Even as he mused these things, he inched closer to the bed. Before, he'd thought the beacon in the window had drawn him; now he wondered if this female had somehow been the draw.

Remember the mission! He finally pried his gaze away, only to realize he'd been so spellbound by her that he'd allowed his mist to fade. The carelessness! With a flare of unease, he turned back-

Her eyes flashed open, met his.

I am . . . seen. But zeii mea, my gods, what eyes she possessed! The irises were the lightest brown, ringed with stark black. He could stare into them for lifetimes.

Where had a thought like that come from?

She blinked thick black lashes up at him. "Oh! You scared me," she murmured in English.

Seen. Why hadn't he disappeared before she'd awakened? Why hadn't he remained invisible to her? Now he would be forced to kill her, or else never return home.

"You've come at last." Her lips curled into a grin that would've stolen his breath. If he still breathed. She raised her arms over her head, stretching sensually.

At last? Who did she think he was? She gazed up at him as if they knew each other. She gazed at him . . . with desire.

All at once, he understood why he hadn't disappeared, why he'd let his mist fade.

Because deep down, he'd wanted this creature to see him.

As she rose to a sitting position, her exotic braids and lustrous, wavy hair cascaded over her shoulders. Her locks were chestnut brown, threaded with strands of black, the colors complementing her distinctive eyes.

She reached for him, boldly laying her hands on his torso. When he perceived the warmth from her palms, he shuddered like a young vampire, unschooled with women-

Boom! . . . Boom! . . . Boom!

The floor seemed to quake beneath his feet, the walls to shake with deafening tremors.

Yet Trehan knew what was actually happening. The sound was his heart awakening for her, a drum beginning to thunder in his chest.

Beating again and again, faster, harder.

This ethereal creature had roused his body! Soon his lungs would fill with breath, his shaft with blood.

An otherlander belongs to me? A sorceress? He'd heard of worse pairings. Considering where he'd found her, she could have been a demoness.

Then he remembered a critical fact. To return home, Trehan had to eliminate all who witnessed him-except for his Bride. The far-fetched loophole that was too ridiculous to consider had happened tonight!

Thoughts of witnesses and ancient laws faded, replaced by an instinctive protectiveness.

Could she feel the same pull toward him? She was born of a different species. From the tales he'd heard of otherlander Brides, he knew she wouldn't automatically want him with the same ferocity with which he desired her.

"So happy you've come to me," she whispered in a slurred tone, eyeing him with such a proprietary glance that he was taken aback. "To my bed." She was looking him dead in the face, but acting as if they'd met before.

Then comprehension struck. She was of the Sorceri; it was likely that she-or one of her kind-had foreseen her mate. Of course!

"Been waiting for you, darling."

At her words, excitement soared inside him. A shade with a stupefyingly boring existence? No longer.

He merely needed to complete this blooding, then take his new Bride back to his underworld realm. His target could wait until she was safely ensconced in Dacia.

Then this delicate sorceress would grace his home-and his bed-for all eternity.

He knew of other males who'd felt panic at this realization; Trehan experienced only satisfaction. Secret longings resurfaced, at last to be appeased.

I am ready for her.

At that moment, his lungs started to expand. He inhaled deeply, until they felt too big for his chest. Blood rushed to his shaft, hardening it. He groaned as it distended against the confining fabric of his pants.

His gaze raked from her pert br**sts to her waist, dropping to the titillating skirt that bared most of her gently flaring hips and her long, shapely legs.

Her Sorceri adornments-the collar around her neck and the gold climbing her pale arms-now struck him as unbearably erotic.

A sexy, delicate sorceress. Apparently I've been waiting for you as well.

Long-dormant drives came roaring back to life-to mate, to claim, to bite? After eons, he hungered.

No, not hunger! Dacians didn't pierce the flesh of others. He wanted only to possess and master her.

But first, he had questions. What is the name of my pretty Bride? Why are you so drunk? What is your connection to this demon realm?

He'd gone the better part of a millennium without bedding a female. Will you forgive how out of practice I am with all this?

She gazed up at him from under her lashes. "I won't disappoint you, I swear it."

Disappoint him? "I am-"

She raised her fingertips to cover his lips. "Shh. Don't say a word. Please. You're in my bedroom for a reason. Let me show you how right you were to come here." She began unlacing her bodice, shimmying from the material. With a shy grin, she tossed it aside to bare the most exquisite little br**sts he'd ever seen.

At the sight of her rosy ni**les tightening before his eyes, Trehan's powerful, rational mind went blank, his questions forgotten.

Bettina had awakened to a darkened room.

All her candles had burned out, but she'd sensed a male's presence, an awareness that made her skin tingle. She'd barely been able to discern the outline of his towering form.

Cas! He'd returned. How to get him to stay? she'd thought in a drunken panic. How to get him into my bed?

Line : 45

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