I moved closer to her, compelled by some force I couldn't begin to understand. But my lips merely brushed across hers, their touch light, fleeting. For her mouth was not my goal. Not yet. Part of me wished to frighten her, I think, but there was more. To taste her. I longed for it with a hunger more powerful than the preternatural bloodlust I'd lived with for so long. And for a moment--only a moment--perhaps I forgot where I was.
Perhaps part of my mind slipped backward to the time when Dante and I lived like kings, feared by the villagers. The times when we dared walk among them at night, before they understood what we truly were. Those times when, should a maid strike our fancy, we were free to take her, to drink our fill from her pretty throat, and use the power of our vampiric minds to make her remember it only as a dream. Those times before we were fully aware just how dangerous it was to interact with mortals in any way.
I reverted, I think, in my mind that night. So my lips brushed across hers, and then across her cheek, and over her delicate jaw, and she knew.
She knew on some level. Her head tipped back, to give me access to what I wanted. Her chin ceiling ward as the breath shivered out of her. My lips found the skin of her neck; the spot where a river of blood rushed just beneath the surface. Its current thrummed louder, overwhelming my senses.
Her scent, her texture. my head whirled. And my lips parted, and I tasted her then. The salt of her skin, warm on my tongue. Her pulse, throbbing faster against my lips. I drew the skin into my mouth, just a little, suckling her, allowing my teeth to press down ever so slightly. Shuddering, she pushed herself closer to me, her body tight to mine--from the spot where my mouth teased her throat, to her breasts, straining against my chest, to her hips, arching forward, rubbing softly against mine and making me hard with wanting her. My arms were around her, one hand cradling her upturned head, one cupping a softly rounded buttock and pulling her harder against me.
Hers were on my head, fingers twisting and tugging at my hair as I sucked at her throat. I wanted to pierce her flesh. She wanted it too, I sensed that in everything she did, every soft sigh that whispered from her lips. But she didn't know what it was she was craving. She would though. She would.
I bit down harder, my incisors pinching, pushing against the soft flesh, preparing to break through that luscious surface to the nectar it concealed.
She gasped. A harsh, startled sound louder than the blast of a cannon to my ears, so focused was I on the taste of her. But it was enough to bring me back to myself, to make me realize what I'd been about to do.
The desire burned through me like a flame, and I trembled all over, a quake that utterly racked me as I forced myself to step away from her--to raise my head from her throat, and lower my arms to my sides and step away.
She didn't react immediately. And I knew too well why; could see it in the wide and slightly dazed look in her eyes. The allure of the vampire--and something more, too. Perhaps she'd felt the impact of this force between us as powerfully as I. Even I didn't understand it fully. To her, it would be even less comprehensible. She came back to herself within a moment, blinking as if to clear her vision, and then staring up at me.
"I don't think P we ever been... kissed... quite that way before." Lifting a hand, unaware she did so, she ran her fingertips slowly over the spot where my mouth had been- "I... shouldn't have done that."
"Why did you?" she asked me.
I shook my head.
"I'm not sure, Rachel. Perhaps for the same reason you allowed it."
Tilting her head to one side to study me, she frowned. Her hair slid away, revealing her neck to me again, and I felt a rush of renewed desire as I saw the redness forming there, and the moisture, and the way her fingers kept touching the spot and drawing away. "Go to sleep," I whispered, but it was more than a whisper. I flexed the astral muscle, the one that didn't exist physically but was there all the same, the one that sent my wishes out to the minds of others.
"Forget this happened." I caught her eyes with mine, sending the force out to her, the command that must be obeyed.
"Forget the kiss, Rachel. It never happened. Go to sleep, and when you wake" -- "Oh, I doubt I'll sleep at all, Donovan O'Roark," she whispered with a soft, shaky smile. A bit of the mischief returned to her pretty eyes.
"But forgettin' that kiss is certainly not an option whether I do or not.
I'll either lie awake thinkin' about it, or go to sleep and dream it up again."
Her smile broadened. '"Twas a rather nice kiss, you know." I stepped backward, an instinctive act, rather like reeling in shock, I thought later.
She didn't react to the mind control at all. It hadn't . it hadn't even given her pause.
I realized I was standing in the hall now, when she reached for the candelabra and offered it to me.
"You should take this with you, to find your way."
"No," I blurted, still trying to puzzle out her lack of a reaction to my commands, too much so to censor myself, fool that I was.
"I see perfectly well in the dark." I could have kicked myself the moment the words left my lips.
"Can you, now?" She drew the glowing tapers back to her side.
"I'll leave you to it, then. Good night, Donovan."
And she closed the door.
I stood there, trembling. Never had I been so drawn to a mortal before. And never, not ever in two hundred years, had I been so ineffective in influencing the thoughts of one of them. Making them forget. This told me two things. That her will was very strong, and that she didn't want to forget.
And she was here, in my home, my haven. God, what if she learned more than she should? What then?
Rachel closed the door, leaned against it, lowered her head and closed her eyes. She was shaking so hard she could barely stand, and she'd been terrified he'd see it before he left. She'd hidden it, she thought. Pulled the mask into place in time. Assumed the demeanor of the flirtatious, irreverent, and slightly cocky barmaid to conceal the depth of her reactions to him.
My God. The way he'd kissed her . the way his mouth had, not just caressed, but devoured her. and then the feel of those. Those teeth!
She stood bolt upright, still shaking, but no longer weak.
Her hands flew to her neck once more, fingers searching, feeling, terror creeping over her soul. Had he.
Diving into her deep pockets, she extracted a compact, struggled to open it, dropped it, and scrambled to snatch it up again. Finally, she leaned over the glowing candle flames, staring into the small, round mirror at the red mark on her neck. But there were no telltale puncture wounds, and there was no blood. Just a small patch of bruised skin. What her friends in the States called a hickey.
"Lord a' mercy," she breathed, snapping the compact shut, sagging once more.
"I don't know whether to be weak with relief or to question my sanity for thinking..." Shaking her head, she drew herself upright, turned and went to the bed, taking the candles with her. She set them on a nightstand, and well away from the bed curtains that draped down from the canopy to swathe the thing in luxury. Beyond the sheer fabric, a red satin comforter swelled from the stacks of pillows beneath it, and when she pulled it back it was to find sheets of the same fabric, only black, not red. The pulse in her throat beat a little harder. She had no nightclothes here. But the bed hardly seemed made for such things.
Glancing quickly back toward the door, she saw the lock there, waiting to be turned. She saw it, licked her lips, and turned toward the bed once more.
This time, to begin undressing.
And she slid naked into that decadent satin nest, felt its cool softness caressing her heated flesh, surrounding her in sensual pleasure. Cushioned and covered and enveloped within it. And when she fell asleep it was to dream of things more carnal than she'd ever done before.
She woke to the morning sunlight streaming through the window and bathing her face--and she was more curious about the man than ever before.
She flung the covers aside, got to her feet, naked in the chilly bedroom.
Her clothes lay folded on a chair, just as she'd left them.
She glanced at the unlocked door. He'd said he would be gone by the time she woke. But it was still early. Maybe. She dressed quickly. Over and over his voice rang in her head. Don't snoop. Leave by the back door as soon as you wake. I value my privacy.
It would be wrong to go against his wishes, after he'd been so kind to her, letting her in when he obviously didn't want to. Letting her stay when he'd seemed almost afraid to.
She finished dressing, ran her fingers through her hair in lieu of a comb, and checked her appearance in the compact mirror since there were none to be found in the bedroom itself.
She shook the thought away and examined her reflection. She looked storm-tossed. Wild. Hardly studious, much less virginal, and probably more like a barmaid than she ever had.
Him. His kiss, and a night spent reliving it beneath the caress of satin sheets that reminded her of his eyes.
"Damn," she whispered, and quickly made the bed before heading out the door, into the hall. Light now. Dim, for lack of windows, but enough light made its way in to see by. The door that led out of here was obvious. At the end of the hall to her right stood a tall, wooden door, with light glowing from beyond its thick pane of glass.
Swallowing hard, stiffening her spine, mustering her willpower, she marched toward it, found it unlocked, and pulled it open. Warm Irish sun bathed her face, her eyes. Stretching before her, like the crooked, graying teeth of a very old crocodile, were the crumbling stone steps, curving intimately down this tower's outer wall and disappearing round its other side. From here she could see the sea, glittering blue- green, with white froth roiling as the waves crashed against the rocky shore. The cliffs were almost directly below her. The steps were probably perfectly safe.
"But he kept going' on about the place perhaps being' dangerous," she muttered to herself.
"No, I really do believe he'd want me to go out the front way. Indeed, if he were here, he'd likely insist." She stepped back inside and closed the door.
Then she put her back to it, and faced a long, twisting corridor lined with doors, and open archways leading into other halls, or stairways going up or twisting downward. Shrugging her shoulders and battling an excited smile, she whispered, "I suppose I'll just have to search until I find a safer way out, won't I? "