Lothaire Read online

Page 9

Page 9


  "Sate myself with a human," he bit out with disgust. "With that human?"

  "I give you leave to use her at will. Just save the claiming for me-and dont mar her skin further with your bites!"

  "You ask much of me, female. "

  Time to stroke his ego. "This is but temporary, my king. I only want to be yours in all ways, to rule the Horde by your side. You are a great and powerful male. You deserve a queen to match you, Lothaire. " She forced herself to smooth her hand down his chest. "Imagine an eternity of bloodletting together, hunting together, conquering together. . . . "

  She knew hed too long dreamed of these things to go unmoved.

  Lothaires need to rule over his brethren wasnt merely obsessive-it was pathological. Which fit into her plans. For the rest of time, she would strive for godhood, but for the present, she would accept ruling a kingdom of creatures who lived in the manner she had set forth. . . .

  Feeding on others, claiming the night as her own dominion.

  Of course, ultimately she would be the supreme ruler of these creatures, and Lothaire would be her fawning consort. "As your queen, I will lay your crown upon your fair head and rejoice as all night beings tremble before you. "

  His brows drew together, his yearning for this nigh palpable.

  "Soon, my king," she murmured, just before another wave of dizziness washed over her. She moved to the edge of the bed, sinking down.

  He shook his head hard, commanding her, "Fight her now. Remain with me. "

  "The girls coming. " Saroya irritably kicked off her stilettos. "Theres nothing I can do, Lothaire. Just use her!"

  "Blyad! You dont know what youre saying. You rise tomorrow night, goddess, or suffer my wrath!"

  Her lids fluttered closed and blackness took her.

  Chapter 9

  Ellie shot awake with a frantic inhalation.

  Each time she rose was like fighting her way along a black, soundless tunnel only to break through with a rush of momentum.

  Now she jerked her head around, finding herself in a dim room atop the softest sheets shed ever imagined.

  Not in prison- Memories of the afternoon returned like a crashing wave.

  Lothaires hot mouth against her neck. His fangs raking over her skin for blood. His tongue snaking to the drops.

  She shivered. Hed tasted her blood. Oh, my Lord, vampires exist.

  A demon possession hadnt been such a jump for a girl from Appalachia, home of serpent handlers, speaking in tongues, and the fabled Mothman.

  But the idea of a blood-drinking vampire had sent her entire world askew.

  And if that was true, then she had no reason not to believe Saroya was a deity.

  Ellie threw her arm over her face, groaning in misery, "Oh, God. "

  "I am not the god youre referring to," Lothaire intoned from a murky corner. "Although to you, I might as well be. "

  She shot upright in the bed, squinting into the dark. His red eyes glowed from the shadows like embers.

  "You!" Her nightmare continued. Fitting, since it was now night outside. The curtains were drawn back and a chill breeze blew between opened French doors. A skyline sparkled in the distance.

  Another day of lost time. But she supposed all time was borrowed now.

  Then she assessed her body. No blood?

  She was dressed in a nearly indecent silk gown, with bracelets and rings adorning her. Long red nails tipped her fingers. No skin embedded beneath them? Saroya always left her with horrific scenes. So where were the corpses? "Did Saroya . . . did she kill while I was unconscious?"

  "No. "

  Ellie exhaled with relief.

  "My Bride was too fatigued, so we called it an early night. " Since Ellie had seen him last, hed washed himself clean of blood and changed to a black button-down and dark slacks. "But theres always tomorrow. "

  "If your aim is to make me miserable, just consider this mission accomplished. " She always woke from her blackouts exhausted and famished. Even if she wasnt covered with blood, she felt grimy and used-up. "So whatd I miss?" She slapped her palm to her forehead. "Oh, yeah, last I remember, youre a vampire. "

  "I am. " He was regarding her differently. But why?

  How could she study a person when she was offstage for half of their interactions? She couldnt get a handle on his mood either. He didnt seem furious or crazy any longer-just held himself with utter stillness.

  Like a predator.

  She swallowed. "Did you drink more of my blood while I was out?"

  In a snide tone, he said, "Somehow I restrained myself. "

  Relief made her brave, and she snapped, "Be sarcastic all you want to, mister, but you were tonguing my vein like a son of a bitch before I kicked toes-up. "

  "And you were loving it. Moaning and rubbing against me. "

  She gazed away in embarrassment. Because what he said was true. The pleasure shed felt had been bewildering. . . .

  "You truly remember nothing of the rest of the afternoon?"

  She shook her head curtly.

  "How maddening, to have no control over your body. If you hate this so much, then why rise at all?"

  "Because this is my body. " She thumped her nearly bared chest, and the bangles at her wrists clanged. "Mine!"

  "Incorrect. Ive staked my claim on it. And soon youll relinquish it to another female. "

  He was going to cast out her soul! Ellie recalled how defeated shed felt when hed threatened her mother and brother-until shed realized she still had one play left.

  If she could get to a phone, she could make sure her family was hidden. Then thered be no leverage for the vampire. Ellie could take herself out-and Saroya with her.

  This raccoon aint treed just yet. . . .

  "If you were ready to die over this, then why did you not recede and allow her to rule you?" he asked. "You would have simply slept inside your physical form, with no more pain, no fear. There would have been no need for me to rid it of your soul. "

  "I was ready to die to take out a murderer who kills good men. Not to give her a free by-your-leave. " She added the last absently, feeling as if something wasnt right about her body.

  "Dont continue to fight me, Elizabeth. Anyone who crosses swords with me loses. Its merely fact. "

  "Huh?" Something was definitely amiss downstairs.

  With increasing irritation, he said, "Crossing swords. You losing . . . "

  "Yeah, well, maybe thats because youve never met anyone like me. Im more stubborn than anyone youve ever encountered. "

  "A ridiculous statement, from an ignorant girl. Im thousands of years old. Ive encountered millions. "

  "Thousands? Thats ancient!" she cried. "So bloodsuckers are immortal?"

  "Ill give you a moment to wrap your puny mind around that. "

  "Mighty considerate of you. But no matter. Im still more mule-headed than anyone. I can out-stubborn a mountain. Its just my nature. " Dang it, why did she feel so weird between her legs?

  Lothaire opened his mouth to say something, but she cut him off. "I have to use the restroom. "

  He exhaled in irritation and pointed toward a hall. "Through there. "

  Ellie rose from the bed, wincing at her pedicured but sore feet. A pair of stilettos lay at angles on the floor.

  Heels, Saroya? Thats just cruel. Growing up, Ellie had gone barefoot

  a good seven months out of every year. In prison, theyd given her flip-flops.

  Shoes were foreign, heels torturous.

  Down a lengthy hallway, she spied the bathroom. The inside was spacious. A marble floor gleamed, counters to match. Plush towels too pretty to use hung from a heated rack.

  When she turned to examine herself in the wall-to-wall mirror, she gasped at her reflection.

  The black gown she wore was the finest silk, but it dipped down until her navel was visible. Her breasts were all but spilling out; the thin fabric clearly outlined what little of them was covered.