Something doesn’t feel right in my head. I can’t quite place what it is, but I know something is off. It’s a crappy feeling and after trying to examine it while listening to a pack of hormone-pervasive wolves, I’m still no closer to discerning what it could be.
The cold wraps its steely arms around me as I head back to the main building. The baying and yipping of the wolves recedes into the darkness behind me. Ah, death is in the air. Most vampires might think that was just peachy, but I’ve had enough of it lately.
I think when this week ends; I’ll need a vacation myself. Grab Rafe, head down to our island off the southern coast of Argentina... the darkness won’t be as long, like it is in the summer when we visit, but it will be a nice escape from the current challenges of managing a seethe larger than two.
I pass through the hot tub grotto and head into the now silent dining room. The hunters should be out for a few hours before needing to re-fresh from the cold. The scent of blood coffee still lingers in the air and I’m grateful for the small moment of solitude.
The images in the cabin race back as I lower myself onto a leather chair near a window. Who could have killed Melvyn? The blood in the room indicates it was a violent death, but the draining of the Were’s corpse means it certainly wasn’t one of Romeo’s pack.
There! A black spot on my radar.
What the hell is going on?
I stand and close my eyes. My senses drift out and down into the very building itself. The bright, cheery atmosphere of the eating area fades away and I’m left examining a series of electrical impulses in a cloud within my mind. Something hangs over one of my seethe and brings them closer to the dangerous pit within each of the undead.
The only thing I know for certain is it can’t be Joanna. I haven’t exchanged blood with her since our first time because of the extended time I spent in her mind. I learned the hard way what playing too long in another vamp’s head can do after a blood exchange. Severing the mental connection afterward was the only way I’ve found to give them a chance to survive with their sanity in tact.
The heavy feelings of despair I’m sensing seem to be coming from the direction of our suite. Heading back to the locked door near the kitchen’s walk-in refrigerator, I nod to the employee sitting behind the counter with a cookbook, whiling away the time until a needed by a guest.
The lights are off in our living room and a soft glow comes from the light over the stove in the connected kitchen. The emotions I’m sensing are coming from below me now, so I know it’s got to be from the command center. Judging by the time, Asa should still be on duty.
The heavy basement door swings back easily at my touch and the scent of vampire blood spills up out of the darkness. Leaping down the stairs in one bound, the scent pounds through my head as I identify the smell of recent gunfire as well. I trigger the locking mechanism and the concrete wall in the corner slides slowly open.
Before it can fully slide to allow a normal stride, I turn sideways and squeeze myself through into the computer room beyond. Asa whirls around on his swivel chair and at the sight of me, his face crumbles into fear.
“I can explain,” he says.
“What the hell happened down here? Are you okay?”
His face smoothes out and reveals nothing. Blood stains, hastily cleaned mar the concrete floor and walls. His clothes look clean, but his body smells unwashed. Traces of sex, cordite, silver, and blood radiate from him in a miasma of guilt.
“I shot Joanna and beheaded her.”
Did I just fucking hear that right? “Excuse me?”
“Joanna was not loyal to the seethe. She plotted to capture and drain you and tried to enlist my help.”
Shock courses through my body, only to be quickly replaced by anger.
Thought instantly becomes action, as I leap across the room and backhand the younger vampire into the control panel. The sound of glass breaking and plastic crunching doesn’t slow me down. I wrap my hands in his shirt and slam his head repeatedly into the console table until the creak of wood threatens to break under my wrath.
The blackness within creeps up to overwhelm me in my rage and my voice comes out harsh and broken. “Who gave you the right to end a life that is mine?”
Asa moves to grab my wrists in an attempt to get me to stop shaking him like a dog with a rat. His defensive touch has a worsening effect and my fist flies repeatedly at his face, until I feel some small satisfaction in seeing it covered in red. I open my hand and deliver loud resounding smacks, splattering blood over the desk and myself.
“You fool!” Over and over I backhand the fledgling, the inner rage still unsatisfied. “What have you done?” The young vampire slumps in my hold, no longer attempting to stop me.
Warm hands grab my shoulders from behind.
“Dria! That’s enough! Get a hold of yourself!”
Rafe’s voice holds a twinge of real fear, triggering me to back slowly away from my inner abyss. I reach down, curling my hands into Asa’s bloody shirt and fling his body across the room where it hits the wall and slides to the floor.
“You should have called me, you fool! She was healing from a blood addiction and I was doing what had to be done.”
The wounds on Asa’s face have already started to heal as he pulls himself into a seated position. “She was crazy, Vivian. I swear! She tried to drain me. There was no time to call and I made a split-second decision.”
“Idiot! You could have incapacitated her instead of cutting her head off.”
Asa hangs his head, resting it on his pulled up knees. “She was stronger than me. She couldn’t be trusted and was a threat to the seethe. I acted on the knowledge I had.” His voice comes out low and tinged with regret. “I didn’t know about her addiction. If I had, I wouldn’t have killed her.”
The betrayal burning through my gut feels like a cigarette placed against skin—white hot and focused.
“You did not need to know about her addiction! I am the master here. Not you.”
Anger outweighs common sense and I move forward to kick him. A hand grabs my long hair, yanking my head back. I whirl around to face my calm husband, standing next to the ruins of the computer table with a fistful of copper strands.
“Not so fast, love. What’s done is done. Beating the poor boy won’t bring her back.”
“It will teach him his place!”
“Like you were beaten when you were his age? What did it teach you?”
Dammit! I hate it when he’s right. It taught me to hate and prompted me to plot their death. But it also taught me to try to keep a low profile; something killing Joanna certainly was not.
“His actions warrant punishment. I will have to report this death to the Tribunal and I don’t need more eyes on us right now.”
A groan comes from Asa. “I’m sorry. My training as a soldier kicked in and I did what I thought was right. I took out the enemy.”
“She was your seethe-mate,” I bark out, “and you had just fucked her.”
Rafe pulls in a sharp breath. “Wow, I bet that had to be interesting.”
“I’ll soon find out.” Without further ado, I push my way none-too-gently into Asa’s scattered thoughts. Images of destruction in Afghanistan come hurtling to the surface to obscure most of what I need to see. Within a few moments, I have an eyewitness account of all that happened here in the basement.
I release his mind with more compassion then I’m feeling. No need to damage him in my quest for truth. I would’ve liked to erase some of the Afghan memories for him, but those experiences make him who he is, so they are best left alone.
The anger and hurt coiling deep inside don’t allow me to offer him soothing words or forgiveness. He shouldn’t have chopped her head off and that’s that. The fact he drank her blood at the end only reinforces he truly did think of her as an enemy. Asa’s own perceived age in his energy aura will appear slightly older than he really is now because of consuming most of Joanna’s death blood.
It makes me wonder if that could be why he killed her. He’s been learning about our culture little by little since he arrived, having practically survived for eighteen months with almost no knowledge of the way things are done. Could he have wanted more power because Joanna and Drew were older and stronger?
Not many vampires, young or old, make numerous kills of other vampires. Unless, of course, they become enforcers. He clearly has it in him.
I turn away in disgust and storm out into the connecting basement workroom. “Clean it up! I want the blood gone, the body on ice, and the equipment replaced within the hour.”
I head up the stairs to the kitchen and pause a moment. The sanctuary of our personal suite feels tainted by the energies of all who tromp through these rooms to get to the command center and basement rooms. Once this hunt is over, I’m approving work on another entrance to the area. I need to reclaim our peaceful space and give Rafe and I back the haven we created.
The smell of fresh coffee penetrates the thick fog of emotions churning within me. Hearing Rafe come up the stairs, I automatically move to pour him a cup.
I turn to give it to him and he gently takes it from my hand and puts it on the counter. Strong arms embrace me in a tight hug and some of the tension pours out of me.
“Leibling, he did not know.” Rafe uses the German endearment, meaning darling, while running his hand up and down my back. “Let’s get the blood off you before anything else.”
Pulling back and looking down, I see that not only is my right hand covered in the younger vampire’s blood, but splatters of it also stain my silk suit.
“Damn. That’s not going to come out, is it?”
Rafe gives me a half-smile. “I doubt it.”
Ignoring the blood for a moment, I snuggle back into my husband’s embrace. A sigh escapes me as I tighten my arms around him, carefully so as not to get my bloody hand on him.
“I had no choice but to cut her off from my blood. This has happened before. Either they get past the craving and settle in, or I have to kill them.”
“Perhaps Asa saved you the trouble?”
My head whips up. “No! It was still too early to tell. We wouldn’t have been at that point for another six months or so.”
The semi-darkness of the kitchen soothes, but my recent actions still leave me pumped and jittery.
“I need to shower. Give me a few minutes.”
Rafe nods and takes the bloody mug from the counter and pours its contents into a clean one. The man hates to waste coffee.
I shake my head at his normal behavior, which seems highlighted in this bizarre moment. Does nothing faze the man anymore? Incredible.
The water of the shower mixes with the blood to pool briefly below me before swirling down the drain. What should I do about Asa’s transgression? What the hell am I going to tell the Tribunal about it? I can’t very well tell them she was addicted to me because I controlled her mind for hours, basically making her a passenger in her own body.
I didn’t have a seethe over the centuries for various reasons. I don’t like to lead a large group—too many issues always going on in the background, too many people wanting a say. Being a solitary person doesn’t mean I don’t like the company of others. I do, or I wouldn’t be so social and run an inn. But I’ve always preferred to work alone. No other vampires to account for. No vampires to discuss things with. My way, my mistakes, and I take things as they come—with Rafe by my side, as I’d always dreamed.
I leave the shower and dry off, contemplating what to wear for the rest of the evening. Will the hunters be reporting back in to warm up soon? I check my watch. It’s only half past eleven. Hard to believe the hunt has barely been underway for two hours and we’ve had two deaths so far.
I still have to figure out what happened to Melvyn and hope the hunters aren’t killed by Emiko before the week ends. Or vice versa. I’m beginning to think this whole scheme was not such a good idea after all.
I stroll naked into the bedroom and see Rafe waiting for me. He stands up when I enter and starts to unbutton his shirt.
“What are you doing? You didn’t get blood on you. What you’re wearing looks fine.”
He slowly takes his shirt off; his eyes not leaving mine the whole time. “I’m not changing clothes. I think I know what you need to get your mind off of this.”
I’m not in the mood for sex. One of my vampires was just killed by another vampire in my care and I just beat on him for a few minutes in frustration. If I was the type that got off on violence that would be one thing, but I’m not.
“How about later, hon? I’m not feeling it.”
He ignores me and pulls off his undershirt next. The sculpted planes of his torso ripple when he tosses his clothing on a nearby chair. I think he might be flexing to entice me. Rafe starts to work on his pants next. The belt comes off in a fluid motion and my eyes follow its whip-like movements through the air.
He slowly works the button and zipper, while back-stepping out of his shoes. My attention to his every move has the usual effect on him. He’s hard and ready behind his fly, and his full magnificence comes into view once his zipper lowers. He went commando again, knowing how much it turns me on. It also helps when we want a quickie somewhere to not have him bound up by my favorite boxer briefs.
He steps out of his lowered trousers, one leg at a time, hooking his thumb in each sock and peeling it off on the way. His thighs are slightly hairy and solid in their strength. God, just looking at him is enough to make me want to forget the cares of the world and hop into bed with him.
Rafe reaches for a small paring knife I hadn’t noticed before, sitting on the round table beside him.
“What are you planning with the knife?” He’s never held one before when naked and I have to say it’s a striking image, even if the knife is small.
Without answering me, he takes his meaty cock in his other hand, holding it to one side, while placing the knife at the base of his erection. Before I have a chance to realize what he’s doing, he nicks himself in a shallow one-inch slit and the delicious aroma of my lover’s blood fills the air.
“I seem to have cut myself,” he says with a smoldering look on his face. “Would you come lick it for me so it heals?”
Desire coils in my gut, as my canines descend at his offer. A tiny sliver of blood wells up in the wound and threatens to drip down onto his hairless sack. I’m on my knees before him in an instant, replacing my hand with his own and pulling his cock to the side so I can access the cut.
My tongue snakes out to lick the beads of crimson that settle at the base while my other hand fondles his balls gently. I latch onto the small injury and suck in a slow draw of pressure. Rafe’s moan of pleasure sounds from above as I start to stroke his hardness in time to my suction.
Wetness gathers at my opening and if I had a third hand, I’d be stroking my own clit. I tug on his sack and draw it gently from his body, all the while kneading the sensitive globes within. It doesn’t take long before the cut seals. My appetite has been aroused and it won’t go quietly back into hiding.
The desire to have him take me wars with the desire to use my teeth to carefully open up a new wound. A glistening bead of pre-cum on his tip makes the decision for me. Lapping delicately with my tongue, the salty fluid contrasts nicely with the richness of his blood. Rafe’s hand cups the back of my head in a silent plea to continue.
I circle his wide head slowly; ensuring enough moisture from my mouth coats the top portion of his shaft. Once it shines like a well-oiled tool, I open my mouth wide to take as much of his thickness in as I can. In his haste to have me go deeper, Rafe moves forward a bit, forcing one of my sharp peaks onto his sensitive skin.
The pain causes him to jerk back slightly, but nothing can stop the trickle of blood from entering my mouth and urging me to suck. Clamping my mouth securely around his shaft, never one to waste a drop, I will my canines to recede so as to not cause him further damage. Sometimes a little pain in lovemaking can be good and it certainly proves true in this instance.
Skirting the line between pleasure and pain, I can feel Rafe’s thigh muscles tighten as he struggles to stay in place. I snake one hand around his hips to grasp a firm cheek and encourage him to press forward into my mouth more. With a slow push, he thrusts his hips toward me, gaining an inch deeper into my wet mouth.
His rhythm is slow and smooth, pulling back only a little before reseating as deep as I can take him. I release his balls and reach under them to the tight pucker of his ass. The tip of my finger grazes the opening and Rafe gasps at the sensation. Easing my finger in about a half-inch, I stimulate all the nerve endings, which I know are sending electrical jolts to his genitals.
I increase my suction and quicken his thrusts with my hand pressing his ass cheek. Rafe’s breathing sounds ragged and harsh—beautiful music to any lover’s ears.
“I can’t hold off much longer,” he says.
Not one to miss the opportunity for mutual gratification, I pull all my attentions away. The strain of holding off has tightened the muscles in his abdomen and when I look up I see delectable ripples in his mid-section. Running my hands up his thighs to his stomach causes a shudder to run through his body.
“Come catch me,” I say as I launch myself into flight. I make it to the door before a heavy weight slams into me from behind, pinning me to the carpet runner in the hall. I buck back with my hips, dislodging him before he has a chance to wrap his arms around me in an attempt to hold me in place.
I’m up again, only to be pushed into the door leading to our office. The door hinges give under the combined force of our bodies. We crash through the opening, into the room beyond.
The life pulsing through my veins sings with excitement. Rafe may not be the natural predator I am, but he sure as hell makes up for it in sheer determination.
“You want to play, do you?” He says, pressing his full length against me on the carpet with his cock nestling my buttocks.
Not any more. Put it inside me.
Should I tease you for a bit? They way you did me?
Before I have a chance to respond, he takes my wrists in one hand, extending my arms above my head. My face presses sideways against the rug and he can see the desire shining in my eyes. I wiggle my hips in answer, trying to entice him to take me now.
A light touch skims the side of my breast, curving inward to cup my fullness. Fingers tweak and pinch my nipple, as I buck to angle myself for penetration. The head of Rafe’s cock slips down to nestle under my cheeks, but still refuses to enter my dripping wetness.
It would be easy to overpower him right now and take what I want, but that is never the point with a little fun like this. It’s the illusion of being trapped and the trust you have in your partner that makes submitting, even if only briefly in love-play, so enticing.
You sexy little thing, Rafe says in my mind. If I had a crop right now, I’d turn your ass pink.
Shivers run down my spine and a slight chill makes me shudder. The mere thought of the sturdy tool hitting my backside sends me into a spiral of desperation to have his dick in me immediately.
Rafe’s hand leaves my breast and in a moment, a soft chenille fabric touches my hip.
“Lift up so I can put this pillow under you.”
I comply and the added support tips me, allowing the perfect angle for entry. My arms, stretched above me, add a subtle tension to the muscles in my body, exaggerating the pull of penetration as he presses forward.
An audible sigh escapes me, “Ahh...”
Rafe’s longer body curves over mine, pushing me into the rug. He releases my wrists from one hand, instead taking my arms, one in each hand, and spreads them out above my head. The anger inside me over Asa, and Joanna’s death, starts to fade at my husband’s light dominance.
Stop thinking about them and think about this... he punctuates his mental communication with a hard shove of his hips, seating himself deep. Added weight on my upper body and arms is a result of him taking the leverage he needs... and the extra heaviness, pinning me to the floor, adds to my excitement.
Over and over within me he thrusts, building a slow pressure inside with each minute that passes.
“More,” I say. “Give me more.”
Hot breath warms the side of my neck and one of my wrists is set free. Rafe’s hand snakes underneath us and over the pillow, to settle at my hard clit. Wet lips lock onto the area below my ear in a deep sucking kiss. Closing the toned walls inside me on each inward stroke of his dick brings an excited grunt from my husband.
Pain explodes in my neck as my lover bites down. The skin doesn’t break, but it’s exactly what I need to push me over the edge. I thrash on the floor, into the pillow, and against his questing fingers.
I push the pleasure out of my body to encase my partner in the intensity of the release he’s giving me. The hips pistoning back and forth become erratic as a shout rips from Rafe, pulling his mouth away from my neck.
Shudders rack both our bodies as our orgasms continue on. The thrusts become slower, but his stiffness remains. My weight shifts to the side, off the pillow, as my husband pulls me back against the length of him to lay us together on the rug.
A warm whisper reaches my ear. “You never cease to amaze me, liebling.”
I snuggle back into his strong arms to cherish our stolen moment. I know we need to get up and figure out what to do and how to handle the recent events, but they’ll still be there in a few minutes and damned if his dick isn’t still hard.
“Feel up for round two?” I ask, as I turn in his arms and press him down into the floor.