A nightmare was about to take her.
When his fingers dug into her skin, dragging her beneath him, she knocked her forehead against his. He bellowed with rage, until she squirmed around and drove her elbow back into his throat. As he fought for breath, she took advantage by scrambling from him enough to mule-kick his chest, sending him reeling.
Why hadn't she broken his neck with her elbow through his throat? She had before with other vampires. Why did she hesitate whenever it came to hurting him? She wouldn't again, she thought as she leapt on top of him, drilling her fist into his face so quickly it was like a blur. His lip split. Another two hits in rapid succession. She thought she broke his cheekbone.
"You'll get no mercy now," he bit out, his eyes black, his deep voice rumbling almost unrecognizably. He caught her fist when she struck again and squeezed. With her other hand she swiped her claws down his shirt, across his neck, hissing in fury. Lightning came down like a hail of bullets. Somehow he caught her free wrist and turned over on her, pinning her hands above her head.
Just as she tensed to kick her leg straight between his and send him flying forward, he groaned as if in desperation, sinking his teeth deep into her neck. She shuddered and cried out, body going limp beneath him. Her eyes widened in shock as she stared at the lightning above. This wasn't pain he was giving her.
His bite was ecstasy.
He did it again and again lower on her neck. Each bite, each time his fangs entered her skin was like the thrust of a man inside her. Each time he released her skin was like a slow, measured withdrawal. The pleasure was dizzying. Exquisite agony.
She'd never been defeated before in a contest of two - no man had ever been strong enough. And Myst had an animal need deep inside her for a powerful male - like this one who'd pleasured her, fascinated her - to win. Her mind rebelled, reminding her of what he was. She'd killed the last three she'd blooded. Why not him? He'd planned to torture her in that horrid dungeon, planned to control her with the chain.
But his bite...It made her body demand, growing wetter, feeling empty without him shoved tightly inside her.
Please be strong enough...Please...For once in her life would a man take control?
So she could finally lose it.
When he pinned her wrists with one hand - hard - she arched her back in delight. He used his other to rip open her shirt and bra and bare her breasts. He palmed her flesh, then opened his jeans and freed himself. His huge erection jutted between them, the sack heavy beneath.
Her eyes widened and she fought anew, digging her heels into the ground to scuttle back. Too large for her. Break her in slowly - that's what he'd said.
His palms landed with a slap on her upper thighs, lifting her pelvis. Her hands loose, she rose up and fought him viciously - scratched, bit, hit - but it was futile. Still clasping her thighs, he used his thumbs to spread her sex, then wrenched her down on his shaft. Yelling brutally as she cried out in pain, he buried himself into her flesh until he was thick and throbbing deep within her.
He'd done it. Myst will want the first man who can defeat her. That's what they'd always whispered about her.
They'd been right. She'd challenged him and he'd bested her. In her mind, he deserved to claim his prize no matter the consequences.
He stilled, then bent his head to her and dragged his tongue over her nipple as if to soothe her. As if somewhere in his crazed mind, he wanted her to have pleasure.
He set to her other nipple for long moments, then sucked from her neck again. Somehow the bite turned pain to pleasure, helping her body grow slick to accept the invasion. She yanked the remains of his shirt open to sweep her fingers over his splendid chest and that helped as well.
As he slowly withdrew, he groaned, "So wet," but when he thrust again, she hissed in a breath, eyes watering.
"Wroth, it really hurts," she whispered.
"Can't stop," he bit out. His neck and chest sheened with sweat, the muscles rigid from his effort already.
"T-tell me not to feel pain."
"Ah, Myst, don't hurt." His words were ragged. "I don't want you to feel pain from this." Immediately, the pain muted to only a feeling of fullness.
When he drank from her, pulled back his hips and then tentatively thrust, she cried out again. He stiffened. "No, Wroth...it's good!...Keep going."
He did. He timed each draw from her neck with the bucking of his hips, and she knew it was over, gave herself up to it, arched her back, arms limp overhead. The lightning whipped up the wind, and it rushed over her heated body, over her tight nipples.
He raised his chest up, positioning himself on his knees. She whimpered when she thought he would withdraw, but he dragged her up with him until she was straddling him. He spread his knees so he could thrust up inside her. He was getting too large to move within her, already hitting the end of her sex so she couldn't take him to the hilt.
His body was so big around hers, making her feel truly vulnerable. As if he read her mind he wrapped his arms tight around her, pinning hers to her sides. He completely captured her to hold her in place while he drove into her from below.
She relaxed every muscle in her body - why not? This was a position she had never allowed before, from which there was no fighting even if she'd wished to. She knew he wouldn't let her go or fall. She relaxed in the crushing tightness of his arms, her naked breasts pressed against his scarred chest.
He kept her immobile while he continued to fuck like a piston below them. Her head fell back and she watched the sky in a daze of pleasure, seeing her own lightning thrashing the earth.
Bliss welling up, strengthening, so close.
"Myst," he growled, releasing her neck.
She thought he would order her to come, thought he was tightening his arms even more as if to threaten her should she disobey, but he didn't. "Milaya, I want you so much."
Milaya, the endearment from years ago said in his accent, sent her over the edge. She cried out from the shattering pleasure. But it only built when he desperately wrenched her up and down on his shaft as he tensed to come.
Groaning, snarling, another bite that made her shudder in her second orgasm. Then he threw his head back, neck and chest tensed with corded muscle, to bellow from the force of his spending. She felt it inside her, searing, palpable, seeming endless as he pumped and pumped within her. She came the entire time, her body squeezing around his thickness.
Then after-shudders. Arms loosening though she didn't want them to. She didn't want this to end.
When his breaths had calmed somewhat, he drew her back to search her face. His eyes had cleared. "I didn't want to hurt you," he rasped. "I didn't - Your neck," he said in a shocked tone, staring.
She brushed her fingertips over her marks. "It didn't hurt. Even before you...we...uh, worked it out." They were nothing and would be healed by tomorrow. "You've really never seen this before?"
"I was your first bitee?" Why that would please her she couldn't know. Why she wasn't leaping away from him in disgust confused her. She was just so overwhelmed with everything. And she felt...tenderness toward him. Yes, Myst had always been the girlie-girl of the coven, but she'd never in her long, long life felt truly feminine until this male had squeezed her in his arms and taken charge. She had never - in all the lifetimes she'd endured - experienced that much pleasure.
"I've never taken flesh to drink because I knew what it would do to me." He rested his forehead against hers. "Myst, my eyes will go red from this. I will turn."
He looked so horrified, the words slipped out, "Your eyes will go red only when you kill as you drink living blood. The ones whose eyes turn drink to the marrow of their victims, sucking from the pit of the soul. They take all the bad, all the madness, all the sin."
His jaw slackened. "Is that why pure-blooded vampires go mad?"
She shook her head. "It's more than that. They get addicted to killing, which means they can never drink from the same source. After years and years of different victims, the memories add up."
He cupped his hand behind her head. "Every sunset I checked my eyes, not sure if I would turn from your blood. Not knowing if my brothers would have to kill me."
His tone wasn't reproaching, but hell, could she feel more guilty? This male was still inside her, inside her body that was humming as she'd never even known it could...and she'd tortured him. "Wroth, you're a vampire. Others might not agree, but I for one believe that you're meant to drink. To connect, to live. But never to kill like that. And it takes decades of killing every day for the memories to accumulate."
In a stunned voice, he said, "I won't turn. I'm meant to drink." His lips curled, and he stroked her hair, still supporting her with one arm. He would never let her go. He's bested me - she shivered.
"And you found pleasure in it."
It wasn't a question, but she answered, "Your bite was the only thing that saved you from a stiff legged kick at your groin." When he grinned, she added softly, "It was intense pleasure."
He groaned in approval and thrust into her once more, still semi-hard. To her surprise, she moaned, desire stoking again. "Did I take too much?" he asked. Still on his knees, he laid her back until she was horizontal, secure in his arms, one hand cupping her head, the other clutching under her shoulder as he pulled her along his length in a long, strong stroke.
Her eyes fluttered closed, and she answered without thought. "Immortal here. Remember?"
He stopped suddenly, brought her back into his chest, arms around her, protective once more. "I heard something."
"It's nothing." Frustrated, she kicked him in the ass with her heels, rocking on him. He stifled a groan but didn't thrust. When she opened her eyes, she found his gaze furious and focused on...the sword point tucked under his chin.
Regin was pressing hard enough to bring blood trickling down. Lucia stood at her side with an arrow nocked.
"No," Myst said, her voice sounding hoarse from screaming. "Don't."
Regin stared at her in disbelief. Regin, whose entire race had been destroyed by vampires...and who'd secretly learned to count by her mother's bite scars. "This thing just violated you - "
"We followed the lightning here, Regin," Lucia interrupted. "Whatever he did to her she let him do."
She couldn't imagine what they looked like there in the field. They'd fought ruthlessly. They must be bruised, bloody, their clothing in shreds.
Why hadn't he traced her away? Why hadn't he thrown her out of the way and attacked Regin? She suspected the answer to the first - he wanted them to see her like this. Their relationship couldn't be made more brutally clear. She pulled away from him, though his arms tightened around her to prevent it. "Please, Wroth," she whispered in his ear, "let me face them." He finally released her.
But jealous Myst didn't want her sisters to see Wroth hard, huge and magnificent, and she pulled her skirt over them as she drew him free from her, then yanked his shirttail down. That's mine, she thought irrationally. She'd been acquisitive all her life but never with men. Now she wanted possession.
When Myst stumbled away, Wroth reached for her, but Regin raised her sword against him, piercing several inches into his chest muscle. He didn't fight back - he could hardly feel it - and he had vowed not to harm her family.
He was euphoric. There stood his Bride, putting her chin up as she pulled her shirt closed. Claimed. He stifled an evil grin. With witnesses. She could never go back now. She was his.
His heart pumped madly for her, his blood rushing inside him - and her luscious blood as well. She'd enjoyed his bite, lightning had streaked the sky each time that she came - he'd seen her pleasure. He could give her lightning each time he drank, without fear of turning, without fear of hurting her. No more checking his eyes each sunset.
They could sustain each other. He'd never known greater satisfaction.
Now if he could just get her witch of a sister to cease stabbing him.
"You just had sex with a vampire," Lucia said. "Myst, where is your mind? You know the repercussions. You'll be shunned by the Lore, mistrusted."
Regin added in a deadened tone, "When Furie rises..."
Whatever that statement meant, it made Myst's brows suddenly draw together. She appeared shocked by everything, as if her sisters' arrival had splashed ice water over her, waking her from a dream. He needed to get her home, away from them.
Suddenly Regin gasped and stared at Myst in horror. "Oh sweetheart," she whispered, "where's your chain?"
"Quickly," Wroth snapped to Myst as he reached for her, "take my hand." Myst obeyed, diving forward to take it. He traced them just as Regin leapt for Myst's legs and an arrow sang for him, hitting him in the shoulder but not staying within him as he disappeared.
Back at Blachmount, he set Myst on the edge of the bed. "Stay here," he ordered, then returned for the goddamned bag he'd gone to get in the first place. Just as he arrived in her room, Regin and Lucia bolted up the stairs. "Give her the chain back, leech!"
"I've claimed her. She's my wife now," he said simply, then traced with an ease he'd never had, covering the distance as if an afterthought.
Back home, he tossed her things to the side, then took her shoulders. "Rest, milaya. Take a hot bath and relax here until I return." She didn't respond, and he didn't want to leave her unsteady from tracing and reeling from the events of the night, but he needed to let Kristoff know that Ivo was in the New World. They needed to hunt him down and destroy him.
As Wroth gazed down at his Bride he wondered how Ivo could not be searching for her.
He brushed her hair from her face, trying to get her eyes to meet his. "Make yourself comfortable here. Your clothes are here. This is your home now."
When she nodded absently, her pupils were huge, her eyes stark, and he knew he couldn't leave her like this. He would warm her with a bath then put her in bed.
He ran water, undressed her and set her in it. She sat silently as he scrubbed the dirt and grass from her alabaster skin and held a cloth to her neck, to the bites that marred her.
Suddenly, she turned to him and placed her hands on his face. "Wroth, you said you would vow never to hurt my family?"
"Yes. I make it again."
"I believe you. You could've traced and attacked Regin and Lucia tonight and you didn't. But please, if you take more memories from this night, don't give others our weaknesses. Don't allow others to hurt them either."
Was his first loyalty to his king or to her? She was his Bride, and as he stared into her eyes, he realized that that meant she was his family. Wroth's family had always come first, and nothing had changed except that he'd now added to it.
"If I learn of other factions I will relate that information. But never about your kind."
She pulled him to her and kissed him softly with trembling lips. "Thank you," she whispered against him, then she gave him a shaky smile that made his turned heart do things he never remembered from being a human before.
Her shoulders tensed just as he heard voices sounding from downstairs.
Trespassers in his home. His fangs sharpened. That someone would dare enter his home when he had his Bride within it..."Myst, finish up, then go to the bedroom and wait for me. If anyone comes in that door but me, run faster than you've ever run and escape them."
He traced downstairs, feeling his muscles tensing, his hands itching to kill. He was strong from her immortal blood, taken directly from her flesh, as powerful as he'd ever imagined, and he would use it to protect her. His fangs were sharp as razors -
"Wroth, I pity the being who wishes to harm your Bride," Kristoff intoned from his seat at a long table in the great room. Murdoch and a couple of elders sat with him and all their eyebrows rose at his appearance.
As he struggled for control, he imagined how they saw him. His clothing was filthy, his shirt stabbed and shot through, and God help him, Myst's delicious blood marked his skin and clothing. He was fairly certain that she'd gotten in a few sucker punches at his face as well.
"I would not wish to attend you in such a condition. I'll go wash and change - "
"No, we know you are eager to get back to her for the remains of the night." Kristoff appeared proud. "Congratulations, Wroth. You've now been blooded and claimed your Bride." He studied him. "Recently. Though it appears as if she didn't acquiesce to you."
Wroth stood, uncomfortable, reminding himself that she'd kicked him like she would spur a horse when he'd stopped.
"I'd like to meet her."
"She is resting."
"I suppose she would be. In fact, we'd wonder if she wasn't." A couple of snickers. Wroth shot them a look and they quieted. "And you drank her blood this night?"
His eyes narrowed. How had he thought this would escape Kristoff's notice?
"Did you take her flesh as you did so?"
He could do nothing but admit to the most heinous crime among their order. Shoulders back, he said, "I did."
"Take off your shirt."
Murdoch caught his glance, tensing to fight, but Kristoff waved him down, saying, "Stand down, Murdoch, no one's dying tonight."
Perhaps Kristoff would only flail his skin from his back. Wroth removed the shirt, hoping. For the first time in his life, he had his wife waiting for him and for the first time he truly cared if he lived or died.
"Toss it on the table."
Frowning, he did. The elders' eyes widened, their hands going white on the table. Kristoff had scented Myst's blood, and now the others did as well.
"And what was it like, Wroth?" Murdoch asked, his voice hoarse.
Wroth didn't answer. Then Kristoff raised his eyebrow in a silent order.
After a moment, Wroth grated, "There is no description strong enough."
"And how did she feel about your bite?" Kristoff asked.
He didn't want them to know how she reacted to that, how it had made her come with an intensity that had staggered him.
Kristoff's stare was unflinching. "You resist answering your king on the heels of confessing to our most reviled crime?"
This was his Bride they spoke of. He wanted to lie, to say he wasn't sure, didn't know, and he couldn't. Answering this wouldn't be breaking his vow to her, and if Kristoff ordered him killed, he couldn't protect Myst from Ivo. Though it disgusted him, he bit out, "She found extreme pleasure from it."
Kristoff appeared pleased. Or even relieved. "Do you think I should forgive Wroth his transgression? For which one of us could have resisted the temptation when she was our Bride and her exquisite blood called?"
Wroth hid his shocked expression. Kristoff would've normally called for him to be chained in an open field until the sun burned him to ash.
"Continue as you were, but if your eyes turn, know that we will destroy you." He was still staring at the shredded garment marked by a Valkyrie's blood.
Wroth recovered enough to say, "I was coming to Oblak tonight to tell you that Ivo was spotted in New Orleans. He's looking for someone - and I suspect it could be Myst. I need to - "
"We'll take care of it," Murdoch interrupted sharply. "For God's sake, you stay here and...enjoy...everything."
"Find out as much as you can from her." Kristoff eyed him shrewdly as he stood to leave. "And you will tell us if the memories follow the blood."
A short, quick nod. As Wroth left the room, stunned from the events, he heard Kristoff say, "Now which one of you will volunteer to accompany Murdoch to New Orleans where this coven full of Valkyrie is located?" Wroth heard every chair scrape the floor as they shot to their feet.
Like a cat licking her wounds, Myst sat in the large bath, replaying the fight.
Since she'd pulled her punches, she wondered if she could've won, wondered if she'd truly been bested. But then she flexed the fingers of the fist he'd caught. They were sore. They were not broken. He'd held back as well.
She sighed, unable to work up the outrage that should be exploding within her or even concern over the possible threat downstairs. Wroth would take care of it. He was strong. She shrugged, her mind easily returning to tonight's stunning developments. Now her sisters knew her chain was gone and that she'd been claimed by a vampire.
What they couldn't know was how much she'd loved it. His bite had turned her inside out, made her toes curl. Even now she shivered to think of it, knowing something was woefully wrong with her for craving it. It might be twisted, but she yearned for him to do it to her again. And again.
In addition to that, Wroth had taken her as no other had before. Though she acted as if she'd had tons of lovers, she'd actually had only a couple of steady partners. She'd dated a wonderful warlock for centuries, but it was long-distance - in those days, it took a half a year to reach each other - and they'd parted ways amicably. She'd only slept with two others, both long-term, and they'd been fun and enjoyable. But she'd seen a lot, and knew a lot, and she knew Wroth moved and used his body on hers - in hers - in a way that was nothing short of divine. And she believed it would only get better. She shivered again, unable to imagine how she could feel more pleasure without dying. Then there was a very compelling fact...
He'd unchained her where none other could.
Did that mean he was supposed to have it? To have her? Was he supposed to possess her, to command her like a genie with a bottle? She'd always pitied the plight of genies until once when she'd freed one from a young berserker. Instead of thanks, the chit had laid into her, screaming, "To each her own, lightning whore!"
After Myst dried off, she dressed in an emerald-green, understated nightgown that said neither "do me" nor "don't do me." She lay back in his bed, realizing she was just so relaxed about everything. Strange, but she felt so at home here in this cold, bare mansion.
Less than half an hour later he returned and showered. There'd been no threat? Probably his brother visiting just in time to see Wroth looking like she'd fought him for her life. He should see when she didn't pull her punches.
When Wroth joined her, she wondered if he was going to make love to her again. Their time in the field had only set a fire for her - lit a pilot light, so to speak, as it had never been lit before. She was sore, but if he commanded her not to hurt again...yet he only clasped her into his arms to rest on his chest. She saw he was hard, but he made no advance.
Finally, he curled a finger under her chin and raised her face to his. He drew her hair back to reveal his bites. He let her hair fall, then stared at the ceiling, rumbling the words, "I regret hurting you. The number of bites, the lack of care before..."
She knew what he meant by the latter - he regretted not taking time to prepare her body and ease into her. When she thought about how he'd learned to do this, or thought about the first time he'd ever realized that he would even need to, she felt a scorching flare of...jealousy - so strong it rocked her. Jealous? When he could never want another but her for the rest of his life?
"I can't believe I lost control like that. I am unused to being blooded. I am unused to being a husband. But I vow to you that things will be different - I will be gentler."
That statement was the first thing to threaten her lackadaisical mood since she'd returned here. She didn't want their sex to be different. Their sex. Great Freya, was she thinking about keeping him? She would get used to his size, and then she would demand that he be anything but gentle. She couldn't have ordered up a better match for her in bed and she'd be damned if she let him hold back all that magnificent strength.
He was everything she could ever dream of physically. His scars alone...she stifled a moan but her claws were curling. He was a warrior, with a warrior's mentality, which she appreciated. None of her lovers before had been warriors. No, they'd been the warlock, an immortal sultan and an architect. Perhaps that was why she was so attracted to Wroth.
She and Wroth were kindred.
"Speak to me," he commanded, then immediately amended, "Will you not speak to me?"
"I want my chain back. I want to choose." If he gave it to her, she would stay awhile. Her sisters had already seen her screwing a vampire - she might as well enjoy the pleasure for a time.
He moved to his side, pressing her to hers as well. There they lay, gazes locked. Dawn was nearing and she didn't want this to end for some reason. He put his hand on her shoulder and stroked her. His palm was rough from hardships and the grip of his sword, and she relished the feel of it. "I can't lose you. The very thought makes me crazed. I can't even allow myself to imagine you leaving me." His hand squeezed her now.
"Are you so certain I would?"
"Yes. I am," he rasped. His tone wasn't blaming, but more like he was explaining something regrettable but inevitable.
She didn't deny it, because he was probably right. He called himself her husband, but she didn't recognize him as such. She didn't recognize him as the one whose arms she would forever run to get within. She might stay for a time, but in the end she would always go.