Lothaire Read online

Page 30

Page 30


  "Take me to live bodies, Lothaire! In fact, trace me to Elizabeths old home. I promised her mother that Id kill her. I demand to have her in my grasp. "

  "Demand all you like, it wont happen. " After all, he felt gratitude to the peasant woman for bearing Elizabeth. Without that mortal, Lothaire would have no body for his Bride.

  "I wont remain at the fore if Im to be treated thus. " Saroya began to sway on her feet.

  Now she was going to recede? The hell she would! "If you purposely recede, Ill brand this body. Scald your face. Gouge an eye out. "

  Saroya immediately righted herself. "What do you want?" Lothaire was clearly in a dangerous mood.

  "Youre going to answer some questions for me. "

  In an aggrieved tone, she said, "Really, Lothaire. Whats brought this on? Im the one who should be infuriated. Allowing Elizabeth to tan my skin like this?"

  He traced from one wall to the other. "I need information. "

  "Such as?"

  "We talked years ago of ruling together," he said. "Do you still want this?"

  "Of course. I fear you are the one with doubts. "

  "We spoke of thrones and power and vengeance. But what of us?"

  "What do you mean?"

  "When my retribution has been meted out and our crowns rest easy upon our heads, what then?"

  "Then we conquer more," she said. "We could rule the world together, while searching for a way to return my godhood. I have enemies who beg for retribution as well. Or have you forgotten that?"

  "Your sister, Lamia. "

  "Among others. " La Dorada, for one. "Youve got the Queen of Evil vowing reprisal against you-which means against me. " Saroya debated whether to tell Lothaire of her many crimes against the sorceress, but decided against it. He didnt need to know why shed dispatched assassins after Dorada for centuries.

  He doesnt need to know about the prophecy, that foretelling by a long dead vampire oracle. "If you do not vanquish her, she will kill me, Lothaire. I feel this. "

  "Dorada cannot find you. No one in the Lore knows of this apartment. You are hidden if you remain here or at Hags, and I cloaked the body otherwise. Do you think I would ever allow Dorada to steal my mate-and with her my entire future?"

  Saroya calmed somewhat. Though she trusted no one, she did know that Lothaire was one of the most cutthroat warriors in the Lore, and one of the strongest vampires ever to live.

  He pinched the bridge of his nose. "And after Doradas been defeated, how do you envision our lives?"

  "We will annihilate any remaining enemies, becoming the most powerful partnership the world has ever known. "

  Growing increasingly frustrated, he said, "And when our work is done for the night, when dawn comes . . . what then?"

  She smoothed her hair back. "I dont understand. "

  "Do you know what happiness is?"

  "Its watching the light dim in a good mans eyes. Its having subjects grovel. Its wielding the power over life and death. "

  "No, Saroya. I cant believe Im about to say this, but . . . each of those things is a process. Not an outcome. " He gave a bitter laugh. "You have no more idea of what happiness is than I do. "

  "You are growing besotted with your little mortal concubine. Look at you-its almost as if youre pining for her. Almost as if she were your Bride. "

  Which Elizabeth likely was. Though Saroya had once believed she herself had triggered Lothaires blooding, she no longer did.

  For him to have feelings for such a loathsome creature? Something larger was at work here.

  Still, hed never believe Elizabeth was his; the very idea would be galling to a male of his rank and standing.

  If Lothaire hadnt seen the truth by now, then it was because he didnt want to.

  Doubts ate at Lothaires confidence, eroding it.

  Even if he could bring himself to believe that Elizabeth was his Bride-and that was a very big if-there was nothing he could do about it.

  Hed already set his destiny into motion. He was inextricably bound to his fate-compelled not merely to cast out Elizabeths soul as the girl thought. . . .

  It couldnt be her.


  Because hed been so averse to her humanity, Lothaire had never allowed himself even to consider that Elizabeth might be his Bride.

  Now, apparently, Im going there.

  It was possible that Elizabeth hadnt blooded him in their early encounters because she hadnt been old enough. Females from other species usually didnt trigger a blooding unless they were grown.

  At seventeen, Elizabeth hadnt awakened him. When she was eighteen, one glance at Saroya had sparked his heart and body to life.

  Was this due to Saroyas arrival? Or Elizabeths age?

  No, no, no. Goddess trumps mortal trailer trash.

  Lusty mortal trailer trash-with a predilection for licking his fangs and slowly sucking on his tongue.

  Of all the matches made this Accession, of all the tales of woe and bliss between mates, not one had included a human.

  Why would I draw the short straw? Even Regin the Radiants "mortal" male had ended up being a Lorean berserker.

  Saroya crossed to him now. "Imagine how your family wouldve reacted to Elizabeth Peirce. Would Ivana have approved of her?"

  Ivana would have gone into a frothing rage. Her only offspring shunning a goddess for a lowly "animal"? Where was the logic in that?

  Stefanovich would have laughed, sneering, "The Dacian son is no better than a Horde vampire. " He would have asked Lothaire if Elizabeth tasted of wine and honey.

  And Id have to say yes.

  "You know Elizabeth cant be your Bride," Saroya said placidly. "Aside from the fact that Im a goddess, and therefore an impeccable match for a king like you, consider this: no vampire could terrorize his female as you have her. "

  Saroya was right. Wouldnt his instincts have prevented him from harming Elizabeth?

  Instead, hed subjected this mortal to death row. Hed belittled her at every opportunity, holding her imminent death over her, taunting her with it.

  Mentally tormenting her. Behold the ocean youll never touch, the jewels youll

  never own. Desire the male who will never want you back and feel the pleasure

  youll never experience again. . . .

  Bile rose in Lothaires throat. It isnt Elizabeth. Its just not.

  Even his uncle Fyodor hadnt tortured his Bride like this, and shed been a reviled enemy.

  Ivana had told Lothaire, "Youll be a good and true king to your Bride. " But he hadnt been to Elizabeth. Hed made the girls life a living hell.

  Not her, not her.

  And yet, as his restlessness increased and his doubt weighed on him to a crushing degree, his first impulse was to touch Elizabeth.

  Not because she was his Bride, but because she could pleasure him, making him forget his troubles for a time. "Force her to surface," he bit out.

  Saroya blinked at him. "Are you dismissing me?"

  "Yes. "

  "Why arent you even trying to seduce me?"

  "You feel no desire for me. You never have. I can wait for the human-who does. "

  "How do you know it wont be better with me?"

  "Because it cant possibly be better with anyone. " The words said aloud rocked him-the truth said aloud.

  Am I willing to give up that pleasure? What choice did he have?

  "What is so superior with her?" Saroya demanded. "Tell me what Elizabeth does that puts you into such a lather. Do her thighs spread in welcome? Does she moan into your mouth?"

  Frustration mounted. He resented this female before him.

  "Does she look at you with need?"

  "Like shell die if I dont fuck her," he hissed.

  "I will practice that expression in the mirror for when we make love. "

  "Cease the deception!" He stabbed his fingers through his hair. "You have no intention of bedding me. The rumors of your virginity are tr