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|Adam(Nightwalkers #6) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“Damien?” She laughed as if it were the funniest joke she’d ever heard, her body dancing attractively under the vibration of her merriment. Hard as he tried, Adam could not keep his eyes on hers, where they needed to be. Even his breathing betrayed him and slid out of his control as he took in the curves of her breasts, the plane of her flat belly, and the wet droplets clinging to her nether curls and her thighs. He had always known Vampires had a natural sensuality that called to all bipedal creatures. It was part hunting instinct, part mating instinct. In a hunt, she could use that body and its sexual magnetism to lure her prey in as close as she needed it. She might even choose to fornicate with her human meal before drinking and leaving her prey to recover in a defenseless heap.
“Well, nothing would surprise me,” she noted after she got control of her amusement. “But as for you and me, does this mean I am to get a dagger through the heart? War is so tedious. I was not prepared for it, as you see.” She spread out her arms and displayed her body in a rather slinky turn of her hip and proud upthrust of outstanding breasts. The movement caused her to prick herself on his blade tip, and a single line of blood appeared on her pale skin as a bead of red followed a slow path to the tip of her nipple before dripping off. When Adam let a pained little noise escape him, the female Vampire narrowed her gaze on his once again, and he realized with dread that she was seeing into his mind with her telepathic ability.
Adam jerked back and away from her, nearly falling on his ass in the process. She laughed again; completely confident of the disturbing effect she had on him.
“Well, well,” she teased, stepping in pursuit of him as he backed away from her, “it seems someone does not have thoughts of war in the front of his mind.”
“The mind is a fickle thing, Vampire. Do not let mine fool you. It is a full moon and a cursed holiday that puts me out of my own control; nothing more. Despite this disgusting display of lust my instincts force upon me, I will not hesitate to kill you. In fact, it only makes the temptation to do so all the stronger.”
“Such a waste,” she said to him softly, a mysterious contemplation in those dark eyes as they took his measure again. She stopped her gaze at the height of his hips, that little brow rising again as she took easy note of the erection he had developed. “Mmm, now, there is a sight to wake up to. ’Tis a shame you are not a Vampire. I must say, though, you are enough to make a girl reconsider playing outside of her race.” She gave a delicate shudder. “You at least seem to have learned how to bathe, unlike most others. But the fact is, your race is just as elitist as mine. It would be rather like a cat fornicating with a dog, would it not?”
“Do you Vampires think of nothing but sex and feeding?” he demanded, his voice a hoarse rasp as his mind swirled with the heat of the possibilities her provocative words sent bursting through his mind. Her reminder of the very laws he was supposed to be enforcing did little to quell him.
“Oh, my sweet Demon,” she purred, “do not stand there and pretend you are not considering dozens of ways of penetrating me,” she taunted him like a cruel siren. “Putting aside the state of your body, Adam,” she said, purposely using his name to remind him how easy it was for her to see into his mind, “you are already imagining the feel of coming deep inside me. Perhaps just after I have had a fresh feed, when my body is at its highest heat ...”
It was a temptation she should not have laid at the door of a Demon who struggled against the full Beltane moon. For in that moment Adam felt control slip out of his grasp and something wild was suddenly unleashed inside him. He lurched forward, dropping his dagger to the ground, and grabbed hold of her arms. He gritted his teeth as one wild urge after another surged through his mind, and finally he threw himself at her.
He changed form in the blink of an eye, morphing from man to a deluge of water that dashed against her face and body. But unlike normal water, he did not cascade off her and fall to the ground. Instead, he flowed over her supple body, slowly washing over and around her, covering her inch by inch. He felt the smoothness of her skin beneath his touch, the weight of her breasts ... tasted the hard points of her nipples.
She gasped in shock when he first hit her, but that shock quickly changed to something deeper and far sultrier. The sound that erupted from her as he flowed over her was nothing short of purest sin. He took satisfaction in it.
And even as he covered the most intimate inches of her skin with his exploration, he knew he was going too far. It had gone too far the moment he had sat in the brush to stare at her as she bathed. But this, what he was doing now, it was a whole other level of perversion, and as glorious as she felt, he knew he was stepping way over the line.
With a swirl of fluid grace he pulled away from her and resumed his natural form. They stood like that, in the cold, dark forest, breathing hard and dazed with the mutual arousal he had wrought. But even as their bodies ran hot with physical need, their minds realized they were enemies.
This was forbidden. By law and by nature, a Demon could never mate with a Vampire. And any Demon who tried would have to face the Enforcer.
The understanding brought the Enforcer sharply back to his senses. He fixed gazes with the admittedly beautiful Vampire and set his jaw. With a nod, he confessed to them both that he had instigated this walk in forbidden territory. But his demeanor made it just as clear he wouldn’t be repeating the act any time soon.
Adam burst into a superfine mist that caught on the chill breeze brushing through the forest and let it lift him fast and far from forbidden fruit.
Jasmine laughed breathlessly to herself as the Demon hightailed it out of her range. Her shock at the way he had splashed over her, the incredible way it had felt as he’d literally touched her everywhere at once, was indescribable. She had always thought Demons to be so puritanical, so boringly proper. She knew for a fact they were as racist as Vampires were. The idea of stepping outside of their species for enjoyment was something they simply would not consider.
Well, for the very first time, Jasmine could see some merit in considering it. Oh, not that she would ever really do something like that, but if ever she had been tempted, it had been five seconds ago, when she’d been touched in a way no one had touched her before or would ever be likely to touch her again.
She attempted to shake herself free of the peculiar spell he seemed to have cast on her hungry body. Honestly, she thought with amusement as she recalled his retreat, Demons were by far the most uptight, straightlaced bunch of Nightwalkers she had ever met. Even the annoying Shadowdwellers knew how to have fun as they caused impish mischief everywhere they could. But the Demons ... for all their varied powers of the elements, the Demons bogged themselves down in so many laws, morals, and self-recriminations, it was a wonder they even knew how to propagate their species at all!
Although, she considered slyly, this Adam seemed as though he’d give a girl a fair enough ride for her money. Jasmine sighed and stretched out her tingling body, the cold of the night warring with the heat of her thoughts. He was a brute, that one, she mused. Perhaps she was intrigued because most of her own race was made up of boyishly slim males, all long legs and lean elegance. When she lived with Damien’s entourage, as she was planning on doing again once she caught up to them, she often traded clothing with the males and hardly noticed any disparities of fit.
But that Demon ...
He’d had a good three inches and at least four stones of weight over Prince Damien, who himself was quite large for his breed. Adam’s shoulders had been broad enough to block her view of the moon completely. He had towered over her long height, and his dagger had obviously been special-made for the width and the size of his monstrous hands. She had never seen such enormous hands before, and although at ninety-three she was still considered quite young for a Vampire—for a Nightwalker, truth be told—she figured she had still seen enough.
Jasmine slowly knelt down in the brush at her feet, her hand reaching out to close around the dagger that lay forgotten on the forest floor. It was a thing of deadly beauty, heavy in the heft and bejeweled along the hilt in a delicate pattern of swirling aquamarines. Usually stones were bulky or coarsely cut, but these were each matched in size and had been faceted to catch any and every light.
How impractical, she thought. It would catch attention far too easily, making a stealth attack completely impossible. And yet she had never seen such a beautiful weapon. She held the length of it against her breastbone and thought about its owner. Again, Jasmine found herself contemplating raw sexual possibilities with a male not of her kind. She surprised herself. She didn’t consider herself quite as lascivious as others of her breed. And she wasn’t usually turned on by the idea of sex with anyone not a Vampire. Other Vampires might dally with humans, but the idea of having sex outside her species was not for her.
Anyway, she much preferred a good book, delving into modern sciences or merely watching the folly of others. Adam had been an opportunity of amusement, and now the moment was passed. He would be easily forgotten ...
Now she was better off focusing herself on the need for a good long feed. Then she’d find Damien and have him amuse her with stories about this continuing war.
Damien felt the vibration of a Vampire entering his territory as if it were an earthquake inside him. Of course, he was literally surrounded by Vampires, dozens of them at a time coming and going from his territory as they hunted at a respectful distance from where he lived. But he could always sense the ones who did not belong, the ones who had trouble on their minds, and the ones ... the ones who were special to him.
She was young yet, too young to have grown past the natural functions of the body like breathing and a heartbeat and circulation. She was close to shedding them, though. Her body would mature greatly in the next few years, completely changing in chemistry and makeup, and all those physical things would cease to be autonomic.
But even as young as she was, he had never seen her as infantile, as he often did with newborn Vampires. She had been wise beyond her years, thoughtful and intelligent, stimulating to his mind.
It had crushed him when, at only fifty-four years old, she had grown so devastatingly bored with the world that she had decided to go to ground. But he had understood. It had surprised him it had happened while she was so young yet, and that kind of sensitivity did not bode well for her future, but he had understood. He had once become that disenchanted.
Then he had found purpose in becoming the leader of his people. Managing an entire species of easily bored creatures made for constant challenges. Then there was the additional challenge of keeping his head on his neck. There were always Vampires somewhere that fancied themselves stronger than he was or didn’t like the rules he set into place. They would want to fight with him, hoping to defeat him and become ruler in his stead. Admittedly those challenges had grown fewer and farther between as it had become clear he was there to stay. Plus he had quite a loyal following, and his supporters were often able to take care of the smaller troubles before they even came to his attention.
“Stephan!” Damien sat up quickly, dumping a pair of twin Vampires off himself, not really caring where the women landed as he gained his feet and left the salon he’d been lazing around in.
Stephan, a young, eager Vampire with a taste for fighting, came into the hallway just as Damien was entering it himself. Stephan was a high-ranking soldier in the Vanguard and was well on his way to finding a position of charge. He was doggedly loyal, always there when Damien needed him, and a hell of a killer. Vampires and Demons were a bit of a mismatch when it came to fighting, the elemental Demons able to constantly change form and use the elements of the world around them as ammunition. But Vampires like Stephan had savagery and dedication on their side. Any Demon trick could be defeated with a little ingenuity and the powers the Vampires had been naturally imbued with.
“Yes, Prince Damien?” Stephan asked, quickly giving him a bow.
“Jasmine has returned. Bring her to me at once.”
Stephan nodded in acceptance and turned to hurry for the nearest exit. He almost ran into Jasmine in the process. She stood with one hand on her hip, a smile quirking her lips and the ugliest, roughest cloth dress covering her body. Stephan smiled, took her by her arm, led her the four steps to Damien and bowed to his lord.
“Jasmine, as you requested, my lord,” he said with a cheeky grin.
Damien called him an unflattering word and playfully cuffed him, ruffling his blond hair. Then he quickly pushed him aside and reached to pull Jasmine into a warm embrace. She sighed as she accepted his affection. He petted her tangled black hair, pushing the windblown mess back so he could see her face.
“So only a decade, eh? Little liar. More like four.”
“I was sleepy,” she argued, smiling up at him.
“So, pleased with yourself to find I missed you?”
“More pleased to find you clean-shaven. Last I saw you, it was pointy beards and mustaches. A ridiculous fashion, if you ask me.”
“Hmm. And here I was considering growing it in again,” he said as he rubbed at his chin thoughtfully.
“Do what you want. You will anyway.”
“And speaking of fashion, what is this horrid thing you have on?”
“It was something clean left to dry on a line. I had no desire to freeze the whole way here. ’Tis still winter, you know. Perhaps I ought to have risen in summer,” Jasmine mused.
“No. I could never have borne missing you another three months,” Damien declared.
Jasmine scoffed at that. Certainly he had missed her, but she was just as certain he hadn’t been mooning about for loss of her every single moment of every single day for the past four decades while she slept. But Damien had a gift for the dramatic and for flattery, and he enjoyed making those he cared about feel special to him in whatever way he could.