"About to come . . ." Suddenly, he grew motionless. "Right upon your talented tongue!" With a brutal roar, he ejaculated, spurting hard jets against the back of her mouth.

She felt every shudder rippling through his powerful body, felt his shaft pumping between her lips as he bellowed to the ceiling.

Warmth slipped down her throat as he yelled his approval, "Yes, yes, Lizvetta!"

On and on it continued, while his hips jerked helplessly to her mouth.

When he gave a last groan, tugging her off him, she collapsed back on the bed, catching her breath, unable to mask her surprise.

How exciting. How primal. She stretched her arms over her head and smiled-

"You liked that?" he sneered. He was angry with her? "Unexpected Elizabeth . . ."

Too much. Again the pleasure was unforgettable.

As if Elizabeth was branding his mind with these memories.

Her eager exploration of him . . . the way her pouty lips had sealed around his shaft, her little cheeks hollowing as she'd sucked . . . her smile after she'd wantonly accepted his spend.

She'd told him she would haunt him after she was gone. He narrowed his gaze on her.

She might.

"Did I do something wrong?"

Lothaire pressed one knee to the bed. "Part your thighs."

"Guess not."

When she eased her legs open, he began to harden once more, not even surprising him this time. He was insatiable for her.

Which wouldn't do. I'll worry about that later.

He cupped her sex-gods almighty, she had liked sucking him and swallowing his seed. She was wet with desire, so ready to be fucked-if not with his cock, then with his fingers.

He sank one inside her, probably the first time she'd ever been touched like this.

She gasped. "Lothaire, that feels so good. . . ."

"Do you ache for me here?"

"I-is that my reward? Are you going to have sex with me?"

Her seeming delight at the prospect aggravated him anew. Too much. He was roiling inside, and she was the cause of it. "No. As a mortal, you're not strong enough to receive me." Not a match for me at all. Lacking in every way! "I'm going to use my fingers."

He stirred the one inside her. She was too tight, her maidenhead getting in the way. "This needs to go."

"What . . . what are you talking about? That's starting to hurt, Lothaire."

He was hurting her? He wanted to. He was obsessing about her more than his revenge, more than his vows.

Something is wrong with me. I despise her kind! He began forcing a second finger into her. Holding her gaze, he commanded her, "Take it, Elizabeth. Take them deep."

When he'd wedged both inside, spreading them, her tears welled. "You can't."

"I can! Your maidenhead's mine." He drew his fingers out, thrusting them back in.

"Please stop . . ." She scrambled back, but he pinned his free hand over her neck. Her head fell to the side, her eyes squeezed shut.

Elizabeth couldn't be his. I did not subject my fragile female to death row for half a decade. Of course it wasn't her. He wouldn't have taken his Bride's virginity with a crude thrust of his fingers. . . .

I wouldn't have vowed to obliterate her soul.

Reassured, he relaxed somewhat, able to rein in his anger. "Don't fret-the pain will be worth it." He found himself smoothing her hair from her face as he let her adjust to the fullness inside. "It still hurts?"

When she nodded up at him with glinting eyes, something twisted in his chest. How could anyone harm her? So beautiful, so trusting. "Tender little mortal . . . I'll make it better, then."

"J-just give me a second."

"Shhh, Lizvetta." He removed his fingers, kneeling on the floor at the end of the mattress. "I told you I'd reward you." Lowering his head, he kissed her navel, and lower.

"Wait, you can't do that! Not after you just . . . Oh, stop!" Again she scrambled away, but he clamped her hips, snatching her back.

"What are you doing?" she cried.

"Taking all of what's mine." Hands splayed under her ass, he lifted her like a bowl to his lips, pressing his opened mouth between her legs, slipping his tongue into her folds.

"Lothaire, no- Oh! Ohhh . . ."

He tasted the sweet bite of virgin's blood mixed with her own honey; growling low in his throat, he almost spilled on the floor. "Dreamed of tasting you, Lizvetta." He nibbled, he licked, he devoured.

When she began rocking to his tongue, he eased his forefinger back inside her wetness, stirring her. Then he curled it upward until he found that subtly ridged flesh.

Her hidden little spot swelled, waiting to be found by a seeking male. "Have you ever had a man tickle you here?" He gave it a stroke.

"Lo-THAIRE!" she screamed, her back bowing.

"You sound surprised," he teased. "I take it you like this? Was it worth a bit of pain in the beginning?" As he rubbed it again, he darted his tongue over her clitoris-

"Oh, my God," she sobbed, clenching the sheets.

"I told you I'd teach you how good it can feel."

"Don't stop . . . don't stop!"

He stilled his finger inside her, chuckling against her flesh.

"You devil!" She twisted her hips, writhing wildly to get his finger back on that spot.

Sexy piece!

"Lothaire, stop teasin' me!"

"Tease?" His cock was throbbing. Already, he felt the beginning tremors. "It's the least I can do since you're about to make me come on my carpet."

Panting, she leaned up on her elbows, her eyes wide. "Are you about to-"

Another curl of his finger had her collapsing back with a strangled cry, her knees falling wide.

Chapter 34

Ellie heard the vampire laughing again, but this time it sounded much more strained.

Through heavy-lidded eyes, she stared down at his pale head bent over her as he swirled his tongue, softly caressing her inside.

"Uhn, getting so wet," he growled, relentless.

She was close, and he kept her right on the edge. That frightening intensity she'd felt with him before returned stronger than ever.

Yet then . . . movement flittered within her chest. No. It can't be.

Then it happened again.

"Ask me to let you come," Lothaire told her, "and I might-"

"No. . . . No!" Saroya had begun taking over. Twice in one day?

He raised his head. "No?"

"She's trying to rise!" Ellie leaned up. "Lothaire, I want this. Don't make me go. Please, I have to feel this!"

"You obey me, Lizvetta. You stay with me."

She gave a shaky nod. "I-I'll try."

"Look at me." His gaze held hers, the hypnotic red mesmerizing her. Like staring into embers. "This pleasure is for you alone to enjoy. You remain with me for this."

Saroya had already stolen so much from her. Ellie refused to surrender this as well. She resisted her with everything she had.

Waiting . . . fighting . . .


In time, the threat passed. "I think I held her back."

"Good." He ran his face against her thigh, as if he was praising her in some animal kind of way.

Ellie swallowed. "You'll keep going now? With that kiss of yourn?"

With his free hand stroking his shaft and a grin tugging his lips, he bent down to her once more.

As he curled his finger, he took her clitoris between his lips to suckle her. Her eyes went wide, then gradually slid shut.

His kiss grew more forceful. Unrestrained. Ravenous. The sensations deepened, stronger and stronger as he snarled against her.

The coil tightened until . . .

She screamed. "Ahhh, Lothaire! My God!"

Stunning. Ecstasy. With mind-numbing spasms, her sex gripped his finger again and again.

She sat up with a low moan, clutching his hair, rubbing her flesh against his tongue as he caressed her so deep inside.

Wicked, how she moves!

With his fist flying up and down over his cock, Lothaire growled between each hungry lick at her glistening, slippery lips.

Her orgasm drenched his tongue. He licked her harder. Still not enough, not enough. The taste of her had to last him for eternity.

She tried to press him away; he wasn't to be denied. Soon, she screamed again.

His female wasn't done yet. When her thighs closed around his head as she bucked . . .

Too much. At once, come exploded from him as he began to ejaculate on the floor.

His seed shot free in waves, pooling beneath him as he licked and licked her orgasms.

When he was spent at last and she'd wriggled from his mouth, he fought to catch his breath. He didn't trust his legs to stand, so he leisurely kissed her thighs before tracing into the bed. There, he lay back, drawing her to him.

She will curl up next to me, all but purring with contentment as she wraps an arm over my chest and smooths her leg up over my own. I'll tuck her close, then she'll fall asleep in my arms. Fitting me-

Elizabeth burst into tears, covering her face with her hands.

"What is this?" Aghast, he pried her hands from her face. "Are you still hurting?"

"Nooo," she cried miserably. "I-I just want to go to my room."

His ego was taking hit after hit this night. My Bride doesn't want me, and when I pleasure my mistress, the female weeps in anguish.

He'd known he was out of practice, but this was ridiculous. "Then what in the hell are you crying for?"

"You're really g-going to do it. You have every intention of casting my soul out."

"Why are you only now accepting this?"

"Th-this was my consolation prize. You wanted me to have that pleasure as a parting gift. Thanks for playing, Elizabeth? But game over?"

He clasped his forehead. Because she was probably right. And a couple of orgasms couldn't atone for what he was about to do to her.

Nothing could.

Tears streaked down her cheeks. "But we . . . but surely this isn't something that everyone experiences together. You have to feel something for me."

In a toneless voice, he said, "Whether I do or don't is immaterial. I use people and I discard them. That's what I've always done."

"Have you ever discarded someone and then regretted it?"

"Never."

"But you will with me." She ran her forearm over her eyes. "I could make you happy, Lothaire. You're going to realize what you had too late."

His brows drew together. Hadn't Ivana yelled the same thing to his father?

Lothaire gingerly pressed Elizabeth's head to his chest, rubbing his other palm over her lower back as he enfolded her in his arms. Strangely, she let him, even clutched him closer.

"You kidnapped me. You're g-going to kill me. Why am I letting you comfort me?"

He stared over her head. Because I've made sure you have no one else to turn to.

"Everything between us is sick . . . twisted. And it doesn't have to be."

"Shh, shh." He rocked her in his arms. Never had he comforted another in such a manner. He was awkward with this as well.

"I h-hate you s-so much." She sobbed so hard her body quaked against him, her tears wetting his chest.

"I know."

"When I-I'm gone, will you . . . will you t-tell my children about me? Will you t-take care of them?"

"Just be at ease for now, Elizabeth."

"Why couldn't y-you and Saroya just leave m-me alone? I only ever w-wanted to live."

Why was this making his gut twist? Either he was developing a conscience, or Ellie Ann Peirce was his Bride.

Both scenarios were ruinous to him. Because either one meant that it wouldn't be Elizabeth who died-it would be him.

The only way out of his vows to the Lore would be his own death.

She's not mine, she's not mine. . . .

Chapter 35

Lothaire's bellows woke Ellie at dawn.

She blinked, surprised to find herself naked-and in his bed with him, cradled in his arms. He was clad only in dark jeans, pressing her against his bared chest.

How had they gotten into this position? She had no memory past crying herself to sleep as he'd softly stroked her.

Sobbing herself to sleep.

Though she'd always prided herself on never crying, she'd undammed an ocean of tears.

But how could she not? Last night, she'd gone from the most sublime pleasure to the rawest pain-both given to her by one male.

Now he was obviously in the grip of nightmares. Was he reliving some hideous memory?

Even after everything he'd done to hurt her-and would do in the future-she felt a pang of sympathy.

Untangling herself from his arms, she raised herself up on her knees to peer down at him. "Lothaire?" she murmured, her throat scratchy.

The muscles in his torso strained until they appeared knotted under sweat-slicked skin. He yelled in Russian, his fingers twisting as if he were in agony.

What do I do? Should I touch him?

Though he yelled out again and again, he was eerily still, as if he couldn't move.

"Lothaire, wake up-"

"No!" he roared, his eyes still closed. "Nooo!" He flung out one arm, sending her flying.

Landing with a thud some distance from the bed, she did a mental inventory of her body, surprised nothing was broken. Unsteadily, she made it to her feet.

I can't do anything for him. He doesn't deserve my sympathy anyway!

Shaking off her dizziness, she backed away toward her room, where she threw on a nightgown. On her own bed, she drew her knees to her chest, rocking herself as his yells grew louder.

Rocking, rocking . . . She'd never heard anyone in such pain. Will I yell in pain when he casts out my soul? Will he pity me?

He'd told her he wouldn't show her mercy-

"Elizavetta?" he yelled dazedly.

She closed her eyes as if to block out the sound. He'd called for her? Why her name and not Saroya's? Because he needs me. No, you ignore him, Ellie!

"Elizavetta?"

He sounded so . . . lost. "Dang it," she muttered, rising to return to his room. "Wouldn't let an animal suffer like this-"

She froze at the sight of him. Bloody tracks ran from his closed eyes. My God, are those . . . tears?

What kind of misery could bring this callous vampire to tears? Ellie's own eyes welled, and she found herself climbing in bed with him once more.