Read What Happens in Vegas...After Dark Online
Authors: Lauren Dane
“Great. That makes this suck al the more.”
He turned on his heel and walked out of the room.
E lena stared out the window of her father’s mansion. It was located in the heart of Darkness, in one of the many pockets of alternate dimension that had been built into the lower part of the structure. All one had to do in Darkness was open a door and step through to find oneself in a different part of faery.
This was the king’s world. Her father, Theron Albert Evan’s little pocket of reality.
When you stepped through his doorway (tenth on the right once you reached the bottom of the stairs), you found yourself in a rolling green landscape that stretched for miles. Blue sky dominated most of the time, unless her father was angry or depressed and he wanted the weather to match. When there were storm clouds on the horizon, it was best to turn and go back the way you came. Today her father was calm and happy. Birds twittered in the trees and a gentle, perfect breeze rustled the leaf-laden branches. A gravel-strewn path led to a mansion enclosed by a tall black iron fence.
Two of her younger siblings stil lived in Father’s house. By cultural law they were al supposed to live there until the day of their marriage, but as the eldest Elena had fought for her freedom and won. Since she’d successfully convinced her father that his children should have a certain amount of world experience, her brothers and sisters were now allowed to strike off on their own once they became of legal age, too. She was a family pioneer.
“So you’re telling me that you and this common fae, Damian Porter, share a relationship resonance? You found a heartstring?” Her father turned from the tall window in his library, brushing the swank golden draperies.
His expression was stern, severe. Everything about her father was that way.
She finished chewing the bite of pastry in her mouth and set the rest of the sugary confection on her plate. The food in faery was delicious, but only edible to the fae. It would taste like ambrosia to any human who came here and also act like poison. “Yes, that’s what I’m saying.”
Elena had known she needed to tell her father about the resonance, or he’d find out himself the first time he saw her and Damian together. A strong heartstring like she and Damian shared was palpable to all fae onlookers.
Damian had returned to Darkness not long after their night together. It had been inevitable he would. Once inducted, the urge to be with his kind became irresistible. Since Damian had taken his rightful place in Darkness’s underground, there was no way her father would not eventually encounter them together. It was better she revealed the truth beforehand so he could prepare himself.
“I hope you don’t think this will change my decision about your marriage to Reynolds.”
A weight settled in the center of her chest. Maybe she had, a little. She sighed and lifted her weary gaze to her father’s uncompromising visage. “Of course not.”
“Finding this heartstring now wil only serve to make your impending nuptials harder on you. It’s a pity, really.” Her father turned, walking to a sideboard fil ed with food that had been placed out for her visit. Her father adored food and his waistline showed it.
“Damn bad luck, I think.” His voice was just a mutter. “Go your whole life never meeting a heartstring, then you find one right before your marriage.”
Yes, it was bad luck. Her father was right. A part of her wished she’d never taken that induction assignment to begin with. Before she’d met Damian, she’d been resigned to settle with someone she didn’t love for the sake of her family’s honor. Accepting of it even though she hadn’t wanted it. Having met Damian, she still had to marry Reynolds, but it would be much harder to find happiness now that she knew her heartstring was out there.
“Ironic, isn’t it?” she murmured.
“The wedding is in a week. Are all the preparations in order?”
Her father had spared no expense, of course. She’d had a wedding planner and a budget that stretched into the stratosphere. It would have been great if she’d wanted it all…or the groom, for that matter.
She waved her hand dismissively. “The planner assures me all is ready.” Elena had had little do with it. She’d laid down some basic ground rules—no puce, no peonies and no peppermint anything. Other than that she’d let the planner pretty much do whatever she’d wanted. Elena hardly cared and her mother didn’t seem al that interested, either.
Elena’s mother was busy most of the time playing bridge or corralling her youngest children. Her goal seemed to be to avoid her husband at all cost. Elena’s parents’ marriage was arranged and highly loveless.
Reynolds was a corporate attorney in the non-fae world. He lived in New York, where she would soon be relocating. Some of the truest, purest fae blood ran through his veins.
Elena had been promised to Reynolds since she’d been five years old. She’d only met him once, though, at the betrothal party. He was okay. They’d had a nice conversation, but honestly, if she had her druthers she wouldn’t care if she ever saw him again or not.
He hadn’t seemed all that interested in marrying her, either, not on a personal level. But hell, she was a princess after all. Reynolds knew he would get the title of prince by marrying her and Elena knew that interested him. Marrying her would add to his prestige and his reputation in the fae world. It would also make his children heirs to the throne.
What wasn’t there to like?
She stood to leave, her obligation to her father fulfilled satisfactorily. “Well, I have a full schedule this afternoon.”
“Your…job, no doubt?”
Her father hated that she worked. He considered her efforts at inducting common fae a waste of time and energy. “Yes. We have information there may be someone with the genes just west of the city. I have research to do.” She walked to the door and turned.
The king’s lip curled. “Yes, well, Reynolds will be arriving tomorrow morning, I am told, in anticipation of the nuptials. I hope you wil take time from your…work to spend time with him.”
Elena blinked. “Why would I want to do that? We’ll be spending eternity together after the wedding. I see no reason to get a jump on things.”
That evening, when she returned to her apartment, Damian was outside her door flipping a coin into the air. When the coin reached a certain height, it disappeared, then reappeared on its way down. Apparently he’d been practicing with his magic. He leaned against the wal , one leg bent, focused on the trick. He was so attentive that he didn’t notice her approach, which meant she could drink her fill of him with Damian unawares.
He was a powerfully attractive man. His body was long and lean, muscular, but not in the overdone way of a bodybuilder. Damian’s build was powerful without being overpowering. His dark hair fell across his brow in an attractive way, framing a face that wasn’t quite as handsome as it was interesting.
Reynolds was good-looking in a pure-blood fae, corporate lawyer way. Damian was attractive in a dangerous alley-dwel ing stray-cat kind of way.
Elena really had a soft spot for stray cats.
“I thought you weren’t going to darken my doorstep ever again,” she said as she approached him.
He lost control of the coin and it fell to the carpeted corridor floor. “I couldn’t stay away.”
She walked to within a breath’s space of him, paused, and then smiled. “I’m glad.”
“Anyway, I live here now.” He pointed down the corridor. “Twentieth door on the right.
I figured we’d run into each other eventually.”
“I’d love to see your place.”
He pushed a hand through his hair. “Yeah, wel , I’m still trying to get a handle on this interdimensional magic stuff. It’s not very nice yet.” He smiled with chagrin. “And it flickers occasionally.”
She laughed. “It takes a while to get the hang of it. Your magic has to—”
“Bake a little more. Yeah, I get that.”
The pockets allotted to those who lived under Darkness were shaped by the owner’s magic. It wasn’t illusion, but in fact reality created and formed by the owner’s will and desire. The stronger the owner’s magic meant the grander the space.
She unlocked her door. “Want to come in?”
“I was hoping for an invite, yeah.”
Elena opened the door and he trailed her inside. The lights flickered on as soon as she entered and a fire poofed to life in the hearth. She threw her keys into the bowl on the table near the door and kicked off her shoes. It was good to be home and it felt perfect that Damian was here with her.
She watched him wander to her pottery again. He picked up a piece and studied it.
“I make it,” she said, walking to him. “I have a pottery room here in my apartment. I even have a kiln. It’s kind of a…hobby.” She only wished it could be more.
He turned to her with raised eyebrows. “Made by your hands, with your heart?” He stared down at the bowl he held. “No wonder I’m drawn to it,” he muttered.
He set the bowl down and turned toward her. “So, this heartstring thing. Is that why even though I left here with every intention to avoid you for the rest of my natural life, I can’t stop thinking about you?”
She suddenly became interested in the carpet.
He walked over and turned her to face him, forcing her head up and her gaze to collide with his. “Is the heartstring why I can’t stay away from you even though I know you’re going to trample all over my soul? Is it why I dream of you, wake up thinking about you?
Is it why when I inhale something that smells like you it makes my cock hard?”
Oh, gods…“Yes,” she whispered.
“But this is slumming for you, right? I’m just a commoner. It must really suck for you to find a heartstring with a guy like me.”
He turned away from her, stalking to the center of the room and running a hand over his unshaven jaw.
“Wait!” Gods, she was stupid. “I didn’t mean it like that.” She walked to him, touched his arm, but he pulled away from her. “Damian, let me explain.”
Damian turned toward her, a pissed-off expression dominating his face. His eyes said, go ahead and try.
“It’s inconvenient because of the pressure that’s put on me to marry pure, that’s al .”
She reached up and cupped his cheek. “I don’t care that you’re common. Gods, Damian, I’m not that way at all. This just…sucks because I want to be with you and I can’t.” She paused. “I can’t, Damian, and that’s going to rip me to shreds. Marrying a man I don’t love while I know you exist in the world is going to devastate me.”
He grabbed her hand and jerked her forward a step, right up against his chest. “Then don’t do it.”
“You don’t understand.”
He made a low sound of frustration. “No, I don’t, Elena. You’re right. This is all I understand.”
His mouth came down on hers and met her tongue in a tangle of need and impatience.
It made her heart thump and her breath hitch in her throat.
Elena needed to feel his hands on her, his lips. She wanted that deep physical connection with him. Even though she’d only known him a short time, sex with Damian enhanced the emotion she felt for him. She wanted to bare herself to him, body and soul.
She wanted him to touch her intimately. Over and over and over…
“Elena.” His voice shook. “I need to be one with you.”
Yes, that was it. Perfectly stated.
“I need that, too, Damian. Please.”
H e pul ed her shirt over her head, then reached down, undid the button and zipper of her skirt and sent the article of clothing sliding down her legs to pool at her feet. She was left in nothing but her silky bra and panties.
He made short work of those, too, and the cool air bathed her breasts, touched her heated pussy.
Damian groaned, his hands running over her curves. “Damn, you’re pretty, baby. I want you to be mine.” He growled the words, laden with emotion. “Mine, Elena. Not this guy…what’s his name? Reynolds? Not his. Mine.”
“For tonight,” she murmured, her mouth against his, “I am yours.” She placed his hand over her breast, her nipple pebbling against his palm.
“Not just tonight, Elena. I don’t accept any limitations on what’s developing between us.” He laid his lips to her bare shoulder. His breath warmed her skin, his mouth brushed her as he dragged his lips over her collarbone to the place where her neck met her shoulder.
Elena opened her mouth to reply, trying to struggle up from the layers of need Damian was covering her with…and then he bit her.
His teeth scraped her skin and then bore down, not hard enough to actually hurt her, but enough to leave a mark. It was a sign of dominance, ownership. With that mark, it was as though he’d staked a claim on her. The action was primal and erotic.
Elena gasped and her fingers closed hard around his shoulders, feeling the bunch and ripple of his muscles. Her pussy plumped with need, her clit growing more sensitive as he bore down a little and gooseflesh erupted all over her body.
“Damian.” His name sounded strangled coming from her throat.
His hand eased between her thighs and found her aching clit. With the pad of his finger, he brushed back and forth until her body tensed with the need to come.
Abruptly he released the hold he had on her neck. Blood rushed back to the area, making her feel tingly in more than one place. “Do you have a mirror in here?”
“What?” she asked, dazed.
“A mirror, one that’s long and wide. I want you to see how pretty you are, Elena. I want you to watch us together. Us, making love. Not you and that other fuck. Me and you.” His voice was gruff, commanding, almost angry.
“This is my space—I create it any way I choose.”
“Then create a mirror.”
“Done.” Her voice came out breathless. “In the bedroom.”
He took her hand and dragged her there.
At the end of her bed stood a mirror, just as he’d asked. Damian led her there. She was completely naked, her clothes in a pile on the living-room floor. He was still fully clothed and standing behind her, looking aroused and just a little pissed off. “Look at us, Elena.