Vampire Queen 8 - Bound by the Vampire Queen - Joey W Hill, page 9
The Castle of Fire was unmistakable, a torchlike flame shooting up into the darkness, haloed with an aura of gemlike deep reds, purples and browns. Its moat was a flow of lava.
Since the Earth castle had less reflective surfaces, it was hard to determine its features, even with vampire sight. The grand silhouette was lit only by the lights of its inhabitants, but Jacob envisioned walls of clay, turrets covered with moss, trailing ivy and braided vines instead of drawbridge chains. Idly, he wondered if any of them had a dragon.
Silly knight. You didn’t even bring a lance.
Lyssa’s fingers whispered over his temples, helping him focus. The clean air had a sweet, wild taste. An indescribable world bursting with life energy, unfettered, brimming with magic. No wonder the dryad was so overcome. She’d spent two decades of her life without this… lifeblood. He’d detected a mere wisp of it when he’d held her in his arms. Her essence was intertwined with all the life here.
Magic existed in the human world, but it was an echo, a memory of what it had once been when their two worlds had been joined. Mere rivulets, trickling out the seams of the solid locked doors that divided them. A spark of it must survive in every soul, because Jacob felt a recognition now that brought a tangle of joy and sorrow together.
The dryad turned toward him, her small mouth pressed into a line, those tears running down her face still . She wore nothing, her long body a smooth sculpture, pale skin colored only by the soft pink of nipples and sex. She had a pendant around her neck. It had been dull stone when she’d stepped out of her tree, but now it glowed green and amber, a luster like the heat energy of a banked hearth fire.
Keeping her gaze on them, she removed it, laying the object at Jacob’s feet. Then, in a blink, she was gone, moving swiftly across the field. The wings that had been like crumpled paper against her spine now snapped out like a geisha’s fans, a flash of green and gold color. She moved only a foot above the grasses, as Essie had described. The fireflies were a trail of glitter behind her, in close pursuit.
“Do you think she gave us that as proof that we brought her here?” Jacob mused.
“How would she know we freed her to prove something to the queen?” Lyssa responded.
“Perhaps it was a way of offering thanks.” Jacob bit back a groan as he managed to sit up.
As he did, he picked up the pendant, feeling its warmth. Sliding the chain through his fingers, he lifted it, threaded it over Lyssa’s head and then situated it in the pleasing valleys of her breasts. His fingers rested there, over her heartbeat.
“According to the old lore,” he said, “the Fae believe saying thank you is an insult. Instead, you give gifts, tokens of appreciation. But it would have been helpful if she’d stuck around, at least until we meet the queen.”
“If I’m right, and the queen put her there, then perhaps not having her with us is less confrontational.”
She helped him stand, then surprised him by removing the necklace. As she went to her toes to put it around his neck, he bent his head obligingly, sliding his hands to her hips to steady them both, but said, “Isn’t that your trophy to bring to the Fae queen?”
“Perhaps, but your newest female admirer laid it at your feet. Plus, as my servant, you’re supposed to carry my things anyway, right?”
He considered the pendant where it lay against his T-shirt, amused when her fingertips stroked the hard cleft between his pectorals in imitation of his own sensual meanderings in her cleavage. “I guess this means at least one Fae likes me, even though I’m a nasty vampire.”
“One and a half. If I count for anything in your little fan club.” Lyssa sniffed. “Of course, my love is fickle.
I wouldn’t depend on it overmuch.”
That made him smile outright. Fortunately his head didn’t split open. He’d gotten too used to bouncing back instantly from injury. The Fae queen had let him come, but apparently wasn’t entirely happy about it.
Lyssa, on the other hand, seemed as energized as she’d been before she stepped across. Perhaps more so, because the magic in this world seemed to enhance her Fae side in a way that only magnified her captivating presence.
“You need blood,” Lyssa said.
“Not yet.” He shook his head. “I would never tell you what to do, my lady, but in this world I’d recommend treating me as you did when I first came into your service. Simply expect I'll be at your back and serve as you demand. Let me worry about the rest.”
She gave him one of her impenetrable looks.
“Seeing as you are my servant, and I value your services, if I see a need to protect you, I will . It’s very hard to train a new servant. Some of them are impossible, though. It’s best to simply dispose of them and start from scratch with a more docile model.”
Despite his aching body, he flashed fangs at her.
“I am ever at your disposal, my lady.” He nodded toward the castles. “I expect we'll find the queen in one of those. Looks like we can make it to any one of them at an easy pace in a couple hours.”
“Time and distance are probably more fluid here.
Whichever one we head toward, I have a feeling we'll still end up at the one she wants us to visit.” Lyssa lifted a shoulder. “Since Keldwyn said she’d expect us by the end of the full moon, and we’re early, I don’t see a need to rush, except to find you cover before dawn, which feels quite a few hours off. Apparently we arrived right after sunset.”
Jacob frowned. Lyssa could sense the rising and setting cycles here, but he couldn’t at all. He supposed he could have the vampire version of jet lag, but in the mortal world, he was as aware of the time as if he had an internal Greenwich clock. When he’d first become a vampire, he’d understood why vampires never had clocks in their homes, unless put there for the convenience of human staff. But here… nothing.
Like his fast healing, it was something he relied upon, not just as a convenience, but for survival.
Regardless, he put his uneasiness aside and offered Lyssa his hand. It pleased him that she took it. They headed across the sloping field, through the silver and gold flowers, down toward the edge of the forest. Each step jarred him, but he set his teeth against it. It would get better, and as soon as they were someplace less open, he’d feed.
He considered the horizon. “So do you think the Castle of Air is transparent? We could sit on the front lawn and watch the lady Fae changing clothes.”
“Leave it to the male mind to jump to the most important thing about a transparent castle.” Lyssa pinched his arm. She swung around in front of him, holding both hands now and peddling backward. Her jade eyes sparkled, her mouth curving as she looked up at him.
“It feels so… different here. So familiar…” She shook her head, but let go of him to turn a full circle, her arms outspread. “Did you notice, as weak as she was, how our dryad was walking, her eyes sparkling? There’s a vitalizing force here for Fae blood. It’s like coming to a place you’ve missed for a very long time, where you thought you’d never be welcome again.”
Her lips curved. “It makes me want to dance. I have a great urge to… frolic.”
“Many people would drop their jaws if they saw you frolic.”
“But not you.”
“I saw you dress up like a slutty teenager and go to the mall. My lady has given me the pleasure of seeing the girl inside the woman.”
“And you will never let her live it down.”
“Not even if I live beyond eternity.” She sobered. “I can’t imagine what it must have done to her, being disconnected from this for so long.”
“Our world had enough magic to shelter her. No matter Keldwyn’s cynicism, the magic is still there, my lady. Just hidden deep where only the eyes that can see it will find it. Like Essie’s.”
“And yours.” She slid under his arm, putting hers around his waist, so she gave him some reluctantly needed support as they made their way toward the forest edge. The dark gloom called to him, to what
“You knew about the Fae propensity to give gifts, instead of thanks. How did you know that? Is it a class all Irishmen have to take?”
He snorted. “My parents were raised on the stories, and they passed them on to their sons. After they died, my aunt kept up with it, probably to remind us of our mother. I can’t say for sure what parts are truth or fiction, but a lot of the ones we were told have been around a very long time. Maybe the telling of them feeds that thread between our worlds, even if the information isn’t a hundred percent accurate. It’s the spirit of the telling that matters, the desire to believe the tales.” He didn’t like how much he had to lean on her.
“I know. When we get to the forest, I'll feed. I’m sorry, my lady.”
“The only reason to apologize is for your ridiculous need to apologize. Tell me more of the stories you were told, the ones you think are true.”
“Many are about impulsive lads or lasses who wandered too deep into the knolls and came upon a fairy ring. If they stepped inside it, they were in the Fae world, where time passes far differently. Though they knew to avoid the rings, a lad wouldn’t be able to resist the pretty fairy he saw dancing there.” He grunted as he stumbled over a root, and her arm tightened on him. “He’d be so wrapped up in her beauty, he would dance and dance and dance with her, until he wasted away. When the Fae night waned, she’d let him go, for to her he was only a dance partner. Thrust back into our world, he’d find centuries had passed, all he knew of his own world gone.”
Tilting his head down to gaze into her beautiful face, he slid his hand along her fine jaw as he teased a lock of her hair. “But that didn’t matter.
What tore his heart out was losing the girl he’d danced with for centuries, though it only seemed a heartbeat of time.”
She laid her hand over his. They’d stopped inside the boundary of the forest, the shadows now cloaking them. “I forget you used to tell stories on the Ren Faire circuit, Sir Vagabond. Sir Knight. You still have a good touch.”
Before he could respond, a rustling in the grasses drew their attention back to the meadow. A blink later, a large bird with crimson feathers erupted out of the wheat-colored grass and spread his wings, dislodging a handful of petals from the gold and silver flowers as he soared into the purple starlit sky.
Sparks showered off the wings as he took flight.
“A phoenix,” Lyssa whispered. Her gaze moved westward, where the field folded downward into another shallow tier. “Jacob, look.”
A pond of silver glass lay in that direction. Ripples coursed gently across it, the result of two unicorns foraging on water weeds in the shallows. Nearby, swans slept as they drifted, heads tucked under their wings. Perched on their backs in small circles, as if taking an evening tea, were more clusters of the firefly Fae.
While the two of them had discovered remarkable things together, Lyssa knew those things mostly involved the exploration of their own souls as they’d bonded. This was the first time in their relationship that they were seeing something new and unexpected for the both of them. She liked that.
However, a blink later something disrupted that pleasure in his mind, an unsettled, scattered feeling entirely unlike Jacob.
Worried that his need for blood was becoming more critical, she looked up to gauge his pal or. He was still staring at the lagoon, but his gaze had shifted from the unicorns. On the far bank, there were more Fae, only not whimsical fireflies. They were human-sized females, with glossy ebony hair and skin like smooth dark chocolate. Perched on rocks, they brushed one another’s hair and braided flowers into it. The wind rose as if a Goddess was breathing, and that breath brought their voices. They spoke in murmurs that floated across the consciousness like a pleasant dream.
Jacob shifted forward a step. Even at that distance, several turned their heads in his direction.
One smiled, the face of desire, and a single, pure note of song broke from her moist lips, a greeting and invitation.
“Water nymphs,” he said hazily. “Like sirens. We should ask… they may know…” Lyssa locked both arms around his waist and gave him her firmest, most not-to-be-messed-with queen’s voice. “Definitely not.”
Jacob shouldn’t be as susceptible as a mortal male to the allure of the creature, but the nymph had detected something vulnerable in him and capitalized on it. He was weak and needed blood.
Lyssa tried to draw him deeper into the forest, away from the lagoon, but she was too late. He was already dragging his feet, glancing back at that pond with blind longing in his gaze. The singing was growing stronger, more enchanting. He was far too pale.
She slid her hand into his front pocket, closing her fingers on that same switchblade she’d borrowed from him earlier. Just as it had then, it allowed her a provocative tease of his upper thigh. Since his mind was already swimming in a lust as murky as that silvery lagoon, his confused attention turned her way.
Before he could dismiss her and focus on the sirens again, she opened the blade, brought it to her throat and jabbed her carotid with pinpoint accuracy.
The blood flow was an immediate rush, one that could make her dizzy and wobbly.
The result was all she intended, however. Her servant’s full focus snapped to her. His lust had been coaxed to the forefront; now she brought bloodlust into the equation as well. Given how pale he was, she thought blood need was more accurate, an undeniable hunger.
Letting go of him, she backed into the forest, provoking the predator she knew lived within him, on several different levels. Her bare feet found a trail, perhaps used by deer or those unicorns. The wood closing around her was centuries-old, populated with trees perhaps even older than herself. The breath of ancients dwelled in their canopies. Power. It reminded her she had power of her own.
She stopped. She was aware of how she looked poised there, the sinuous line of hip and length of leg hinted at beneath the thin cloth of her dress. The upward tilt of her breasts as she cocked her hip. The pale fragility of her throat, marked by bright blood, was a contrast to the challenge in her green eyes and the curve of her moistened lips.
“You can have your sirens, Jacob, or your Mistress. Choose, and I may let you have what you really want.”
He was on her in a heartbeat, pushing her against the broad trunk of one of the trees, trapping her. His warrior instincts were intact, for his hand closed first over her wrist, fingers sliding along the sensitive Venus mound of her palm to take the knife from her. He caressed the erotic beat of her pulse.
The weapon fell point first, sinking into the earth clear of their feet, but he didn’t intend her throat to receive such a pardon. Sinking his fangs into the flesh at that nicked artery, he wasted no time with it, his hunger making him pul hard at the sustenance she offered.
The ever-present desire for him sprang to full , vibrant life, strengthened by the pulsing magic that existed here. She didn’t resist the urge to rub against him, to make sounds of encouragement, tiny sensual noises that told him she wanted him inside her right at this moment, wanting to join in the celebration of that life force all around them.
Normally she would have been the aggressor, taking control despite his best alpha efforts to hold on to the reins, those efforts only arousing her more deeply. However, as he returned to himself, a growl rose in his throat. She felt his black anger that the nymphs had been able to distract him from his devotion to her for even a moment, a blink of time he could never get back.
It was overwhelming, feeling how furious that made him with himself. The depth of his devotion was breathtaking. For all the complexity of the love that had grown and spread between them, the root of it was so primal. She was his, the only one he wanted, and he would prove it right here.
Opening his jeans, he held her against the tree with a body that had become all hard, tense muscle.
She moaned as he shoved into her without preamble, already knowing she was wet and ready for him. Wit
Her breasts ached against his chest, and an odd yearning rose in her then, intertwined with the powerful desire coursing through her. Perhaps because she was both lover and mother to vampires, the sense of loss she had for their son, that she couldn’t hold him, feed him, came to life now along with her need to nourish Jacob.
Jacob understood the melding of the two deepest cravings of her life. As he thrust into her, he left her throat and pul ed her neckline down, off her shoulder so he exposed one breast. When he punctured her at Kane’s favored nursing point, it made her cry out in throaty pleasure and pain at once, arching against him as he laved at the blood and her nipple, teasing her.
It was all animalistic, but as he drank, she sensed the keen, intelligent mind steadying. He would take this as a near-miss lesson. He wouldn’t delay feeding out of pride again, not when her protection was at stake. Balance was needed, in body and soul, and the best way to achieve that between them was with a simultaneous blood and carnal connection.
As she pressed her skull back against the rough trunk, another guttural sound coming from her throat when he thrust deeper, she saw eyes peering at them through the branches. Animal and Fae eyes both. She sensed no harm from any of them, just curiosity at these new beings among them. Still, Jacob’s whimsical, sad story held a warning. The Fae girl had meant no harm to the boy who wasted away dancing with her. For her, it was simply one night.
Jacob brought her nipple farther into his mouth, making her gasp at the searing pleasure that arrowed down into her pussy, intensified by the full penetration of his thick cock. He lashed at the taut peak. As she cried out again, he used his hips and cal used palms to press her thighs back, widening her to an even more arousing angle. She caught her fingers in his hair, digging into his nape, and his arm banded around her middle. Taking her away from the tree, he laid her on the mossy carpet of the forest floor. As he did, his eyes met hers, and she felt the shift, knew there was a deeper component to it now.