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By Amelia Elias
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.Copyright © 2006 Ameila Elias
All right reserved.
Chapter One"I am Eli," he told her softly, trying to soothe her. She was such a little thing to withstand the misery she'd endured during the Change, a slender scrap of a woman who made him feel even more like a giant as he loomed over her. Still, he didn't want to frighten her by sitting on the bed beside her to reduce the discrepancy in their heights. He didn't doubt she'd try to run if he did, and he needed her to save her energy. "This is a safe place. No one will harm you here."
But she'd gone pale, his name obviously provoking some fraction of a memory of last night's brutal Change. When she looked at him with fear in her eyes, Eli dropped his hands to his sides, trying to appear as non-threatening as possible.
It wasn't something he was good at, but he did try. "There's nothing to be afraid of. You're safe here," he repeated.
"It was you," she whispered, her red eyes wide. "It was you last night."
Eli nodded, stifling a sigh. He'd hoped she would at least be spared the memory of her brutal Change. "Yes."
She moved so fast it was a blur. One instant she was sitting on the bed, drooping with exhaustion, and the next she was standing right in front of him, glaring furiously as she slapped him across the face with all her newfound strength.
The sharp crack of her open palm connecting with his cheek was very loud in the quiet room. He turned his head with the blow, not blocking it though he easily could've, though he'd allowed no one to lay a hand on him in longer than he cared to remember. There was really no point in stopping her. Nothing she could do to him would truly harm him. Eli did catch her hand when she tried to do it again, however, holding her wrist gently in a loose grip which was nonetheless impossible to break.
It was good for her use her new vampire strength and ultra-fast reflexes and become accustomed to them, but it was also good for her to know who was in charge. "Mind telling me what that was for?" he asked mildly.
The rage in her eyes could've etched diamonds. "You bit me! You probably gave me rabies. What the hell did you bite me for?"
Her accusation stunned him far more than her slap. She thought he would attack her and callously steal her life? Eli opened his mouth to correct her, but the words died in his throat.
If he didn't claim her, no one would.
He couldn't turn her out with nowhere to go. She had no Clan to turn to, no sire to claim and protect her, and no knowledge of her new world. She was far more vulnerable now as a fledgling than she had ever been as a human. Diego wouldn't take her in, and Ronin was completely out of the question. None of the other vampires in the area were trained in battle and he wouldn't put them at risk.
That left only him.
Eli hardly dared take her himself. He had more than enough experience with fledglings to know he was the last complication she needed. He'd learned the hard way he was hardly fit to be anyone's sire. She already had one strike against her and there was no need to make it two.
Not to mention he was much happier when left alone.
Eli sighed and pushed aside the shadows of the bitter past, trying to think of another solution. There simply wasn't one. She was the child of an Outcast, and therefore it had to be a member of the League who took her in. There was simply no one else. He supposed he was better than nothing. Besides, he had little doubt she'd be gone from his life at the very first opportunity.
There was only one thing to do. "Yes, I bit you," he agreed, the lie tasting strange in his mouth. Falsehoods were more trouble than they were worth and this was the first he'd uttered in he knew not how long. "I am your sire. I'll teach you everything you need to know-" He easily caught her other hand as it swung at his face, this time clenched into a fist. "Starting with some simple courtesy. Fledglings don't usually take their tempers out on their sires."
"You can take your lessons and your vampire nonsense and shove them," Renee snapped. "I'm getting out of here!"
He didn't release her when she pulled toward the door. "You can't leave until the sun goes down," he told her. In fact, it was something of a miracle she was awake at all. "Basic survival, little one. Avoid sunlight. It is death to you now."
She finally gave up trying to break his hold and glared at him again even though he felt weakness starting to overwhelm her.
Such a temper for such a small package!
When she spoke again, it was through gritted teeth and he knew she hated having to ask him for anything. "You can't keep me here. I need a doctor. Some aspirin. Something."
Eli shook his head. Aspirin wouldn't do a thing for her except perhaps make her sick, and no human doctor could ever be allowed to examine one of their kind. She needed something, all right, but he knew she wouldn't accept it yet. She didn't yet recognize her own natural hunger, feeling it as simply another pain, but the echoes of it screamed along his nerves. There was only one thing which would ease her pain.
The trick was finding a way to get her to accept it. "You need rest," he whispered, threading a soft compulsion through his words. "Sleep now. First you must recover from the Change. Then we'll discuss the rest."
Excerpted from Outcast by Amelia Elias Copyright © 2006 by Ameila Elias . Excerpted by permission.
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