The Vampire Queen's Servant (Chapter Twelve)
"Enough, " she said softly. She didn't shove him away, she wouldn't be that cruel, but she wanted to be certain he understood. No matter the intensity of the moment, she didn't stop being his Mistress. Jacob met her gaze. Removing her fingers from his throat, she saw she'd done a good job. All sorts of dark feelings of pleasure ran through her at the two swollen marks there. "Your hands by your sides. "
Slowly, with great visible reluctance, he withdrew his touch, resting his hands alongside his thighs. When he started to pull up his jeans, she shook her head. Reaching down between her still spread thighs, she gripped him, caressed his wet testicles and brushed the hot sticky skin between their heavy weight and the musky dampness on his thigh. "If I choose to give it, my next mark will be here. I'll command you to spread yourself, hold yourself open to me. Without restraints, you'll have to remain still and trust my fangs will find your thigh and not other tempting areas. But now it's almost dawn. I want you close. Get dressed and follow me. "
She set the house alarms before she took him back to her room. He watched carefully. The majordomo duties of a servant were extensive, particularly for a vampire with a Region like hers. From his close attention, she was reassured that Thomas had prepared him adequately for that, at least.
When she led him through the house and stepped back over the threshold of her bedroom, she realized it might be a mistake to bring him here instead of to a guest bedroom. The nested intimacy of the room, the rumpled covers, the lingering scent of what had been done here earlier, distracted her. As did the manacles still on the bed, tossed there when he'd freed himself.
She spoke the chant of opening and the wood floor shimmered. The colors of the Persian rug melted, buckling and evolving into the shape of a flight of stairs disappearing into the darkness of a lower chamber.
Jacob studied it, his brows raised. "I don't remember this in the catalog of vampire powers. "
"There's much you don't know. You'll join me below. When I rise, we'll speak about your interim duties. "
"You intend to test me. Again. "
"Yes. " She glanced at him without apology. "Thomas's endorsement means a great deal, but I must be fully convinced. Perhaps you'll flaunt this test as you did my last one. Or perhaps you'll suffer it despite your tricks. Spend the time thinking about who I am and what I want from you. Perhaps by tomorrow night, you'll decide you want your freedom and that will be the end of it. "
"Or not, and it will be the beginning of something else. Perhaps you'll learn to trust me, my lady. Not every man who desires your soul for his own wants it for the power, or to delight in your pain. There are some who want only the honor of caring for you. Of being called your champion. Your protector. "
Her heart tightened into a defensive fist, his words digging into the tender area like nails.
"My protector. " Touching a hand to her brow absently, she smoothed her own skin, the tendrils of her hair he'd loosened brushing her knuckles. The sun was rising. Weariness closed around her like a trap. At one time she could stay up well past sunrise in the quiet darkness of this upper bedroom. She'd watch the sliver of light glitter between the frugal gap in the curtains. Sitting a foot away from where it laid its bright line on the floor, making the threads of the rug glitter, she'd read. Or think. Or simply be.
Even as she relearned how to breathe air that did not contain either the threat or the promise of Rex, she remembered the longing that came with his gentle touch on her neck when she dozed. Lonely versus alone. Rex represented both emotions. When she was tired, it could tear her apart anew to remember.
I always had the power, Thomas. You didn't understand that until the end, did you? I ripped out his heart as easily as I'd crush a peach in my hand. But it was too late for you then. Knowledge of my strength provided you nothing, used too late. That's why I must be cruel, make Jacob understand, even when my strength is not what it once was.
"Follow me or not. It's your choice. " She started down the stairs. "If it were me, I'd go home. " He followed.
The bedroom in the hidden room was almost a mirror image of the one above. She wanted to feel she was in her room, not in a pretend chamber, regardless of which one she used. This one had more space, however, for times when she might need or decide to remain out of sight indefinitely. A sitting area and a library were here. There was also an eye-catching centerpiece. A St. Andrew's cross carved of teakwood, the grain smooth as a woman's silken thighs or the velvet shaft of a man's erect cock.
She ran her hand down one of the arms, then exerted pressure. The hinges were well oiled, so it lowered smoothly from an upright to a horizontal position.
"Take off all your clothes. There's a bathroom over there. You'll be restrained on this until I wake, about ten hours from now, so I encourage you to make use of it. "
She didn't look toward him, but she could feel the conflict vibrating off him.
"Jacob. " One quiet word, but she infused it with everything. Not only command, but the threat of taking away what he said he wanted. Perhaps she could have injected a hint of reassurance, but in this room particularly she remembered who and what she was, and her voice chilled accordingly.
"My patience is thin as the skin covering all your pleasing muscles and just as easily stripped away. I don't want to hear a word from you right now. The stairs are there. If you walk up them, the door will open and Bran will make sure you're escorted off the grounds. You won't be issued an invitation to return. "
Moving to the armoire, she began to slide off her own clothes as she heard him go into the bathroom and close the door. Probably to stare at himself in the superfluous mirror and question whether he'd lost his mind.
At least you have a physical reflection, she thought. The mental one can be so much more frightening.
He was losing his mind. Jacob yanked off his clothes, folded them on top of the commode and looked at himself in the mirror. Something felt off about this whole scenario, as if there were huge pieces of the puzzle missing, a whole script he'd only been given a portion of to read before rehearsal. Access to this chamber, for example. No vampire he'd ever heard of had telekinetic attributes, let alone the ability to transfigure floor and carpet into a stairwell. It wasn't illusion. He'd walked over that exact portion of floor earlier and felt and seen nothing to indicate a chamber below the surface.
She was determined to force him to submit to her on a lot of levels, and sexually was the least of them. He wasn't stupid. As she herself had implied, he knew that was just the gateway to the deeper layers of himself. Perhaps if he knew she would eventually give him some answers, he'd feel a little less nervous about walking back out there, but she hadn't offered that bone. She was making him follow on faith. His head had never been so messed up, and all the things he knew about vampires were taunting his mind, making his gut clutch.
Do you realize, mortal, I could rip you limb from limb…
With a curse, he turned away from his image in the mirror and opened the door. Fuck it. Gideon always said he was fatally impetuous. He might just prove him right.
She'd raised the cross upright again and was leaning against it, wearing a nightgown of sheer black lace, nothing under it from low neckline to midthigh. He saw her nipples, the folds of her sex, all of her curves and the slender shapes of her thighs denned in the provocative pose. As he watched, she threaded her hands through the adjustable cuffs and held onto them as if bound there.
When she slid her feet into the loosened ankle cuffs like slippers, she gripped the hand cuffs to raise and balance herself for the maneuver. As she held most of her weight that way, her legs spread and hip cocked at a defiant angle, he was dry mouthed just looking at her. Even contemplating what was ahead, his cock couldn't help but be semi-erect. At the sight of this it rose to full mast, flooded with immediate, gut-wrenching lust as she licked her lips, showing him tiny fangs. It made a throb of reaction go through his neck, just below where she'd bitten him, and heat sear straight to his groin. Her dark hair hung loose, reaching almost to her waist, blending with the black lace like a silk curtain over a teasing transparent panel.
"Come to me. "
He knew all about the way a fly would blunder into the glistening strands of a spider's web. Though her position was one of self- restraint, the sensual splaying of her arms and legs and the way she watched him approach told him he was looking at a predator. No question on who was prey in this room.
Nevertheless, he came forward, the heat of her gaze twining around him like the sticky strands of a web in truth.
A man who doesn't test the mettle of his soul isn't much of a man…
His hunger rose even further as he reached her and she didn't free herself. Instead, as he leaned in, putting his hands on her hips, the flesh separated from him only by thin lace, she strained toward him as if bound in truth. "Touch me. Please. Tease me as you would if I were your prisoner, yours to torment. "
He went on instinct. Sliding his arm around her waist, he splayed a hand between the wood and her body, gripping her ass to rub her against him, pushing her forward further against her restraints as he nudged her face to the side and used his teeth to mark her shoulder, right at the juncture of her throat. He clamped down much harder than he'd done it before.
She gasped, shuddered. In his peripheral vision he saw her eyes widen in shock. She strained against the bonds, pressing her breasts into his bare chest. He brought his other hand up to squeeze her there as he would if he were fulfilling his own desires only, using her body to slake his lust. The ripple of reaction got even more violent. When she dropped her head back on her shoulders, he moved from his bite to suckling her throat, tonguing the narrow valley at her collarbone while she quivered.
Dropping one hand, he cupped her through the gown, found her hot and soaking.
"You're wet for me, my lady. " He stared into her dark, fathomless eyes. The pupil had all but swallowed the green, so it was just a ring of glowing emerald. "Your pussy wants me again. "
Her lips parted at the crude talk. He noticed she didn't take as much care to hide her fangs when she was aroused. That reddish tint was back in her eyes, and there was a tautness to her features hinting at some other face he'd yet to see. As if he were seeing brief glimpses of a different being, a metamorphosis, here and then gone.
"It makes you hard, having me this way, does it?" Her voice was a breathless whisper. When she moved her body urgently against him, he curled his fingers in the gown, holding her still with a touch on her spread thighs as he guided his tip to her to rub her clit with slow, small movements. She went still and trembling, as if feeling the intensity of it.
"Yes, " he said low. "It makes me want to fuck you until you can't walk. I want to hear you scream my name, my lady. "
"Then you understand the power of it, " she said in that same whisper. "Having something you want so much as your willing captive. " She closed her eyes and rocked against him. The feeling was too much. He backed off, intending to ruck up her skirt, find her beneath it and feel the sweet honey of her pussy run over his cock again, smell it in his nostrils.
Instead he was spun in a circle, a flash of black disorienting him as his body was bumped, turned so fast he stumbled and couldn't get his bearings. She was moving around him, gripping an arm, an elbow, his hip, making him dizzy like a child twirled to stagger after a piata.
Only she wasn't intending him to chase after anything. He was thrust backward against the St. Andrew's cross and his feet swept from beneath him as he and the cross were taken to a horizontal position. His wrists and ankles yanked apart, spread and cuffed. Not held loosely as she'd done it to herself. In no more than a few blinks, while his head was still off balance, she had his limbs buckled down tightly, no keys this time, adjusted so he was stretched out in the X-shape, fully extended as she'd done on the bed. Then she brought him upright again, the world tilting, his stomach dropping. "It's even more pleasurable when that can be done slow. When a Mistress makes her slave stand still, watch her thread each strap, tighten it. Make him feel his loss of freedom an increment at a time, his lust growing and stirring her own. But for your first time we'll do it a bit differently. "
He managed to focus on her, just in front of and below him. With that inscrutable gaze in place again and no further conversation, she sank down and put her mouth on his cock, letting her fangs scrape him.
He reacted violently, throwing back his head so it rapped against the wood hard, but he barely felt it.
Her location shot his mind to the thought of where she'd said she'd put the second mark. Each of the marks had a serious functional purpose. The first mark was a tracking mechanism, allowing her to know his whereabouts at any time. So while at the time he'd felt triumph at her decision to give the first mark, he now understood it was the least impulsive of the marks to give, because it safeguarded her against betrayal. The next mark would link their minds, allowing her to speak to him without words. Even more significantly, it allowed her to tap into his thoughts whether he wanted her to do so or not. From the past few hours, Jacob was beginning to think it was that mark he needed to be most apprehensive about, despite the ominous significance of the third. The final mark linked him to her immortality, prolonging his life three or four times its normal span. However, as with the other marks, it came with a darker side. Much darker. If she was killed, he died as well.
He'd asked if the first and second marks were two-way. Thomas's cryptic reply had been, "when she allows it. " He'd told Jacob she could block his awareness of her whenever she chose to do so. In short, the marks tilted the scales all her way.
But perhaps there might come a time when he would know her mind, her heart, whether she willed it or not. When she would let her defenses down for him. The thought helped steady him.
Nothing else did. Her tongue teased the underside of his cock, licking as she nuzzled his balls. She didn't go fully down on it, though he ached to feel the sucking pressure of that petite, perfect mouth. She rose, her gaze heavy lidded, lips moist.
"You have a nice taste. You've no idea how it feels to me to see you restrained, going to bed knowing your cock will ache and leak for me, your dreams full of me… "
Turning away, she went to the armoire and opened it. Sliding open a narrow drawer, she trailed a finger through the contents. He heard clinking sounds like metal.
When she turned she had something in her hand that looked like the double-looped wire harness put on the neck of a bottle of wine to hold the cork securely. It had three circles in progressive sizes. The widest one was made of chain and threaded with pewter beads. The middle circle was a silver cuff, and the smallest of the loops had a decorative convex cap made of bronze. On the concave side of the cap there was a two-inch-long thin rod of surgical steel, slightly wider than pencil lead, except it flared to a bulb-shaped end similar to a Q-tip.
When she opened the door of a small cabinet in the armoire, a dim light activated within it, apparently to help her see the array of glass bottles. His lady seemed to have a penchant for stained glass in her home.
A home he assumed was still above them, unless she'd distorted space and time so they were in a bubble somewhere, floating in the universe beyond the range of help or anything he'd ever known. A man began to have some desperate and strange thoughts when bound so he couldn't move.