Now that she'd touched him, she was even more attracted to him. Flying-into-a-lightbulb attracted.
Maybe he was a tad less intimidating without his fancy tailored clothing and expensive boots? And his chugging out of a pitcher at the fridge was so normal, so masculine, she couldn't help but respond.
Even when a line of blood ran from the corner of his lips.
Vampire. Blood. Still, she couldn't look away. How can this sight be wetting my whistle?
When he finished, he ran his forearm over his mouth, over the stubble on his chin. "Look your fill? Grope your fill? Don't worry, I'm accustomed to women of all species lusting after me."
She felt a flush of embarrassment, but curbed it. Ellie had an expiration date on her life that was closing in fast; she couldn't waste a minute being embarrassed over anything.
And she resolved not to beat herself up because she was attracted to a deadly, vampiric maniac that she yearned to kill.
Ellie tilted her head in a considering manner, saying honestly, "Well, at least you're pretty on the outside." At his expression, she said, "Oh, come on. In all of your endless life, no one's ever insinuated that you're ugly on the inside?"
Those weaker than Lothaire didn't make a habit of insulting him. Of course, she wanted to die. "You won't provoke me into killing you," he said, adding, "this evening. But court my wrath, and I'll punish you in other ways."
His wrath was at the ready, his mood foul. Though he'd slept for hours, the only memories he'd dreamed-or experienced firsthand-were his own, something that hadn't happened in ages.
Which meant he'd reaped no new information about the ring's whereabouts.
If he couldn't access Declan Chase's memories, he'd be forced to set off searching for the ring all over again.
When he'd first taken his uncle's advice and drunk "live" immortal blood from the flesh, Lothaire had accepted the risk: madness.
But he'd convinced himself that his mind was too strong to be overly afflicted. Perhaps he'd grow more fiendish, his conscience further eroded.
He'd never expected the sleep-tracing and the rages, the times when he couldn't hear an enemy sneaking up on him because of the thundering of his heart.
He'd never expected to lose his strategic abilities. In the past, he'd easily contrived multiperson, decades-long plots, foreseeing each player's move as if they were chessboard pawns.
Now mere puzzle solutions eluded him. He could rarely sleep. When he did, he couldn't filter through his dreams to get to the information he needed.
Also strange? He hadn't experienced Elizabeth's memories at all. She was his latest take, so why hadn't he seen hers?
The only good that had come from his rest was that his injuries had healed completely. At his age, he could go weeks between feedings, but regeneration had left him starved.
He poured more of the cool blood into a glass-glug, glug. He would leisurely drink it in front of the mortal, just to fuck with her.
But she didn't comment on his breakfast, only said, "I didn't find anything in here that I'd care to eat."
"Don't worry, I'll feed my new pet."
"Pet?" Her eyes glittered. "I never knew I could hate someone as deeply as I do you."
"I often help others discover the outer limits of their hatred. It's a talent of mine." Musing on his own perplexing situation, he said, "It must confuse you to desire a male you despise."
"No, I figured out what's happening."
"I'm unwillingly intrigued. Tell me what your little mortal brain fie-gered out," he said, imitating her drawl.
She narrowed her eyes. "I've always liked men. Before prison I had boyfriends enough, went parking every weekend."
Jealousy flared inside him, though he'd be damned if he knew why. Elizabeth wasn't his.
As if remembering a former boyfriend, she gazed past Lothaire. Her eyes gone languid, she twirled a lock of hair, running it over her plump bottom lip.
That hair. Those lips-
"Miss me some parking," she absently murmured, a blush spreading along her high cheekbones. "Hot, hectic . . . parking." Just when he was about to smash something, she met his gaze. "In the last five years, I've seen a total of nine men. Think about that for a second. Then you'll understand how even you can look good."
"Even I?" His tone was scoffing. "My natural attributes would have nothing to do with that?" He gestured at himself, indicating his faultless physique.
He'd grown to be perfectly wrought.
Exactly as promised.
But, by all the gods, what will it take to keep my own promises?
"Lothaire, just because I'm sexually desperate doesn't make you a peach."
Sexually desperate? His mind flashed to that time he'd seen her in the water eagerly kissing that boy, her fingers biting into his shoulders as her mouth had moved on his. The male's expression had been one of wonderment before his eyes had slid closed, lust overwhelming him. . . .
Red covered Lothaire's vision. Elizabeth had writhed against the boy, as if unable to get close enough to him-
Lothaire hurled his glass across the kitchen, blood and shards exploding against the wall. He traced before her, clutching her upper arms to yank her out of her seat.
Her heartbeat raced, her eyes widening with delightful fear. . . .
Ellie's hands flew to the vampire's chest as his mouth descended to her neck. "What is wrong with you?"
"This body belongs to me now! It will never be touched by another." Against her skin, he grated, "Damn you, allow Saroya to rise!" His lips parted, and his tongue flicked out.
"Oh! I-I can't-she's not even trying." Is he gonna drink from me again?
His skin was warmer than it'd been earlier, growing hotter and hotter beneath her fingers.
Another wicked lick on her neck sent shivers coursing through her. Ellie's nipples tightened into sensitive points, her breasts swelling.
"You're in need of my touch. Fade back and make her come to me," he commanded, his voice gravelly. "I'll pleasure this body, and then you'll be relieved of this ache when you wake."
"I don't know how to fade back," she cried, her accent growing thicker. He was kissing her neck so greedily, not biting, but still with an urgent hunger. "Oh, God, I can't think when you're doin' that." Had she moaned the last?
She must have, because he broke away from her, gazing down to gauge her reaction. She was panting, eyes focused on his sexy mouth, those lips.
He unfastened the button on her slacks. "You hate me . . ."
She gulped with fear. And anticipation.
". . . but you'll still let me do whatever I want to you." He pinched her zipper, rasping words in Russian to her as he slowly began to tug it down.
"I-I hate you more than anything! But that-that mouth of yourn feels so good. You probably got some kind of unnatural vampire control over me." Something had to explain this animal craving she felt for him.
When he spread her slacks open and fingered the lace on her silk panties with a groan, Ellie bit her bottom lip, struggling to keep her eyes open. Would his fingers continue to dip down, discovering her wetness . . . ?
How much more could he control? Her life, her future, and now her desires? She was suffering from temporary insanity, understandable considering everything she'd been through.
Everything he had put her through.