It was…

Terrifyingly wonderful.

She sternly jerked her thoughts from such dangerous matters. “Of course not. I…I was searching for a maid to help mend a tear in my hem.”

“So you are a liar as well as a sneak.” Without warning he planted his hands on the wall, one on each side of her head, effectively trapping her. “Hardly attractive qualities in a young maiden. Tis no wonder you find yourself alone in dark corners while the other ladies have their pleasure in the arms of handsome suitors.”

She sucked in a sharp breath, wishing she had not when her senses became clouded by his sandalwood scent.

“How dare you?”

He chuckled softly and then brazenly lowered his head to brush his cheek over hers. “Quite easily.”

Dear heaven above. Anna shuddered as her entire body reacted to his touch. What was happening to her? Why did her lower stomach feel as if it were filled with butterflies? And why was her heart lurching against her ribs as if it wanted to leave her chest entirely?

“I am no liar.”

His lips touched a place just below her ear. “Then admit that you followed me.”

Something that might have been a whimper escaped her lips before she gathered what remained of her shattered composure.

“Fine. I followed you.”

He continued to nuzzle at her throat, almost as if he was tasting of her.


Anna struggled to think. “Because my aunt charged me to keep an eye upon my cousin, and when I noticed you slipping from the ballroom just moments after she claimed to be in need of the withdrawing room, I feared that the two of you had arranged a meeting.” Her lids slid downward as he discovered a particularly sensitive spot. Then, realizing his hands had left the wall to tug at the ribbons on the back of her gown, she forced herself to stiffen in protest. “And for your information, I remain in the dark corners because that is what is expected of poor relations.”

“Ah, so the mouse has teeth,” he mocked, giving her a light nip.

Anna gripped her skirts. It was that or grip the man who was tormenting her with those tiny, relentless kisses.

“I am no mouse.”

“No, you are quite right.” He pulled back to study her flushed countenance, his fingers tugging at the bodice of her gown to reveal the tight corset beneath. “You, querida, are far more a shrew.”

Anna was oblivious to the insult. Hardly surprising. She was alone in a bedchamber with a strange man, half naked, and while her mind was telling her to be terrified, her body was shivering as if she were wracked with fever.

For the first time in her life she was being seduced by a master. And she was helpless against the rising tide of passion.

“It is obvious that Morgana is not here,” she husked. “I must return to the ballroom.”

“You fear that your absence might be noted? That you might have rescued your cousin’s reputation only to sacrifice your own?”

“There is no one to notice if I am missing or not.”

Something dark and powerful stirred in the dark eyes. “Dangerous words,” he whispered.

Anna gave a strangled cry as her gown drifted to the floor and he reached to pluck the lace cap from her head.

“My lord. Stop that.”

He groaned as her hair tumbled down her back, his fingers running a restless path through the thick strands.

“Such beautiful hair when it is not being hidden under that ugly cap. The color of freshly spun honey.” He pulled on her curls, drawing her head backwards so he could bury his face in the curve of her neck. “You smell of sweet figs. What do you taste of?”

“My God,” she whispered as he once again wrapped his arms around her and she felt her corset being jerked off her body, followed swiftly by her thin shift. In the blink of an eye she was wearing nothing more than her stockings and heels.

“You should not have followed me, Anna. I had another who was to be my willing sacrifice, so eager to feed my needs. But you have intruded upon the game and now you must pay the penalty.”

“No.” Her hands lifted to push against his chest. Or at least she intended to push. It was not her fault if they instead slipped beneath his coat to stroke over the fine linen of his shirt. “Let me go, or…”

He nuzzled down her collarbone and over the swell of her breasts. “Or what, my beautiful prey?”

Good Lord, she could not think past the potent pleasure that was swirling and shimmering through her body. In truth, she didn’t want to think past the pleasure. She wanted to drown in his touch, in the sensation of his lips suckling gently on her hard nipple, in the sandalwood scent that made her knees weak and her palms sweat.

“I…I swear I will scream,” she muttered.

He chuckled at her absurd threat. As well he should. After all, she was ripping at his shirt to feel the perfectly smooth skin beneath.

“I do not think you will scream, querida.” With a smooth motion he lifted her off her feet and wrapped her legs around his waist. His dark eyes smoldered with a wicked amusement. “Not unless it happens to be in pleasure.”

“Oh…” she breathed.

He stilled, one hand lifting to cup her face. “You are mine, Anna Randal. From this night forward you will belong to me.”

Anna sucked in a terrified breath as she watched his teeth lengthen into fangs. Dear Lord he was going to…

Her thoughts scattered as his head lowered and she felt his fangs slide easily through her skin. There was no pain. Nothing but a heady, near overwhelming need that made her writhe against him.

“Please…” she moaned, her fingers stroking through his dark hair as she begged him to put her out of her misery. “Please.”

“Si,” he whispered, pressing her back against the wall as he positioned her and then slowly, blissfully pressed his cock deep into her aching body. With a strangled gasp he rocked his hips upward, his fingers gripping her hips so tightly she knew he would leave bruises on her fragile skin.

But that was a worry for tomorrow.

Tonight nothing mattered but the delicious invasion that was Conde Cezar.

Cezar didn’t need to be a vampire to sense the tension that hummed about Anna’s delicate body or to suspect that she was deliberately luring him to her hotel room for a purpose other than a bit of up-close-and-personal time.

Not that he wouldn’t mind the up-close part.

It had been one hundred and ninety-five years since his body had reacted to a woman. Not since he had taken this woman’s innocence and the Oracles had arrived to sweep him away from London.

Now he groaned with the effort not to reach out and touch that soft satin skin. To taste the delectable, fresh blood that flowed through her veins. To drown in that…

As if suddenly sensing the hunger that raged through his body, Anna unlocked the door and swiftly stepped over the threshold. Turning to face him, she made a valiant effort to appear casual.

An effort that was ruined by the pulse fluttering like a butterfly on amphetamines at the base of her throat. Not to mention that she was clutching her silver handbag as if it held the crown jewels.

Or maybe a wooden stake.

“Are you coming in?” she demanded, then she bit her bottom lip. “Oh, do you need an invitation?”

He leaned his shoulder against the doorjamb and folded his arms over his chest.

“Not for a hotel room. I’m just the naturally cautious type.”

“Aren’t you immortal?”

“Immortal in the sense that I can’t die of disease or old age, but a vampire can be killed.”


He laughed softly. “You can’t expect me to answer that question.”

“Why not?”

“That would fall under the category of being naturally cautious.”

“Fine.” The hazel eyes flashed with annoyance before she turned and walked toward the center of the hotel room. Then with the skill of a trained courtesan, Anna bent over to offer a stunning, gut-wrenching view of her perfect butt. “If you want to stand in the hallway all night, knock yourself out. I want to get out of these demon-spawned heels. They’ve been pinching my toes all night.”

“Damn…” It was the most obvious bait that had ever been thrown in Cezar’s path. She might as well have a flashing neon sign. Cezar, however, was a vampire who had been denied the pleasure of desire for nearly two centuries. He’d dare any trap, take any risk for a taste of this woman. “Now that’s a temptation I can’t resist,” he murmured, stepping into the room and closing the door.

At the sound of the lock settling into place, Anna whirled with astonishing speed. Cezar saw the glint of silver as she lunged toward him with a pair of silver handcuffs. He could have avoided the cuffs as they snapped around his wrists. One swing of his arm could have launched her and her damnable torture devices across the room.

Instead he allowed her to believe she had managed to confine him in her devilish coils. The cuffs burned like a bitch, but they hadn’t been crafted specifically to hold a vampire and there were enough other metals mixed in with the silver to mute its effect. Besides, his tolerance for silver was higher than most vampires. He could free himself if necessary. And if it made Anna feel more comfortable…well, he would play along. Copyright 2016 - 2023