Chapter 6

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“Okay, Leonard. I’ve been told I’m good with weird. Before you tell your story, let me get some more wood in here.”

“No, let me—”

She was back with a huge arm-load, and was placing it in a circular, wrought-iron holder near the stove, before he even had a chance to display his chivalrous side.

“The firewood is close. It’s stacked on the porch. You need to eat,” she commanded, dropping one of the MREs next to him on the narrow cot. She darted across the room again and brought him another mug of water. “I think there might be instant coffee in that food pack.”

“How about you?” McCoy lifted the plastic-sealed block and studied it. “Don’t you need to, er, eat or something?”

Bella was already kneeling in front of the pot belly stove, pushing in more split logs and stabbing at them with a long-handled poker.

She glanced over her shoulder. “You don’t have to worry. I’m a vampire, but I don’t feed on humans. I, and my fa—my former associates—drink animal blood.” She turned back to the fire and jabbed at the flaming wood and hot coals with a bit more force than absolutely necessary. “I, uh, ate yesterday. Well, I guess it was the day before. I’m good for a couple of weeks.”

After closing the ventilated door, she moved rather sedately back to her chair across the room, brushing her hands off on her jeans. She flipped her hair to her back and settled onto her chair. “Well, Leonard, I never believed in vampires either, but hey, look!” she said, grinning and spreading her arms wide. “Over the last few years, I’ve seen, and experienced, a lot of things I never would have believed if they hadn’t happened to me.” With a thoughtful frown and a pat at her right wrist, she sadly sighed, but then a small smile graced her face. “Lay it on me! But eat something first. I can wait.”

McCoy nodded and opened the package. He was beginning to think he’d do anything she asked. Not that she’d asked for more than his trust. And he did trust her. He didn’t know why, but he did.

Was he merely being drawn in by the allure of a pretty face?

He didn’t want to admit he’d been swayed once or twice in that manner.

Or was it because she had been taking care of him instead of making him the main course? If she had, no one would ever have known. Maybe she was just trying to lure him into a false sense of security.

No. He didn’t believe that.

If she had wanted him for supper, she’d had plenty of opportunity.

Wait. How had she gotten him to the cabin?

“Um, Bella? How did you get me back here?”

“When you passed out, I caught you and carried you.”

“You? Carried me?”

“Yes.” One finely shaped brow arched and she pointed at him. “If you know about vampires, you should know they’re very strong. If I wanted to, I could pick up a car, like a shiny Volvo, and toss it. Probably should have.” She crossed her arms and gave him such a stern look; it would have unnerved a braver man than he. “Eat.”

McCoy didn’t know what a Volvo was, but he knew what a car was, and he wasn’t a complete fool. He recognized a direct order when he was given one.

Halfway through the beef-a-roni, that wasn’t half bad, he took a drink of the water she’d gotten for him and looked up at her anxiously. His curiosity was prodding at him. As they say, curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back. There was that small matter of the rings she’d apparently disposed of. “You mentioned wedding and engagement rings? Won’t your husband worry about you?” He sincerely hoped there wasn’t a husband involved.

“Ug. Edward.” Bella groaned and dropped her forehead into her palm. “If he could, he’d call out the National Guard. Or the Mounties, I guess. He still thinks I’m helpless.” She shook her head.

“We’re not really married—not legally—and I don’t think I want to talk to him again for a very long time. Well, he talks at me more than he talks to me. Jasper, he’s my … I guess he’s like my brother-in-law … reminded me a few years ago that Edward lied about his name, date of birth, and Social Security number on the marriage license application. They all have. That’s his coat and snow pants, by the way. Jasper’s, not Edward’s. They were closest to the door.”  Her pretty lips curled into a devious smirk. “That tiny technical detail about names and birthdates didn’t stop me from opening several accounts in my chosen names—that Edward can’t touch. Jasper helped with that, too. Edward didn’t think I needed to have my own, being the little wifey and all.” She turned her nose up into the air. “No proper lady concerns herself with such mundane things as money.”

Her smile grew rigid and the warm honey of her eyes hardened to a glinting topaz. It made McCoy shiver. “As Emmett would say, ‘I ain’t no lady.’ Jasper and Alice steered me toward a few investments and urged me to become part or majority owner of a couple lucrative businesses. That Edward is also unaware of.” She huffed on her nails and buffed them on her sweater. “So, now, how do you know about vampires?”

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