He went still. "What are you talking about?"

"I was alive back then. And all the Lore heard about the ruthless warlord brothers from Estonia. The general, the scholar, the enigma, and... the manwhore."

He clenched his jaw at the thought of having his life analyzed, especially by creatures he didn't even understand. The Forbearers could garner little information on Lore beings - their lives held secret - and yet they'd been actively following his own exploits?

"A manwhore?" Was that all he'd been remembered as? "Maybe I left behind the women I'd enjoyed because I didn't want to deal with exactly this." Even now he wanted to end this argument by kissing her and taking her to bed, which confused him even more. "It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the hour we just shared was the best we ever will - it's all going to go downhill from there."

"You don't have the sense to realize you were blooded by one of the only Valkyrie who would accept a vampire in her bed."

"To do precisely what there? Freeze?"

In a flash, she drew back her blistered hand to slap him.

"Do it, ice queen. And feel the sting with me."

Lightning struck again as she lowered her hand. "You're not worth it, leech," she said, but he was scarcely listening. Below her collarbone, a small line of blood had just risen from the last remnant of her wounds.

That stark red against her alabaster skin called to him, made him imagine following the trail with his tongue, then pinning her down to suck from her breast.

Already the scent was all around him. And now to see it?

Advertisement..

Don't look at it.

How the hell had Nikolai restrained himself from biting Myst all those years ago?

Murdoch's hands fisted as he struggled not to fall upon Daniela. He'd been able to resist touching her when under the most painful pressure he'd ever dreamed of.

But I'm not going to be able to deny this call...

CHAPTER 10

How can this be happening? They'd been doing so well. Fantasy made reality... somewhat.

But now the vampire's eyes had flooded black again. So he was as angry as she was?

Danii turned from him to snag the T-shirt, donning it as she dropped the sheet. When she met his gaze, he appeared even more incensed than before.

"Obviously, I need to leave," she said, while thinking, Tell me I'm your Bride, and that I will be staying. Be an arrogant, possessive Neanderthal vampire!

She wanted him to simply inform her that he would never let her go and she would just have to accept that, or whatever domineering misguided tripe these manly men always said. To women that aren't me.

This one wouldn't even look at her. "You need to go. Now."

Kicking me to the curb. She didn't know how much more of this her ego could take. Leeches were detested by most Valkyrie - by most of the Lore - yet Danii had been ready to offer this one more. He has no idea what I'd been willing to risk for him. "I'm a bit perplexed here. Most vampires refuse to be separated from their Brides, yet you can't get rid of me fast enough."

Because he no longer needed her. Danii had helped give him his initial release, her Bride's duty done, and now he could be with other females. She was expendable.

But one day he would realize what he'd lost - a frigid, broken female he could never claim, and one with skin issues - and then he'd be sorry.

When her bottom lip trembled, she cursed herself bitterly. Don't you cry in front of him!

"I thought you were going."

Exasperation drowned out the urge to cry. Exactly how was she supposed to leave? She didn't have a car here, didn't even know where they were. "No."

"What?"

"Not until you tell me why you're so intent on getting rid of me."

His gaze was transfixed on her neck, his voice a snarl as he said, "I'm about to throw you to the ground. Take your blood in a frenzy."

"B-but your kind doesn't bite." Her lips parted, and she backed away with real fear. "I'm not strong yet, Murdoch. If you did that, you could kill me."

His eyes went wide, then narrowed. Yet he'd still begun striding toward her. She backed to the wall.

Can I spare enough cold to stop him? With a grimace, she started building ice in her palm, planning to trap him as she had before.

When he was just before her, he shook his head, his entire body going off balance. With a last look at her face, he snapped, "Leave here. Before I return for you."

Then he vanished.

How much time had passed since he'd left her, Murdoch didn't know.

Hours, it seemed. But only now was the ravening frenzy subsiding.

After leaving Daniela, he'd traced to his rooms at Mount Oblak, Kristoff's castle, then attacked his supply of blood like an animal.

Now crimson was everywhere. He stared at the smeared floor and counter. My God, what would I have done to her?

He was still astounded that he'd been able to keep from touching those luscious br**sts of hers - yet he couldn't deny himself her neck?

Once he'd caught his breath, he rinsed his body in the shower, then redressed. Having managed some level of sanity, he decided to go to Blachmount.

Returning to the time-ravaged manor was always uncomfortable - almost all of Murdoch's family had died within those walls -  but he needed to talk to Nikolai.

He traced to Blachmount's great room downstairs, listening for the sounds of fighting. Or otherwise. The manor was silent. Frowning, he traced to the master chambers, and was stunned by what he saw.

Nikolai and Myst were sleeping together peacefully in the bed. Nikolai had his arms wrapped possessively around the Valkyrie, and she was clutching his chest.

Contentment suffused Nikolai's face, his visage markedly changed from the strain of the last several years. He was still pale, still gaunt, but his face...

Just as Daniela had predicted, Nikolai and Myst had come to some kind of understanding.

I wonder if Nikolai takes it for granted that he can hold his Bride? With a start, Murdoch realized that, for the first time, he was jealous of Nikolai. Which shamed him.

He knew of no one who deserved this peace more than his brother.

Seeing them like this eased much of his animosity toward Myst. No matter what had happened in the past, at this moment she was giving Nikolai pleasure.

Murdoch shook his head, no longer surprised that his brother had taken Myst here. Nikolai always came to Blachmount when he missed their family.

With this woman, he was planning to start a new one.

Murdoch tried to imagine what it would be like to have a female belong to him alone, above all others... and couldn't. It wasn't meant to be for him. He'd driven his own Bride away. Only now did Murdoch recognize that he'd taken his anger toward Myst - and his frustration over the blooding - out on Daniela. Who'd done nothing to deserve his ire; indeed, just the opposite.