The Vampire Queen's Servant (Chapter Nineteen)

Lyssa released the tongue of the doubled-over belt with pewter stars, letting it dangle along the line of her thigh. "Son of a… " Jacob closed his eyes, a veritable flood of fire writhing across his left buttock where she'd struck him with it. He swore the imprint of those pewter stars would be tattooed there for all time. If he hadn't been wearing the jeans, he'd be sure of it.

Her jade eyes watched his every expression as he fought not to clamp his hand over his ass like a chastised three-year-old about to wail. Sliding the other belt out of his hand, she took them and the clothes he held over to the male salesclerk. "We want both of these, " Lyssa said. She returned to Jacob's side and slid her hand into his back pocket, finding the wallet holding her credit cards and his own. His lips pressed together as she caressed the part of him she'd abused. She had to struggle against the desire to cup her other hand over the generous package of testicles and cock brushing against her thigh,separated only by two thin layers of denim. She wanted to feel him harden under her touch while his ass stung from her punishment.

"I used less effort to do that than you use to breathe, Jacob, " she observed. "Think I can't handle myself?"

"I don't know. Breathing is not easy at the moment, my lady. "

"Let me make it harder then. " Slipping in front of him, she rose on her toes and captured his lips. "Double entendre intended. "

His response was immediate. Banding his arms around her, he brought her full against his body, his lengthening cock rubbing insistently over her abdomen. Nipping at her, he muttered a curse into her mouth. She curled her fingers in his hair, tugged hard.

It was the salesclerk's question that had Jacob blinking, breaking free of the kiss.

"Is there anything else you need?"

Lyssa startled him by making a little hop and wrapping her legs around his waist with lithe strength, settling her crotch and ass right on his groin. She increased the pressure there by leaning back to the full reach of her arms with her hands on his shoulders. Dropping her head back, she looked at the mural of clouds painted on the store ceiling.

"Flying clothes, made to look like birds. Interesting. "

She was certainly in a mood.

"Does it look like I need anything else?" Jacob asked.

The salesman grinned. Lyssa reeled herself back up and whispered in his ear. Jacob sighed, brushing his cheek against hers as he held her with one arm around her back.

"Socks. I do need two pairs of black dress socks. Thank you, my lady. " He brought his attention back to her. "You're not going to make me wear that belt. "

"No. " Her expression was feline, the green eyes glowing. "I like the one you picked out. I like the other one for other reasons. "

"That what I'm afraid of. "

"Just think of it this way. Instead of being angry about having to stand behind my chair for dinner, now you'll be grateful you don't have to sit. Don't you ever pinch my ass again. " With that, she unhooked her legs and slid down his body. Wiggling free, she wandered back out of the store without a backward glance, torturing him with the swiveling sight of her tight, entirely pinchable ass.

He was beginning to understand it did no good to ponder how she could piss a man off and make him rock hard at the same time. It was a gift far surpassing a man's understanding. When he rejoined her outside, she scampered ahead, stopping at a cluster of children watching a double-level carousel. When she looked over her shoulder at him, it took his breath. The way the straight hair of the wig fluttered back and feathered revealed the dangling earrings he'd chosen for her. They pattered against her delicate neck, drawing his attention to the curve of ear as well as the mystery of what expression her sunglasses hid. Thomas had said his lady had a wicked sense of humor, a rapier wit that could cut someone down to size in a moment, but he'd never hinted at this playfulness. Had he uncovered a side Thomas hadn't known about? Ground they'd never shared together? The idea gave him a ridiculous rush of pleasure.

He snapped out of that self-indulgent thought when he noted the sales associate's attention to her was being mirrored by many other men in the mall. She didn't tend to blend, his lady, and it reminded him his primary responsibility was protecting her anonymity.

When he reached her, he put an arm around her shoulders, imitating the many pairs of college students and teenagers they'd seen moving in the flood of people around them.

His lady was quick. After a contemplative moment where he felt her narrowed gaze upon him, even through the shaded glasses, she lifted her left hand to his on her shoulder, linking their fingers loosely so their hands were joined in a suggestive arch over the top of her breast. Sliding her other arm around his waist, she hooked her thumb in his waistband, the tips of her fingers in the top of his back pocket, squeezing the area she'd so recently abused.

"You after my wallet again?"

She slanted him a glance. "I've had you thoroughly investigated, Jacob Green. As of Monday morning, you had a grand total of eighteen hundred and twelve dollars and six cents in your savings account, nine hundred and two dollars and thirteen cents in your checking account. You live paycheck to paycheck, with no long-term savings or investment plan, a ridiculous way for a thirty-year-old man to live. "

"I'm not quite thirty. Plus I'm working this gig to become the kept servant of a rich vampire. That should take care of me for the next three centuries or so. "

When he'd helped her with her makeup earlier, he'd wet her lips with cherry lip gloss. He realized that had been a mistake, because when she smiled he smelled it and wanted to lick it off. He resisted the urge to get close, brush his lips along her temple, the fair cheek, but he couldn't stop his thumb from tracing a discreet line along the top of her breast under the linked bridge of their hands.

"A gold digger. My rose garden is fertilized by the bodies of men after my money. "

"And beautiful roses they are. Would you like to ride this, my lady? It's slowing down. "

"Which horse do I want to ride?"

"The black one, " he said automatically. With that mysteriously satisfied smile, she darted through the turnstile, sliding her grip to his hand so she yanked him onto the platform with her. Putting his bag of purchases down on a bench flanked by two swans, he placed his hands on her waist to lift her onto the black horse, which had stopped on the upward rise. "Since levitating would cause too much attention, " he pointed out.

She kept her grip on one of his shoulders. "I think you use any excuse to touch me. "

"Every excuse and any situation I can create, " he agreed. "There's a midnight movie here. A vampire cult classic, Fright Night. I'll take you if you promise to throw yourself in my arms at the scary parts. "

She laughed, such a powerfully seductive note it reached out and turned the head of every man within hearing distance. Not wanting to do anything to ruin this carefree side of her nature, nevertheless he stepped closer, helping her guide her leg over the horse's withers. He kept his tone light, careful.

"Are you certain you're not using those pheromones, my lady? You're about to embarrass some of these lads in front of their dates. Get them in all sorts of trouble. " "Perhaps a little, " she said, startling him. She removed the sunglasses, hooking them in her jeans pocket. When he raised his gaze, Jacob found her green eyes had the ability to mesmerize him like a snake, seducing him to self-destruction. "Perhaps I don't think you're besotted enough with me, Sir Vagabond. "

Perhaps everything tonight was an act. She could be sitting deep inside the casually dressed body, behind the screen of her flirting, calculating her next test of his mettle. Or maybe she was being true.

All he could offer her was his honesty. He pressed closer. "I'm hard as a rock, my lady, and my heart is fair bursting with the heat of your smile. I'd worship every inch of you in whatever manner you wish if you'd give me the privilege. " His voice lowered, and he let her hear the raw desire in his voice. "If you'd let me, I'd drag you off into a dark forest, spread you beneath me and fuck you until you screamed and raked my back with your beautiful nails. You'd have trouble walking afterwards, vampire recuperative powers or no. "

On that note, he withdrew, taking the white unicorn next to her. Lyssa tipped her head back to watch the mirrors and baroque depictions of cherubs and goblins spin above as the carousel started. It gave her blood time to settle from the images his declaration evoked in her mind, far more dangerous than he could know. When she finally trusted herself to look at him, it didn't help.

From the snug pull of the denim over his crotch from the astride position, she could tell he wanted her. It made saliva gather under her tongue. She wondered what it would be like to see that powerful body synchronized with the motion of a flesh and blood horse. She suspected it was something worth seeing.

"You have a natural seat. "

"Jouster, remember. " He gave her a strained smile.

As she held the pommel to keep her balance, the curl of her fingers could not help but make Jacob think of her hand curled around him. It was a bitch to ride a horse with a confined erection.

"I'd like to have you show me your horsemanship sometime. " She surprised him, reaching out and taking his hand, her grip sure and strong. She even smiled throughout the ride, amused but persistent as they had to let their hands slide from grip to a brush of fingertips and back to a grip again as their horses rose and fell counter to one another.

He decided it wasn't an act, simply because he didn't want it to be.

When the carousel stopped, he brought his leg back over and slid off his mount to give her a hand. Lyssa didn't need it of course, but she liked the courtesy, his hands on her waist, his eyes coursing over her breasts and throat, lingering on her face.

She was going to break her fast. She would take him to her bed tonight and feed on him. The intensity of his blue eyes, the brief tightening of his hands on her waist, told her he knew it as well. Somehow she'd resist giving him the second mark. She wanted him. He'd earned her attentions tonight, after all.

They strolled onward, not saying much now, but she allowed herself to slide her arm back around his waist as before, leaning into him as he resettled his arm over her shoulders. "The Ferris wheel, my lady?" he asked. "Or are there other things you want to see?"

"The tea shop. I want to try a couple of the new flavors I saw through the window. But… Oh, look at that. "

She stopped in front of the wishing pool that was the centerpiece of this leg of the mall. The fountain jetted out sprays of water in graceful arcs, splashing over the faces and bodies of a group of young women sculpted in ceramic. They held their skirts up, baring their thighs. Pushed wet hair from their faces. Some of the expressions were animated, as if they were calling out to their friends. Others were pensive, their eyes closed, heads tilted to the spray. In an act of whimsy, there was a dog, droplets of water cleverly emitting from him, enhancing the impression he was shaking the water off. The nearest sculpted woman held her hand out as if to Hock him, and she was laughing. The women's clothes clung to them without vulgar display, but it was sensuous, playful, reflecting the fantastical adult landscape the mall attempted to create. The lagoon the walled pool emulated backed up to a tall moss-covered rock. About ten feet up, water poured from an invisible source into the lagoon. A fog system at the base created misting clouds where the water dove into the main pool.

"I want to go in, Jacob. " Lyssa turned to face him. "Carry me. I want to feel the waterfall on my body. "

He displayed no self-consciousness, not even hesitation. Stepping over the wall into the pool, the water rising to his upper calves, he swung her up into his arms in the same movement.

Cold. She could tell the water was vibrantly cold, possibly with just a trickle of heat from the lights beneath the water's surface that spotlighted the sculptures and made the water glitter. She shivered as he moved through the sculptures, turning her as needed to keep her feet from hitting them. When she stretched out an arm to feel the water on her palm, he moved her directly under the fall as she'd requested, drenching her cotton shirt. As she clamped her hand around his neck, he spun her in a circle, knowing that was what she wanted. Her precognitive servant who didn't know he was precognitive, who hadn't even stopped to consider his answer when she'd asked what horse she wanted to ride.

Water was everywhere, a flood of sound and diamond crystal, blinding her with the pleasure of it.

It was foolish, she knew it was. But she didn't let that stop her. Trusting him to hold her, she spread out both arms, letting the magic gather and flow from her fingertips. It reached out like the water, only the marble wall couldn't contain it. It wrapped around and embraced the young people pointing and laughing at them, pressing up closer to the barrier. They were already bolstered by Jacob and Lyssa's audacity. They wanted to follow, teetering on the edge of the decision. It even reached out to older adults who had slowed to watch, who were unsure how to react. Disapprove? Or wish they had the courage to be like the younger ones?

One additional push, barely a blink of effort, and suddenly they were not alone. A cadre of teenagers splashed in, shouting,sending sheets of water at one another. Some of the boys even scooped up their girlfriends as Jacob had done to hold them in front of the small shoots of water striking the sculptures, eliciting shrieks and giggles, giving them the excuse to hold onto the girls even more tightly. Even one mother with a little girl came in. As her mother held her on her hip, the child tried to pet the dog, shielding her face with one tiny hand from the spray of droplets.

The sheer life of it washed over Lyssa. A moment like this had the nourishing strength of blood. A magic springing from the source of all magic, like life from a womb. Such a memory was strong enough to last a decade, making everything horrible seem not so terrible. Not against the power of this.

Reaching up, she stroked Jacob's hair from his forehead, enjoying the sleek copper highlights of it, the wet strands in her fingers, the strong broadness of his forehead, the slope of cheekbone to jaw. Her fingers slipped down, gripping the neckline of his shirt. A breath later, she tore it like paper, giving her fingers access to the pectoral, the nipple drawn hard and tight from the cold. As the water splashed down on them, he moved them so they were behind the curtain of the fall, a small area just big enough for the two of them standing close together, the heavy sheet of water making them disappear from view of the others, closing them into their own world. He let her go so her body slid down his, though he still held her fast about the waist with his other hand. When she dipped her head, he caught her chin.

"No pheromones. Or anything you release to make it more pleasurable. "

"You're already wet, my knight. You think anyone will notice the stain of your seed?"

Color stained his cheeks, but he slid his fingers beneath the wig at the nape, into the nest of her pinned hair. "It's not that, my lady. I want you to know my responses are true ones. " His eyes searched her face, his words stilling everything in her mind. The roar of the water and the wavering curtain of it behind his shoulders put them in a place in the universe where there wasn't room for anything else to intrude. "I want to feel the pain as well as the pleasure of belonging to you. "

Gods, but what the man's words could do to her. She caught her hand in the tattered neck of the shirt and completely ripped the front of it, raking him with her nails as she did. In one movement she turned, slamming him up against the stone behind the fountain. She was aware of laughter and shrieking behind the wall of water, telling her that even more people had plunged into the fountain. The residual tendrils of her magic still spun her web, creating a screen of humanity, a buffer as effective as the water to keep them from discovery.

She sank her teeth into the left nipple, deep into the areola, knowing the pain there for a man was excruciating. He stiffened and arched into her, a hoarse cry coming from his lips as his hand became a hard fist in her dark locks, tearing the wig away and bringing her hair tumbling down as he held her locked to him. His other hand hooked in her back waistband, his thumb pressed against the tattoo she couldn't see but which seemed to intrigue him so much. His other fingers dug into her buttock, holding her tight against him as she suckled the hot source of his life, his heart thundering so close, separated from her by nothing but her own restraint and a fragile network of ribs.

How many times had she told herself she would make him wait for that second mark, make him earn it by at least first putting him through his paces at the planned dinner? And how little did it mean now, when she had him beneath her hands, the sound of his blood pumping so close, his heat enveloping her? She knew her lack of restraint was absurd, inexplicable, as well as she knew she was going to ignore everything she'd resolved and do it anyway, right here, right now.

She'd said she'd put her second mark on his thigh, but this was too tempting. Despite the empty scream of protest from somewhere inside of her, something even deeper let go. As the blood flowed into her, the secretion flowed into him.

While the first mark burned, the second was a detonation, convulsing the body as shields and gates to the mind were destroyed. He bucked against her, gasping as her mind flooded through the rubble left by the explosion. Fearless, she plunged into the dark tunnel of his mind the way he had plunged his fingers into her hair to create a bond, an anchor.

All the inhabitants–thoughts, people, emotions–surrounded her. Feelings, family, childhood, a tidal wave of images that would give her everything she wanted to know about him, now and forever. But right now she had a single purpose, one set of images and reactions only.

Putting one hand down to cup him, she wrenched open his jeans to find him enormous, not at all affected by the cold water. She gripped him, insisting, pumping him. His desire to feel everything fully notwithstanding, the climax would make the binding easier. But she also wanted the dark pleasure of his loss of control not just in her hand but in his thoughts. The base male response during the descent into orgasm, which was nothing but a morass of primitive words. She wanted the visceral drive of it, the savagery.

Fuck… Fuck her… God… Cock… In her wet cunt… Ram it into her…

The muscles of his throat were working, his whole body shuddering, his hands clamped on her, bruising.

It had not been this way with Thomas. The second mark had been quiet, almost gentle. She'd been amused by his scholarly attempts to mark every transition as she pushed through the shields of his mind. He'd acted almost as if he was going to prepare a paper on it for a science periodical.

This was pure possession. She obliterated Jacob's shields, bludgeoned them into tiny pieces that became a part of the blood she took into her body. From here forward, she could plunge into this jungle whenever she chose to do so. She knew it would test her. His thoughts would make her feel things she'd never felt before.

She made it brutal. He was right. She reveled in the war between his desire to submit and his need to challenge her invasion. She felt his primitive urge to take back control by invading her mind as she was invading his. While she knew he couldn't do that without her permission, she found she didn't know where her mind ended and his began at the moment.

When she raised her head, he clamped his mouth over hers, sucking his blood off her lips, using his teeth to score her as she brought him to violent climax. His hot seed jetted over her wrist and arm, even the front of her shirt, the warmth contrasting with the cold shower of water.

She savored the insistent rock of his body against her as she drained him and he came to a jerky halt. Against her lips, he cursed her for not letting him fuck her. But even as he did so,his hands gentled and he raised his head to let his gaze sweep her face. There was a wonder there, a reverent awe mixed with an expression that made her feel he was seeing something in herself she'd never seen. Raising his thumb, he brushed blood off her lip and held it there. Slowly, she licked at his fingers with the tip of her tongue, feeling like she'd gone from raging lioness to wary kitten in a blink. These moments, which should be inequitable matches of physical prowess, kept ending up on a playing field where she wasn't so certain she was the victor. Or if it was a playing field at all.

The din outside the waterfall was receding, stern shouts and a whistle indicating mall security was clearing out the rowdy teens, dispersing them from the fountain. Jacob refastened his jeans, working up the zipper. Her fingers whispered over his knuckles as he did it, earning a heated look from him. Taking her hand, he twined it with his a moment before she freed herself to slide the torn shirt off him. Her palms molded over the rounded curves of his shoulders, nails pressing into the muscles of his upper arms. Water beaded on his pale lips and the intensity of his eyes warmed her as she folded the shirt like a towel and laid it over his left shoulder, covering the nipple area where she'd bitten him.

She wasn't alone. He was within and without. As she enjoyed his body, his mind was there, all its rooms and the thoughts that filled them. A never-ending maze of chambers she could explore to whatever depths she chose. He'd given her the gift willingly, as much as he could understand what it was he was offering to her.

Most servants were prepped as he'd been, but until the mark was actually given, they didn't realize the power and vulnerability of it. There were vampires so drunk on that power they plumbed their servant's mind until they drove them mad, goading the rooms holding dark fears and secrets to the surface, giving the servant nowhere to be private with his own soul. Since vampires could exchange a similar mark, and she'd offered it to Rex foolishly, she had a personal insight into the dangers of such probing. It became a battle of wills to keep him locked out, leaving her exhausted.

A human did not have the ability to lock her out once marked, but she was not that kind of Mistress. It was most often used as a functional link, a way to exchange information over distances or in front of others. However, as she'd just shown Jacob, depending on the relationship with the servant, it could become far more.

If she chose, she could invite him into her own inner chambers. Of course, delving into her deepest chambers might indeed drive him to madness. Her own sanity stayed only within the barest grasp of her fingertips these days as it was.

Pushing that thought away, she moved gently among his thoughts without really examining them, just letting him know she was there. It was enough for now to see the realization of it in his eyes, feel the tight grip of his hands and let him get used to it.

She'd done the second mark the way she'd done the first, on pure impulse. Was she losing the battle with her own will and loneliness? Was her rational need for a servant leveraging her desire to fully bond with him before he understood what that meant?

No. This was it. Two marks. No more.

Gods, please help me keep that resolve. If you will not do it for me, ' do it for him.