Illusion (Chapter 2 Total Disclosure)
"That would be a good beginning point. There are many benefits to us living together, Josephine." I felt his quick fingers begin to unbutton my shirt. His voice was sensual and smooth as he leaned to whisper against my ear. "We can do this. Whenever we want… wherever we want."
His hands shoved the shirt over my shoulders and it dropped to the floor around my feet, leaving me naked against him. My overheated skin came in contact with his much cooler flesh, sending a crackle of energy between us. He wound my long hair in one of his hands, pulling my head slightly back to rest against his chest. His lips lowered to my neck and he ran his tongue slowly up the length of my neck, tasting me. He didn't stop until he licked over the shell of my ear. I shivered against him and a low moan slipped past my lips, a husky helpless sound of want. His hard cock pressed against my back and I unconsciously pushed back against him.
"De saker du g?r f?r mig och vacker," he murmured softly. He still had the presence of mind to translate for me. "The things you do to me, beautiful one."
He released my hair and spun me around to face him. I looked up, marveling at the magnificence of the man in front of me. His blue eyes had darkened like the ocean at night and his lips were slightly parted. Stefan's golden hair had fallen forward over his forehead as he captured my lips in a demanding kiss. His mouth opened against mine and his tongue boldly swept in, effectively igniting a fire that spread through my blood like wildfire, burning me alive from the inside out. Feeling wetness pool between my thighs, I pushed him back against the wall with strength I didn't know I had, pulling my mouth from his.
"You're overdressed for the party, ?lskling." I watched as his already dark eyes glazed over as I spoke to him in his native tongue. Gripping the drawstring to his sleep pants, I untied them and pushed them over his hips. My hands slid up his muscled stomach to lightly caress his chest. I licked one nipple and moved to the other, laving it with my tongue. I closed my mouth over it, lightly biting him.
"Fuck! I want more of that. Harder," he growled. His blond head dropped back against his shoulders, lost in a combination of agony and ecstasy.
Feeling powerful and sexy, my mouth continued an assault on his chest, my tongue traveling over the sharp lines of his collarbones. I nibbled his skin with my teeth, making him cry out in pleasure. I ran my palm down his body and gripped his cock in my hand, lightly stroking the length of his shaft. His hips jutted towards me, encouraging me to continue.
Stefan grabbed another handful of my hair and turned us around so I was pinned between himself and the wall, the predator inside of him resurfacing. My hand tightened around him as my teeth finally broke through the skin around his nipple, drawing blood.
"Du kommer att vara d?d f?r mig," he muttered, reaching between us and pulling my hand away from his cock. He wrapped his arms around me and lifted me, my legs winding around his waist. He impaled me with one swift thrust, his hips pressing me against the wall as he pounded inside of me.
"Don't you fucking stop, Stefan. I need you," I whimpered, tightening my arms around his neck, my fingernails digging into his shoulders. He increased his speed at my words, his cock completely filling me with every stroke. Our bodies moved together as one and Stefan plunged relentlessly inside of me. I answered each of them with wanton enthusiasm, my breathing coming in sharp gasps.
"I will never stop. Aldrig!" Stefan warned, his handsome face intense as his hips battered into me. "I have you for an eternity. Tell me that you will be mine forever."
My back arched into him, shamelessly pressing my breasts deeper into his chest. I cried out in pleasure as he ruthlessly fucked me.
"Tell me. I will not ask again."
"I'm yours, Stefan. Forever," I sobbed, offering my neck to him in surrender. I felt him throb inside of me at my words and offering. I instinctively reacted by clamping around his cock.
He released a guttural moan, burying his face into the crook of my neck. His fangs scraped against my skin before they sank into my willing flesh. My inner walls rhythmically tightened around him as I tumbled over the edge. My climax triggered his and he emptied inside of me, carefully withdrawing his fangs from my neck. His mouth was bloody as he crashed his lips into mine, collapsing to his knees, sliding us down the wall to the floor. I was wrapped around him and he was still buried inside of me, his breath uneven against my face.
"Jag kommer att ?lska dig f?r evigt, Josephine. En evighet ?r inte tillr?ckligt l?ng f?r oss." Stefan's mind voice was reverent as it entered my thoughts. He lifted his mouth from mine and his eyes were liquid with emotion.
One of my hands moved to caress the skin over his stubble cheek, my fingers trailing down the side of his face to follow the curve of his chiseled jaw. I leaned in slightly to press a kiss against the cleft in his chin. "Translation, please."
His face relaxed into a smile as he adjusted his body, moving me to sit on his lap. "I told you that I will love you forever, Josephine. An eternity is not long enough for us."
"I love you." I nuzzled my face into his chest. When Stefan said something so incredibly sweet it always rendered me almost speechless, amazed that he was mine and we were together.
Stefan stood, carrying me bridal style down the hallway to the master bedroom. He turned on a lamp by the bed and pulled the covers back. We fell to the bed and he rolled over me, caging me in his long arms and legs. His velvet skin rubbed against mine seductively as he peppered kisses over my face and neck. Things were just starting to get interesting when he released me and fell to my side.
"Why are you stopping?" I groaned in frustration. He rolled to face me, propping his head up in one of his hands, the muscles in his arms and shoulders rolling with the movement. He grinned and the light from the lamp cast interesting shadows across his handsome face. I traced the contours of his handsome face with my eyes, across the lines of his high cheekbones and slightly crooked nose. Unable to resist the call of his lips, I raised my head up slightly to kiss him. His free arm pulled me closer to him and he eased me back down on the bed, deepening the pressure with his strong, firm lips. One of my legs snaked around the curve of his taut ass and my hands went to his hair, my fingers tangling in the silky, blond strands. A growl vibrated soft and low in his throat as he reluctantly dragged his lips away from mine.
"Seductress," he teased. He didn't move, he kept me pinned underneath him.
"I'm obviously not doing a very good job if we're still talking, Stefan," I pouted. He reached over me to turn out the light and I panicked, grasping his arm tightly as tears filled my eyes. "No! Leave on the light!"
He froze and stared down at me, confusion flashing across his face. "You are afraid?" His eyes searched mine and I swallowed back a sob, trying to look away. His hand grasped my chin and forced me to look at him. "Josephine?"
My mind drifted back to the carriage house and the darkness in my mind where I'd retreated. At the time, I was afraid he'd be an illusion. His presence and voice were the only thing that kept me anchored to reality. It would have been so easy…
Shaking my head slightly, I pulled myself from the memory. He was still watching me, reading my thoughts as the memory had played back through my mind. His bewildered expression changed to one of anger. "I will not let anything happen to you, vackra. I will never leave you. Never."
"I'm just being silly, Stefan. I'm fine."
"You are not fine. A person that is 'fine' does not react the way you just did to something as simple as turning off a lamp. Why are you frightened?" Stefan asked pointedly. "Tell me what you are not letting me see."
"No. I don't want to talk about it." I feebly tried to wiggle away from him. He applied more of his weight to me, effectively holding me in place. "Stefan, move."
"I am not moving. Start talking," he ordered, his voice terse. "If I remember correctly, you said that if things were going to work between us we needed to communicate. You are not communicating with me."
Damn Stefan and his vampire memory! I hated to admit that he was right. I had told him when we were still in Bali that we had to be honest with each other.
"Alright, I'll tell you. When I blacked out, I was afraid everything was a dream or a fragment of my imagination. I couldn't move or communicate and I would have flashes of memories. You were by my side the whole time and your presence in my mind is what kept me here. I was scared I'd wake up and you'd be gone." I sighed in defeat. "Are you happy now, Mr. Total Disclosure?"
He frowned and shook his head. "No, I am not happy to know that you are frightened." He rolled back on his side and paused for a moment, running his fingertips across my lips. "Would you like to know what I was thinking as I watched you lay on that fucking couch? For the first time in my existence, I felt helpless… I wanted nothing more than to see your green eyes staring back at me. I searched for centuries for you and you were lost to me. I can protect your body. How can I fight off the demons in your mind?"
He was off the bed and darted to the window, pushing the motorized curtains open. The lights of New York twinkled in the background and he stood with his back to me, frozen in front of the window, as beautiful as a finely-sculpted statue.
I rolled over on my stomach and rested my chin in my hands. "You can't protect me from everything, silly. And you're making a mountain out of a mole hill."
He whirled around to face me, his face was terrifyingly stunning in his anger. "As your mate it is my job to protect you. Everyone else is meaningless to me, Josephine. If I were to lose you now my life is forfeit."
"Don't talk that way. If something would happen to me, I want you to be happy," I whispered, shivering at the thought of Stefan just giving up and asking to be killed if something were to happen to me.
He darted back to the bed, his chest heaving with emotion. "You do not get it, do you? I only existed on this earth prior to meeting you. You have made me feel more than I did even during my human life."
His cell phone rang, shrill in the quietness of the bedroom. He ignored it, still focused on me. Hoping to change the subject, I glanced at his phone on the dresser.
"Aren't you going to answer that?"
His eyes unfocused and he spoke in a monotone voice. "It is Nigel. He wants to arrange to see us. He has information for you. Is that phone call more important to you than our conversation?" Stefan pulled away from me and stalked naked out of the bedroom. I heard the door slam to his office and I pulled the pillow over my head, groaning loudly. Leave it to me to fuck up a heart-to-heart conversation when the love of my life offered me his heart on his sleeve.
Wrapping the sheet around me, I walked out of the bedroom and hesitated outside of his office door. Taking a deep breath, I nervously turned the doorknob and pushed open the door to his office.
His back was to me at his desk, his shoulders tight as he flipped through e-mail after e-mail. He ignored me and continued tapping away at his computer.
I held the sheet with one hand and walked to his side of the desk. I sat down on the edge of the desk and scooted between Stefan and the laptop.
"Hey." I brushed my fingers through his hair. His sea blue eyes shifted to meet mine. He didn't move, but he was at least acknowledging me. "I'm sorry. You know how I feel about you. You're everything to me. I'm just not good at this relationship stuff, Stefan. I'm still learning."
He nodded and buried his face against my chest, wrapping his long arms around my waist. We sat like this for a long time, his face pressed between my breasts as I methodically stroked his hair.
Finally breaking the silence, I spoke quietly. "Come back to bed. All of this can wait."
He pulled away from me and stood, offering me his hand. Taking it, I followed him back to the bedroom, watching as he spread his lean body across the king sized bed and stretched his arms out for me to join him. I unwrapped myself from the sheet and snuggled beside of him. Smiling gently, I reached behind me and turned off the light. Stefan's eyes met mine in the darkness of the room, his eyes filled with unspoken questions.
"I'm not afraid anymore. I have you to protect me."
A beautiful smile broke across his face. He slid down the bed, once again wrapping his muscular arms around my waist. His head rested above my stomach and he clung to me, softly humming against my skin.
"I have to leave you for a few hours tomorrow. I do not want to; however while I am here in the US there are things I need to attend to," Stefan murmured. "I will be back by evening."
"Ok. Be safe and come back to me," I replied, mimicking his lilting voice.
Stefan snickered. "That is my line, vackra. I love you."
Not another word was spoken the rest of the night. We lay together in silence, holding each other and watching the night sky change from shades of gray, morphing into light blue as morning broke over the New York skyline.
Stefan finally pulled himself away from me to shower. I listened to the water running and lightly dozed off, the sound of the shower lulling me to sleep. The feel of Stefan's lips pressing against mine awakened me. I opened my eyes to see his face inches above mine, the smell of his expensive cologne, woodsy and sensous, filling my nose.
"I am leaving, Josephine. I love you."
Stifling a yawn, I wrapped my arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. "As I love you. Hurry home."
He stood, towering over the bed. He was smartly dressed in an expensive black suit and white shirt, unbuttoned at the collar. His blond hair was still damp and finger combed away from his face. A red silk tie hung over his broad shoulder. He closed the curtains and headed for the door, looking back at me and winking. I listened as the apartment door closed and the locks slid into place. Snuggling into my pillow, I fell asleep dreaming of Stefan and the possibilities of what we could do with that red tie.
* * *
Papers rustling loudly was the first thing I heard. Sinking my head deeper into the pillow, I tried to slip back into sleep. It was quiet for a moment and then I heard a bored sigh and the paper crackled again. Turning over, I gasped when I saw Lukas propped up on the pillows next to me, flipping through a magazine. His thin lips were pursed and his pale, aristocratic face was twisted in annoyance.
"Lukas! What are you doing here?" I screeched, pulling the covers higher to cover my breasts.
"Reading this month's Cosmo and waiting for you to wake up. I was reading the article on the top 10 ways to blow your lover's mind. Been there, done that." He gave an exaggerated yawn. He closed the magazine, placing it on his lap and flashed me a dazzling smile. "Josie, darling. I missed you."
"Lukas, what are you doing here?" I repeated. I could hear the aggravation creeping into my voice. It was way too early for Lukas.
He stuck out his lip in a pout. "You wound me. You're awfully grouchy, Josie. Are you missing Stefan's massive throbbing cock this morning?"
"Lukas!" I groaned. I felt a blush spread over my face and chest.
"Fine, fine. I'm here to babysit you for a little while. And to take you shopping. We're in New York City, baby." Lukas clapped his hands and bounced up from the bed. He went to a bag and pulled out a pair of jeans, a black tank top and a black cardigan sweater. "This will have to do until we can get you some better clothes."
"Babysit? Stefan made you fly all the way from Indonesia to babysit me?" I was fuming at Stefan. I didn't need a babysitter. I was a 28 year-old woman. Half-immortal woman, I mentally corrected myself.
He sat back down on the bed and clasped my chin, forcing me to meet his icy stare. "First things first, Josie. Stefan didn't make me do anything. You just had some scary shit happen, girlfriend. Stefan thought it would be better if you weren't alone and I agree with him. You shouldn't be by yourself right now. Besides, we're neighbors. My flight got in last night and I heard the two of you christen the living room. I didn't think you had it in you." He fanned himself with his hand.
Lukas' reasoning made the indignation about being watched fly out the window. Stefan was being proactive by having Lukas here in his absence. Shaking my head and laughing in spite of myself, I pulled the covers even higher. "Can you give me a little privacy so I can get ready?"
"I'll be in the living room picking up your clothes. You know, the clothes that are strewn all over the living room from your sexcapades." Lukas grabbed his issue of Cosmo, grinned impishly and blurred out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Pulling myself from the bed, I padded into the bathroom and turned on the shower. I jumped in and lathered up with Stefan's soap and took an extra few minutes to wash and condition my hair. I hurried out of the shower and dried off. Plugging in the hair dryer, I blew my hair out straight and dabbed on some lip gloss. I dressed quickly in the outfit Lukas chose for me headed out into the kitchen, immediately noticing the smell of coffee hanging in the air. Searching for the source, I saw a Starbucks coffee cup sitting on the counter along with a blueberry muffin. I felt some of my earlier aggravation at Lukas drift away.
"I didn't know what you wanted. It's black coffee. There's coffee creamer in the refrigerator and sugar in the cabinet." Lukas said. He was sitting on the couch, flipping through his magazine again.
"Thanks. Sorry I was so grouchy earlier."
"No worries, sweet cheeks. Anna and Georgia are worried about you, by the way. I told them you were vacationing with Stefan," Lukas replied, not looking up from the pages.
"Shit! I should have called them. Things happened so fast I didn't think to let Anna or Georgia know I was leaving. Did they buy it?" I nervously bit my lip.
"No doesn't begin to cover it," Lukas shrugged, glancing at me. He was quiet for a moment. "Have you given any thoughts about moving away from Bali?"
"Moving away?" I echoed, opening the lid of the coffee cup and adding sugar and half & half. I opened a few drawers until I found the silverware and stirred my coffee with a spoon. I took a deep drink and sighed in relief.
"You can't stay in Bali forever, Josie. You won't be aging anymore. Anna and Georgia are both smart enough to figure out something isn't right. Unless you plan on telling them… or changing them."
Lukas voiced my biggest concern and further drove the point home to how problematic my life had become. I knew when I decided to be with Stefan, it would complicate things. The knowledge of my new found immortality made the complex situation even more precarious.
"Talk to Stefan, Josie. He only came to Bali to find you," Lukas said. "I know him well enough that he'd live in an igloo in Alaska if that's what you wanted. He's pussy whipped."
Lukas threw down his magazine and stood up to cross the room to the island, his clever eyes noticing the folder of paperwork Stefan had presented me with last night. He cocked an eyebrow at me and opened it to peek inside, reaching in to retrieve the three credit cards with my name on them, laying them out across the granite counter. He walked to his messenger bag and pulled out a pen. He zipped back over to me and held the pen out to me.
"What do you want me to do with that?" I asked curiously.
"Sign the back of the cards so we can go shopping. Stop avoiding what you are and who you are going to be. You're involved with one of the richest vampires I know. If you fight him on this, it's only going to accomplish two things: piss him off and hurt his feelings. Neither is pleasant, believe me."
"I know. It just seems like I'm giving up." My shoulders drooping in defeat, I grabbed the pen from his hands and signed my name on the back of all three cards. As I opened my purse to put the cards inside of my wallet, a thought popped into my head. "The name of his company is LM Holdings. If the L if for Lifsten, what does the M stand for?"
Lukas smiled sweetly at me as he linked arms with me, leading me to the door. "Sweetheart, you aren't giving up. You're being smart. And the M stands for Meijer. I'm his business partner."
* * *
Spending the day shopping with Lukas was like running a marathon. He was a non-stop bundle of energy, dragging me from store to store. The advantage to shopping at upscale stores is that when you spend enough money, they are more than willing to deliver your packages to you without a blink of an eye. By the time we made it home, it was late afternoon and Lukas thoroughly checked out every room of the apartment before leaving me to go next door. I had just plopped down on the couch when my cell phone rang.
Grimacing, I knew I couldn't avoid this phone call forever. I'd listened to 10 voice mails from Georgia and Anna, their messages becoming increasingly more snappish and curt as they received no response from me.
There was silence on the line for a moment. "Well, hello to you Josie. I'm glad you finally decided to answer your phone. Some of us have been worried about you."
Stifling a sigh, I gripped the phone tightly. "We've been traveling and I just turned my phone back on today. How's Bali?"
"How's Bali?!? How's Bali?! That's all you have to say? Anna and I have been worried sick about you and you ask how Bali is?" Georgia's voice was getting louder and the tone of her voice was climbing in anger.
"I'm sorry you've been worried. I'm fine. We're in New York City right now. Lukas is here too." I rubbed the back of my neck with my free hand. "We'll be heading back to Indonesia in a few days. Stefan just has to wrap up some business first."
Another pause on the line and I could hear her inhale loudly. "You're gonna leave us, aren't you?"
"You're gonna follow him wherever he goes. He has you dickmatized."
"Dickmatized? Are you sure you and Lukas aren't related? He told me Stefan was pussy whipped earlier."
Georgia barked out a laugh and then the line went silent again. "Good try at attempting to change the subject on me, chick. I don't think so. You can avoid answering me, but I know you're leavin'."
"We'll be back in a few days. Tell Anna I said hi."
"Tell her yourself. She's your friend too," Georgia retorted sharply, then sighed heavily. "Shit, Josie. I've gotta go. See ya."
Staring at the phone, I wondered if she was right. Was I already subconsciously preparing myself to leave Bali and live a life of anonymity with Stefan? I'd only escaped to Indonesia to seclude myself away from visions and if I was completely honest, feeling anything. Stefan had swaggered into my life and heart and now I didn't feel the same need to hide anymore.
Sinking down on the couch, I placed my phone down on the ottoman and stared out the windows. Georgia was way too perceptive for her own good.
The phone rang again and I glanced at the phone, beaming as I saw Stefan's name show up on the caller id display.
"Hey," I murmured into the phone. Just hearing his voice made me feel better.
"Ah, vackra. Hearing your voice is a welcome relief. I was calling to tell you that I should be home in the next hour or so. If you are not too angry with me for leaving you with Lukas, do you feel like going out for dinner?"
I could almost hear his smile through the phone. Lowering my voice seductively, I murmured softly to him. "Are you asking me on a date?"
He laughed loudly, the sound deep and rich. "Even though I think we are past the dating phase, yes. Consider this my attempt at wooing you. Dress to impress, Josephine. I will see you soon. Jag ?lskar dig."
I'd been around Stefan long enough to begin to start picking up on his Swedish. "Love you too."
He hung up and I held the phone against my chest for a moment. Shaking my head at my own sappiness, I dropped the phone on the couch, hurrying down the hallway to get ready. Sorting through the garment bags on the bed, I smiled when I picked out the dress I'd wear for Stefan tonight.
Dress to impress indeed.
* * *
I was putting on my earrings in the mirror when I heard him clear his throat. Turning to face him, my breath caught in my throat. He was standing the doorway to the bedroom, still dressed in his expensive black Armani suit. It exaggerated the impressive width of his shoulders, tailored to fit him like a second skin. His white dress shirt did little to conceal the muscles in his broad chest and when he slipped his hands into his pants pockets, his gold cufflinks twinkled in the bright lights in the bedroom. He looked like sex incarnate, and he was all mine.
"As usual, you look exquisite." His blue eyes swept over me, lingering on my breasts and hips to finally caress over my legs in my high heels. The chocolate brown knit dress I had chosen to wear had three-quarter length sleeves and ruched details on the side, giving the hemline an asymmetrical hemline. It clung to every curve I had and the matching shoes added almost five inches to my height.
"I could say the same for you. You look too handsome for your own good." I almost sprinted across the room to him, reaching up to adjust his red silk tie. His blond hair gleamed against the blackness of his suit and as my hands slipped under his jacket to run over his chest, his blue eyes were glowing with undisguised want.
"Shall we go? It is time for me to suitably woo you. I do have an ulterior motive," he confessed. He ran his fingertips over the swell of my breast and down the curve of my side sensuously, his eyes never leaving mine.
"An ulterior motive?" I eagerly licked my lips at the thought of those very fingers running over my naked body. Frissons of fire and ice ran up my spine and my pulse flickered and leaped from his touch and my vivid imagination.
One side of his mouth raised in a sexy grin as he dragged me roughly against him, his large hands gripping my ass possessively. "I always have an agenda. You are so sexy, Josephine. You do not even realize the power you have over me."
Looking at him with wide eyes, I let out a shaky breath as he placed his forehead to mine. His soft lips brushed over my cheeks and a low growl rumbled in his chest. He reluctantly pulled away from me and he tucked my hand in the crook of his arm, guiding me down the hallway to the living room, my heels clicking over the wooden floors. He chivalrously opened the door for me and we headed towards the elevator. He pushed the down button and we stood in silence, waiting for the car to arrive.
The elevator opened and we hurried inside. As the doors closed and we began our descent, Stefan turned towards me and captured my lips in a feather-light kiss, then lowered his mouth to my neck, his cool breath whispering over my skin. I was lost in him, surprised when his voice floated into my mind.
"Come. We need to hurry. We have reservations to keep."
He directed us through the lobby and the doorman opened the door for us, slightly bowing as we exited the building. Stefan steered us towards a black sedan at the curb, the doorman following behind us to open the rear door for me. I slid into the back seat of the car, gliding across the soft, buttery leather. I watched as Stefan folded his large frame into the seat beside me and the door closed behind him.
"349 W. 46th Street," Stefan said to the driver. The car smoothly pulled away from the curb and I was left looking at Stefan with a mixture of wonder and admiration.
"Where are we going?" I asked as we drove along, the lights from the traffic and street lights flickering over the planes of his chiseled face.
"Swing 46. Dinner and dancing counts as a suitable date, yes?" Stefan questioned as he tapped his fingers on his thighs. He seemed nervous and unsure of himself for the first time this evening.
Amused at his obvious discomfort, I nestled against his side. "You did fine. And yes, it counts."