Darkness. Shadows, silhouettes, very little light. Heavy curtains covered the windows. Where was I?
Cold. Icy, pale, shivering gooseflesh. Even the bed beneath me was cold. Whose bed was I in?
Silence. Not even a heartbeat. Was I dead?
No. I shook my head to be sure. My temple throbbed and more blood trickled across my face. It was mine. I lifted my lead-filled arm and my heavy fingers found a cloth to wipe my face. I tried to sit up, but a swirling wave knocked me back down. Breathe deep. Let’s try that again. I fought the dizziness and managed to stay upright. Looking around the room, I realized I did not know this place. The wrought iron four-post bed was not mine. The iron and glass dressing table was not mine. The covered mirror—definitely not mine.
I didn’t know where I was. Did I know who I was? Start with the basics. My name was…Lillian? Not anymore. Lily…yes Lily DeMyse. Relief. I knew that much. I was a…. I didn’t remember what my job was, but I remembered I worked nights. I looked at my clothes: black sandals, black mini-skirt and a buttoned-up silk shirt. Maybe I was a waitress or a bartender. No bra but that didn’t feel odd to me.
I was thirty-two years old but I felt older, single for now, and definitely not a virgin. Those things I just knew. I could figure out the rest later.
Creaking stairs. I was not alone. Was it the owner of this house? Was it an intruder? Was I the intruder? Slow heavy footsteps. Hair-raising fear. I was not safe.
I stumbled across the room into the closet and closed the door, watching, listening, waiting. The bedroom door opened and he walked in, surveying the room, looking for someone.
He was looking for me.
He walked toward the bed, staying out of the sunlight slipping between the half-closed curtains. He touched the blood on the pillow; he tasted it, licking it off his fingers like it was a delicacy. Without warning he turned and looked straight at the closet door.
My breath caught in my throat, and I froze where I stood. I saw his dark shape through the louvered door. Could he see me? His face was hidden by shadows, but I knew what he looked like. Intense blue eyes glittered in the dark, drawn together in a scowl, his left eyebrow arched like a fiend as he stared through the door. He could kick it in with his strong legs; break it to pieces with his big hands. Was he the one who made me bleed?
His jaw tightened and his stubbled cheek twitched. I could hear him breathing—no—I could feel it. I felt his muscular chest rise and fall as if it was pressed hard against mine. I have felt it before.
I knew him. Who was he?
His nostrils flared and his hands curled into fists. He took a step toward the closet door. I took a step back. I had nowhere to run, no way to escape. My heart beat so hard I heard it pounding in my ears instead of my chest. I watched him watching me. I read his eyes. He was torn between coming after me or…. His eyes darkened and he ran his tongue over his teeth. My heart stopped.
And then he disappeared.
I waited forever, watching the setting sunlight move across the room. Early evening turned to darkest night. I left the closet and crept out into the hall. This was a very old house. It reeked with decades of living, dying, blood, passion, and fear. It was a good place once but something happened—a long time ago—something monstrous. How did I know that? The good was gone. Evil resided here.
He was close. I couldn’t see him, but I could sense him. Shadows moved at the end of the hall, shifting along the wall toward me. Curtains rippled, doors slammed. I ran down the stairs, stumbling in the dark. I tripped over something and tumbled down the stairs to the floor below. I rolled to my feet, surprised I was so agile, but I didn’t have time to ponder that. He grabbed me. I got away. Disappointed.
“Why are you doing this to me?” His voice in the dark. Anguished.
I had no answer for him. I had too many questions of my own but no time for answers. He was on me again. I spun away, bouncing through an open door. I turned and pushed it shut, slamming the lock home as he cursed me. The ancient door shuddered under his assault, nearing its breaking point and then—
Silence. He was gone.
More questions. How did he find me in the dark? Could his penetrating eyes see things I couldn’t? Was there another way out of this room? Was there another way in? I knew what he would do when he caught me. Why did I want him to catch me? No answers…at least none that I liked.
I pressed my ear to the door and listened to the silence. He wasn’t out there. I went to the window and searched the dark. He wasn’t out there. I stood in front of the cold dead fireplace, staring into the black empty space that once burned bright and warm. Gooseflesh covered my arms. He was behind me.
I stepped to one side as he brought the heavy fireplace poker down. The force of his swing threw his body into mine, and we crashed against the wall. We have done this before. I ripped the tool from his hand and swung it around, clipping the top of his head. His eyes closed and his body folded onto the floor. I stumbled backward, smashing my head against the mantle. I managed to get out of the room before blackness took over.
Blood. Sex. Sticky, hard, dark, angry, frightening. His body; my body. Naked and tangled coming over and over. Was it a dream? No. It was so intense and so real it could only be a memory.
I woke up on the floor in an unfamiliar room. A cold wind blew the curtains open, letting in the pale moonlight. I was in a dining room, a long formal table stretched out before me, but only one chair. How lonely was this house? I looked around for something that might tell me more, and I found an old painted portrait of a woman. It felt familiar but it was so worn and cracked by time she was unrecognizable. I looked closer and realized the damage was deliberate, the canvas slashed and ripped apart. Someone hated her.
I found another covered mirror, but when I pulled the sheet off, the mirror was shattered, glass falling from its frame. I sat down at the table, resting my head on its cool glass surface. Why glass? With an iron frame. The chair was iron too with blood red velvet padding. Broken mirrors, iron furniture, avoiding the sunlight, memories of blood and terror. All these things came together to form a picture—no—a story. A story told to frighten children. A story that terrified me.
I had no time to think about stories. He was still after me. That one thing I knew. I went to the corridor and let my eyes adjust to the dark. The door to the parlor where we fought was open, but I couldn’t remember closing it. He could still be in there. I could’ve killed him. I had to know. I stepped through the open door, and my breath caught in my throat.
The room was empty.
I didn’t know how to feel about that. Part of me wanted to keep him safe. Safe from what? Part of me wanted him dead. Part of me wanted him.
I had to get out of this house. I found my way back to the stairwell and followed it down, hoping the ground floor would reveal an exit. I heard a clanging, ringing sound like someone banging against a door—an iron door. I almost laughed. I followed the sound, but I didn’t find escape. I found him.
His head came up and his body went rigid. He kept his back to me, but he knew I was there. “I’ll spill your blood if I have to,” he said without looking at me.
“But you don’t want to.” I knew that as surely as I knew his name. “Jonathan.”
He turned and snarled at me, his eyes wild, his teeth sparkling in the dark. “I want to hurt you. I want to hear you screaming my name.” His voice was low, dangerous. He raised his hands and strode across the room.
But you can’t. That knowledge comforted me even as I turned and scrambled back up the stairs. I missed the top step and fell, rolling over as he landed on top of me. He pinned me down. This felt familiar. This felt good.
I fought back, bringing my knee up hard and fast into his groin. He groaned and rolled off me, but as I tried to get up he grabbed my ankles and pulled me down, dragging me toward him. I was strong, but he was stronger. He crawled on top of me, lying on my back, trapping my legs between his. His hands clamped around my neck. I held my breath as if that would do any good.
“Lily,” he growled and as he leaned over me, I felt his cock turn hard against my ass. I wasn’t surprised. I was wet.
His hands fisted in my hair, wrenching my head to one side, exposing my throat. His teeth closed on my neck.
The story took a turn I didn’t expect and didn’t want to believe. I knew what he was, but I fought that too. My elbow slammed into his ribs, and I heard them crack. He rose up, hissing in pain, and I hit him again. He fell to the floor and I ran. I ran down the dark hall, trying to outrun the terror inside me. I darted into a bedroom and slammed the door, locking it, bracing a chair against it. That wouldn’t stop a monster like him, but it might hold him back long enough for me to find a weapon. Iron furniture. Dammit! Not a single piece of wood to use against him.
He kicked through the door from the adjacent bedroom. I screamed and shoved the chair across the floor, tripping him. My fingers faltered on the lock, and he crushed me against the door.
“Why can’t I escape you?” His breath was hot in my ear. He pinned me to the door with his body, ripping buttons off my shirt. He groaned and pulled my hard nipples. His rough touch should’ve frightened me, but my body begged for more.
I stopped fighting him—I don’t know why. He pulled up my skirt, shoved my thong aside, and jammed his fingers deep inside my pussy. I let him do it. I let him stroke me and make me moan. I let his dangerous mouth close on my neck, holding me still. I let his fingers molest my clit until I was clinging to the edge, desperate to let go.
But he didn’t let me come.
His fist slammed against the door and he pushed away from me, cursing us both to hell and back.
I spun around and faced him, my body finally hot. If that’s what it took to warm me, I wanted more. My shirt fell open, exposing my bare breast. I didn’t cover up. I knew he couldn’t resist me. He would try, but he would fail.
I wanted something from him—I needed it—but I couldn’t remember what it was. Did he? “Jonathan.” I moved toward him. He stood his ground. “Give me what I need.”
His eyes flinched, he stepped back, and suddenly our roles reversed.
I was no longer afraid.
I wasn’t afraid of the dark. Darkness kept me safe. I wasn’t afraid of the cold. Cold was my companion for a very long time. I wasn’t afraid of him.
He was afraid of me.
Who was I that he would fear me?
He was the monster—the soulless undead vampire—and yet I was driven to him by desire that went way beyond attraction, way beyond lust. Need I didn’t understand overpowered my fear. “Please.” I don’t remember ever saying that to him before.
The smallest flicker of hope lit his eyes. How intriguing. “Give me what I want,” he pleaded.
I knew he wanted me, but there was something more, something I was unwilling or unable to give. “No.”
Pure rage burned across his face. His hand shot out so fast I couldn’t evade it. His fingers closed on my throat, and he swept my feet from under me. I grabbed his shirt and ripped it open as we fell. Barely healed scratches marked his chest. Did I do that to him?
His fingers tightened and blackness swirled around me. He ripped my panties open and fucked me with his hand. Light flashed behind my eyes and heat shot through me, starting at my clit and searing through my limbs. I struggled to breathe, and the harder I struggled, the harder I came.
I heard him laughing while I gasped for breath, and I allowed him that moment of triumph before I slammed my knees into his back, knocking him sideways. I straddled his stomach and ripped the rest of his shirt off. I found more scratches and bite marks in places that didn’t fit the story in my head, not with him as the villain.
He caught my wrist and pulled me down on his chest. “I know what you need,” he growled, “and I’ll make you fight me for it.”
“I’ll win.” I smiled at him, showing my teeth. “I always do.”
He grunted and pitched me to the floor. He grabbed my hair and pulled me to my feet, dragging me to the dresser where he bent me over and slammed his body against my bare ass. I gasped and shoved back into him, catching his hand on his zipper. His fingers slid into my hot slick pussy. He forced my legs apart with his knees, and I rode his hand while he yanked his jeans down to his thighs. He shoved my face down on the dresser and rammed his hard naked cock into me, driving hard, pounding like he was punishing me. Oh but I liked his punishment. I craved it. I deserved it. Lightning shot down my spine. My fingers curled and I clutched at the blanket draped over the mirror, pulling it down. I looked into the cracked reflection and saw his body—bruised and battered—fucking hard. I didn’t see me.
I had no reflection.
I closed my eyes. My head swirled. I saw—I tasted—
Blood. Sticky, sweet, intoxicating. Not mine. His.
I remembered everything. This was my house. My safe iron furniture, my heavy sun-blocking curtains, my hidden shattered mirrors. I was the woman in the destroyed portrait. I was the evil in this house.
I looked in the mirror again and watched him. Jonathan—my human slave. I caught him trying to escape again and we fought. He hit me over the head with that damn fireplace poker and knocked me out, erasing my memory. I couldn’t let him go. I needed him. His blood kept me alive. His body kept me warm. His presence kept me from being alone.
And then I remembered my one fear.
I stood up so fast he fell back onto the floor. I dropped to my knees and impaled myself on his cock. He growled and grabbed my hips, trying to lift me off, but I was so much stronger than he ever was. Panic filled his eyes, and I remembered he liked to fuck me from behind so I couldn’t bite him, but I wasn’t going to give him that advantage tonight. He eluded me long enough. I fell forward onto his chest, pinning his wrists to the floor with my hands. I laughed in his ear, brushing my lips on his neck. His pulse throbbed under my tongue. I could feel his hot blood coursing through his veins. That’s what I needed. He smelled so good. I couldn’t wait to taste him again. He lay perfectly still, waiting.
“Mm Jonathan,” I laughed in his ear. “That was too easy.”
He snarled and shoved me off, surprising me with a surge of strength that took my breath away. He landed on top of me, forcing his cock inside me. He sat back on his knees while he fucked me, trying to keep a safe distance from me. I laughed. What was the point? I wrapped my legs around his waist and pulled him in hard.
“Let me go, bitch,” he growled as I forced him in deeper. His lips said one thing, but his body said something else entirely.
“Is that what you really want, lover?”
“I am not your lover.”
His eyes burned hot and dark and he punished me again, pounding me so hard a human woman would’ve screamed in pain. But I was not human.
My back arched, and I raised my hips to demand more. He tried to pull out, but I held him between my thighs. “I know you want my cunt.”
His jaw clenched; he didn’t deny it, but he refused to admit he couldn’t get enough. But even more than that, Jonathan wanted his freedom. I wouldn’t give it to him. I couldn’t. His torment, his stubborn resistance was a drug I craved almost as much as I craved his blood.
“Make me come,” I commanded, my body screaming for release.
“No.” He shook his head, but he couldn’t stop fucking me.
My fingernails pierced his flesh as I sat up, driving his cock deeper in. His arms closed around me like a vice. One hand grabbed the back of my neck and jerked my head back as he thrust up into me, sharp and hard. My nails raked down his back, leaving fresh marks on his hot skin. His sweat covered my body, warming me from the outside while his cock warmed me from the inside.
His teeth nipped my shoulder and I laughed. I loved the way humans bite—so timid. He growled and his mouth swooped down to bite my nipple. I screamed and writhed in his arms. Ah…that was more like it. Pain mixed with pleasure. I couldn’t tell one from the other. Tongues of flame licked my cold flesh, tormenting me, teasing me with heat that wouldn’t last. I parted my thighs as far as they would go, devouring his cock.
His vicious thrust knocked me to the floor, and he fell with me. I grabbed his ass with both hands as the inferno consumed me. Heat ravaged my body, destroying the monster inside and resurrecting the woman I used to be. For one perfect moment I was warm, satisfied, and not alone.
The cold came back as soon as he left my body. The monster lived.
Jonathan stood and pulled up his pants as he darted toward the door. That bastard always tried to run while I was helpless. I managed to trip him, and he fell hard, stunned just long enough for me to crawl on top of him. “I’m not finished with you.”
“Neither am I.” His elbow slammed into my ribs and he rolled on his back, trying to throw me off, but I rose up and sat down hard on his chest, knocking the wind out of him. He grabbed my thighs and pushed, but he couldn’t move me. His strength was fading fast, but his eyes still burned angry.
Piercing pain knifed through my mouth as my fangs emerged. “You know what I need.”
“Don’t.” A flicker of fear haunted his eyes, but that was the only time I ever saw it.
I slid down his body and felt his still hard cock under his pants. He groaned as I forced him inside me. I liked to make him come while I drank from him. I knew it made his orgasm stronger and hotter, but he wouldn’t admit it.
I leaned over and touched my lips to his—softly, gently. He didn’t respond. He knew I was teasing him. My tongue slipped into his mouth and played with his. He sighed and held me close, kissing me almost as if he loved me—almost. I closed my eyes….
Sunlight. Warm, gentle, hearts pounding. Kissing like young lovers stealing an innocent moment alone. Together.
Where did that come from? I haven’t been young since the last time I saw sunlight and that was more years ago than I cared to count. The dark and the cold returned all too soon. I needed human blood to keep me alive. The monster in me demanded it. I needed Jonathan’s touch to keep me warm. The woman in me craved it.
My pussy tightened around him, and I stroked him with my body. I watched his eyes roll back in his head, and I waited while his cock swelled inside me. His breath quickened, his heart pounded. I pressed my fangs against the throbbing vein in his throat and still I waited.
He groaned—a deep guttural sound that nearly made me come. My fangs pierced his skin, and I drank from him. He groaned and twisted and exploded inside me, breathing hard. Jonathan’s blood flowed over my tongue, filling me like nothing else could. His blood healed the wounds he inflicted on me during our fight, restoring my strength. I needed human blood to live. That fact couldn’t be denied, but I needed—no—I required Jonathan’s blood, his passion to feel alive. Like an addict, I suffered physical pain when he deprived me, but when he surrendered, when he fed my all-consuming need, every eternal desire, every carnal craving I possessed was overwhelmed and yet I still. Wanted. More.
Life flowed from his body to mine, but I didn’t steal it all. His heartbeat slowed and I debated—as I always did—whether I should kill him now or let him live to entertain me a while longer. He laid still beneath me, eyes closed, breathing deep and slow. Color started to return to his face—his beautiful peaceful face. When I met Jonathan, his charming smile and chiseled body drew me to him, but our attraction went well beyond the physical. Dark desire lurked in his luminous eyes, a need for danger so strong it nearly eclipsed my craving for blood. He was searching for something no human could give him. Darkness terrified him—but he still wanted it. That’s why I chose him. At the time, I didn’t realize he was so passionate. That was a bonus.
My fangs withdrew, retreating to their hiding place while I watched him recover. Determination set his jaw and his still closed eyes drew together, his fury returning along with his strength. I smiled, leaned over and kissed his angry brow, brushing my lips on his eyes, his nose, his soft lips. I decided I would never kill him. I couldn’t, not when I could use him for my pleasure and my preservation.
“Don’t be nice to me,” he grumbled.
“Why not?” Good question. Why be gentle when I preferred our violent mating?
His eyes snapped open and he scowled at me. “It’s easier to hate you when we’re fighting.”
“Do you really hate me?” I don’t know why I asked him that. His feelings didn’t matter to me. Not much anyway. I liked the way he hated me.
“Yes.” But his troubled eyes said something else.
“I should just kill you know.” Killing was so tedious. It didn’t thrill me the way it used to, but fighting him did.
“If that’s what you want.”
He wasn’t giving in. He was daring me to do it. He wasn’t afraid to die. And that’s why I wouldn’t kill him. No other human ever fought me so hard or fucked me so well. “Not tonight. I’ll kill you tomorrow.”
“You can try,” he said softly, a hint of a smile on his lips. He knew I would. I think he enjoyed fighting as much as I did. Nothing excited me more than wrestling that man to the floor and consuming him, devouring his ferocious spirit and watching the fight drain from him only to be rejuvenated angrier than ever. If it took the rest of my immortal life, I would make him confess it excited him too.
His eyes lost their hard edge so I leaned over and kissed him, letting him taste his blood on my lips. Too late I felt him tense beneath me before he tossed me aside and ran. Fuck! Why did I always fall for that look?
“Jonathan!” I scrambled after him, catching him at the door. Our bodies tangled and we tumbled against the wall, breathing hard.
“Let me go,” he growled, struggling to get free.
“I can’t.” I could get the blood I needed to live anywhere, but for some perverse and twisted reason I didn’t try to understand, I didn’t want to live without him. “Don’t leave me alone, Jonathan.”
His eyes met mine and for a moment we understood each other. “Make me want to stay.”
If I still had a heart, it would’ve broken. Making him want my body was easy. Making him want me—just me—was impossible. My hands fell from his shoulders and he slipped away, disappearing into the darkness surrounding us.
He would come back.
And I would make him stay—forever—whether he wanted to or not. I smiled and touched my hidden fangs with the tip of my tongue. I was no longer afraid of being alone.