Midnight Awakening (Chapter Thirteen)

Every smartass, apathetic reply that might have sprung to his lips fled, along with all the blood in his brain. Tegan stood there in the doorway of his private apartments, struck stupid with shock at what he just heard.

He sure as hell never saw this coming.

And although all good sense told him to deny Elise's proposal–shut the goddamn idea down before another second passed–his mouth didn't seem capable of speech. An erotic mental image burned instantly into his mind: Elise's lips pressed against his skin, her sweet pink tongue lapping at him, her mouth drawing deeply from his vein.

He wanted that, he realized in a flash of disbelief.

Wanted it so bad he shuddered with the force of it.

Jesus Christ, he muttered, finding his voice at last. You're insane. And I'm leaving. I only came to grab a few of my things and I'm out of here.

When he stalked forward, meaning to dismiss her and her ludicrous suggestion without another word, Elise moved into his way. He glared down at her, but she didn't so much as flinch under the deadly look that would have withered warriors and Rogues alike.

What are you running from, Tegan? Soft lavender eyes fixed on him in defiant challenge. I'm sure it can't be me scaring you off.

He scoffed at the idea, refusing to let her see how close to the mark she might be. Do you know what you're asking for? If you take my blood, a part of you will be linked to me for as long as I'm alive. It's an unbreakable connection.

I know very well what the blood bond entails. All of it.

Her sudden flush seemed to indicate that she was also aware of the sexual nature of the act. Vampire blood had a highly aphrodisiac quality. In females without the Breedmate mark, the effect was often a rush of fierce desire; in females like Elise, who were capable of bearing Breed offspring, the drinking of Breed blood nearly always sent them into a heated sexual hunger that demanded to be slaked.

I'm not what you're used to, he told her sternly, the only warning he could think of now. Don't think that I'll be gentle with you. I wouldn't show you any mercy.

Her little smile was mocking. I'd hardly expect that you would.

With that, she turned and strode away from him, her spine impeccably erect as she went into his bedroom to await him. Tegan raked his fingers through his hair, knowing he had about two seconds to get a grip on himself and walk away from this certain disaster. Any longer for him to think about it, and he didn't know if he'd have the will to refuse her.

In the adjacent room, he heard the soft clop of Elise's shoes hitting the rug as she took them off. If he thought he could scare her out of going through with this, apparently all he'd done was fortify her resolve. She'd thrown a gauntlet here, and he had never been the kind of male to back down from a challenge.

Even now, when every survival instinct he possessed was clamoring for him to turn tail and run from a situation that had catastrophe written all over it.

Long moments ticked by.

And still she waited.

Tegan growled a dark oath.

Then, with hardly a conscious thought to command it, he brought the door to his apartments closed with the will of his mind and headed for the bedroom after her.

Some of Elise's resolve wavered as Tegan came in behind her to his bedroom. There was a savage intensity in his slow steady stride and in the unblinking gaze trained on her. Suddenly she felt as if she were standing before a predator while it measured its options, preparing to close in for the kill.

How do you want… She let the words trail off, uncertain how to proceed now that she actually had him here. Where shall I…?

The bed, came his flat reply.

He began pulling off his black knit shirt, baring his glyph-marked torso. Their normal henna hue was deepening now, no longer the neutral shade indicating a placid mood, but blushing darker, the patterns beginning to saturate. Elise sat down on the very edge of the mattress and turned her head to avert her eyes from him. She heard the crush of fabric as Tegan set the shirt aside and came nearer to the bed.

You're overdressed, he said, his warm breath tickling the side of her bare neck. His presence so close to her was almost as startling as his words. Elise turned an anxious glance on him. You mean for me to disrobe? I don't see why I sh–

You will, he said, leaving no room for argument. If I were a cultured Darkhaven male and not the crude warrior that I am, I doubt you'd expect me to receive you fully clothed.

It was true. Respect for the act of blood- bonding between vampire and Breedmate demanded that both parties come to each other without concealment, coercion, or reservation. Naked in body, commitment, and intent.

Tegan reached down to unfasten the zipper on his low-slung blue jeans.

As they sagged on his trim pelvis, Elise's eyes fell unwillingly to the ridges of taut muscle that defined him, and to the trailing pattern of dermaglyphs that quite obviously continued all the way down to his naked, swelling groin. He wore nothing beneath, she realized in a state of instant panic.

Please, she gasped. Tegan, please. Will you…leave them on?

He didn't reply, but he slowly pulled the denim back together and dragged the zipper up. She couldn't help noticing that the button at the top stayed undone, baring a small vee of his smooth tawny skin.

That's the only request you get tonight, he said in a deep rasp. You still have time to reconsider. But not much. Now disrobe, or ask me nicely to let you leave.

He was testing her. She knew he was deliberately pushing her now, probably so sure that he could make her change her mind with a few menacing words. Really, she should be afraid. Not just of being alone with a warrior like Tegan, but also of the intimate, sacred act she was about to defile by drinking from a male she had no intention of taking as her mate. Truly, she degraded them both by asking Tegan to service her like this, and if he was disgusted by the thought–or by her–she could hardly blame him.

What's it going to be, Elise?

She stood up, too aware of him watching her, waiting for her to bolt. With only the slightest tremble in her fingers, she began to lift the hem of her tunic and drew it up over her head.

Tegan's warm breath ceased. He went utterly still beside her, but she could feel heat rolling off him as she set her top down on the bed.

She crossed her arms over the modest white cotton bra she wore, and turned a questioning look on him.

When Tegan finally spoke, his voice was thick, obstructed by the points of his gleaming white fangs. Your pants too. You can keep the rest on for now.

She stripped out of her jeans as quickly as she could, then sat back down on the edge of the bed.

Move to the middle, and face me sitting on your knees.

As she scooted to the center of the king- sized mattress, Tegan came up onto the bed as well. He prowled forward on his knees, until only a foot of space separated them. The pupils in the heart of his green irises began to thin, narrowing down by degrees into vertical slits. When he parted his lips to speak, his fangs seemed enormous.

Last chance, Elise.

She gave a shake of her head, incapable of talk now. Tegan snarled something nasty under his breath, then brought his wrist up to his mouth. With his eyes on hers, he bared his fangs and sank them into the flesh below his palm.

Dark red blood dripped from the wound, falling softly, steadily, onto the gray sheets.

Come here, he said, holding his arm out to her, his lips stained crimson from his bite.

With her eyes closed, heart stuttering in her breast, Elise leaned forward. She put her hands under his thick forearm and carefully lifted his bleeding punctures to her mouth. There, she hesitated, knowing there would be no turning back. With one taste, she would be bound to this deadly male. Aware of him always, like a living warmth buzzing in her veins, until the time should come that one or the other of them would die.

But she would be stronger too.

Her psychic torment would be lessened, far easier to manage. Her body would rejuvenate, require less work to keep it fit and healthy.

Her promise to Camden wouldn't feel so hollow once she had some of Tegan's power coursing through her veins.

But to use him like this?

She glanced up and found him staring down at her, his lips peeled back and glistening, his breath raking coarsely through his teeth. His dermaglyphs were livid with color now, strikingly beautiful on so much sculpted muscle and golden skin.

Do it, he snarled, that fierce gaze daring her to take him to her mouth…damning her for it.

Elise bent down over his wrist and carefully opened her mouth to receive him. The instant her lips touched his skin, Tegan hissed, arcing sharply. Elise drew gently, using her tongue to lap at the twin openings in his skin. His blood was hot and tingly as it slid down her throat, filling her with a heat that soon became a roar of swelling, compounding power.

It hit her so fast, she moaned from the intensity, feeling instantly overwhelmed. Warmth boiled through her limbs and into her core, pulsing hard, rolling like a tide.

She hadn't been prepared for such a swift, stunning reaction. Inside she was molten, going liquid and boneless…wanton.

When she tried to pull away, Tegan placed his palm on the back of her head. His large fingers spanned her skull, burrowing through her hair. There was no denying his strength, yet the pressure he held her with was light. But it was also unyielding.

Elise glanced up at him, anxious now. Maybe this wasn't a good idea at all. Maybe she'd been wrong.

Tegan's eyes glittered, pupils swamped by fiery amber.

You shouldn't have started if you weren't prepared to finish. His face was starkly serious, unforgiving. Take more. You know you need it.

Her breath sawed out of her at his invitation. God help her, but she did need more. Already she could feel Tegan's blood mixing with her own, pounding in her temples. She licked her lips, savoring the wild, powerful taste of him on her tongue.

Tegan's jaw went visibly rigid.

Christ, he ground out tightly. His fingers were a searing presence across her nape and up along the back of her head. He could have pushed her down so easily, but he only held her there, tender beneath all that coiled Breed power. Take more of me, Elise. Panting now, every nerve ending firing off inside her like a hail of sensory explosions, she lowered her head and latched on to him once more.

Tegan sucked in a sharp breath as Elise fastened her mouth to his wrist and took another long pull from his opened veins. She moaned as she swallowed more and more of him. Her hunger was rising. Greed for more made her pull harder, deeper, even as she quenched herself on him. Her tongue was a moist, hot demand against his skin, but it was the light scrape of her teeth that made Tegan's sex surge even harder than it already was.

He knew he wasn't alone in his arousal. He could feel her body's response; he absorbed her thoughts and emotions through his fingertips, which were buried in the silky layers of her short blond hair, resting against the warmth of her nape. He indulged in a brief few strokes of her soft skin, then drew his hand away when the sensations became too intense.

Jesus, she was on fire with need–both the physical thirst and the carnal one that Breed blood inspired in females bearing the teardrop-and- crescent-moon birthmark.

Absurdly, Tegan fought to distance himself from the gravity of what was happening. He tried to occupy his mind with a clinical mental inventory of her features–anything to dull the erotic movements of her mouth on him–but it was no use. Elise was too real, too damn hot, the way her spine arched and snaked with each long draw of her mouth. Her breath heaved, rapid and deep, and her lips were making deliciously wet noises in the quiet of the room.

Her eyelids flicked open as if to beg permission and Tegan was struck by the lovely amethyst color of her irises now that hunger and desire had darkened them. Her cheeks were pinkening already from his blood in her system, her lips stained a glossy, beautiful red where they held fast to his wrist.

Finish it, he told her, his tongue thick, his own mouth dry as bone. Take your fill.

With a throaty groan, Elise pushed him down onto his back and followed him there, never breaking contact as she crawled alongside him on the bed, his arm raised to accommodate her continued feeding.

Even though he was hard as granite in his jeans, Tegan wanted to remain detached from the entire catastrophe playing out before him. He needed to tune out the incredibly desirable woman who was now writhing against him in nothing but a modest cotton bra and panties, throwing off erotic heat like a furnace.

And her emotion was swamping him. Her need was so raw, so honest.

Christ, he had forgotten what that felt like. He didn't want to think about how long it had been since he'd lain with a woman. Didn't want to acknowledge how empty–how willfully chaste, physically and emotionally–his life had been for the past five centuries.

He didn't want to think about Sorcha….

He couldn't think about her, not when Elise was driving him to the edge with every moan and sigh and catlike slide of her body next to him. To his surprise, he wanted very much to touch her– not to flex his psychic talent a little more, but to just touch her.

Reaching over with his free hand, Tegan traced his fingers along the smooth line of her shoulder and upper arm. A spray of gooseflesh rose along the trail he'd made on her skin. Beneath the thin white cotton of her bra, her nipples tightened into hard pearls. He brushed his thumb over one pebbled bud, his breath catching in the back of his throat as she arched into him uninhibited, the blood fever from her feeding making her know no shame.

He could take her, Tegan knew. She probably expected it, since it was rare that the act of blood-drinking with a Breedmate would end without sex to relieve a female of her need.

But he'd told her no mercy, and a cruel part of him wanted to make good on that promise.

Especially since he was the one being used in this scenario.

Elise's legs flexed and scissored as he continued his tactile exploration of her body. He traced his fingers along the dip of her flat stomach, then up the graceful flare of her hip. She was liquid in her movements, undulating and arching as her suckling at his wrist became more urgent. With a low, breathy moan, she opened her legs for him and moved his hand down where she wanted him. She clamped her thighs together, holding him to her and grinding when he hesitated to touch her on his own.

It was too much to resist, even for him.

He brushed his fingers along the moist cleft shielded by her panties and she jerked as if he touched her with an open flame. He stroked her again, with more purpose, feeling her need ratchet tighter with every slide of his fingers.

Tegan, she gasped, turning her head aside to look at him with dazed, brilliant eyes, Tegan…please…do something.

She put her hand down on his, but he was already in motion. He slid his fingers beneath the scrap of damp cotton between her legs. Flossy curls were drenched and slick, the petals of her sex giving way easily as he glided his thumb along the delicate valley between them.

God, she was so soft. Like velvet and satin. And the scent of her…

The fragrance of her arousal was a shattering combination of heather and roses and fresh spring rain.

Please, she whispered, forcing him into an urgent rhythm when he might have taken his time to savor her.

But her need was too far gone. He'd threatened no mercy, and while he knew he was a coldhearted bastard, he couldn't deny her relief.

Drink some more, he said, his voice reduced to coarse gravel in his throat. I'll take care of the rest.

Elise obeyed him, fastening onto his wrist as Tegan stroked her toward a shattering release. She came apart in wave after wave of shuddering pleasure, her blunt human teeth biting down hard on him as her climax rippled through her body.

By the time it was over, Tegan's fangs were throbbing, his cock straining to be freed and buried deep inside the wet, hot core of Elise's body. He drew his hand away from her, his senses swamped with the intoxicating perfume of sex and blood and warm, languid woman.

He wanted to spread her legs wide and mount her like an animal. Wanted it so badly his head was pounding with the urge to rip away the denim she'd made him keep on and fall on her in a savage, lustful fury.

Oh, yeah.

That's just what he needed to do to really take this bad situation and send it straight into a goddamn nuclear-grade disaster.

What he really needed was to get the fuck out of there.

Too bad he hadn't done that before she'd managed to goad him into giving her his vein. With a growl of frustration, Tegan eased his arm out from under Elise's slack mouth and brought the wounds to his lips. He sealed the punctures with his tongue, licking away the last of the blood and trying not to taste Elise on his skin. He even failed at that.

I have to go, he said, unwilling to look at her and be tempted into more idiocy in one night. He moved to the far edge of the bed and swung his feet down onto the floor. He grabbed his shirt and yanked it over his head. If you insist on going with me to Berlin, be ready tomorrow night. We leave promptly at dusk.