t want it.

“What are you so happy about?” she growled.

“You,” he said. “Being around you makes me happy.”

She flattened her palm on his chest, ready to give him a good thump into the wall.

“Wait,” he said.

“For what?” she seethed.

His lips twitched into a bigger smile. He pointed to the wall behind his shoulder. “The sign says you need to wash your hands.”

That did it. Her canines came out to play. Her eyes stung, a tell-tale sign that her dark brown irises, inherited from her Asian father, were growing brighter.

“I’m not an employee.” She stared him dead in the eyes. His disloyalty stung. “How’s Feng, my uncle?”

The playfulness vanished and damned if guilt didn’t fill those pools of green. “I was going to tell you.”

“Sure you were.”

“I wouldn’t…” He stopped talking as if the words didn’t sound right. It took her about two seconds to realize what he’d been about to say.

“Wouldn’t what? Lie to me? All you’ve ever done is lie.”

“Della?” Her name being called from the other side of the door barely registered. The fact that she was in vamp mode hardly concerned her. Or rather, when it did bring on a distress signal, it was too late. The bathroom door swung open.

Chase, in a quick swoop, swapped places with her and used his arm to hide her face from Lilly’s view. However, the way he leaned in, his hand on the wall, his lips inches from hers, gave the impression they were making out—swapping spit—in a bathroom. Oh, yeah, like that was something she’d actually do. Everyone knew what kinds of germs hung out in public restrooms.

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