"Do you like it? I never knew what you would prefer and guessed again and again."
Her gaze followed it as it swung like a pendulum. This was proof that she was going loopy, and yet she still had an inward evil grin. "I'll be sure to wear it in front of Cassandra," she murmured absently.
He caught it in his palm, breaking her stare. "Why would you say that?"
As she often did when she wanted to lie and couldn't, she asked a question. "Wouldn't she be jealous to see you'd bought me jewelry?"
He was still frowning at her.
"It's clear she wants you for herself."
"Aye. That's true," he said, surprising her with his honesty. "But she's gone. I've sent her away, no' to return until it pleases you, or never. I will no' have you uncomfortable in your own home."
Through gritted teeth, she said, "It's not my home." She pushed away, but he held her by her shoulder.
"Emma, it's your home whether you accept me or no'. It has always been and always will be."
She jerked from his hand. "I don't want your home and I don't want you," she cried. "Not when you've hurt me like this."
His body went tense and his expression turned bleak. As though he'd failed. "Tell me how."
"When you lied, it...it hurt."
"I dinna want to lie to you." He brushed her hair from her face. "But I dinna think you were ready to hear everything, and I already sensed a threat from the vampires and feared you would run away."
"But now keeping me from my family pains me even more."
"I will take you to them," he said quickly. "I have to meet with some of the clan and then I must go away for a short while. After that, I will take you there myself. But you canna go alone."
"I am uneasy. Emma, I need you to cleave to me. I know you doona and I fear losing you. They will talk you from any headway I may have made with you."
Annika would, in fact, remind Emma that she'd gone insane.
"I know the minute you enter that coven alone, I will have hell to get you back."
"And you have to get me back."
"O' course I do. I will no' lose you just when I've finally found you."
She rubbed her forehead. "Why are you so certain about this? For someone who's not a Lykae, this all seems really extreme. I mean, you've only known me for a week."
"While I've waited my entire lifetime."
"That doesn't mean you were right to have. It doesn't mean you should have."
His voice went low. "No, but it means having you here now feels verra, verra satisfying."
She ignored the warmth his words conjured, ignored her dream of him.
"Emma, will you drink from me?"
She scrunched her nose. "You smell like alcohol."
"I had a dram or two."
"Then I'll pass."
He was silent for a moment, then held up the necklace again. "I want you to wear this." He leaned forward to reach around and fasten it. Which placed his neck directly before her lips.
She spied a nick just inches from her mouth. "You've cut yourself," she murmured in a daze.
"Did I, then?"
She licked her lips, trying not to succumb to the temptation. "You're, oh, God, move your neck," she whispered, panting.
The next thing she felt was his palm on the back of her head, pulling her to him, forcing her mouth against his skin.
She pounded her fists against his chest, but he was too strong. She finally surrendered, unable to stop herself from darting her tongue out. She licked him slowly, savoring his taste and the way his body tensed, she knew, with pleasure.
Moaning, shuddering, she sank her fangs in and drew.
As she drank, Lachlain squeezed her in his arms and rose to sit on the edge of the bed. He lifted her onto his lap, making her straddle him.
He knew she was lost, clinging so sweetly to him, her elbows on his shoulders, her forearms crossed behind his head. The necklace was cold against his chest as he pulled her closer.
She drew in deep.
When she didn't, he did something he wouldn't have thought he was capable of. He broke away from her.
She swayed immediately. "What's happening to me?" she asked in a slurred tone.
You're drunk so I can take advantage of you...
"I feel so...strange."
When he rolled up her nightgown, she didn't stop him, even when he palmed her between her legs. He groaned anew to find her so wet. His erection was about to rip through his pants.
She was breathing hot and fast against his skin where her lips and teeth had been. She licked him there when he thrust his finger inside her tight sex, then ran her face against his, moaning softly.
"Everything's spinning," she whispered.
He felt guilt, but he knew what they needed and would take them headlong to it, damn the consequences. "Spread your knees more. Rest on my hand."
She did. "I ache, Lachlain." Her voice was throaty, sexy as hell.
She whimpered when he leaned down to drag his tongue over her nipple. "I can ease it," he bit out as he unfastened his pants with his free hand and his cock sprang forth just beneath her. "Emma, I need...tae be inside you. I'm going tae press you down on me."
He forced her hips lower and lower. Gentle. First time. So small.
"And then I'm going to take you until neither of us aches like this," he said against her nipple. Just when he was about to touch her wetness, when he could perceive her heat, she flung away from him, scrambling to the headboard.
He growled with frustration, yanking her right back, until she pummelled his shoulder.
"No! Something's not right." Her hand flew to her forehead. "Feel so dizzy."
Put the beast back in its cage. He'd made a vow to her, never to touch her when she didn't want him to. But her gown was barely covering her, red silk teasing against her white thighs, her nipples hard. He couldn't catch his breath...needed her so badly...
With another growl, he reached over and tossed her to her front. As she struggled, he held her down to bare her generous, perfect arse.
Groaning, he brought his hand down on her curves, not a slap, more a pawing that landed hard. Since he'd met her, he'd brought himself to spend each day in the shower. With her scent fresh in his mind and his hands still warmed from her skin, it was always violently powerful.
She gasped when he kneaded her curves. It would have to be enough.
Time to shower.
Emma still felt his hand against her. It hadn't been a hit or a slap, but - Freya help her - an exquisitely delivered message.
What was wrong with her? Why was she thinking this way? She shivered and moaned. The beast in the cage? - that's what he'd told her. Well, the beast had just swiped a hand out of the cage and delivered a good smack on her backside. It was a masterful, masculine touch that made her want to dissolve, and left her rolling her hips against the bed.
The urge to touch her sex was overwhelming. She wanted to beg to ride him. Her body twitched as she fought it.
The necklace he'd fastened around her was actually a choker that had gold strands and jewels cascading down over her breasts. It was heavy on her and felt sexy and forbidden. When she moved, it swayed and tickled her nipples.
Something about this necklace and the way he'd pressed it upon her signaled...possession.
He'd done something to her tonight. The bed spun, and she felt like...giggling. She also couldn't seem to stop running her hands up and down her body. When her thoughts came, they were clear, but soft and slow...
She didn't know how much longer she could take him touching her without begging for him. Right now on the tip of her tongue, "Please."
No! She was already different from others in her coven - part hated foe, weak compared to her aunts.
If the timid vampire Valkyrie returned home aching for her Lykae?
The disgust and disappointment they would feel. The hurt in their eyes. Besides, she believed if she gave this up, she'd have no power between her and Lachlain - surrendered with a whispered, "Please." If she succumbed, she wouldn't be going home. Ever. She feared he had the power to make her forget why she'd ever wanted to.
The bed spun more wildly. She frowned as realization hit her.
He'd gotten her drunk.
The bastard had gotten himself...so that she would...when she drank...Oh, that son of a bitch! She hadn't even known this was possible!
She'd get him back for this. Uncalled for, tricking her like this. She couldn't trust him. He'd said he wouldn't lie, but she found this just as dishonest.
In the past, she would've just accepted this, taken it meekly as yet another time her wishes and feelings were ignored, but now she refused. Lachlain needed to learn a lesson. He needed to learn that sometime in the last seven days, she'd become a creature with which one did not fuck.
When she licked her lips for the thirtieth time since he'd gone, a nebulous idea formed.
A wicked, evil idea. She glanced around, embarrassed, as if someone could hear her thoughts. If he wanted to play dirty, if he wanted to throw down that gauntlet, she'd swoop the thing up...
She could do it. Damn it, she could be evil, she could.
A hazy memory arose of when she was younger, asking her aunt Myst why the vampires were so evil. She'd answered, "It's their nature." Now Emma grinned drunkenly.
Time to get back to nature.
Emma woke to the sound of the phone ringing. No phone in the history of telephonics had ever sounded so annoying. She yearned to crush it with a ball-peen hammer.
She blearily opened her eyes, turning in her blankets to see Lachlain leave the bed and limp over to answer it.
She reached a hand up and ran it over the warmed bedcover. He'd been lying there, stretched out on top of it. Had he been watching her sleep?
Lachlain picked up, then said, "He's still no' returned? Canvass farther out then... I doona care. Call me the minute you find him." He hung up the phone and ran a hand through his hair. She couldn't remember the last time she'd seen anyone look so exhausted as Lachlain. She heard him exhale wearily and noticed his shoulders were tense. She knew he was searching for his brother and was sorry that he didn't know where he was. After all these years, Lachlain still wasn't able to tell his brother he was alive. She felt sympathy for him.
Until she rose.
Her head began pounding in a rush, and as she stumbled to the bathroom, she realized her mouth was bone dry. Brushing her teeth and showering helped her head and mouth, but had minimal effect on her dizziness.
He'd given her the mother of all hangovers - a run-in with the wrath of grapes. Her very first. If he'd truly had "a dram or two," surely she wouldn't have been that tanked and wouldn't be this hungover now. Last night, as she'd dressed and set out to explore once more, she'd been buzzed all the way up until she collapsed in her blankets at dawn. And the floor of the massive castle had spun. She was sure of it.
He must have drunk like a frat pledge before coming to her.
When she exited the bathroom in her towel to go to her closet to dress, he followed, leaning against the doorframe as she picked out clothes. There were new pieces everywhere. Purses and shoes as well.
She padded along, checking out the offerings, analyzing them with a discerning eye. She was picky about her clothes and had always eschewed anything that didn't conform to her hipster/contrarian fashion style. She'd found that any garment not vintage or D.W.O.T.B - damn well off the boat - didn't conform...
"Do you like everything?" he asked.
She tilted her head, a flare of anger bubbling up when she saw that her own luggage was conspicuously absent. "Oh, I'll be sending for everything when I go home," she answered with absolute honesty.
With her forefinger pointed down, she made a spinning gesture indicating he should turn around. When he complied, she hastily donned underwear, a bra and jeans for running, and a loose sweater.
She ambled past him and sat on the bed, only now noticing that every window was covered in shutters. Of course, he'd had this done. After all, he didn't believe she was going anywhere - because he didn't think she could escape him. "When did these come?"
"Installed today. They will open automatically at sunset and close at dawn."
He eyed her. "Sun's no' fully set yet."
She shrugged, though she did wonder why she'd been rising so early. "You haven't asked me to drink."
He raised his eyebrows. "Will you?"
"Right after a Breathalyzer test." When he frowned, she said, "Measures how drunk you are."
He did not even look guilty. "I've had no liquor tonight and only want you to take." He sat down, too close beside her.
"Why did you rush to the shower last night? Do you find the act so unclean?"
A short laugh. "Emma, it's the most erotic thing I've ever experienced. In the shower, I took release so I doona break my vow to you."
She frowned. "You mean you - ?"
"Oh, aye." His lips curled as he looked down into her eyes. "Every night you've got me like a randy lad."
He was completely unembarrassed to admit he'd stroked himself to orgasm mere feet away from her. At that exact time she'd been rolling in his bed, struggling not to touch her own body. How...titillating. She blushed as much from his admission as from her own thoughts. I wish I'd seen him doing that.
No, no, no. If she kept staring at his sexy smirk, she'd forget her plan, forget the hurt she'd felt upon realizing he'd nicked himself and tricked her and held her in place against him until she drank.
Consequences. Messing with vampire Emmaline Troy now brought consequences.
When the shutters opened with a smooth hum, revealing the night, she said, "Lachlain, I have an idea." Did she truly have the mettle to retaliate? Consequences. Paying in kind. Surprising herself, she found the answer was yes. "I think there's a way we could both 'take release' while I drink."
"I'm listening," he said quickly.
"I mean from the act itself." Her voice was a purr as she glided to the floor to kneel before him. With delicate, pale hands, she tentatively eased open his knees.
His jaw slackened as realization hit him. "You doona mean - ?" He should be recoiling. His cock stood stiff as a pole.
"I want all of you, Lachlain." Purring words. Lovely Emmaline with her plump lips gazing up at him with beseeching blue eyes. "All that you have to give."
He wanted to give her anything she desired. Anything. With a shaking hand, she unfastened the top button of his jeans.
He swallowed hard.
Shouldn't he at least be hesitant about this? Lord help him, he was fighting to keep his hands off the back of her head to rush her. He sensed she could easily lose her nerve, knew she had never before given a man this pleasure. To begin the night of the full moon with this...? He was dreaming.
She slowly unzipped his jeans, gasping when he sprang forth, then gave him a shy but seductive smile, seeming pleased by his erection. She held it with two hands as if she'd never let him go.
"Emma." His voice was broken.
"Hold out for as long as you can," she said, stroking his length once. His eyes closed with pleasure.
He felt her breath first, making him shudder. Then her slick lips, then her tongue darting and flicking over his flesh. Ah, she had a wicked little tongue -
Sweet God, her bite.
He gave an anguished groan, falling back on the bed, only to immediately raise his hand to cup her face and his head to watch her mouth on his cock. He was a twisted man... "I had...no idea. Always like this," he growled. "Always."
He didn't know if he was going to come at once or pass out. Her hands were everywhere, cupping, teasing, driving him wild. She moaned against him, and her sucking grew greedy. She'd never taken this much, but if she needed, he would give. He was weakening, yet he never wanted it to end. "Emma, I'm going to - " His eyes rolled back in his head and everything turned black.
Don't look back, put on my shoes in the car. Run like hell.
She did. Straight to the extensive garage, scanning for keys to the many cars, finding nothing. Frustration welled up. But then words were whispered in her head, like silk fluttering down.
She was trying to! No keys. She sprinted back and scanned around the castle for a work truck, a freaking tractor at this point.
She stilled and frowned, feeling warmth from just above the horizon. As if in a trance, she lifted her face to it. The full moon. Rising tonight.
She felt the light. Like she'd always imagined people did with the sun.
Her hearing was sensitive; things called to her from the forest beyond. She'd avoided that dark place in all her exploring. The sight of it had defeated even her newfound sense of courage.
She had to fight the urge to sprint headlong into the abysmal-looking forest. Lachlain would catch her there - he was a hunter, a tracker. That's what he did. She had no chance of escaping.
Still her body twitched from the battle, as if she missed running within the forest, though she'd never been. Was she going mad even to think of this?
With a cry, she dropped her shoes and obeyed, fleeing the manor and a soon-to-wake, irate Lykae. She plunged into the woods and realized she could see. Her already strong night vision was perfected.
But why was she seeing? Did his blood affect her so much? She'd taken a lot. Now she knew Lykae could see as well at night as by day.
She smelled the forest floor, the moist earth, the moss. She even smelled rocks wet with dew. Dizzying. She might have swayed, but her feet fell perfectly placed to the ground as if she'd run this way a thousand times.
The scents, the sound of her breaths and her heart beating, the air rushing over her...heaven. This was like heaven.
Then she became aware of something new. The running was an aphrodisiac, with every footfall vibrating up her body like a long stroke. She heard his bellow of rage echoing from miles away at the manor, seeming to shake the whole black world around her. As she heard him crashing after her, she felt the need for release. Not fear of what he would do to her when he caught her, but anticipation. She could hear his heart pounding furiously as he neared. Even when weakened, he ran headlong for her.
He would chase her forever.
She knew this as if he'd spoken it in her mind. He would claim her and never let her go. That was what his kind did.