She swallowed. "D-do you know what needs to happen now?"

He choked out the words, "Been trying."

"For how long?"

He groaned, "Hours..."

If everything she'd heard about their kind was true, why hadn't he been on top of her, releasing the pressure he was feeling?

He was hurting - so she wouldn't have to. A pang squeezed her heart.

But if he hadn't been able to achieve his release by now, he was definitely going to have to touch her. She already dreaded that grueling pain.

No, there must be some way around that. Maybe he could touch her hair?

If so, then game on. They'd figure something out. And then she would have a memory to replace the one of the last time she'd been na**d with a man. She shook herself, ruthlessly pushing that thought away.

Excitement began overwhelming her dread. A flesh-and-blood male wanted her. He knew her nature, and he still would need to be near her.

Around her sisters, Danii acted as if she couldn't care less that she was untouched. She assumed her ice queen persona, donning a cold cloak of indifference whenever they gossiped about their bed partners.

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In truth, Danii was desperate for contact. At the very least, she yearned for companionship.

This god of a male was linked to her by fate.

I lived through the night, and a gorgeous, virile immortal needs me.

Sad, sad Daniela just got happy, happy.

Murdoch's body was tensed to spring for her if she chose to run.

Valkyrie hated his kind. This one would not be pleased by this development.

He racked his brain for what to say to her. Normally, he would just take her hand and drag her into the shower for a deep kiss until she'd gone weak-kneed and mindless. In the past, he'd controlled situations with women. I lead, and they follow.

How to get her from here to his bed? "Daniela... I... you have blooded me." Even to himself, he sounded accusing.

"You don't sound too thrilled about that."

"Because I'm not." Damn it, where's my smoothness? He'd never in memory said the wrong thing to women, had always been able to sense exactly what they wanted to hear.

I have no idea what this one wants to hear.

Her expression was inscrutable. At one instant she looked shy and vulnerable, at another ravenous. He couldn't read her, could hardly think.

Would she run? If so, what would he do?

He tried to moderate his tone. "I wouldn't have chosen to involve you in this, but I have had no control over it." Still his anger thrummed in his words.

She blinked at him. "Lines like this got you laid as a human?"

"Yes. No." He scowled.

"I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that your brain is scrambled right about now, and I'm probably the first female you've ever encountered that you don't know what to do with. I'm familiar with your reputation, Murdoch."

"How? I don't - "

"Let's talk after there's no chance of you blowing this with me." When had the Valkyrie's voice grown so sultry? "So, do you want to go see if you can't work that" - she pointed at his erection - "out?"

His jaw slackened. "You will stay until I can spend?" Say yes... Say yes...

Her gaze was lascivious, dancing over his body, all traces of the shy Valkyrie gone. "Wouldn't miss it for the world."

When she tossed him a towel and turned toward his bedroom, the legendary Murdoch Wroth dumbly followed, tripping over his own feet.

CHAPTER 8

Any self-respecting valkyrie would be figuring out how to kill the vampire. Being a Bride was considered shameful, unless you murdered the offending leech - which was the usual protocol.

But Danii? She was exaggerating the swish of her h*ps as the newly blooded vampire followed her to his bed.

Playing with fire. It had a totally new meaning for Danii.

In a husky rasp from directly behind her, he said, "I thought you would run from me." His voice was just at her ear, giving her delicious shivers. He was so close she thought his erection would prod her, but he'd slung the towel around his waist.

"Uh-uh." She knelt on his bed, then curled her forefinger in invitation.

At once, he dropped to his knees before her, running his gaze over her.

Danii wasn't shy, didn't know many immortals who were. And considering how long she'd been waiting for a night like this -  fantasizing about it - she'd be damned if she let her lack of expertise detract from the experience.

Yet even now, he didn't know how to proceed. "I want to seduce you... but I can't kiss you... can't stroke you."

She'd stumped a living legend. Danii was just contrary enough to be gratified by this. "There's no need to seduce me. I've already signed my name on your roster."

He frowned at that, then said, "But there must be a way for me to have you."

She shook her head sadly. She'd consulted the witches and had been told that one of them might be able to help once she came into her powers, which could take hundreds of years. She'd begged the Valkyrie soothsayer Nix to foresee a way around this curse of coldness. Nix had told her to simply accept herself and everything would work out.

That'd been eight centuries ago.

Suspicion tinged his expression. "If there was a way, would you tell me?"

She shook her head. "Wouldn't have to. You'd already be inside me."

His lips parted, displaying his white teeth and fangs. "Another Valkyrie teasing a vampire."

"No, I'm not teasing. I'm just imagining it."

At that, his shaft jerked between them, distending against the towel.

"Looks like it wants attention." She didn't ogle penises in person every day, not even every decade. "The towel off, please. I'd like to see it." Up close and at her leisure.

He raised his brows, but did reach for the towel. Once he bared himself, Danii's gaze descended along the trail of crisp black hair that led to the base of his erection. His thick length jutted boldly from his body, the crown swollen and taut. Perfection. "Will you stroke it in front of me, vampire?"

At her words, he made a guttural sound, and a drop of moisture beaded on the head.

She stared as he cupped his shaft in his palm, holding her breath as he slowly closed his fingers over it.

Finally he gave it a stroke. The sight made her go soft, her sex getting even wetter. Her ni**les stiffened beneath his T-shirt. And he noticed.

"Show me your br**sts." When she pulled off her borrowed shirt, he inhaled sharply. "So beautiful." He reached his free hand forward to touch one, but she flinched before he could. With a curse, he closed his hand and drew it back. "Too easy to forget."