Vampire Queen 8 - Bound by the Vampire Queen - Joey W Hill, page 49
“Drink, my lady,” he said. “Take everything you need.”
He shuddered as she pierced him, as he often did. Dropping his head to the seat back, a deep sigh slipped out of him as his other hand settled on her hip, stroking that line. “You worried me.”
“You worry quite a lot. Enough for both of us.” He grunted at that. Mariela’s blood had been sweet, pure, lifegiving. But there was nothing like Jacob’s blood, the blood of her full servant. Her arm was around his back, knuckles pressed to the cushioning as she stroked the serpentine shape of that third mark. Are you worried about tonight, my protective Sir Knight?
He shook his head. “It’s obvious they’re on board, at least for today. An indisputable show of strength was what they needed. Overcoming Belizar and staking Barbra more than accomplished that. I’m a little curious how the dinner will go. Given it’s a vampire dinner…”
She smiled against his flesh. “It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying my servant during one of those.”
“Now I am worried.” But she felt the flash of his amusement, followed by a more serious direction.
“I’m concerned about Jessica.”
“I knew I was right about the protective part.
Chivalrous soul. Mason can exempt her if he wishes.
He will not let etiquette or seniority stop him. If she participates, it is because she is determined to perform fully as his servant. I expect she needs to prove it to him.”
“And he’d allow that?”
“It’s amazing what a vampire finds her or himself allowing, despite the fact they are supposed to be Master or Mistress, and the humans the servants.
However, if she’s convinced him to be a little less maniacally protective, that’s not an easy task. She’s a remarkable girl.”
She was quiet then for a bit, feeding off of him.
She stroked his chest, following the appealing flat hardness of his pectoral, the curve of biceps.
“I'll bring Kane tonight,” she said. “Let the others pet and play with him.”
Jacob chuckled, his voice a little thick, reacting to the intimacy and pleasure of her touch. “If Helga gets her claws into Kane, we won’t get him back, short of threatening to stake her.”
“He'll love the spoiling. As Gideon says, when it comes to vampire children, we are hopeless. But he does not realize what it is like, to be a species where offspring are so rare that every infant is like a precious, delicate gem. Even without the pendant, I was never worried about Kane being harmed by the Council, not at this age. Only taken away from his rightful parents, who best know how to protect him.” As he made a noise of agreement, she lifted her head. “On that note, I invited Brian to the dinner tonight. When you were talking to the kitchen staff, I visited his lab area. He told me he has some findings on one of his projects he wants to share.”
“Good. I’ve missed the vampire geek.” She snorted. “I dare you to cal him that to his face.”
“No thanks, I'll pass. I do occasionally understand the benefits of tact, especially around vampires who can throw me through walls.”
“Perhaps you can teach your brother such diplomacy.”
“Not likely. I’m still kind of amazed he'll be there tonight. I assume he'll have to be gagged, muzzled, blindfolded…”
“He has been with Anwyn and Daegan for a few months now. When he knelt before her, that day at our house, it was obvious they’ve been thoroughly training him in what is expected of a vampire’s servant. I would have enjoyed seeing that.” Jacob felt a lazy, sensual stir of amusement from her. “But he is still Gideon. He has an unmistakable deference when it comes to his Master and Mistress, though he will never be as smooth with it as you, someone who willingly sought the bond. But it’s there. He belongs to them, body, heart and soul.”
“I know. I see it. And it still kind of freaks me out.” She chuckled against his skin then, changing the nourishing pul to a stimulating lick, her tongue caressing the puncture. She scraped her nails over his nipple. “I’d like a bath, Jacob. I want you to bathe me, and while you do, I’m going to enjoy touching you however I wish, making sure you are hard and ready for tonight’s events, whatever your Mistress will's.”
“I’m sure I could do that, even if she decides to avail herself of my cock now.”
She rubbed her ass against the mentioned portion of his anatomy, teasing him. “No doubt. I’ve missed showing you off, Jacob. It’s been a rough day, and I plan to enjoy my night thoroughly.”
“God help me,” he muttered. She turned her face up and slid both hands into his hair, bringing him down for a plundering fuck-me-now kiss he knew wouldn’t sway her, even as she’d get so hot and wet he could smell it and it would drive him insane.
His lady was stubborn like that.
Mindful that he had responsibilities beyond tireless and devoted sex slave, Jacob had taken the time to ensure dinner would reflect the new management as best as possible with such short notice. The staff had done well with his direction. The dining room table had a bright white tablecloth, red flower petals scattered over the fabric. A beautiful arrangement of traditional red roses formed the centerpiece, the blooms partially open in that coy, tempting way his lady most preferred. The china was a simple white scallop with solid silver edging. He’d lined up several courses for sampling, foods his lady enjoyed, but ones that would tempt the palates of the others.
Right now, the vampires were still in the study, enjoying pre-dinner drinks, but at a step, he glanced up, pleased to see his brother had joined him.
Gideon eyed the table settings. “Martha Stewart Living says you should put the napkins on the plates in a fan shape. Adds a little touch of class.”
“You still reading magazines in grocery stores? I thought you only did that when you were hunting.”
“Anwyn keeps a few subscriptions going in the break room at Club Atlantis. Sometimes I read an article here or there, when I need a few minutes to clear my head.”
Jacob gave him a sidelong glance. “You okay with this, bro?”
“Yeah. I can do this.” A curl to his lip. “The last Council dinner I attended was a lot more . .
. challenging. If the most traumatic thing I have to do tonight is see you naked, I'll live. And if we get to share a pretty girl, well, you gotta do what you gotta do to keep your vampires happy, right?” Despite the flip comment, Jacob could tell Gideon was tense. He knew his brother, knew that Anwyn was the only woman he wanted in his arms. But it was different with a Mistress, what would pleasure them. They had a unique way of making you want what they wanted. He could tell, as Lyssa said, that Gideon understood that better now. But ultimately it didn’t change how either of them felt about the vampires they served.
However, when Jessica slipped in the other door, it was apparent that their concerns were comparatively low level. She looked as if she was going to faint. When she leaned against the door, she closed her eyes, so involved in whatever was happening in her head she didn’t even notice them.
As such, she nearly jumped out of her skin when Jacob moved, his dress shoe scraping the floor.
Her eyes flew open, took them both in. Drawing a deep breath, she declared, “I can do this.” Jacob nodded, took her hand. “Of course you can.”
“I can’t have a panic attack. He'll feel it. He’s involved with them right now, but if he feels me like this, he won’t let me do it. And I have to. I have to show him I can do this. I have to prove to me I can do it.”
“You will .” Gideon, following Jacob’s lead, took her other hand, both of them dwarfing the slim fingers.
“You look sensational.”
Jessica glanced down at the off-the-shoulder black cocktail dress that was high on the thigh. A simple, classy sheath, sexy as hell. She wore the same choker she’d worn earlier, though Jacob hadn’t paid close attention to it then, other things taking precedent. At close range, it was quite obviously Mason’s collar, a melding of different metals that had
The closure looked like a tiger’s talon. An amber pendant dangled below it. Jacob drew her desperate gaze up to his as he laid his hand on her shoulder, his thumb brushing that collar, reminding her of its presence.
“Everything that happens in here tonight, everything you do, will be his will ,” he said, steady.
“His pleasure. That’s how it works. You get so lost in it, it isn’t what you’re doing that matters. It’s how he reacts to it.”
Gideon’s attention shifted to him. At one time, Jacob himself hadn’t fully understood the words, even after months of training to be a vampire queen’s servant. But now he did. All the way to the bone. Jessica held his gaze a long moment, drawing on that authority, and her own strength. Her chin firmed, and a new calmness, though fragile, entered her gaze.
“Good. They’re coming.” He pointed to a chair.
“He'll be sitting there, at the other end of the table.
She has Lord Uthe to her right and Lord Brian to her left.” Belizar was going to be next to Uthe. They’d thought about putting Belizar at the other end, where Mason was, but tonight Belizar was a member of Council only. She wanted him to get accustomed to that before she trusted him as a senior member with advanced standing again.
Moving to Mason’s chair, Jessica took her place behind it as Jacob showed Gideon where Daegan and Anwyn would be sitting, so he could position himself between both of their chairs. His brother looked unexpectedly put together in black slacks and a dark blue shirt that stretched over his broad shoulders. Jacob wondered what weapons he was carrying tonight, and if the slacks had been tailored specifically to allow for that. Daegan had probably helped him dress, since Gideon usually bought his clothes based on cheapness and how easy it was to wash blood out of them. Quelling a smile, Jacob took a position behind the head chair, his lady’s seat.
As the vampires wandered in, they chatted in a relaxed, amiable fashion, not so different from most cocktail parties. Cocktail parties attended by exceptionally perfect physical specimens of beauty and power, who might have been tearing one another apart only a few hours before.
Some of the servants were with them, while others now slipped in from other doors, taking their place.
Helga was on the other side of Mason with Torrence behind her. He and Gideon seemed to have a history because, when their gazes met, Gideon gave him a discreet sneer and Torrence returned a fuck-you look, immediately replaced by bland expressions on both faces. Jacob figured they’d be bonding over football scores by the end of the evening.
He held out his chair for his lady. Every inch of her looked edible in a beaded formal sheath of rich green that went with the emerald and diamond choker she wore on her neck. Her hair was in a simple style, clipped at her neck with a diamond clasp, the ebony curls tumbling down her back and over her breasts. She’d put together the right picture of formidable queen and irresistible, charming woman. It reminded everyone here she could be both, and which side she displayed depended on their behavior.
Belizar was quiet, a little more pale than usual, but seemed recovered. Vincent lingered closer to his chair, but when he saw the positioning of the other servants at the wall, he stepped back so he would not appear to be hovering. Jacob appreciated the male’s loyalty, one of those odd quirks of being part of the servants’ union, so to speak. Though he would have torn the male’s head off if he’d actually succeeded in harming Lyssa, he respected his devotion to his Master, because that was the common bond they all shared. He knew it was why Lyssa had Barbra turned to ash in the main courtyard, but her servant was afforded a respectful burial.
When Mason entered, the vampire’s gaze of course went to his servant, taking in her general state. Jessica inclined her head, her lashes brushing her cheeks in a pretty display of submission that won a wry tug of his lips. As he moved past her to sit down, his hand slid over her hip, squeezing her buttocks in an admonishment that had her biting down on a yelp.
However, when his nostrils flared and his gaze cut to Jacob, Jacob realized Mason had detected his scent on the girl. Jessica’s fingers brushed his forearm, drawing his gaze back down to her. A quiet mind communication ensued, where Jacob hoped she was making it clear that it had been for reassurance only. Having been the one who’d shot her earlier, he didn’t relish finding another reason to be on Mason’s bad side.
Don’t worry, Sir Vagabond. I’ll protect you from Mason.
He stifled a snort. This could get very interesting, my lady. If it bothers him that I touched her for comfort only, how will he feel about what else could happen to her here?
We’ll find out. And see who’s still standing when it’s all over.
Comforting. To those who have a chance of surviving his wrath.
Feeling fainthearted, Jacob? My servant usually has a foolish overabundance of courage.
Pot calling the kettle black, my lady.
As the Council and Lord Brian were seated, Lyssa touched her knife to her glass, the chime drawing their attention. She waited as they all stilled, letting the significance of the moment sink in. “Each of you was chosen for this Council,” she said. “And that choice was made because it was believed—I think rightly—that you have the skill's and strength to protect our kind and make us better and stronger as a race. What has happened in the past is past, useful only for how it takes us into the future. What is not useful we discard and leave behind.” She met Belizar’s gaze. After another long moment, the Russian vampire lifted his glass, inclined his head. The look they exchanged reminded Jacob of what had transpired between them earlier, after the fight. From the other Council members, she’d taken the sire’s marking from the wrist, a functional exchange. But when she visited Belizar, in the room they’d intended for her, it had gone a little differently.
The first thing she’d noticed was that the bed was too short for his large frame. She’d looked toward Vincent, standing next to it.
“Vincent, there is a staff member outside the door.
Please tell her to prepare accommodations more appropriate and comfortable for your Master. Jacob, please help him.”
She wanted a little space around the bed, but more than that, Vincent looked like he needed help walking. Though the removal of the steel spike had allowed his spine to heal, Vincent was still deathly pale. His vampire Master understandably needed to replenish first, and of course no vampire would allow his servant to drink from another vampire because of the mind connection that might be established by accident or diabolical intent. So Vincent would wait for blood while Belizar’s strength built from the three donors who’d already visited and fed him.
Jacob figured only his loyalty was keeping Vincent on his feet and wondered why Belizar hadn’t ordered the male to sit the hell down. Though in all fairness, the Council head looked as if he’d been poleaxed on a lot of levels today, and didn’t have any attention to spare beyond that.
“I will understand if your Mistress deems I should be executed for my part in today’s events,” the servant said as they approached the door. He spoke in a hushed murmur, but with great formality, giving Jacob a stiff bow. “However, while I have not been his full servant very long, I humbly ask that she wait until my Master is at full strength so the disruption of our link does not add to his current weakness.” Lyssa hadn’t spoken on this issue, but Jacob easily knew her mind on it. “We’re expected to serve our Master and Mistress before any other,” he returned. “You did what you were supposed to do. In your shoes, I would have done exactly the same. My lady has differences with Lord Belizar, but she wants him to remain on Council. She won’t be depriving him of a loyal servant.” Then, since both their vampires were occupied, Jacob added in a low tone, “We’re the one soul in their psychotic world they can trust, right?”
Vincent’s gaze snapped up to Jacob. He cleared his thr
Thank you. And if there’s anything you need to help understand the workings of the castle staff, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
It was the first time Jacob realized he was considered head honcho on the servant food chain now. A scary thought. When he returned to Lyssa, he stayed at a respectful distance, though he could hear the conversation.
“You likely should have finished it, you know,” Belizar observed gruffly. “Show no mercy to an enemy.”
“I think I made my point. And Barbra is far less useful to us than you.” Lyssa laid a hand on his thigh, a possessive, relaxed movement. “You’re stubborn, bigoted, inflexible. You'll be an aggravation to me, sure enough. But a great many of our born vampires are exactly like you. I have enough of those qualities myself to recognize I need that voice represented on the Council as well. During changing times, you don’t do so well in charge. But you'll be of great value as a Council member. Don’t worry. I'll make sure you don’t become a detriment again.”
He gave a half chuckle at that, though his eyes were studied, measuring. It was enough to have Jacob stay on the alert, but he sensed the same level of watchfulness in his lady. She knew the animal she was dealing with.
“I would sit up,” he said. “It feels… inappropriate for you to have to lean down, my lady.” She helped him, adjusting the pillows behind his head in a way that had her leaning forward, her breasts close to his face, body in intimate proximity to him. It was a vulnerable pose, but Jacob expected it was deliberate. She’d defeated him soundly. Now she was proving she would trust him, if he proved himself worthy of trust.
Belizar’s gaze flickered upward as she sat back.
“You remember that night Rex, you and I were holed up in that sewer in Italy? We were taking back the Florence territory from Pietro and his fanged thugs.”
“We weren’t taking it back that night,” she said dryly. “You were nearly decapitated, and Rex lost so much blood I was afraid the trail he left would betray us.”