The Dark's Mistress (The Saint-Pierres) (10 page)

BOOK: The Dark's Mistress (The Saint-Pierres)
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“Exactly,” Johnny guessed at her non-answer.  “Don’t worry.  I’m cool with taking things slow.  I like it, actually.  It’s a different pace for me.  Let’s me get to know you.  Woo you.”

“Woo me?”

“Yeah, my G-ma recommended sonnets.”

“I’m not sure I’ve ever heard one.  Hit me.”

“I uh...”  He slapped a palm over his chest.  “Right now?”  His sheepish smile was almost cute
r than the switchblade grin.
 

“I can wait,” she assured him.

“Whew!  I will find the perfect sonnet for you, though.  I promise.  So where do you want to go tonight?”

“I need to change, so you go on ahead.  Will you meet me at Nôtre Dame?”

“Seriously?  The cathedral?”

Kam nodded, and teased a finger along the combs that secured the demon horns in her thick hair.  “Just need to de-demonize myself.”

“I could wait for you.”

“No, uh...”  She didn’t want to undress in front of him.  That was pushing the intimacy too quickly.  And it wasn’t wise to be seen, once again, leaving the club with Johnny.  “I’ll see you there.  Meet me in the north tower.”

“It’s closed—ah.”  He held up a finger.  “Gotcha.  I’ll see you then, oh mistress of the Dark.”

“That’s—“

“Yeah, I know, but I don’t like the idea of sharing you with some dark dude so allow me that, will you?”

He pulled her into his arms and kissed her again.  Now their breaths mingled as easily and sweetly as their voices had earlier.  The man had been made for her.  And she for him.  Kam knew it as she had not known anything for months.  Or had it been years?

“Be strong,” she encouraged inwardly.  “He is the one.”

 

Chapter Seven

As usual, Johnny and Kambriel seemed to hook up after two in the morning.  Which, if he considered his need to get inside before the sun rose, wouldn’t give them a lot of time together.  It wasn’t as though he was afraid of the sun.  He’d never seen it rise before and if a guy hadn’t ever done something—well, hell.

He could do it.  He would do it.  Soon.  Add it to the list right beneath ‘find the perfect sonnet to woo the girl’.

But right now, he assessed the south side of Nôtre Dame.  The cathedral was awesome, in the fullest sense of that word.  He couldn’t imagine the man-hours it must have required to erect such a gorgeous structure over eight hundred and fifty years ago without all the technology available nowadays.  No cranes, no modern electric tools?  What an accomplishment.

An accomplishment he intended to climb, since he didn’t want to break in through the locked front doors.  Breaking and entering was blasphemy. 

So after checking the area was clear, save for a few late night tourists who currently wandered around on the east side snapping shots of the river, he made a leap and, climbing over the depiction of Christ of the Second Coming (using various random saint’s heads to secure hold), landed on the first level.  Toeing a saint’s head for hold, he climbed the sheer limestone wall, glad the sky was overcast so the night was truly dark.  There were few lights on this side of the cathedral, and he was clad in black, so his actions would go unnoticed.

When younger, he’d once read about the cathedral and distinctly recalled there was a scene featuring the Horseman of the Apocalypse, along with a couple scenes from Hell carved into the exterior.  Would be a kick to find them, but he had a more promising destination, so he swiftly moved onward to the second level.

When he made the north tower, he intended to stake out a seat next to a gargoyle and wait for Kam—but she’d beat him here.  She squatted upon a stone balustrade beside a gargoyle, her eyes closed and head tilted aside.  Moonlight gleamed over her pale skin, dazzling Johnny with her beauty.  She’d changed from her black leather stage costume to a soft, flowy gray dress that was corseted in black.  Black thigh-high boots wrapped slender legs.  He preferred her like this, softer and sans horns.

He wanted to trace her nose and down to her lips, following the moonglow that glittered upon her skin to her neck.  And once there, he would touch his fangs to the thick, pulsing vein and taste her.  A moonlit feast awaited his indulgence.

“I win,” she said, and tilted a smile at him.

“So you did.  I’m not going to ask how you managed to beat me here because all I want to do is stare at you.”

She wrinkled her nose and cast him a wondering look. “Why?”

“The moon adores you. I think she’s jealous I’m up here, so close to you.” 

He strolled over and leaned against the balustrade upon which she squatted.  Her knees jutted over the stone parvis hundreds of feet below.  No non-mortal could achieve such a pose unless she was a daredevil with a death wish. 

“It’s almost full,” Kam said.  “A few more days.  I want the moon,” she whispered.  “I want to hold it in my arms and squeeze its cold light into my soul.”

“Poetic.”

“Desperation.”  She stroked his hair and rubbed the stubble above his ear.  “Sometimes I feel that’s the only way I’ll ever get him out of me, is if I release my soul.”

That was the closest she’d come to telling him about the mysterious boyfriend. 

“Kam, tell me what’s going on with you and this other guy.  Is he keeping you captive?”

“Do I look like a captive?”

“No.  But there are many ways to control a person.  You’ve alluded to wanting freedom.  Please tell me what’s up with you and this guy.  I want to help you.”

“You have no idea what that would involve.  It’s too dangerous.”

“Damn it.”  He grabbed her by the arm and turned her toward him.  She slid a leg down over the stone rail and sat, one knee bent up to her chest.  “Talk to me, Kam.  Give me a chance.  Do you uh…do you like me?”

“Of course I do.”

“Do you want more from me than late night rendezvous and a few simple kisses?”

“Your kisses are never simple, Johnny.”

He bracketed her face and kissed her hard.  The moonlight that had permeated her soul spread across his tongue, sweetening the tang spiked with hidden fear and regret.  He didn’t want her to fear, so held her tighter and kissed her slowly, deeply, lingering in the greedy heat of her.  With a fierce determination, he exposed his need and want, his desire to please her, to know her.

Could he ever be worthy of this moonlight goddess?

Pressing his hands to her cheeks, he met her forehead with his and closed his eyes, wishing out loud, “You are as complicated as they get, Kambriel, but I want to get lost in your twists.  Tonight when we sang together it felt so right.”

“You should have been on-stage with me.”

“I’m not trying to nose in on your band, but I do want to sing with you again.”

“I’d like that too.”

“But I suspect it’s not going to happen unless you can walk away from this other guy and make a clean break.”

“That’s probably true.  Oh, Johnny, I’m afraid.” 

She gripped his shirt and bowed her head to his shoulder.  Was she crying?  He sensed she was stronger than that.  But what was she afraid of?  The boyfriend?

“Kambriel!”

Both averted their gazes below.  A dark figure stood in the massive stone-paved parvis before the cathedral.  During the day it was peopled with a tangle of tourists of all ages and nationalities.  Now a long shadow grew across the empty space, creeping from the stranger’s toes as if oil.

“Is that him?” Johnny asked.  His jaws tightened and a surge of aggression fisted his fingers.  “He looks not so big and tough.  I could take him.”

“I don’t want you to fight him,” Kam whispered.  “I need you to win me from him.”

“Win you?”  Seemed a sudden and tremendous demand.  She kept surprising him with her carefully doled out truths.  “How do I do that?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Please tell me you’re not his property.” 

He didn’t think anyone owned a person anymore, but there were all kinds of weirdoes in this world.  Usually, though, it was the mortals who landed in the devious category of fucked-up morality.

“Kambriel, come to me,” the voice demanded in a deep, sepulchral tone.

“I need you to be strong, Johnny,” she said.

“Me?  I’m cool.  It’s you I’m worried about.”

She stood, rising up before the moon upon the balustrade, the gargoyles her vigilant minions.

“Kam?”

And then she stepped off the edge of the balustrade and fell, silently, as gracefully as a fallen angel banished to this mortal realm.  She landed on the ground before the man, and moved up sinuously from her crouch.  The dark shadow oiled across the ground before the man, slipped over Kam’s feet and up her legs. 

Not about to let any man treat Kam cruelly, Johnny flung himself over the balustrade and landed before the twosome, coming up to a defensive stance with hands in fists.

“She is mine,” the boyfriend said.  “Be gone with you.”

Damn, the guy had one of the deepest, most vile sounding voices Johnny had ever heard.  It pricked up the hairs on the back of his neck.  Was he a demon?  He couldn’t see the guy’s face in the darkness, but surely he would notice if his eyes glowed red.

“Yeah, I’m not going anywhere,” Johnny said.  “She’s not keen on you, buddy.  You’re the one who needs to take off.”

Kambriel shivered.  With a gesture from the man—looked like Death curling out a beckoning talon—she stepped closer to his side.  He put an arm around her, and yet she met Johnny’s gaze.  Silently, she pleaded with him.

Hell yeah, he’d help her. 

“What’s your name?” Johnny asked.

The man laughed a hideous rumble that rattled in Johnny’s bones. 

“You didn’t tell him?” the man asked Kam.  “Kambriel has been remiss.  Tell the idiot vampire
whom he attempts to cuckold.”


Abandoning the cool, confident stage goddess, Kam stepped forward, meek now.  The air around Johnny cooled as, behind Kam, the man shifted from a tall, dark shadow into something much bigger, broader, and...horned.

Johnny’s eyes widened.  His mouth dropped open.  The shadow of those wicked horns seemed to pierce his shadow on the ground behind him.  And though he’d never come face to face with the creature before him, he instinctually knew who and what he was.

“He’s…” Johnny started.  Hell.  Really? 
The
prince of darkness?

Kam nodded. 

“Why didn’t you tell me you were fucking the devil?” Johnny blurted.

Kam’s worried moue slipped into a frown.  She gasped.  “How dare you?”  She slapped Johnny’s cheek.  Hard.  “I hate you!”

Turning, she was enveloped in Himself’s arms.  With a sepulchral chuckle, her dark master shimmered them away into the night.

 

Chapter Eight

Sulfur lingered in the air long after Kam and her boyfriend had disappeared from the vast parvis before Nôtre Dame. 

“Himself,” Johnny muttered.

When growing up, he had heard tales of the devil Himself.  His father had always warned him never to say the prince of Darkness’s name three times in a row unless he wished to invite hell to his doorstep.  Supposedly the devil appeared to others in the form of their greatest temptation. 

He’d looked like a dude to Johnny.  And that was not his temptation.

“Must be able to adjust his appearance.  He wanted me to see what Kam must see.”  Which in this instance, had been a tall, attractive man; someone Johnny would see on stage in a band.  Classic rocker looks. 

Like him. 

Kam apparently had a type. 

But seriously?  His rival was the dark prince Himself? 

“And she is sleeping with him?”

Johnny whistled and shook his head.  “Not what I want to get involved with.”

Walking away from the cathedral, he wandered across the bridge to the right bank.  Much as the idea of dating a woman who was involved with the devil appealed on no conceivable level whatsoever, he could not get Kambriel from his mind.  Her kisses were too sweet.  Her controlled innocence so remarkably refreshing.  And their duet—it had started something, inflamed something between them.  They were meant to be together.

* * *

Kam turned away from the great throne where Himself sat, his taloned fingers clacking the throne arm.  His horns glinted menacingly.  No red glowed from his eyes because his lids were down.  He was displeased with her.

She was displeased with Johnny Santiago.

You should have told me you were fucking the devil
.

A blatant assumption.  Did having a boyfriend imply they were having sex?   It shouldn’t, but she supposed anyone would assume as much.

But not Johnny.  He was supposed to be different.  On her side.  Willing to fight for her.

She’d been wrong about him. 

“I shouldn’t have to retrieve you from your liaisons like a naughty child caught with her hand in the cookie jar,” Himself growled.

“I don’t like cookies.”

Himself hissed, clenching a fist with a
shing
of talons.

Kam, who squatted on the table before him, turned on her heels so her back was completely to him.  He was not her father.  No man could replace the great man who had raised her...

She sniffed back a tear.  She wanted to go home to her family.  If only she could make this nightmare stop, erase it from memory.

Lifting her head, she asked, “I’m allowed to do as I please, am I not?”

“You may drink from whomever you wish, my dark one.  But I am no fool.  Johnny Santiago is more to you than a mere sip.”

A fist pounded the table, upsetting the goblet near Kam’s feet.  Blood spilled over her shoe and foot.  Normally she would have dragged a finger through the rich treat and suck it away.  Now, she stood and marched down the empty table, away from him, arms crossed high on her chest.  She left a trail of blood in her wake.

“Do not walk away from me!”

Her body was tugged backward.  Kam clawed at the air, landing on her palms as she was forcibly dragged through the blood.  As she neared the end of the table her body flipped over and she landed, crouched, on his legs, her palms catching against his iron-hard black-muscled chest. 

But a breath away from his face, she stared into his hard red eyes, summoning as much defiance as she could—stage persona to the rescue.  And when she thought she could spit in his eyes and march away her body softened against her will and she settled into a ball in his arms.  A sigh sifted from her being. 

She didn’t want this surrender!

He controlled her with a persuasion far stronger than any vampire could wield. 

“Johnny!” she screamed, but her voice was halted. 

A blade cut across her neck, searing red pain as it separated skin, muscle and sliced bone.  Kam clutched for the gaping wound—and felt only smooth skin. 

* * *

“Hell of a rival,” Johnny muttered as he walked along the Seine toward the barge one of his tribe mates had lived in for years. 

Did he want to compete against the dark prince?  

For as right as Kam felt to him, she would always be wrong, tainted by the darkest, most menacing evil in existence.

Johnny shoved his hands in his pockets.  The early morning walk was quiet, unhampered by tourists, because rain misted the cobblestones.  Sunrise in an hour or two, he guessed.

The connection he had with Kam was undeniable.  And if she did dump Himself for him, then he should be pleased.  Yes?

And why should he give a care for what or who she had slept with before she’d met him?  Everyone had a past, baggage.

That chick had a hell of a cartload of baggage.

But fact remained, he’d told her he wanted to win her heart, and he’d meant that.  So that entailed a fight for her.  How did a guy fight the devil himself?

“Johnny!”

He hadn’t noticed the man leaning against the stone river wall across from the moored barge.  Dante tended to meld with the shadows due to his long black hair and a love for black velvet clothing.  Add a frill of lace at the wrists and neck?  Dante d’Arcangelo had been transformed to vampire during the bohemian phase at the end of the nineteenth century and had never shed the romantic image that had accompanied that fortuitous time in his life. 

The romantic artist look certainly attracted the women.  Dante was the lover in the Incroyables, and he took the title seriously.  Usually he juggled two or three women, and that didn’t imply one at a time, either.  The man’s bed was a revolving showcase of flesh and scintillatingly wicked indulgences.

“What’s up?”  Dante gestured Johnny join him at the wall.  “You look troubled.”

Dante was always willing to listen.  Another attribute, for who didn’t like to talk about himself?

Johnny squatted, pressing his back against the wall, and picked up a smooth stone from the cobbled walk.  Turning it over and over, he then tossed it high and over the barge, waiting to hear the splash.  “You know that chick I’ve been seeing?”

“Christian mentioned you’d hooked up with a singer.  The Dark’s Mistress.  Kitschy title.”

“Yeah, well, turns out she really is the Dark’s mistress.”


“I don’t get it.”

“Think of the darkest most vile creature who walks this realm—and other realms—and then multiply that image a thousandfold.  That’s her boyfriend.”

“Must be a demon.”  Dante considered it.  “It can’t be.  How do you know?”

“Because I met him earlier tonight.  Kambriel is the freakin’ devil’s bitch, Dante.” 

Johnny caught his head between his hands and squeezed against his skull.  It sounded horrible to say it, and he wanted to run from it and forget he’d never met Kambriel.

And then all he wanted to do was steal her away from Himself and make her safe.  Free.

Dante whistled.  “Not cool.  You have terrible luck with women, my friend.”

“Not always.”

“So the soul sucker you dated last winter was a prize?”

“I didn’t know she was a succubus until it was too late.” 

And she’d sucked him dry of vitality.  Those had been some hellacious weeks.  Good thing Viviane had come to visit and had refused to leave until her grandson was up and out of bed and drinking blood like a good little vampire.

And thinking about Viviane; he needed to give Rhys a call and make sure G-ma was all right.  What was up with his family lately?  Grandma sneaking out at the beckon of the devil, and his father seeking illicit drugs he knew damn well could destroy him.  Had Himself lured his G-ma to the club?  For what reason other than if he knew Kam had been seeing him?  And Vail had said something about dancing with the devil.

Really?

Johnny punched a fist into his palm. 

“So I assume you’re done with this one,” Dante said, “and now you’re in the aftershocks and moping stage of the affair?”

“I don’t know, Dante. 
Am
I done with her?”

“She’s screwing the devil.  I’d say you’re done.”

“But she’s scared.  She wants to get away from him and she needs my help to do that.  And yet I’m going about it bass ackwards.  I said the wrong thing to her.”

“Such as?”

“I said she should have told me she was screwing the devil.  Although I used a much harsher word.  I didn’t even see the slap coming.  Then she told me she hated me and walked away in his arms.”

“Ah.”

“That ‘ah’ sounded too hopeful for this conversation.”

“It did, didn’t it?”  Dante stepped around before Johnny and bowed grandly, sweeping out a lace-encircled wrist.  “She’s thrown down the gauntlet, man.”


“What?  You old vamps and your ancient words and ways screw with my brain, you know?”

“You know what a gauntlet is.”

“I do, but what the hell does it have to do with getting slapped by a chick?”

“If she has said she wants to be free, and you feel that she cares for you as much as you do her, then it sounds as if she has issued a challenge to you.  Will you pick it up?  Will you rescue her from the evil demon that holds her beguiled?”

“Beguiled,” Johnny whispered.  “That’s it exactly.  She’s under some kind of spell.  She’s not with him because she wants to be.”

“I would assume nothing but.  Himself is a powerful being.  But do you believe anyone would knowingly hook up with such an asshole?”

“I would hope not.  So you think she wants me to come after her?  To prove myself to her?  She did say something about me having to win her from him.”

Dante nodded.  “Sounds horribly romantic.  The knight rescuing the damsel.”

“Dude, come into the twenty-first century, will you?”

“My romantic mien has been working for me for almost two centuries.”

“Right.  Nix that.  But me?  How does a guy fight the devil?”

“You really wish to?”

Johnny closed his eyes and the first image he saw was Kam, laughing as she turned to him from her position atop Nôtre Dame, the moon in the background, shining like pearls upon her skin.  He would die for another kiss from her.  It was as simple as that.

“Yes,” he said. 

“Then you need to figure out what kind of armor will repel the dark lord, including weapons.  Perhaps you’ll need witchcraft.  I know a witch or two.  And it’s time you placed your heart on your sleeve and showed the damsel you are worthy.”

BOOK: The Dark's Mistress (The Saint-Pierres)
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