Now let me have you.
Cale's words rang in Narcise's head, and now that the agonizing feather had been removed from the back of her dress, she could actually feel. And breathe. Her strength came rushing back, the numbness deserted her.
She wanted him to have her. Her fingers shook, her belly fluttered and leaped, she wanted him so badly.
He directed her out of the parlor, the door closing behind them and shutting off the voices and revelry-and Cezar's watchful eyes. They were walking rapidly down a corridor furnished with an occasional painting, as well as several tables with statuary, vases and other items. Cale led her past several closed doors, and she was certain he meant to take her to his bedchamber. Once you're in my bed, my chamber, you'll never leave it.
Her heart slammed behind her ribs, and she nearly pushed it all away: Cezar, the worries, the children...and gave in. For she knew he was right. Once she was in his bed, safe and sated, loved, she would never be able to make herself leave.
So she must not go there.
She stumbled purposely and when he paused to see to her distress, Narcise wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him toward her, backing herself against one of the doors. Before he could speak, or even react, she sank her fangs into the side of his neck.
Cale went rigid, and she felt his body jolt in a great shudder as the hot blood coursed into her mouth. He swore, in some low, dark curse that she couldn't hear. For a moment, she nearly forgot her purpose...the pleasure was so intense, so long awaited. And they were in this together, as equals. Equals.
The realization surged through her, strong and powerful, and she dragged deep, pulling him into her mouth, all the hot, coppery flavor of him.
He groaned deep and low, the cords of his neck swelling in response beneath her mouth. She pressed herself all along his body, feeling the welcome ridge behind the crotch of his breeches, the heat and strength she desired and no longer feared.
"Narcise," he managed to gasp, but his hands had covered her breasts, finding her tight nipples through the rough lace, and he seemed unable to finish. Molding her curves, sliding a thumb over her breasts, he had her flat against the door, his head tilted back, baring full, throbbing veins as she drank. His pulse pounded, sending little surges of his lifeblood into her mouth, and she sucked and licked, using her lips and tongue to taste him. He was rich and sweet, strong and yet comforting. Familiar.
She felt for the doorknob she knew was behind her, and uncaring what sort of room they would stumble into, managed to twist it. The door gave away behind her as she withdrew from the hot, soft skin at his neck and backed inside, pulling him by his lapels into the warm, dimly lit chamber.
"Out," she heard him say roughly over her shoulder. As she tore at his coat, yanking it from his shoulders, she was aware of some sort of skittering movement, quick and clumsy, and then the stirring of the air as the chamber's previous occupants quickly vacated.
Cale muttered something unintelligible, whipping the coat to the ground as she fumbled with the tie at the throat of his shirt, aware that his rich red blood had stained the white cotton. She tore it away and there was his bare chest beneath her hands again, as warm and solid as she remembered it.
He was pulling at the pins in her hair, yanking haphazardly and dropping them to the wooden floor with little scattering sounds. "So beautiful," he murmured, sliding his hands into her hair, lifting its weight from where it rested at the back of her neck, untangling the mass of coils and braids and twists, spreading it wide and full so that it shimmered down her back. She felt it through the thin lace, heavy and warm, and then he lifted the whole of it to one side, baring her neck.
"Narcise?" he asked, his voice rough in her ear, his other hand firmly on her arm.
"Yes-" She'd barely breathed the syllable when he slammed his fangs into her at that soft, sensitive juncture of neck and shoulder. She gave a little shriek of pain and pleasure, and he stilled for a moment, one hand cupping her shoulder, and the other curved around the back of her head, holding her steady when she would have sagged weakly.
The release of pressure inside her, fairly exploding into his hot mouth, combined with the sting of pain and the sensual tracing of his lips made Narcise weak and dizzy in the most pleasurable sort of way. Her lips moved in a smile, taut with need but real nevertheless.
It had been so long...so long since this pleasure hadn't been taken from her, forced from her. So long since it had been good, pure pleasure instead of terrible and dark.
But her knees were buckling and she grasped at the remnants of his shirt, holding on as he drank deeply. One of his hands slipped down to drag her bottom close, her torso sharply against the cock raging behind his tight breeches. She arched low, pressing against the tempting bulge, rubbing her own swollen self against him in the rhythm they both craved. Their breathing matched and mingled, hard and rough and heated, spreading over her skin where he latched on to her shoulder, his tongue caressing her behind his fangs.
There was a clink, and a jolt, and she realized they'd bumped into a table or something, and the next thing she knew, something was behind her legs. The arm of a sofa.
"Let's do it horizontally this time," he murmured, releasing his fangs and then sliding hot, slick lips over her wound, tenderly, gently, to close it up. She shivered at the sensation over her taut, sensitive skin, closing her eyes as her body seemed to turn to liquid, hot and pounding inside. Her breasts strained behind their lace confines, the rough material erotic and irritating to her thrusting nipples. But the pleasure rolling from belly to quim, undulating through her limbs, was delicious and unbearable, and Narcise found herself sighing and moaning in delirium, needing more.
Then he was easing her to the floor, pulling her down with him onto a thick rug. The glow of a fire spilled in a golden pool on the red wool. "The sofa...too narrow," he murmured, pulling at the laces that bound her into the sleevelike dress, opening it along the side of her torso, pulling it with gentle hands, her skin freed from the rough lace, open to the heat of the fire, and then-
He bit her there, in the soft side of her belly, just above her hip, and Narcise jolted as pleasure shot to her quim in a hot, soft swell, then burst into a spiral of release. Her breathing went out of control and her world turned dark and red, pounding and rising, her center throbbing and pulsing as warmth and release surged through her.
"So you like that?" he said, his voice deep and filled with delight.
Then he-Giordan-was over her, one hand moving up under the lace to cover the top of her breast, smoothing his palm rhythmically over the needy tip of her nipple, and the other sliding up beneath her skirt, behind the black satin triangle between her legs.
His lips moved over the soft, delicate skin of her torso's edge, sipping and gently sucking at the new wounds there. Her belly shivered and trembled, and when his fingers found her swollen quim, slick and full, she closed her eyes and breathed long and deep. The pleasure and need rose again immediately at his touch, and she could picture his long, elegant fingers as they explored, stroking her back to a new peak.
"Yes," she murmured, arching into his hand, but he pulled back, teasing his fingers along the inside of her thigh, then up and away to look down at her. She was aware of his weight bearing down on her, solid and comfortable, one solid leg between hers, the other alongside the outside of her thigh.
"Kiss me," he said, his hands now covering her shoulders through the flimsy lace. "Narcise." His eyes bored into her, penetrating the haze of her pleasure, and she recognized the need, a vulnerability there-not so very different from what hers had been.
A rush of warmth, of certainty and desire, spread through her.
She cupped his warm face, sliding her hands along his jaw, felt the faint tremors deep beneath her fingers, the beginning of stubble on the very bottom of his chin. Her thumbs crept up along the sides of his face, her fingertips in the thick curls around his neck.
His gaze never wavered, dark and heavy on her, drilling deep into her soul. Deep into her damaged, warped, damned soul. Her heart shifted, shuddered and broke open.
He'd given her back so much: herself, her freedom, her body.
When she pulled, guiding him down, he lowered his face to hers. He murmured her name against her mouth, then their lips met gently, fusing together without hurry.
Giordan sank onto her, gathering her close as he shifted to go deeper, delved into her with soft lips and sleek tongue, still scented and flavored with the essence of her own lifeblood. Tears prickled at the corners of her eyes, such relief and emotion swelling strong inside her, bursting to come out from this unfamiliar intimacy.
The kiss turned from a sweet proclamation of tenderness, then to something fierce and hungry. Their tongues clashed and stroked, delved deep and furious, their lips catching on fangs and scraping tender skin. Little surges of blood mingled with the kiss, mixing with their breath, tasting sweet and thick as their bodies slid and bumped against each other. His fingers moved between them, pulling at the buttons of his breeches, the back of his hand sliding teasingly against her swollen center.
Narcise helped him, blind but efficient, and heard the soft scatter of the buttons as they flung beyond the rug to the floor. Quick and furious now, her skirt was flipped up and aside, his breeches and drawers yanked away until the heat of him lay against her thigh.
"Giordan," she pleaded, spreading herself up and against him freely, wantonly, and she heard his great gust of relief as he found the hot, sleek place between her legs.
They both gasped when he filled her with one sharp movement, and then there was no longer time for play. He seemed to have run out of patience and teasing, for no sooner had he slid deep than he was moving again, harder and faster, bending forward to nip at her mouth, to slick up another taste of her as her hips moved to meet his rhythm.
The rug burned into her buttocks and Narcise felt her hair caught beneath her shoulders, but that discomfort was lost in the hot, driving pleasure that she suddenly reached in an explosion of pleasure, grasping it just before he did. He made a low noise, strangled and deep, and thrust deep and hard one last time, then buried his face in her hair and collapsed into her arms.
Narcise closed her eyes, her body still shuddering pleasantly, rippling from her center out to each finger and toe, remembering what it was like to feel happy, and complete after this...and not dark and damaged and used.
His lips moved against her neck, saying something she couldn't hear, but the gentle movement sent delicious little shivers along her shoulder and she smoothed her hands all along his back.
The curling, rootlike ridges of the Devil's Mark bumped beneath her fingertips on one side, and she felt the faint pulsing therein. She wondered if he'd done something to anger Lucifer, or if his Mark was always full and throbbing like that.
Hers rose and fell depending upon her mood and that of the demon who'd put it there, and right now, now that she was sated with pleasure, it was hardly a twinge over her shoulder blade.
Giordan-he was no longer merely Cale to her-shifted and pulled away, his hands sleek and smooth as they moved down over her throat and shoulders. "I hope you don't mind my saying that you're the most beautiful woman I've ever known," he said. "But you're also the strongest. Here." He rested his fingers over her heart. His eyes burned dark and steady as he looked down at her, his lips, those perfect ones that she'd learned so well from her sketching, were full and glistened a bit.
She shifted and he eased back farther, helping her to sit up.
"Narcise," he began, covering her with his eyes, determination in his jaw.
She knew what he was going to say, and she stopped him with a finger over his lips. "Don't ask me to stay. I can't-"
"I wasn't going to," he said, easing away from her fingers. A note of annoyance colored his tone. "I was going to say, I think it's important to keep this from your brother."
"Why-and how? He ordered me to seduce you-he'll smell you all over me," she began, confused and yet relieved that he wasn't going to try to convince her to stay.
Giordan was nodding. "I know. But why? To see if it would work? To see if we have an attachment?" He frowned and Narcise was surprised when a wave of affection swept her at the sight of the furrow between his brows. She wanted to touch it. She wanted to touch him again, everywhere, in fact...to lie next to him in a soft, luxurious bed, naked and sated, and to hear him talk. He must have noticed the heat in her eyes, for he paused and, eyes narrowing with desire, he bent forward to kiss her.
Another sweet brushing of lips, but then she slipped her tongue out and there was still the essence of blood on him, and the kiss became deeper and more thorough. She curved an arm around him, sliding it along the curve of his bicep as a tingle began to grow inside her again.
When he pulled away, it was with obvious reluctance. His brown-blue eyes, ringed with black, now glowed with fire again. But then he blinked and it eased into seriousness. "I don't trust anything about him, or anything he does," Giordan continued. "But it seems as if he is trying to push us together. And if he wants that, then there's a reason to benefit him. I think it would be best if you went back alone, and I'll be along shortly. He'll know you did what he bid, but he doesn't need to know that we...well, that it was like this."
His voice dipped low and sent another pang deep in her belly.
Narcise leaned forward to capture his lips again, sliding seductively against his mouth, her hand flat on his chest. "Very well," she said, and left.
Giordan took his time returning to the parlor, partly to allow Narcise to make her appearance first, and partly because, aside of getting new clothing, he had things to attend to.
Narcise might think she was returning with her brother tonight, but that wasn't going to happen. He'd take care of Moldavi himself, and then attend to Belial and his hostage in the carriage. Voss and Eddersley would help, and after that, they'd all go back to Moldavi's residence.
Then all of the child hostages would be free, as would Narcise.
Giordan slid a stake into the inside pocket of his coat. A different weapon than what he used on the streets-then it had been a slender but wicked blade that slid between ribs like butter-but they were both used in the same way.
He was waylaid by a question from one of his footmen, and then Suzette, who'd been entertained by one of Giordan's male vintages, caught him in the corridor to ask when he might plan another party. "I was hoping for a rooftop ball," she suggested with a smile. "During the full moon would be perfect."
Giordan smiled. "Very soon, ma cherie. Perhaps within a week." He could introduce Narcise to his friends, and he imagined that she'd enjoy the fresh air.
He excused himself as quickly as he could and returned to the private parlor at last.
The first thing he noted was that Narcise wasn't there. He frowned; she'd had ample time to return. Then, when he scanned the chamber and realized that Moldavi was absent as well, his stomach plummeted and a rush of anger stopped him cold.
"Where are they?" he asked Eddersley, who'd paused to look at him as if he were mad.
"The Moldavis? They left. Perhaps a quarter of an hour past."
Giordan rushed out of the parlor, knowing it was futile, that they'd already gone...but somehow hoping that he was wrong.
But he wasn't. Outside, beneath the swath of stars and sliver of moon, he found one of his grooms and demanded to know where the Moldavi carriage was.
When the groom explained that it had left some time earlier, and that, oui, the mademoiselle was with her brother, and, no, she was not in distress, she was walking of her own volition, Giordan stepped back and whirled away. His heart pounded violently and he knew his eyes were burning red and gold, fairly flaming with rage.
He had a terrible, sinking feeling that he'd never see Narcise again.