He'd never been attracted to small women, because he'd known if he did somehow manage to bed one, he'd dread hurting her. Yet with this one, the most ethereal and fragile female he'd ever seen, he found himself wondering what it would be like to carry her to his bed and gently undress her. His mind began to riot with imaginings of his big hands cupping and stroking her slight body.
His eyes dropped to her slender neck, and then to her high, full breasts pressing against her dark blouse. Now, this part of her was far from slight. He wished he could kiss her breasts, run his face against them...
"Why are you looking at me like that?" she asked in a halting, baffled tone, taking a step back.
"Can I not admire you?" Amazingly, he took a step forward. Where was this coming from? He'd always been awkward and unsure around women. In the past, if he'd been caught staring like this, he'd have turned his face away, muttering apologies as he left the room. Perhaps he'd at last found freedom in imminent death.
Then again, he'd never stared, never hungered, as he did now for this slip of a woman with her lush breasts. "A dying man's last wish?"
"I know the ways a man looks at a woman." Her voice was sensual, a voice from dreams. It seemed to rub him from the inside. "You're not merely admiring me."
No, he was thinking at that moment that he wanted to rip open her shirt, pin her shoulders to the ground, and suck on her stiffened nipples till she came. Pin her shoulders hard and lick her -
"How dare you play with me, vampire!"
"What do you mean?" He met her gaze. Her eyes flicked over his face as though she were attempting to read his thoughts. Could she begin to guess the battle inside him? That in one instant the idea of being gentle was replaced with the impulse to cover her on the ground?
What is happening to me?
"I know you can't feel this... this... " - she made a small sound of frustration - "you can't feel what you are appearing to. It's impossible, unless - " She gasped. "Your eyes... they're turning black."
Black? His brothers' eyes had turned black with sharp emotion. He hadn't known his did as well. Was it because he'd never felt anything so sharply as his desire for this mysterious female?
He felt like he'd die if he didn't act on that desire -
A sudden explosion of sound made him swing his head around, his body tensing. "What was that?"
She took a quick glance around her, eyes alert. "What are you talking about?" she demanded.
"You do not hear that?" Another shaking like that, and the castle would collapse. He had to get her away, even into the morning daylight outside. The need to protect her had suddenly become critical, undeniable.
"No!" Her eyes went wide, her expression aghast. "It can't be!" She backed away from him, moving gingerly, as if he were a snake about to strike.
Another explosion. He traced to just in front of her, and her sword shot up in a blur. He snatched her wrist, but she struggled. Christ, she was strong, but he seemed to be stronger than usual himself, more powerful than he ever could have imagined. "I don't want to hurt you." He pried the weapon from her hand and tossed it to his low bed. "Do not fight me. The roof is about to fall - "
"No... no!" She stared at his chest - at his heart - in horror. "I am not a... Bride."
Bride? His jaw slackened. He remembered his brothers explaining that when he found his Bride, his eternal wife, she would blood him. With his blooding, his body would come back to life. He'd always believed they'd lied to dull the bitter sting of what they'd made him.
Yet it was true. The sound he'd heard was the rush of his own heart beating for the first time since he'd been turned into a vampire. He rocked on his feet as he inhaled deeply, breathing at last after three hundred years.
His heartbeat grew stronger, faster, and his sudden erection was tight and throbbing, pulsing with each beat of his heart. Pleasure seemed to course through his veins. He'd found his Bride - the one woman he was meant to be with for eternity - in this hauntingly fine creature.
And his body had awakened for her.
"You know what is happening to me?" he asked.
She swallowed, backing away farther. "You're changing." Her blond brows drew together, and in a barely audible whisper, she added, "For... for me."
"Yes. For you." He crossed to her until she stared up at him. "Forgive me. If I had known this was true, I would have searched for you. I would have found you somehow - "
"No... " She swayed on her feet, and he laid one palm on her slim shoulder to steady her. She flinched but allowed the touch.
He realized then that, just as he was changing, so was she. He thought he saw silver flash in her glinting eyes. A swift tear dropped down her cheek.
"Why do you cry?" Women's tears had always wrecked him as a mortal, but hers made him feel as if a thousand knives twisted inside him. When he brushed her hair back, he sucked in a ragged, unpracticed breath. Her ear was sharply pointed. Up closer, he could see the smallest fangs.
Sebastian didn't know what she was, and he didn't care. "Please do not cry."
"I never cry," she whispered. Frowning in confusion, she patted the back of her hand against her cheek and drew it down to see that it was wet from a single tear. Her lips parted, and she stared, first at the tear, and then at her sharply curling fingernails, which were more like elegant claws. Her gaze darted back to him, and she swallowed as if with fear.
"Tell me what troubles you." He had a purpose now: to protect her, to care for her, to destroy whatever threatened her. "Bid me to help you, Bride."
"Not a Bride to one of your kind. Never - "
"But you've made my heart beat."
She hissed back, "You've made me feel." He didn't understand the meaning of her words or her reactions during the next several minutes as he gazed down at her, greedily learning her features - the sweep of her thick lashes when she glanced down, the full red pout of her lips. Waves of emotion shimmered in her eyes and seemed to pain her. Her body shook. As abruptly as they'd started, her tears dried.
Then she smiled up at him, a heartrending curling of her lips. Her eyes were merry, darkly teasing. Nothing had ever aroused him so much as that look, and he wondered how much more he could take. But her smile faded far too soon. She shuddered violently, lowering her forehead to his chest.
Just as his aching erection was becoming impossible to deny, she lifted her face, and her expression had changed once more. A flush tinged her high cheekbones, and her lips subtly parted. Her fingers clutched at his shoulders. As she gazed at his mouth, her tongue dabbed at her bottom lip and left no question about what she was thinking of doing.
She was... aroused. For him. He didn't understand what was happening to her - or to himself.
His eyes widened, then narrowed, when she placed her delicate arms around his neck. I could touch her... She would accept my touch... His shaft had never been this hard. He wanted to bury it inside her so badly he'd give anything.
She tilted her head, still staring at his mouth. "I miss this... ," she murmured in a whiskey voice. He didn't have time to ponder her words, because she tightened her arms, bringing their bodies together. He groaned to feel her breasts pressing against him. They were so full and plump - he knew they would fill his palms perfectly.
Christ, he'd suffered centuries without contact with others, much less touch, and now he was feeling his Bride, soft and pliant in his arms. He was afraid he was dreaming. Before he lost his nerve, his hands dropped to her waist, dragging her more firmly against him. "Tell me your name."
"My name... ?" she murmured absently. "My name is Kaderin."
"Kaderin," he repeated, but it didn't fit her. As he stared down into her shimmering eyes, he thought the name was too cold, too formal, for the creature in his arms. "Katja," he rasped, surprised to find that his thumb was slowly brushing her bottom lip. The urge to kiss her was overwhelming. "Katja, I... " - he began in a rough, breaking voice, and had to swallow to continue - "must... I must kiss you."
At his words, the dark hazel of her eyes turned completely silver. She seemed to go into a trance. He was not so far gone as not to notice this stunned reaction, but her full red lips were glistening, beckoning him.
"I used to love being kissed," she whispered in a dazed tone, her breaths growing hectic.
Could he possibly stop with only that? With an unsteady hand, he cupped the back of her head, about to draw her to him. Surely she was strong enough to take him - she was some sort of warrior and would likely be quick to check him if he hurt her.
For some reason, he sensed she wouldn't give him that teary, betrayed look women had cast him in the past if he'd accidentally stepped on their toes or collided with them coming around a street corner, that look that brought him so low.
"Vampire, please," she murmured, "make it worth it. Make it... "
When their lips touched, he groaned; electricity seemed to prick at his skin. He pulled back from her. "My God." Nothing had ever felt so powerful, so right, as this kiss. Her hungry expression deepened.
If it took becoming a vampire to have just this one perfect moment, would he suffer it again?
When he kissed her again, lightly at first, she moaned, "More," against his lips.
He clutched her tightly in his arms, then somehow remembered himself. No, fool... He eased his hold.
At once, her claws bit into the backs of his arms, making him shudder. "Don't hold back. I need more."
She needed more, needed him to give it to her. Because she was... his. When this finally sank in, his shyness burned away. In the course of a heartbeat, he now had a woman of his own. He wanted to roar with triumph. The feel of her claws sinking into him - as if she feared he would get away - was ecstasy. She needs me.
"Kiss me more, vampire. If you stop, I'll kill you."
He couldn't help but grin against her lips. A female threatening him if he should stop kissing her?
So he did, tasting her tongue, teasing it, then claiming her mouth hotly, wetly. He savored the slow undulation of her hips against him, in time with each thrust of his tongue.
He kissed her with all the passion long denied him, with all the hope that had been wrenched from him returning. Weariness of life had just been replaced by purpose - because of her. He let her know how thankful he was... by kissing her until she panted and sagged against him.
Yet he was losing control. Impulses came for him to do things to her body, wicked things, and he knew that soon he would obey them. "I'll always give you more, until I die."
And now, for the first time in three hundred hellish years, Sebastian desperately wanted to live.
A s if she'd been hurled down from a great height, all the emotions lost to Kaderin, denied to her for the last millennium, crashed into her. Fear, joy, longing, and an undeniable sexual hunger warred within her - until he stoked her lust hot enough to drown out all other feelings.
She was reeling, confused. All she knew for certain was that she needed release so badly her yearning pained her, made her whimper. And each of his fierce, possessive kisses increased her agony.
As she threaded her fingers through his thick, tousled hair, she couldn't think, couldn't begin to reason out why this was happening to her. Inexplicable wants wracked her - to lick his skin, to have his body pressing heavily on hers.
She brought her parted lips to his neck, kissing up from his collar. In turn, he thrust his erection against her, as if he couldn't help himself, then seemed to be willing himself not to do it again. But she was thrilled to find his shaft was huge and rigid, insistent against her. It made her body grow wet, wanting it.
Unable to stop herself, she flicked her tongue out to taste his skin. Sensation spiked within her, and she moaned. Had any male ever tasted so good? His taste made her body react with animal needs so strong, she twitched as she resisted them. She wanted to rip his jeans from him, take that thick shaft in both hands, and lick its length in a frenzy.
Imagining that made her roll her hips against him, and after a shuddering hesitation he met her. He hissed in a breath and rumbled foreign words in her ear. The entire castle shook - from her lightning, a Valkyrie's lightning produced by her emotion.
Lightning, pleasure of any kind, had been denied her for so long.
She knew this was forbidden, knew she would regret it, but at that moment, she didn't care. For some unknown reason, she'd been granted a window of opportunity with this male, enabling her to know passion once more. Just once more, that was all she wanted, before cold and nothingness crept over her again...
So she took his kisses and returned them. Even as her ardor overwhelmed her, she tried to justify her actions. They wouldn't do more than this. This was forgivable. They were still clothed.
He clutched her ass, fingers splayed, holding her firmly so he could thrust. Strong male... immortal male...
With a body like a god's.
"Harder," she whispered, then somehow she was backed against the wall, his hand behind her head to take the impact as he pressed her into it. His entire rigid body covered hers. Good, he was getting more aggressive. No! If he takes the reins, I'm lost... lost to him.
It had been so long.
A tight and aching coil was rapturously unfurling with each of the vampire's determined shoves. "Don't stop," she pleaded between ragged breaths. For the first time in a millennium, she was going to climax.
Reading her mind, he rasped, "Can I make you... come like this?"
"Yes!" she cried against his mouth. "Keep going! I need you to!"
"Need?" He groaned as if excited by the word. "The problem is... I will, too." His voice rough with lust, he said, "I've got to take you, Bride."
She stiffened at his words, as if she were waking up, then turned her face away. "Wait! I can't... I can't do this!"
"I can give you what you need, I swear it," he grated, even as he cursed his lack of experience. He'd figure it bloody well out. "Just let me have you."
She shook her head wildly, thrashing in his arms. "Noooo!"
As a human, he would have let her go immediately. But instinct told him not to. While understanding so little about what was happening, he somehow knew it was critical to have something shared between them, even a brief morning of pleasure.
He couldn't allow this to stop - not before he'd given her release and taken his from her body as well. "Then we'll only be as before." If this was all she'd permit before she came to her senses, then he'd take what he could get.
"You don't understand - "
Shocking himself, he cut off her protest, hands cradling her face so he could take her mouth hard. She tensed, seeming merely to endure his kiss. Then, after a moment, she gave an answering moan that made him sweat with relief. Her claws were back into his shoulders. He rocked into her, and his thoughts grew murkier, replaced by urgent want.
The rougher he became, the more she gave cries into his mouth that drove him wild, urging him on. Yet even as she took his aggression with obvious pleasure, the wall was crumbling behind them.
Suddenly, she hopped up, wrapping her legs around his waist. "Ah, God, that's it, Katja." He clenched her generous, round ass in his palms, groaning at the feel. Here, too, she was in no way slight, and he loved it.
He squeezed her lush curves, kneaded her, and she panted in his ear, "Yes, yes, you're so strong."
Strong? He shuddered. That pleased her? "I've never felt anything so damned good as your body - "
His words died in his throat when she dropped lower, clutching his shoulders and hanging from her straightened arms to grind against him. She kept her silvery eyes on him, one tiny fang digging into her bottom lip as he stared down in disbelief. She was wild, making his cock twitch and pulse, nearing orgasm.
Hold on, he commanded himself. She needs to come.
She pulled herself up to kiss and nibble at his ear, putting her silken neck right before his mouth. Bite her. He licked her neck, wanting to take her there so badly. No. He couldn't do that to her.
Why not? She likely thought him a monster already -
She slapped her palm hard behind her, pushing off the wall so he went tripping back over books. Pages flew as they tumbled to the ground with her on top.
She was frantic, shed of inhibitions, grinding against his shaft while tonguing his mouth. Her ass moved so sensuously beneath his palms as she worked her body against his - never in his most fevered fantasies had he imagined this.
He no longer cared if he spilled his seed into his pants. He was going to come harder than he ever had. Shameful, degrading. He didn't care.
He rolled her onto her back, pinning her arms above her head, giving in to the most primal urge to rock his hips. He ached to thrust against her. He needed to master her, and from the way she reacted, with her eyelids fluttering closed as she moaned, she needed it as well.
"I didn't believe it was true," he groaned.
Her head thrashed, the blond silk of her hair filling him with her scent.
"Katja." He thrust harder and she writhed wildly beneath him. "You're mine."
"Yes, yes... you're making me... come." She arched her back, crying out. He wrapped his arms tightly around her torso, trapping her against his body as he bucked furiously against her.
He groaned toward the ceiling, neck tensed, as his seed began to pump from him. With each shot, he gave a brutal yell. She was still coming, her claws sunk into his back.
He gave one last violent shudder, then collapsed on her, stunned to silence by the pleasure. His breaths, so new and astounding to him, were ragged.
But when he realized what he'd just done to her, he flushed, humiliated, pushing up from her and averting his eyes.
Bride or not, she was a stranger to him, but he'd shamed himself like a green lad in front of her. Much worse, he'd used all the strength in his body to hold her down and shove against her. How could he not have hurt her? How could he not have bruised her perfect skin? He dreaded meeting her eyes. To see that betrayed look...
Yet then, she tugged him back down and turned her head slightly, seeming to nuzzle the side of his neck. She began rubbing her face against his, almost like a cat. Though she had the strangest manner of showing it, he knew she was indeed giving him affection.
Affection. Another ecstasy for him. He hadn't been touched in so long.
He rested on his elbows as she gazed up at him with her eyes soft, flickering between silver and dark hazel, her expression satisfied. Holding her face with both of his shaking hands, he brushed kisses over her eyelids, her nose. She was the loveliest creature he had ever imagined - and the most passionate - and she was his.
His voice hoarse, he said, "I have not told you my name. I am Sebastian Wroth."
Still seeming entranced, she murmured, "Bastian," making him want to squeeze her.
He grinned down at her. "Only my family used to call me that. It pleases me that you would."
"Uh-hmm." She scratched his neck in languid circles.
Excitement was still drumming in him. The idea of learning everything about her filled him with anticipation, but first he had to know - "Did I... did I... hurt you?"
"I'll be sore." Her lips curled, then she rubbed her face against him once more, this time as if grateful. "But only in the most delicious places."
His cock was still semi-hard in the wet heat of his jeans, and the way she purred that one simple word, delicious, made it swell once more. He didn't understand how she could simply shrug off being hurt, but there was no way he'd act on the need welling once more. He fought to ignore how good she felt beneath him.
He brushed back her hair, revealing her pointed ears. The tiny fangs, the claws, the eyes... "Katja, what are... " He cleared his throat. "What are you?"
Her brows drew together. "I'm a - " She tensed in an instant. Her eyes cleared completely, as though she'd just woken up. All the supple muscles of her body that had gone soft and pliant after her orgasm now grew rigid.
With a sharp inhalation, she kicked him off her - hard - sending him to the opposite wall, then shot to her feet. "Ah, gods, what have I done?" she whispered, bringing a tremulous hand to her forehead. Her face was cold, but her eyes burned wild as she backed away.
He stood, hands in front of him so as not to startle her.
But then she roughly ran her sleeve over her mouth, infuriating him. He recognized her disgust, recognized the sentiment.
He'd shared it about himself ever since he'd been turned.
"We're going to forget this happened, vampire." She couldn't believe she'd just felt gratitude toward him. Because he'd given her relief from desire? What the hell had happened? Reality was seeping in, and with it came shame so hot it stung her.
"How can I possibly forget this?"
Maybe a capricious power had played with her, forcing her to do things she would never do. Or had she caught a spell? She had to leave at once. "Vow not to tell anyone, and I'll let you live for now."
"Let me live - ?"