Home > Boundary Lines (Boundary Magic #2)(9)

Boundary Lines (Boundary Magic #2)(9)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

I nodded, understanding. There was death magic in my blood, and Quinn was afraid he wouldn’t be able to keep himself from attacking me if I started bleeding. I had more faith in him, but this wasn’t the time to get into it. I gestured toward the lid. “Be my guest.”

Quinn reached down with one hand and easily lifted the steel cover, which came up with a sucking pop. There was a cavernous hole underneath, the interior so dark that my flashlight beam barely penetrated it, even when I crouched down. It smelled like concrete and earth, but the air wasn’t particularly stale.

Directly below us I could just make out a small metal stepladder, but there was nothing around it except for gray concrete. “Uh, Quinn?” I said. “Is this a septic tank?”

“We prefer to think of them as ‘portable emergency storage chambers,’” he deadpanned.

Well, that explained the “construction error” concept—if anyone ever found this, they’d just figure a tank had been installed and then the homeowners had changed their minds. “That’s . . . kind of brilliant,” I admitted.

Quinn nodded, then frowned. “I smell blood.”

Before I could respond, he abruptly planted one foot on the concrete rim and dropped into the hole, landing without a sound. If I hadn’t seen the little stepladder, I might have worried he’d just drop down forever, like in Looney Tunes cartoons.

I leaned down as far as I could before fear enveloped me. Septic tanks were what, eight feet by twelve feet? Something like that? I shivered. Not that different from the inside of a Humvee. “Quinn?” I called. “Um, is she down there?”

“No, but there’s something written on the wall.” His grim voice wafted up out of the darkness. He sounded far away now, and I wondered just how deep the tank was. “It’s too dark, even for me. Can you pass down the lantern?”

“Yeah.” I pulled the camp-style lantern out of his duffel bag, switched it on, and put one hand on the rim of the concrete lip to steady myself so I could lean forward and lower it down by its long cord.

The concrete was old, or maybe I just put my hand on exactly the wrong spot, but the palm-sized piece directly under my hand crumbled off, and my fingers slipped off the lip. I tried to jerk backward to right myself, but my center of gravity was too far over the chasm by then. I tumbled forward into the hole, and the next thing I felt was the impact of concrete on my skull.

Chapter 5

“Lex!”

To my surprise, I did not wind up as a skin-bag of shattered bones on the floor of the concrete tank. Instead I found myself awkwardly positioned in Quinn’s arms, as though we were dancing and he’d led me into an elaborate dip. Only my head was about three inches above the floor of the concrete tank.

I was disoriented from my head smacking into the concrete opening on my way down, so it took me a few moments to get my bearings and realize he had caught me. It didn’t help that the heavy-duty lantern was rolling away from us, sending light spinning across the walls. It finally came to rest against the wall of the tank, leaving my left side bathed in light, the right side in darkness. “Thanks,” I said, my voice coming out dazed and thick. “Think I hit my head.”

Quinn didn’t answer or even move to help me up. He just froze in place, his arms locked around my back, our faces less than a foot apart. I heard a miniscule tap . . . tap . . . tap . . . on the concrete just below me. Like something dripping. My fingers rose to touch my temple where it had hit the concrete, and came away bloody. Only then did I finally register the long, warm trickle of hot liquid that ran down the side of my head into my hair.

I didn’t think I was seriously hurt, but head wounds bleed like a son of a bitch—and Quinn was captivated by the magic in my blood.

“Hey—” I squirmed to get away from him, but his body was locked in place. I could only see one of his eyes in the half-light, but his pupil was dilated to the edge of the iris, his nostrils flaring. “Quinn!” I yelped, wriggling harder. His weight finally shifted, but it was in the wrong direction, pressing me to the floor. Holding me down.

Talk to him, commanded a voice in my head. Make him see you.

“Quinn, you have to push past it,” I whispered. “You have to get over this if we’re going to work together. Be together.” I felt like I was babbling, and the words didn’t seem to have any effect on him. “Please, I know you can do it.”

He showed no sign that he’d even heard me, just relaxed his own weight down on top of mine, leaning against my body, smothering my options. For a moment I had that specific, explosive sense of terror that’s familiar to so many women—but Quinn had no interest in raping me, and my fear dissolved as he began nuzzling the side of my head, straining toward the blood. I didn’t fight him as he licked at the wound, instinctively understanding that it would only make him use more strength, trap me further. He pulled back to meet my eyes, and a flare of new pain ignited in my head. He was on vampire autopilot now, trying to press his victim into submission.

But I do not press. And I am no one’s fucking victim.

His hand came up and brushed against my cheek, intending to turn my face sideways for better access. But that freed up my arm, and for just a moment, I could move.

I could have clocked him. I almost did: Violence was the time-tested Lex reaction, after all. But I knew that if I hit Quinn, the best-case scenario was that it would bring him back to his senses. Once he was in control again, he would hate himself for attacking me, even though he wasn’t really causing me any harm just yet. No, what I really wanted was to show him he could stop himself. So without thinking much about it, I grabbed his face hard, turned it toward me, and pressed my lips against his.

   
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