Wicked as She Wants

Page 53

“Now you have teeth.”

He leaned over my back, his lips warm against my ear. “You may be a princess, but you belong to me.”

My insides quivered, a flare of heat below where a finger dipped in to tease me. I could barely breathe. I was helpless against my body, against my senses, against the knowledge that the mad human had become an alpha Bludman commanding physical strength and power that I couldn’t possess. My beast purred for him, longed to touch him, stroke him, hold him close. I flexed my hands and tested the rope, but it was tied tightly. Seeing me struggle, he chuckled low, pressed his finger lazily in and out as I strained to meet him.

“You’re trapped, darlin’. I can do any damn thing I want to you.”

His teeth dragged across the nape of my neck, and I shivered. He bit down just a little, just enough to make me pant and gnash my teeth, too.

His lips brushing my spine, he muttered, “I could snap your neck if I wanted to. I could rip you to pretty ribbons. You’re still the best thing I’ve ever tasted, you know.”

He pulled away, and I quivered, waiting, knowing, until he dragged his tongue up my cleft, deep and slow, just to prove he could.

In response, I whimpered and struggled for more. He straightened and chuckled his mastery, and I backed up to press my rump more firmly against the hard ridge of him, nothing left of me but a beggar, a beast. I wanted it, so badly. And everything he’d said was true. No matter what happened at the ball, no matter what happened tomorrow, at that moment, we were nothing more than animals, and I was completely in his power, and it was exquisite.

He grabbed my hips, pulling me hard against him with a grunt. I shoved forward a little on the bench, but he pulled me back again. As the carriage rattled along the mostly smooth road, a gentle swaying friction moved between us, a subtle rumble that added to the tension. We were always moving. I panted, unquiet and yearning, knowing what a fine line I rode between the ferocity and hunger of the heart and flesh.

One hand caught my neck, my skin still wet from his teeth. I arched my back and spread my legs further, unembarrassed by my eagerness. He rubbed against me, teasing me, nudging me gently open, out and in just the littlest bit, holding back, holding me in place with the beginnings of claws on my nape. But he didn’t fully take me, not yet. I wanted so much more, and I whimpered and tried to toss my head.

“What do you want, princess?” His voice was dark and heavy, commanding. He withdrew, and I ached for more.

“Do it,” I hissed.

“Tell me, Ahnastasia. Tell me what you want.”

I didn’t hesitate. “Take me now. Do it, Casper.”

He chuckled and nudged me again, just the tip pushing in, hot and sweet. “I didn’t expect you to give in so easily, darlin’. I wanted to torture you for a while, like you’ve been torturing me all along. I want to make you ache like your heart’s going to burst in your chest. I want to be the only thing in the goddamn world for you.”

“You are. It does. Oh, goddess, just claim what’s yours!” I thrashed and pulled against the ropes on my wrists, and he pulled back. “Casper!” I growled, and in answer, he grabbed my hips with both hands and plunged in, hard and sure.

I felt him so deep, sliding in and out with a furious pounding that matched my heart. There was something exquisite about my helplessness, about being the object, the lesser of the beasts. I was hot and slippery, and he struck some place deep inside that felt sweeter than blood, sweeter than anything else I’d ever known. I wanted to move with him, to grasp and grapple and growl, but all I could do was turn my cheek to the cushion and take what he gave me.

With every thrust, my breasts pressed into the bench, the velvet raking my hard nipples, making each breath a gasp. When Casper grasped my corset strings and pulled them tighter, I went dizzy for a moment, my eyes rolling up and stars dancing in my vision. I reeled from the pull, the push, his thrusting, the velvet, the wheels grinding below us. I felt like a bludmare running away with the reins pulled taut by a masterly rider.

I turned my head to the other side, and the glittering fall of my dress filled my vision. I was lightheaded, furious, hungry, dizzy, pulsing with sweetness inside, and building again to that same tumultuous crescendo we had found the last time. For a moment, my eyes saw beyond to a snow-covered hill glittering in the moonlight, and I imagined Casper by my side, taking me on the blood altar in the clearing, the most ancient and primal rite of my people and the way it was said the strongest Tsarinas were spawned. For the space of a few frantic heartbeats, I smelled victory, the sugar snow falling like stars, cold and sparkling against the velvet darkness, and then I was there, hot and wet and desperate, taken over with the sweetness, thrumming deep inside, crying out, pulsing in time with Casper’s ferocious thrusts as I shuddered beneath him.

His hand clutched my wrists where they lay limp, pressing them possessively and intimately into my back as he growled and bucked along with my release. When he finally exhaled and fell across me, I was breathing deep, heavy, and slow, my eyes glazed over as I tried to float back to earth. I felt sated and limp and tranquil. And he was damned heavy.

“Let me get that for you,” he said, and I sighed as he untied the knot and freed my hands.

I sat up on my knees, still reeling, and flexed the feeling back into my fingers. With a shy smile, he handed me a fine handkerchief that matched his coat, and I felt only a little guilty as I cleaned myself off and let it flutter out the carriage window. My necklace had bought it, after all.

“Do you need help with your dress?” I turned to look at him. He sat on the opposite bench, his pants back to rights. It was a little fascinating, how he was an entirely different creature from what he had been a few short moments ago. The tenderness and humor had returned to his eyes, the dimples back in his smile. He was still powerful and confident—that would never go away. But there was just something lazy and calm about a sated hunter. One can’t hold on to the ferocity forever. I slipped my petticoats on and settled back into the cushion to put my feet in his lap.

“I don’t care to put it on yet.” I stretched as far as the carriage would allow. “What’s the point? There’s time enough.”

He leaned back, one hand on my ankle. “I like the way you think, sugarplum.”

I grinned lazily and looked down, and that’s when I noticed that my white corset was covered all over in black smears. I found similar stains on my wrists and hips.

“What . . . have you done to me?”

He bit his lip and tried really hard not to laugh, and I felt my first rumble of anger.

“It was Verusha’s idea. She said my hands weren’t dark enough, that someone might notice. So she rubbed ink into them. And I guess, with the sweat, it . . . rubbed off.”

“Ink. I’m on the way to the Sugar Snow Ball covered in ink?”

He covered a snort of laughter, badly, in a cough. “Isn’t there some way to clean it off? I don’t have another handkerchief. Maybe some snow?”

I shook his hand off my foot and gave him a halfhearted kick. “Idiot. There’s no snow. The first snow comes tonight. That’s the whole point.” I spat on my finger and rubbed at the stains that might actually show, the ones on my wrists. “Ink on your hands. Ink that will rub off. Fools. This is too important to mess up. This is—”

He caught my wrist. I hissed and tried to yank it away, but his grip was stronger than I remembered. His voice was soft and deadly. “I may not have you tied up and whimpering, but that doesn’t mean I’m your subject, princess.”

I went still all over. I had to. Damn him.

I swallowed hard and snatched my hand away, but we both knew it was only because he let me. We glared at each other, the air still between us, the crunching of stones under the carriage wheels the only sound. I rubbed my wrist and narrowed my eyes at him.

“You’re turning into a damned fine Bludman,” I finally said.

He grinned again, ruining the image. “I’ve got a good teacher,” he said.


The next time I pulled back the carriage’s curtain, I was surprised to see that it was dark and we were nearly to our destination. It was odd, how it seemed as if we’d been riding together forever, but also as if we’d had only a few stolen minutes. The forest was the last step of the journey. We’d be there soon, provided nothing tragic happened. There was a carriage ahead of us and another behind, so at least we would arrive in a crowd. The less we stood out, the better. Which meant, I supposed, that I needed to put on my dress.

“It’s almost time.” I checked my wrists for more of his damnable ink and started hitching up my dress to step in. “Don’t you dare touch your coat. Do you know any magic?”

He wiggled his black-streaked hands. “Only with the piano and your body.”

I rolled my eyes as I stepped into my gown and gently pulled it over my arms. The long sleeves would cover most of his mess, thank heavens. I tried to think about what I remembered of the Sugar Snow Ball, of the accommodations made for the city guests. There would have to be toilets, of course, and someplace with mirrors and water. I also knew that there was a way for couples to disappear discreetly, so at least we would have excuses if our behavior was strange or conspiratorial. Still . . .

“We have to do something about your hands.” I wiggled in my dress, unable to reach the tiny buttons running up my spine. “And quickly.”

He grinned, a perfect merging of his old recklessness and his new self-possessed smugness. “I took a lesson from my old rival and stocked my waistcoat.” Barely brushing the fabric, he pulled a bit of cloth from the pocket of his vest, a pair of black kid gloves that I remembered from his room at the Seven Scars. “I hate the damn things, but at least they’re the right color.”

“Try to keep your hands hidden, then. A country rube in gloves is better than an abomination with dirty hands.”

He stilled, his eyes searing me. “I’m not an abomination. I’m a Bludman.”

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