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  • Home > Delilah S. Dawson > Blud > Wicked After Midnight (Page 25)     
    Wicked After Midnight(Blud #3) by Delilah S. Dawson

    I double-checked my knot and pulled on the trap, making sure it was secure. Not so much because I was scared of falling, obviously, but more because I didn’t want to make a big, embarrassing noise and get in trouble. I kicked my legs over the bar and hung upside down for a brief moment before shimmying upright to sit. Checking my form in the mirror, I pointed my toes and smiled at myself. As a little kid, I’d threatened again and again that if I didn’t get my way, I would run away and join the circus. And now I had, twice.

    A shadow filled the doorway, and I almost fell over backward.

    “Bonsoir, songbird.”

    Vale leaned against the doorway, all too pleased with himself.

    “You really like scaring the shit out of me, don’t you?”

    His grin widened. “Very much, bébé.”

    “And why are you skulking around Paradis late at night?”

    “One might ask you the same question.”

    He walked to me slowly, his boots somehow silent on the boards. He wore the tight, striped trousers and paisley waistcoat that all the dandies under a certain age wore, but the addition of his gypsy shirt and brigand’s honed physique only served to highlight his wildness rather than indicate the usual cultured aloofness. The Parisian gents also favored wild, long, foppish hair and purposefully messy ponytails, as if every one of them was trying out for the part of the Rosetti that hadn’t yet been discovered in Sang. But Vale’s shorn head and rough beard only made his golden-green eyes shine brighter. My fingers tightened on the ropes of the trapeze as he wrapped his hands around the bar on either side of my hips, just beyond the black ruffles of my skirt.

    “Can’t blame a girl for being curious.”

    “Oh, I never would blame anyone for that.”

    “The door was open.”

    “Of course it was.”

    With every volley, his hands drifted closer to my body, and my breathing sped up in response. With the height of the trapeze, his eyes were level with my cleavage. He took one step closer, and my knees pressed against his chest. I couldn’t even think of where my feet pressed, farther down.

    He looked up at me, humor in his eyes. “But really, bébé. Why are you here?”

    I swung my hips back and forth, taking the trap with me. “Maybe I felt the need to explore a little.”

    His hand found my ankle and traced up the back of my leg, running one finger seductively up and down my stockinged calf.

    “Exploration, eh? That’s an excellent preoccupation.” His eyes met mine, and even though they were as light as a summer meadow, they held all the promise of a shadowy bedroom draped in velvet. “I like exploring. I could help you with that, you know.”

    His hand settled on my thigh, and I squeezed my legs tightly together at the rush of warmth he caused.

    “But you’re going to have to loosen up first, oui?”


    I smirked and perked up in mock indignation. “I may work in a cabaret, but I’m not a loose woman, monsieur.”

    “But in your profession, surely you must remain limber. Lithe. Flexible.”

    “Flexibility is just one of my many talents.”

    “I’d like to see more of your talents, bébé. Maybe I could teach you a few things myself.”

    “You’re so very altruistic.”

    “I don’t know that word, but I’m guessing it’s similar to sexy.”

    He reached for my face, and I leaned down to meet him, his lips pressing gently to mine, almost nibbling. Heat shot through my body, and it took effort to stay on the trapeze. But something was off. I pulled away and licked my lips.

    “Wine. You taste of wine.”

    “I must test the vintage before I can sell the wine properly, bébé. Part of the job, being a brigand.”

    I looked closer. His eyes were slightly red, which was making them glow an otherworldly green.

    “Are you drunk, Vale?”

    He grinned, hands back on the trapeze on either side of my hips.


    With a whoop, he pulled the trapeze back and ran, pushing me high into the air and swinging with me, dangling from the bar. He couldn’t go far, as the wall was near and I’d adjusted the ropes to keep it close to the ground, but I still felt the sensation of flying. I took advantage of the mirror to watch the fine lines of his back and the way the trousers hugged his butt. A red-striped handkerchief fluttered from his back pocket. When he hit the wall, he kicked off it and swung back, tucking up his knees so the trapeze could swing in the other direction.

    I tried to hide my childlike glee at flying through the air on a trapeze with a seriously hot guy dangling just underneath me, his buzzed hair tickling my ankles through the stockings.

    “Yep, you’re drunk.”

    “Just a little. Just enough.”

    “Just enough for what? Wailing and waking up the entire cabaret?”

    He let his feet down, dragging his boots to bring the trap to a stop. I held on tightly and recomposed my legs, crossing them demurely at the ankles. With more agility than a drunk man had any right to possess, he swung up and turned in the air, landing on his feet, facing me again.

    “Just enough to come to you when I don’t have any information, any tips, any trinkets, any advice. To come to you with nothing but myself.”

    “Vale, you don’t have to—”

    I tried to slide off the trapeze, but he pinned me there and stepped close, spreading my knees to stand pressed against me. His arms wrapped around my waist as he ran his nose up the buttons of my jacket and planted a kiss in the V of my cleavage. I couldn’t breathe and suddenly felt as if I was upside down, as if everything had gone topsy-turvy.

    “No, I don’t have to. I want to. And if it took half a cask of the best wine in Paris, so be it. Bébé, I’m not just your errand boy. I want more.”

    Maybe it was the absinthe still bubbling in my blood, or maybe I was just sick of being an object of lust who never gave in to her own passions. Hell, maybe I felt the same way, not that I was about to admit it. But I bent my head and pressed my lips against the gold rings set in the curve of his ear.

    “More what?” I let my breath play over his scalp. “Eh, bébé?”

    He drew a deep breath and buried his face between my breasts. I gasped, caught entirely by surprise. The hot, wet touch of his tongue would have sent me flipping over backward had his strong arms not held me firmly down.

    It was insane, the way he devoured me with lips and teeth, and all I could do was hold on for dear life, feeling as if I was floating a million miles over the ground.


    His teeth had nipped too hard, and I drew back with a hiss.

    “What the hell?”

    Vale’s lips didn’t budge, and I realized exactly what he was doing. Bludmen tended to smell and taste of hot pennies and old meat to humans and, I suppose, half-human, half-Abyssinian brigands. But once someone had ingested a certain Bludman’s blud, even one drop, that changed completely for them both. If what I knew of Crim and Tish applied, I would now smell delicious to him, and were he human, I wouldn’t be rabid for his blood. He had always smelled strange to me before, but I suspected the hunger I felt for his body, mouth, and mind wouldn’t lessen a bit.

    He sighed and pulled me closer. “Oh, dieu. Now you’re like butterscotch. Mignon, I could eat you alive.”

    Arm by arm, I slipped off my jacket, revealing the snowy chemise underneath. He ran his tongue along the edge of the deep neckline until he found my nipple, held high and trapped by the built-in cups of the lingerie. Other girls in my position wouldn’t be able to breathe, thanks to their corsets. But with the barely-boned stays Blue had crafted to enhance my shape but allow me to contort, I could feel the press of his hands at my waist, and the way his fingers grasped tighter told me he found it just as hot as I did.

    I let my head fall back and held on for dear life as he pulled my nipple into his mouth. The sensation was so deeply sensual that I wrapped my legs around him just to keep him there. With his arms holding me in place, he couldn’t use his hands, but there was a primal hunger in the way he licked and sucked his way across my skin, eager to find the other nipple and bring my breast to float above the chemise, the nipple peaked and eager for his mouth.

    “Let me down. I can’t . . . I can’t do anything.”

    I wanted to touch him, to run my hands over the rasp of his head and cheek, the smooth line of his throat. I wanted to trace fingers along his hipbones and cup his ass and trace the firm ridge pressing against my legs. But I couldn’t let go of the ropes.

    “No, bébé. I like you where you are. And I can make it worth your while.” He let go of my waist and wrapped his fingers hotly, briefly, around mine, around the ropes. “Remember to hold on, yes?”

    “Vale . . .”

    His hands were already on my thighs, pressing them gently apart and pushing the layers of ruffled skirts and petticoats back over my hips. I sucked in a breath, knowing what he was doing, half mortified and half aching and fully expectant. His fingers danced up the insides of my legs, drawing lines up the ribbon ties of my stockings. Flat palms spread over the brief, lacy bloomers.

    “That’s different,” he murmured, curling a finger under the hem, up and down.

    As if his touch had been a question, I spread my legs wide to give him better access. He murmured appreciatively and let his finger rove deeper, just under the lacy edge. I quivered and closed my eyes as his fingertip slipped all the way under, stroking me softly. When I moaned, he set his mouth to my breast and murmured, “So wet,” with his lips wrapped hotly around my nipple.

    His fingers curled possessively over my knees, holding them apart as he nibbled along my inner thigh, slipping his tongue under my bloomers. He could just barely reach the core of me, and he teased me like that, barely licking, barely tasting, until I whimpered and bucked against his hands.

    “Dance for me, bébé,” he murmured. One hand stroked down my thigh and gently moved the bloomers aside to give him full access. I felt the caress of a breeze before I felt his mouth, and it nearly undid me.

    He alternated light, breathy, teasing caresses with more aggressive tastes, and it was all I could do to hold on and not scream. I was molten inside, a pool of lava and hunger and need, and I hadn’t been touched this way ever, not even on Earth, with passion and confidence and pure, unselfish finesse. The combination of the taut trapeze and the possibility of getting caught and my pent-up need and his perfectly timed licks were too much, and I shuddered and flew apart, my fingers twitching around the ropes as he kept licking in perfect rhythm, sustaining la petite mort for longer than seemed possible.

    “Come down, bébé. Let me catch you.”

    Barely thinking, barely capable of thought, I let go of the ropes and fell backward into his arms, still shuddering.

    “You put on quite a show, Vale Hildebrand,” I murmured.

    “Hope you like encores, bébé. The night is still young. And I’m not done with you yet.”

    I was loose and boneless in his arms, and he turned toward the corner, where mats and curtains were puddled behind a barricade of boxes. A smile curled over his lips.

    “That will do, yes?”

    Before he could take a single step, motion caught my eye. A blue blur slipped into the room, making me gasp and lean against his chest. Vale spun around, muscles tense.

    “Bea? What’s wrong?”

    The blue daimon zipped past us, blocking the corner where Vale had planned on ravishing me and where I’d planned on letting him. She couldn’t speak, of course, but she shook her head at us and navigated around the boxes. When she motioned me over with anxious eyes, Vale set me gently on my feet, and I wobbled over to investigate. Bea pointed down, showing me where Blaise lay under a faded burgundy curtain, his blue cheeks tinted violet with sleep.

    “Oh.” I was mortified that he’d been there all along and extremely grateful that the lights and our banter and my moaning hadn’t woken him. “I’m sorry, Bea. I didn’t know.”

    She shook her head and smiled, then pointed at the door, then at Blaise, then put her finger to her lips.

    “I won’t tell.” Bea raised her eyebrows at Vale. “We won’t tell.” She exhaled in relief and hugged me. “Wait. Are you in trouble? Is someone . . .” I wasn’t quite sure how to ask the questions I wanted to ask. Was someone trying to hurt the boy? Or was she trying to protect him from knowledge of her nighttime business? How could a young boy grow up in a cabaret and not know what his mother and the other daimons did to earn their place?

    Her eyes shot to the door, then back to Blaise. Her hands flew up briefly before clenching into fists. She shook her head sadly. She pointed at me, then Vale, then Blaise, then raised a hopeful finger to her lips.

    “No worries, honey. We’re leaving. We won’t bother him again, now that we know he’s here at night.”

    For just a second, her eyes went impish, her eyebrows shooting up. Her message was clear. She knew exactly what we’d been doing. I blushed, and she smiled sweetly and patted my arm. She gave the sign for Thank you, hugged me again, and slipped around the boxes to pick up the limp boy. Cradling him against her chest, she slipped back out the door as quickly as she’d come in.

    Vale and I watched her go with matching frowns and crossed arms.

    “I wonder why Bea is so scared,” he finally said.

    “I’m going to find out tomorrow.”

    He chuckled. “Good luck, bébé. Even for a mute, Bea is locked up tighter than a Kraken’s arsehole.”