Home > Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(12)

Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(12)
Author: Jackie May

Terrance and Wulf watch the drama unfold between them like it’s a good soap opera. They look just as shocked by Parker’s interference as me. It must be really unusual for a vampire to argue with his sire. I can’t help the feelings of hope welling up inside me. Parker is Henry’s right-hand man. If anyone could convince Henry to release me, it would be Parker.

“We’re not kidnapping her,” Henry says. I could choke on his haughtiness, there’s so much of it in the air around him. “We’re taking care of her. She’s alone in the world. I’ve seen her life. She has no one to protect her. She needs me. I’m giving her a home and a family, safety and security. Those are things she wants anyway!”

“Sire, if she wants those things, offer them to her. Don’t force them on her. You’ll never win her over with force. And think of Nadine. You know Nora is powerful. Think of how much help she could be if she was cooperating willingly.”

Boy, was that ever the wrong thing to say. Henry’s temper finally explodes. “I am a master vampire!” he shouts. “You do not question me, and she will not defy me! I can make her do anything I want!”

He’s standing in front of me with his hands on either side of my head before he finishes his last word. He moves so fast it takes my breath away. There’s no time to escape him, or even understand what he’s doing, before he grips my face and captures my gaze in his glowing red one. “You will do as I say, Nora. There will be no bargaining.” I feel the weight of his words and curse. He’s compelling me. “You will assist me. From now on, you will do everything in your power to find Nadine. Do you understand?”

The command settles in my mind like a cake in the oven that’s just fallen flat. It’s heavy, and hard, and irrevocable. I nod, because I can’t speak past my anger. It’s my first command. I’m officially his little psychic tool.

I’ve been compelled. Henry compelled me. I now have to help him find his missing vampire. I have no choice. The thought makes me ill.

Henry releases his grip on my face but keeps his gaze on me. “I would hate to have to compel you to do anything else since I know you’re not keen on the action. But make no mistake, love, you are mine. You will do as I say, and accept your new life, or I will compel you to accept it.”

I hate him so much that I can’t even feel the fear his threat should ignite in me. Someday I am going to kill this bastard. As he waits for acknowledgment from me, I stare him down, letting him see exactly how much I loathe him. I wonder if he can see the promise of murder in my eyes.

Henry grins, as if he finds my hatred a juicy challenge. “I can make you want me, you know.”

The blood in my veins turns to ice. “It wouldn’t be real. You don’t want to compel me to like you, because it wouldn’t really be me. You wouldn’t really be winning.”

“I would prefer not to, no, but I will if you make it necessary, Nora. Do not doubt me on that.”

Henry stares me down for a long minute, and I stare right back while trying to get my fear under control. I would have doubted he’d really do it before he compelled me. But if he’s willing to force me to help him find his missing vampire, maybe he really is willing to force me into a relationship with him. I don’t want to find out, so I try to get the attention off me. With a hard swallow, I drag my eyes away from him and turn to Terrance. It’s hard to look him in the eye. I feel like I have no dignity left and hate that I now have to help him against my will. “Do you know where your friend was tonight?” I ask. “Specifically, the last place anyone saw her?”

Terrance hesitates. Pity streaks across his grumpy face, but he quickly squashes it and turns all business. “She was at the bar.”

“Where?” I glance down the long length of the bar. “Do you remember which seat exactly?”

“She was—”

“Forget the troll, Nora,” Henry interrupts. “You are here to help me find my vampire.”

I’m almost stunned by his heartlessness. Almost. Terrance growls, and I place a hand on his arm, willing him to calm down. I can take care of this. “Unbelievable.” I shake my head in disgust. “You are such a dick, Henry.” He hisses at me, but I ignore it. “Helping Terrance find his missing friend is helping find your stupid vampire. Do you think their disappearances, both from this club, are coincidence? No. And his is more recent. How long has Nadine been missing?”

Henry is too angry to answer me, so Parker speaks up. “Over a week,” he whispers.

“Over a week?” I shake my head, a scornful smirk on my face. “You dragged me here looking for clues over a week old?”

I’ve never caught an imprint that was older than two or three days. Henry knows that since he’d rummaged around in my head, taking any and all information he wanted about my gifts. “It’s still worth a try,” he grumbles defensively.

“Right. Sure.” He and I both know I won’t find anything from his missing vampette. “Don’t murder me when I try to help with something I might actually have a chance at seeing.”

Henry’s jaw clenches, but he concedes me this victory with a curt nod. I don’t celebrate. That would be acknowledging the fact that he has control over me. Glancing to Terrance again, I give him a grim smile. “Please show me exactly where your friend was sitting tonight, if you can.”

Terrance scratches his head and looks to Wulf. The werewolf’s eyebrows pull low over his eyes as he thinks about it, and then he walks over toward the bar. “I think it was one of these two seats,” he says. “I remember the girls sitting near the soda dispenser.”

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Sliding onto one of the stools in question, I close my eyes and run my hands over the bar. It’s a long shot, but it’s the only place I have to start.

“What are you doing?” Wulf murmurs. He’s close enough that the sound of his voice startles me. The big guy is really quiet on his feet.

“Trying to concentrate,” I hint.

He smirks and gives me a friendly salute before backing up a step. I wink at him and close my eyes again. At first, I pick up nothing, but if I focus, sometimes I can catch weaker imprints. After a moment, I’m sucked into a memory.

Deafening bass pulses through the club. It’s crowded—every stool at the bar is taken, and a row of customers stands behind them, calling out to Wulf for drinks.

I enter the vision standing next to the seat I’m sitting on back in the real world. A young woman sits there now. She’s not very attractive—tall and bulky, not fat, big in a masculine way—but she’s made effort with her dress and makeup. The girl beside her has similar features, though her face is slightly more appealing.

The girl next to me has one hand wrapped around a mug of dark brown liquid and has the other hand resting flat on the bar—the place I picked up the imprint. She stiffens suddenly as Terrance appears behind the bar, offering to give Wulf a hand. The girl beside her sees her nerves and flashes her a giddy smile. “He’s going to love you, Shandra. I’m sure of it.”

“Nell, you’re his sister and my best friend. Of course you think that. But I’m just a kid compared to him.”

“So am I, and he loves me just fine.”

I smile at Nell’s enthusiasm, but Shandra isn’t as amused. “He hasn’t even come over to say hi yet. Do you think he’s upset that I was sent here? He’s lived on his own for so long. Maybe he doesn’t like the idea of having a mate.”

Nell glances across the bar to where Terrance is pouring a shot for a decent-looking guy with blond hair and huge muscles. “I don’t think so,” she decides, frowning. “It’s just really busy tonight. Terrance is a loner, but no troll wants to go without a family forever. Maybe the clan is trying to push him into motion with this, but I think once he considers it, he’ll like the idea.”

Before Shandra can stop her, Nell waves her hand in the air and calls out to Terrance. His entire face lights up at the sight of her. “Nell! Is that you, baby sis? What are you doing here?”

   
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