THE FOLLOWING STORY CONTAINS BOTH GRAPHIC SEX AND PROFANITY. PLEASE DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT IF YOU WILL BE OFFENDED BY SUCH CONTENT.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
THE FOLLOWING IS THE COPYRIGHTED, EXCLUSIVE AND SOLE PROPERTY OF THE AUTHOR. THE PRINTING, REPRINTING, FORWARDING OR COPYING IN ANY FORMAT, BY ANY MEANS, OR IN ANY MANNER IS NOT PERMITTED, NOR IS SUCH PERMISSION GRANTED EITHER EXPLICITLY OR IMPLICITLY BY THIS POSTING.
THE FOLLOWING STORY CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOOKS 1 thru 6, AS WELL AS THE NOVELLAS, “BETRAYED” AND “HUNTED.”
A VALENTINE VAMPIRE VIGNETTE
Lucas watched on his surveillance cam as Kathryn parked by the front stairs. The door to her Jeep swung open, and her long legs appeared one at a time as she slid out of the vehicle. She was wearing a dress tonight, unusual in itself, but this one was sexy as hell. Black, short and tight, showing lots of leg above a pair of black stiletto heels. He couldn’t see the shoes well on camera, but he knew they’d be shiny leather stilettos with lots of skinny straps around the ankles, and that they’d been made by a designer with a famous name. And he knew these things because he’d bought them for her last month.
Kathryn worked in a man’s world. In order to succeed in that world, she had to minimize her femininity, and too often she carried that home with her. But Kathryn was the sexiest woman he’d ever met, the only woman he’d ever loved, the only one who’d ever inspired him to embrace the concept of monogamy. He’d wanted to give her something sensuous, something that said he thought of her first and foremost as a desirable woman. He’d considered lingerie, but that seemed too ordinary, almost a cliché. So, he’d asked Raphael’s mate, Cyn for a recommendation, and she’d immediately said, “shoes.” And then, not trusting him to pick the right ones, she’d provided a selection and let him make the final choice.
Kathryn had loved them. The look on her face had been enough to tell him he’d done the right thing. But that she’d chosen tonight to wear them for the first time touched him more than he would have thought possible. Tonight was important for him, important for them. They’d been as close as two people could be for the last several months, but there’d been a part of Kathryn that she’d always held back, a reluctance to take the final step, to commit to the full potential of their relationship—the relationship of a vampire lord and his mate. She let him take her blood whenever he wanted, which was every time they made love, and she even took small tastes of his. It was enough to connect them, but never enough to form the mate bond.
Lucas had never pushed her to commit beyond her comfort level. He didn’t want her to mate with him only because he wanted it. He wanted her to choose it for herself. Even so, he’d been surprised when she did. When she’d proposed to him just like one would a marriage. He loved that she’d been the one to propose to him, rather than the more traditional form. And he intended to tease her with that fact for a very long time.
But until he’d seen her wearing those shoes tonight, he hadn’t been sure she was doing it for the right reasons. War was coming to the North American vampires, a war that would test loyalties and commitments to the point of breaking. Lucas had discussed the situation with Kathryn, just as he discussed all of his business with her. And he’d been half-convinced that she had only proposed their mating in order to strengthen him for the coming war. He knew she loved him, that she wanted to protect him, but that wasn’t what he wanted from her. He wanted her to want him. And finally seeing her tonight in her little, black dress and the sexy shoes he’d bought her himself … she was dressed for seduction, and he knew she desired him, just as he did her.
He started for the front door using his vampire speed so that by the time she reached the top step, he was there waiting for her. There was no one else home, at least not in the main house. He’d made sure of it. Vampires were closely linked to their Sire, a link that was only made stronger by physical proximity. And he had no desire for anyone to eavesdrop on what he and Kathryn were about to share.
The door opened as Kathryn took the last step. She looked up in surprise, smiling when she saw Lucas standing there. He held out his hand, pulling her into an embrace as soon as their fingers touched. She sighed with pleasure as his strong arms surrounded her, relaxing for the first time in days when he tucked her against his broad chest. Kathryn was an independent and capable woman. A trained FBI sniper, she could take out a target a mile away. She was skilled in hand-to-hand combat, regularly worked out, and was fully capable of defending herself. But somehow Lucas wiped all of that away and made her feel delicate, feminine, protected.
“A cuisle,” he murmured, burying his face in her hair. “You look beautiful.”
Kathryn slipped her arms around his narrow waist and felt his embrace tighten.
“We don’t have to do this, Katie mine,” he whispered. “Not unless you’re ready.”
He’d probably felt her heart pounding against his chest, or maybe heard it with that super-vamp hearing of his. It was the one problem with having a vampire lover. It was nearly impossible to keep anything from him. Good thing she made it a policy not to lie to anyone who mattered to her. And Lucas most definitely mattered.
She leaned back to meet his eyes directly. “I’m ready, Lucas. I want this. I want you.”
“Because I’m excited. Trust me to know my own mind.”
He grinned. “One of the things I love most about you . . . I never roll over you. Except in bed, of course.”
“Only because I don’t let you.”
“True enough. Are we going to stand in the doorway all night?”
“I don’t know. Are you going to invite me in?”
“This is your home, Kathryn,” he told her, suddenly serious. “You don’t need an invitation.”
Tears stung her eyes as she touched her mouth to his. “I love you,” she whispered. Lucas deepened the kiss briefly, then wrapped an arm around her waist and led her inside, closing the door behind them.
“Come on—” he said, his hand slipping from her hip to her lower back as they walked down the hallway. “—I have Champagne and roses in the sitting room.”
“Fantastic. We can take them with us when we go downstairs.”
“To your bedroom, Lucas,” she explained patiently. “I don’t need to be wooed.”
“I don’t want to rush—”
“Lucas,” she said turning to face him head on. “I’ve thought about all of this. I’ve done nothing but think about it for weeks.”
And that was the truth. She’d gone over all the obstacles he’d presented her with after she’d proposed to him—and he was never going to let her live that down. He hadn’t warned her about all the pitfalls because he didn’t want her to mate with him, but because he didn’t want her to regret it once she did. For all his talk about running roughshod over everyone to get what he wanted, Lucas was an honorable man. And so he’d made sure she knew the downside to mating a vampire. They’d never have children, but then she’d never planned on children anyway. She’d raised her brother; that was enough. There was the violent reality of a vampire’s life, especially a vampire lord. But she knew that, too. She remembered the damage to Nick’s face on that long ago night in the club parking lot, the blood coating Lucas’s leathers. She knew Lucas could be challenged at any moment, and that he could die. But how was that different from anyone else? Everyone could die without warning. And those who worked in law enforcement, like Kathryn herself, risked their lives every day. Maybe Lucas was the one taking a chance, instead of her.
And, yeah, she knew there was a war coming that would put Lucas at even greater risk. But instead of dissuading her from mating with him, it had been knowledge of the coming war that had made her all the more determined. Not because she wouldn’t have mated him otherwise, but because she wanted to be sure he survived this war, and together they were immeasurably stronger than they were apart.
Besides, she loved the arrogant bastard and couldn’t imagine life without him.
“If you’re sure—” he started.
“Are you trying to talk me out of it? Tonight?”
“Hell, no,” he said, tightening his hold on her waist again and hustling her down the hall. “Just being polite.”
Kathryn laughed. “Lucas, what about the Champagne and roses?” she asked as he rushed past the turn to the sitting room.
“There’s plenty of Champagne downstairs,” he assured her. “And who needs roses when I’ve got your sweet self?” He urged her into the elevator, crowding her against the back wall even before the door closed, every inch of his powerful body pressed up against hers.
“I like the shoes, a cuisle.”
“You like them?” she said coyly, holding one foot out and admiring the sexy designer pump. “I love them.”
“Well, then—” he murmured, “—you’ll have to leave them on when I fuck you.”
Her eyes widened when they met his. “Won’t that hurt you?”
“Hurts so good,” he purred.
“Lucas,” she said, suddenly breathless.
The elevator door opened and he scooped her up as if she weighed nothing. Which she certainly did not. She wasn’t used to being carried around like the princess in some fairy tale. But as she wound her arms around Lucas’s neck, she had to admit that those princesses had the right idea.
Lucas carried her directly to this big bed, deposited her carefully, then followed her down until he was stretched out next to her. Or rather, mostly on top of her.
“Did you want Champagne?” he asked quietly, playing with the strands of her long hair, which she’d left down tonight, because he liked it that way.
“Not really.” She cupped his handsome jaw. “Tell me how we do this.”
“It’s not so different from our usual rounds of incredible sex,” he began, stopping when she rolled her eyes. “Are you saying sex with me isn’t incredible?”
“Of course, it’s incredible. I love it when you fuck me, the harder the better.”
His gaze heated at her deliberate crudity. “Kathryn, if you want me to make it through this explanation, you’ll have to stop saying things like that.”
“Like what?” she asked, tugging his head down until she was speaking directly into his ear. “You mean I can’t talk about how much I love the feel of your cock sliding into my pussy? Or how you get so deep inside me that I can’t tell where I end and you begin?”
“Kathryn,” he growled.
“Or how wet I am right now—” she whispered, “—just thinking about fucking you all night long?” She stroked her hands over the breadth of his shoulders, slid her fingers up and into the silky thickness of his hair.
“And now you’ve done it,” he crooned, nibbling delicately along the curve of her neck, his hand sliding up her outer thigh, her skirt crumpled in his fist as he shoved it up to her waist. She was wearing her tiniest pair of panties underneath, nothing but a lacey triangle and a few strings. The kind of thing she’d never worn before meeting Lucas, but she’d worn it tonight because she’d known they’d end up like this. Lucas liked to touch and stroke, to lick and taste. The first thing he always did upon seeing her was caress her in some way. If they were in public, he’d take her hand and stroke her fingers, or put an arm around her and squeeze her hip or shoulder. Simply touching her wasn’t enough, he had to pet her. And on a night like this, when it was only the two of them, it was almost a sure thing that he’d immediately go for bare skin. The sooner the better. It showed her just how determined he was not to rush her that he’d been prepared to slow everything down when she arrived, to sit by the fireplace and sip Champagne, if that’s what she’d wanted.
It made her love him even more. But she didn’t want to slow down. She wanted Lucas and she wanted him now. Which was why she’d deliberately provoked him, and why his strong fingers were even now slipping between her thighs, pushing her legs open, and dipping beneath the pretty lace triangle.
“The wrapping is very pretty, a cuisle—” he whispered, his breath warm against skin already damp from his kisses. He snapped the slender band holding her thong together. “—but not nearly as pretty as the pussy it hides.”
Kathryn exhaled a shuddery breath, her nails digging into Lucas’s scalp as she bent her knees upward, lifting herself eagerly to his touch. She felt his mouth curve into a smile.
“So hungry,” he murmured. “Do your FBI friends know what you’re hiding beneath those staid blue suits of yours?”
“They don’t think about it,” she whispered, shocked at how difficult it was already to breathe, and he’d barely begun.
“They’d better not,” he growled, even though he’d been the one who brought it up.
His fingers stabbed suddenly deep inside her and she groaned. “Lucas,” she gasped.
“Mmmm,” he said absently, too busy fucking her with his fingers, withdrawing enough to spread her juices over the lips of her pussy, circling her clit without ever touching it.
“Take off your clothes,” she said breathlessly.
He lifted lazy eyes to meet hers, then slowly and deliberately slid his fingers out of her pussy, lifted them to his mouth and sucked, his tongue winding around and between, as if to be sure he caught every bit of her glistening arousal.
“Delicious,” he commented, then just as slowly grabbed the ends of his sweater and tugged it over his head, tossing it aside before standing to toe off his boots, to slip the buttons on his jeans and slide them down … and Kathryn forgot to breathe as she admired the powerful elegance of his shoulders and chest, the hard ridges of muscle rippling over his abdomen, his flat belly and narrow hips.
Lucas, of course, took his time, knowing she was watching. He did love to preen.
“Arrogant,” she whispered, raising her gaze slowly to meet his.
“It’s not arrogance if it’s true, Katie mine,” he drawled, unfazed by her comment. He grinned and dropped to the bed once more, stretching out next to her, one arm over her belly, his fingers cupping her hip, the other touching her face.
“What happens next, Lucas?”
His laughter fled. “I’m going to make love to you, Kathryn,” he murmured. “But when we share blood this time, we’ll truly share blood. I’ll take yours, and you’ll take mine.”
“But I always—”
“Not a sip, a cuisle. Not a shallow bite that breaks my skin. Not this time. I’ll slice my wrist for you, and you’ll drink.”
Her eyes flashed up to meet his, and she found them already gleaming gold with desire. “Won’t that hurt you?”
He smiled. “It will be the furthest thing from hurt. It will be heaven itself.”
He bent over and kissed her then, not a teasing brush of lips this time, but a deep, lingering, passionate kiss. The kind of kiss they wrote poems about. A kiss that Kathryn wished could go on forever … until she felt the hard length of Lucas’s erection along her thigh, and she remembered there were far better things than kisses … even when the kisser was Lucas.
Lucas’s hands were everywhere, stroking her thighs, tugging at the shoulders of her dress to a huff of frustration, until he finally pulled down the zipper and stripped her unceremoniously out of the little, black dress she’d selected so carefully for this evening. His breath ran out with appreciation when her breasts were revealed—pale mounds plumping over the black lace of the matching bra, rosy tips eager points within their enclosure—before twisting the front snap, baring her breasts completely only a moment before his mouth closed over one hungry nipple. He sucked hard, drawing half of her breast into his warm mouth, his fangs a slick presence, their sharp points barely felt as his tongue swirled around, tasting her, teasing her nipple into a swollen nub. Kathryn’s back bowed as she offered herself eagerly, holding his head against her breast, curling one leg over his hip as he settled between her thighs, not fucking her, not yet. But she felt his cock all the same. It was a heavy weight against her leg, a velvet stroke on the tender skin of her thigh.
“Lucas,” she murmured hungrily, bucking against him, wanting to feel him inside her, wanting him so deep that as she’d told him before, she couldn’t tell where he ended and she began. “Baby,” she pleaded.
“Kathryn,” he whispered. And she shivered when his breath blew over her wet breasts.
He lifted himself above her, powerful arms braced to either side of her shoulders as she spread her legs wider, then reached down and stroked the steel length of his cock, so hard and smooth, so hot. Wrapping her fingers around him, gripping him tightly, possessively, she positioned him at the wet center of her sex, lifting herself so that his tip barely slid inside her. She lifted her gaze when he didn’t follow through, didn’t push deeper into her body. He waited until her eyes were on his, until she was bathed in the golden gleam of his power, and then he flexed his hips, and in a single powerful thrust drove himself forward, not stopping until his balls slapped against her ass, until she felt the touch of his cock against her cervix deep within. He held there for a moment, their eyes locked as the inner muscles of her sheath strained around his thickness, as her cream coated his length until he was as soaked in it as she was. And then he began to move again, thrusting strongly in and out, never looking away from her face.
Kathryn’s eyes wanted to close. The power of his stare was too much to process, the emotion, the love brimming over, demanding the same of her. But something about Lucas wouldn’t permit her to do that. This thing they were sharing demanded truth between them. He was baring his soul to her, and she had to do the same. He deserved it. He deserved everything she could give him. And so she held his gaze, baring her heart, all of the love she felt for him, her vulnerabilities, her fears, and her total trust in him.
“Kathryn,” he growled, as his pace suddenly quickened, his cock slamming faster, moving in and out, skin slapping with every plunge. Kathryn’s legs tightening around his back as she lifted herself into every thrust, and his fangs grew, pressing against his sensuous lower lip. Kathryn licked her own lips, suddenly hungry for the taste of his blood.
“Do it,” she hissed, digging her nails into his shoulders as if to anchor him to her.
His head lowered, and she felt his hot breath, the double sting of his fangs as they pierced her skin, the pressure as he punctured her vein … and then the rush of exquisite pleasure as the euphoric in his bite shot into her bloodstream, storming along every nerve until the orgasm overwhelmed her and she cried out, arms and legs tightening convulsively around Lucas, even as her pussy squeezed his cock until he could barely move, until he groaned against her neck and his fangs slid out of her vein. She felt the wet touch of his tongue then, as he licked the few stray drops and she welcomed the weight of his body as he collapsed against her, his hips still flexing, his cock still hard inside her, moving slowly, langorously, still fucking her.
“Katie, mine,” he whispered. And then his arms came around her, steel bands holding her as he rolled until she was on top of him. She cried out, staring as he brought his own wrist to his mouth, as he sliced it open with one fang, a long straight cut down the center.
Her eyes lifted in shock, but his were filled with love, with . . . desire. And she understood. Taking his wrist in her fingers, she brought it to her mouth and she sucked.
Kathryn had tasted enough of Lucas’s blood that she knew what to expect, or thought she did. The reality was so much more. This wasn’t the tiny taste that brought with it an overwhelming rush of lust. This was . . . Lucas. She tasted the golden glow of his power, felt the unflinching loyalty he gave to the vampires who loved and needed him, the red hot heat of his desire for her, the even hotter flame of their love. And she wondered how she’d ever worried that this would be too much. Because this was Lucas, and he was already hers.
Lucas watched Kathryn’s mouth close over his wrist, felt the first hard pull as she took his blood inside her, and his cock grew almost painfully stiff. He’d never shared himself with another woman like this, had never even considered such a thing before meeting Kathryn. She was the one, the only one for him. Watching her drink his blood was a high like nothing he’d ever experienced. And he’d tried just about every high the human world had to offer.
Holding her hips in place, he began to thrust slowly upward, her pussy so tight, so hot, so fucking slick. It quivered around his cock, caressing him with delicate fingers as a new orgasm began to build within her, as the full impact of his blood heated her veins for the first time. Her fingers convulsed around his wrist as she continued to suck hungrily, and then without warning it hit. Going from desire to climax in the space of a heartbeat, they orgasmed together, his release a boiling rush of ecstasy as Kathryn bucked on top of him, her thighs clenching convulsively around his hips, nails digging into his chest as she writhed above him, her cries echoing his groans.
He pulled her down, crushing her against his chest, her breath shuddering over his skin as she trembled in the final throes, making helpless little noises that had his cock hardening all over again.
And then he felt it. The mate link. A connection like nothing he’d ever known.
Kathryn wasn’t bound to him as his vampires were, a weight on his soul, a burden of responsibility. She wasn’t even bound with the ties of love he felt for his Sire or his own vampire children, the ones who had a hold on his heart.
She wasn’t bound at all. She wasn’t tied to his heart. She was his heart.
“A ghrá,” he whispered, knowing for the first time what it truly meant. My heart.
Of this story.
But not the end of Lucas and Kathryn’s story.