No Rest for the Wicked Read online
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. . . "