Vampire queen 8 bound.., p.40

Vampire Queen 8 - Bound by the Vampire Queen - Joey W Hill, page 40

 

Vampire Queen 8 - Bound by the Vampire Queen - Joey W Hill
 



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  “I am sworn to your service. Compel ed by absolute loyalty, I safeguard your well -being before my own or any other ties of family or friendship. I swear it by the giving of my blood to you and before all of divinity, may my life be cursed and my soul be damned if I speak false or ever betray the vow.” She pressed her fangs back into him again then, and this time he felt the release of the serum. He made himself hold still for it, even though he wanted her so badly. He wanted to touch her, to press her body back down under his, reinforce that oath, this re-marking. The craving was so fierce he wondered if he’d somehow retained that ceaseless vampire carnality.

  Sexual drive is still very strong in a third-mark, Jacob. A touch of humor, coupled with something deeper, moved through her. Plus, you have always had a delicious, natural abundance of it.

  Lyssa slid a hand over her servant’s chest. Her servant. One taste of her blood away from being her full servant once again. She had to admit it… she’d been a vampire for a long time, and though her Fae blood was an integral part of her, this felt more like her real self. In the end, perhaps she was more a vampire with Fae powers, than a Fae with vampire ones. It was good to feel that, to know that. To understand more about who and what she was. To feel a true sense of that, the power and strength of it, for the first time in several years. Even if she was otherwise a bit on the weak side… at the moment.

  Lying back on the forest floor, she drew him down upon her again. “Brace yourself over me, Jacob,” she commanded in a husky voice.

  He pressed his palms into the earth on either side of her. In this utter darkness, where neither had the ability to see, it was even more intimate. Though she always liked the pleasure of seeing him, touch had its own special benefits. Opening his laced trousers, she slid her hand over his cock, thick and ready in her hand. It was already turgid from her marking him, the significance of that having its effect on him. It had moved her deeply, how important it was to him, how much he wanted that mark reinstated, to the point it had almost panicked him, not having it. She understood, because she experienced the same feeling, knowing it wasn’t there.

  The leggings she wore were in tatters, so it was easy enough to slip out of them, guide him into her.

  “At my pace, my servant,” she whispered, and he obeyed, holding back all that delicious strength as she took him slowly to the hilt, then drew him down upon her. His elbows came to rest in line with his palms, surrounding her. He didn’t like putting his full weight on her, always worried about her comfort, but she let him see in her mind now that he was not causing her any harm, only pleasure. She wanted his weight as she tilted her head back, guided his mouth to her throat, that delicious feeling of a Goddess nurturing her lover, even as she took him in her body.

  It reminded her of the ritual she’d witnessed with Tabor and Rhoswen the previous night.

  Drink from me, Jacob. Make the mark complete.

  He’d remembered how to use his canines, how to bite strong and not hesitate, using the second-mark strength to be decisive about it. Her pussy rippled around him as he did it, welcoming him. During that fight before the portal opened, though the two of them were well coordinated in battle, their mind communication aligned, it wasn’t the same as a third mark. She’d felt that absence keenly, a knife in her lower vitals as much as it was for him.

  It swept through them both, that disorienting power and heat, the wash of energy that momentarily locked their bodies together in its burn. The third-marking bound his soul to her. She could dive as deeply into him as she wished, owning every part of him, every molecule of blood, every muscle, every thought, every wish, every feeling. It required, no, demanded a level of trust unknown in any world.

  Human, vampire or Fae. Only vampires and servants had this potential, because once the bond was made, a servant had no choice but to learn to accept it. However, those like Jacob who took the step into that unknown territory willingly, who embarked on that journey, and the vampires who appreciated that leap of faith—a leap ironically that they themselves, as Dominants, did not often have the same ability to take—had a relationship like no other.

  As she felt that bond again, she exulted in it, revitalized in a way that might be deceptive, given her many hours in the desert world, but she would accept it nevertheless. She knew he’d miss the ability to protect her to the level that being a vampire had given him, but he didn’t realize he’d protected her more than any male who’d ever been in her life.

  Most of the time, she could take care of herself physically. It was on the emotional terrain she’d always had to defend her own ramparts, guard against ambushes. She’d never been able to relax certain parts of herself enough to fully love. He’d given her that, her brave, reckless Irish knight.

  She squeezed down on him then, holding him banded in her arms as she lifted her hips, took him deeper. Give me pleasure, Jacob. Give me everything. His back was already healing, the power of a third-marking.

  He licked the wound on her neck, suckled her there, then moved up to her lips, letting her taste her blood on his mouth. Slipping a hand under her nape, he held her to deepen the kiss, then braced his hand next to them to obey her, beginning to thrust, slow, easy, then harder, reinforcing the fact they were alive, bonded, unable to be separated. She gasped into his mouth, her arousal building so quickly it startled her. Jacob had once made the joke that a half-dead vampire could still fuck a person to death before they gave out, and she remembered it now, gloriously. Vampire or no, Jacob could make her body sing like no other lover she’d had.

  Careful, my lady. You know how full of myself I can get.

  Duly noted, Sir Vagabond. She put her smile against his temple, a smile that became a straining, parted-mouth cry as he pushed her up and over the wall of her climax, falling with her only when she gave him leave to do so, something he’d always done, even as vampire.

  He was her devoted knight, serving her to the last reserves of his soul.

  Chapter 19

  THEY emerged from that darkness into a Fae morning. Since Jacob had explained the sun issue to her, it didn’t make her recoil. Instead, she stopped, drew in the scent of the morning air and lifted her face to the warmth, closing her eyes. “I'll miss this as well.”

  “Maybe if this liaison thing works out, you'll be able to visit again.”

  “Rhoswen will probably change the environment so I'll be toasted the next time I step into this world.”

  “True. Queens can be a bit vindictive that way.” She sent a narrow glance his way. He was resting on his heels at a stream edge, trailing his fingers in the water, mesmerizing a small group of fish with large purple eyes and iridescent pink tails. Now, though, he straightened, came to her side. “Looks like we have a visitor.”

  Keldwyn reined up, two horses following obediently in his wake, mounts from Rhoswen’s stable. “Well met, Lady Lyssa,” he said. “It appears you succeeded.”

  His expression remained bland, despite her appearance. She was filthy and bloody, her snarled hair was coated with a fine layer of sand from the desert world. She wore the cloak Jacob had brought with him, covering the tattered and bloodstained tunic and leggings.

  “That remains to be seen. I’ve yet to see Rhoswen.

  Is she out of the mourning period?”

  “Yes, as of a few hours ago. You just made the three-day window.” At Jacob’s puzzled look, calculating, Keldwyn shook his head. “It’s impossible to predict the rate of Fae time between magical portals.”

  “I expect she would have stretched her deadline if she thought she’d still get what she wanted.” But Lyssa’s dry tone turned to something entirely different then. His lady still had the ability to cool the temperature around her, a warning of her temper a man would be a fool not to heed. And Keldwyn was not a fool. Lyssa stepped closer, leveling a hard gaze on him.

  “My father’s crime was love. Loving a vampire, getting her with child. How could anyone but a pack of… monsters feel that desert was a just punishment?”
/>
  “In your own world, what punishments have been handed out to vampires or servants who have loved one another unwisely?” Keldwyn shifted his gaze to Jacob, then back to her. “It is often not a fair world, Lady Lyssa. But love persists, in all its foolishness, doesn’t it?” Keldwyn dismounted then, offered her a hand. “Can I help you on your mount, escort you to the queen?”

  Lyssa ignored the hand, though she did close the three steps between them. “His death destroyed something in you, didn’t it?”

  For a long moment, Keldwyn said nothing. Jacob felt the magic the Fae Lord carried within him shift the air around them uneasily, as if she’d stepped on the trigger for a mine. A tiny muscle flickered at the corner of one dark eye. When Keldwyn spoke, his tone was so even it was like a thread pul ed perilously taut.

  “Yes.”

  The power of that one word, the pain behind it, was enough to have Lyssa’s eyes softening. She laid a hand on his face, a brief touch. He stayed entirely still, a dangerous animal who didn’t trust himself, then she nodded, stepped back. “Have you seen Catriona?”

  His jaw tightened. “That is hardly your concern.”

  “No. But it is yours. Since she’s behind you, you may want to address it.”

  It was a rare moment to see Keldwyn startled. He twisted around. The dryad stood at the edge of the clearing. Her short dress of gauzy layers looked like pale blue and green leaves. Tiny shimmers of light sparkled over it, reflecting the same in her wings, soft flickers. Her brown hair was down, waving around her face, her thin face and large eyes young, vulnerable. She looked like a deer that might bolt, torn between trepidation and need.

  Leaving Keldwyn standing there, Lyssa moved toward their two horses. Jacob followed to lift her onto the white mare’s back. As she adjusted her seat to straddle the mount, freeing her cloak, Jacob swung onto the blood bay next to her. Keldwyn and Catriona had not moved, regarding one another silently.

  “We'll see you at the castle, Lord Keldwyn,” Lyssa said. As they moved out of the clearing, his horse snorted, but faithfully held his position near his master. Catriona’s gaze flickered briefly to them.

  The dryad gave Jacob a nod, Lyssa a glance, and then she was back to holding that unspoken, emotional communication with the Fae Lord.

  “It’s like the Dr. Seuss book,” Jacob said, his voice pitched low.

  “The one where the two characters refuse to step around each other, and stand there for decades while civilizations rise and fall around them?” At his surprised look, Lyssa shrugged. “I like Dr. Seuss.” When she paused at the forest’s edge, Jacob reined in and they both looked back. One more heartbeat of still ness, and then Catriona was moving, running across the clearing on dainty feet, her wings lifting her in graceful, urgent bounds of motion. Keldwyn stood motionless until the last moment, when abruptly he stepped forward as if he’d broken out of ice. He barely got his arms open before she hit his chest. He was braced for her, though, his arms wrapping hard around her. Even at this distance, they could tell the male was trembling from head to toe, so hard he went to one knee, holding her folded against him like a ragdoll.

  Pressing his jaw down on the top of her head, he clutched her like a father welcoming home a long lost daughter, and perhaps he was.

  Jacob shifted his glance to Lyssa, saw her eyes glistening. Crying was something his lady had often told him she never did. Now she tossed her head to cover it, in that haughty way he knew well, that he’d missed. Something vital had come back to her, and by God, he loved seeing it, no matter what they were about to face—or the fact they really needed to get more blood in her before she fell over. Nudging his horse up against hers as they rode, he brushed her knee in companionable silence when they moved away from the family reunion and headed for Rhoswen’s castle.

  Cayden was on his bench at the gatehouse. Jacob raised a brow at the bruise on his face, a split lip. As the captain rose to take hold of the bridle of Lyssa’s mount, he moved stiffly. Jacob’s gaze narrowed. He knew that way of walking. “She had you flogged?”

  “The queen metes out justice as she sees fit. It was fair. I was told to stop you. I didn’t.” Jacob bit down on a retort at Lyssa’s warning glance. Following his lady and Cayden through the courtyard, he noticed the staff gave them some curious glances. With their heightened senses, they probably detected their differences, even if not the clear nature of them.

  When they reached the main hall, there were no retainers and no throne. No ice sculptures, either.

  Just fountains this time, filling the wide space with the sound of rushing water. Rhoswen sat on the edge of the largest fountain, one with a life-sized statue of a Fae lord on a horse in the center, the water pouring out from the dais beneath the horse’s feet. Floating in the fountain were thick rose blooms, petals jeweled with drops from the fountain. Probably bespelled never to wilt, their life essence captured inside.

  His lady stopped, stared at the statue. Rhoswen didn’t look up, though she obviously knew they were there. Lyssa glanced at him, nodded, her pale face quiet, serene.

  Wait here at the door, Jacob.

  Her servant obeyed reluctantly, but when he took up position at the entranceway, Lyssa noted Cayden stayed with him, as if his queen had commanded the same. Interesting. A pace or two away from Rhoswen, she stopped, studied the statue. The noble features, broad shoulders. The planes of his face that reminded her of her own. Her chest tightened, her heart doing a double beat. “Is this what he looked like?”

  “Yes.” Rhoswen passed her fingers through the water, caressing the roses. She didn’t lift her gaze.

  Her hair was tied loosely on her shoulders. “At Beltane, in honor of spring and creation, there is a competition of sorts. Each contestant brings forth something they have created to honor the new season, and to please the Unseelie queen and Seelie king. The king and queen choose the best of the new creations, and that creation is displayed appropriately until the following year. The year after Lord Reghan was sentenced, Lord Keldwyn commissioned an artisan to do this. He offered it as his entry. A Seelie or Unseelie of his rank wasn’t expected to participate in a common competition in the first place. It’s typically for the solitary Fae. So it was obviously an act of defiance.”

  “I take it he was noticed.”

  “He was lucky he was not killed. It was what my mother wanted. Instead, it was the first time he was banished.” Rhoswen stared at nothing, nothing but the past. “For a decade, that time. Of course, by repeatedly banishing him, they ensured that he eventually saw the mountains in your world as more his home than the Fae world.”

  “Perhaps he found something there that he’d lost here.”

  Rhoswen turned her gaze to Lyssa then. She took in her appearance without any obvious reaction, then rose. Circling the statue, she trailed her fingers in the water to create a wake from her passing. “In the thousand years of your life, you have seen many horrors, both human and vampire. You fought your Territory Wars, established a Vampire Council to achieve a balance between brutality and intellect. It is a long road.”

  “Yes. It has been. But some parts have been too short.” Remembering the day a knight had helped her against vampire hunters, Lyssa knew the blissful night following had been the shortest of her life. But until Jacob had reentered her life, it had been the most memorable.

  “You see me through the eyes of a short period of time, your mortal hours. But there is so much more that has happened. Reasons for how and what we are, that must be.”

  “There is no reason I can fathom for that desert world except an abuse of power and capricious cruelty. Since my father was subjected to it, I assume many others were put there for similarly disproportionate reasons.”

  “We have not sentenced anyone there for several centuries. It was barbaric. From a different time.”

  “Some still survive there. I kill ed quite a few to reach my objective.” Lyssa studied her, pressed her lips together hard. “You know about the survivors.”


  “There are a handful of Fae laws that are unbreakable, woven into the fabric of what and who we are.” Rhoswen frowned. “One is that any judgment handed down from a king, queen or governing Council may not be undone. Ever. It may be approached differently, however.” She gave a humorless smile. “From your exposure to Keldwyn, I’m sure you’ve gained an appreciation for how we twist our way past obstacles. For instance, I can destroy the desert world, but it is a place that has existed long enough to have its own sentience, its own purpose, so I will be snapping strands of Fate if I do that. Therefore, it is not an option, much as I have wished it was. I did rule there would be no more Fae sent there, even those who commit heinous crimes. We execute them instead.”

  Sitting back down on the fountain’s edge, she fastened vibrant eyes on Lyssa, obviously ready to move away from the topic. “Where is it?”

  “What do you plan to do with it?”

  “Whatever I wish.” When the queen shifted her scrutiny to Jacob, Lyssa shook her head.

  “You think I’d be foolish enough to bring it here?

  Why do you think Keldwyn met us? He has free range between two worlds; he can hide it in either of them.”

  Rhoswen’s face froze in pale anger. “I commanded you to bring it to me. To do otherwise breaks our laws.”

  “I am his daughter,” Lyssa said shortly. “Do you really think I’d just turn his soul over to you, whatever consequences you issue—”

  “You are not his daughter.”

  The queen snarled, the sound echoing through the hall. She hit the water, freezing the roses on tempestuous ripples of ice that popped, reacting to the water’s abrupt transformation.

  As she surged up from the fountain, she advanced on Lyssa with such anger that Lyssa braced herself for attack, well aware that Jacob and Cayden shifted into position to do the same.

  “Tabor invites Reghan’s daughter to the Hunt.” Rhoswen spat the words, her tone bitter, mocking.

 
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