Authors: Cc MacKenzie
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Vampires, #Witches & Wizards
When she awoke, James’s eyes of vivid blue met hers and she read worry along with a relaxed release she hadn’t seen in months.
He still loved her.
He still wanted her.
How could she have doubted him?
How could she have doubted herself?
"I love you," she whispered, everything in her heart for him in her eyes.
He nodded. "I know it. But, darlin’, I’ve let you down. I’ve let work come between us. Why the hell didn’t you tell me you wanted more from me?"
"Don’t be angry with me because I want to try different things."
Those intense eyes became an even more brilliant shade of blue as they captivated hers.
"I’m not angry with you. How could I ever be angry with you? I love you. Whatever you want and need I’ll do it for you, for us."
His mouth finally captured hers and she knew immediately why he hadn’t kissed her gently before. His mouth was desperate, starving for the flavor of her and she was with him all the way. The deep moan in his throat told her he savoured the taste and she opened to let him suck her tongue into his hot mouth.
Immediately fluid released from her womb and she gasped in absolute bliss.
Rolling onto his back, James scooped her up so she lay full length on top of him.
Strong hands massaged her body from shoulder to bare bottom and back again and it felt so good.
Still his mouth crushed hers in a deeply bruising kiss that told her more than words how much this big man loved and adored her.
Then his hands spread her legs wide so they lay either side of his hips and his fingers explored her slick, wet heat.
Jet eyebrows shot into his hairline.
"You're so hot and wet for me, Charlie. I'm ravenous for you.” He proved the words with action and his hips ground his shaft against the slick lips of her entrance.
Charlotte licked the salty flesh from below his Adam’s apple like a cat lapping fresh cream, and her gums felt as if they actually ached with the pleasure of it. The scent, the taste was so terribly intoxicating as was the mad, overwhelming desire to suck and bite him. Before she realized what she was doing her eye teeth took a testing little nip. A nip which had him gasp.
She blinked. What on earth did she think she was she doing? Shock with a generous amount of shame had her lift her head to look at the damage.
James simply tipped up her chin forcing her to meet his dark eyes filled with a strange hunger that made hers blink in confusion.
"Bite me if you want. I like it," he whispered.
He tipped his head, exposing his carotid artery.
Laying a strong and possessive hand on the back of her head, he gently pressed her face into the spot and his shaft swelled again between her legs pressing into the slick, hot and tight entrance to her sex.
With an easy thrust he was buried to the hilt deep inside her.
Her gasp of liquid pleasure made him groan deep in his throat.
Big hands gripped her buttocks and pumped her, lifting her up and down, up and down, his thick, rock hard erection.
The sensation was so amazing, Charlotte marvelled again at the wonderful tingle in her gums. Pure instinct alone drove her to sink her incisors into his vein. Somewhere in the back of her mind an alarm bell dinged, but it fell silent as a rich warm liquid pooled in her mouth. Deliciously rich and peppery, the copper scent and delectable taste made her suck hard. And abruptly something feral and wild rose fast within her. A menacing growl came from her lungs and she took more.
He went utterly still.
Dimly, she was aware of James trying to pull her back, but all she could think was she wanted
He spoke words she didn’t understand and Charlotte latched onto his body, her arms and legs clinging to him like a sea snail clung to rock in a stormy sea. Her fingernails and toenails seemed to grow and sink into his flesh and her mouth fed, drinking deeper. And Charlotte couldn't think at all.
This was not good.
Christ, she was clinging to him, digging her claws into him.
A huge wave of blind panic washed over James. She was taking too much, too soon. Her newborn vampyre jaws clung to him like a fucking limpet. And that was nothing compared to what her newborn needle sharp claws on her hands and feet were doing to him, too. Her sucking and sealing technique of her mouth needed work since his blood was flowing freely down his neck to pool on the pillow.
"Charlie, darlin’. Don't take too much. Let me go now, there’s a good girl."
She ignored him and his vampyre rose roaring with a mixture of fury and alarm. The only way to disengage a newborn was pain. He couldn't bring himself to hurt her. But she was taking more and more and the sucking and growling thing she had going in her throat was seriously scaring the bejesus out of him. Christ knew he didn’t want to do it, but what choice did he have? His hand came down hard on her bare bottom.
The feral howl she made when she released his neck gave him the opportunity he needed.
He flipped her over onto her back.
The sight that met his horrified gaze stopped his heart for a couple of beats.
Her skin was bone white.
Tiny fangs bit into her bottom lip making her bleed. Her incisors were so white they could have been seen from outer space, which made the blood oozing down her cheek, her neck, look worse than it was. He’d never seen fangs so sharp and they actually had real fear tickle the base of his spine
But it was her eyes that seriously creeped him out.
They were the color of a whore’s lipstick, gleaming with wicked intent and filled with a sexual lust that petrified him. His brain cells gave up the ghost and screeched his capacity to think to an emergency stop.
His vampyre took the opportunity to punch through his free will to take full control. Thank God, was all James could think because Charlotte’s superhuman strength in her claws and her feet were doing their level best to shred the skin from his bones. His vampyre flipped her onto her belly as her screams and shrieks threatened to shatter mirrors and windows. And his vampyre had absolutely no compunction about paddling her bare bottom fast and hard.
At last she stopped struggling.
Her breath now came in shaky little sobs in her throat.
Straddling her small body James felt physically sick with anxiety and a bone deep guilt that sat like a heavy stone in his gut.
had he done to her?
He rolled off her.
She curled into the fetal position on their blood stained bed.
Seriously alarmed, he rolled her over to face him. Her hair was damp with sweat. Trembling fingers pushed her hair back from her flushed face.
she was burning up. His brother’s horrendous experience with Anais came roaring back into his memory banks.
Lifting her from the bed, James rushed into their bathroom.
Just in time as Charlotte clutched her belly and a low moan of agony came from her throat.
She was so violently sick again and again that the bathroom with its pristine white marble wall tiles looked as if an axe murder had taken place. He sat with her in the bath covered in unmentionable bodily fluids.
And nothing he did seemed to help.
Desperate, he tried to
This wasn’t right.
The sequence of events was all wrong.
According to Marcus, Anais had been sick with a temperature
her vampyre emerged. Charlotte’s vampyre had emerged
she’d become unwell.
While he was frantically trying to think of a solution, Charlotte’s whole body abruptly went rigid. Her spine arched back too far and with something like utter horror he heard the crack of bone echo through the room. Her anguished screams had him leap from the bath slipping and sliding on the slick tiled floor as he bolted for his cell phone.
Saira Pattullo answered after the first ring.
Fighting a losing battle to keep his voice calm, James explained what was happening, all the while Charlotte’s cries rose in a crescendo to scream in agony before going low and then rising up again.
Saira told him she was in San Francisco and that she’d be there with a team within minutes.
James didn’t wait to hear another word.
He tossed the cell and ran back to the emerging horror in his bathroom.
His heart was going crazy in his chest, threatening to batter right through his ribs.
And all the while he couldn't tear his eyes away from the scene in the bath. Now his eyes stung. Dear God. He couldn’t bear it. Her right shoulder appeared dislocated. Her left wrist was flopping around, the skin alone keeping it attached to her arm. The screaming had stopped now, replaced by a low whining sound that chilled the very blood in his veins.
He reached out, hands trembling, but he knew he couldn’t touch her because it would cause her even more untold agony.
Gripping his hair, James pulled it hard to make himself
. There must be
he could do to help her.
Never in his life had he felt so utterly helpless, so utterly useless.
had done this to her.
To the love of his life.
His bedroom door flew open and Saira Pattullo followed by two Centuri medics ran past him.
Saira slid to a halt at the edge of the bath and simply stared wide-eyed in stunned disbelief at Charlotte’s broken and bloody body.
Orders were given in rapid spurts like gun fire as she hunted for a vein in Charlotte’s ankle to insert a line and another medic did the same to the vein in her neck.
Bags of plasma, a cloudy liquid, were held above by a medic while another delivered gas via a mask over her mouth and nose which blessedly rendered her unconscious.
James was standing naked and covered in blood and gore and didn’t give a rat’s ass.
Machines were rolled into the bathroom and the beep beep of his wife’s too fast heart sounded too fucking loud in his brain.
Saira kept a sharp eye on the machines as they were hooked up to Charlotte’s blood pressure, heart rate and brain activity and spoke to him.
"Go and clean up. You’re in the way here."
James couldn't seem to get his legs to move.
Again, he ran bloody hands through his hair.
"Is she going to be okay?" he asked, voice breaking. "Saira, what the fuck has happen..."
The medic shook her head, all the while frantically adjusting the flow of plasma.
," she yelled in his face. And then her eyes went soft as she reached out to touch his cheek. "I don’t know what has gone wrong here. It could be because she’s human with none of our DNA. I won’t know for sure until I run blood tests and get her stabilized. James, we need to get her, and you, out of here."
"But, Saira," James fought like a warrior to keep his voice steady. He knew the more information he could give the medic the better. "She was a
emerged vampyre before she got sick.’
Now Saira looked at him, her dark eyes razor sharp.
"You are certain?"
"Yes, I’m fucking certain."
"How much blood did she take from you before she fully emerged?"
James closed his eyes, forcing himself to remain calm when all he wanted to do was drop to his knees and fall apart.
"Not much. I was careful after what happened to Anais. At first Charlotte appeared fine. Then she took more and wouldn’t fucking stop. I had to..."
Saira got the picture because she heaved a sigh and shook her head.
"Christ, you Gillespie boys know how to show a girl a good time."
"If anything happens to her..." His voice broke and he didn’t give a shit if it made him look like a fucking pussy in front of Saira and the Centuri.
Saira’s tone went gruff as her gaze remained riveted on the numbers on the machines.
"Go and clean up, James. I promise we’ll do our best to save her."
With a heart that felt like a lead weight in his chest, James turned and left Charlotte alone with three vampyres who were total strangers to her.
hadn’t he listened to his instincts to leave her be, leave her as a human?
He didn’t care what it took, he’d make it up to her.
Just please Lord, God, Baby Jesus, please let her live.
"You think you are so clever, don't you, my wee darlin’? You might have unmanned me and then where would we be?"
Anais couldn't help but wince as Marcus stepped into their bedroom, a towel wrapped low on his lean hips, while he towel dried hair the color of jet.
She lay back against a waterfall of down pillows and looked her fill at a face that could make angels weep, never mind a woman. His eyes were such a brilliant blue, and so filled with love for her they burned right into her very soul. Wide shoulders, golden skin pulled taut across sculpted pectoral muscles and a torso that was all male delighted her. She couldn't get enough of him. And now she wondered how she'd ever thought to live her life apart from him.
As ever, he caught a glimpse of her thoughts.
No matter how hard she tried to shield her deepest most thoughts and fears from him, he seemed to instinctively hone right into her mind.
He sat on the edge of their bed, his hand lifting to catch the end of her hair and gently pull.
"Tell me, where did you learn to fight like that?"
She grinned, a cheeky curve of her fabulous mouth and a twinkle in her dark eyes.
"Krav Maga. I have serious skills."
"You do," he agreed. "You do indeed. So tell me, why did you not use those skills on Eleanor or the Legionnaires?"
Her grin slipped as she frowned.
She shook her head.
"When Eleanor confronted me, I couldn't move. I couldn't think. It was as if I was stuck, like a statue. And when the Legion took me I remember nothing except the sheer terror of being thrown from a balcony." She shuddered. "I'll never forget it."
Twice, she'd been bespelled, he realized.
"Magic," he nearly snarled the word.
His tone made her turn into him and wrap her arms around his waist.
He loved the way she always tried to make him feel better.
"My love for you weakens me. As it should. I am a lawyer, but I'm also a warrior. A warrior you brought to his knees today."
"Sometimes I don't know my own strength these days," admitted Anais as her hand lifted to stroke his thigh. His response tented his towel. Her relief was instant. "And it appears I didn't break anything important."
His smile was quick and real and it stole her heart.
"Wanna kiss it better?"
"It's the least I can do."
"You won't catch me by surprise again." She watched his vampire rise as his eyes changed from blue to the color of the finest, deepest claret. His torso, his muscles (every muscle) grew bigger. Now his vampyre growled the words she loved in a language all but forgotten in the modern world.
'Tha gaol agam ort.'
I love you.
The sincerity in that gravelly tone speaking in an ancient Gaelic dialect was heartfelt.
Emotion made her eyes sting, the room blur, as she reached for him.
"I love you, too, my vampyre."
He kissed her with tongue, with teeth, and when he fisted her hair and pulled her close, with bloodlust filled with a passion that made her weak. Only he could do this to her. Only Marcus.
With both hands in her hair, he raised his head and watched his fingers brush through silky strands from her scalp right to the ends. He brought a fistful to his nose and inhaled as if scenting his favourite flower.
"I love your hair. I love how it smells, how it feels against my skin," he murmured an admission that was not news to her.
She couldn't help but smile.
"If it carries on growing like this it'll be down to my knees soon. I'll look like
The dimple in his left cheek flashed.
"I enjoyed the black and white television show of
The Addams Family
very much. My brothers and I never missed an episode."
used to freak me out," admitted Anais. "If I only knew then what I know now about the real monsters in our world,
wouldn't have bothered me."
His smooth brow creased as he watched his fingertips whisper down her flushed cheek.
"If you had done what you were told and stayed indoors, you would be none the wiser about the real monsters in this world."
Marcus's tone was like a blade across her heightened senses. Lethal and sharp.
And she knew it would take him a long time before he got over the real fear of losing her.
"I needed to breathe fresh air," she tried to explain her reasoning in the night in question. A night when she'd been tossed from a balcony hundreds of feet above the ground, and caught by a Legionnaire who'd used his magic to render her unconscious. Even now the horror of it made her shudder.
"You nearly lost your life."
The way he snapped at her had her draw back and pull the comforter up to her chin.
"Do you really believe French windows would have stopped Ezekiel or the Legion from taking me?"
"Yes." He decided not to tell her about the charms and spells of white magic his kind used to keep enemies at bay.
"What was all that Consort business before?"
"You are my Consort."
Now her brows lifted.
"So you said. What does it mean?"
"What do you think it means?"
"Oh no you don't. Do not start answering a question with a question, Marcus. You know it only annoys me."
His vampyre relaxed and now brilliant blue eyes held hers.
"It means you are my mate, my wife, my partner. I am a prince."
She hadn't given a thought to the fact he was vampyre royalty.
Her brow creased.
"Does that mean I'm a princess?"
Marcus had to admire his wife.
For months, while he'd worked closely with her, he'd analysed and examined and increasingly tested her patience. All the while probing her thought processes, stretching her intellectually. And she'd passed all with flying colours. Yes, Anais was going to make a very fine consort for a vampyre prince.
In his mind, his vampyre grew restless and had the temerity to disagree with his analysis.
'She is weak. She feels too much, cares too much, and worries too much about things that cannot be changed.'
The words were a low growl in his mind. Marcus could always rely on his beast to tell him the truth. While he didn't exactly disagree, he didn't agree either.
'Anais has courage, too.'
'Just as well,' came the response. 'She will need every ounce of it.'
"I'm a little bit worried about next week," said Anais, unwittingly plucking the thought from her husband's head. Next week, after dusk fell, she'd attend her first vampyre enclave. She was vampyre made. A human with vampyre DNA. Apparently she was an empath, too. A rarity. An oddity. A
, she'd been told by Saira, that pureblood vampyres would find... interesting. She wasn't worried about humans, not yet, since they didn't know vampyres existed. How that state of affairs had lasted in the day and age of cell phones and social media, she'd no idea. It couldn't last, she told herself for the tenth time.
"You have nothing to worry about. You are bonded to me. You wear my bloodstone, my ring on your finger. You are under the close protection of my family, my clan and my Centuri. Nothing will harm you."
Easy for you to say, she wanted to say, but remained silent.
Someone, Eleanor Pattullo, had already tried to kill her once.
What was to stop her trying again?
"They still haven't found Eleanor?"
His blue eyes went dark as he shook his head.
Jaw tight, her husband rose and began to dress.
As he pulled on soft blue jeans, a cashmere sweater as black as his hair, Anais had the feeling she'd spoilt a very special moment between them, and could have kicked herself for it. She watched him slide on a pair of soft suede Mocs.
He turned to her, held out his hand.
"Wanna go flying with me?"
Two nights ago, he'd taken her flying.
Actually, he'd scooped her up in his arms and jumped off the penthouse balcony.
The scream had lodged in her throat along with her heart, before she realized he was able to glide through the air. She'd never for a single moment imagined such a thing. Then the reality had hit her that in her mind she'd somehow managed to humanize him, when he wasn't human in any way shape or form at all. He was a creature of the night. A creature of the supernatural. And what did that make her?
Now her husband's blue eyes glittered preternaturally into hers.
Daring her, because he knew she'd hated flying.
They didn't even have wings for God's sake.
How was it possible?
"I can hear your deep thoughts from here. Sex or flying. Your choice."
Her dark mood lifted as her mouth curved.
She read a sharp intelligence as he studied her carefully.
He saw way too much.
"My deep thoughts are my own."
"Not when they place dark shadows in your beautiful eyes, and in your heart. At times you tremble when I touch you. Will you ever be able to forgive me? Truly? For what I have done to you?"
"Maybe. One day."
He gave a weary and heartfelt sigh.
Now his eyes went soft with something like regret and a hurt that speared her heart.
"Every single day we worked together for all those months, I had to stamp down hard on my need for you, my wee darlin’. Every. Single. Day. It was the only way to contain my vampyre. More importantly, I wanted you to finish the longest trial period in our company's history to make a junior partner I've ever experienced. I knew your career was important to you. I didn't want to take that away from you, too."
"Are you saying I should be grateful to you for permitting me to have a career?" The edge to her voice was keen and cutting.
He shook his head and now those brilliant blue eyes went sharp and a little cool.
"No. I am not a raving misogynist, darlin’. I believe in equality between us. In most things. But as a vampyre I will always be superior to you in strength and endurance. Our culture is strictly patriarchal. There is nothing I can do to change that. It is what it is."
"So, I'd just better get used to you ruling the roost?"
"Do I rule our home? Do I?" he responded, the tone telling her very clearly that his temper was fraying around the edges.
She had to be nothing but truthful with herself, and with him.
"No. You've let me organize our home pretty much the way I want it. And I'm working remotely. But I cannot wait for the day when I can return to my own office and my duties."
"You need to learn patience. You're a new born. And don't make a face like that,
. Facts are facts. You have not been around a human since you were made. We must make sure your vampyre remains stable. The last thing we need is you snacking on an unwary human. The fallout of such an event could be a disaster. And the punishment for revealing our species to humans is death. You either trust me to know what is best for you or you do not. Which is it?"
Stung by the attitude as much by the demand, Anais found her temper flash.
Just who the hell was he to talk to her like that.
"Did I ask for this? Did I?"
He glowered at her.
"I believe I have been too soft with you. Too easy on you."
"That's not you speaking," she shot right back. "That's your vampyre. And he can bloody well butt out of this discussion. We're not in the dark ages here, for goodness sake. These days women are equal to men. And in business we're sometimes more than equal. So your beast can just suck it up."
"You do not fear me, Anais," he said in a silky voice.
"Yes. I do. At times I'm petrified of you."
He rolled his eyes and her eyes narrowed into slits.
There were times when his arrogance knew no bounds.
"According to legend, a newborn can take a few months to become accustomed to the change. You, however, are dealing with your transition very well.”
"It's all a big act. There are times when deep inside I'm screaming. And right now I'm still really pissed at...
His eyes went soft and gentle and filled to the brim with nothing but love for her.
"Yes. But you're controlling your fear, your... anger."
Her emotional response was instant, and temper leaked away to be replaced by a sort of weary despair that she couldn't seem to help herself but to love him right back.
"I don't have a lot of choice," she admitted.