Home > Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(9)

Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(9)
Author: Jackie May

When I realize just how far back in my memory he’s going, and I recognize what else I’m about to have to relive, I panic. “No!” I scream. “Get out of my head!”

“Nora, what is it?”

“Stop. Please.”

“Stop fighting me, love. You’re too weak right now. You will hurt yourself.”

“Then STOP!”

“Shh,” he whispers, wiping the tears from my face. “What are you hiding from me?”

He pushes harder, and I try to match him. I’m fueled by desperation. I can’t watch them kill my mom again. Seeing the memories like this makes them feel too real. They’re too vivid. I can’t go through that again. I just can’t.

The premonition hits, and my child self jerks up in bed, crying for my mom. She enters the room, and my heart aches at the sight of her. For a moment, I’m powerless to do anything except take in the memory. I can feel her arms around me. Hear her voice. It’s so real. I begin to sob as she holds my younger self. And then they come. I can’t watch this, and yet I can’t help it.

“Stop!” I cry. I can feel her pain and her fear. Worse, I can now feel the monsters’ excitement as they attack my mother. “Please,” I beg. “Why are you making me relive this? I hate you, you sick bastard!”

Unable to take the torture anymore, I tune Henry out and break down into gut-wrenching sobs.

It’s the crying, I think, that finally makes Henry extract himself from my head. With everything he’d put me through, I hadn’t shed a tear, but now I’m sobbing like a baby. My grief and fear are so fresh it’s as if it all happened yesterday.

My nightmare stops, and the pressure in my head goes away, but the aftereffects are a bitch. I blink my way back to reality, feeling as if my brain has been shredded by a set of sharp claws. But that’s nothing to the feeling in my chest. My heart has been ripped to pieces far worse than my brain.

I sit up, ignoring the throbbing in my head, and take a deep breath. My sobs quiet, but I can’t stop silently spilling tears. I close my eyes and sniff as more shudders wrack my body.

“Sire, what’s the matter with her?” Parker whispers, kneeling beside Henry now, and biting his bottom lip as if it pains him to see me crying.

Henry shakes his head, and his eyes fasten on mine. “They were rogues,” he murmurs. “Those who attacked you and your mother. The worst of our kind.” Parker gasps. Henry looks like he feels sick. I hope he does. “They were monsters, yes, but they were the exception, Nora, not the norm. I promise you. We do not condone such actions. I am so sorry that happened to you.”

His apology doesn’t make me feel any better. I’ve been trying to forget what happened all my life. And now, thanks to him, the memories are so much worse. I’ll never forget the feelings those monsters felt. I’ll never forget their faces, or the looks of pleasure on them. I’ll never forget my mother’s pain.

Unable to look at the monster in front of me any longer, I turn my face into the sofa and let more tears fall. Behind me, Henry sighs. “Bring the car around, Parker.” A hand falls on my shoulder. “Come, Nora. Some fresh air will do you good.”

Henry ushers me into the back of a sleek black Mercedes sedan and then slips in beside me. When Parker climbs behind the wheel, I can’t help but think of the similarities between this moment and the night before when Xavier forced me to go out with him. The only difference is that the premonitions of someone close by meaning to do me harm are missing. Oddly enough, I haven’t felt the warning feelings since ditching Xavier. The vampires truly don’t mean me any harm. Right now. That doesn’t mean that I’m safe by any stretch. Vamps are moody, and I’m sure their definition of bringing me harm would be different than mine.

“Where to, Sire?”

“Underworld. That was the last place Nadine was seen, was it not?”

As Parker nods and puts the car into gear, I lean forward, trying my best to keep my temper in check. “Uh, you’re going to take me home first, right?”

Henry gives me a long look that says so much. The bastard has no intention of ever letting me go home.

“Oh, this is bullshit. Take me home, now. You got your answers. I didn’t take your missing vampire, and I’m not a threat to you. I’ve never told anyone about the underworld. Plus, you know about my gift. You keep my secret, I keep yours. Those are the rules of the underworld. You have to let me go.”

“You want to go back?” Henry asks. “To that hole of an apartment next door to that loathsome human?” He sounds like he’s insulted that I’d pick my home over his.

I shrug. “It’s my home. I have responsibilities, a job—maybe. I probably got fired for not showing up to work today, thank you very much. But still, it’s my life. You can’t just take it from me.”

Henry gives me a rueful look. “It wasn’t much of a life, Nora. You lived alone with no family, no friends, no lovers…”

My chest clenches like Henry is punching me with each word he says. As an orphan who grew up in foster care, I’ve never wanted anything more than a real family. Being a scrawny little white girl in Detroit was bad enough—I never fit in and was always picked on—but add having to hide my gifts, and I never had a chance at having any kind of real relationships. I’ve grown resigned to my lonely life, but I’ve never wanted to be alone. Henry’s hitting below the belt, and he knows it. He waits for a response from me, but I can’t give one without sounding emotional, so I turn my head and stare stoically out the window.

“You’ll have all of those things from now on,” Henry says. “I’ll keep you safe. Provide for you. You will be well taken care of, I assure you.”

“You can’t do this.” My protest is weak. He can do this, and we both know it. Who would stop him? “The laws of the underworld—”

“Apply to underworlders, Nora. You are human. You know the truth. You know my identity. It is too dangerous to allow you to leave.”

“But I won’t tell anyone!” I blurt as panic takes over my aching, exhausted body. “You’ve seen my life. You know I’ve never said a word about your world to anyone. I won’t tell people about you. You know I won’t.”

“You won’t,” Henry agrees, “because you won’t be leaving me.”

Henry reaches across the seat and pulls one of my hands into his. His voice turns to silk again. “I know you’re scared, Nora. You have reason to fear and despise my kind, but you will get over it.”

“Oh yeah, because kidnapping me is definitely the way to win me over. You are the worst kind of villain, because you actually think you’re doing the right thing here. You’re delusional.”

Henry pulls his hand away from mine and glares at me. “Delusional?”

I shrug. My peace spoken, I go back to glaring out the window. After a few minutes, Henry says, “Regardless of your opinion of me, your life is here now, with me and mine. You had better get used to it. Cooperate, and you will be treated well.”

I can’t help taking the bait. “Cooperate how? Am I just supposed to jump into your bed? Would that get you off, Henry? Knowing you were forcing me to be with you?”

Henry whirls on me in his seat, and his eyes begin to glow a scary red. “I would never disrespect you in that manner! When you come to my bed, it will be because you want it. I guarantee you will be desperate for me before I ever touch you.”

I scoff.

“I want you, Nora,” Henry says, still seething. “But until you are ready to become my lover, your role in my clan will be a different one.”

“What role?”

Henry takes a deep breath and sits back against his seat. Once he’s calm again, he says, “Your gifts. I need them. You will be of great service to my clan.”

Of course it’s about my gifts. I should have known. Vampires are all about power and politics. Henry, no doubt, wants to remain the big man on campus, and to do that he needs all the most powerful tools in his arsenal. I’m a shiny new toy that no one else has. Sadly, this news is better than the idea that he just wants me for my body or my blood. But not much, because I know he still wants both of those things as well.

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