Deep Kiss of Winter


Murdoch fell upon her, pressing her into the wall as he sank his fangs deeper into the sweet flesh of her neck. The cold pained him, so badly he nearly released her, but soon blood wet his mouth. The taste... He growled against her, the pleasure was so intense.

Finally, she's in my arms. At last, I can hold her, taste her.

Couldn't believe he was doing this, needed to pull away. I'm taking too much.

He could feel her cries against him. When she screamed, he somehow released her, stumbling back. "Oh, God, Daniela!" He stared in horror at her ravaged neck, her tender skin burned.

As she backed away from him, her silver eyes welled with tears. "How could you, Murdoch?" Her pupils were huge with shock. "You vowed to me."

Between heaving breaths, he rasped, "Daniela, I don't know what happened."

"You lost control. And you'll do it again."

He wanted to deny it. Christ help me, I can't. His expression must have betrayed his thoughts.

Her tears spilled, her face paler from blood loss. "Now you're the second man who's touched me against my will." Her words were growing weaker, indistinct.

He grated in confusion, "The second?"

"I'm leaving, and I never want to see your face again as long as I live."

Jadian rushed into the lodge then, his watchful gaze taking in the scene. "You bit her?" He looked at Murdoch like he was scum, like he was a monster. "I will slaughter you for harming my queen."

"N-no," Daniela said through her tears, tugging on his arm. "I just want to go."

Go, with that male, away from Murdoch. Forever. "Don't you leave me!" he bellowed.

In answer, she put the back of her hand against her mouth and sobbed. Unsteady, crying freely, Daniela turned to the door without a glance back. When Murdoch charged after her, Jadian stood in his way. Murdoch tensed, about to attack him once more -

Daniela's legs gave way, her body crumpling. In a flash, Jadian swung around and caught her up against him. "Queen Daniela?" Then his eyes narrowed. "Blood loss."

"Give her to me," Murdoch grated with outstretched hands, "or I'll kill you so slowly."

"So you can drain more of her?" Jadian shifted Daniela into one arm; with his other, he hurled a handful of ice at Murdoch.

The hit connected with his chest like a freight train, sending Murdoch crashing into a wall. His skin began to freeze, trapping him in place.

He thrashed to break free, but the ice was too strong. "Don't you dare take her! She can't see that this is a trick - "

With Daniela still in his arms, Jadian loomed over Murdoch. "There is no trick. I've eliminated any threat against her. Her sister even told me how to find her, because she wants Daniela to be with her own kind."

"Then where the fuck were you for the last two thousand years?"

Jadian didn't answer the question, just said, "I will leave you alive, but only because that was her will."

"Give her time to wake, so I can talk to her - "

"You believe you can convince her to stay with you? You attacked her. Look at her neck. Remember this sight. This is what you are to her - pain."

"No... no..."

"I'm taking her to where she can be content, vampire. Where she will be safe."

"Like her mother?"

"Her mother didn't have me to protect her." With a wave of the male's hand, the ice began to build up over Murdoch's torso, crushing him. Higher and higher, climbing up over his chin.

Powerless to do more than watch them leave, Murdoch had time for a last breath - and used it to bellow her name. But they were already gone.

Ice swallowed him, cutting off his air. Soon blackness followed. And in that time, he dreamed Daniela's memories, taken from her blood.

Unable to wake, his clenched fists frozen, Murdoch watched as a Roman senator took her from a cage so he could run his fingertips over her delicate skin, fascinated by how it burned.

Murdoch felt her pain, her revulsion.

How long she'd been trapped in that hell, he couldn't determine. But he experienced her relief when Myst - the female Murdoch had hated for so long - and two other sisters had come for her. Myst had saved her life and murdered the Roman.

Why had Daniela never told Murdoch about any of this? About being a captive? Rage consumed him for the long-dead Roman who'd tortured her.

And yet Murdoch had hurt her just as badly, if not worse. After all, she'd trusted him.

Daniela thinks of me as she does that monster.

And she should. The look in her eyes when I released her neck...

When the ice had melted enough to be broken and he regained consciousness, his driving need to go after her was extinguished.

Who the hell was he to take her away from her fate? From her own kind?

Her whole life had been made better, fixed. Part of him still wanted to believe that she'd been tricked, that she would need him to save her... but the disgust shown by Jadian had been real. And he could easily have killed Murdoch.

As much as it enraged him to recall how Jadian had kissed Daniela, Murdoch knew they looked right together.

She's gone.

For hours, he mindlessly roamed the too-quiet lodge, cursing bitterly, ignoring his brothers' calls. Even as Daniela's blood still thrummed in his veins, his chest felt empty, aching for her.

I've lost her. The look in her eyes...

Murdoch punched the wall. The pain briefly diverted his attention from the hollowness in his chest.

So this is love.

He'd lost the one woman he'd ever loved. No, not lost. He'd driven her away with his selfishness and neglect. With his broken vows and attack.

Now that he could think about the night with a clearer head, he remembered that she had been pulling away from Jadian. Because of me.

Murdoch had never understood Conrad's madness. Now he did. There were some things the mind was not made to handle, differing in each person.

I'm not made to live without Daniela.

The phone rang yet again. There'd been talk of an upcoming battle. Maybe that was exactly what Murdoch needed. To fight. To be a vampire. To kill and destroy and not think about how Daniela would be happier away from him.

He answered the phone.

"We go to war," Nikolai said.


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