Lothaire Read online

Page 27

Page 27


  "Until then, enjoy Elizabeth," she said. "You seem to be rubbing along well with your mortal toy. "

  "Rubbing along?" When she writhed as hed ejaculated over her? "Yes, I suppose we do that quite well. Its a good thing youre not jealous-because the two of us were debauched together. "

  Show displeasure, female. Give enough of a damn that this bothers you.

  Instead, she was incredulous. "The two of you? You didnt have to force her to slake you?"

  Mildly offended, he grated, "Look at me, Saroya. She can barely keep her hands off me. "

  "But she just went along with it? Even knowing youre pledged to another?"

  "How pledged am I when you direct me to use a substitute for you?" Saroya was clearly feeling none of the vampiric bond that he did. Only one way to kindle that. In bed. "Besides, Elizabeth has taken it into her head that she can win me from you. "

  "That amuses me immensely. "

  "Does it? I couldnt tell. Why dont you smile, then?" No expression. "Come, you have a pretty smile. "

  "You mean Elizabeth does. Does she grin coyly for you, Lothaire? Are you besotted? Perhaps you do prefer her over me?" she scoffed.

  Might Elizavetta be mine? Her name yelled to the sky had felt . . . right.

  The thought was so abhorrent, he immediately banished it. "I am dangerously close to harming you, goddess. "

  "Surely the great Lothaire wouldnt be growing foolishly attached. "

  Was it Elizabeths abandon that had aroused him so-or merely his Brides body? Time to find out. "Attachment? As it so happens, Im keen to sample her replacement. "

  "The gall! Do you think I wont remember these snide insults?"

  "Come to me, and Ill make them all up to you. "

  "I can read that look in your eyes. Strange. I thought youd be spent for the night. "

  "I can go a dozen rounds if Im inspired. Come to me. Now. That was not a request. "

  Though her eyes slitted, she did rise and trudge to him. He dragged her into his lap, but she remained tense. "Relax, Saroya. "

  When hed lain next to Elizabeth with his leg thrown over hers, his arm draping across her soft breasts . . . they fit.

  This was like shoving two mismatched puzzle pieces together, forcing them. No, no. Disordered mind. "I will be easy with you. Do you not desire to kiss me? To know my touch?"

  "You will hurt me. Elizabeth isnt aware of your boundless strength, but I am. "

  "Ive managed not to injure her. Twice. "

  "Youve used her twice? And she never fought you?" Again she was disbelieving.

  "Allow me to demonstrate to you why she acquiesces. "

  "You say you havent injured her, but Im in pain right now," Saroya said. "Bruised and battered. Tell me, Lothaire, do you have any wounds, any twinges?"

  "Of course not. "

  "I have them all over my body. "

  "Then I will be gentler with you, even more careful with my Bride. " Cupping her face, he murmured at her ear, "Just relax, Saroya, and I vow to you that I will only bring you pleasure. "

  She will squeeze her eyes shut, her body stiffening, as if a frost grows over her.

  He leaned in to press his lips to hers, once and again, teasing with his tongue. He deepened the kiss, and she responded . . .

  Exactly as hed predicted.

  He recoiled. "Youve gone cold. " Her eyes were squeezed shut, her lips thinned. And worse . . . hed caught himself imagining it was Elizabeth to stay hard. "You dont want my touch at all. "

  She opened her eyes. "I would never be able to relax for fear youd harm me. Lothaire, imagine going into battle in a mortal state. With no regeneration, no power, no speed. Imagine being defenseless. Would you be so keen to rush into the fray-no matter how much you love warring?"

  She had a point. Convince yourself, Lothaire. You cant lie to others, but you can lie to yourself.

  "When I am a vampire, things will be different," she insisted. "For now, I beg your patience. I beg understanding from my male until then. "

  Yes, when shes a vampire . . .

  And still he refused to accept that his Bride was sexually cold? No, Saroya could be made to want him. "Does your mortal body feel nothing but pain? You must have needs. "

  "No. Apparently youve satisfied any of those urges recently. "

  Blyad! Hed wasted that pleasure on Elizabeth!

  Saroya awkwardly patted his shoulder. "Youll soon find the ring, and then Ill be yours in all ways. For now, use your mortal. "

  "Not concerned that I might become infatuated with her?" he asked, though he knew the answer. Saroya simply could not comprehend that someone might not desire her above all others. Her arrogance prevented doubts like that.

  And he couldnt help feeling as if there was a lesson inherent for him to be learned.

  "Not in the least, Lothaire. If you chose her over me, youd have to renounce all your aspirations to the Horde throne, everything youve worked for all these thousands of years. Besides, you are so intelligent, I know that you can see through her manipulations. You would never let us be the pawns of a lowly mortal. "

  A pawn. He and his mother had been pawns to a mortal before. "Beseech Olyas forgiveness . . . "

  Never again.

  "Youve seen Elizabeths family," Saroya continued. "Those would be your in-laws. She would want to live among them. "

  He stifled a shudder.

  "I barely survived living in that trailer. How well would you fit in there?"

  Lothaire would rather die.

  "I have an idea, vampire," Saroya suddenly said. "Take me to your oracle. "

  "Why?" he asked, still kicking himself for sating the human.

  "You asked what Id like to do this eve? I want to pose a question to her about the future. "

  He exhaled, tracing her to Hags.

  As soon as they appeared in the feys kitchen, Hag told Saroya. "Oh, its you. "

  Between gritted teeth, Saroya said, "How did you know it was I? Before Id even said a word?"

  "Because of the makeup," Hag murmured. "The gobs and gobs of makeup. "

  Saroya said pleasantly, "Youve just ensured your death. Once your usefulness ends, Lothaire will bring me your head. Ill use it as a fly catcher. "

  The feys eyes turned forest green with anger. "That is not in my future, goddess-"

  "This is my Bride, Hag," Lothaire interrupted sharply, baffled by this hostility. "Not Elizabeth. Some respect, then. "

  "Very well. " But Hags eyes still glimmered.

  "Youve aided Lothaire in seeing his future," Saroya said. "I want a question about my own answered. "

  "I can only roll so many times in a day. " At Lothaires threatening look, Hag added, "But I will try. "

  "Ask your bones if the Horde will accept Lothaire as its king if I am by his side. "

  "Its not that simple-"

  "It is. Hes part Dacian. They cut away all the extraneous considerations and focus only on their goals. Lothaires primary goal is to become king of the Horde. I want to know if Im the key to the Horde throne. "

  "Do it, Hag. "

  The fey grudgingly removed her pouch, spreading the cloth. She rolled the bones, read them.

  "Well?" Lothaire demanded.

  As if the words were pulled from her, Hag said, "The Horde will accept you if Saroya is by your side-and she is a vampire. Tymur the Allegiant and his men will yield Castle Helvita and swear their fealty to you. "

  Tymur kneeling before me while I decide if I should decapitate him . . . Lothaires eyes grew hooded.

  "There, Lothaire," Saroya said, "as I promised, I shall place that crown on your fair head. Youll be a king, just as Ivana the Bold wanted. And after you rule the Horde, youll use that army to seize the Dacian throne. Its all so close. Were only waiting on you, my king. "

  King. His chest ached with want. Crowned, ruling, power. Hed build a monument to his mother in Stefanovichs old castle. If I dont raze it to the ground, stone by blo