Dating a Vampire is Hard!

Ready for another sneak peek at ASSET 4?

Home Sweet Home, with a Vampire Roommate.
Can Sage's life get any weirder?

Josh sat waiting for her inside. He stood and wrapped her in the biggest hug she’d had in a very long time. “Home sweet home again!”
“You don’t know how much I need this. I hate being homeless.” Sage sat down to review the rental agreement. Josh had already done his part. Little flags marked all the places where signatures needed to be.
Laura, the apartment manager, had already laid out the keys. She waved at Sage from across the room and mouthed, “On the phone. Be right with you.”
Sage scanned through the document and signed the marked places.
“You’re all set, Sage. We are so sorry about the delays. If you want, have a peek around your new place.” Laura took the papers from her and handed over the keys and a survey form. “Mark off anything you see that needs fixing on this list and turn it in before the office closes at six. I’ll leave you to it, then. Welcome back home!”
Just like that, Sage and Josh were ushered out of the office and walked down the path toward their new apartment, another bottom floor unit. All apartments had the same basic floorplan. The only differences were the number of bedrooms.
“You can do the honors,” Sage said.
Josh unlocked the door and stepped into the apartment. He wandered around the kitchen opening and closing cabinets and peeking inside drawers.
“This looks like home but doesn’t feel like it.” She’d expected to feel something more. Finally home again. A place to call her own. But where the emotions should have been, there was nothing. Hollow. Empty. Much like the apartment.
Josh must have picked up on her melancholy. “We will make it feel homey. Give me a few weeks, and I’ll have this place looking good as new.”
She didn’t have time to dwell on her feelings, or lack of, at the moment. She had a home. That would have to be enough. She still had a mission to complete, and this was only meant to be a pit stop. “I’m sure once we all settle in and get our first game night going, all the pieces will fall in line.”
“That’s the spirit.” Josh smiled and headed into the living room. “We could totally maximize the space in here. Get a larger table and do game night here.” He waved his hands at the empty expanse where he stood. “Mount a TV to the wall and put two couches on opposite sides here.”
She had no doubt he could whip the apartment into shape, and left him to his interior design plans as she wandered into the three-door hallway and peeked into the room that would be hers. It seemed somehow smaller without furniture, but Sage knew a queen bed and bureau would fit easily enough. She really didn’t need much else.
Josh came up behind her and opened the next bedroom door, the one he would share with Matt. “I’ll get some blackout curtains for that window.”
“Might need to do all the windows in the house…to be safe.”
Josh’s lips tensed. “So many things to remember now that he’s…” He hesitated.
Saying the word had been hard for Sage too. She understood. They both shared his secret. But it affected him more than anyone else.
“How’s it going between you two?”
Josh winced as if the question wounded him. “Fine.”
“This isn’t my world. This isn’t any real world, and yet it is. But I don’t fit in.”
“I know exactly what you mean.” Sage spoke without any hint of irony.
“How could you?” Josh threw the question at her like an accusation. “This is your world.”
“As if I fit in any more than you do?”
“You’re not human, as I have been made to understand,” Josh said. “And neither is Matt.”
She could take his tone at face value and get up in arms over it, but that would only make things worse. He was lashing out in pain. Just as she had when she’d first learned of the other world lying hidden under her very nose. Unfair, unforgiving, and unbelievable on the best of days. And for all the magic surrounding her, she held only the ability to neutralize it. Not exactly a superpower. But it did put her in a unique position. Josh was similar in that respect. An outsider looking into a world he was not supposed to know existed. She owed him some leeway to come to grips.
“Give Matt time. He is still in there. Even if he has changed a bit.”
“You make it sound like he has a new wardrobe. He’s a…” Josh blew out a sigh.
“I don’t know what it is he’s going through. But I do know he is still there, deep down. It will show again in time. He loves you.”
“Love is not the problem.” Josh wrung his hands, averting his eyes as he continued to speak. “Neither is attraction.”
“What, then?”
“He bit me!” Josh blurted out.
Sage snorted and immediately reined in her smile when she saw the flesh-toned bandage on his neck. “I’m sorry.”
“Nibbling is one thing, but he drew blood…on purpose. It hurts. And not in a good way,” Josh said, seeming to defend his outrage. “I mean, I know he thinks it’s sexy. I’ve never seen him so stiff.”
“TMI, seriously.” Sage’s cheeks burned as she fought to keep the vision his words evoked from materializing in her thoughts. No amount of mental bleach could rid her of that. “You guys are like my brothers. I can’t go there.”
“If I can’t talk about it with you, who can I talk to about it?” The desperation in his tone could not be denied, but it was the way he crumpled against the doorframe, needing its strength to keep him standing that really drove the point home.
He was right. Who else could he talk to about these kinds of problems?
“Okay, so he’s a bit bitey, and you’re not into that.” She paused to think of a way to word her thoughts and not die of embarrassment. “How have you handled sexual experimentations in the past? Surely one of you has wanted to try something the other hasn’t… Maybe approach it that way. Tell him what turns you off.”
“Just like that? He’s a vampire. Blood is like crack, right? Like telling an alcoholic he can’t have a drink sitting right in front of his face.”
Josh had a point. She considered the addict angle as it was so much easier than thinking of her brother as a sexual creature, but that didn’t fit either. Vampires weren’t addicts. And Josh wasn’t a drug. Their situation, much as she hated to consider it, was more akin to BDSM and the need for limits or safe words.
“But you’re a person, not a vice. Blood is important to him, and so are you. Make him see that…separately.”
“You mean I deny him blood?” Josh’s face scrunched in confusion. “Can I do that?”
“Um, yeah. No means no. You have a right to say that.”
“No blood for you!” Josh stamped his foot and waggled his finger like a diva.
At least he was taking that well. There was still hope. “Well, maybe don’t put it so bluntly. But make sure he knows he’s hurting you and you’re just not into bloodletting. He can get that elsewhere. You can both enjoy everything else together.”
“Worth a try, I guess.” Josh scratched at the bandage on his neck.
“I have faith in you both. Besides, you know I can’t live without you two, so you have to figure out a way to work it all out.”
“I’d hate to be the one that lets you down.” The smile returned to Josh’s face.
Crisis averted for the moment. She’d find a way to work that into a conversation with Matt next time she saw him. Just to be sure he was playing by the rules where humans were concerned. Especially when it was under their shared roof.
Her phone beeped in her pocket. A text alert. She’d wasted too much time already. It was time to head back to the office before Grey came looking for her. “Good, because I have a favor to ask you.”
“And that is?”
“Can you drop me back at the office?”
“We have got to get you a car.” Josh rolled his eyes and headed for the kitchen.
Funny how everyone always made it a point to remind her that she need a car, as if it wasn’t already painfully obvious. It wasn’t like she was actively avoiding having one. “Sure thing. I’ll just run out to the money tree.”
“Hey, speaking of the office…” Josh pulled his keys and waved her over. “Was that you guys who pulled the whole floating bus trick the other day?”
“That’s why I have to get back to work. Still trying to figure out who did that.” The fact he’d asked her about it meant that ASSET had not yet managed to get on top of all the media outlets sharing the videos. Not a good sign, and even more reason for her to get back to work, sooner rather than later. “All hands on deck.”
“Pretty cool trick though. You have to admit. Better than any magic show I’ve seen on the strip.”
“Part of my job is keeping magic where it’s supposed to be. No one was supposed to see, or remember, that bus thing.”
“But I’m in the secret club. I can know, right?” Josh asked.
“Best if you stay in the dark as much as possible. Safer that way.”
“Safer?” His eyes widened with shock. “Should I be worried?”
“Not if you get me back to work quickly,” Sage teased and started for the door before he could argue or ask any more questions.

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About The Author

Katie Salidas is a USA Today bestselling author and RONE award winner known for her unique genre-blending style.

Since 2010 she's penned five bestselling book series: the Immortalis, Olde Town Pack, Little Werewolf, Chronicles of the Uprising, and the all-new Agents of A.S.S.E.T. series. As her not-so-secret alter ego, Rozlyn Sparks, she is a USA Today bestselling author of romance with a naughty side.

In her spare time Katie also produces and hosts a YouTube talk show; Spilling Ink. She also has a regular column on First Comics News where she explores writing from a nerdy perspective.