Lord of the Vampires (Page 6)

Lord of the Vampires (Royal House of Shadows #1)(6)
Author: Gena Showalter

And then, he saw her. The summoned female. His “Odette.”

He sucked in another breath. Her. She was responsible. A second growl rose, this one straight from his soul. Must taste female.

She did not smell like the real Odette. To everyone else, she would. She would smell of too-strong floral perfume mixed with the raw ooze of a putrid wound—evidence of her rotting heart. But to him…oh, to him… He inhaled again, unable to stop himself. Mistake. The sweetness, thicker now, almost tangible, fogged his mind. Must. Taste. His fangs and gums actually ached with the need to sample her. Must taste.

He studied her, his blood practically on fire. Anyone who looked at her would see the mask his shifted glamour had created. The mystical illusion of being someone else. Hair as dark as the Abyss, eyes of vivid emerald, skin as pale as cream. But that was where the gift of her father’s famed beauty ended, and the cruelty of her mother’s ugliness revealed itself. Odette was tall yet thickly built, her cheeks puffed from excess, her jaw squared with jowls. Her dark brows were substantial, and nearly connected in the center. Her nose was long with a definite hook.

What Nicolai saw, however, was the woman his summoning had chosen. The one from his dreams. Dreams in which she stood off to the side, watching him, never speaking. Dreams he had not understood. Until now. All along, his magic had known what he needed.

She was just as tall as Odette, but reed slender, with hair the color of a honeycomb. Her eyes were seductively uptilted, a shade darker than her hair, and filled with haunting secrets. Her skin was slightly bronzed and radiant, as if the sun was hidden underneath. Her cheeks were perfectly sculpted, her chin stubborn and yet delicate.

Delicate, yes. That’s what she was. Amorously delicate, utterly fragile and delightfully feminine. Almost…breakable. Would he kill her when he drank from her? And he would drink from her. He would not be able to resist that scent for long.

The protector in him rose up—a part of him he had not known existed, not for some stranger—demanding that he sweep her away from this and save her from the horror to come. Horror he would be responsible for. Not only from his dark embrace, but also from the evil of those around her. The people of Delfina wouldn’t savor her blood if they learned the truth of her identity. They would spill it and kill her. Painfully.

Do you want your freedom or the girl out of harm’s way? You can’t have both.

He hardened his heart. He wanted his freedom.

Their gazes locked a second later, a shock of awareness blasting him. Perhaps she felt it, too, for she gasped, stumbled. She righted herself and stopped at the bars, her amber eyes wide, her lush, pink mouth open, revealing straight white teeth. She held a book.

Taste her…

He wished he could see her tongue. Wished he could capture that tongue with his own. His desire surprised him. How long since he’d experienced true, willing arousal?

“You’re real,” she whispered, gripping the metal with her free hand. She squeezed so tightly her knuckles bleached of color. “You’re really here. And you look exactly as I dreamed.”

He nodded stiffly—and that wasn’t the only stiff thing about him. His c**k filled, lengthening, thickening. “I am real, yes.” She’d dreamed of him, as he’d dreamed of her? He liked the idea.

He motioned to the servant with a tilt of his chin. Get rid of her.

Her attention whipped to the girl, and she uttered another gasp, as though startled to find they weren’t alone. “You may go, Rhoslyn. And thank you for bringing me here.”

“Anything for you, princess.” Expression softening with her relief, Rhoslyn curtsied. She raced around the corner and pounded up the stairs.

“You are confused,” Nicolai said. How harsh his voice was, pushing through his teeth and slicing up his tone.

A shiver slid down her slight frame as she faced him. “Yes. One minute I was at home, reading a book—about you! The next I was here. How am I here? Where is here? At first, I thought I was hallucinating or that this was a joke, but that isn’t right. I know that isn’t right. I’m calm. I see, I feel.”

“No hallucination, and no joke.” His frown deepened, his fangs cutting into his bottom lip. Just a taste, one little taste. “You were reading a book about me? Is that it?”

Her gaze fell to his teeth, and she gulped. “Yes. Written by you, I think.” Her voice was as soft and delicate as her features. “Or at least, part of it was. But no, this isn’t it. This one is blank. Or maybe this is it, but the writing just hasn’t happened yet.”

To his knowledge, he had not written a book, and had not sent a book to anyone. That did not mean anything, however. The memory of doing so could be buried with all the rest of his past.

He closed his eyes for a moment, enjoying the scent of her—and felt the ache in his gums intensify. He was walking toward her, determined to grab her, bite her.

When he realized what he was doing, he forced himself to stop. He would scare her, and she would scream. Guards would rush inside to save her.

He could cover her mouth with one hand, of course, and tilt her back with the other, giving himself a wide playing field. He could lick…finally, blessedly taste…

Concentrate. “Do you know who I am?” Again, his tone was harsh, demanding. “Have you met me before? Besides in your dreams?”

“No.”

Disappointing. “I will explain everything. Later,” he lied. The less she knew, now and in the future, the better it would be for her. “Right now, we must hurry.” Ever since he’d woken up in the slave market—weeks, months, years ago?—he’d been driven by more than a need to feed and escape. He’d been driven by an urge to reach the kingdom of Elden.

He must get there. And soon. More than that, he must slay the new king. He didn’t know why, he just knew that even thinking of the man filled him with rage. And every day that this man lived, a piece of Nicolai died. The knowledge was separate from his memories, springing from the same place as his need to taste this woman.

Taste. How many times would he think the word?

Countless. Until he got what he wanted, he was sure.

“Give me your arm.” He licked his lips at the thought of touching her, of knowing the texture of her skin. “I will mark you.” A little nip of her wrist, and he would stop. He would make himself stop. For now.

She shook her head, honeycomb hair dancing over her shoulders. “No. Explain now. Afterward, we’ll talk about the marking thing, whatever that is.”