Chosen Chapter 23

As predicted, we rejoin Zoey laying naked on top of Loren. He’s running his hands over her body and telling her how special she is. This makes Zoey happy and she nuzzles against him while describing her the scene. Apparently she can see them in floor length mirrors all over the walls. They’re both a bit bloody and she’s sweaty—Loren doesn’t perspire—which makes her “tattoos” look even cooler. She can’t help but agree with him that she’s wonderful.

Loren was right. I was exquisite. And he’d been right about us. It didn’t matter that he was older and a full-grown vampyre (and a professor at my school). What we had together went beyond all of that. What we had was really special. More special than what I felt for Erik. Even more special than Heath.

It’s a good thing Zoey isn’t confusing lust for love or this might be hilarious. Zoey remembers Heath and, once again, asks if their bond is really broken. Loren says, again, that yes it is because their bond has superseded it. Zoey says that wasn’t in any textbooks she read about “imprinting”.

His slight smile spread and he gave me a sweet, soft kiss. “You’ll learn that there’s a lot the textbooks don’t teach about being a vampyre.”

Like how to squelch that feeling of shame while you bone your teacher. Why don’t these textbooks cover things like that? Do vampires intentionally hide information to make it difficult? There must be a vampire group that believes in abstinence only imprint education. That or being a vampire causes their IQ to drop a point for every ounce of blood they drink.

Loren’s comment makes Zoey feel childish, which she should. He picks up on this, somehow, and pats her on the head saying she’s not immature. This suggests to me that he’s done this before and knows how girls like her react from experience. How many of your student are notches on your belt, Loren? He reassure her, she asks if it hurt Heath and Loren says yes but it’s better in the long run.

‘In local news tonight, a high school star football player has been killed in a traffic accident. The passengers in the car say that he suffered what appeared to be a seizure and then lost control of the car, driving it into a telephone pole. There were no other serious injuries and an investigation is ongoing. Coming up next, a panda that think it’s a cat.’

Zoey says it’s a good thing she didn’t imprint both him and Heath. Loren says that Nyx only allows one imprint at a time so they can’t have an army of humans. Zoey says that she’d have never thought of that while Loren says that a lot of vampires would though he’s not one of them. No, humans aren’t nearly as useful as undeadlings. Loren says that he doesn’t need anybody else and he’s perfectly happy with their imprint.

His words thrilled me. He was mine and I was his! Then Erik’s face swam before my eyes and the thrill faded.

Loren asks what’s wrong and she says Erik. Loren says that she belongs to him and she agrees. Then Loren asks her to tell him what’s been bothering her. Zoey decides that, really, what’s the harm in sharing secrets with someone who took her virginity? So she tells him about Stevie and how she’s not really dead as well as the rest of the undeadlings in hiding.

I felt his body tense and half expected him to tell me I was nuts, but all he said was, “What do you mean? Explain everything to me, Zoey.”

Can we be excused while that happens? You didn’t feel the need to expose us to underage boning, PCK, so how about skipping that conversation? For once, PCK does exactly that. She just casually mentions that she told him everything and then he’s talking again, completely up to speed. I now have proof that she can do it which means PCK has literally just been wasting our time by making us read through redundant conversation.

Loren asks if that means Stevie is waiting at Aphro’s house. Uh, yes? Didn’t Zoey just tell you everything or did she only touch on the salient details? Zoey must have just flapped her mouth open and burbled at Loren for thirty seconds, thinking she was explaining things. But that’s because that’s what Zoey hears whenever her teachers talk. Zoey says Stevie needs lots of blood and Loren asks if it’s really that bad.

“You can’t imagine. They’re not human and they’re not vampyre. It’s like they’ve turned into all the stereotypes that are most horrible about vamps and humans. They’re soulless, Loren.” I searched his eyes. “And too far gone to fix, but Stevie Rae’s affinity for the earth has made it possible for her to keep some of her soul, even if she’s not whole. I really think I can do something for Stevie Rae.”

Wait, what stereotype of humans do the undeadlings embody? Amassing loads of credit card debt without considering the consequences? Turning complex issues into binary political arguments? I think PCK might be misuing the word stereotype when she means trait. I know it can be a blow to that precious ego, PCK, but you can ask people if there’s a better word. You don’t have to just stick with the only one you could think of.

Loren is shocked, or maybe just curious, that Zoey thinks she can help Stevie. So Zoey outlines her “plan” on restoring Stevie’s “humanity”. She says that she just needs to use the power of the elements. No, PCK, I saw that episode of Captain Planet and it doesn’t work without “heart”. Loren says that might work—how would he know?—but that she’s invoking powerful magic and that there’s always a cost. Which was expertly foreshadowed by the price Zoey paid for levitating over the school wall or throwing those guys under a car.

Loren asks who or what could have made those undeadlings. Zoey is about to tell him when “Don’t speak her name slammed into my gut.” You should really talk to a gastroenterologist, Zoey. If words are slamming into your gut, that may be a sign of blood intolerance, a rare but serious vampire condition. Zoey says that she hadn’t told him about Neferet and says it must be Nyx—or the author—intervening. She then wonders if she’s subconsciously trying to protect him so she lies and says she doesn’t know. Loren then asks if Stevie knows who made her into the shambling monster she is.

Warning bells rang in my stomach again. “She’s not really communicating very well right now. Why? Have you ever heard of anything like this happening before?”

Now I’m thinking it’s the binge eating Zoey goes through. She must have swallowed a bell while inhaling that last desert cart. Loren hasn’t heard of it happening before and tries to pretend that he was just curious. Zoey tells him that he can’t tell anyone about this, not even Neferet. Which will be hard to do as he’s her henchman but he makes the promise to Zoey.

Loren asks who else knows and Zoey claims no one. Loren doesn’t believe that though and wonders how she’s using Aprho’s house if Aprho herself doesn’t know. Zoey claims she heard Aphro talking about her parents being out of town. Then Loren asks how Zoey got Stevie to stay put if she’s not communicating very well. Zoey lies, poorly, stating one moment that Stevie is like an animal sometimes and then saying that she gave Stevie a cell phone and can text her at any time. She asks Loren to help her either get Stevie to the school or her friends over to Stevie. Then he “casusally” asks if she’s friends with Aphro.

Loren asked the question in an off-hand way, with a smile and a tug on one long strand of my hair, but like with Heath, our Imprint linked us and I could feel the tension hidden inside him. He cared a lot more about my answer than he was letting on. That worried me, and not just because my gut was cramping up again and warning me to keep my mouth shut.

Wait, maybe Zoey’s never had a period and it’s just kicking in now and this is her first experience with cramps. I get that this is all based on the whole “gut feeling” expression but it’s not made to be taken literally, PCK. Zoey lies and says no, that she’s just part of the circle because Nyx wants her there. Loren says that’s good and Zoey shouldn’t trust her. Zoey says she won’t and wants to talk more but Loren, thankfully, shuts her up so they can kiss.

A weird choking noise broke through the haze of heat that was engulfing me. Dreamily, I turned my head as Loren trailed kisses down my naked throat, and a jolt of horror shocked through my body.

Who would have thought Erik would come looking for his girlfriend? Loren steps in front of Zoey and says he’s interrupting. Erik says he can see that and storms off while Zoey cries about it. Loren says that he needed to find out anyway and Zoey says not like this. Then she whines about Erik telling on them because teacher/student boning is still against the rules. Loren says he won’t tell anyone, Zoey whines that he won’t keep it secret for her now and Loren says he’ll make Erik keep it secret. Zoey says he looks dangerous and tell him not to hurt Erik.

“Ah, baby, don’t worry. I won’t hurt him. I’ll just have a little talk with him.” He took me into his arms, and even though my body, my heartbeat, the very essence within me wanted to be close to him, I forced myself to pull away. “I have to go,” I said.

Loren calls her baby a lot now. That’s PCK’s “subtle” way of telling us he’s a bad guy. That or her ideal boy toy learned how to talk by watching lots of seventies porn. They get dressed, Zoey complains about her appearance and that she’s sore in places she’s never been sore before. How hard were they doing it that her brain stem is sore? They get ready to part and Loren tells her to get some sleep and they’ll be together again soon. He says some poetry at her and walks off. Then Zoey begins to gush how she’s not a virgin anymore and she wants to talk to Stevie who’ll want to know all about it.

Zoey walks back to her dorm, wondering if she looks different and deciding that’s stupid. Then she wonders what she’ll tell her friends about Erik and decides not to worry about it because Loren will find Erik and have a talk with him. She figures she’ll just say they broke up because he went through the “change” and leave it at that. Probably because no one will question the crazy bitch unless they want to have an “accident” at the nearest intersection. Then PCK ends with Erik stepping out of the shadows and asking Zoey why.

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