Authors: Diana Bocco
Tags: #Romance, #Vampires, #Novels
“Why are you here, Isabelle?”
There was a slight accent in his voice. British? Old European English, for sure. His eyes were boring into hers, and she wondered how much he could guess just by looking at her. “For the same reason everybody is. I’m tired of struggling.”
His eyes moved over her curves, heat searing in every corner and every angle he reached.
, her mind screamed, and a second later she realized she was talking to herself rather than to him.
“You’re hardly starving,” he stated and there was a suggestion to his tone that made her blush.
She felt open and exposed, just standing there in front of him. It was a brilliant strategy, actually. He was sitting there like a king would—and should—observing ordinary people parading in front of him. It not only made his position of power clear, it also served as an incentive to speak. Because she was sure that nobody would be able to stand the look in his eyes for more than just a few minutes, even if he decided not to charm them.
People would talk just to get away from those eyes.
“I’m tired of running.”
The mention of a name confused her until she realized he’d called somebody. It had been just a whisper, but somebody appeared in the room. The newcomer looked like a guard, his military-like demeanor obvious in the stoic steps and his stone face. He looked at her briefly as the king spoke to him in a whisper.
Then the king’s eyes turned to her and for a second she saw something there that took her breath away.
A hint of humanity.
Fear rushed through her body the instant she saw the light in his eyes. She couldn’t allow herself to think of any of them as anything other than monsters. The whole point of being here was to destroy them—and any hint of doubt, any second-guessing, would mean disaster.
In the couple of seconds her eyes moved away towards the guard, the king rushed over to where she was. Moved so fast, in fact, that she never saw him leave the chair and make his way to her.
The heat of his proximity made her body tighten. Nothing she had heard about being charmed had warned her about that. She had been expecting fogginess, something akin to being half-asleep, but all she could feel was her own body, pulsing in response to the immediacy.
He was just inches away.
“I can smell your blood from here,” he whispered, and reality tied up her stomach in two.
Her feet were frozen to the ground, her heart hammering so hard she knew he could hear it. He leaned forward, inching closer to her neck.
This is it
, she told herself. But there were no teeth, no pain. Instead, he took a deep breath before moving back and into her eyes.
And then he kissed her. The surprise lasted less than a second before desire exploded like a ravaging fire through her body. Hunger so desperate she felt like she was falling. His tongue pushed against her lips, demanding entrance. With a moan, she opened her lips and let him in. He groaned into her mouth and deepened the kiss, his tongue dancing with hers, probing, exploring. There was something different about him, something almost animal. A rough, intense taste of fire flowing from his body into hers.
Something brushed against her lower lip and she realized his teeth were grazing her mouth. Firm enough that she could feel them, but without breaking the skin. Rather than scaring her, the realization of what he was doing sent her heart into a frenzy. She moaned and pushed against his body, melting into his mouth. Every inch of him was hard, pulsing, more alive than any man she had ever touched.
Heat bolted down her body, coiling in her stomach before making her way down to her legs.
Without warning, he broke the kiss. A soft moan escaped her throat and it took her a second or two to get her eyes into focus again. The room was spinning and so was her head, filled with some sort of intoxicating, pulsing sound she couldn’t describe. She was panting, her body shivering from the contact. Her eyes looked for his and she saw the fire exploding in them. His chest was rising up and down as rapidly as hers and suddenly it clicked. Everything she was feeling was very real. No charming, no mind tricks. Just pure raw desire.
Before she could finish the question, he turned around and left the room.
When she finally got a chance to breathe again, she realized she didn’t even know his name.
Marcus sat back in his leather chair and took a deep breath. His body was still reeling with the emotions she had stirred in him.
He hadn’t been looking for a pet, but there was no way he was going to let anybody else have her. In the few centuries he had been taking pets, none of them had ever been immune to charming. To say he was intrigued was an understatement.
Even before he touched her, he had felt her heart racing. Smelled her blood rushing in anticipation. For a second he had thought it was fear, and then realized it was excitement. His whole body had hardened as soon as he kissed her and felt her respond. It had made his hunger almost unbearable, to the point where he had to leave the room to avoid feeding on her right there. No, he wanted her on his bed first. He wanted to be inside her when he tasted her. The idea of a fully awake, willing human under him was something impossible to resist.
In most cases, humans were just a necessary complication. They provided food and entertainment but little else. Partly because their fear would take over as soon as a vampire touched them and the only way to calm them down enough to enjoy them was to charm them. Charming them made them docile but it also made their emotions less real. Having an awake and very willing woman in his hands was a completely different sensation. And having one who wanted him and wasn’t afraid of him was intoxicating. He stirred as he imagined her body under his, pulsating and soft as he slid into her.
The distraction would be good for him. The last three months had been more challenging than he had expected. Nobody in the compound was hungry, but the supply of blood had been dwindling in other areas of the country. So much, in fact, that many vampires had taken to patrolling the roads, hoping to hunt down whatever humans they could find. He wouldn’t normally care about that, except that his brother Patrick had taken the opportunity to recruit rogue vampires. To form an army that Patrick could one day use to overthrow him.
And Marcus suspected the army was getting bigger. It was impossible to compete with Patrick and his lies and false promises. He knew his brother well enough to understand that Patrick was probably promising other vampires unlimited amounts of blood—something he couldn’t deliver. He’d seen Patrick in action: ruthless, quick, out to take as much blood as he could before the kill. It wouldn’t take long before Patrick had exterminated the human race.
Marcus didn’t particularly care much about humans, but Patrick had an even lower opinion of the human race. To his brother, humans were little more than cattle and didn’t need to be treated any better. In fact, Patrick had long nurtured the idea of breeding humans. Marcus suspected that was one of the reasons he wanted to take over the throne: to start a breeding program, farming as many humans as he could and then using the females for reproduction.
Long-term planning, Patrick called it.
Marcus didn’t think it was the smartest way to fix the blood problem. He had other ideas. Part of him felt responsible for the chaos of the last few years. When the invasion began, he had expected everybody to hunt responsibly—in the open, but responsibly. That was not what had happened. Centuries of hiding in the darkness had made his kind bitter and ready to strike back. As a result, many had gone out on hunting sprees, killing dozens of humans in a single night, wasting blood and lives.
By the time he had realized what was happening, it was too late. Humanity had dwindled by the millions in just months. It had never been his intention to kill off the human race. Not only because he needed human blood to survive, but also because he was sure they could find a way to coexist—a master/peasant situation that could benefit both sides.
Right now, his greatest concern was getting the rogue vampires under control. If he didn’t manage to do it within the next year or so, they would destroy everything. In the meantime, though, humans were still surrendering themselves into the compound—and his kind had enough blood to last for some time.
His thoughts returned to Isabelle and her pulsing heart. The sound of her blood rushing in excitement had been hypnotic. He could almost smell her right now—and his whole body tensed at the memory.
By now, Miles would’ve told everybody that she belonged to the king and wasn’t to be touched. Too bad the council was meeting that night and he would have to postpone a night of pleasure. He couldn’t wait to see what she tasted like.
Isabelle’s mind was spinning—and not for the right reasons.
Things were going much better than she expected. Not only was she in the compound, but it seemed the king had chosen her as his personal pet. There was no doubt in her mind that the room she’d been given was a special one. The four-poster bed reminded her of the ones you would have found in fine hotels, back when hotels were anything more than abandoned buildings left to rot. There were curtains and rugs in the room, luxuries she had not seen for years. And when she extended a hand to actually touch the bed, the silkiness of the blankets felt alien.
The metal door on the back wall of the room was locked, but she guessed it connected her room to the king’s. To get here, Miles had taken her to the back of the compound, through a private courtyard. This section of the compound was home to the most luxurious building and corridors and she had no doubt the king’s private quarters were located there as well.
She sat down on the luscious bed and took a shaky breath. The idea of having him just on the other side of the door seemed surreal. Things had been so clear two days ago and now her body and her mind had come to an almost complete disconnect. Not that she had forgotten what she needed to do or why she was there. But it would have been a lot easier if she had found the king to be repulsive rather than incredibly alluring.
A wave of heat stirred in her stomach at the thought of him. Cursing under her breath, she stood up and walked away from the bed.
Miles had gone through her bag and taken anything that could’ve been considered a weapon, including a pocket knife. Then he had searched her body for anything hidden in pockets or under clothing. She had been thinking about hiding the knife in a pocket and now she was glad she hadn’t. The vampire had been quick and cold in the search, touching her as little as necessary to make sure nothing went unnoticed. But she hadn’t been able to help shivering at his hands on her curves. And now she couldn’t stop thinking about how different they had felt to the vampire hands that had touched her just minutes before.
She looked around the room, searching for something that could be considered dangerous. Everything around her seemed to have round edges, soft corners meant to avoid piercing and damaging vampire flesh.
, she thought.
She had expected to feel more like a prisoner, but the entrance door to her bedroom was unlocked. She had tried it as soon as Miles had stepped away, expecting to find it locked. When she pulled on it and the door opened, she’d actually stumbled backwards. Her heart had gone into a frenzied race as she took a step into the almost deserted courtyard. Then she had seen the vampires stealing glances her way and she decided to step back inside. In fact, for a few seconds she had wished the door had a latching mechanism so she could lock herself in.