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|Wicked as She Wants(Blud #2) by Delilah S. Dawson|
In that moment, it went from impossible to simple.
He hadn’t asked for a commitment, hadn’t asked me to love him or marry him or pledge myself to him eternally. He wanted my heart, but he hadn’t demanded it. He had asked me, quite simply, if I wanted him. And that was an easy question to answer.
“I want you,” I said, and a wicked smile lit his face.
In one smooth swoop, he stood, holding me tight against his bare chest, his hands under my thighs. I wrapped my arms around his neck, and he carried me as if I weighed nothing. Before I knew what had happened, he had shoved through the door into the next room and spread me out on the bed. It swung under me slightly, the ropes that tied it to the ceiling creaking. I felt more weightless, more pure and groundless and free, than ever. Even though it was past the last rays of sunset, the lantern light from outside was bright enough to shimmer through the stained-glass window and paint me in a rainbow of colors.
Casper walked around the bed. Stalking me. I stretched and arched my back for him, lifting one leg to let the silk dress slide up one calf.
“Everything about you is just so . . . delicious.”
I grinned, showing him my teeth. “Taste me, then.”
He wrapped long fingers around the rope, his eyes tracing it to the ceiling in curiosity. Apparently satisfied by what he saw, he leaped lightly onto the bed, which barely swayed, thanks to his newfound dexterity, the balance and litheness of a predator already taking root. With the same care I’d seen Tommy Pain use when the cat walked a ledge, Casper prowled around the outside of the bed, drinking in every inch of me. When he wound around the ropes and stepped over my feet, his shadow blocked the window, and for just a moment, he looked rampant and wild as a timber wolf, his eyes glowing in the darkness.
There was a new confidence there, too, whether because of my admission or the fundamental change in his body. He appeared by my side on his knees, so quick and smooth that it seemed as if he’d melted, the bed barely swaying. The squares of light flowed over his bare shoulders like liquid, lighting his hair like the halos I’d seen in old-fashioned Pinky paintings of saints and angels.
“I have wanted you since the first moment I saw you. Even half-dead, you were more alive than any woman I’ve ever met.” He stretched out, half beside me, half on me, one hand tugging my curls. “And that hair. It’s like I can still see it sometimes, the color of butter. Like I can feel it pulling through my fingers when I’m asleep and dreaming of you.”
“It’ll grow back,” I said, almost apologetically, and he chuckled.
“Hush, sugarplum,” he said, his accent strange and mellow.
He kissed me, long and slow, taking his time. The anticipation built, my body crying for his touch and rabid for satisfaction as he refused to hurry. The wine had made it easy the first time. Sharing blud had made it even easier, the excuse of feeding and hunger melding with the physical desire for the body around the need for sustenance. But now there was only him and me and the knowledge that we wanted each other, whatever that meant.
“It’s easier to kiss you now that I don’t want to eat you,” I murmured.
“For me, it’s harder. Because now I want to eat you, too.”
I gasped as he kissed down my jaw, tracing a line along the vulnerable skin there, the veins close to the surface where he’d already bitten. When he found the hollow of my throat, I moaned and ran my nails down the back of his neck, his hair soft on my wrist. He kept going, sliding his tongue along my collarbones and into the V of my silk dress. With a growl of frustration, he grasped the sides of the bodice as if to rip it in half, and I covered his hands with my own.
“Patience, Maestro.” I slid his hands to my hips. “You’ve waited this long.”
“If you insist.”
I rolled over onto my stomach, and he gently bit the nape of my neck. Kissing down my spine, he unbuttoned the dress, one flick of fabric at a time. His lips followed his fingers, and I quivered as he hit the spot that was usually covered in corset. I had left it with Verusha, knowing that we were in for a messy and painful business. But now its absence gave me cause to purr, feeling the soft heat of Casper’s lips trailing on skin tender with unaccustomed freedom. He undid the final button and ran his tongue all the way up my back, and something inside me melted, heavy and sweet as puddled wax.
He rolled me onto my back again, rough and slightly playful, the bed swaying. One after the other, he slid my arms from the fitted sleeves, kissing the curves of my shoulders, the tender insides of my elbows, and the pale white dip of each wrist. I closed my eyes, savoring the anticipation, wanting him to get back to kissing me or feeding on me or something less ticklish, more real, more demanding.
“I will never get used to all this damn fabric,” he murmured into the curve of my neck.
He kissed me hard as his hands slid the gown down to my waist, and I pressed against him, skin to skin and hotter than the sun. When he pushed it down farther, past my hips, I arched up against him, glad to be free of the blood-soaked silk. My foamy petticoats and his breeches were the only things left between us once he tossed my dress onto the floor, and I wanted more than ever to be completely unfettered.
The bed creaked and swayed as he rolled onto his side, taking me with him. One hand traced the swoops and valleys down my side, which had matured while I slept in the suitcase and filled out further with a week of good blood. When he found the swell of my hip, he groaned and pulled me closer, right up against him.
I couldn’t wait any longer. I growled, slipping out of my petticoats and tossing them off the bed, finally free.
His hands were suddenly everywhere, hot and greedy and grasping. On my hips, pulling me closer against the swell in his breeches. Scratching lightly up my spine, making me squirm and bare my teeth. Cupping my breasts, teasing the nipples with his thumbs, squeezing and gently pinching. Eyes closed, I felt everything, my entire body awake and open and willing.
He rolled me onto my back, his cheek rasping as his lips found my nipple and sucked. I moaned, unprepared for the hunger it would raise in me. My back arched, my other breast crying out to be touched, and his hand obliged, the fingers as nimble and skilled as I had imagined. Every time I’d watched him play the harpsichord, whether I knew it or not, I had thought of this, or something like it, of cunning fingers and warmth and that same cocky ease applied to coaxing music from my body.
The way his hands and mouth roved over me—it was intoxicating, better than the bludwine. I couldn’t tell where one hand touched and another stroked, where his mouth would go next with wet tongue and clever lips. He kissed between my breasts and licked a line down my ribs, dipping briefly into my navel and making me quiver. When he went farther down, I thought about stopping him, asking what, exactly, he was doing. Because surely he wasn’t going to . . .
Oh, holy mother. He was.
Tongue wide and wet, he licked a long swath right where I wanted it most, right where I’d been aching for his touch, and I bucked and moaned as he found other ways to lick and taste. He seemed to savor it, and as I had no basis for comparison, I just closed my eyes, arched my back, and loved every second of it. The sweetest, warmest feeling started to bloom deep in my middle, and when he slid one finger in gently, moving it in time with his tongue, I thought I was going to die on the spot.
This feeling was better than the blud, better than anything I’d ever known. I didn’t know how his harpsichord kept from bursting into flames under his hands. The loveliest sensation was building in me, and I could barely breathe, barely stop myself from screaming. One hand twisted in the bed sheets, one caught in his hair, I was riding a wave that I could barely contain.
With one last, deep taste, he pulled away. I wanted to rip his neck open in frustrated fury. He caught my open mouth with his before I could protest, all but swallowing my tongue with the same rhythm he’d used far below. One finger continued rubbing me, gentle and unceasing, and he kissed me deeply and unsnapped his breeches with his other hand. Somewhere far off, I heard his pants hit the ground, and then his body pressed against me from shoulder to foot, hot silk that smelled of pride and hunger and triumphant alpha male.
Aztarte help me, I purred and rubbed against him, shameless to resist my own nature.
His—I didn’t even know what to call it, and I wasn’t about to stop kissing him to look down—pressed against me, rubbing in the wetness he’d created and all but driving me into madness.
“Go on,” I whimpered.
He pressed tighter, just the tip inside, one finger circling my flesh just above.
“It’s your first time, isn’t it?” He kissed me gently. “Then we should go slow, make sure you’re—”
With a rugged growl, I rolled over on top of him and settled down, taking all of him and claiming what was mine in a savage thrust. There was a quick burst of pain, but it didn’t stop me, and it didn’t last. He sighed and groaned, hands grasping my hips firmly. Oh, it was lovely, so satisfying, and I moved up and down experimentally until I found what felt best. He obliged, guiding my hips until I had the rhythm just right and then finding that lovely spot again with a finger and rubbing and rubbing, faster and perfectly.
It was like dancing, but better, better than anything I’d ever known, moving together with him, feeling the delicious fullness and pressure building. I ran my hands through his hair, down over the muscles of his shoulders, and spread my fingers wide over his chest, which was lightly dusted with auburn hair that matched his eyelashes. When I sat up, I saw that a line of similar hair trailed down his flat belly.
With the angle changed, so did the feeling, and I rocked back with a little sigh of pleasure. One of his hands found my nipple, pinching and rolling it, and I let my head fall back, one hand on his stomach for balance. He surged underneath me, moving in delectable circles, his finger never ceasing, caressing me again and again. As I moved faster, breathing in frantic gulps between moans and sighs, he moved with me, making the most deliciously masculine noises deep in his throat. I was so close, so close, and I looked down into his eyes, and they were full of love and wonder and murder and the deep blue of the sapphire in my ring, mysterious as the night sky and dark and warm as the stars, and then it struck me, that feeling, radiating from the place where we joined out through my heart and blud and bones and body, and I arched and bucked and screamed, an animal howl of triumph and joy that must have surely shaken the world.
He kept with me, stroke for stroke, and just as I began to melt and fall, he caught me close and rolled me over to my back and battered against me, harder and harder and deeper than deep. I took it, teeth bared, swallowing down the little echoes of my release as his own trembling howl built and erupted. Heat and silk and sweetness filled me, and I went stiff and taut as the last notes held, a song unending.
Rolling sideways, he ran one sweaty hand over me, a companionable and possessive gesture that ended with the scratch of a fingernail already growing sharp.
“Oh, darlin’,” he said, voice as sweet as blood oranges. “You’re going to be the death of me.”
“I already was,” I answered, one hand likewise claiming, splayed over his thigh. “Now you start living for real.”
“I love—” he began, but before he could finish, someone knocked on the door in the outer room. Casper lurched to his feet, naked, and charged the door with the full fury of a Bludman’s beast unchained.
“Wait!” I shouted. But I was too late.
I held my breath as the bed jerked beneath me, the sturdy ropes creaking in protest. Casper ripped the door open with a growl, and I smirked at his naked back, knowing what was on the doorstep. His entire posture and energy went from murderous and bestial to baffled and embarrassed. By the light of the star-shaped lanterns, I admired his bum as he knelt to get something off the ground.
“It’s an inn,” I called. “Room fees include two vials a day. It’s customary.”
He stared at the tray and shook his head, bemused. “If the knock had come five minutes earlier, that would be one dead innkeeper.”
His feet slapped the tile briefly between the two rooms, his gait easy and confident. Setting the tray on the bed, he held out a vial to me, and I popped the cork and poured it into one of the two teacups. Casper fumbled with his cork, trying to pop it out with his thumb as I had. I smiled indulgently as I traced the skillfully painted Moravian designs in bright red and light blue on the thin porcelain. One of my geography tutors had been a world traveler, and I recalled her story of how Moravians used paint to reimagine the spray of fresh blood against the desert sky.
Casper finally managed to dislodge the cork, blood spattering his chest lightly. I had forgotten we were naked.
“Better than ruining your waistcoat, eh?” I caught the blood on a finger and sucked it off.
“I’ve got a lot to learn, it seems.” He poured the remaining blood into the other teacup and swirled it around, fascinated and bemused.
“Drink it fast, or it will coagulate. If you must take your time, keep swirling it. In warmer places, it stays fresh longer, but in Muscovy, with the cold, it thickens quickly when exposed to air.” I took a dainty sip from my cup.
He tried a sip, rolling the blood around in his mouth. “Damn. That’s bizarre. Salty and sweet. Almost syrupy. But with cinnamon.”
I shrugged. “Local flavor.”
As the blood slid down my throat, I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to try it for the first time, when one had no catalog of tastes to help recognize the flavors. Human food came in so many varieties, with different textures and shapes and colors. Blood mostly looked the same, no matter what the outside package had looked like. And yet everyone had a different palate, most Bludmen enjoying whatever blood had been most handy when they were young. I’d had Moravian before, although I was more accustomed to the stolid, hearty taste of well-bred Freesian servants. I hadn’t tasted a Stranger or an Almanican before, so far as I knew, and I couldn’t help being curious about what Casper had tasted like, before the blud had seeped into his body and started changing him. Now I would never know.