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|A Blood Seduction(Vamp City #1) by Pamela Palmer|
Her fingers curled around the bedpost, and she wondered if she could break it.
His dark eyes softened as he watched her, his mouth kicking up on one side again. "How much do you know of vampires, cara? The real ones, not the myth."
Good question. Maybe garlic didn't really work. "I know you bite."
He gave her a nod that was almost gallant. "We do indeed. What the legends fail to reveal is that not all vampires feed entirely on blood."
"You eat food, too?"
"I do, though not for sustenance. Only for pleasure." He pushed away from the door and took a step into the room. Her grip on the bedpost tightened. "I was not speaking of food."
Quinn's shoulders hunched reflexively. "What else do you need, then?" Dammit . . . if he said sex . . .
The word reverberated in her head, sending chills rippling over her skin. "What do you mean?"
"Vampires are not all the same. I am an Emora vamp, as are most within Vamp City. Emoras, like the name would suggest, feed on emotion as well as blood. And require both to survive."
"For me, yes. Each is different. My master, Cristoff, feeds on pain."
Her stomach clenched.
"A good friend of mine feeds on pleasure."
That would be better. Probably. "And you feed on fear."
He gave her another of those slow nods just short of a bow. "I do. I scared you intentionally, piccola. And I fed quite well. But I did so with the full belief I would soon glamour you and steal your memory of it. And that is where I failed."
She frowned at him. "Why steal my memory of it? Why not keep me afraid if you need fear to survive?" And was she an idiot? Was she trying to talk him into scaring the crap out of her again?
"Terrified slaves make poor servants. Quaking hands drop things." He shrugged. "I had believed I could take your memory. Hence my apology for terrifying you when I had no ability to remove that terror."
His regret rang true. Which was . . . startling.
Quinn shrugged. "You weren't that scary." Which was an out-and-out lie, but she had her pride.
To her surprise, the vampire grinned, transforming his face, giving it a boyish charm that did funny things to her insides. Things that had nothing to do with fear. "Now you insult me."
She found herself almost smiling in return, which was extraordinary. "Don't get me wrong, it was a damn good effort."
He nodded. "My thanks." But his amusement remained.
"So . . ." Her fingers lost their death grip on the bedpost. "You're not going to bite me again?"
His smile darkened. "I most certainly will bite you. But I will bring you pleasure when I do so, cara. I have no intention of hurting you."
A cool shiver trembled down her spine as she remembered a still from a movie, Dracula holding a scantily clad woman in rapturous thrall as he drained the life from her. Is that to be my fate? Why toy with me if he's only going to kill me in the end?
She released the bedpost, crossing her arms over her chest, refusing to show her fear even if he seemed to be able to sense it. Feed off of it. Her gaze traveled the room, noting the simple old-fashioned furnishings - a plain maple dresser with an oil lamp, an overstuffed chair upholstered in faded yellow-and-white stripes, the ivory walls dotted with framed floral needlework, and a hardwood floor without rugs.
"What did you taste when you bit me?" she asked, turning back to him. "Why were you surprised?"
His amusement faded. "Your blood is nectar. Your taste exquisite, a rare sweetness that laces the blood of far too few humans and makes them particularly desirable to vampires. It is why your attacker nearly drained you."
Quinn frowned. "How could he have almost drained me? I feel fine. It takes weeks to recover from that kind of blood loss."
"Not if you've been bitten by a vampire. A few days. Four at most."
Her eyes widened. "How long have I been asleep?"
"Nearly three days."
"Three . . ." She gaped at him, the words sticking in her throat. Three days? Zack. He could be anywhere. He could be dead. No. No, he wasn't dead. She'd know. Somehow she'd know. She started around the bed. "I have to find my brother."
Impatience flashed in his eyes, all humor fleeing, and she pulled up short.
He nodded toward the washstand. "Eat the food Ernesta prepared for you. Your body needs the sustenance to fully replenish the blood you've lost." He turned to go.
He whipped back around, a dangerous light gleaming in his eyes. "You will address me as Master."
"I'm not your slave." The words came out reflexively and were the wrong thing to say. Suddenly, he was at her side, pushing her back against the bedpost.
A low, startled squeak escaped her throat. "Quit doing that!" Her heart was pounding like a tom-tom. "You're going to give me a heart attack."
Those dark eyes stared into hers, sharp with annoyance, as his cool palm brushed her throat, lifting until she was forced to raise her chin. She was above average height, but he was taller by a good four or five inches.
"I have apologized for terrorizing you needlessly," he said coldly. He was so close, she could see tiny flecks of gold in his near-black irises, and the tiny lines radiating out from the corners of his eyes as he frowned at her. "But I am your master, and you will both address me and treat me as such."
She began to tremble. Not since she was a little girl had she felt this helpless. "Will you at least answer a question?"
He lifted a brow.
His mouth twitched as he stroked her, his fingers barely touching the sides of her neck, setting off ripples of dark pleasure. "That's better." Slowly, he began to dip his head toward the juncture of her neck and shoulder.
She grabbed his shoulders. "Don't." But her strength was useless against him. She tensed for the pinch of fangs, yet felt only his cool lips and the brush of his nose. "What are you doing?" she gasped.
"You smell of the same sweetness that I tasted in your blood. You tempt me." His lips moved up her neck, his hair brushing her jaw, soft as silk. His scent rose to engulf her senses. He smelled like rich, dark liqueur - almonds in moonlight - seductive, intoxicating, and very, very male.
She struggled not to be affected by the languorous warmth of his mouth and failed. Her body began to melt, her chest rising and falling with increasing frequency as the pleasure of his touch, of his scent, wove a lush net of desire around her senses.
How could she be attracted to this . . . this creature? But it was classic, wasn't it? A vampire's power of seduction.
"I'm not fully recovered," she reminded him, her voice breathless.
He kissed her jaw. "If you were, you would be beneath me, and we would be one."
His words shocked. A rush of damp heat followed as she imagined him on top of her, entering her. Her breath turned ragged. Without intending to, she reached for him, her fingers sliding through his soft, thick hair.
What's the matter with me? He's doing this to me!
"Tell me your name," she murmured against his temple.
"Master," he replied, his warm breath tickling her neck.
She snorted. "No, it's not."
He lifted his head, his eyes hot and amused. "It is to you." His steel-like arm curved around her waist, pulling her hips into contact with his . . . and with the very thick ridge that rose between them.
Quinn gasped. "Vampire . . ." Her body was on fire for him, but she didn't want this. The memory of those fangs between her legs rose. A shudder coursed through her, dousing the fire he'd fanned. She pulled her fingers from his hair, pushed at his shoulders. "My question."
"You've asked it." His mouth grazed her temple, making her shiver all over again.
"Your name was hardly my question. And you didn't answer it. I have to find my brother."
The vampire tensed. "Your brother?"
"The young man who was with me. Please . . . Master . . . please, help me find him."
His mouth moved, and she felt the flick of his damp tongue along the edge of her ear. She gasped, accidentally rocking forward, pressing her hips against that thick erection. The groan that escaped her throat sounded embarrassingly happy.
"Will you help me find Zack?"
"No." One long-fingered hand rose to cover her breast.
Her head tipped back, her eyes drifting shut at the wicked pleasure. This was wrong. So wrong. "Please. You must."
His lips returned to her jaw. "You are magnificent, tessoro. Built like the sleekest racehorse, all long limbs and lean strength." He released her, his fingers suddenly at her waist, unzipping her jeans. "There is nothing I must do. Except have you."
Quinn grasped his wrists. "You said I wasn't fully recovered." But, oh he smelled decadent. It would feel so good to let him finish, to feel his hands on her, his body over hers, inside hers. It was so tempting to push one of the wrists she held down, forcing his hand lower, between her legs. How could she be so hot for him? For him?
As he nuzzled her jaw, he nicked it, the sharp prick of pain making her rear back.
The vampire lifted his face, and the blood drained from her own. His eyes once more had those awful white centers, and his fangs were growing, thickening. Her desire fled on a rush of panic.
He went still, his eyes drifting closed, that look of intense pleasure returning to his face. "You're afraid of me."
Her breath trembled out. "I don't want this. You. Sex." Her eyes started to burn. "I don't - "
His finger lifted to her lips, silencing her panicked plea as his eyes returned to normal, his fangs retracting. "Then we will not."
She stared at him. Just like that?
To her amazement, he stepped back, his expression unreadable. "Eat, cara. Rest." He turned and started for the door.
Quinn launched herself after him. "Wait! At least tell me where Zack is. Tell me if he's still alive."
The vampire turned back. She half expected to feel the sting of his anger, but the look on his face remained closed and enigmatic. "I know not, nor does it matter. The life you led before is over, piccola. You belong to me now. And your brother is no longer your concern. The sooner you accept that, the longer you will last."
"As long as I draw breath, he's my concern."
But the vampire left without replying, closing the door behind him.
Quinn stared at the door, lifting shaking hands to her head as she wondered if she was going to implode from the emotional whiplash of the past minutes. Raging desire, crippling fear. And the desperation to find Zack. He'd been gone for three days. Three days. "Dammit!" She sank back against the bed, tears burning her eyes.
Zack was still alive. He had to be. And she had to find him soon.
Brushing at the tears that were starting to fall, she took a deep, unsteady breath.
It was time to start hunting a way to escape.
Zack Lennox strained to push the full wheelbarrow, his teeth clenched so hard he feared he was going to crack his molars. His hands were blistered, his muscles screaming, but he didn't make a sound. He'd learned that lesson on the first day. If you shouted, if you groaned, if you did the unthinkable and actually spoke - meet Mr. Whip. And fuck did that guy sting.
Rivulets of sweat ran into his eyes, making sight next to impossible, but he'd traveled this path a hundred times, at least, over the course of the past couple of days, wheeling load after load of bricks back to the wall. Several of the other slaves were actually building the wall, while still others stirred the mortar.
He was sweaty and grimy and sore, but the worst of the misery was the constant, excruciating hunger. How the fuck did they expect him to keep working his ass off with no food? Well, some food, but not nearly enough.
Are they feeding Quinn better than me? God, I hope so. He hoped she was okay. All he remembered was their being attacked, that vampire bitch knocking him to the ground and sitting on him as she bit him and sucked blood from his neck. At first, he'd been too stunned to think, let alone react. Who would've guessed vampires were real? But then he'd seen Quinn with that vamp's arms around her and her struggling, and all he'd wanted to do was tear that guy off her, grab her, and run. But he hadn't been able to move. The vamp bitch might have been female, but she'd held him down like she was fucking Xena, and then she'd hypnotized him or something, and the next thing he knew, he was waking up in a basement with a dozen other guys, and he'd been working ever since.
A slave. To vampires. What the fuck?
He'd spent the first day plotting and planning escape, imagining stealing one of the long knives all the vamps wore at their waists and chopping their heads off. Then one of the slaves actually tried it. He might as well have been moving in slow motion - to the vamps, all humans apparently did - because one moment the guy was reaching for the vampire's blade, and the next, that blade was sticking out the back of the guy's throat.
Zack's vision swam as he remembered the horror of watching one of his companion's die. The vamp who'd attacked him had pulled his sword out of the man's throat and drank his fill, the blood pouring down his chin and over his clothes, but he hadn't seemed to care. Other vamps had joined him, and they'd gorged while still another told the rest of the slaves, "You may dream of escape. If you attempt to act on it, you will die. I promise you."
His hope of getting away had been destroyed in that moment. His hope of ever seeing his sister or Lily again. Of ever seeing the sun again. His life was over.